Friday, February 25, 2011

rainy day thoughts of travel

In the front of the house I can sit and watch the rain drops hit the window and snake their way down. And looking out at the street I can see it melting holes in the snow and more of it disappears.

From my office in the back of the house I wouldn't know that it was raining without looking down and seeing the drops splash in a puddle on the ground.

I spent some time watching the rain and enjoying my coffee this morning and enjoying being inside. And decided this grey, wet weather reminded me of London and so I spent most of the day today trying to plan a mini European adventure to visit a friend living in Germany until June and then go to a wedding in England and perhaps spend a night or two in Dublin on the way back home. Although there is something lovely and romantic about planning this adventure it's also been harder than I anticipated. Since I've been thinking about it over the last month plane tickets have begun to get more expensive and my etsy experiment hasn't taken off the way I had hoped (so next week should begin a focus on shop) thinking about the expense of this induces some anxiety. But you only live once and you can't take it with you so here we go!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

hoppy necklace

One of the projects that I got supplies for was making necklaces out of used Scrabble tiles. I have the tiles, little screws with eyes, necklace cords, my photos and glue... I even picked out some images and glued them to a tile already when I was making glass tile magnets but had lacked the courage to actually drill the hole in the tile, so today I set out to finish the transformation from Scrabble tile to necklace.

My partner has a dremel. A nifty looking tool, like a drill but with small bits. With no instruction on how to use it I jumped right in, I found a drill bit that I had and fit it into the dremel. I found the center of the top of the tile and marked it with a pencil, then I held the tile against the bit and turned the dremel on. It zipped right into the wood tile without a problem. It did create a lot of heat and you could smell the wood so I set the tile down for awhile to let it cool off before attempting to insert the screw. I used a small pair of pliers to help with the screw and then I just had to slip it on the cord.

The tile has a photograph of hops on one side (which are an ingredient in brewing beer) and a photograph of a glass of beer on the other side. I think it will be a nice compliment to my I love you more than beer card. The card, actually sold so I'll have to re-list it when I list this.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

engagement party gift bags

Today I put together little gift bags for everyone coming to the engagement celebration. I didn't want to go too over the top and tried to think of things that would represent the couple. I also wanted it to be things that people may use and not just something that has the couples names all over it that will probably end up in the trash.
I started with a note to say that these were things we've learned from the couple
  • to stay sweet - chocolates
  • keep the fire burning - candle & matches, I decorated the tea lights using a sharpie to draw grass on them and since they are getting married at their summer camp I used the camp logo on one side of the match box and on the other put a sketch of their names 'carved' in a tree
  • stick together - magnets, I got a roll of sticky magnets and printed a photo of grass, a photo of the outside of a bowling alley to which I added the quote We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh - Agnes Repplier (because they belong to a bowling team and we're going bowling as part of their party), a photo from the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine with the quote Life has taught us that love does not consist of gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction - Saint-Exupery (because she used to live in Maine) and a magnet where I rearranged images from their save the date
  • let love grow - seeds, I bought a songbird seed mix, I divided the mix and wrapped the seeds in saran wrap, then I typed and printed the planting instructions and printed a picture of similar flowers, I cut both things out in a heart shape, put a seed set in the middle and hand stitched the two hearts together
Their engagement story has the guy wrapping a blade of grass around the girl's finger as a ring so I used 'easter' grass in the gift bags.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Holiday Monday. It hasn't snowed much in over a week but this morning we awoke to beautiful flakes falling. It's incredible how different snow is, sometimes you can see each flake other times you can't make anything out.

Today was beautiful, delicate flakes so we went outside for a walk and to admire these beautiful unique flakes. It's not often that we get this kind of snow where you can see every detail of the flakes and we wanted to take full advantage.

Friday, February 18, 2011

engagement party planning

This is my second attempt at coordinating an engagement party. I've been getting some support from various friends helping with random decisions and tracking down responses from people who have yet to respond to the evite.

