Thursday, November 27, 2008

Craft Day Part One

Hello! Sorry for the long absence. I began teaching kindergarten at the end of August, and the job sort of took over my life. It's been incredibly fun, but also incredibly time consuming. I found that there were some things that I just didn't have time for anymore (such as blogging!). Now that I've been teaching for awhile, it's getting easier to do, and I'm finding I need to put less time into my prep and therefore I have a little more time for myself. I appreciate those of you who checked in with comments and emails during my absence. It was nice to know I was missed! I will have a lot of catching up to do with all of you, and that probably won't all happen this weekend, but I thought I'd take advantage of the Thanksgiving break to put another post out there. (And Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it!).

This is very belated, but this summer just before I started my job I did a major craft day with a friend of mine. I finished a bunch of projects that I wanted to share with all of you. It was really fun and satisfying to work on things that I could finish in one go. I love knitting and scrapbooking, but they are not typically one-day projects. Here are some of the things that I did, with links to directions for the projects. I have even more projects that I completed that day, if you can believe it (I'm telling you, it was productive!). I will try to post those this weekend, but if not, then expect me back over winter break at the latest! :)

I love these paintings. I found the directions on Martha Stewart, and they were so much fun to do. She has two templates on her website (one being the bird above) but since I did this one I have just searched on google images for silhouettes, and found others that I could do. I am planning on making several similar paintings for Christmas gifts. Basically, you staple fabric to a canvas frame. Then you use Mod Podge to make it hard. Once that dries, you copy your template on the fabric with a fabric pencil. Then you can paint either inside or outside your template lines. Or you can choose to do both and have a set, as I did above. Check it out: Painted Fabric Silhouettes.

I also made wine glass charms. These were really fun to do, and I will definitely be making more of them. They don't take long, and would make great hostess gifts or something like that. I bought the beads, charms, and loops at Michael's. They can be found in the jewelry-making section. I looked at several websites for the ideas for this, but didn't really follow any one set of directions.

If you visit Not Martha, there are some ideas for wine charms, plus lots of links to other places.

I found directions for these 'crayon nibbles' on another blog, and thought they would be really fun to try. They are also very easy, and take no time at all. They would be cool gifts for kids. I think they would look great packaged up in clear cellophane bags with a cute ribbon, and would look good tied to a bigger package or present. Also a fun project to make with kids.

You can find directions at Crafty Daisies.

It feels really good to be back! I may spend some time this weekend catching up on some blog reading, because I have missed seeing what all of you are up to. And stay tuned for part 2 of my craft day!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Creative Family

Just a quick post to tell you that you should head on over to Simple Mom for your chance to win a copy of The Creative Family, by Amanda Soule (of the wonderful blog Soule Mamma). But hurry, the giveaway only goes through Friday, August 1st!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Wish I'd Made This

A few weeks ago, two friends and I spent a glorious Saturday together going antiquing. We went to a yard sale, a thrift store, and about four antique stores. I came away with some wonderful treasures, one of which I want to share today. I found this at one of the antique stores, and just fell in love with it:

This picture is taken in our upstairs hall. I painted it red, and though I love the color, I'm not happy with it there. I've been planning to use the red in a different room, and to repaint the hall. But when I set this piece there, I was almost tempted to leave it that way, just cause it looks so good!

Isn't it stunning?

Friday, July 25, 2008

One Local Summer #5

These are all starting to look the same - you know, grilled meat...salad...

Again, the meat is from a store in our neighborhood, and the lettuce is from the CSA.
(And my apologies to any vegetarians reading - I realize my OLS posts must not be the most appetizing!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Creativity! At Last!

Do you ever start to feel less fulfilled when you haven't had the chance to do something creative? Sometimes the feeling sneaks up on me, and often I don't realize quite how much I've missed making things until I do it again. And then I wonder how I could have let so much time go by...

Recently I decided I NEEDED to make something. Without much time on my hands I wanted to do something I could finish at one go, and that I already had the supplies for. When I read about these sticky notes books over at greetingarts, I knew that it was the perfect project.

This was my first attempt. It's not perfect - I used quite crude tools for scoring, and because of that the measurements weren't quite right. It is supposed to be the size of one pack of post-it notes, but instead I used two to fill up the space. Also, I cut out the circles for the closure by hand, so they're a little wonky around the edges.

A few weeks and a trip to Archiver's later, and I had a score-er (which I have been wanting forEVER for my cardmaking) and a circle punch. Hooray! Attempt #2 for part of a birthday present for my friend went a little more smoothly.

