Finally February

It’s finally February! It seems like January just dragged on and on. I apologize for the delay in posts. It’s been a busy week.

The fellow and I made the first batch of mead. It’s sitting in the craft room just  bubbling away. I’m anxious to see if it tastes good, but I’ve got a long while yet to wait.

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Happy little mead jug

Next weekend there is a SCA event, and I’m staying busy getting things in order for it. I have decided that I want to hand-stitch a Viking under dress and an apron dress. I’m moving toward more obtainable period colors (a lot of the fabric and color combinations we use now are a result of our accessibility to colored linen and while they are possibly in period – especially for the wealthy – they were not common), and I want to create some lasting garments. The goal is to have pieces which I can mix and match.

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All of the tiny stitches!

Right now I’m working on the apron dress (the outer layer) and it’s going well. I know that I cut it a bit small, but I plan to add extra side panels in a looser stitch so that they can be removed when I have a size change.  I hope with some luck to be able to wear it next week, but we will see.

On another note, it seems that love is in the air! I tried to hold out until February, but I put up some Valentine’s Day decorations last weekend. Yesterday I put up the bulletin board at work. I wasn’t sure if it was cheesy, but my team said that it was cute, and dinosaurs never go out of style! What do you think?

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Christmas Traditions

Well, friends, Christmas has come and gone. I hate to admit it, but I barely managed to get all of the gifts finished and wrapped with minimal last-minute panic. There always seems to be at least one gift that takes all the way to Christmas Eve to finish.

I have to say the Fellow did awesome with his gifts – a giant, fuzzy blanket (one of my favorite things) and a pour-over coffee pot – two things I’ve been wanting, but kept putting off getting myself. Those are the best types of presents!

Christmas Day stays stressful trying to make travel plans and get to two family gatherings.

Christmas Day the Fellow had to work, so I headed to my family’s Christmas. After a brief mix-up with directions, trying to meet up with Grammy, we finally made it down home.

My family always eats oyster stew for breakfast on Christmas morning. With us getting there a bit late though, we somehow managed to stay on coffee and missed the stew! I did get some yummy fried oysters at lunch though.

We exchanged gifts, and I got to open a little box that I’ve seen at least 24 times before, but this time it was on my pile of gifts – a tea towel calendar. As it says on the box, “Use it  as a calendar for a year; use it as a towel forever!” My mother gifts one to both of my grandmothers every single Christmas. With the purchase of the new house, she added me to the list.

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I had a wonderful Christmas time with both of our families and friends – good food, conversation, Christmas carols, and holiday spirit. And now Happy New Year!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the presents are (pretty much) wrapped and under the tree, and everything is buzzing with the holiday spirit.

We’ve had a lot of fun activities at work: visits from Santa, Comfy-Cozy Day, Holiday Tie/Scarf Day, Holiday Hat Day, hot cocoa, pie-eating contests, gingerbread-decorating contests, gift exchanges, and more. It’s fun when everyone is in the holiday spirit.

I’m sorry for the lack of blog post last week. With the holidays, things are crazy but fun. I’m so excited to show you my Christmas decorations. Basically, everything I have came from my grandmother. She painted ceramics in the 70s, and I remember them being strewn around her home. I’m so excited to have them out at my house this year!

These carolers on my mantle are probably my favorite. I love the way the wind is blowing their skirts. The lamppost lights up, but it isn’t close enough to an outlet for me to plug it in.

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I was so excited about having a mantle to decorate when we bought the new house. These milk glass owls have been with me since my first apartment, and they seem right at home.

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I don’t have a lot of surfaces to decorate, so I decided to make use of what I have and decorate the window sills. The nesting Santas and angel bell were a gift from my grandmother, and the box book was a gift from the fellow’s mother.

I was so excited to dig this ceramic Christmas tree out. Both of my grandmothers have one, and I’ve always loved them.

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And finally – the tree! I got my little 6-foot tree at Goodwill for $5.00. The balls are all vintage with one or two exceptions. The spindle at the top is my favorite part.

