Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Day in the Life: June 2014

Hello again! Here is installment six of the Day in the Life series, a monthly linkup hosted by Manda at Musical Poem.

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Oh June.  I found myself in yet another transition period.  For reasons I'll not share on the Internet, I parted ways with the company mentioned in my last post.  Though it was not a good situation, I was naturally quite down about having to start all over again. AGAIN. Good things happened in June, but I was in a funk for most of this month. I'm telling you all this because this post is probably the most boring Day in the Life yet. Just so you have some context.

// 8:30 am

Good morning, glasses. Good morning, ugly ripped window shade that is always stuck in the down position.

// 9:00 am

We had company over and so breakfast was a delicious treat. Dutch Baby Pancake with maple syrup and strawberries. Not the healthiest way to start a Wednesday but soooo. gooood.

// 9:30 am

Lego building time with my new friend Jackson before he had to head back home.  Thanks for stopping by! 

// 12:30 pm

I don't remember what I had for lunch, but I followed it up with a piece of s'mores pie leftover from the previous night's dinner party. It was tasty to the max and I regret none of it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Day in the Life: May 2014


Only two months to the day since my last one! #winning

I'm tired of apologizing for my lack of consistency.  Sometimes I have enough on my plate just processing my life as it happens, you know? Never mind meticulously cataloging and packaging it up for my blog.  This summer I've given myself a break and haven't blogged because, well, I haven't felt like it.

However, I am still participating in the Day in the Life challenge, where I post snaps from a day in my life once a month. (Hosted by Manda at Musical Poem, thanks!!) I just haven't posted them since April.  I feel the need to play catch-up, so this post and the next two are to fill in those gaps.

Let's begin with MAY!

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

Thursday, May 22, 2014

// 6:30 am

The start of day four at a brand new full-time job as office minion at an unnamed company. Still getting used to the rhythm of the 8-5 grind, clearly.

// 7:00 am

Multigrain Cheerios in almond milk and fresh strawberries. Can't complain about that.

// 7:20 am

Heading out to work.  Our new place out in the country has its ups and downs but I'm not mad at the quiet 30 minute drive to the office.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happy Weekend

Well my dears, I think I did a good job of breathing a little more life into the old blog this week, eh? Can't promise the posts will be this bountiful in the coming weeks but as life becomes a bit more ordered, I'll be able to spend the time I want and need into creating and sharing in my little corner of the Internet.

Do you have anything exciting planned for your weekend? Not me, I'm afraid.  This is the last weekend before my grandfather comes to live with my family so I will be helping to get things ready for his arrival.  In this new house, the basement is a three-bedroom apartment all on its own with a full kitchen, one and a half baths, and a washer and dryer.  Until now I've had it all to myself but I am rather looking forward to having Grampie across the "hall".

Anyway, here are some cool things I've found around the web this week:

+ Amazon is amazing all on its own but if you need help picking out a gift for your favorite hipster/design minimalist, Canopy is here to streamline that process.  If Amazon is a giant warehouse, Canopy aims to be the catalog of the coolest stuff in the store.  They have curated the best that Amazon has to offer and you can add things to your Amazon cart right from the Canopy website.  The "under $20" tab is already going to be a problem for me, I can tell. (via Refinery29)

+ One of my favorite photographers, Gray Malin, is doing this incredibly cool project featuring rainbow-colored sheep in the Australian bush.  He explained the inspiration for and meaning behind the photos over on his blog. The sneak peaks posted to Instagram are amazing and I can't wait to see the finished product.

+ In case you have an extra color ink cartridge, here is some really pretty printable gift wrap. Or you could just do like me and use the image as phone wallpaper. (via Oh Happy Day)

+Incredible chalkboard art by two random students at Columbus College of Art and Design (via Laura)

+ My bathroom is getting remodeled this summer and I can't get over these blue large scale floral wallpapered bathrooms. And that copper sink? Yes please.

+ Summer is upon us and I can't wait for all that fresh produce. As soon as I get some ripe tomatoes, I'm going to make this panzanella. (via Anthology Magazine)

+ I shared this on Facebook last week but I've got it on repeat:  check out this little girl doing an amazing cover of one of my favorite songs. I can't believe she's only seven!

