What I Just Read


So I just finished reading I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson, which happens to be the basis of the new Sarah Jessica Parker movie of the same name.  I picked up the book thinking I'd like to know the story in case I ever, 10 years in the future or so, get to watch the movie.  I am a person who likes to read the book first and then see the movie.  I'd rather be disappointed that the movie didn't live up to the book than the other way around.  Case in point- I also picked up  Bridget Jones's Diary on the same library trip, and couldn't get into it, possibly because I kept hearing Renee Zellweger's voice talking along with me.

Anyway, this was a fun book, about Kate Reddy who is a super-woman working mom who wants to have it all but knows she doesn't and the struggles she goes through to balance everything.  My one disappointment- I was excited for the New York City storyline, as I've loved books that take place in the city and that's the movie setting, but the book actually takes place in London, so the almost immediate mention of mince pies threw me off a minute.  If you are a mom, a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, want to be a mom, never want kids, this is a good read because it covers all the angles, and I think it would be pretty enjoyable to most everyone.


On another note, I'm happy to report that the bunting cards I previewed yesterday are listed, as well as some bunting bookmarks, which I thought were a fun companion.  It's nice to have some inspiration for some new work!




They can all be found here in my shop.  Have a great day everyone!

This Just Listed!

So the good camera came home from its business trip and I could finally take some decent shots of the glass magnets I showed you a couple of days ago.  And I have to say, I like these shots a lot better:



To see more of these fabulous little gems, you can check them out in my Etsy shop here.

In addition, I've been really inspired (finally!!) by some great ideas I've seen on Pinterest.  I actually ended up mashing a few of those ideas together to make some new thank you cards, and I am so excited by them that I took some lousy nighttime photos just so I could show you.  Better pictures later in the day and they should be listed by day's end!  I had some fun with bunting, which I see everywhere and think is so cute.  I even actually got on the sewing machine to add the "string" detail, which was a new technique for me.  What do you think?


Red, white, and blue 4th of July bunting card



Pastel print bunting card

I'm loving them!!  What have you been inspired by lately?

Disaster Zone (or, Part of My Creative Space)

Note: The good camera is still MIA, and it was raining, so please take these photos for what they are- dark. :)

Have you seen those blog posts about My Creative Space?  And what follows is usually photos of the nicest, neatest, most organized space you've ever seen and you end up coveting it for yourself?  Yea.

I just finished work on a large custom order of thank you notes that involved many different patterned papers and therefore many different colors for the faceplates.  Lots of cutting and pasting.  I'm usually really good at cleaning up as I go, or at least when I finish, but it was late and I was tired and I just didn't bother.  So this is what I found when I went in there this morning:






Piles and piles of scraps!  And I am not one to throw away any useable piece of paper (i.e. no smaller than one inch or so big) so I had to weed through what I had cut up in order to file it away "just in case".  So at least my creative space was being used, as it had been sitting collecting junk for a few weeks there.  And 15 or 20 minutes later, it looked like this:


Ah, so much better!  (Work table- Pottery Barn, local classified ad.  Woman moving to England, too expensive to ship.  Got probably 65% off original price, in great shape.)  It actually wasn't too bad- I had also been spead out across the floor trying to match up good colors, but then the toddler woke up and so the nice paper had to be removed from the floor.  Maybe when I feel a little more moved-in to the space (there are no pictures on the wall, still, after redoing the room months ago) and I have the good camera, I'll take some better shots to show you.

What does your creative space look like?  Link me posts if you ever blogged about yours!

Happy Friday!

Irony

The fact that I finally, FINALLY made something new, and the great, awesome, excellent camera I use to take my pictures is not currently available for me to use.  So I have to wait to list it on Etsy for a few days.  But I'm excited, so here's a little sneak preview from the not-the-greatest-won't-zoom-in-well camera....


Mini glass magnets in shades of red and orange!  Even better- the glass gems are upcycled, as is the paper, all from other things I've made and posted.  Let me know what you think!

