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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

top knotch

Hah. Clever, I know. ;)

I've been in love with photos of people rockin' the top knot for a while now and I finally got brave enough to try it out. I know, weird that someone who has had pink and blue hair would be scared of a little hairstyle, but that's the way it goes folks. I wore it to class lat night and felt mighty cute and not at all self conscious. I think it's going to be making an appearance on my head a lot in the foreseeable future. I'm just so tired of the ponytail, ya know?

You can make this 'do as prim and proper or as rough and tumble as you like. I like my hair to be lose and be a little spiky here and there mostly because I think I look ridiculous with it pulled back tight, so I just took my finger to the sides of my head and shook the hair a bit until it got a little loose. The spikes in the bun just happened naturally since my hair is layered but if that's not your thing I'm sure they could be tamed with some hairspray!

Since I plan to don this style a decent amount, I wanted to try a couple variations to spice it up a little. The most obvious solution was a bow. I found some stray ribbon in my room and tied it up.

I also, perhaps in a moment of insanity, found an alternate use for clip on earrings. I have a ton of them but don't wear them. My Nanny had a million pairs that I sort of inherited with the awesome vintage buttons and costume jewelery. I kept them because I knew I could find something crafty to do with them. Or, you know, stick them in my hair..

They work rather nicely, if I do say so myself. :)

Now you know what to do with your leftover ribbon and clip on earrings. ;)

Have a great week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

current projects 9.26

A (mostly) wordless day of the project supplies that are building up around my house. Makes me happy to see. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

dublin doors

One time I told you about my new found love of water colors. I still have yet to show that finished project.. whoops. Recently, a friend and I were having a crafty conversation over lunch and I told her about this. She then asked if I'd be interested in doing a project for her. Her parents had photos of the famous Dublin doors from their trip to Ireland and her dad had always wanted to get someone to paint a few. She asked if I would pick any three and paint them for her to give to her dad for his birthday.

It took me a while to do because I've never really given my art to anyone outside of the family so I was a little stressed out. You always here about those people who have a painting from a friend of theirs hanging on their wall strictly out of obligation to their friend, even though they secretly loathe it. I really didn't want to be the person to make someone have feelings of malice towards one of their walls every time they passed it. :/

But I told myself to get over it and got them done. I actually ended up having a lot of fun doing them and really like the end result. (I just hope they do too!) I've been feeling super inspired lately now that I've been making instead of just looking. I've been experimenting with painting, jewelry making, sewing, and crocheting and I think I've got a few good things coming out of it!

I talked about creative constipation (cute, I know) in a post before and now I know the cure.. make. Just make anything. Experiment with something you've been wanting to try or go to an old standby craft that you know well. It's just so easy to get bogged down by all of the beautiful inspiration on Pinterest and other blogs these days. Sometimes I think I can actually feel the pressure in my head from too many ideas. Eventually you just have to let some out. :)

Happy almost Friday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

autumnal equinox

The official first day of fall, or the Autumnal Equinox, is this Friday. With that in mind, I wanted to put down somewhere a list of fall-specific things I'd like to experience before fall is over. I kind of failed the 30 Days of Lists challenge because I keep getting too backed up and don't want to bombard you with 1000 lists at once, but this is a list I really want to make. That way I can refer back to it and try to remember everything I want to do, giving me a better chance to get it done. :)

To Do in the Fall

1. read three more non-school books (at least)
2. pick apples
3. pick pumpkins
4. carve said pumpkins
5. dress up for halloween
6. do something fun like a hayride or ghost tour
7. try some recipes that call for squash + pumpkin
8. go for walks + take photos of the changing scenery
9. make homemade apple butter
10. sew an article of cold weather clothing for myself

I love watching my tree right outside the window from the beginning of September until mid November. For me, it's always the first real signs of fall. First the red berries start growing and slowly but surely, the leaves start changing from green to red. Some are anxious and just change all at once while the others grow a red edging and change from the outside in.

Love it.

What's on your fall to do?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

how to set up a shoebox

* I've been wanting to make my photos bigger for a while so I adjusted my layout to accommodate this. If anything looks wonky (ex. overlapping) on your browser/monitor please let me know so I can fix it asap! Thank ya much! :) *

Here's the thing. I love home design blogs. The ones that show you other people's apartments and houses and how they set them up, whether extravagantly or on a strict budget. I constantly file away ideas for when I have my own house or apartment, hopefully in the near future. But what drives me crazy, more than anything in the world, is when I see a post about how someone set up their "itty bitty teeny tiny apartment" and how great it looks. And then I look at the floorplan of their apartment and it shows a kitchen that is separate from the living room, at least one bedroom, and then a balcony, a breakfast nook, a mudroom, and five closets. THAT my dear, is not a small apartment. THIS.. is a small apartment.