Wherever you are, have a good one!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chocolate Madeleines

One cold snowy day in March, I was nosing around the kitchen when I found a Madeleine pan I picked up a few months ago.  I decided it was time to see if these delicious French treats were really as easy to make as the recipes claim.  After a little bit of research I went with this recipe and was very pleased with the results. (That link is to a Google Doc, which is easily read and printed so you're welcome.)

Well, file this under "Fancy yet almost Foolproof Desserts", which is rather narrow category as any baker will tell you.  But what exactly are Madeleines? They are small, spongey, shell-shaped tea cakes that come in every flavor and are often best enjoyed at afternoon tea with Marie Antoinette.  But just in case you don't live in pre-Revolutionary War France, they also make for a lovely after-dinner treat when paired with coffee.  You know, when you want something sweet and decadent without the commitment of a four-layer chocolate torte.  

Traditionally, Madeleines are a vanilla flavor with a hint of citrus from orange or lemon extract but if you know me at all you know it's chocolate or get out of my kitchen.  To be fair, traditional Madeleines are incredibly delicious, especially if they are drizzled in a light vanilla glaze. Here is a very detailed and beautifully photographed tutorial from The Kitchn on making classic Madeleines, if chocolate is not your fancy.

There are three things to remember for achieving that slightly crispy outside and soft, spongey inside texture that is unique to Madeleines:

1) Grease the pan very well, whether it be with butter and flour or cooking spray. A Madeleine stuck in the pan doesn't do anyone any good.

2) Do not under or over fill the molds. As you can see with my first batch, the cakes were a little small and so a bit dried out.

 A generous tablespoon of batter does the trick. This was my second batch.

3) Do not overbake.  The chocolate Madeleines are a little harder to judge by sight, as they do not change to the beautiful golden brown of the classic ones.  Everyone's ovens vary, but I found right about nine minutes to be the sweet spot. The cakes were soft, moist, and sprang back when I touched them.

You can get extra fancy and dust them in powdered sugar or melted white chocolate but I found they tasted lovely as is. The only downside is that these little cakes only last for a day or two, but they are so yummy that it's not usually a problem.

Well, what do you think? Do you see yourself making these? Any variations out there that I should try? Most importantly, will you travel to Versailles with me? I have a sudden urge to take tea in the palace garden...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Baby Love

I know it's been ages since a proper update but many new things have happened on the other side of this blog (aka the real world) which have taken my time and attention. One of them is nine months old and is nicknamed Baby A or Buggy.  While searching for a new full-time job, it has been my great pleasure to spend time with this little guy over the last couple of months.  He has single-handedly made me fall in love with tiny humans all over again.  I'm not one to rave over other people's children but this dude has my heart in his little fist.

Anyone can tell by the curly blonde mop, blueberry eyes, and dimply grin that he is a charmer but it goes beyond that. He is SO GOOD, literally the happiest baby I have ever met. He loves everything that goes on, even what I would assume to be the tiresome parts of being a baby:
"Time for a diaper change? Everybody clap your hands! Nap time? No probalo, sister, I was feeling sleepy anyway. Mashed chickpeas and carrots on the menu? I will fist pump in excitement and make happy grunting noises."

Everything makes him laugh. Everything must be taste-tested: fingers, toys, furniture, Lola's ear (she's a dog). He doesn't even get mad when I take the non-edibles away from him. He just gives me a drooly grin and crawls away to find something new.

The past few months have been frustrating with so much in my personal life up in the air.  The days I get to hang out with Buggy are my favorites, though. He is pure sunshine.  Every day is a new life discovery and it's incredibly refreshing to be reminded about the simple pleasures that come from just being alive.

Most of us don't remember what it feels like to be unable to move without being picked up and carried.  The day he finally figured out how to crawl was the happiest day of his life. If he could talk, he would have been shouting with glee. "I CAN GO LITERALLY ANYWHERE I WANT. THE WORLD IS MY OYSTER AND NOTHING CAN STOP ME. Except this baby gate...but whatever, I'm not even mad! I'M JUST GOING TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE."  