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The chair is an antique as well. It was my great Aunt E’s, and I love it. My mother was worried about the red with the blue of my room, but I think it works just fine.

Only 3 more days until Christmas!

Halloween: Lions and Vampires, Oh My!

First of all, I am writing this from the one piece of furniture in my newly purchased house. I am SO excited. All kinds of DIY and updates will be coming soon, I’m sure!

But for now let’s focus on this past weekend. Have I mentioned that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays? I think I may have just barely mentioned it once or twice . . . I love, love, love it!

I love DIY costumes, especially ones that allow me to bust out my special effects makeup. I try not to duplicate costumes, but I do sometimes revisit ideas.

High School and College Vampire Costumes

One of the costumes that I’ve done at least two other times in different variations is a vampire. This year I went as a half-starved vampiress looking for her blood donor.

My plan was full-piled Victorian hair, ruffled shirt, and vintage shoes. However, there was a last-second scheduling shift, and I was called into work two hours early, and I couldn’t dig out all of my costumes pieces. I ended up with my full hair and a flowery high/low dress with ruffled sweater and black boots. My boss told me I looked like one of the Vampire Diaries vampires.

The secret to my vampire look is always my Scarecrow fangs. They really kick it up a notch and are inexpensive. My set was maybe $15.00 at the local Hot Topic.

For our couples costume, (Have I mentioned that my fellow really, really loves me?) I was dead set on being a lion tamer from the circus and having him be a strong man.

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I couldn’t find a red and white striped shirt in a store whatsoever. I was going to order one online, but they were at least $25.00, and we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to make it to our party anyway, so I ended up grabbing a $7.00 lion accessory kit from Wal-mart just in case.

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Look. At. How. Cute. That. Tail. Is. Seriously, I could die from the cute. He actually kept it on for about an hour, which is much longer than I expected.

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We had delicious food, drank out of a giant pumpkin, carved jack-o-lanterns, went to a haunted house, and sang around a campfire. Absolutely everything I always want Halloween to be!

I can’t wait to hand out candy to the neighborhood kids next year!

 

It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus!

I know it’s not October yet, but I am so ready for Halloween. I broke out my dvd stash and watched Hocus Pocus over the weekend.

I don’t know why Sarah Jessica Parker gets such a bum rap. I think she’s the cutest. Her performance as the boy-crazy Sarah Sanderson is adorable.

Funny enough, for all my love of Disney, I didn’t watch Hocus Pocus until high school. If you’ve somehow missed out on this adorable Halloween classic, you need to check it out.

Speaking of Hocus Pocus, fall is also Renn Faire time! I’m not sure if I will make it out this year (Next week is Pirate weekend, and I really want to go, but it’s not looking good.), but a year or so ago I saw these lovely Sanderson Sister cosplayers at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. (If you know who they are, please let me know – I’d love to link over to them.)

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I also took advantage of the first crisp morning for an excuse to show off my shiny that just got back from being resized a mini-fall photo shoot. My fellow wasn’t around to be in the pictures that day.  I can’t wait to actually get our engagement photos taken!

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Nothing like tea and a good book!

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Mermaid Birthday Party

I love mermaids. I can remember trying to swim around my grandparents’ pool like a mermaid. Fairies are cute, but mermaids are captivating. I also feel that they get overlooked. Outside of The Little Mermaid, they don’t get much attention. They are side plots or supporting characters. I want a deep mermaid movie with a good budget, amazing special effects, a gorgeous set, and stunning costuming. Is that so much to ask? I’d settle for a good mermaid book though. Any suggestions, let me know.

When I was a kid around the time The Little Mermaid II was released (at the beginning of the Disney sequel downhill spiral), my parents threw me an awesome pool party with a Little Mermaid theme. This was quite the request on my part as my birthday is in October.

loved it.

One of my friends at work is a DIY and craft goddess, and her (adorable) little girl is turning two. She’s throwing her a mermaid party and asked me to make the birthday cake.