Click image to view bigger
Yes. This is the space I lived in for the 2009-2010 school year. And I loved it. It's not my ideal space, but with my budget it was either live in a shoebox in a nice area of the city, or live in a mansion in a scary area. I chose nice. Now like I said, I only lived there for a year and I'm sure if it had to be longer than that I probably would've gone crazy. But I know people sometimes live in places that are way smaller than they'd like as either an in between while they search for a new home, or maybe while they're in school like I was. And millions of other reasons. So I thought I'd show you how I set up an actually small space.. a space with one room and one closet. Because if I could make this place livable, any place can be made livable. Maybe you'll get some ideas for blocking off areas and creating the illusion of rooms when there are none. :)

This is how I set up my little shoebox.. it may looked cramped, but there was actually plenty of room to move around. And it was either just me by myself doing homework, or my boyfriend and I hanging out so it's not like I had hoards of people coming in. I tended to visit people at outside locations a lot during this time. :)

Click image to view bigger
Dividing Your Space
The most important thing for me when setting this up, was that my bed was not in my living area. I didn't want to feel like I was back in a dorm. To achieve this, I pushed my bed against a wall and put two Billy Bookcases from Ikea along the outside. With those and my headboard blocking it off, you never knew it was there unless you were standing at the foot of the bed. This made a little entry way from the front door and provided storage in the "living room".

Living Room and Kitchen
There, I had a futon, coffee table, and little media center. Behind the futon is an old drafting table I had from my last room. I used it mostly for more kitchen counter space and prepped food there, but sometimes art projects spilled over to it and it was a desk again. I also moved the fridge to where the other kitchen-y things were because it was in a ridiculous place when I moved in. Next to the fridge I had another Billy Bookcase where I stored all dishes and kitchen appliances because I had just enough cabinet space for food.

Storage and Shelves
My favorite thing about the room was probably the fake fireplace. It had a beautiful tiled floor and I put dozens of different sized white candles inside. It was really awesome when it was all lit. On the mantel I had my jewelry box and necklace hanger and a bunch of art and knick-knacks. The shelves by my bed contained all my books and crafty supplies and the two big bins under my bed is where I kept all my art supplies for school, which I could easily slide out under the head board. My one closet contained all of my clothes which was tough, but with a combination of small storage containers and shelves I made it all work.

Tips for Small Spaces
To sum it up, I leave you with my final thoughts and tips for making a small space work.
1. Use furniture to create spaces and rooms.. with a few pieces you can change the appearance of a room drastically.
2. Make sure all storage is accessible.. there's no point in putting things under your bed if you can't get to them easily. You'll just get frustrated and probably never put anything away.
3. Put extra drawers and shelves in closets.. it makes the most out of the space and you won't see it once you close the door!
4. Use personal things as decorations.. I mixed my jewelry out with the art and knick-knacks on my fireplace so that it was easily accessible but still looked nice.
5. Keep it clean.. when classes got hectic my apartment felt the brunt of it. I would start to get really stressed out because I couldn't move in there with all the paper scraps and supplies hanging around. One quick clean up and my mood was instantly better and my head felt clear again. :)

Well if you made it this far, then you probably live in a small space ;). I hope this helped someone out there who was feeling the same frustration I felt when trying to figure out how to set up a shoebox.

Happy fall weather finally! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

scones fit for a tea party

A #TwitterTeaParty! I had a bunch of lovely process photos but I am not home during this tea party and my photos are. So I had my photographer boyfriend take a better photo than I could ever take of the ones I brought with me. They come together quick and are best straight out of the oven (or reheated) so if you have the ingredients, whip some up to enjoy with your tea!!

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones
adapted slightly from Cafe Lynnylu

1 large egg
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups AP flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
sprinkling of mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl combine the egg and cream. In a larger bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix it up, then add the butter pieces. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, combine (smash/squish) butter and dry ingredients together until it's the consistency of pebbles. Add as may chocolate chips as you require and pour the cream and egg mix over dry ingredients. Mix together with a spoon until just combined.

Gently knead it by hand about 8-10 times. Turn it out onto a floured surface and split it into two equal balls. Pat them into 5 inch rounds. Cut into six pie slices with a knife or pizza cutter. Put the slices on a baking sheet that is greased or lined with parchment. At this point you can wrap up and freeze whatever you won't use right away. Just add about 2 minutes of baking time to them when you use them!