He also learned how to wave recently and does it with both hands at every opportunity.  He waves at his parents, the dogs, even the ceiling fan when I turn it on.  When I grin and wave back, he chuckles like I just learned the secret code he invented. 

While I worry and wonder about jobs and relationships and big life things, Baby A is over there going, "I JUST FIGURED OUT HOW TO OPEN AND SHUT A DRAWER, WERE YOU AWARE OF THAT? I THINK I MIGHT BE A WIZARD."

 "Hey remember that time ten minutes ago when I sneezed prunes all over myself and you? THAT WAS HILARIOUS, I HAD NO IDEA FOOD ALSO COULD COME OUT OF MY MOUTH AS WELL AS GO IN."


He ends every day completely exhausted, and I go home in a great mood.  I seriously think the key to sleeping a solid ten hours every night is being amazed at everything that happens to you in a day. And mentally shouting your reaction.

Thank you so much for being you, Baby A. I've loved our time together. You remind me that there is something good in everything that happens to us. Life is exciting and weird and just like you, I can't wait to see what happens next.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Day in the Life: April 2014

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

Hello, friends. This post is fourth in the series hosted by Manda at Break the Sky, showcasing a day in a blogger's life. Yes I am obscenely late in posting it but here it is anyway.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

// 6:52 a.m.

In which I awake with a start, having turned off both alarms in my sleep, and rush out of bed because I NEED TO LEAVE FOR WORK IN EXACTLY 18 MINUTES. It's my second day of working a temp job at the annual super-ultra-mega enormous outlet sale of a popular women's handbags and luggage brand that rhymes with Shmera Shmradley, maybe you've heard of them? They were founded and are still headquartered (is that a word?) in my hometown and they only do this massive sale once a year. They rent out the biggest arena in town and for a whole week, tens of thousands (not exaggerating) of women flock to the city to buy last year's extra stock/slightly imperfect product at a deep discount. With my employment situation being in the "take whatever I can get" category, I applied to work the sale.

I get ready in record time and microwave some oatmeal while I hop around the kitchen trying to shove my swollen feet into some shoes. While pulling out of the neighborhood, I stop to admire the peach and blue morning sky.

// 7:25 a.m.

In which I arrive at the Coliseum and take a picture of where I parked my car for reference when I leave.  I am the worst at remembering where I parked, especially in an enormous lot.

See that's funny because Magellan was like, "exsqueeze me while I circumnavigate the globe in a ship without a GPS" and I'm all, "Siri, can you direct me to my mailbox?"
// 7:30 a.m.

In which I make the long trek around the perimeter of the arena, past the box cutting corner where I worked yesterday to the sorting area. The walls are lined with stacks of product, waiting to be unboxed and put out on the floor.

// 7:35 a.m.

In which I meet my team leader Ya Min, a lovely Burmese woman who has worked the sale for eight straight years.  She tells me her name means "King of Wednesday afternoon" because that's how Burmese people roll when it comes to names.  I am immediately in awe of her. She explains that it's our job to collect and sort through all the merchandise that has been picked up off the tables and later discarded in some other place.  Then we are to take it in shopping carts back out to the floor to be displayed once more.  It is tiring and rather futile but it makes the time pass quickly.
Before the doors open and everything is organized for the last time ever.

// 10:45 a.m.

In which there is a break in between customers and we are allowed to take 15 minutes to do our own shopping if we so choose.  I've always been rather ambivalent towards VB and their penchant for quilted paisley, but I can't deny how handy their duffle bags are for weekend trips.  With the discount of the sale and the 15% employee discount, I decide it is finally worth my money to purchase one. I found a bright and punchy spring pattern and grabbed a matching cell phone wristlet because I got caught up in the moment, don't judge me.

// 11:00 a.m.

In which my fellow sorters and I are herded to the break room for lunch.  Each meal is catered by a different restaurant, a rather nice perk to working here, but I never know in advance what it will be.  Today it is grinders and pizza from Mancino's, which is extremely unfortunate as everything is drenched in melted cheese, a food that I can no longer digest. I grab a veggie sandwich, hoping to salvage some of it from the cheese but to no avail. I mournfully eat a bag of potato chips and stare longingly at the smart lady who brought what appears to be a full Sunday roast, complete with mashed potatoes.