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The majority of the cake is decorated with fondant seaweed ruffles.The starfish are not edible. This cake will inevitably turn into a cake smash picture prop for the birthday girl, and the rest of the guests will be eating cupcakes.

The fishbowl in the background is just one of the awesome decorations this crafty mama has put together for this “soirée” as they say.

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I also made a mermaid outfit for the big day. Every mermaid needs some sparkle to her scales.

Mother’s Day

“What makes mother’s all that they are?Might as well ask what makes a star.”

Have I mentioned I’m a total Disney fanatic? Peter Pan has such a lasting quality to it. I’m slightly obsessed with Disney villains so Captain Hook makes Peter Pan a top runner on my favorites’ list. I keep waiting for there to be a Captain Hook movie. I had high hopes with Pan, but it was a total disaster. I’ll probably end up with an Evil Queen movie before I see a good JAS Hook film, which I wouldn’t mind too much as I adore the Evil Queen. I even wrote a psychoanalysis of her in college. Disney has some mommy issues, but still, the above clip is such a cute scene!

Speaking of mothers, Mother’s Day was Sunday.

(By the way, my mother was very concerned that I started a Mother’s Day post by talking about evil stepmothers.)

Anywhoo, on Saturday, my parents picked me up and we headed up the road to PA where we picked up my grandmother. We went out to eat at a restaurant that Grammy likes; then went out to visit an old cemetery with some family graves. We also tried to find our way back to a graveyard we had visited 2 years ago with my aunt (who has since passed and was the one who knew how to find it), but we couldn’t find it. For some reason, my mother was relying on me to recall the way to this cemetery which isn’t even marked on Google Maps.

It’s a running joke in my family that I have a terrible sense of direction. My father once told me, “Now C- on the east coast mountains run north to south which means that the valleys run east to west and moss always grows on the north side of a tree, so you should never be lost.” To which I responded, “That may be true, but by the time I’m out of my car looking at the moss on a tree we’ve got bigger problems.”

So I’m not quite sure how they thought that I was going to locate this, but there we were trekking off to Narnia. When I realized  that they were looking to my internal compass to get where we needed to be, I figured that this was better a trip for another day and had them head back towards WV. We’ll leave that trip for another day when I have time to Google the route.

I’m sure that that trip will have plenty of laughs, but in the mean time I’ll leave you with the cute Mother’s Day treats I made for everyone -sunflower trail mix Mason jars.

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Originally the jars were to have tags which read, “Nuts about you,” but my computer was acting up.

Items needed:

  1. Mason Jars
  2. Mixed Nuts, Granola, M&Ms
  3. Ribbon
  4. Flowers
  5. Hot Glue

This is a quick, easy gift. Fill the Mason jar with your trail mix or granola, put the lid on, tie a bow around the jar, and hot glue a flower to the bow.

(I say easy, but for some reason at 11 o’clock the night before Mother’s Day I couldn’t tie a bow to save my life.)

 

My Name Is…

I have a list at my desk that I started when I began working for my company. This list is three columns long and includes everything that I have been called that is not my name.

I’ve been called Candy, Kitty, Pete, June, Tee Dee, Dee, Karen, Cathy, and Gary. Yes, Gary.

I’m not sure what is so confusing about my name. I think it’s mainly that the person on the other end of my phone line is ruffling through papers, looking for information, and dealing with customers for the first few seconds of the call, so it’s easy to get distracted.

That being said, I’ve gotten really used to explaining and spelling my name. (Any other ‘90s kids out there who never found a personalized souvenir at the beach?) So, I totally get it and try to be sensitive when other people have difficult-to-spell names.

The other day I was having a really rough day. I was behind on some things and had been working with an extremely upset customer for over an hour and a half and was hurrying to get some things out to my team, and I committed a cardinal sin: I didn’t proofread an email!

Luckily for me, the email only went out to about 5 team members. In the email, I listed names and tasks which needed completed. One of these team members is a very sweet wonderful lady named Kayla.