And my friend, who is also a musician, got a cupcake cake in the shape of a guitar from me, as well. Nothing like Amy's beautiful creations, but hey - I did my best. :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Local Summer #4

Phewf! Life, slow down so I can catch up! My prolonged absence here is mainly due to the long work hours I've been putting in - six days a week (with the occasional seven-day work week) all day long and some evenings. But I have a lot I want to share with you, so I'll start with a belated OLS meal.

I went to the Farmer's Market to pick up food for our OLS meal, and I came home with, among other things, this gorgeous bouquet and some locally made bread:

I also got more potatoes and green beans, and I picked up some steak from a store near us whose beef is all local. The steak and potatoes went onto the grill:

And the meal looked like this:

It was delicious, yet again!

At the Farmer's Market, I also got some strawberries:

Which I cut up and added some sugar to, to help bring out the juice:

The strawberry salad makes a refreshing summer-time dessert.

In other news, some special birthdays have happened since I last posted. My dad had his on July 2nd, and one of my best friends had hers on July 4th - a lot of people celebrated her birthday :).

I also had a thrifting/antiquing day with some friends, and then another craft day just today. Plenty of things that I want to share with you from both those days, so watch this space!

On a food-related note:
I have mentioned that my husband is a musician, and he was part of something that is really cool that I just wanted to let you know about. One of his band's songs was included on a compilation CD. The CD is presented by "Feed Them With Music," and the purchase of one CD 'delivers 10 hot meals to the starving globally.' There are 10 songs on the CD, so that's a meal a song! If you want more info, please visit:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One Local Summer #3

I wanted to join a CSA this summer, but by the time I looked into it all the ones that were close to me were at capacity. I will need to wait until next summer for that, I guess. But luckily for me, one of the families that I nanny for joins a CSA every summer and each week they send veggies home with me. Yum!

This week, they gave me some lettuce greens and some turnips. I can't really remember ever having eaten turnips, and I was not sure if they were something I would like. I had read the newsletter from their CSA, which said that you could cook the turnips if you wanted to, but that they recommended eating them raw. So I tried a raw one was delicious! It was a challenge to try to save the rest for dinner. :)

And dinner was: Minnesota wild rice with parsley from our garden, and a salad made with the lettuce and turnips from the CSA. The salad dressing was not local, I'm afraid. But it was homemade, and for the next batch that I make up I think I could get a number of the ingredients locally. I'll have to try that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Local Summer #2

Ok, so I got everything done on Sunday that was on my to do list, except for writing about my second week participating in the One Local Summer challenge. The part I'm finding challenging is not making a meal with local ingredients, but posting about it! So anyway, this is late.

Late, but delicious! We got a pork steak, new potatoes, and sugar snaps from the St. Paul Farmer's Market. I grilled the pork steak and the potatoes, and they were so good. I added salt, pepper, and oregano to the potatoes before putting them on the grill (none of those three things were local, but that still fits in with the guidelines for the challenge). The wine is actually from Iowa, but it was bought locally - a friend who lives there gave the wine to us.

M really wanted me to share the pork steak with her, but no such luck!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bad Blogger

I was tagged ages ago by Julia, and then again a few days ago by Julie for the same thing. I'm sorry it has taken me so long, you two! I actually feel very special to be chosen by both of you, despite how long it has taken me to get around to doing this...

I have to answer 6 questions about myself. At the end of the post, I then tag 6 people and post their names, then go to their blogs and leave them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read my blog. Then, I must let the person who tagged me know when I’ve posted my answers.

What was I doing ten years ago

Hmm, I was still in high school then. So I had probably just started summer break and was doing my summer job, which was working as a nanny. There is plenty that has changed in the last ten years, but looking back on that sentence you wouldn't know it, since my grad school recently ended and I am, uh, working as a nanny. Great.

5 things on my to do list for today

Today is almost over. The only things on my to do list are finish this blog and go to bed. So maybe I'll cheat and let you know 5 things for tomorrow. :)

* Make a Father's Day card (yeah, I know, I'm behind!)
* Wrap my dad's present.
* Have brunch with my dad (so the two things above need to be accomplished early!)
* Laundry.
* Write my second One Local Summer post.