// 11:30 a.m.

In which we return to work and the never-ending process of sorting.

Waiting for a giant cart to be unloaded. Empty spots at the tables means roast dinner lady and her friends are late, probably laughing with abandon as they eat mashed potatoes.

// 1:30 p.m.

In which another unexpected 15-minute break is granted to us.  Cranky and starving, I head outside to sit in the grass and eat the emergency fruit snacks I had in my pocket. I kick my shoes off and my feet actually emit red cartoon lines of pain, the below photo is real and true and not digitally altered.

Ok yes I did draw those in afterwards but if my feet could talk they would have been screaming.

// 3:00 p.m.

In which I peek around the black curtain that separates the worker bees from the sales floor and assess the crowd before making my last run to deliver merchandise.  As soon as I walk through the curtain, I am surrounded by people pawing through my cart and asking me endless questions about this pattern, that handbag, and so on.  It takes a half hour to walk the couple hundred feet to the table and back.  I am sweating profusely from the exertion of moving the cart and the heat of so many bodies in the room.  Even though I know my day is almost over, I can't quell the rising anxiety in my chest from feeling trapped in this giant room with all these people, just pushing and pushing with no regard to personal space.  I focus on my breathing until I can reach the edge of the room and get behind the black curtain. When I do, I am glad I was able to avoid a full blown panic attack but know I don't have the patience or the mental energy to fend off another one.

(This photo actually taken shortly after the doors opened in the morning. Quadruple the amount of people for a closer approximation of how tightly packed it was.)

// 4:00 p.m.

In which I return home and throw my shoes with no small amount of force into the closet. Wearing my TOMS was the worst decision I made all day.  My feet swell up and I almost cry they hurt so bad. Yes, I am fully aware of how much of a spoiled brat I sound like but the struggle was real, y'all.

// 5:00 p.m.

In which I drag myself into the shower and then spend the rest of the evening lying on my bed eating way too many Trader Joe's gourmet jelly beans and falling into a Wikipedia wormhole. Did you know that there is a park in Florida where mermaids do daily underwater performances? Me neither, but you'd best believe if I ever make it to Tampa to visit Lindsey, I will be checking it out.

// 9:00 p.m.

In which I give in to the fatigue and fall fast asleep. I know tomorrow will be more of the same insanity but cartoon dollar signs in my dreams will motivate me to get up and do it all over again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Single Girl's Guide to Organizing Personal Files

I am what I call a selectively organized person.  My car, closet, bathroom cabinets and work space are always mostly in order.  My clothes drawers? Disaster.  My desk? HA.  And my personal files? Until today, I wouldn't want to talk about it.  Being organized is one of those things I just sort of assumed I would magically get better at as I got older.  Well, I'm now a little ways into adulthood and unfortunately, there are yet to be elves organizing my shoeboxes full of receipts at night.  Turns out you actually have to work at it.  Oops.

As my family is in the process of moving house, getting organized is at the top of my list.  I refuse to move one more time with boxes full of stuff "to be sorted through later".  As I've been going through my things, the mantra in my mind has been, "If it's not useful or beautiful, out it goes." This has surprisingly worked well for helping me to let go of random odds and ends I've held on to for years.

One thing I've always had trouble staying on top of in particular is my personal files.  For awhile, I was using a rather complicated system of manila envelopes and Ziploc bags to hold records, but they got full quickly and I always had to dump out them out to find something.  Also, as the years go by and I acquire more responsibilities, the amount of "stuff" I need to keep track of is growing.

It's not cute to be 25 years old and have no idea when I last got the fuel filter in my car changed.  It's really not funny when an application is due and I'm hunting for a copy of my transcript that USED to be in that one drawer in my old desk.  It's adorable when a four year old accidentally draws on the back of your utility bill but I'm here to say that we twenty-somethings are TOO OLD FOR THAT NONSENSE.

