April 10, 2013
Babies and Brownies
On Saturday, Sawyer Rose entered the world. On Sunday we joined her and the rest of her family for dinner. I made lasagna, salad, and dark chocolate thin mint brownies. YUM! Thought I'd share my brownie recipe.
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 sleeve thin mints, crushed (today I also threw in a couple of tablespoons of chocolate chips I had in the pantry)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) melted and cooled
2 eggs slightly beaten
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour an 8x8x2-inch baking pan.
Combine dry ingredients in bowl.
Add butter and eggs, stir until combined.
Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.
Last Christmas I made them with Andes mints instead of thin mints. Really put in whatever yummies you want, I'm just partial to mint.
I gave Amelie a Dr. Seuss book as a big sister gift but the wrapping paper seemed to be a more exciting toy! Especially since she was allowed to color on that and not the new book..
March 9, 2013
Soooo.... back to work for a week and no blogging! It was a rough work week, lots to get caught up on and several special commitments. Hopefully next week will be smoother.
Now to show you last weekend's project.
Having time off allowed me to drive up to Wheeling to pick up this old sewing table for a steal.
It was in pretty rough shape but I had big plans...
A good deal of internet research led me to skipping the sanding or stripping and going right for bonding primer.
We tried to find a color that brought out the color in our rug or one of our posters. I thought this would be darker and instead I added a second turquoise piece to our living room. The rebellious teenager in me hates choosing such a popular color but enough of me loves it that I am VERY happy with the results!
A trip to IKEA for a new bookshelf and a trip to target for some storage cubes and my new crafting corner was complete!
Also, Bryan was quick to hang my window. It looks great!
March 1, 2013
How Does Your Garden Grow?
My babies are growing! Just as I was getting frustrated that my seeds weren't growing when I went to water yesterday I saw that some of them were starting!
It's the first day of March... the end of winter is in sight!
February 28, 2013
Put a Bird on It
Last summer I was working in my kitchen when I heard a loud crash behind me. I went to the back door and realized the window had fallen out of our OLD wooden back door. I was expecting a big clean up job but quickly found that window was completely intact. At this point I was very happy not because I didn't have a mess to clean up but for two other reasons. First, I would finally be forced to get a new screen door for the back door, something I've wanted since the day we moved in. Second, for years I have wanted to do something with an old window for my home and now I finally had a window to do it with.
Ever since I watched High Fidelity in college and saw the wall of old windows in Lisa Bonet's character's apartment I have wanted to play with windows as art. Finally my chance!
But it was summer and I had gardening to do. As well as sun bathing and vacationing and barbecuing and all of those things you'd rather be doing outside rather than working on projects. So the window was set against the wall near the backdoor and basically forgotten about. A month or so ago Bryan asked me about it and I realized it was probably bothering him a lot more than it was bothering me. (He likes everything in it's place while I'm a bit of a "piler".) The truth is while I was excited to have my window I had no idea what to do with it. I knew it would be hung on the wall but t needed some upgrading first. There happened to be an art installation using old windows in one of our local restaurants at the time. The window panes had been painted which I had been considering but now that I saw it "in the flesh" it wasn't doing it for me. So of course I turned to pintrest. Again I didn't find much that did it for me. I considered making it a photo frame or putting interesting fabric behind it....
The other questions was painting. I liked the gray color and I liked the rustic feel of the peeling paint. But it was probably a little too rustic and seriously if I'm not careful I will make my whole life gray, I just always reach for it. I was leaning toward turquoise which is awfully popular right now but I already had some turquoise and I love it so I went with it.
I cleaned the window, taking off a lot of the old chipping paint just by washing it with a soft cloth and used a razor blade to clean old paint off the glass. I took a damp cloth and rubbed on the new paint. I didn't worry about getting all of the nooks and crannies. I wanted to keep the distressed look and maybe some of the gray but add a little color.
A few weeks ago I was wandering the aisles of JoAnn's wondering if there was a fabric interesting enough to transform my window. Instead of fabric I found these bird wall decorations. I know birds are out and owls are in. My friend, a home designer says snakes are next, but these seemed like the right fit for my window. I asked Bryan if he felt evoking Portlandia and putting a bird on it was too cheesy but he was open to it. I had a direction for my window!
I love it! I wish I could show it to you up on my wall but I haven't gotten that far yet, I still need to get to the hardware store to put a hanging thingy on it. I'll post again once I get it on the wall.
Last weekend Bryan hung it for me. I love it!
February 27, 2013
Long Time A Comin
This necklace and earrings took their time, or rather I did creating them.
It started last July on our summer vacation. On the one rainy day we had during our beach vacation, Mom and I spent the day on our fabulous screened in porch making beads. I have to admit in the dim light I thought I had picked out a tan base so I was disappointed when I realized it was orange. But the orange has grown on me and I have a summer dress that matches perfectly.
That day I made the earring but I still had so many more beads!
This fall on a visit to Mom and Dad's house we got out the jewelry making supplies again. I finally got some inspiration to put those beads to work. To make this necklace you use all eye pins. You get a lot of chance to practice your loops.
But I missed out on a lot of our time to work because I had a conference call for work that day.
I worked on it a few times at home when I felt inspired to pull out the project. Finally completing it the week after my foot surgery when I had plenty of time to sit and make loops. All while keeping my foot elevated of course!
Last week I added a coat of clear nail polish to give the beads a finished look.
February 26, 2013
Armed and Dangerous
Before my foot surgery I had a varied workout routine including running, yoga, and a Jillian Michaels DVD. Right now I can't do any of those and have limited ability to use my legs. I have been alternating arms and core each day. Generally I think it is much more effective to do more dynamic exercises that workout multiple muscle groups at one time but this is what I can do right now.
