Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year

I love that week between Christmas and New Year's Eve, it's quiet and relaxing, full of late mornings and lounging on the couch.  Gave me plenty of time to come up with some goals for the new year.  I was talking to my daughter about resolutions, trying to explain that "eating more cookies" and "playing at my friend's house" aren't exactly what I had in mind, but then again, enjoying good food and good company are pretty great goals.  From the mouths of babes people.

So my list for the new year is daunting, but I'm trying to see it more like an outline to keep me on track, to avoid those days when I feel I'm being pulled in seven directions, to give me focus and enjoy the good parts.

1. Eat More Cookies.  
My daughter's idea rings true, the English have tea time, I have 2:00pm coffee cookie time. Those are Candy Cane Jo-Jos, a personal favorite.



2. Plan Weekly Menus.
This one is tricky because A. my daughter will only eat three different things for dinner and B. my husband is only home for dinner three nights a week.  I tend to wing it on nights he's not home and end up eating frozen waffles or salad while my daughter dines on chicken nuggets for the 567th time.  I would like to plan a week of meals, shop accordingly and stick to it. 



3. Include a New Recipe Once a Week
This is tied to goal number 2 obviously, but I get stuck in a rut with our menu options, which is silly because I love to cook and I am not a picky eater. 

4. Organize My Day
This idea comes from my friend Robin at TheFancyLamb.  She has a wonderful daily time plan that I strive to achieve.  I'm constantly running around, trying to figure out what needs my attention next, instead of planning what needs to get done and when I should do it.  In fact, I just ordered one of her awesome daily planners to do so! I do love chartreuse.


5. Have a Daily Routine to Keep the House Clean
I am a neat freak but my child and husband seem to be on a mission to constantly sabotage my organization.  The kitchen table is a case in point. I go to bed with a clean table every night, magically every morning I wake up to this:


And my husband's bowl of mail drives me crazy:


I need a daily check list of little things to get done so at the end of the week I'm not starting over again.

6. Record Receipts.
I use my debit card a lot.  My husband is a cash person.  I have a tendency to hoard receipts in my billfold until I have a wallet that could contend with George Costanza.  This also leads to our bank balance online not matching our checkbook register.  Which doesn't bother me, but drives a certain someone nuts.  Also, the pages of receipts in my wallet make me feel frazzled, so on my daily list of chores goes "Record the days receipts"


7. Take My Camera Everywhere
I love my camera, I love taking pictures, why don't I take it with me more often?  I think I'm scared of breaking it by dragging it everywhere with me, but sitting on my shelf at home isn't doing me any good either.  I can't tell you home many times I've been driving Kelly to a class or the library and saw a tree, a gorgeous view of the river and wished I'd had it with me. 



8. Figure Out What to Do With My Uterus.
Sorry, that's probably TMI, but this is the year I need to choose a path.  I have severe endometriosis, with a lot of pain.  I had laproscopic surgery last year to remove a cyst from my left ovary and my doctor didn't think we'd be able to have more children based on the adhesions and scarring she saw.  I've been on Lupron to treat the pain for the last 5 months, but it's beginning to be ineffective and my old friend Lefty (that's what I call the troublemaking ovary) is having a negative impact on my life.  So, we have choices to make this year, try for one more child, have a hysterectomy to end this battle of failed treatments, or both?  Obviously, one has to follow the other.  

9. Blog More
That really speaks for itself, I hope taking my camera everywhere helps me here.

10. Launch New Product Line and Website
I have a new type of jewelry I'm working on that I hope to launch this Spring.  And a website, I love Etsy and will definitely keep my shop there, but feel I also need my own site to take it to a whole 'nuther level.

So, 2012 is going to be a big year.  It appears my main goal is time related, how to use it, how to maximize it and how to not throw the mail bowl through the window.  It seems like a huge list, but I have a whole year to achieve it!

What goals do you have this year?  I'd love to hear your resolutions and how you hope to reach them.

Happy New Year!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Party Girl

My husband's corporate holiday party is looming, it's like a grown up Prom and I always go with a never fail little black dress.  This year I'm going to be brave and amp it up a bit.  Sleeveless dresses seem counter intuitive during a Midwestern winter, but they can always be paired with a pretty cardigan and vintage jewelry for a little sparkle.