SO. I went to an office supply store, picked up a few things, and spent an entire day playing catch-up to the rest of you stable, mature adults.  It is not the most exciting way to spend a Saturday but boy is it satisfying.  I thought I would share my process with any of you people out there who are working away at this whole "adult" thing, with jobs and responsibilities but no one to share the burden with (except maybe your cat).

Not that I'm against being married and well-grounded, but married people tend to have extra things to worry about than me and the Teen Girl Squad, you know? Like kids, and multiple vehicles.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

5 Ingredient Pasta Dish

Good evening my dears.  A little while ago, a challenge was thrown out there on forums of the blogger network 20sb. Can you make a pasta dish with just five ingredients, including the pasta? 

Challenge accepted. 
I love pasta. It is one of those foods that I would happily eat every day.  
There are SO MANY THINGS you can do with it.  I am fan of spaghetti and meatballs as much as the next gal, but I also love making up sauces, trying out all different kinds of noodles, and seeing just how many ways I can incorporate it into a meal.

One of my absolute favorite recipes is an avocado, basil, bacon, and parmesan pasta.  But that requires more than five ingredients.  With that recipe in mind, I made a pared down version for one that happened to be vegan and gluten free. Bonus! In my house, if you can make something vegan, gluten free, AND delicious, well you should run for office because clearly you are magic.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm a wizard.  Sometimes.

Anyway, here are my five ingredients (not counting water and salt as per the rules, though salt is pictured):
+A couple ounces of brown rice noodles (I used rotini)
+1 ripe medium sized avocado
+A sprinkle (or two) of coarse black pepper and sea salt
+A generous splash of lemon juice
+A spoonful (or two) of basil pesto

I didn't measure anything, which I realize is not very helpful but I sort of eyeballed the ingredients and tasted as I went.  Listen, if you came here for precision and magazine-ready food photos, you came to the wrong blog, pal.  

 Boil the water per package directions, and pour in what you would consider a serving size of noodles.  As brown rice pasta is pretty sturdy, it needs to boil for about 11 minutes to be al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, slice open the avocado, remove the stone, and cut into large chunks.  Scoop out the avocado into a small bowl, add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and pesto and toss together.

Drain the pasta, pour into your dish and top with the avocado mixture.

Mix it with your fork and ENJOY. 

THAT'S IT. In fifteen minutes you have a super delicious and filling meal. Obviously you could jazz it up with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan or some bacon but it tastes excellent as is. The lemon juice adds a brilliant zing that plays well off the smooth flavor of the pesto.

I feel for judging purposes I should clarify: I never salt the water I boil pasta in so I didn't feel bad for adding it to my topping. Secondly, using pre-made basil pesto is probably cheating a little but it came in one jar and I regret nothing. 

So, what do you think, would you try this recipe? Are there any pasta recipes you're fond of that I should try? Let me know in the comments. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Day in the Life: March 2014

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

This post is part of the series of a monthly linkup hosted by Manda at Break the Sky, where bloggers record a day in their life.


Monday, March 17, 2014
(aka St. Patrick's Day)

// 7:30 am

In which I began the day in a TERRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD mood.  Just like last month's post, I woke up to a surprise sinus infection.  I seriously hope this doesn't become a theme. "Happy St. Patrick's Day! Don't forget to record your day for the linkup!" read my alarm, unaware of the state of events. "You want to see my day? Here you go, world! Happy nothing to NO ONE!" I said to myself as I took the world's grumpiest selfie:

And then I did nothing. Seriously, NOTHING. 
I even contemplated skipping this post altogether, but Manda reminded me of the importance of sharing "accurate real life but no actually I mean THIS IS MY REAL LIFE, SOMETIMES IT'S BORING" with the world. She's right. I mean, this is it. Sometimes I'm sick and I don't have it in me to get up and soldier on. Sometimes I give into the aches, pains, and melancholia and pull the covers back over my head.

So that's what I did. I took stock of my sore, swollen throat, my pounding head, and the buzzing in my ears. "Fine. Do what you must." And I gave in to the fatigue that seemed heavier by the minute.

// most of the day

I slept. When I woke up occasionally, this was my view.

