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Thursday, March 31, 2011

in memory: molly

Like I mentioned in my last post, this post is my 100th. I didn't feel right celebrating it until I first honored Molly. I am dedicating my 100th post to her and I'll celebrate it later. I have a giveaway planned that I'll probably post it this weekend, but for now I want to tell you about the sweetest pup I've ever known.

Molly was my boyfriend Charlie's dog for almost 15 years. He had her for a looong time. Needless to say she was an old lady. She had her share of medical problems and we all pretty much new she didn't have much time left with us but she was still so full of life. She still danced for her food and pitter pattered around the house between naps.

The worst part about this whole thing is that Charlie left for New York yesterday afternoon for a photo shoot and Molly was gone by yesterday evening. She got sick and his parents took her to the hospital and when she wasn't getting better, they sent her to the pet E.R. where she eventually passed on. I'm not sure about the specifics, it may have all just been age related. But because Charlie wasn't there to say goodbye, he feels even worse now. We talked three different times last night and texted in between that.

He kept me updated while everything was happening and then called to tell me the bad news. It was one of those things where it takes a while to sink it. At first he sounded bummed, but generally okay. Each time I talked to him though he sounded worse and worse. I felt awful that he was away and I couldn't be there for him. The best I could do was listen and offer as many comforting thoughts as I possibly could. We talked about how it's funny that you can be totally prepared for these things yet still end up shocked. We all expected this to happen soon but it still came as a blow. I think it's easy to say you'll be okay when it happens until you actually have to face it.

I've never had a dog and Molly was certainly the closest I've ever come to it. Just like I see his family members as my own family, I saw Molly as a family member too. I didn't think I'd be as affected as I am but I spent a lot of time with her over these past five years that I've known Charlie.

I think I'm going to do a separate post with some more photos and some memories of her because this post is getting a little lengthy and the photo above is the only one I have on my computer. I'll grab some from Charlie when he gets home because I know he has a ton of good ones.

Charlie comes home tomorrow so I probably won't be posting until the weekend so that I can just be there for him. If you feel like leaving some comforting words for my guy in the comments I know he'd really appreciate reading them. He's feeling pretty bad about being away and not getting those last few minutes in. He's going through a lot of "should've done this" or "could've done that". It's just heartbreaking to hear.

So if you're still with me through this wordy post, thanks for taking the time to read both the good and the bad here on my little blog. That's what life is though right?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

healthy things

Here's a fun fact about me. I hate exercising. Loathe it. Not because it's hard, because I get incredibly bored! Like I mentioned in a previous post, I danced from age 3 to age 18. Tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, step dancing, you name it. I also played softball and tennis for school. Basically, I never had to worry about exercising on my own because I was getting a workout multiple days a week anyway.

But we all know how this story goes. The 20-somethings roll around, as does college life and freedom, and what once came naturally now takes a little bit of effort to maintain. It took until around senior year of college (last year) when I suddenly noticed some of my clothes were getting a little tight. I refused to surrender and up my pants size so I decided I was going to do it the right way and start eating better and getting some form of exercise in my life.

I love good food and I was getting really tired of "convenient" food like Kraft mac n cheese and chicken nuggets. That's when I decided that I wanted to become a foodie. I had been reading food blogs for a while and thought, might as well learn now. So even though I currently live back home since my grad school is seriously 5 minutes away from my house, I try to cook at least two dinners a week which gives my mom a break and helps me figure out this cooking thing.

I've been trying to use better raw, fresh ingredients and make things I'd normally buy so that I know what's going into it. I've also tried to start liking things that a lot of people seem to love but I've always had an aversion to. I recently tried cottage cheese and I have to say, it was better than I ever expected. The texture is a little unnerving at first but someone compared it to ricotta, which I love, so I gave it a try. I'm dying to try the little breakfast mix below that I saw on Foodgawker.

I'm also trying to like yogurt. I'm ridiculous with yogurt. I think I try it at least once a year, hoping that I'll magically love it one day. I don't hate it, it's just.. meh. I'm still working on it though. I had it at Starbucks the other day with the granola it comes with and it was actually pretty good.