Clockwise from the top:

Linen Party Dress by larimeloom, $175.76

Vintage Weiss Earrings from jeanjeanvintage, $32

Tulip Hem Dress by alisondahl, $228

Vintage Silver Tassel Necklace from allencompanyinc, $24

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vintage Christmas

"Christmas is a time when you get homesick, even when you're home." - Carol Nelson

The holidays are when we long for home, for tradition and that deep sense of belonging we get from time with family.  Vintage decorations help create this warm environment, each object is infused with it's own history and yet they are ready to add to your own.

What are your holiday memories?  I remember as a child banging away on the keys of our piano, playing my own choppy version of I Saw Three Ships.  I loved when my mom would take a break from the kitchen, sit down and play Christmas carols from our faded and dogeared book of holiday sheet music.  There's nothing like the sound of real music in the house.

Clockwise from the top:

Vintage Wooden Christmas Ornaments from lovintagefinds, $24

Vintage Christmas Tip Jar from KingsDownRoad, $24

Antique Sheet Music Bundle from VintageScraps, $6

12 Red Vintage Shiny Brite Ornaments from RobertaGrove, $12

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holiday Hostess

Hosting a holiday party is so much work, I like to make sure to thank the host or hostess with something special.  I love bringing a handmade gift to show how much I appreciate the invite, the party and all the work that goes into the holidays!
Clockwise from the top:

Holiday Wreath by eclu, $59

Set of Four Hand Painted Espresso Cups by simplyprettyprints, $44

Cascade Tea Towel by jennarosehandmade, $15

2012 French Fine Art Photography Calendar by littlebrownpen, $22


Monday, October 31, 2011

Cozy Mornings

Some of you got snow this weekend, we haven't been so lucky.  We wake every morning with heavy frost and low lying fog.  Makes me want to crawl back in bed with my morning cup.

Clockwise from the top:

Beige and Black Wrist Warmer and Hat Set by elde, $60

Extra Large Dog Bed Duvet Cover by BowWowBeds, $40

Unisex Socks by RGideas, $34

Vintage Shenango Cups from oldschoolfarm, $17.50

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autumn Arrives

The past week was in the 80s and I hate to complain about non-freezing weather, but with my recent hot flashes I could have really used some cooler temperatures.  The cold front moved in tonight bringing rain followed by a rich pink sky. 








Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dress Yourself in Handmade: Suit Up


Menswear is still hot this season, with all it's sharp angles and leather.  I need another rain hat to protect my freshly straightened hair too.

Clockwise from the top:

Sting Jacket by threelittleducksaust, $220

Briefcase in Java Brown II Leather by jennyndesign, $232

Women's Rain Hat by moaningminnie, $55

XO Posts by foundling, $45

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dress Yourself in Vintage: Fall Farmers Market

The outdoor farmer's market is ending soon and with these chilly mornings I need to add a layer and maybe some boots.  We're very lucky in Geneva to have a winter market hosted by Inglenook Pantry, I can't wait for all the fall cheeses and root vegetables!

Clockwise from the top:

Vintage Pendleton Wool Sweater from meadowlark, $43

Vintage French Leather Drawstring Bag from bOmode, $79

Vintage ID Bracelet from jeanjeanvintage, $32

Soft Tan Leather Boots from OceanSwept, $94

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fall is Creeping In

Fall is slowly creeping in, with 50 degree nights and crisp breezes. I had to put the down filled duvet on the bed this week, making it hard to climb out of it's toasty warmth in the morning.  These items capture the autumn feeling that's spreading through our house, cozy beds, turning leaves, seasonal baking and cooking and sweet accessories.

Clockwise from the top:

The Color of Winter Leaves III by judemcconkey, $12

Wool Cabled Knit Pillow Sham by PreciousKnits, $79

Butterfly Hair Clip Set in Pumpkin Pie by paperdollaccessories, $6

Rustic Cutting Board in American Cherry by grayworksdesign, $85

Friday, September 9, 2011

Photo of the Day - Jinx's High Jinx


This is a vintage fruit crate I use as a backdrop for photographing jewelry - Jinx never fails to creep inside and make herself comfortable.  Sometimes she sticks her paws out of the hand holds to freak me out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

From the Kitchen: Roasted Acorn Squash



Yesterday was National Acorn Squash Day - how did you celebrate?  No really, it was. I just happen to have one sitting on my counter because the crisp Fall weather had lured me into buying things like apple cider and gourds (and cinnamon donuts).

