Awakening

Is it spring or what?! A thick, yellow dust covered our little world last week, and while I hate the pollen and the allergies it produces, it’s a sure sign of budding flowers, warmer weather and my innate desire to spring clean! So bring it on!!

The sum or parts of my family are on the tail end of several weeks on the road (mostly weekend trips), and I’m happy to say things are now slowing down so we can enjoy our home, reconnect with friends and enjoy an awesome springtime. Our travels took us to Florida, Texas, the Dominican Republic, Las Vegas, Bald Head Island (NC) and Beaufort (SC). Needless to say, March and April were a blur…living out of suitcases and using too many travel toiletries to count. I’m ready to make a significant investment in fresh fruits and veggies at our local grocery store.

Spring is inspiring in so many ways. Besides the obvious thaw from winter, it is flush with awakening…nature is coming to, inviting us to come out and play. Five years ago at this time, I was 6 months pregnant, filled with a need to prepare my home and life for our little girl and our transition from a couple into a true family.

This year, my nesting phase is back with vengeance. I’ve been cleaning out closets and organizing the house, preparing to purge our unnecessary “things” in an upcoming neighborhood yard sale (Saturday, May 3, if anyone’s inclined to buy our outgoing treasures). I’m hoping to put a few of my painted furniture pieces into the sale, as well. Here’s a sneak peek at my latest project, an Annie Sloan chalk-painted china cabinet…more to come as I complete this fabulous piece.

sneakpeek_chinacabinet

Our house recently underwent a much-needed maintenance update: fixed nail pops, re-stained front door, filled and touched-up nail holes, and resealed moldings and baseboards throughout. I’ve gotta say it looks pretty spiffy; the house appears brand new…and I’m glad we’re here to enjoy it.

The flower beds are prepped and ready for their spring mulch. My to-do list includes “buy/plant flowers”…which will likely happen later this week after “return library books” and “get groceries!!!” are accomplished. Aside from that, I finally remembered to schedule someone to remove a dead tree from our back yard…sadly, it has been gone for a few summers now but it sits just out of view from our back windows so I kept forgetting about it.

It sure is nice to get some of these things checked off the to-do list. Maybe once the garage sale is over I will reinstate a weekly meal plan, get back to painting and sewing, and keep this blog better updated…fingers crossed!

 

 

 

 

my love is…

I’m so excited to share this latest art project, entitled “my love is…”, which Gemma and I created for her bedroom. I wish I could share a fun story of how the theme came to be but honestly it was one of those “huh, that might be cute” ideas which slowly formed one afternoon as I watched Gemma paint randomness on a cold, winter day.

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She took great care creating a night sky, an underwater world, and a rainbow. So, after the paint dried, we embellished each one with glitter, sequins and foil, then stenciled some creative text onto each of the corresponding mats (included with the frames we bought). The main text is “my love is…” and the three art images read:

  • deeper than the ocean“,
  • brighter than the stars“,
  • beautiful as a rainbow“.

She loves seeing her artwork adorn her walls, and knowing we created this together makes me smile each time to walk into her room. This project is super easy, and the best part is your child’s artwork makes each piece unique!

Here’s a brief tutorial to help you create your own “my love is…” art installation. Great for a child’s nursery/bedroom or playroom.

Materials:

  • 4 –  12″ x 12″ (with 8″ x 8″ matte/window) picture frames
  • letter-sized card stock printer paper
  • paints, brushes, glitter, foil, glue (and any other materials you wish to create the art…like googly eyes!)
  • printer
  • nails, hammer, tissue paper, tape, level

Step 1. Let your child create three basic landscapes. If they’re on the younger side, you can embellish the art or feel free to leave it as-is.

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Step 2. While they paint, you create the text graphic “my love is…” in a Word doc (or freehand or let your child write it in their own handwriting!) and print on your 8.5″x11″ card stock paper. Trim paper down and affix in one of your frames.

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Step 2.  Insert each piece into the matching frames, including the “my love is…” text graphic. This is also a good time to write/stencil the corresponding text onto each mat board, as well (…”deeper than the ocean, etc.).