I'd love to find another dance class to take one day but for now I've been doing yoga whenever I can fit it in. I try to do it when no one's around so I usually do it early in the morning or before bed, since I'm the last one up. Because of my random timing, instead of finding a class to go to I found a bunch of sessions On Demand that are free (yay!) and I can play them whenever I want.

The improved eating and the increased moving have helped me get back to my pre-college weight and I feel much better now. Not just because my clothes fit better, but because I'm more aware of what I'm putting into my body. I hope to carry this even further when I move out by joining a CSA (there are a bunch of farms in the nearby suburbs) and baking my own bread products and such. It's ambitious to want to make so many things instead of buy them but I think the time sacrifice will be worth it.

So ladies, do you do anything "fun" for exercise? And as for healthy eats, do you have any go to snacks that are both healthy and good? Sweet and savory both apply here, as I would rather have a salty snack than a sweet one, despite what my recent recipe posting would say.

I'm just always curious about other people's healthy habits. I love most fruits/veggies/good for you things, I just don't always think about combining them for a snack.

In other news, my next post will be number 100! I'm pretty excited. This little blog has come quite a long way and has already changed a lot just over this half a year that it's existed. I'm not sure if that post will be tomorrow or Thursday because I'm planning some fun stuff for it so stick around if you like giveaways and celebrations. ;)

Monday, March 28, 2011

this weekend: home opener + cleaning

This weekend..

Charlie and I went to the Union's home opener on Saturday. It was soo cold.

But at least they won. And we got to DOOP. :)

After the game we went to our favorite little Italian place by his house for dinner. I got eggplant rollatini. YUM.

I made these amazing brownies again. Best brownie recipe I've ever found.

On Sunday I was featured on Allison's awesome blog, Crafted Love, for her Spring Cleaning craft organization series. I did a little post on how to keep organized in a small space. Check it out! There's a bunch of great posts in the series if you haven't seen it yet. :)

I hope the weather gets warm again soon. I just want to be outside so bad.

How was your weekend? Is it any bit warmer where you are? It's 32 today!! :(

Friday, March 25, 2011

things i dig

Happy Friday!

Here are some things from the great wide internets that I fancy this week. :)

These super cool kicks from Keep. I love that Native American art inspired accessories and clothing have come back around.

I love this little bird captained boat by Ann Wood made in springtime colors and patterns. I could see hanging one of these guys anywhere from a nursery to a summer home by the beach. Cute!

I always wanted to get a cat during college since they're fairly low maintenance yet still provide company. I never got one because I adopted a baby guinea pig and I was afraid a kitty might try to snack on him. But that's another story for another day. :) This, however, would have been perfect in my old apartment if I had gotten a cat. I had very minimal space for things other than necessities so having a bookshelf/cat castle combo would have proved very efficient. And stylish!

And keeping the cat theme going, I died a little when I saw this. Big Bang Theory anyone? :)

I love this tutorial for a travel spice kit from The Handy Hausfrau. The vintage images are what make it for me. Such a good idea for when you know you'll be cooking away from your pantry but don't want to dump your whole spice rack into a suitcase.

These little birdie drawings from Kate Wilson.. love. I want a wall full of these illustrations! They all have such personalities! Go check out the rest of them. Besides this ice cream hairdo, there's some more sweet stylings and little birdie make up!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

non-silver printmaking

Cyanotype of a bridge in Australia, 1940's

Non-silver printmaking is a photographic process that does not involve regular photo paper (which contains silver halide salts). Basically, you brush paper (or other materials) with certain chemicals, lay a negative on top, and expose it to a strong light. It's printing a photo without the use of photo paper.

I took a class on this as an undergrad because I thought it would be pretty interesting. Usually photo majors take this class because, well, it relates. Because of this, they all have their own negatives to work with and us other majors have to find something else to print.

Cyanotype of my grandfather in Australia, 1940's

Luckily, my dad has a huge stack of negatives that my grandfather took when he was stationed in Australia during WWII that I was able to use. (They were in Australia because they were testing that newfangled radar that had just been developed.) :)

Not only was the class a lot of fun but now we have actual prints of some of these negatives. One day I plan to frame some of the better ones and display them, but for now they are being stored in a drawer with other prints so I thought I'd let them get some air on my little blog here!