Snacks I enjoy

Now this is a tough one. No limit? Not three snacks I enjoy? Or five snacks I enjoy? Ok, well my taste is all over the place. If I am feeling refined there is nothing I like better than Comte cheese with a baguette and a glass of white wine. But I also love Samoas (the Girl Scout cookie). I could eat a whole box in one sitting. In fact, I have. Recently. I love apple slices with peanut butter (creamy) spread on them. Oh, and graham crackers dipped in apple or grape juice (but maybe that's just because I spend too much time with kids). And really, I should be given a limit when I get questions like this. I'll just stop now.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire

This is another tough one. I think, for the most part, my life wouldn't change drastically. I would probably do all the same things that I do now, minus the stress of worrying about making the money for it all. I would stop working and I would write children's books. I'm going to try writing children's books without being a billionaire, but it would nice to not have to worry about whether you could make a living off it or not. I would volunteer my time at different places. I would put some of the money in savings, and I would use some of it to travel, and I'm sure I'd do some shopping. ;) I would also like to donate some of it to organizations that I feel strongly about. I would not move to a bigger house or buy a fancy car - none of that flashy stuff for me. But I wouldn't mind an apartment in London or Paris or somewhere equally as lovely...

Places I have lived

St. Paul, Minnesota
London, England
Caen, France
Besançon, France
Paris, France
Florence, Italy

6 people I want to know more about

It was hard to find six of you who hadn't done this already! I think I managed, but I may not have looked far enough back in your blogs. Sorry if you've already been tagged for this.

G of doe-c-doe
Kajsa of Syko
Melody of biglittlesister
Westy of Westy Art

If any of you ladies don't want to do this, I won't be offended!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I got this from Domesticali - I didn't do it at first, because I thought you might have to have a Flickr account. But hooray! You can do it without one.

1. Katherine 2, 2. Black Apple, 3. Blake, 4. Let's Get Green! Please take a moment to read..., 5. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, 6. Rose champagne - infinite bubbles - If you like it fav it or leave a comment please, 7. Europe, Greece, Santorini, Greek Islands, Oia, 8. mmm, cupcakes, 9. Veterinarian's Office, 10. Family Portrait, 11. Thank God for Dogs, 12. kitten and mitten

Here's what you do:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

The questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Here's what I typed in:
1. Katherine
2. apples [It was hard to pick just one! But that's what I wanted at the time, so...]
3. Blake
4. green
5. Jonathan Rhys Meyers
6. champagne
7. Greek Islands [I've been to Athens, and I wouldn't object to going again, but really I just long for those beautiful white buildings with the blue doors and cats wandering around, with all that sparkling water as the backdrop. Ahhh...]
8. cupcakes
9. veterinarian [That was the first thing I ever wanted to be. It is not what I am doing now, and I'm ok with that! Did you really think I wanted to be a duck?]
10. Softies! No, really I put 'family.'
11. empathetic
12. kittens mittens [Ok, so I don't actually have an account, but if I did it would certainly be something like that.]

Saturday, June 7, 2008

One Local Summer

I discovered a blog online that was doing a challenge called 'One Local Summer,' and I just love the idea. Each week, you cook at least one meal using only local ingredients. Then you post about it in your blog. I thought this was great, and am very excited about participating! I didn't make it to the Farmer's Market last weekend, so I may have to stock up this weekend. But I found some local food at our co-op, and made a delicious brunch on Wednesday. Bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast with raspberry jam, all from right around here. Yum!

What I really enjoy is how much this gets me thinking about where my food is coming from. I'm paying a lot more attention to how far something has traveled before it comes to rest in my shopping basket...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Card and a Winner

[This post could have easily been titled 'Ugly Photo Post.' Sorry about the quality of the pics, but bear with me.]

First of all, I made another card for the Daring Cardmakers (DCM) challenge. This week, it was called 'It's All in the Shape,' and you had to make a card that was a unique shape (as in, not a square or rectangle). Well, we went to our friends' wedding today, so I decided I would make a wedding cake-shaped card:

And actually, the stamp I used for the design on the cake looked a lot like how their cake was decorated, funnily enough. Though they had it over the whole cake, and I didn't use their colors for the card.

Ok, I know you all just want to know who the winner is. Well, I used a random number generator to decide the winner (I didn't have too many entries, but using the RNG makes me feel like the responsibility is out of my hands, and then I feel less guilty that not everyone can win...). And the RNG chose the number:

Four! Melody is the winner. Congratulations! Email me your mailing address, and I will send your magazine off to you as soon as possible. And thank you to all of you who entered.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

This post actually has nothing to do with Memorial Day. I'm in bed feeling sorry for my throat, so I'm not exactly doing something special to celebrate. :) But I did want to post (belatedly, as usual) about another holiday: Mother's Day.