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Step 3. To ensure the frames are hung straight, here’s a little trick you can use. Cut tissue paper to the size of the frames (see above tissue peeking out from behind frames) and use a pen to mark the placement of the sawtooth hanger/hook on each sheet of tissue. Using a level, “hang”/tape the tissue to the wall where you wish to hang the frames. Hammer your nails through the tissue at the hook/hanger mark and hang the frames to ensure they are where you want them. Don’t forget to remove the tissue when you’ve got perfect placement.

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Hope you enjoy some creative time with your little one and cherish this art your child’s special space!

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For the love of Jared Leto

On the heels of his recent Oscar win, I’m sharing a few snippets from my personal archives for my “fans of Jared Leto” friends…

30 seconds to mars marquee

Ben and I were lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve (2010) with 30 Seconds to Mars at their show at The Palms, Las Vegas. At the time, I was only familiar with a few of their songs, however I quickly became a fan of Leto’s intense musical skills. He is immensely talented – both on the screen and on the stage. And he’s just, ahem, pretty.

The concert was the crazy! Aside from the musical enchantment, the fans were incredibly…how do I put it?…dedicated to the band. Fans sported temporary tattoos to mimic Leto’s own ink and crazy get-ups including vinyl catsuits and lots of mesh (not us, of course). So. Much. Fun!

I’ll apologize up front…the videos are dark, light is bad but the sound is okay. Hope you enjoy these quick clips of the live show!

30 Seconds to Mars, “Kings and Queens” (excerpt; right after midnight so the stage is packed with revelers the band invited to join them for the countdown)

30 Seconds to Mars, “Hurricane” (excerpt). Admittedly one of my all-time favorite anthemic songs…he hits a super-smooth, haunting note at the end of this clip. Crush!

30 Seconds to Mars, covers “Bad Romance” (excerpt)

Winter Wonderland in NC

For North Carolina, at least the central part of the state, a snow storm is truly rare. Where we live, the threat of snow empties bread/egg/milk shelves, and a mere dusting sends schools and businesses into an almost laughable tailspin (laughable if you’re a transplant from the north or Midwest). We just don’t have the means to manage the roads, and honestly, no part of the country can really manage ice in great quantity.

This winter, our kids have had the great fortune of several snow days…some justified, some not so much. This past day, however, has certainly made up for those laughable days of the past few weeks. We got snow! Lots and lots of beautiful snow fell Wednesday, followed by an overnight coating of ice, and then another few inches of the pretty fluffy stuff throughout today!

Needless to say most of the state is immobile. But we have made the most of it – having prepared with a decent food supply and other “power-outage-potential” materials – and today has been a fun-filled day of exploration and snow play. I even had to resort to “rustic” means to knock the ice off our DISH satellite…using a very long fishing pole, no less! LOL!!

All that said, I’ll share some of our favorite spectacles and moments of the day!

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*That last shot of the snowy ground…those are two bushes which were split in half this morning by a sheet of ice which slid off our metal roof above the front porch. This also happened four years ago, and I had to dig out one of them to replace it as it died. Not feeling great about the chances for these two fellas…

Back in the Saddle with Big News and Shoe Goo (UPDATED!)

Well, hello there stranger! It feels good to be back online. I took a brief (2 months?!) hiatus from blogging to enjoy the holidays, travel and focus on my family. To say the last few months has been a roller coaster is an understatement.

To make the long story short…after several weeks of negotiations (and more than a few emotional ebbs and flows), my husband’s company was bought out by a well-known, publicly traded media company (click here to see press release). Woo-hooooo! It’s a win for both companies, and the team is excited to be part of a revolution in the industry.  I’m elated to have my husband back (physically, emotionally and spiritually, ha!), and Gemma is enjoying the extra attention and playtime she’s getting from daddy. We’re looking forward to a quick family getaway this weekend to Wintergreen (Virginia) to ski, ice skate and make great memories!