Kayla’s last same is spelled something along the lines of Sub*********e. (Seriously, I cannot spell her name without looking it up . . .) I usually just shorten it to Sub in my rough draft. I typed her last name as best I could intending to go back and fix it before clicking send; however, in my haste, the email went out to KAYLA SUBMARINE. Yes, in all caps. Thanks, auto-correct.

Thankfully, she brought it to me laughing and thought it was very funny. It definitely was good to get a big belly laugh at the end of a hard day. I’ve chuckled about it a few times this week and figured I could use it to fuel my latest craft.

I keep seeing these adorable felt animals and scenes on Pinterest and have wanted to try one out, so I figured I’d make a little felt submarine to hang from Kayla’s shelf.

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Every submarine picture I found was of a yellow submarine. (I can thank the Beatles for that.) I opted for shades of blue.

 

 

I’d love to see your take on these submarines. Feel free to right click and print the template and share!

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Easter Bunny Disaster

Do you ever get one of those ideas that are going to be t-totally awesome? Like, change the course of history, better than sliced bread, this changes everything type of idea? Yes? Then you probably know as well as I do that those types of ideas usually end in disaster.

If you Pinterest cakes at all recently, you’ve probably seen a “Surprise Cake.” Basically, when you cut into a cake, you see a shape.

(Seriously, check these out; they’re super neat!)

I got the bright idea to make a cake for Easter dinner. Before I settled on a Surprise Cake, I mentioned to my mother that I was thinking about making a carrot cake. She, in turn, mentioned this to my father who was very excited about having carrot cake since it’s one dessert that my mother doesn’t make. I hated to disappoint him so I thought, well, I can just make a Surprise Carrot Cake…

I was soon to find out that this idea was a huge mistake.

When making a Surprise Cake, you need to have cakes in two different colors. I figured that a cheesecake would work. I was very wrong.

The cookie cutter that I had gotten was too tall to use in one of my regular 9 or 6-inch cake pans, so I figured I could bake the whole cake in one layer in a coffee can. Fun fact – coffee cans aren’t metal anymore. Realizing this, I went and got a giant gallon can of green beans I would then have for dinner. You can’t have green beans by themselves so I also ended up buying a ham (In case you hadn’t realized it yet, this story is quickly turning into If You Give a Mouse a Cookie meets A Series of Unfortunate Events).

Once I got the green beans home, I learned that my can opener wouldn’t handle the industrial walls of the giant green bean can… I had the fellow open it with his multi-use tool, but the edge was ruined. Luckily, he had gallon cans he had saved from work for use in some crafts (so I didn’t need to buy the green beans after all…).

I made a cheesecake from scratch and made up the carrot cake batter (which was an entire situation to itself; my tiny food processor raged a fierce war on my kitchen with all of the carrot mess). With the cheesecake out of the oven and cooling, and the carrot cake batter mixed and sitting on the counter, I realized I’d neglected to account for the cooling period of the cheesecake.

Panicked, I threw the cheesecake in the freezer and ran to the store to grab a pre-made cheesecake since it was eight at night and I needed to go to bed. Second mistake: I grabbed a frozen cheesecake and didn’t think about the time needed to thaw it.

Thankfully, by the time I got home and finished fooling with the frozen cheesecake (which is still in my freezer….) the homemade cheesecake was set up enough to hold.

I cut out my bunny and put it in the can. Enter problem number three: Somehow I had decided that I should start to make a layer of the cake first so the cheesecake wouldn’t sink to the bottom. This was a terrible, terrible life choice.

The cake did actually bake very nicely in the can, and I turned it upside down as the recipe recommended. This was something else I hadn’t accounted for – how much water the carrots would add as the top of the cake was very, very moist. I’d never made a carrot cake before and didn’t realize quite how crumbly this would be.

The next day I got up at four to go work out and figured I’d get the cake out of the pan and all ready, so I could ice it right when I got home from the gym. Thank goodness I was up early. When I got it out of the pan, the layer I had baked before adding the cheesecake split causing the top two-thirds of the cake to shift – which then put stress on the cheesecake center and the whole thing fell to pieces.