Pop them in the oven for 20-22 minutes or until tops are golden brown and firm. Let them cool about ten minutes when the come out and serve warm either plain, or with butter or jam.

Enjoy the tea party!

Friday, September 16, 2011

twitter tea party

Are you coming to the twitter tea party? I don't know about where you're from, but here it's suddenly the perfect weather for a hot cup of tea! Fall is finally presenting itself and it feels like an exciting time of year. All the holidays that are coming up, layers of clothes, my one year blogaversary in October.. so much to do!

So if you're around this Sunday, grab a cup of tea.. or coffee if that's more your thing, I won't tell ;).. and have a nice chat with your fellow bloggers/readers! Put on a fancy hat just for fun and enter some giveaways. See you there!

Remember to use the #TwitterTeaParty hash tag so we can find each other. :)

List of Hosts / Contributors:
Kait from Miss Kait Online (the brains behind this lovely gathering!)
Vanny from Hello Vanny
Amy from A is for Ampersand
Jessica from Tenpenny Splendid
Marissa from Shades of Monet
Lauren from The View From Here
Heather from Lilacs & Lace

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

pumpkin pie spiced coffee

Now that I've become a seasoned a pro at making iced coffee this summer (aka for a whole month now), I figured it was time to try out my french press for the purpose it was intended.. hot coffee. Charlie and I went for a walk the other day around our favorite town and got our first fall drinks of the season in the form of Pumpkin Spice Chai. Delicious. And ever since I've been craving those fall flavors. So I decided to do a little experiment to see if I could make my own fall in a cup!

Adding spices to coffee is nothing new, but I figured I'd show you what I did in case you've been looking for a way to spice up your morning brew. I was about to get out the usual spices that create that pumpkin pie taste, when I saw that we actually had Pumpkin Pie Spice in the cabinet from last year! If ya got it, use it. Otherwise make up a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. That's exactly what's in this stuff.

As for how much of the mix to use, that depends on how much you're making and how strong you want the flavor to be. After doing a little research on how much of a spice you should add to coffee, the consensus seemed to be a "pinch". And according to my measuring spoons, a pinch equals 1/8 tsp..


My press makes eight cups so I put a rather heaping pinch. I decided I would rather err on the side of too much flavor and adjust later than not be able to taste it at all. For me this was the perfect amount. And since I'm the only one drinking it, I popped the rest in the fridge so I can try it iced later. Oh yes.

Put the spice right in with the grounds so that everything is intensifying together. Pour the boiling water like usual and follow the directions for your press. Add your favorite sweetener and milk and enjoy fall. (read: sit by an open window with a fan on and pretend the weather isn't still going for summer.) ;)

I don't think I've ever been so desperate for fall to get here. I'm just tired of sweating and I'm ready for those hearty, cold weather dinners. Mmm.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
large amount from All Recipes, small amount from Southern Food

to make a container for use throughout the season..
4 tbsp cinnamon
4 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp ginger
3 tsp allspice

to make a tsp worth..
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp allspice

Mix and store in an airtight container.

Monday, September 12, 2011

angel food cake

Finally tackled my absolute favorite cake the other night.. angel food cake. I'm one of those people who will eat a slice of birthday cake because it's "what ya do", not because I'm dying for a slab of frosting smothered baked good. When I finish that one slice, there's typically a wall of frosting still standing as if the cake part just up and vanished. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have a very tiny sweet tooth. I'd sooner grab a bowl of leftover pasta and let the cake turn into a rock than grab another slice.

Enter angel food cake, my only cakey weakness. I could seriously eat the entire thing myself if I wouldn't drown in self-loathing afterward. ;) I've been wanting to make it homemade for a while now but folding egg whites intimidates me so I've been putting it off. It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought though, and I must say it was absolutely delicious. It was everything I've ever loved in a store-bought angel food cake, plus so much more. It had the perfect sweet crust on top, the lightest, spongiest texture, and such a good, unmatched flavor.

Let your mixer do the hard part and get those egg whites going. Whipping egg whites into stiffness brings one of those crazy life questions to mind.. who was the first person to decide that if they got rid of the yolk and beat the white and some sugar into oblivion it would magically transform into this fantastic meringue-y material? Just curious.

There's a little bit of a jump here between beating egg whites and getting it into the pan because I was too busy breaking into a sweat over folding flour into egg whites to remember to take pictures. It really wasn't that bad though, I was just sure I would demolish the air bubbles and have a dense flat cake. Not the case.