For Mother's Day (which was May 11th here in the States), I made dinner for my mom. I'll give you one guess where the recipe is from! [Honestly, I do cook things that aren't in that book. I really do].

I made Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms, only I made a few changes. I'll write down the original recipe for you, and then tell you what I did differently:

* 8 oz/4 cups finely sliced cremini mushrooms
* 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
* small garlic clove, minced
* zest and juice of a lemon
* 4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped to give 1 teaspoon leaves
* 1 lb linguine
* 1 bunch parsley, chopped to give 1/2 cup
* 2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
* freshly ground pepper

1. Slice the mushrooms finely, and put them into a large bowl with the oil, salt, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, and gorgeously scented thyme leaves.

2. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and drain loosely, retaining some water. Quickly put the pasta in the bowl with the mushroom mixture.

3. Toss everything together well, and then add the parsley, cheese, and pepper before tossing again, and eat with joy in your heart.

Nothing in the recipe calls for cooking the mushrooms, but I like them cooked, so what I do is put the slices of mushrooms in a pan with the oil, salt, and garlic, and I sauté them. Then I do pretty much everything else the same, adding in the lemon and thyme at the same time as the parsley, etc.

Sorry it's not the best photo, but I forgot to take a close-up of the dish, so I just snapped a picture really fast before we tucked in. :)

On a completely different note, I just wanted to mention that my pay-it-forward swap is now closed. I'm hoping to get a start on those projects sometime soon, but won't be able to share them with you until they make it to their new homes...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Showers of Love

As I mentioned earlier, I recently hosted a wedding shower for a good friend of mine. She and I work together at one of my jobs, and another friend and I co-hosted the shower for all our coworkers at that job. We work at a local, independently-owned giftstore (a really wonderful little shop) and I had my friend C, the bride-to-be, register there for her gifts for the shower. Then I made the invitations:

The little hearts were placed loosely in the envelope, so that they would 'shower' out as the invitation was opened.

J was the woman I was co-hosting with, and she and I provided drinks and desserts, as well as an appetizer each. Then we had each guest bring an appetizer to share. There was some good food there, I tell you! The appetizer that I made was from Nigella Express (are you starting to get the feeling that this is maybe my favorite cookbook ever?) It's called 'Mozzarella With Crazy Gremolata.' Easy and tasty, so it doesn't get much better than that...

Recipe for Mozzarella With Crazy Gremolata:
* 2 balls buffalo mozzarella
* 1 long red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
* 6 black olives, finely chopped
* zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
* 1/2 clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
* 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Slice the mozzarella into 1/4-inch rounds and arrange them on a plate.
2. In a bowl, mix the chopped chile with the chopped olives, lemon zest, and minced garlic.
3. Tip in the salt, oil, and parsley and stir together to make your c-c-c-c-razy gremolata. [Nigella's way of putting it, not mine!]
4. Spoon the gremolata down the center of your sliced mozzarella.

Serves 6 as part of a starter.

I skipped the lemon zest, I guess mostly to save a little time, and I think that I used smaller (and a few more) balls of mozzarella than she did, but otherwise that's basically what I did. All the ingredients (other than the parsley, which came from my garden) are from an organic coop in the Twin Cities, and I served it on a fresh baguette from the same coop.
This is the second time I have made this appetizer, and everyone has loved it. At the shower I had several people ask me for the recipe. And it is so easy. So try it, already!

For the dessert that I brought, I made cupcakes. If you read this post, then you know how busy I was at the time. So unfortunately, they are not from scratch, which I would have preferred.

But I did decorate them with wedding bands, including a 'diamond,' so maybe that makes up for it!

I also made little goody bags for each of the guests. They were really easy to put together, and it was fun for everyone to leave with a little treat. I stamped the tags (I don't know if it shows up in this picture, but they say 'for you') and I attached them with heart-shaped brads. As for the goodies, they include: champagne-shaped blowing bubbles from the store where we all work, milk chocolate and almond kisses, and handmade soap from Etsy. [Oooh, Etsy! That's going to be a whole post in and of itself. Stay tuned!]

The soap was supposed to be strawberry scented, but unfortunately it didn't smell as good as I'd hoped (kind of more like playdoh). That's ok, though, because they were cute, organic, and I was supporting someone's handmade, independent business. [If you like organic, handmade bath products that smell so good you could eat them, Lush is the place to go - don't you agree?]