// 5:00 pm

After what was either the world's longest nap with short breaks, or like 5 mini naps, I rallied enough to readjust my attitude.
"How fortunate am I that I don't have kids to take care of, or responsibilities that can't wait til another day? How lucky am I that I have a warm bed, a view of the sky, and people who love me? HOW UNGRATEFUL AM I BEING RIGHT NOW, ON A SCALE OF ONE TO JUSTIN BIEBER?"

Disgusting, self. Be happy about the big things. And the little things. And the medium things.  Be happy for all the things that were in this day to bring you joy. 

For example, evidence of life in my container garden. There are tiny sprouts in the lavender and rosemary pots, and my little succulent transplants are holding on. The Winter That Will Never End can't hold us down.

And look, perfect time to crack into a new book. It's quite good, one of those odes to Jane Austen (this one loosely based on Sense and Sensibility), but with a biting modern tone.

Also, one of my favorite things: snail mail. It's a save the date postcard. So lovely, I'm displaying it on my desk instead of tucking it into my datebook.  Obviously, I'm more excited about the impending nuptials than the card itself. I've known J & S since high school and it fills me with glee to think of two such awesome people getting ready to spend the rest of their lives together. And that they want me to attend! I always feel so honored when people invite me to their wedding. I know it's a huge deal deciding on the guest list, not wanting to leave people out, but also not wanting a massive circus.  That's not to say I feel slighted when I'm not included, I completely understand, but I always get a thrill when I am.

And finally, a chance to watch a film I've had on my list for awhile now. The Well-Digger's Daughter, directed by Daniel Auteuil, starring himself as the well-digger and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey as, well, his daughter.  Set in pre-war rural France, it's a sweet, simply told story about a man, Pascal, struggling to come to terms with the complicated choices of his oldest daughter, Patricia.  There are plenty of emotional conversations in living rooms and picturesque wheat fields, hapless but charming supporting characters, and scenes involving the train station. Basically everything I need in a French film.

There are loads of other things that cheered me up yesterday, like a sandwich on pretzel bread (SO DELICIOUS), a hug from my little brother, a glimpse of sunshine, indulging in a lovely bubble bath with part of a Christmas Eve bubble bar from LUSH, and lots of quiet time.  I didn't take any more pictures after that, but I went to bed with a grateful heart.

And even though the war in my sinuses rages on, I woke up today with a much better attitude.

How was your day, friends?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On the Witchcraft of Craft Stores and Pinterest

Witchcraft you say? Yes, witchcraft.  That can be the only reasonable explanation for the trickery that occurs the minute you walk in the door of a store that sells craft supplies.

Let me elaborate: the other day I went into Hobby Lobby with one goal in mind: white sugar pearls.  "That's it," I firmly told myself, "that's all you need from this store. You have exactly twelve dollars in your pocket today but only two or three of them are to be spent."

The why I needed sugar pearls is unimportant (for a particular batch of cupcakes, if you must know) but you already know the ending.  I walked out with far more than just sugar pearls.

How much more? Let me count the ways:

One jar of sanding sugar, a box of pastry bags, a frosting tip and coupler, Halloween-themed cupcake liners, two spools of ribbon, a bag of candle wicks, and an easel. An easel.


What did I need out of all of those things? Nothing.
I blame it on the atmosphere.

The very second you enter, your senses are assailed by the faint comforting scent of cinnamon and your grandmother's kitchen and all of a sudden you feel like all of your dreams will come true if you just believe.  And if you purchase four bottles of ultrafine glitter.

Now, I'm well aware that craft stores do not have this affect on everybody.  For example, the only way I would get either of my brothers to go to Hobby Lobby with me would be to somehow trick them into it or to actually tie them to the roof of the car.  Once I asked Spencer to go with me and, with a massive eye roll and all the disgust of an unwilling 10-year old, he said, "Why, so someone can carry your stuff for all your art projects?" Like I had just asked him to help me pick up trash on the side of the road.

But for those of us with the urge to create, to make bits and bobs with our own two hands, craft stores and hobby shops are like crack dens.
Except for all of the crack.