When it came out of the oven it was time to invert. I balanced it precariously on top of a kitty paper towel holder. Then, after looking up how long it need to cool for, I also read that some pans have little feet on them specifically designed for inverting cakes. Whoops. I removed it from the paper towel holder and set it on its feet. Much safer!

Scared kitty balancing pan with perfectly capable feet.

After waiting the absolute minimum time for it to cool, I got it out of the pan and was ready to dig in.

Slice off a gigantic wedge and consume.

Makes a delightful breakfast the next day with a cup of coffee. :)

I've seen a lot of variations on this recipe but this one was fantastic. I think what drew me to it was the use of both vanilla and almond extract. I can't speak for other recipes because I haven't tried them but I think I'll stick with this one because it was perfect. The site includes a recipe for a whipped topping too but it doesn't even need it.

Try it!

Angel Food Cake
from Itsy Bitsy Foodies

1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cup egg whites (about 10-12 whites) room temp
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Sift and combine flour and confectioner's sugar in a bowl, set aside. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, salt, and almond extract at high speed until well combined. Continue beating mixture and add sugar a bit at a time. Mix until stiff peaks form. Don't scrape the sides down as you mix. When stiff peaks have formed, begin gently folding in flour mixture with a spatula in small amounts. Fold just until flour is no longer visible. Pour batter into an ungreased 10 in tube pan and bake for 30 minutes. The top should spring back when touched and any cracks in the surface should appear dry.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, invert it until it cools completely. Or at least one hour. ;) After it's cooled, remove from cake pan by running a butter knife down the sides of the pan and place it on a plate.

Eat as is or add fruit and a whipped topping.

Friday, September 9, 2011

lists 7 8 9

List 7 - I'm not Very Good at..
1. saying no
2. math
3. directions
4. doing my hair
5. doing work before the last minute

These are the first things that came to my head.. I'm a big time procrastinator and end up with a ponytail more times than not because the curling, waving, whatever-ing just wasn't working out. I found it kind of funny that one of my first thoughts was math though.. I was fine at math until high school, then I struggled like crazy to get through it, swore it off, and thanked everything I was done with it. Enter grad school where I had to take two algebra classes as prerequisites for my major. -_- I thought I would just barely pass but I ended up getting A's in both classes! Unheard of! I have one really good teacher with a fantastic Russian accent to thank for that.

I'm really starting to think that I'm not actually bad at math, but that I've had some bad teachers in high school. Looking back I only ever struggled in algebra 2 and trig.. did just fine in everything else. And now, going through education courses myself, one of the first things they tell you is just because you know the subject, does not mean you will be a good teacher. Amen to that.

List 8 - Things that Remind Me of My Childhood..
1. sugar cookies
2. pj's with the feet attached
3. tinkerbell makeup
4. picking pumpkins and apples
5. baking with my mom

I tried to stick with things that very specifically remind me of my own childhood instead of listing all of the toys and tv shows we all know and love from the late 80's-early 90's. That list could go on forever! ;) Does anyone else remember Tinkerbell makeup with the strawberry scented scratch-off nail polish? Those were the days..

List 9 - Weekend Plans..
1. breakfast at a French bakery in Northern Liberties
2. Chelsea game on the toob
3. charity tailgate followed by a Union game
4. shop on Sunday for fall scented candles
5. have my first pumpkin spiced latte of the season!

I like this one because I have a fun weekend planned! ;) It apparently involves a lot of soccer (or football for you internationals) a bit of Guinness, and kick-starting fall with all the scents and flavors I'm currently craving. Lord knows my allergies are aware that it's fall.. I've been sneezing my face off for the past two days!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

summer reading

This is how I read Don't Breathe a Word in Sea Isle last week. I wish I could always read like this..

One of my goals for my not forgotten, but less than updated 101 things list was to read a book a month. I have been keeping up with this, I just keep forgetting to update. Instead of just adding them to the list on that page, I thought I'd make a seasonal post of what I read, starting with the three books I read this summer.

There's nothing I love more than getting book recommendations from friends so I thought I'd give my two-bits on the ones I've read and if it strikes up an awesome book memory for any of you, just leave the suggestion in the comments and I'll most likely give it a shot!

My summer reads..

Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline
This book was thick but a very quick read. The point of view jumps between three main characters and as the suspense builds, the chapters get shorter, making it a fast-paced page turner. Without giving anything away that's not on the back cover, I can tell you that it involves a twin burying her sister alive and assuming her identity. If that doesn't get you hooked, I don't know what will. Definitely a good read.