Cyanotype of my grandfather holding a baby kangaroo. Australia, 1940's

Not all of the negatives were in amazing shape so not all of the prints have the best detail and tonal range but I still love the way they turned out.

Van Dyke Brown print of my grandfather (right) on a boardwalk. Atlantic City? 1940's

I love the way the cyanotypes look but I think the Van Dyke Brown is my favorite. They're two different chemicals and two different developing processes. Van Dyke Brown is more time consuming but it gives such an old fashioned feel and has such nice tones to it.

A friend of my grandfather. Australia, 1940's

One thing I love about the fact that you have to paint on the chemicals is that you get those amazing brush strokes all around the image. You can avoid this or crop it if you want a neat edge but I love the rough edges. It emphasizes the hand involved in the work.

My grandmother in front of a really sweet car. 1940's

This one's a little grainy looking. Or should I say "digitally noisy". I was rapidly losing daylight as I shot these. It snowed this morning! What?! And now the sun is bright as can be. Where were you earlier when I was shooting?!

There's another Van Dyke Brown one that is my absolute favorite but I can't find it right now. When I do I'll probably post it. It's a picture of my grandfather sitting up against a stack of what I assume are sandbags, and he has his rifle on his back and a letter from home that he's staring intently at. It looks like a still from a movie. My dad eventually told me that my grandfather and his friends used to stage photos like that to send with Christmas cards and such just to tug on the heartstrings a little harder! I think that's hilarious and amazing. I can just picture them all giggling and saying, "Look a little sadder now when you read that." Love the sense of humor in a not so great situation. :)

Before I wrap it up, I also wanted to show you this. There's this stuff I've been hearing about a lot called Sunprints, and it looks like you are basically making cyanotypes without having to find/use all the chemicals involved. You could stick a negative or other found objects on it (especially cool with objects that let some light through) and expose it with the sun. I thought this would be a pretty cool and safe way to make some prints. That way you don't have to find/pay for a studio or class in which to do this. I miss having all these things at my fingertips when I was in school. Oh wells.

Tomorrow's Friday! Hopefully this bizarre weather will figure itself out soon. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

caramel buttermilk loaf cake

Apparently I'm into caramel covered cakes lately. I actually made this recipe because I made buttermilk biscuits the other night, so I had some buttermilk leftover and wanted to make sure I did something with it before it went bad.

This recipe was originally for cupcakes, which I definitely want to make sometime, but I felt it would be better received by the family in cake form.

This caramel is a little different from the last one. It's made from brown sugar instead of white. Charlie and I tried some that didn't make it on the cake and we both agreed it sort of tasted like chocolate chip cookie dough (without the chocolate chips)! Which gives me some ideas for revisiting that cookie dough dip I made a while back.

To ice it, I put the cake on a sheet of parchment paper and started spooning the caramel over top of it. I let it run down the edges and as it started to set I would spoon some of the caramel off the parchment paper and back on top of the cake. Then I moved the cake onto a plate with a spatula.

Let it set a bit more to get a nice caramel shell on it and then slice it up and eat!

Now I have to get ready for my last midterm. :( I can't wait until this one is over. Well, for those of you who can go outside today, enjoy the sun because from what I see on the weather, it's supposed to rain (and possibly snow) the rest of the week here! Oh boy.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake
slightly adapted from Piece of Cake

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk, room temp
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into half inch pieces at room temp

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F.

In a large measuring cup, mix together eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, buttermilk, and set it aside. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix it on low with the paddle attachment. Gradually drop in pieces of butter and mix until the texture is uniform (about 2 minutes). Keeping the mixer on low, start adding in the wet ingredients. When all the ingredients are in, change the speed to medium and mix until the batter is light and fluffy (about a minute and a half). Grease your loaf pan and pour the batter in. Pop it in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool completely before icing with the caramel.

Caramel Icing
from Piece of Cake

1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
5 tbsp unsalted butter cut into pieces
generous 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Begin the icing when the cake is cool. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt together over medium heat, stirring often. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the milk and vanilla. Boil for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the confectioner's sugar all at once and beat it with a spoon until the mixture is smooth and thick.