While this is something that has always appealed to grandmothers, school teachers, and resident assistants dedicated to providing alcohol-free activities to college students, crafting has only fairly recently become popular among a much larger portion of the female population (she said, with zero factual basis for this statement).  Suddenly it's cool to know how to knit a scarf if you're in your twenties. It's less a sign of "old maid" and more "self-sufficient young thing making her way through the world with a neck that will never be cold".

I blame Pinterest.  Like the fleas on the backs of rats that brought the plague to Europe, so too Pinterest wantonly spreads the disease of craftiness to unwitting Internet users. Beautifully-lit photographs of holiday wreaths, complicated wedding cakes, and intricate sewing projects lure unsuspecting browsers into believing they too can weave a basket that would make Martha Stewart nod in approval.

"If I build this bookshelf out of old pallets, I will bring honor to my family.  Just like my great great aunt Constance, when she used the slats of her family's broken Conestoga wagon to fashion a raft to take them over the Missouri River, I too am doing a great and noble thing."

Except the difference is that I call it "upcycling", and dear old Constance called it "survival".

Because really, who are we fooling? I'm not saying there are no useful skills that come from being crafty, I'm just saying it's something we can't claim to do out of necessity anymore.  Gone are the days when it was cheaper to sew all your own clothes than to buy them from a store.  And if we're being honest, I question the structural integrity of that bed frame you found by a dumpster and refurbished.

There seems to be an unofficial contest of who will be the world's chicest DIY-er but spoiler alert, the prize is nothing. The person beating down my door to applaud my tissue tassel garlands and bottle art is named Nobody and he brought none of his friends. "The moment I saw her make her own chalkboard paint, I had to have her hand in marriage," said no one, ever.

(Not that that's what I'm looking for. In fact, that would be a super weird reason for a proposal.)

Yet onward sails the good ship Handmade, with me at the helm. "Avast ye naysayers! I shall craft on! IT SOOTHES ME."

And so I do. Enabled every step of the way by Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Pinterest, and positive feedback from you, my dear readers.

Just don't let it go to my head, ok? Keep me humble, Internet. And if we happen to be out shopping together, maybe keep me away from the craft stores.

In the meantime, if anyone needs me, I'll be over here bedazzling a sweatshirt by the flickering light of a taper in an old wine bottle.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Day in the Life: February 2014

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

This post is part of the series of a monthly linkup hosted by Manda at Break the Sky, where bloggers record a day in their life.

Friday, February 7, 2014
(aka Spencer's 11th Birthday)

// 7:30 am 

In which I woke up after a terrible night to day three of a bad cold/the plague, feeling worse instead of better. So grumpy.

This is a new thing I just started called the 20% selfie. 20% is all you get to see of me on a sick day.

// 8:00 am

In which I dragged myself downstairs but stopped in the living room to admire the sun coming up in the backyard.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Valentine's Day Gift Guides 2014

Hello lovelies! I know I missed last week's post so to make up for it, I've made a series of gift guides for Valentine's Day.  Now I love flowers and chocolate just as much as the next gal, but for those of us who usually fly solo on this non holiday, that seems a little played out.  My mother and sister and I started a tradition some years ago of getting each other little gifts on this date and it's something I really enjoy doing.

Obviously, girls of every type (regardless of relationship status) enjoy getting gifts and so I put these together with that in mind. Also, with birthdays and all the other holidays in the calendar, there's no need to spend a lot of money on each other.  For that reason, everything pictured is $25 or less.  Of course I've painted broad strokes here with my categories, but I'm pretty sure there's something here for everyone.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

10 Questions I Asked My Mother

Anne Victoria

Last week, Cupcakes and Cashmere shared a link to this blog post on Clementine Daily, which contains ten thoughtful questions you should ask your mother. I thought this was a genius idea. Even though I live with her at the moment, our daily conversation revolves around the mundane details of life.  It was nice to sit down and have an honest and meaningful conversation with each other.

First, here's a little background information on my mother.  Her father Linwood (known also as Fred) was a principled go-getter who left his native Canada after a short courtship to marry Ethel her mother, a vibrant and fun-loving Bostonian.  They made quite a pair, Fred and Ethel.  They settled in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts and by 1959 had two dark-haired bright-eyed children born on the same date, exactly three years apart. Then in 1964 along came Anne, my mother. Mom was a quiet and bookish child, a shy and sweet soul with strawberry blond hair. She loved to read and play the piano and after high school went to Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in Boston.  She married my Dad in 1985.