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
When I read an amazing book by an author, I always seek out more books written by them in hopes that they'll be just as good. I read and loved The Lovely Bones in high school and while I was searching the bookshelves for some new reads, I came across Alice Sebold and thought, why not give another one of her books a try? The Almost Moon was a good book but definitely not what I was expecting. The whole story itself takes place in little more than 24 hours but a lot of the story is made up in flashbacks to fill in the holes in the present. Good read, but strange. I felt like I had a "why?" expression on my face the whole time I read it. In the end, good book, worth the read, just not my usual style.

Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
Amazing. Another book I couldn't put down and I can't wait to read more from this author. This is the kind of book I absolutely love.. full of twists and unexpected turns that keep you up late at night because you can't put it down. While I'm on the topic of reading at night, and in the interest of full disclosure, this book is creepy. The kind of creepy that gives you chills and makes you not really want to read it at night, alone, when the house is quiet. But I couldn't stop. So good. It's creepy as in the unknown, and irrational childhood fears.. the kind that gives me goosebumps but I don't mind it. I don't like slasher torture creepy but supernatural, unknown creepy doesn't bother me. So if you can deal with that, read it. Absolutely read it.

I already have my first book for fall lined up which is going to be a little more challenging now that school is starting again, but I have goals to complete! I'll probably write another three book list at the end of November, if everything goes as planned. I hope this is something of interest to some of you as I am a total bookworm and don't have many people to nerd out about books with. ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

favorite color combinations - list 6

Finally home with my camera and my list book. I just backdated the last three days of lists so I wouldn't have to stick them all on one long post. Feel free to go back and check 'em out if you like! Meanwhile, I need to do some catching up on what my fellow list makers are doing!

So here I am, all caught up with list six.

Favorite Color Combinations
1. aqua + mustard
2. peach + sky blue
3. dusty pink + peach
4. red orange + orange + mustard
5. olive + turquoise
6. aqua + black
7. red + aqua

I like aqua evidently.

I swear I'll post something other than lists soon. I actually just finished crocheting my first bag and I want to share it, but the weather has been super crappy for photos. And sadly it's planning on raining for the next few days. I'll see what I can do. Maybe the sun will peek out for a minute and let me take a decent photo. :)

Here's hoping for a sunny, but cool September day..

Monday, September 5, 2011

i need an app for - list 5

I Need an App For..
1. curling my hair
2. doing my make-up
3. giving me a back massage
4. locating missing socks

I took this one to mean "things you wish your iphone could do for you". I don't have an iphone (yet) so I tried to think of things that don't already have an existing app. I thought, if an app could do anything, I'd like it to do these things. Things that I can't or don't like to do myself.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

things to do on a sunday morning - list 4

Things to do on a Sunday Morning..
1. Sleep in
2. Have a big late breakfast
3. get coffee and go for an afternoon walk
4. watch multiple episodes of your favorite tv show
5. wear comfy pants all day

So I kind of made a list for Sunday as a whole instead of just the morning. Oh well, poetic license ;).

Happy lazy Sunday.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

people i love - list 3

People I Love..
1. My family
2. Charlie
3. The (guinea) piggies
4. Bloggy people who read my nonsense and talk to me! :)

Happy happy weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

september lists

I love lists. I love writing them, crossing things off, and seeing everything I wanted to do accomplished. So it made perfect sense for me to join up with 30 Days of Lists this time around! I didn't realize it was going on until much too late last time so when I saw it was going on again, I signed up right away. :)

The first list prompt (which was for yesterday) was a list of goals for September, which is perfect because I love to set a list of new goals for each month. Some small, some lofty.. it's just fun to know there's some things you'll definitely accomplish and others you really have to push yourself towards. Since I was just coming home from the shore yesterday and had my first class last night, here are my lists for September 1st and 2nd. I'll post photos of the actual lists later on because I'm not home at the moment!

Goals for September..
1. Start sewing up the ideas in my notebook
2. Do yoga more regularly
3. Get back into regular blogging
4. Freshen up the blog design
5. Plan products for the holiday season to stock my Etsy with
6. Cook and bake more
7. Have a picnic before the weather gets cold

The list prompt for September 2nd is..

I am Happiest When..
1. I wake up early and everything's still quiet
2. I am eating really good food.. and sometimes bad food :)
3. We have a date night
4. Going on a late night ice cream run
5. The weather's cool enough for layers but not so cold you need to hide under a winter coat
6. A book is so good I finish it in 2-3 days

That's that for now! Are any of you doing 30 Days of Lists? Let me know because I'd love to read them!

Happy Friday everyone!
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