With your cooled cake on a piece of parchment or wax paper, begin spooning the caramel over the cake. As it sets, the caramel will stick to the cake better. You can scoop some off the parchment and pour it back on the top. When your done, use a spatula to lift the cake onto a clean plate. Wait until it sets fully and then cut and serve!

Monday, March 21, 2011

a happy find

Last Friday I got an email from Gilt Groupe about an amazing sale they were having. If you've never shopped Gilt, they are basically an online store that has daily sales on designer jewelery, clothing, housewares, etc. for way marked down prices. Some of the stuff is still pretty pricey but you can score some great deals there. I bought Charlie a really nice watch from there for Christmas that was originally a couple thou but marked down to a couple hundred!

I've been avoiding all shopping related emails for a little while because I don't exactly have money to burn right now, but when I saw the little section about turquoise jewelry, I had to check it out.

I fell in love with nearly every piece and wanted so badly to buy a ring or a necklace. Then I spotted this guy..

One of the many things I was drooling over. After I was done teasing myself with things I couldn't buy, (why do I do that?) I went on with my day. I start gathering things for a shoot for a guest post and I made the happiest little discovery in my jewelry box!

I stumbled across this fairly similar ring that I had all along and totally for got about! It's one of the may costume pieces I inherited from my nanny a while back. My dad's mom was into big chunky, semi tacky jewelry just like I am and she had loads of costume jewelry because of it. I think I forgot about this little guy because I have a bunch of pieces I wear frequently laying out on my dresser and the rest are in a jewelry box. This is definitely making it into the rotation now that I've rediscovered it.

So it's a little different from the Gilt one and definitely not as "valuable" but I was so happy to find a new love for something I already own after drooling over pretty jewelry I couldn't buy. Plus, I think it's definitely more special than anything I could buy since it belonged to a family member and has been around for quite some time. :)

Just thought I'd share my find with you on this gloomy Monday morning. Maybe it'll inspire you to look around at what you already have that you might be missing!

Have a good week! :)

** p.s. Gilt Groupe is a member's only site so if you're interested in getting some sweet deals on designer stuff, either email me (it's on the contact page) or leave your email address in the comments and I can send you an invite link! :) **

Friday, March 18, 2011

pinstripes + wingtips

This little collection was inspired by an item I saw in an Etsy treasury. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was this little shave kit here from Dirty Deeds Soap. With that in mind, I put together a little curation for the dudes this time. Well, more for the ladies to enjoy and maybe get some gift ideas for their guys because I think the only guy that reads this is my own. ;) And that's probably for the best because it's pretty girly 'round these parts.

This is what I like when it comes to dude style. Can you tell my heart belongs to a decade long gone? :)

{clockwise from top left 1 2 3 4 5 6}

So ladies, what do you like to see on your gents? Does a particular style do you in?

Happy Friday everyone! I can't believe the weather right now! Two days in a row with the windows open? Crazy! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

wax + glass

I have randomly come into a large sum of candle wax and I've been trying to dream up some interesting things to do with it. (Basically, Charlie said, "We have a random box of wax at the studio that's going to get thrown out unless you think you can do something with it." As a known craft supply hoarder and never one to turn down free supplies at that, I said, "Of course I can find something to do with it! Snatch it up!" And it remained on the edge of my hope chest for the past three months.)

{clockwise from top left.. 1 2 3 4 5}

I didn't just want to make regular jar or pillar candles with it so I started looking for inspiration. So far, I'm really into the whole teacup candle look that I've been seeing a lot lately. I also like the one image (top right) where it looks like a whole candle tea set, including a sugar bowl and teapot.

I also thought it could look cool to use either an etching (bottom left) or image transfer (bottom right) technique so that the candle would have an interesting glow when lit. Maybe even a bit personalized depending on the image used!

I think I want to leave the wax its natural white-ish color but I'm debating if I want to make it scented and what the scent(s) should be. I guess there's more research to be done!