Trading is Fun

A few weeks ago I mentioned how I took some very gross, old, yucky curtains out of our bedroom to be washed and ended up wondering about the effectiveness of green laundry detergents (here).  In that post, I featured a picture of a laundry soap I found on Etsy by pepperjackhome:


And like the good blogger that I am, I let Robyn, the owner of the shop, know I had featured her item and was using her photo.  We got to chatting and she offered to send me some of the soap to try.  Score!  I love a good freebie.  But then I was thinking that I have something to offer, too, and thought that if she was in need of anything paper, we could trade.  And luckily she was, and I was able to make her some adorable (or at least I think so!) mini thank you cards that she can include with her packages.  Double score because trading can be a lot of fun.

Anyway, I got my soap in the mail a couple of days ago and tried it out yesterday on some toddler clothes straight from the sandbox, some overdue-to-be-washed placemats, and the towels used to dry off the dog after her bath.  All in all a good test load.  Now, truth be told, I did this load the way I usually would- Shout on the stains, warm water to help get out the dirt.  I wasn't trying to see how green I could be, just if it worked.  And it did!  It worked great- just as well as my regular liquid detergent did.  All the dirt and food spots came out just as they usually would.

The soap in my awesome new laundry room
So, if you've been thinking about green laundry soap and wondering if it works, I can tell you firsthand that this one does.  Plus, Robyn is so nice and so easy to work with.  I would totally recommend trying out her stuff!  And if you buy something from her, you may just get one of my little cards with it!

The Mighty Huntress

This is the face of a fearsome warrior:


She has caught a chipmunk a day for the past three days, taking her seasonal total to 5 chipmunks and 1 mouse/rat-like thing, beating her last year's average of 1 mole all summer.  She is single-handedly ridding our yard of small rodents.

And isn't she cute?

Have a great weekend!

Swoon

As you well know, we have been in the middle of a basement re-model for months (as evidenced here and here) and we have been slowly (since the weather is nice and the yard has been calling) putting the finishing touches on the space.  The other day, while in the laundry room, my husband looks at me and says, "You should keep your sewing machine on the table down here."  The heavens could have opened up and a beam of sunlight could have shone down on him I was so excited and thrilled with him and pleased that he thought of such a sweet idea.  He knows that I've wanted to keep my sewing machine out, and the plan was to put it on a table in my office/craft room, but it didn't end up working out due to space, and then I just totally forgot about it.  But my dear hubby not only remembered, he went upstairs, commandeered the equipment and put it in place.


My hero.

A Chicken Favorite

Long, long ago, my mother got a great recipe from a cooking show on PBS.  I have no idea what the show is, or when it was on, but the recipe has lasted for many, many, many years and has become one of our household favorites: there's never any leftover.  We call it Chicken Scarpiello, presumably because the woman who showed the recipe was named something Scarpiello, but even that is questionable.  (Note: there is a real recipe that is Chicken Scar-par-iello, but this isn't it.)  This is one of those recipes I don't actually need the recipe for so I'll do my best to give you correct amounts.

Chicken Scarpiello

about 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips or chunks
3 T flour
salt and pepper
1 T butter or margarine
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. chicken broth or 1 c. water and 1 tsp. chicken bullion
1 c. white wine
pinch of dried rosemary

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Combine flour, salt and pepper and coat chicken with the mixture.  (I like to put it in a plastic ziploc bag and shake it up.) Add coated chicken to heated butter mixture.  Cook chicken thoroughly, about 8 minutes, until brown on all sides.  Remove chicken from pan; add onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, browning slightly.  Add chicken broth and wine, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste, stirring slightly to deglaze the pan.  Allow broth mixture to boil gently and reduce itself by half.  Re-add the chicken to the pan, and allow the sauce to thicken slightly.  Serve over rice.


This is a really easy meal for any occasion, and I have served it many times for company.  As a side note, we really like brown rice with this meal, but regular old brown rice takes awhile to cook- 45 minutes!  For a long time we used brown Minute Rice before discovering that it doesn't have much nutritional value (though I keep it on hand for last-minute emergencies).  My method now is to cook the entire bag of rice (10 cups of water to 5 cups of rice) at once and then put the extra into portioned plastic containers, which are frozen.  Then when we need rice, I just take out a container and heat it in the microwave for 10 minutes.  It makes it a lot easier.

Enjoy!

The Secret to Commenting

I was having trouble leaving blog comments yet again and found this piece of advice: If you are a Google Account user, when it asks you to sign in, unclick the "Remember Me?" box and it will work.  Crazy.