I love roasting squash but my new hand/immersion blender has made the prep so much easier.  I got it at Costco and I've already used it for soups and smoothies and it comes with a whisk attachment - which makes quick work of scrambling eggs in the morning before school.

This isn't really a recipe so much as an outline.  Add whatever seasonings you like, I think cinnamon would be perfect, or even some heat with red pepper flakes? Squash is high in beta-carotine, fiber, vitamins B and C - plus it's a yellow - I try to eat the rainbow everyday (although some days gummi bears supplement the color chart).

This is going on the Thanksgiving menu since it can be made 1-2 days beforehand and reheated with the turkey.



Roasted Acorn Squash (or any winter squash/gourd)

1 acorn squash
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon butter
kosher salt
pepper
dash of cream (if you like that kind of thing, which I do)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Cut the squash in half, I use a rubber mallet to help it along.  Scoop out seeds and score the inside.  Rub 1/2 tbsp of butter on each side, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and 1 tbsp of brown sugar in each half.

Place a cooling rack inside a baking sheet to elevate the squash - this prevents the skins from burning.  If you don't have a rack that fits in your pan/sheet, just add a little water to the bottom of the pan.

Place in the over for about an hour, depending on the size of your squash.  It should be a toasty golden color when done.  Let them cool for a good 15-20 minutes, more if you have the time (makes it easier to handle them).

Scoop out the roasted squash into a mixing bowl, add another 1 tbsp of butter, a dash of cream or milk and use a hand blender to puree it.  You could also use a blender or food processor.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

My husband calls it baby food, but he took two helpings so who's the baby now?  You can certainly make this recipe more healthy by omitting cream, using less butter, salt or brown sugar, but why would you want to do that?

Printable Recipe Card - Roasted Acorn Squash




Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shop Update


I have a pile of gemstones that just arrived but I've put them away until I photograph and list the pile of completed jewelry waiting patiently.  It's easy to get behind on days that I want to keep the creative process going, but sometimes I have to stop and take care of the details.

The sun has shifted over our house and I'm forced to either wake up even earlier to get diffused light or switch to the North side of the house in the afternoon.  I love finding that perfect spot, where the natural light is just hits at all the right angles; it only lasts for an hour or two, but it's worth finding!

Here are some new pieces, with more to come this week!

Queen Bee - Gold Filled and Whiskey Quartz Necklace


Aquarius - Mystic Blue and Gold Filled Earrings

First Snow - Mystic Pearl Chalcedony and Sterling Snowflake Necklace


Muscadine - Lavender Czech Glass and Oxidized Brass Hoops

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dress Yourself in Handmade - Turquoise and Gray

Turquoise was last years hot color, but it doesn't seem to have been replaced with Honeysuckle pink.  I'm still seeing it splashed through the pages of French Vogue, Bazaar and in all sorts of fall fashion reports.  Easier to wear than pink, it adds a so much color to wardrobe basics.

Clockwise from the top:

Battleship Grey Bamboo Cowl Neck Dress by replicca, $70

Lagoon Turquoise Earrings by rachellucie, £20

Leather Stripes Grey Bag by smadars, $169

Seafoam Stained Wood Bangle by vozclothingandart, $12

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dress Yourself in Handmade - First Day of School

I'm taking Kelly to her first day of Kindergarten this week, we're both very excited.  It's got me thinking about all my first days, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and imagining all the first days to come.

Clockwise from the top:

French Black and White Striped Tee by modaspia $45

Brass Pendulum Hoops by GlitzGlitter, $30

Daniela Tote with Vegan Leather Bottom by cindymars7, $37

Refillable Notebook by timeforteame, $28

What's your favorite back to school memory?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vintage Home - Mad Men

I recently started watching Mad Men on Netflix after living under a rock for years and have been seriously impressed.  The characters are so complex, the story lines twist and turn and the sets are just gorgeous!  It's easy to see why there has been such a surge in Mid Century styles.