One of the challenges has been trying to figure out a gift. I decided to go with something I've seen before which was to frame a photo of the couple and invite the people at the party to sign the mat. Since the couple wants to be surprised I've been trying to keep as much a secret from them as I can. I was unsure about what image of them to use for the main photo so instead I decide to make a collage. I was able to grab photos of them off of their facebook pages to use for the collage. I arranged them in a photoshop document and then decided that I liked the idea of some space between each photo so it would have the appearance of a puzzle since marriage will be their lives fitting together to make a new whole.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

spring temperatures

Hooray for it reaching almost 60! Get outside and take advantage! I had some errands to do so I walked everywhere today and picked some streets that I wouldn't usually walk down. And I didn't have to wear five layers to go outside!

I went past a cemetery mostly buried in snow.

As I was walking I heard a familiar knocking noise and looked up to see a little woodpecker.

Come on spring! I'm ready to be outside in warmer weather again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ready for spring

I am feeling anxious for spring! It looks beautiful and sunny out but is freezing cold! Since I can't get spring to arrive any faster I can at least start planning what will go in the garden once this snow all melts away.

I am going to look up what vegetables to plant when so I can start planning for the raised beds and hope to also make some decisions about a flower garden too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

setting the Valentine mood

Valentine's Day has always been a bit of a challenge for me, not wanting to get drawn in to the consumerism construct of it but still feeling that twinge of disappointment if the day just passed by. And also feeling like a day to celebrate love, an excuse to remind us to be kind and tell the important people in our lives that we love them couldn't be all bad...

I started the day by making heart shaped pancakes with fresh strawberries and real maple syrup on top. I adapted a Joy of Cooking recipe
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon + a little baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup of milk
mix ingredients until smooth, put a little butter in a frying pan, place a heard shaped cookie cutter and pour batter into cookie cutter, leave for a few seconds for batter to hold form and remove cookie cutter, remember that cookie cutter will get hot

After breakfast when my partner was at work I began working on decorating...
I cut out the center of heart shaped doilies
next cut out hearts that were slightly smaller than the pieces of doily I cut out
I used a hot glue gun to glue a piece of thin line, like fishing line, between two hearts and two doilies
then I hung them from the ceiling

Dinner was a joint effort, my partner bought the ingredients and went outside to grill steak and asparagus in the snow. I worked on the other sides
  • sweet potato - steamed until tender and then mashed with butter, garlic and fresh thyme
  • brocoli rabe - sauteed in oil with garlic, lavender salt, chili flakes
  • salad - lettuce, tossed with a little buttermilk dressing, croutons

with champagne and finished with a molten chocolate cake that my partner prepared... it was a lovely delicious Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

hairs to gnomes

Sometimes change is the best way to mix things up and motivate.
I have been thinking a lot about cutting my hair. For the last few years I've cut it about every 18 months and donated it to Locks of Love. I don't own a hair dryer and with the crazy weather we've been having this winter my hair freezes when I go outside so it seemed like a good time to cut my hair. And with my theme of looking for motivation this week it seemed like the kind of change that could help with that. It's been about 15 years since I've paid for a haircut (aside from 2 trips to super cuts) so it was also a way to pamper myself.
And it coincided with getting some interesting news... I got an inquiry from the Holden Arboretum in Ohio about sending them some gnome art for a gnome instillation they're doing in June. So I'm looking forward to exploring being able to work with them. And starting to think about other than the necklaces I currently have in my etsy shop, what gnome things I could sell.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

custom taxes

Still feeling a bit lost when it comes to working on my etsy shop I've been thinking about other things that need to get done, so today's goal is to get my taxes in order.