A Birthday Gift and A Piece of Art

My husband's birthday is this weekend, and with my new and growing interest in Pinterest (that I was talking about here) I have found a bunch of really neat ideas to (eventually) try, including this awesome idea that I knew I needed to do immediately:


I already had something in store for Father's Day but nothing for the upcoming birthday, so this was perfect: we'd make a hand tree and frame it for him.  We don't actually really do birthday or Christmas gifts anymore.  When we bought our house we figured, we just bought a house- what else can we give each other?  And really, if we need something we go buy it, and if we just want something, well, we hope someone else gives it to us for a gift because we're not likely to just run out and buy anymore.

So I didn't want to do this too far in advance, so today I got out some paint and decided to give it a try, hoping the toddler would listen to instructions.  Well, he very patiently let me paint his hand with a paintbrush (four times even!) and watched very it all very closely, and was very good to open his hand and leave it flat when I pressed it on the paper, which I was amazed at.




Project complete!  I added the tree and some grass and thought it was very cute.  And of course, as I was cleaning up, the toddler had grabbed the brush and was going to town on an extra piece of paper I had taken out (just in case), and he was having the best time so I just let him go for it.


While those we drying, we made a trip to Walmart for a frame, and I found an unused mat in my cross stitching mat bag (because, as you know, I'm not going to complete a cross stitch any time soon).  When the toddler went for a nap I got to work, putting the tree into the frame.  And I thought for a second, let's see how the "masterpiece" looks in the frame, just to see.


So much cooler!!  The tree didn't look nearly as good as this.  So we'll give dad the tree as is and then this one, which would look perfect in my husband's office.  Here's hoping he likes it as much as I do!

What's everyone else got going for Father's Day this year?

Green Cleaning?

I am not trying to make this a cleaning blog, but since that's what I am doing a lot of the time, that's what I'm thinking about so that's just what gets put down in words here.  I'll try and be a little bit more diverse as the week goes on- promise!

Anyway, after yesterday's "big chore" post, I actually sprung into action once the toddler went for a nap.  I decided to just throw out the magazine pile (that I remembered later and posted in the comments) and I took down those gross-o curtains that I was talking about.  And I wish I hadn't because I was horrified by the condition they were in.  The tops of these toppers was covered with a layer of dust so thick I can't even describe it, and there were cobwebs in the corners behind them on the wall side.  GAG!  They went immediately into the washing machine.  See, I guess I just figured I'd take them down when we got to redoing the bedroom, not at all thinking that that might be a couple of years and they might get dirty in the meantime.  And the funny thing is, I think I like the room better without the layer of navy blue at the top- I think it might makes it brighter in there- so we're not hanging them back up.

So as I'm starting the washer and pouring the detergent in, I was wondering if any of you out there use green laundry cleaner (or any other cleaning products), like Method or Seventh Generation, or anything like that.  I haven't ventured into green detergent yet, partially because they are pricey but partly because I'm just not sure how they work.  I love the idea of green cleaners- and even the idea of making your own stuff out of baking soda, etc., though I have no time to actually do that- and I use the Clorox Green Works products in the bathroom and Method wood and granite cleaner.  Even so, I am a little bit distrustful of how they actually work.  Does this stuff really kill all the gross things hiding in the corners like the regular cleaning products do?


Let me hear about what you use (traditional or green) and what you think works best in your house.  I'm always open to suggestions!

The "Big Chore" List

As I try very hard to complete regular day-to-day chores, I am constantly reminded of tasks that I would like to get to that are somewhat like spring cleaning, except they are not exactly seasonal.  Those chores that start out small but can evolve into a massive entire-room re-do.

So here is my list of I-really-need-to-get-this-done-but-don't-have-time chores:

1. Switch winter and summer clothes.  When we bought this house we consolidated two wardrobes into one set of furniture (our previous apartment allowed us to keep our stuff separate still) so non-seasonal items are in another bedroom upstairs out of the way.  Well, I need those clothes now.  This task includes going through the wardrobe to weed out the not-so-good, the bad, and the ugly (generally stuff left over from high school.  Yes, I still have stuff that is that old, and you can only have so many "painting" shirts).