Ok, now for the decorating. J's girls picked some flowers from the yard for the party.  I thought they looked beautiful, especially the way the light was hitting them.

J was really fun to plan a party with. A lot of people I know like to throw some chips in a bowl, put out some paper plates, and call it a party. But not me and J (and from what I can tell, you all are with us on this one!) We used glass plates and real glasses and serving ware. And we had a color scheme going on (silver, white, and a pretty green). Here's J's buffet in her dining room:

And what party would be complete without balloons?!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Better Late Than Never

I recently came across the Daring Cardmakers blog (from someone else's blog, and I'm so sorry - I can't remember now whose it was).
*** Edited to add: Gina reminded me that it was her blog. :) **** Basically, they do a challenge once a week (at least), where they post about something that you need to include in your card. Anyone who wants to can make a card fulfilling the requirements, and then post a link to it in the comments. They post a new challenge every Friday, and my card actually fulfills last week's challenge, rather than the current one (hence the title of this post...). But I didn't quite feel up to crafting earlier this week, so it didn't get made until yesterday:

Last week's dare was called Animalia, based on the book by Graeme Base. (Which happens to be one of my favorite children's books. Check it out, if you don't know it already!)

For the Animalia dare, all you had to do was include an animal on your card.

Well, this was very convenient as I had already picked up this monkey paper with my brother in mind. I needed to make him a thank you card, and he loooooves monkeys, so as soon as I saw this paper I knew it was destined for his card. :)

I also tried something that I've been wanting to do for awhile now, but hadn't gotten around to yet:

I love 'lined' envelopes. I think it makes them as special as the card, and it's fun to coordinate the two. I had never done it myself before, and it was super easy.

(You might even notice that the circles on the paper I chose for the lining mirror the circles in the background of the monkey paper. No accident, that!)

And while we're on the subject of cards, here's a sweet one that came in the mail today from a good friend of mine:

Although she's a crafty-type herself (scrapbooking, mostly) she didn't make this card. But it really got the gears turning in my head. I love how ribbons were used for the 'bandages,' and I love that the animals are cutouts. I will have to give something like this a go myself. (And it ties in so well with the Animalia theme, too!).

And, you know, speaking of cards and better-late-than-never, I did some stamping today, and I finally have a set of cards similar to this one all done. [Ali - now all I have to do is feel well enough to make it to the post office!]

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's That Time Again

Giveaway time, that is! When I was in France, I picked up a couple copies of Marie Claire Idées. I had never heard of that particular magazine before I started reading blogs, but as soon as I saw it, it looked like my kind of thing. I picked up the most recent copy (at the time - looks like doe-c-doe has her hands on the newest one now!) for me. But it seemed to me that many of you already had your own copy of that one. [Though of course now I can only find one link to back that statement up! But really, I did see it in more than one place!]

I also picked up another Marie Claire Idées that they had at the bookstore. It's an 'Hors-Série' one for April (I know it's May now, but hey - we were gone all of April!) It's a special one all about babies. And no, there isn't something I've been holding back from you! I'm not having a baby, I just couldn't resist the magazine! Plus, my mom and I are hosting a baby shower this summer, so I could use that as my justification for buying it. :)

It has some great ideas in there about things for baby showers, as well as adorable baby gifts, and even some things that I would just like to make for me! I'm really hoping to try my hand at these cookies for the shower we're hosting:

I hadn't seen anyone post about this copy of Marie Claire Idées, so I picked up a second one for one of you! It's still wrapped in it's original packaging, and even has a free embroidery gift that comes with it:

You do not have to have a baby to enter. It has beautiful photography, and lovely ideas, and is so worth having even if you don't have a specific baby to make things for. :) All you have to do is leave me a comment. I'll leave it open for a week, and draw the winner next Saturday. Maybe I'll even use one of those random number generators to take it completely out of my hands. And ideas on where to find a good one?

Ok, folks. Enter by noon Minnesota time on Saturday, May 31st.

And can I just say, I am so obsessed with this magazine now? I gotta ask doe-c-doe where she gets hers here. Somehow I just don't think I'll be able to pull off a trip to France every three months to pick it up...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'd Like to Introduce You to My Family

I always think it's fun to have at least an idea of whose words you are reading. So I would like to introduce you And my immediate family.

This is me. 

My husband. He's a musician, so you get a photo of his guitar.

My beautiful baby girl, Mary. She just happens to be the model for my profile pic.

My handsome baby boy, Oscar. Look, you can tell he knows just how handsome he is!

Kitty photos by my friend, C.