(Top) Chubby cheeks. Aside from the red hair, my sister looked just like this in her baby pictures.
(Bottom) Wasn't my mom such a cutie? (Please excuse the vaguely disapproving doll next to her. Toys in the '60s were a bit creepy.)
Now on to the questions!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tonight You Belong To Me

Due to my excessive lack of time management skills, my Valentine's post is not ready to be posted tonight. To make up for it, here is a video of the cutest duet you'll see all week.

Your heart just melted a little and I'm not even sorry.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Weekend


Happy Friday my dear friends! What are you up to this weekend? I'm going to be in Venice, hanging out with these birds.  Just kidding.  Actually, I'll be in Ohio, hanging out with one of my favorites, so that's better than Italian birds. It's been too too long, I'm looking forward to it immensely!

It's been awhile since I've posted one of these but here are some links I've enjoyed lately.

+ The best book trailer I've ever seen. Bonus: It features Mindy Kaling! (via The New Yorker)

+ Speaking of books, ever wonder how home stylists and set decorators acquire them in bulk for decorating? They use sites like Books By The Foot, where you can purchase books, well, by the foot.  You can buy them by color or by subject.  Isn't that fascinating?   I appreciate an aesthetically pleasing bookshelf as much as the next gal, but I can't imagine a world in which I bought books simply for display purposes only. Their value lies between the covers!

+ A clever way to commemorate a road trip.

+ And more fun with maps, here's an interesting look on how long travel took centuries ago. Guess I'll stop complaining about 4 hour airport layovers. (via Fast Company)

+ Call it self-preservation but I'm not over winter yet.  Especially not when there are  super awesome coats out there that I haven't worn yet.  Hello beautiful.

+ This article perfectly articulates what being a writer feels like. Love love love. (via Thought Catalog)

+ A free font roundup? Yes please!

+ This chicken pesto sandwich looks SO. GOOD.

+ "Full Circle" by Half Moon Run
Full Circle by Half Moon Run on Grooveshark

Alright, be kind to yourselves this weekend!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Red Velvet Crinkles and a Baking Video

Boy do I have a treat for you today. As you should know by now, we are quickly approaching my favorite holiday. (Re: this post, that post, and also this one)

Three cheers for Valentine's Day. *wiggles eyebrows*

Since we have four weeks until the actual day, I'm going to post something Valentine-themed every Thursday until Friday the 14th.

This week is a cookie recipe that I found on Cooking Classy. Have you ever had chocolate crinkles? I discovered these yummies in college. If you don't know, they are a chewy chocolate cookie with a beautifully-crackled powdered sugar top.  I saw this red velvet version at Panera Bread the other day and decided to make some myself in honor of the holiday. It creates a more cake-like cookie than traditional crinkle recipes but it tastes just as divine as a slice of the cake it is named for. 

It's got a light moist texture, that lovely crinkled coating, and white chocolate chips inside to compliment the mild cocoa flavor.  

They also photograph beautifully. In case that's important to you.  

Anyway, I did something a little different and made a video while I was baking. (Again, recipe found here.) I filmed the first half using a tripod and then my mom volunteered her hands so I could operate the camera for the second half (In case you notice the sudden appearance of a wedding ring. It's not mine.) 

I've never done this before so please forgive any unfocused parts and how awkward my voice sounds.  Nothing makes you hate the sound of your own voice more than recording voiceovers, I learned.  I am usually way less serious and bored-sounding in conversation.  Oh well, at least we know I'm not cut out for radio!

Well, what did you think? Should I do more baking tutorial videos or is my time on YouTube something that needs to be quietly put away in a drawer? And most relevant, will you be making these cookies??  All important questions.

That's all for this week! See you next Thursday, lovebirds! 

P.S. Past Valentine's Day cookie recipes: heart-shaped Lofthouse cookies and chocolate mint sandwiches

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