2. Go through the bathroom toiletries and get rid of everything we don't use or that is past the expiration date.  We did this when we moved, but I don't feel like I did it good enough.  I have a ton of overflow items in the extra bathroom, and if they've been sitting there and I'm not using them, do I really need them?


3. Wash and switch bed quilt and blanket, and wash the curtains.  We've slowly been eliminating curtains left behind for us in favor of plantation shutters, but we haven't redone our bedroom yet, so there are dark blue toppers in there that are now so dusty it makes me kind of sick.

Shutters in one of our rooms
Ok, so that wasn't as much as I thought.  But I also have started a need-to-do-every-day list, which includes:

1. Thoroughly wipe down dinner table with Murphy's Oil Soap (convenient new spray formula) every night.  Spot treating with Clorox wipes was making the table perpetually sticky.

2. Swiffer floor daily or bi-daily (did I just make that up?) and wash once a week.  I'm sorry if I'm horrifying anyone who's really, really clean.  We're not messy people, I swear.  We are just constantly busy and have a lot going on at the moment.

3. Scrub kitchen sink basin once a week, at least.

4. Wipe off/out washer to remove Shout spray residue.

That list I'm sure is going to grow.  What's on your BIG CHORE to-do list right now, or your more-often list?  Maybe I'll find something else I need to get to!

My Newest Addiciton

Pinterest.  Have you heard of it?  Oh my goodness, it is the coolest site.  Imagine searching the web and finding the most amazing pictures and brilliant ideas and then bookmarking them all.  And then your bookmarks and favorites list becomes a gigantic mess and you can't remember what any of the links actually are.  Sound familiar?

Pinterest is so very awesome because it is basically a digital bulletin board, so to speak.  It's digital idea book where you can "pin" your finds (similar to thumbtacking something to said bulletin board), and a thumbnail picture of what you have found is stored on various boards that you create by theme.  It's so fun.  And there are so many great pins already made that you could spend a lot of time pinning things other people have found and not even need to pin your own original finds (but what fun would that be?).

It has become my newest web addiction, even though I swore I was not going to be wasting time on the Internet anymore.  Remember that?  I'm trying to be good about it, though.  I'll go on and spend a lot of time looking around one day and pin some things, and then I won't go back on for awhile.  It also comes equipped with this little pinning bookmark tool so that if you find something cool while you are doing your general web-browsing, you can click the tool and it gives you the option of pinning any of the photos on that page.  It's so easy!


I had heard about Pinterest before but hadn't signed up for it, and then Paige over at Final Clothes-Out did a blog post about the site and offered a few of her invitations out to readers who were interested, so I jumped at the chance.  You can sign up on your own, but it can take up to a week or two to get started, and if you have an invitation you can pretty much get on there right away.  Plus, if you have friends who are on, you can follow their boards and see what they pin.  It's definitely worth checking out.  Like Paige, I have a couple of invitations left if anyone is interested in signing up- first come, first served!

Who's on Pinterest?  Do you just love it?

My First Crafty Love

I have, for as long as I can remember, loved crafts.  Everything from crayons and markers to paint, glitter, beads, clay, and string (to make those super-cool knotted friendship bracelets) has been a part of my crafty repertoire.  Some time in early high school I came across cross stitch, and I started with a very small critter pattern; I think it was a cheerleading duck.  It was only a few inches by a few inches but it was the start of what would become my very favorite craft.  I have at this point completed many larger patterns, mostly from kits and pattern books, all of which have been displayed on our walls at some point.  Right now we only have a few hanging; we decided when we moved that we weren't going to hang anything on walls that needed to be refinished.  Why hang something just to take it down again in a short amount of time?

The only problem with this wonderful hobby that is (most often) calming and that produces beautiful art is that it takes a long time to complete one.  Depending on the type of cloth you are using, it can take months or years to finish a design.  Especially if, like me, you have to pull out all the stitches that you realized were out of place once you realized you made a mistake because then the design wouldn't look right, even though you'd probably be the only one who would know.  I have pulled out literally an hour's worth of stitches when I realized they were placed wrong.  Shortly after that, I usually put that particular pattern away for a "break".  i.e. I'm mad at it.  Here are a few examples of what's hanging up right now: 

Garden ladder

Garden chair

Gardening chest- This actually took about 10 years to complete, as it is tiny stitches, in which I made several mistakes and got mad at it about halfway in and then put it away.
A close-up
So then I decided to take inventory of all of the cross stitch supplies I have stashed around.  Take into account that I have not purchased anything related to this hobby in a couple of years, as I have no time to actually work on anything anymore.