(Excuse the quality of the photo; I snapped it to send to the fellow as I was freaking out at 4 am.)

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So there I am, Easter Morning, 4 am with our dessert in pieces on the counter.

Frantic, I threw on my shoes and ran to Wal-Mart for a box of carrot cake mix. I hurried back; mixed it up and got the cake in the oven, and then went to clean up the mess of my homemade disaster.

I threw out one of the sections, but then started to feel bad about just throwing out all of the ingredients/time/effort. A quick Pinterest and Google search offered plenty of suggestions to reuse birthday cake, but a carrot cake trifle just didn’t seem appealing.

Then I got an idea… I would take half of the cake and some of the smaller sections and turn it into a rabbit-shaped cake.

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See how cute?!

I had already baked the other cake, so I ended up with two Easter carrot cakes. I took the larger box mix cake for my family’s dinner and the smaller rabbit cake to the fellow’s.

 

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(My family wasn’t a fan of the edible Easter basket grass, but I thought it was adorable.)

Looking back, I should’ve timed it better, and started much smaller. I just took on way too much without enough background experience. Fortunately, it all turned out delicious in the end.

My family still has an Easter Egg hunt even though it’s just my Grandmother, 26-year-old brother and myself (and our significant others when they’re with us for Easter). Look at how adorable my grandmother is – she’s such a good sport.

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Gingerbread and Shamrocks

Have I mentioned that I’ve always been slightly obsessed with Ireland?

Someday I hope to visit and see the old ruins and castles, wander through little towns, stop and eat in pubs, and chat with the locals.

Granted, I’m American, which means that I most likely will actually be on super commercial tours and be generally annoying to the locals, but a gal can dream.

As a girl I was always told that I had ancestors that were from Ireland, but I was never able to trace the genealogy. A few summers ago, we dug into it a bit and we’re one missing link away from connecting our family to the high kings of Ireland (and hey, that’s close enough to royalty that I’m counting it).

Anyway, the love of Ireland means that I love St. Patrick’s Day. For our monthly pot luck I made a batch of warm spicy gingerbread cookies. For the majority of the cookies, I dipped them in melted white chocolate and it was delicious! I’m definitely tucking this one away for all kinds of occasions – Christmas especially! I can think of all sorts of different applications – using the chocolate to adhere festive sprinkles, bits of candy bars, all different types of cookies as well. It’s just so darn simple and pretty.

The circles with the clovers are the white chocolate dipped cookies. The other cut-out cookies are held together with icing. I made a grand total of three of the Celtic knots before I realized that without a cookie cutter I would be there all night. But they did look super neat!

I also made a beef pot pie with a Celtic knot crust. I don’t own a deep pie pan so I used a cake pan and it didn’t quite work as well as I had hoped. The thin edge didn’t support my crust and the crimped edge didn’t hold.

 

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Not quite as decorative as I had hoped but it sure was yummy!

Life has been very full these days. I’ve been working a lot of over time. I was promoted at work and I am very excited, but as I’m transitioning over I’m worried about my old slot.

I’m trying to get things set up for the girl moving over full-time to have all the resources she needs. Not that I won’t be just a few desks over, but I still worry about the sudden change and making sure everything goes smoothly. I’ve been working through lunch and trying to get to work a little earlier to get a few things together for her.

I’m also partnering with a lady at work to start an employee-based wellness support group, and I’ve been working on some documents for that. I hope that the group catches on as I feel that we can achieve so much and really help with the work/home/life balance.

On top of the new work things, I’m also trying to get the apartment more organized, and I’ve been getting up at 4:30-5:00 to work out. I can’t quite make myself go to the gym, but I have a few DVD work outs I’ve been trying. I lost 20 pounds last year, but I’ve gained about 5 back. It’s beginning to get me down so I’m trying to get myself back on a healthier path.

Throw in trying to keep up with friends, family and the fellow, and I’m a bit overwhelmed. But overall, everything is a positive and I’m so excited about what is in store!