Then I received a request for a custom magnet order for a wedding. The request is for small square glass magnets with images of the eiffel tower. The request was made by a friend who met her partner in Paris. I know she's posted some photos of the eiffel tower on facebook from the trip that she met him on and decided that if I can use some of those photos it will make the magnets even more meaningful. So I've started experimenting with photoshop to provide some style options.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

the elliptical motivator

Today I am again struggling with motivation. I fear it may be the theme for this week and I can't put my finger on what my block is. So today's tactic to combat this rut was to get myself to the gym and try to rededicate myself to going five days a week. The beauty of my 'flexible' schedule is that I can go when it's less crowded which seems to be anytime after 9 a.m. and then I can use any machine I want. The other trick is thinking about if there is something I would want to watch on TV at home, if I can do it at the gym then I get to watch what I'm interested in while getting exercise which is much more rewarding than just sitting in front of the TV.

After the gym I felt like I had a clearer head and was able to focus and catch up on some house work I had been avoiding.

Monday, February 7, 2011

missing motivation

Seems odd that it should be hard to find motivation on Mondays when I'm not trying to get myself up and in to an office but today felt like Monday and I could not get my head clear and focused to do much of anything. That feeling generally ends up with me doing some cleaning or rearranging...

Today I used my missing motivation to work on getting my office a bit more cleaned up and organized. There are still some pieces of old wallpaper clinging to the wall that I could not find the energy to address. I went through some piles, added to my recycling... and re-discover my box of misc postcards from my travels and things people have sent. This lack of motivation also feels like there's a bit of inspiration lacking too so I decided to hang the contents of my box over my desk for an 'inspiration wall'

I spread everything out on the floor, got some tape and stuck everything up on the wall, with space to add more things as I discover them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

snow & vermicelli

I have suddenly found myself looking for excuses, so this morning when I looked out the window and saw that it was snowing for a third day in a row I decided - instead of getting to my long to do list - the day would start out with a cup of coffee and my book (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). It is rare that I find myself so compelled to devour a book or even to pick one up in the last few years. I have surprised myself so much by by desire to finish the book that I gave in to the impulse and read. Before I knew it it was already noon and with 100 pages left I put the book down and headed out to get some other things done before going to babysit. Because of the weather earlier in the week farm share delivery had been pushed back to today, so I went to the gym and then picked up the goods and some tofu and made a late lunch.

I made a slaw, some vermicelli and fried tofu
  • cabbage, chopped into small pieces
  • carrots, grated
  • green pepper, thinly sliced
  • scallions
  • beets, grated and par boiled
  • peanuts, chopped
  • mint, chopped
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • water
  • garlic chili paste
  • fresh chopped ginger

  • cut into small pieces and put in a frying pan of hot oil, letting cook until crispy

I made some vermicelli and ate that with the slaw and used the same sauce on both, topped off with fried tofu.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

basement bash

Snow day! So we decided it was a good day to get the basement organized... and considering the ice we've been monitoring to also check and see if we're getting moisture in the basement...

We started with looking at what we had and deciding that having access to the walls as much as possible was important, partly due to some spots we noticed and a few places where there was some moisture on the floor. Since we had the basement walls repointed a few months ago too we need to be able to monitor how it holds up so we can have the guys back to fix any problems while there is still some home for being under 'warranty.'

I generally need to be able to see and feel things in the space to really make decisions about what goes where so it's a bit of a process. We have 4 moveable shelving systems, one cabinet, an old dresser (found on the street), a tool chest, some old kitchen cabinets with countertop, a work bench among some other odds and ends... so we started by taking everything off the shelving out of cabinets etc and putting piles of like things together. Then we moved the shelving and work bench etc around until we found places that seemed like they would make for efficient use of space as well as trying not to line the walls with all the shelving so that we can monitor the moisture. Then everything went back on the shelves and things that went together - like painting supplies for example - had been piled together so we were able to see and assess what needed how much space so that like things are now stored together. It was pretty straight forward AND we were able to identify things we no longer need so we were able to get rid of more things.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

snow shoveling tip

I got a tip about shoveling snow from a bartender once... she recommended taking a shot outside with you and putting it in the snow, then using that as motivation while you shovel and it will be nice and cold for you to drink when you're done. I've often thought about it but not acted on it but considering our snowfall this year I decided now is the time to test it out.