Has anyone tried making candles before? If you have any tips/tricks/suggestions I'd be glad to hear them! :)

I can't believe how fast this week has flown by! So once again, happy almost weekend! Oh and happy St. Patrick's Day! I'll be in class tonight so someone have a pint for me. ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

caramelized banana loaf cake

This is another recipe I snagged from Shutterbean. I swear she makes the best things. And this is definitely one of them. One thing I do like about living back home is that I now have people to cook for. If I made a dessert when I lived in my apartment, I'd probably eat one piece and then the rest would go to waste. Unless Charlie came over. He's good at helping me get rid of sweets. :)

Basically, the other night my mom hinted at wanting a dessert so I quickly scrolled through my arsenal of bookmarked recipes and knew I found a winner. There was one slice left by the end of the night.

Start by getting some sugar caramelizing.

Stir in some butter..

..and get those bananas in there.

Put them in the loaf pan and cover with all the caramel.

Mash the rest of your bananas with sugar.

Get all the dry stuff in there.

Mix it well and pour it over the bananas.

In the oven it goes!

It's one of those things that fills your house with an amazing cinnamony cakey smell. So good.

Some fresh whipped cream to go along side. Eat up! It's funny how much I loved this along with other banana breads or muffins but I can't eat a raw banana without gagging. Weird. I don't know.

Caramelized Banana Loaf Cake
recipe from Rachel Ray via Shutterbean

3 to 4 large bananas
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large egg + 1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325F.

Grease a 9 inch loaf pan. Cut the ends off the bananas and cut them into pieces that fit in the bottom of the loaf pan. Cut the pieces in half lengthwise and peel. You'll probably have 5-6 halves for the bottom. Put the rest of the pieces aside.

In a saucepan, bring 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp water to a boil without stirring it. Cook until the water evaporates and the sugar starts to turn a golden brown (but not too dark!! It will get bitter if it burns.) Remove from heat and stir in the butter until it's all melted. Place the banana slices in cut side down and cook over low heat for a minute. Remove from heat and put bananas side by side in the loaf pan, cut side down. Pour any remaining caramel over top of them.

In a medium bowl, mash up the rest of your banana pieces. They should equal about a cup so use more or less depending. Add sugar and combine. Mix in the egg and egg white and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in banana mix and oil.

Pour batter over bananas and put it in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 50-55 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out dry. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it on a plate. Let it cool completely.

Try not to eat the whole thing. ;)

Monday, March 14, 2011

april showers baby blanket

Finally done! It's only a tiny baby blanket but it's still satisfying to see it in one piece after toting around a pile of granny squares and a bag of yarn everywhere I go.

I'm kind of excited to start one for myself now. Since I want to make it huge though.. like queen bed size.. I think I'll make it a long labor of love and not really give myself a deadline for it so I can take my time and fit in a few squares when I have downtime. That way I don't get too caught up in it and can get other things done. :)

I made this one 25 squares (5x5) so it'd be a nice size to wrap a baby in or to set a toddler down on, but there wouldn't be too much excess all around. I bordered it with the dark gray to give a nice finished edge.

I'm happy with how it turned out. I think the momma will like it too!

Happy Monday! Sadly my spring break is over and now I have to go to class.

Hope everyone's week is starting well!

Friday, March 11, 2011

mustard flats

So I've been wanting to make crocheted boots for a while but never got around to it this winter. I figured I'd change my plans to suit the weather and try to crochet some flats. This is my first attempt..

This is what I like to call the slipper phase. I want to eventually line the inside with fabric to make it sturdier and then give it a suede sole. It wouldn't be for hiking through crazy terrain or anything, but I thought it would be comfy to wear around the house and then maybe take a trip out to a store or something. I'm thinking if it can work for moccasins, it could work for these. Now I have Minnatonka which have that wonderful rubber bottom that lasts a lot longer, but I've seen many people wearing soft-soled moccasins around town.

I think this was a pretty successful practice one. I'm pleased! I just need to whip up a second one now. I have some nice vintage fabric that's sort of like a burnt sienna with white flowers on it that I want to use for the inside lining. Oh and that little gray thing on there is supposed to be a feather. Not sure you can tell. I'm gonna work on that. :)

As for my beaded craft, that's going to have to wait until Monday because I realized after much frustration that I was going about it the wrong way and need to pick something up from the craft store in order to finish it. Hopefully I can get there this weekend and get all the stuff I need in.

Well, have a great weekend everyone, and stay crafty. ;)
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