 Clockwise from the top:

Catherine Holm Avocado Enamel Lotus Bowl from 5gardenias, $76

Silver Ombre Tumblers in Chrome Caddy from CheekyChicVintage, $178

Night Owl Mid Century Art Print by poolponydesign, $70

Vintage Typewriter, Smith Corona Electra 120 from Sharingbliss, $69


So, without any spoilers, I'm only just into Season 3, who is your favorite character?



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aromatherapy

I like to change up my perfumes and lotions when the seasons shift.  Aromatherapy isn't a pseudoscience, the right scent can change your mood, lower your blood pressure, and set the tone for your day.  I can't wait to order a bunch of new scents for Fall, these are all handmade bath and beauty products, and all available on Etsy, see below for store links.


Clockwise from the top:




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dress Yourself in Handmade - Cool Mom

It's the most wonderful time of the year - first day of school!  I try to pull myself together, even if I'm just taking Kelly to school.  With some great basics in my closet it's easy to avoid the dreaded "pajama drop-off".  

Clockwise from the top:

Luxe Trench Jacket by yellowcake, $142

Modern Silver Rectangle Ring by monkeysalwayslook, $32

Earth Pickle Necklace by urbanlegend, $25

Mini Ruche Bag in Aztec III Brown by jennyndesign, $186

Thursday, July 21, 2011

From the Kitchen - Cantaloupe Ice Cream

I'm totally and completely addicted to ice cream.  My mom gave me a Cuisinart electric ice cream maker last summer to help feed my habit and it has changed my life (and my pant's size).  Once you go homemade it's very hard to go back to the store bought stuff, even the good stuff. 



I tend to make custard base ice creams in the winter, like peppermint, cookies and cream.  They are more work but taste very eggnogg-y and Christmas-y.  I like to make easy milk and cream fruit ice creams in the summer when fruit goes on sale and I come home with three bags of strawberries, cherries and melon. 

I bought a huge locally grown cantaloupe that tasted like a party in my mouth.  Kramer would approve of this melon.  I made fresh peach ice cream last week and ate it in about 4 days, so to get my fix I wanted to try adapting my peach recipe to use up some of this gargantuan melon. 

I was worried the melon would hold too much liquid and the ice cream would separate or get crunchy when it froze, but it was fine, perfect even.  The end result is a creamy ice cream (not sorbet-like at all) that smells and tastes like summer. 



Cantaloupe Ice Cream

Half of one very large cantaloupe, or one small melon.
1 cup sugar - divided
Juice of one lemon
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (use the good stuff)
2 cups cream

Dice up cantaloupe making sure to only include the peachy parts, no rind.  Place the chopped melon in a bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon.  Cover and let it macerate for 2 hours.

Mash the cantaloupe pieces - I use my mashed potato smasher.  You want raisin size pieces - too large and they'll crystallize and get too crunchy in the ice cream, too small and you miss the texture of the fruit.

Mix together 1 cup milk and the other 1/2 cup sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.  Add vanilla extract, and 2 cups cream, then add the mashed fruit and all the liquid.

Add it to your ice cream maker and follow your instruction manual.  Mine was done mixing after about 23 minutes, then I moved it to the freezer to firm up for a couple of hours, until I couldn't wait any longer to dig in!

Click here for a Printable Recipe Card.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kitteh!

Clockwise from the top:

Bad Ass Alley Cat Brooch by RoyalMint, $23


Mean Vegan Cat Canvas Tote Bag by bonspielcreation, $42

Fifi Shirt by PoisonPaws, $35

Cat Nap by jamieshelman, $20

We've been looking for a kitty for months, well Kelly and I have, Gary not so much.  After taking in a stray cat in May then finding his owners we were feeling a little bummed.  Plus, we have a bird and a dog, we needed a cat to fill in the predator/prey circle of life.

Meet Jinx.

We adopted her from a local shelter, she's about 2 months old and craaaaazy!  I haven't had a kitten in 18 years, seriously, I counted.  I forgot they're tiny crack heads for 2 hours a day - but she's a sweetie.  The dog is getting calmer around her, the chaos that was our first few days had subsided, though there are a lot of scenes like this.