A basket of kits in the closet

A box of various backing cloths- mostly linen- given to me by a friend of a friend who couldn't use them

Two boxes of embroidery floss, bagged and labeled in numerical order (yes, I'm a little bit type A)

Needles, hoops (both of which I always forget when going on vacation, which is why there are so many), special floss, and a highlighter to mark what I've already done

Then SURPRISE!  In the nightstand- more kits and more hoops (my get-to-these-first stash)
My current favorite project that I'd love to get back to: a Christmas tree skirt that I am halfway done with.  To give you an idea of the size of this, half of the cloth is in the picture below, the whole thing being the size of a small table cloth.  The stitches are pretty large and it's very time-consuming, but I'm excited about the fact that this will be under our family Christmas tree one year.




I very much enjoy working with paper and all the fun things I can come up with it, but if I could figure out a way to make a crafty business out of cross stitch, that would be my first choice.  There's just so much time involved, I feel like I'd have to charge a small fortune for each piece, and in order to actually have some stock, I'd have to do smaller pieces.  Plus, they are nearly impossible to part with.  The only three I've made which are not currently in my house are at my parents' house- gifts to them over the years- and I can visit those whenever I want.  I don't know how it would be to send one off to a stranger.  Maybe it will be something to think about....in the future!

Vacation Return

Is anyone else having trouble leaving comments on blogs lately?  I can't seem to get and stay signed in.  I am reading, though!!

Anyhoo...we seem to have recovered from our vacation and the long drive in the car.  Our stuff, however, has not quite gotten its due attention.  The suitcase is still sitting on the floor of our room, with clothes yet to be put back in their drawers.  Ironically, they are clean, thanks to my MIL and her washing machine.  We rarely come home with much dirty laundry.  So it's just pure laziness and/or forgetfulness that is keeping those clothes in the suitcase on the floor.  Similarly, the cooler is still sitting in the kitchen because it needs to be brough all the way to the basement.  I suppose I can bring it down there when I finally tackle the small amount of laundry we brought home with us.  And then there are the toiletries.  In our house, we tend to take out what we need to use as we need to use it rather than just empty the whole bag.  So I'm sure you can guess where it is sitting.  (On the bathroom floor is a good answer.)

Are we really that lazy that we can't even be bothered with putting our stuff away?  Not really.  When we got home, the lawn was up to the toddler's knees (at least) and my dear husband had to mow it twice to get it back in order.  That took several hours of the afternoon that we got home, so nothing got put away as the toddler wanted to be outside as well, and the one mowing can't watch the boy who's always on the move.  The next day was grocery shopping because the refigerator was empty, so that took awhile because we were out of everything.  Then it had to be put away, and then it was lunch, etc.  And so the stuff continued to sit.  I think I'm finally motivated today and don't have anywhere to go, so I'm going to try and tackle the to-do list and put the vacation to rest once and for all.

How are you at unpacking?


What I Just Read (Vacation Edition)

I brought a book with me on vacation thinking that I'd maybe have a little time here and there to sneak in some reading in between all of the other goings-on during the day.  Little did I know that the toddler and his Nana would become fast friends and I would have more free time than I thought- I ended up finishing the book halfway through the trip.

Now, granted, this is not high-brow literature; it's actually high school literature.  See, I decided to finally actually read Candace Bushnell's book Sex and the City, which I finished awhile ago.  It's not great, to be honest- I liked the show a lot better- but I kept going with her other novels Lipstick Jungle and One Fifth Avenue, which were better.  As I was passing through the library coming from storytime, I noticed the young adult prequel to SATC which is called The Carrie Diaries.  So I figured, what the heck?, and I grabbed it for a guilty vacation read.


If you are already a fan of Bunshnell, or the series, then it's a fun read.  You get a glimpse into Carrie's early life, though many show fans say that the events don't exactly match up to what was revealed in the series.  It's a typical high school mean-girl, clique, break-away-from-the-small-town story.  It makes for a quick read, but mostly because you just want to find out what's going to happen.  If you have time for a little high school nostalgia, then you just might enjoy this one.