And while I’m on the subject of cold weather, we’ve had our fair share of freezing temps this winter…even a few snow/ice days (rare, for NC). While packing for our weekend trip, I found my favorite pair of snow boots. They are comfy, warm and unfortunately, the outer rubber shell has cracked. Honestly, I’ve only worn these boots a total of 12-15 days in the last 6 years!

When I first noticed the problem last spring, I contacted the manufacturer and learned the boots have a lifetime warranty for defects (and Columbia admitted these were a defective style). I was pleasantly surprised to get a brand new replacement pair of boots in the mail a few weeks after submitting my documentation. However, I was bummed I didn’t get to choose a comfortable style (to address my wide foot) or color (to coordinate with my existing winter wardrobe). The new boots are okay. Wouldn’t have chosen (bleh) brown or a boot with the higher ankle shaft (as the top of the shaft on the new boots digs into my calf when I walk). But they were free…so I really shouldn’t complain, right?!

old boots new boots

I’ve worn the new pair a few times (even despite the fashion-clash…oh, the horror! LOL) but held onto the old boots with hopes I might be able to repair them. So earlier this week I found myself fresh off an REI-run where not one, not two, but three employees were eager to help me find a solution to heal my broken boot.

cracked boot

We settled on a fix-it collection of 1) Shoe Goo (a waterproof adhesive/sealant; $6, REI), 2) ParkTool TB-2 Emergency (bike) Tire Boot (a thin, reinforced adhesive tire boot film; $3.50, REI), 3) Tenacious Tape Patches (round adhesive patches similar to duct tape; $2.95, REI), and 4) a 10-inch piece of bicycle inner tubing from the REI recycle bin (FREE thanks to the bike shop attendant).

boot repair options

After closer inspection, I decided the Shoe Goo and Tenacious Tape patches would likely be my best options. So here’s how my experiment went…

Step 1. Cleaned the surface of the boot. Stuffed the toe of the boot with paper towels.

Step 2. Used a popsicle stick to apply a thin layer of Shoe Goo to the open crack base layer and between all open edges of cracked rubber. Cut a piece of Tenacious Tape patch to roughly the size of the cracked opening and wedged that piece inside the opening to seal the inner soft shell and create a new base layer for the next step of Shoe Goo. 

Shoe Goo to inner shell

Tenacious Tape patch to create new base layer

Step 3. Used a popsicle stick to apply another layer of Shoe Goo between the layer of Tenacious Tape patch and the outer rubber layer. I made a make-shift compress using popsicle sticks and rubber bands to keep pressure on outer rubber layer and then let the first layer of Shoe Goo dry for 2 hours. Repeated this step and let dry for 3 hours before removing the compress.

Shoe Goo under compression

Step 4. Cut another piece of Tenacious Tape patch and affixed to entire cracked area to seal Shoe Goo, making sure to press all edges to ensure tight seal.

Tenacious Tape seal

"Fixed" boots

I’m hopeful this will give extended life to my winter boots, and our weekend on the mountain will be a great test of the waterproofing and durability/adhesion capabilities of the Tenacious Tape.

I’ll post a follow-up next week with the results of this project. At least I know I have a back-up pair of boots waiting for me at home if this doesn’t turn out as I hope it will! Until then, I hope y’all have a great weekend!! Stay warm and snuggle with your loved ones!

UPDATE (2/10/14): Despite my well-intentioned DIY attempt to fix my favorite snow boots, I am sad to report it was not a success. I can safely say the boot itself became an epic fail. Not only did the spot I fixed begin to tear around the edge of my glue/tape but new cracks began to open on the other boot (in no less than 4 different spots). Its clear the rubber on these boots was indeed defective (as Columbia admitted), and I was possibly too optimistic I could salvage them. I’m happy I got another weekend out of them before tossing them out. Now to break in my replacement pair (and just in time as we’re expected to get another bit of snow or ice this week…yay, grrrr!).

more cracks in the rubber

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Special Delivery: Gift Cards