Here I've combined my favorites, trying to make sure I hit chest, shoulders, and back as well as biceps/ triceps. My reps are kind of high because I've been doing these several weeks with just the dumbbells I have at home (5lbs and 10lbs). The general rule for weight lifting is you shouldn't be able to lift the weight one more time more than your last rep. Usually 8- 15 repetitions with 2 - 3 sets. However I just read that you can have the same effects with higher reps 20 - 25 with lower weights. For me, my exercise has to be challenging but not so much that I'm miserable and don't want to come back to it next time. So this is what works for me.
Always be sure to protect your back by pulling your belly button toward your spine and keep your shoulder blades low. I try to envision putting them in my back pocket.
February 25, 2013
Very excited that tonight is our clothing swap. It's something every group of girls should do.
I'm very fortunate to have a sister in law and best friend who have always LOVED to give me their old clothes. Once at a book club meeting my friend suggested we bring some of our clothes to share with each other. It was a really fun night and I was glad to find a good home for some clothes I loved but just weren't fitting me right. The book club never repeated the clothing swap but I couldn't get over the idea.
Our first official swap was 3 people but we had a blast! Each of us thought our clothes weren't good enough for anyone else to want but we all left with great stuff we were excited to have. We were so excited to share this idea. 6 months later when it was time to clean out the closet again we sent some emails and tried to get more people involved. Our first few were small, many people don't think their clothes are nice enough. Let me tell you I don't shop anywhere fancy and am always surprised when so many of my clothes go to good new homes. Slowly the word got out and people gave it a try. Once they tried it most of our friends were hooked. We now have a core group that always makes a point to be there and we always have some new folks. We probably have 10 people at each swap. Since we have grown we have all shapes and sizes available which is great because it opens it up to even more people.
When we first started swapping everyone was a little shy about how to show their clothes. We found the best way was to just start pulling our stuff out and putting it all together in a pile. Soon enough we would start getting comfortable and would be "selling" our pieces to each other. Now that the sway has grown so has our organization. We choose different spots in the living room for each category of clothes. Since I've had extra time on my hands this month we will even have signs for each category.
I have no shame. I tend to wear comfy clothes that go on and off easily and try on my clothes right there when I find them. Other gals will go with more of a dressing room technique and choose a number of items before trying them on in another room. Whatever works for you!
I suggest everyone give this a try. Just get one or two friends that you are comfortable with and are similar sizes. You don't have to be the same size, this is that chance to get rid of things that you love but just sit in the closet because their not right on you. Also you'll find that your friends prefer different fits, you might like your clothes loose but they like them fitted. After your first time you'll fall in love and will think of a few other gals who would appreciate it. Then it just keeps growing.
February 22, 2013
Felted Fingerless Handwarmers
If you have ever had to work on a computer in a cold office you know how awesome a pair of fingerless hand warmers can be. I also like them as an added layer in the winter even though I'm usually already wearing 3-4 layers on top!
I had felted this sweater to make a pair of mittens earlier this winter. I love the stripes and wanted to get a little more out of it. Sweater sleeves make super fast and easy hand warmers.
Start with a wool sweater, wash it in warm water and dry it on high. This will felt the fabric so that it won't unravel.
Cut the sleeve to whatever length you would like. I've made these before with a sweater with slimmer sleeves, this sleeve was a little wide so I pinned the sleeve to a slimmer fit and sewed along that line. Then I cut off the extra fabric.
Next just cut a slit where you want the thumb hole to be.
Finish the raw edge at the end and in the thumb hole with a blanket stitch. There is a good tutorial on the blanket stitch here.
Jozi just couldn't help herself from getting in to my photo shoot!
February 21, 2013
It's time to get the seedlings started! Yesterday I started 3 kinds of tomatoes, basil, oregano, and spaghetti squash. Everything else will wait until I can plant them outside.
We love spaghetti squash, it can be prepared in a million different ways. My favorite is with sauteed tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and goat cheese. This winter we have prepared it with with pesto from the freezer. A totally local veggie dish in the middle of winter!
Spaghetti squash has to be started very early, it takes a long time to come to maturity. Last year we got great vines and NO SQUASH! When I pulled up the vines at the end of the summer I found that the cardboard pots had not broken down. I think their roots were squished all summer. Must be our lack of worms in the rooftop garden boxes. This year I will take the plant out of the cardboard before planting.
Neither one of us loves reading about gardening so we mostly learn by doing. If we have a specific question we will look it up or ask others but we've made PLENTY of mistakes along the way! Once at one of our rooftop parties a guest of one of our neighbors educated us on mulch. It's way to hot on the roof so we are always struggling to keep the roots cool enough. Lots of mulch and daily watering tends to do the trick. Last summer we used cocoa shell mulch so we got the added benefit of smelling chocolate every time we watered.
Another lesson we have learned it that our seedlings only take off if they are in a "greenhouse". We find that saran wrap or the plastic containers we use to catch the water draining from the pots over the top do the trick. The problem comes when the plants grow taller. We start getting pretty creative. Last year I think I had plastic forks holding up the plastic wrap! I have a good feeling about this year!
February 20, 2013
When mom was here we spent an afternoon making jewelry. She made an amazing pair of earrings. I wish I would have taken a picture. I made this bracelet.
This week I got the beads back out and went a little bracelet crazy. I made a few before I realized I need some different colored findings. I will have to go back and change the clasp on one of these and have one in the works that needs different colored findings. I ordered them online so hopefully they will come quickly!
Here are the latest and greatest in bracelets.