Note the cat being "held" in the child's lap and the imposing large dog nose. 

There are a lot of scenes like this too:
 You can't see it, but guess where the birdcage is?

It's a madhouse around here, but a fun one.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Lake House



This year my Mom, Aunt and I planned a ladies week at a lake house in tiny Wautoma, Wisconsin.  We had some requirements for our lakehouse: sandy beach, a pier to sit on and ponder, air conditioning and WiFi.  We found exactly what we were looking for and though the weather didn't cooperate all week, it was a very relaxing get-away.

Little Hills Lake is this amazing spring fed, COLD but quiet oversized pond, I mean lake.  Did I mention it was cold?  Kelly wasn't bothered by the water temperature at all - she was swimming at every possible moment.  My Mom was a trooper too, but the rest of us sane people only ventured in to our knees.


The hammock where Kelly said her "troubles melted away".  Troubles like, how many squares of Hershey bars will Mama give me tonight? How late can I stay up? and Can I go in the paddle boat by myself?

The paddle boat was my favorite, we went halfway across the lake one night - I loved that after 4:00pm it was a no wake zone so us little boats could coast without worrying about rogue waves.


We had a few rainy days but even then it was nice to stay in our pj's till evening, working on puzzles and crafts.  We shopped at local antique stores, bowled a round at the tiny local bowling alley, made s'mores every night, ate at a few supper clubs - man I love complimentary pickled herring.

An entire week was a long time for us to be away from Gary, by the end Kelly was getting a little weepy about missing her Da.  Skype helped, but I'm not sure I'd keep them apart for so long again.



I'd love to plan another trip next year with the husbands, we're gonna need a bigger boat.

Friday, July 8, 2011

From the Kitchen - Crunchy Asian Noodles with Peanut Sesame Sauce


Twitter has a big influence on my diet, people tweet about their late night snack, their dinner plans and it puts those brain worms into my head and I must have it!  The other day Jen from PoleStar was snacking on some peanut noodles and it reminded me of a fabulous recipe from Ina Garten that I had buried in my notebook. 

It has a long list of ingredients, but don't be fooled, it's a pretty quick dinner, and they're all worth it.  I've changed it a little bit, less salt, more ginger, and it's good hot or cold.  Feel free to substitute any fresh veggies you have on hand to give it crunch, I think broccoli would be yummy mixed in.  You could also throw in chicken to add a little protein.  Enjoy!

Crunchy Asian Noodles with Peanut Sesame Sauce (adapted from Ina Garten)

One box spaghetti (I recommend thin spaghetti from Barilla)
1/2 - 1 pound sugar snap peas
1 red pepper thinly sliced
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 scallions (white and green parts) sliced
handful of fresh chopped parsley

Cook spaghetti according to instructions on the box.  While spaghetti is boiling, whisk vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds together.

*To grate the ginger, cut off a chunk from the ginger root, peel it using a vegetable peeler, then use a grater or microplane, scraping all that fragrant goodness into the bowl.

Cook snap peas - steam them, or cook them according to bag instructions.  Most snap peas at my grocery store come in ready to steam bags.

Combine the spaghetti, snap peas, red peppers and scallions in a bowl, pour over sauce, add the remaining sesame seeds and parsley.  Dig in! Or chill and serve cold. 

 Click here for a printable recipe card.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dress Yourself in Handmade - Casual Date Night

Not that I've had a date night, in oh, say months, but if I were to plan one, I'd try to keep it casual, with great jeans and some crazy high heels to fancy it up a little.


Clockwise from the top:

Evening Black Wrap Top by AndyVeEirn, $100

Fast Clouds Necklace by littleocean, $32

Mixed Wood Bracelets by DavisMain, $9

Nostalgic Mini Pouch in Linen and Light Blue, $16

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Boho Weekend

Boho Weekend


Theory keyhole shirt
$322 - my-wardrobe.com

J Brand flared jeans
$209 - new.amrag.com

Madewell heeled sandals
$188 - madewell.com

Brunello Cucinelli weekend bag
€2.025 - unger-fashion.com

Jensen Conroy mesh necklace
$518 - lagarconne.com

Feather jewelry
$170 - net-a-porter.com