This year the families from Gemma’s preschool class combined forces to get the teachers gift cards to their favorite stores and restaurants for Christmas. Here’s an idea for how to package those cards and give the teachers a little something extra for all care and guidance they give our kids!

gift card boxwood planters

Materials:

  • Boxwood or other potted plant (We found mini boxwoods in wood planters at Trader Joe’s.)
  • Gift cards
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Drinking straws
  • Scissors
  • Optional: colorful tinsel garland, small ornament(s)

Step 1. Wrap your gift cards in pipe cleaners to resemble bows on a present. Wrap your gift card vertically with one pipe cleaner, leaving a long end to thread through a drinking straw. Wrap a second pipe cleaner horizontally from behind, twisting or making a bow with the ends on the front.

Step 2. Insert straw in dirt of potted plant; you may wish to cut your straws to create varied heights for the “presents”. Insert your pipe cleaner/gift card into a straw.

Step 3. (Optional) Tuck some tree garland around the base and add a few ornaments (we used a foam craft gingerbread ornament which Gemma made at home).

gift card boxwood planter

This is a fun way to package gift card presents for anyone on your wish list!!

Norwegian Krumkake

The holiday season is the best time to celebrate traditions and feed your soul. My celebration couldn’t be complete without some good old-fashioned baked goods, and this year I’m including a family favorite which represents my Scandinavian heritage. Krumkake (krmk), is best described as a fancy waffle cookie and simply translates to curved cake in Norwegian.

Krumkake recipe

krumkake

My mother and grandmothers made this delicate treat each holiday season, and as a child I’ll admit it wasn’t the first item I chose from the dessert tray. No, I lunged for anything with sprinkles, chocolate or caramel. However, as an adult, I have come to love this crispy, sweet-tasting cookie and decided to make a batch myself. Lucky for you, I’m sharing my recipe (a slight variation from the one pictured above) and some tips you can use to make your own krumkake.

To make krumkake, you will need a special krumkake iron, available online from Villa Ware through Amazon or other specialty retailers (~$100). I received mine as a gift from my mother, who incidentally uses a traditional stove-top iron vs. my electric, non-stick iron. Your iron will come with a wooden cone to roll/shape the cookies. You’ll need a large cooking space, a timer, and a spatula to remove the cookie from the hot iron once it’s done. As you can see below, I wasn’t sure what type of spatula would work best. The slotted, stiff spatula did the trick.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons milk

Step 1. Preheat krumkake iron. Grease iron with cooking spray or shortening.

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Step 2. Beat eggs with a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid mixer.

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Step 3. Add sugar, butter, vanilla and cardamom and mix well.

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krumkake_vanilla krumkake_cardamom

Step 4. Add flour and milk, alternating a little of each and mixing well as you go. The batter should have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.

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Step 5. Spoon a tablespoon-sized dollop of batter in the center of each krumkake plate and close the iron. Let the batter bake for 30-45 seconds.

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Step 6. Open the iron and use a spatula to remove the cookie from the plate and set on a towel/countertop. Use the wooden mold to roll the cookie into a cone shape. Allow cookie to set a few seconds before transferring to a cooling rack. The cookie will be soft when you remove it from the oven and will crisp up as it cools. Repeat until you’ve used all the dough.

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Step 7. You may wish to sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar for additional sweetness, or serve with berries, jam, whipped cream or Nutella. Be sure to store krumkake in a covered cake pan or other airtight container (to avoid humidity as they will stale quickly otherwise).

I love the traditional krumkake cone however I also love waffle cones with my fro-yo and ice cream. After making about half the batch, I decided to experiment a bit using some nesting bowls to create some krumkake bowls for my frozen delights. I was pleasantly surprised to see these turn out so well!

Instead of rolling the cookie on the cone, I simply placed the warm cookie over top of the smaller glass bowl, then cupped the larger glass bowl over the top to mold it into a bowl shape. I let each one cool for 30 seconds before transferring to a cooling rack, placing them upside down to keep their shape until they cool completely.

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krumkake_bowl mold

YUMMO!!!

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Yield: 24

Special Notes: