Thursday, December 26, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Swap Revel!

So, I hope everyone had a nice Christmas.  I actually got Christmas eve and Christmas day off this year.  It was nice.  We went to my husband's family's on Christmas Eve, and mine for Christmas.  I finished a second super tote, which I totally forgot to photograph.  (It was a Christmas present for my mom and I finished it up on Christmas morning.) 

But, today I am writing to show off all the cool goodies I got from my 12 Days of Christmas Swap partner!  My partner was Aubrey from High Heeled Love.  

She did a great job of finding things that fit me.   Everything was wrapped all cute and numbered in the order to open them.  I did open them in order, but the pictures aren't in order.  Take a peek at all the awesomeness!

So let's go through them, shall we:
Row 1- 1st: A handmade scarf that is super soft and beautiful colors.  The picture doesn't really do the colors justice.  Scarves are always needed in Wisconsin in the winter.  2nd: Homemade chocolate chip cookies in an adorable tin.  Yum!  3rd: A set of cashmere socks.  I love toasty socks when cross country skiing.  4th:  Christmas tree place settings to hold your silverware.  So cute, although I think they'd look good as tree ornaments too.

Row 2- 1st:  "It's a most wonderful time for a beer." napkins that go in clear coasters.  Pretty nifty.  2nd: A Julep hand care kit, with scrub, cuticle oil and nail strengthener.  The scrub smells delicious and works great.  3rd: Two bottles of Julep nail polish.  A pretty pink and a nice dark glitter.  4th: A bag of Hershey kisses in dark chocolate.  These will come in handy when the Christmas cookies are gone.  :)

Row 3- 1st:  A CD of holiday music.  I love Paste magazine and used to subscribe until I got too cheap.  I've played the CD a lot and it's pretty nice.  2nd: Homemade cinnamon bun soaps, super cute.  3rd: A julep compact of neutral color eyeshadows.  Super handy because 90% of my eyeshadows are neutral colors and I love multi packs.  4th: An adorable sock monkey ornament and snowflake ornament.  Both went up on the tree right away and both had to be up high enough that HB couldn't grab them.

It was a super fun swap and I hope Aubrey liked her stuff as much as I liked mine.  If you want to join the next swap, just follow Chaotic Goddess Swaps.  The girls are always hosting wonderful swaps and they do a great job pairing everyone up and running a smooth swap, that's always fun.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Few Favorites: Christmas Cookie Edition

This week has been crazy.  Work has been nuts, but even more so because there's been inservices (who schedules inservices for the week before Christmas?), fruit pizzas to make (what fruit is in season, in Wisconsin in December?).  My car has been in and out of the shop about three times waiting for a part to come in.  My dad and I did some made dash Christmas shopping.  There's presents to be wrapped, cards still needing to be sent, and things that I hope arrive by the date Amazon said they would.

But the one thing I do have done is my Christmas baking.  I actually had that done a few weeks ago.  I was going to take pictures of everything and post them, but I'm too tired.  So, I'm just going to round up the recipes and post them instead.  I like a lot of bang for my buck.  I'm not beyond shortcuts if the end result is fabulous.  So, here are links to some of my favorite recipes for this Christmas.

I love this Peppermint Cookie Bark from Your Home Based Mom.  It combines white almond bark with salty pretzels, rich Oreos, peppermint candy canes, and marshmallows into a delicious treat.  It looks like it takes a lot more work than it really does.

These peanut butter cups are great. They're a little time consuming, but the end result is worth it. I found this recipe from a  Taste of Home magazine a few years back and I make it for Christmas and sometimes even for Valentine's Day.  These look super cute in little mini muffin cups. And here's a tip, instead of buying six Hershey bars, just buy one of the jumbo Hershey bars, it'll be much cheaper per ounce.

I got the recipe for these zebra cookies in a cookbook the school cooks gave all the kids for Christmas when I was in kindergarten. I still have it. And I still make several recipes out of it. These look super putzy, but basically, you just make the dough, stack up your layer, let it stiffen up in the refrigerator, and then take it out and cut into cookies. You can find the recipe and great step by step instructions on Lingonberry Jam.

Rolo pretzels are super easy. Just three ingredients- Rolos, pretzels, and pecan halves. These are pretty close to a pecan turtle,only without all the work. And the best part is that they only take a few minutes to bake, and you can load a cookie sheet plum full. I used two bags of rolos and fit everything on one baking sheet. Honestly, unwrapping the little buggers is what took the most time. You can find the recipe at Hershey's Kitchen.

I made other candies and cookies too, but these ones are great if you're looking to squeeze some last minute baking in before Christmas. Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Finished Project- Super Tote!

So, I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had bought Noodlehead's Super Tote pattern when it was on sale after Thanksgiving.  Then on Wednesday I showed my progress in cutting out all the pieces.  Well, I finally finished it today!

Here it is! 

Super Tote
 I got the fabric for the interior, exterior and sides from Joann's a few months ago, with no specific plan in mind, but it was just enough for this pattern and I really liked how it turned out.  Originally, I had planned on using a purple fabric for the side panels, but it just wasn't quite the right hue, so I had to go with this yellow.  I'm not super impressed with the quality of the yellow fabric, but I didn't have time to find anything else.  I think it will hold up alright though.

Recessed zipper and elastic pockets.
 The zipper was way easier to install than I thought it'd be and I'm so glad I didn't chicken out and make it without a zip. 

 Better view of the pockets.
I like tote bags, but I always wish they had functional pockets.  Well this pattern does!  They're deep, and have elastic across the top to make them hold all your things in place.

I'm so happy with the results!  I've already started cutting a second one out.  (Using a beloved piece of Anna Marie Horner!)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Giveaway for Two Handmade Zipper Pouches

Another week, another winner!  The six pattern bundle drawing is over, and Joske W. was the winning entry.  So, if that's you, check your email!  This week, I have a fun giveaway that's also practical.

Zipper pouches were one of the first things I sewed and they got me hooked.  It was a fast project.  You can whip one up in under half an hour.  They don't take up much fabric, and they are practical.  You can use them to store makeup, cell phone chargers, headphones, sewing supplies, pretty much whatever you like as long as it will fit.

This week I'm giving away two pouches.  The smaller is perfect for purses, to hold cash, credit cards, lip balm, whatever you like.  It measures 4 inches tall and five inches wide.  The exterior fabric is Kaffe Fassett's Winding Floral print.  The inside is a pale green with white polka dots.  It has been interfaced with fusible fleece so it's quite sturdy.  The zipper is white.

Kaffee Fassett's Winding Floral Pouch
The larger pouch measures about eight inches wide and about five and a half inches tall.  There's a layer of fusible fleece sandwiched between the lining fabric and exterior fabric of this one too.  The exterior is from Anna Maria Horner's LouLouThi collection.  I don't know the exact name, but it always kind of reminded me of fireworks.  The interior is a mint green woven.  If you carry a big enough purse, you can definitely throw this guy in your bag.  But it'd also be good to hold makeup brushes, art supplies, crochet hooks, etc.

To enter, just follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  Leaving a comment is mandatory, all other entries are optional.  And if you haven't entered yet, you have one more day to get in on the Stash Builder Giveaway!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WIP Wednesday- Super Tote

So what am I working on?  Christmas projects.  Specifically Noodlehead's Super Tote pattern that I bought on Cyber Monday.  The solid purple is a chambray that will be the sides of the bag, the purple and yellow flower will be the exterior and pocket, and the yellow mum print will be the inside of the bag.  I had all this fabric in my stash and only had to buy the zipper. I love using up stash fabric.  :)  I'm hoping to get three totes done by Christmas.

And just in case you think I'm bored sitting at home sewing by myself, here's a picture of my adorable helper.

PS- The Six Pattern Bundle Giveaway ends tonight.  Enter here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stash Builder Giveaway

Today is "Giveaway Day" at SewMamaSew!  Currently there's over 100 blogs linking up giving away fabric, supplies, patterns, and finished projects.  I'm joining in and giving away five half yard pieces of different fabrics to build you stash.

This giveaway is open internationally.  Just enter using the rafflecopter form below.  Only the first option is mandatory, but you can follow me on Pinterest or Bloglovin for additional chances to win.  But, first, let me show you what you're going to win.

Going from left to right.

1. A red piece from Michael Miller featuring fans, flowers, and butterflies.
2. A pale turquoise piece from Kona Bay featuring lotus flowers and a sort of Japanese handwriting.
3. From Benatrex, a floral piece that appears o be berry blossoms and some berries.  Cream background, with greens and burgundies.
4.  From Studio Fabrics, lime green fabric with obese cats lounging in chairs, playing with yarn and chasing butterflies and bees.
5. From Blank Quilting, a blue and purple piece with an abstract design.

Winners will be notified by December 15.

And by the way, I'm giving away a Six Pattern Bundle.  You can win patterns to sew your own skirts, dresses, and purses.  So click on over and enter that giveaway too!  This giveaway has ended now, but you can enter to win this week's giveaway: Two Handmade Zipper Pouches.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas To Do List- Put Up the Tree

I love all the rituals and traditions that go with Christmas.  As soon as we started getting a little snow, I was itching to put up the Christmas tree, but made myself wait until at least Thanksgiving was done.  So, shortly after Thanksgiving my husband lugged our sad, little, fake tree out of the basement, and then we left it sitting in our dining room, hoping our youngest cat would not try to climb it or bite the light strands.  He did fairly well so this Tuesday I decided to decorate it.  But before I decorated, I decided to get a tree skirt made!  Last year I just draped some fabric around the base.

Our raggedy, artificial tree.  Don't mind the bare spots. :)
This year I had come across some blue snowflake print in my stash that I had gotten second hand when I first decided I wanted to sew.  It's a heavier cotton, but not too heavy.  I also had some tan broadcloth to use for a backing and I went to the fabric store here in town for some pompom trim, just to make it a little more festive.  I was kind of dreading cutting the circles out, but found an easy tutorial at Random moosages as I see fit.  It just took some simple geometry and we were in business.  The most troublesome part was sewing on all that pompom trim!  I had bought enough.  (Another small win for my feeble math skills.)  And, I sewed it to my front piece before sewing the front and back together, but I didn't think about all that bulk the trim would add.  It turned out okay, but it's not top notch sewing.

Here's a better look at the print and the trim.

I use ornaments just because I like to collect them from different places as souvenirs and I'm not really one to go for much of a theme.  I like eclectic better.  I love unwrapping the ornaments and remembering where we bought them and what we were doing.  It's like going through a box of postcards.

This one came from Bayfield, WI and is handmade.

Present from my husband last year.
I got this one right here in town, but he's so cute.  The shop he's from is out of business now.

And so my tree is decorated, my tree skirt is made.  For the most part, the cats have been leaving the ornaments alone.  Although last night I caught HB sleeping under it.  Then he got up and decided to pose for pictures. 

He's so cute, he can get away with anything!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Giveaway for Six Patterns Bundle

Week two's giveaway is here. Enter to win 6 patterns from McCall's, Simplicity, and Butterick!  Are you new to sewing or just looking to expand your pattern library?  Then this is the giveaway for you.

I went through my patterns and gleaned some for this giveaway.  Here's the skinny on what you could win:

Simplicity 2929, McCall's Easy Stitch'n Save M5566, Butterick B5330, Simplicity 4116


McCall's M5598, McCall's M6090
Simplicity 2929 is a dress pattern with four different variations.  It's size 10-18.
McCall's Easy Stich'n Save M5566 is drawstring waist skirt with godets.  It's size large to x-large.
Butterick B5330 is maxi skirts in a couple different variations and pull on pants.  It's sizes 8-14.
Simplicity 4116 is a dress with a couple different variations including a peter pan collar, as well as a purse.   Pattern is size 6-14.
McCall's M5598 is a purse/tote bag pattern in three different sizes.
McCall's M6090 is a purse in three different sizes.

This giveaway is open world wide.  To enter, simply tell me one thing on your Christmas list.  You can get additional entries by following on Bloglovin or Pinterest.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Music for a Snow Day

We've had a big snowstorm the last few days. Big, heavy, snowman making snow. Unfortunately, yesterday was the first day off I've had in nearly a week, so the closest I got to the snow was shoveling my deck and sidewalk. The rest of the day was spent baking cookies, sewing, and cleaning house. But, here is my snowy day play list. These songs make me wish I was out cross country skiing through the woods. There's just something so peaceful about being out in nature swooshing through snow.

Laura Veirs is one my favorites. She's kind of like a mellowed out Neko Case.   They both have this folksy, storyteller vibe.  Like they're telling you old fables and whispers of things you never knew about. 

Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) is Wisconsin's favorite son.  He grew up about an hour from here and still comes home often.  His first album was wrote in the winter, in his family's cabin, in the woods, so maybe that's why his music seems to fit so naturally with our snowy climate.

Fleet Foxes got me through a really yucky time in my life.  I was working a job I hated.  It was all I could do to get through each day at work.  I would leave for lunch around 11am and just go to McDonalds and get coffee and French fries and drive around for my half hour break listening to this CD, wishing I wouldn't have to go back.  It was a horrible environment and I think pretty much everyone I worked with felt depressed (looking back I'm sure French fries and coffee weren't helping my situation any).  But, life got better.  And, luckily, the CD doesn't bring back any bad memories, more like an appreciation for helping me survive.

But, anyhow, these songs make winter seem not so horrid.  They feel like a perfect companion to the fresh white snow covering everything here.  It all seems fresh and pure and undisturbed.  I kind of like that.

Finally- don't forget to enter my giveaway for Pretty Little Pouches and Purses.  It ends tonight at midnight.
It's a great book for anyone looking to get into sewing practical things.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Few Favorites 12.1

Today's collection is pretty random, but I love them all the same.  :)

1.  Oh Mary Poppins!  You're so right.  We can become so frustratingly addicted to things that we let clutter overrun our lives, when really, enough is all we need.  And I think "enough" is far less than most of us think it is.  (Myself included.)

2.  I did good black Friday, and didn't buy a thing.  But, then I was reading my feed on Bloglovin' and saw that fellow Wisconsin girl, Noodlehead is having a sale through tonight on all her patterns, offering 20% off, so I did break down and buy the Super Tote pattern.  I've been drooling over it sense it came out a few months ago and I think it will make nice Christmas presents if I get my butt in gear and make some.  I've tried some of her patterns in the past and they're very professional and easy to follow.  Plus, they're instant downloads so within a few minutes of paying, you can get sewing.

3.  I like to support handmade any chance I can, so if you're looking for some great Christmas gifts, check out Buffalo Gal Organics.  I've bought her lip balm and it's awesome.  This woodland perfume sounds good too- scents of pepper berries, green tea, sandalwood and amber.  She's having big sales through Cyber Monday so check her out if you need perfumes, lip balms, face creams or mineral makeup for anyone on your list.

4.  Finally, these fudge nut oatmeal bars qualify as comfort food in my book.  My mom made them for me when I was little and I make them a couple times a year now.  They're not very healthy.  But they're so good.  And if you make them, you'll need a big glass of milk to wash them down with.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giveaway for Pretty Little Purses and Pouches

Happy Thanksgiving, American friends!  If it's not Thanksgiving where you are, then I hope you're having a good day however you are spending it.  Today is the first of several giveaways being held here on Chair in the Shade from now until the New Year.

Today's prize is a hardcover copy of Pretty Little Purses and Pouches (affiliate link).  This book is great for beginning bag makers, or sewers looking for some fresh ideas.  There's directions for 29 different purses and pouches as well as hints and tips on inserting zippers, linings, pockets and the like.  Lots of fun patterns that you can customize however you like.  And great ideas if you want to make some of your own Christmas presents this year.

To enter, simply tell me how much stuff is in your purse.  Mine is pretty big, I usually carry my wallet, phone, lip balm, a note book, day planner, a book, Excedrin, and various other odds and ends.  I'm one of those people who would rather have anything I could possibly need than realize I forgot something at home.  You can also earn bonus entries for following on Twitter and Bloglovin.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In a Book Rut... and Some Giveaway Shout Outs

Do you guys ever start reading a book and you're not really into it, but you keep reading it thinking it will get better? I frequently do this with movies. (Sometimes Netflix can be a total crap shoot.) But, with books, I feel like I need to keep giving it a shot, but then get frustrated and I just quit reading all together. That's how it is with Forever by Peter Hamill.  I read the first couple chapters, wasn't really feeling the vibe of the book, and set it down thinking I just needed to give it more of a shot to get into it.  I haven't picked it up since and that was over a month ago.  Now the thought of trying to get back into it makes me feel less than enthused.

So, last night I decided to chuck it back into the book shelf for a try again later and run off with an old standby.  Whenever I get into a book rut, I turn to an author I've been reading sense I was in junior high, Agatha Christie.  First off, she wrote like a hundred books so there's plenty to choose from.  Second, she has a handful of different detectives- Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Harley Quinn, a couple others- and plenty of books that have an amateur sleuth that only appears in that story.  So, there's plenty to choose from, their entertaining, and pretty quick reads.  Just what a girl needs to get her back in a reading groove and out of a book rut.  By the way, if you're interested in which book I picked, I went with Third Girl which a Hercule Poirot mystery.

Anyhow, it got me thinking.  Agatha Christie's detectives deserve a reboot, ala Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock and Elementary.  Especially Harley Quinn, he just seems like there's more there than what he lets on. I'd even settle for a show where Agatha Christie solves mysteries.  I really loved The Unicorn and the Wasp episode on Doctor Who.
Agatha Christie and Doctor Who

And finally, on a completely unrelated not.  I won't be around tomorrow due to Thanksgiving lunch with the family and then off to work.  But, I do have my first giveaway of the Christmas season all queued up and ready to go, so be sure to check back for that.

And, I'm also sharing some links to a couple other giveaways going on hosted by some of the blogs I follow.

Mom Does Reviews is giving away a doggie natural prize pack.  US only, ends 11/29
Mom and More is giving away a $100 Kohl's gift card.   Ends 12/6.

Griperang's Bookmarks is giving away a SoyL Scent Candle Gem.  US only, ends 12/9.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hoarders- Fabric Addict Edition

You all have seen "Hoarders" on TLC right?  The show that makes you want to clean your house while you watch it.  While I have never found one of my cats buried underneath a stack of stuff in my office, and I never save soda cups my husband hauls home from McDonalds, I do have other problem areas.

There's my cupboard of coffee and tea.  Everyone keeps about five pounds of coffee and four boxes on tea on hand at all times right?  I mean, at least if a meteorite hit Earth, I'd be good to go for a couple months.  And I know you're thinking, "Kaylee, you can't make coffee without electricity."  Not so!  While my coffee pot is a plug in, I also have a back up French press.  I'd just need to build a fire, boil some water, and Boom!  I'd be good to go!

There's also my books.  I have a couple crates in the basement that haven't even seen the light of day sense I got married.  But, I intend to read them someday, and the basement is dry so I think they'll be just fine.

I also keep the cabinet stocked with extra shampoo, condition, body lotion, shower gel, face cleanser, and all sorts of things of that nature.  If I have a coupon and can  get a deal, I like to stock up.

But, there's one area that I can't justify away.  My fabric stash.  Dun dun dun!!!

 I thought I should explain in pictures why I'm not letting myself buying any fabric at the moment.  This is my stash.  I hauled it all out of my office/sewing room and into the living room.  There two milk crates, two drawer totes,  a bunch of stuff I keep in my cedar chest, two baskets, and two shopping bags.  This is ridiculous.  Maybe if I was a quilter, it would be okay, but I just sew, and most of what I sew is just bags, purses, and little things.  Can you imagine how many tote bags I could make if I sewed up my stash? 

So how'd it get so out of hand?  Fabric is a relatively cheap thing to collect.  You see a piece you like, and you can get a whole yard for between $5 and $10.  Plus, I love thrift shopping, and I can't pass up a deal.  I'll see something for a buck or two, and I can't resist.  Even if I'm not super wild about the fabric. 

Before long, it got out of hand, and now, it's just kind of turning into a headache to store it all.  At least tea boxes are small.  My fabric stash really takes up a lot of room in my office.  So, I'm making a couple resolutions.  Nothing crazy, like "No buying fabric until I use up everything in my stash!".  That's just setting myself up for failure.  Here's what I decided instead.

1. Stay out of the fabric shop unless I am looking for something specific for a project that's in process.  It's too easy to wander in "just to look" and end up walking out with a bag of fabric with no plan in mind and it ends up sitting in my stash for months or even years.

2. Give some away.  Be on the look out for some fabric giveaways.  I'm also giving away some finished projects, and some sewing books and supplies.  So be on the look out, starting on Thanksgiving.

3. Sew it up!  I don't really see any point to sell it on Ebay or Etsy, when it's perfectly fine, and there's no reason not to use it.  I just need to use it!  And I have plenty of patterns, interfacings, zippers, and the like, so there's no reason not to.

So, hopefully by the end of next year, I'll have it down to a more manageable size.  Having a stash is not a bad thing, but when it starts eating into your workspace, action needs to be taken.  How big is your fabric stash and how do you store it all?  Are you looking to increase your stash or working on downsizing it?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Fabric Shopping

So Christmas is coming. It's okay to say it, even though we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet. It's coming, and if you make your own presents or decorations, it's coming fast. I wanted to make my own Christmas skirt this year.  I was planning on using the Festive Tree Skirt tutorial from SewCraftyJess but I just never found enough different fabrics in my stash, that I thought would go and still look Christmas-ey, and I'm really trying to keep from buying more fabric until I downsize my stash somewhat.  I found some snowflake fabric in a bin of blue fabric that I think will work fine for a plain old, one fabric tree skirt, and I did find a way to jazz it up a little, so I'm going to use that for this year, but here are some fabrics I found at (affiliate link) that I would love if I was allowing my self to buy some new fabric right now. I think I love that quilting cotton that looks like a knitted sweater best. I just want to order some to see how it feels. (I may have a fabric addiction, I know!)

So, if you're letting yourself buy fabric, or you need some for Christmas projects you really should check out's Christmas selection.  They ship for free if you spend at least $35 and they have just about anything you could want.  So if you find anything awesome, you think I should check out, let me know,

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Few Favs 11.24 Special 1990s Edition

 I was born in the early 80s so, I grew up on Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers, wide leg blue jeans, and TGIF shows like "Family Matters", "Full House", "Step by Step" and "Hanging with Mr. Cooper".  Lately, I've been having a bit of a craving for all things 90s.

1. Flannel shirts!  I found a vintage one at the thrift store in the men's section the other day.  And it's so comfy.  I've been living in it, with my favorite jeans and moccasins.  It's on my thrifting wish list to find a couple more.  I found this listing on Etsy for a mystery flannel shirt.

2.  Before I loved Doctor Who obsessively, I loved the XFiles (affiliate link).  It was one of my favorite shows.  My mom wouldn't let me watch it when I was a kid, because it was too violent and it had aliens in it and murders and stuff.  But, I used to sneak episodes when I could.  The first Christmas after we got married my husband bought me all nine seasons (they were on special after Thanksgiving for dirt cheap).  I watched them all in order and then the other day, I decided I should watch them again.  So, I started rewatching them.  And I love them just as much as the first time I saw them.  But, I have noticed that the wardrobe is all sorts of 90s awesomeness.  Scully has these really awful wide leg pant suits and Moulder has these super wide ties.  But I still love all the mystery and unexplained, alien weridness to it.

3.  This quilt is awesome!!!  Remember cassettes?  Remember making your own mix tape by taping your favorite songs off the radio?  This mini quilt is from Sewing Under Rainbow.  It's ran by a Polish blogger named Julianna GÄ…siorowska.  She makes some awesome stuff.  There's no tutorial but it does give a girl some inspiration.

4.  William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (affiliate link) was my favorite movie in high school.  This movie is what started my geeky love of  Shakespeare.  After watching this movie, I read the play, along with "Macbeth", "The Merchant of Venice" and some sonnets before moving on to Jane Austen.  So, I guess this movie laid the groundwork for my love of Jane Austen.  Plus, Leonard DiCaprio stars as Romeo and he was a Tiger Beat regular of my Junior High years.  And to be honest, it isn't that horrible to watch now.  It's aged fairly well.

So there you have it: a list of 90s related favorites.  What are your favorite 90s things?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Finish

So it's National Collection Week for Opearation Christmas Child and my boxes are packed and ready to go.  I finished up my bears today and they are super cute!  See for yourself.

Don't they just look happy?
These are made with the Wendy Gratz's Bailey Bear pattern.  It's available on Craftsy (affiliate link) and is super easy.  The first bear I made was the solid color, tan one, but for all the little bear siblings, I just grabbed stuff out of my scrap basket.

Six boxes ready to go.
I donated online, so my labels printed with a bar code and I'll be able to find out what country they end up in.  If you're interested in making your own shoe boxes, there's still time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

 Snow will be coming any day now, there's been plenty of frost, and it's wicked cold when I leave work each night, so that means it's time to start soup making again.  It seems like in the summer, I eat a lot of salads and not much soup and then in the fall and winter it's the opposite- all sorts of yummy soups and not much salad.  I suppose it makes sense because when it's 90 degrees out, who wants to eat anything hot.  But, when it's below zero and the wind is howling, soup is delicious.

Anyhow, so I have my go to cream of brocolli soup recipe thanks to an old post from The Little Girl's Guide to Sugar and Spice but I have never really found a cream of cauliflower soup recipe that I love.  So, I thought about what kinds of things I love in soup, and just gave it a whirl. 

This is what I learned.  You don't have to precook your cauliflower, or roast it in the oven to make good soup.  Evaporated milk makes your soup super rich and creamy.  Skipping the emulsion blender gives you nice chunks of carrots and cauliflower in your final product, which I like.  Making my own recipe up isn't nearly as scarey as I thought it'd be.

Here's my recipe

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
3 tablespoons butter
2 stalks celery
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons flour
2 carrots
1 head of cauliflower
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste
cheddar cheese, optional

Set a large kettle on your stove and melt butter over low heat.  While the butter is melting, finely chop your celery and garlic.  Add to butter, and saute until celery and garlic are tender, add chopped carrots and flour.  Stir until all are evenly coated.  Add 2 cups chicken broth, and 1 cup of water.  Stir in finely chopped cauliflower.  Put lid on kettle and cook over medium heat until cauliflower is cooked.  About 15 minutes.  Add can of evaporated milk and cook until starts to bubble.  Salt and pepper to taste.  May sprinkle with cheddar cheese if desired.

Being from Wisconsin, I of course add cheddar cheese and lots of it!  It's also great with homemade bread to dip in it.  (Toast or English muffins work in a pinch.)  I used ciabatta I learned to make while taking Craftsy's Artisan Bread Making class. They're even offering 25% off all their food classes in November.  And if funds are a little tight or you're not sure you'll like Craftsy (which I'm sure you will, but whatever) you can take the Perfect Pizza at Home class for FREE, which is taught by Peter Reinhart, who also teaches the bread class.  Just go sign up.  No credit card info needed, no commitment, no pressure.

 Finally, Craftsy is hosting a recipe contest.  I'm entering my creamy cauliflower soup.  If you want to enter, go to the recipe submission page and submit yours.  The winners will receive a free Craftsy food class and have their recipe featured on Craftsy.

So there you have it.  Make good food and win a prize!  What recipe would you share?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas Swap Sign Up

Chaotic Goddess is having another swap!  And sign ups are going on now!  The Twelve Days of Christmas involves buying twelve small gifts for your swap partner.  Then, you mail off your packages to each other.  When you get your package, you open one gift each day. 

The girls that run Chaotic Goddess do a great job making everything go smoothly.  If you're a blogger interested a fun swap, sign up now!  Just click the button above to be taken to the sign up page.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Few Favorites 11.17

Here are some of the things I'm loving this week.

First off, I love Doctor Who.  Who doesn't?  Seriously, everyone I know who starts watching the show, loves it.  When I found this sampler pattern on Etsy, it really made me want to start doing counted cross stitch again.  Darn you Etsy.

This Narwhal Amigurumi pattern is too cute!  I found him on Beth from Living a  Goddess Life's board.  He really makes me want to learn crochet faster so I can get on to cute projects like him, instead of practice squares.  It's a free pattern, too!

Here's something to remember on those days that are going not so good. (And who doesn't have those every now and again.)

And finally, since winter is inevitably coming, here's a pin of some ice in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Sturgeon Bay is located right at the base of the Door County Peninsula, and right on Lake Michigan.  I love the Great Lakes, but that lake effect wind looks like it can get pretty nasty.  Sometimes I think I like living on the west side of Wisconsin just fine.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What's to Come

Another week is done.  It seems like time goes so fast.  But, today I just wanted to kind of give a sneak peek of sorts of what my plans are for Chair in the Shade and where I want to be going.
  • My original goal was to focus on arts and crafts, cooking and baking, and books.  And that's still where I want to be, but I think I get a little lopsided at times and some weeks I'm all crafty and no cooking, so I'm hoping to get a little better balance going by putting more planning into my posts.
  • I'm planning on hosting a giveaway a week from Thanksgiving until into the new year.  I already have a couple planned, but if you're a maker of homemade goodness and would like to team up, please email me.  I love showcasing handmade awesomeness.
  • Books!  I go in spurts where I read and read and read, and then other times where I get busy with other things and don't read as much.  I'm in the latter camp right now.  But, hope to get some of my book shelf read before Christmas and share some new treasures with you.
  • There will be Christmas cookie recipes coming soon.  I love me some Christmas cookies.
  • Also, some simple gift ideas.
  • I also have some new weekly features I want to bring along so be on the look out for that.
So what do you think?  Anything you want to see more of?  Or less of?

You guys that have the weekend off, enjoy.  You guys that have to work (which is the camp I'm in this weekend), hang in there.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Crochet is MacGyver

A few months ago I enrolled in Craftsy's Knitting Lab (affiliate link) and Crochet Lab (affiliate link). I can cast on and do a row of either one, but that's all the farther I can go.  I always thought knitting was so elegant and beautiful with fine stitches and cables and patterns and colors blending so effortless.  Crochet was more like the frumpy aunt that makes you bulky, itchy sweaters.  It wasn't until I really got searching for crochet projects on Pinterest that I realized all the awesomeness you can create with a crochet hook.
Yesterday was Lesson 4 in Crochet Lab and I'm so excited!  I can actually "do" single crochet now!  It's not pretty, but the principle of how it's done has finally clicked!  I like to practice with variegated yarn.  That way you can see your past row a little easier and see your progress.

I started a Pinterest board of crochet projects to try.  I've found such a variety of goodies- from winter scarves and hats, to amigurumi (which I was always under the impression was a knitting thing), to delicate flowers, fun granny squares, garlands, afghans, lacy shawls.  Here's some of what I've found so far.

It's pretty awesome!  Crochet really is a MacGyver of fiber arts.  So, if you have any cool projects that you think I'd like, post the link below and I'll check them out!  I know it'll be a while before I'm doing any really detailed projects, but a little inspiration never hurts.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Lana B., the winner of the Whatever Goes Giveaway hop here.  She's already responded to my request for mailing information, so her prize pack full of Symbolic Imports will be going in the mail today.  Lana's favorite food smell is pumpkin pie.  That's a pretty good one in my book.

If you entered, but didn't win, never fear, there's many more giveaways to be had before the end of the year.  I hope to do one a week starting the week of Thanksgiving.  There will be sewing patterns, fabric, crafty little things, and more!  So, keep checking in to see what you can win.

I've also signed up for Lauren Paints A Beautiful Life's New Year & an All New You hop which is running from January 3 to January 20.  If you're a blogger and would like to sign up, just click the picture below and follow the directions.

Hope you're all having a good Tuesday.  It was 18 degrees out when I came home from work last night.  I don't think I'm ready for winter yet, but I guess it's coming whether I'm ready or not.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Zip Pouches from Michelle's Patterns

So last week, Michelle's Patterns (affiliate link) released a new pattern for cute zipper pouches, but these have a sweet little button and sideflap detail.  It comes in three different sizes.  I bought it last week, but finally got around to trying out the pattern today.

I had bought this whale fabric at Joann's a few months ago, the beige fabric I used for the accent and lining came in a fat quarter bundle I bought around the same time and the buttons are from an Etsy shop.  I decided to make the tall pouch. 

This pattern goes together very quickly, and only has two pattern pieces per size.  It's labeled as intermediate, but if you know how to install a zipper, you shouldn't have any problems.

The tall is about 2/3 the size of a school notebook.
I like to make zipper pouches because they go together quickly and are super practical.  But, the little button detail on this one gives it a little something extra.  Michelle's Patterns are great to sew with because you just purchase them, download, print, and go.  Her directions are always clear to follow and often she gives several different size options.

Don't mind my sloppy top stitching.
You can add as many or as few buttons of you like.  I plan on using a crochet flower instead of a button next time.

This picture, from Michelle's Patterns, shows all three sizes.
I think these will make great Christmas presents and I love all the ways you can customize them. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giveaway Round Up for 11.10

Don't forget!  The Whatever Goes Giveaway Hop  ends Monday at Midnight.  There's 55 shops participating, including mine!  If you haven't entered to win the Symbolic Imports treats, I highly suggest you do.  There's salted caramel lip balm, butter cream lip balm. gingerbread cookie roll on perfume, pumpkin soap, all tucked in one of my cosmetic bags.  It's open worldwide, so enter and then check out the other 54 giveaways for more goodies. 

Here are some other giveaways I've found online this week.  I'm not co-hosting any of these, but everyone likes to win things, so go check them out.

There's a Sample the States giveaway full of goodies from Maine hosted by The Adventures of My Family of 8 along with some other bloggers.  Giveway ends 11/14

Win a $25 Gift Card to Hobby Lobby from Simply Stacie.  Giveaway ends 11/22

There's a big giveaway for a new serger and gift certificates for some awesome fabric shops over on Sewbon plus a whole collection of gift ideas for you.  Giveaway ends 11/15

You can win a Singer sewing machine, gift card to Joann's and a bunch of other prizes over at Flamingo Toes.  Giveaway ends 11/30

Win custom candles from Lissy's Lit Wicks over on Mary's Cup of Tea.  Giveaway ends 11/19

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Five Must Haves for Bread Making

So, you want to make your own bread, but don't want to run out and invest a bunch of money on something you're not sure you will love.  I totally understand.  Here's my list of what you must have for successful bread making.  You can totally build up from their with specialty pans, stones, and cloths, but this will get you started and make you great bread.

1. Instant Yeast
This has been one of the easiest things I've done to improve my success with bread making.  Instant yeast rises much faster than regular or even rapid rise yeast.  Plus, I've also learned my lesson with trying to force dough to rise in a warm oven or by other artificial means.  Instant yeast will rise even if you put your dough in the refrigerator.  It's easy to work with and I can't imagine making bread without it.

2.Olive Oil
The method of bread making in Craftsy's Artisan Breadmaking class uses olive oil when your dough is too sticky to handle, instead of the traditional flour method.  So you'll need olive oil on hand.  You don't have to buy the most expensive oil you can find, but don't try to use a regular cooking oil like canola.  I use Pompeian, and you can find it online or probably at your local grocery store.

3. Parchment Paper
Similar to wax paper, but not waxy, this paper is a life saver to keep rising doughs from sticking to things and to bake on.  IT makes keeping your baking sheets a breeze and helps your breads to brown evenly.  You can find it in your grocery store or any craft store that sells cake baking supplies.

4. Baking sheets
Well, you have to have something to bake your dough on,  if you have cookie sheets, those will work fine.  If you really get into your baking, there's all sorts of stones and dishes you can bake in for cool shaped loaves, but these are a must.  Surprisingly, I haven't used a loaf pan yet for this class, but I always bake on a baking sheet.

5. Kitchen Scale
I almost left this one off, but I think it really makes a difference.  For this class, you weigh your ingredients by the ounce.  The reason being, is that one cup of flour can a different amount, based on how much or little you pack your cup, how humid it is, and just the texture of your flour.  But flour will weigh the same no matter if you sift it first, if it's humid out, or whatever extenuating circumstances there may be.  So, I use my postage scale, and set a bowl on it, turn it on (so that it zeros the scale even though the bowl has weight) and then add my flour, salt, and water.  I do not weigh my yeast.  You can find them relatively cheap, so I really think their worth the investment.

So there's some ideas to get you started on what you need to begin bread making.   There's other things that would be fun to have, but are definitely not essential.  Just check out all the things that fall under "bread making supplies" on Amazon on there's tons of pans, couches, stones, knives.  It's enough to make a girl lightheaded with the possibilities.

Note all links are affiliate links.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Few Favorites 11.3

So October is done and we've already moved on to November. My windshield is frosted when I leave work at night.  Winter will be here soon.  But, there's still a touch of autumn left, here in Wisconsin.  So, here's a round up of some things I'm liking this week.

1. Banksy came to New York for the month of October.  My husband thinks Banksy is stupid.  I think he's kind of cool.  You can check out his website chronicling every project he did while in New York: Better Out Than In.

2. Roses and Lemons is this super cute Etsy shop.  She sells jewelry, bobby pins, flower crowns, and all sorts of cute things.  She's having a sale through November 10th, offering 30% off.  Check out her shop for more goodies.

3. Good thing to remember: "Someone else is happy with less than you have."  I found this on Pinterest and it's from a website called Soylent Green.  But warning, you could just fall down the rabbit hole looking at all sorts of funny, not so funny, and interesting things on this site.

4. I think of this as cheater tortellini soup.  It takes canned soup, but then adds sun dried tomatoes, and half and half to make it seem like you spent hours sweating over the stove making it.  And of course, the premade tortellini ups the yum factor.

So there you are.  Four things to check out this week.  Have a good Sunday.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Reminder: Whatever Goes Giveaway Hop

Just a reminder that you have a little over a week to enter the Whatever Goes Giveaway!

I'm giving away a bunch of awesome, yummy scented products from Symbolic Imports.  She runs an awesome shop on Etsy and has great smelling things.  There's currently over 200 items in her shop!  If you can't wait to see if you win, you can buy any of these items directly from her.

Click on the picture of my prize pack to be taken to the entry page and view the links for all the other blogs participating in the Whatever Goes Giveaway!

But you better hurry!  This giveaway ends November 11.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

Samaritan's Purse is a Christian relief organization that's goal is to aid the world's poor, sick, and hungry.  They have many great programs, but one of the most interactive ones is Operation Christmas Child.  The concept is simple- you pack a shoebox (or shoebox sized box) with items for children in need.  You include things like personal hygiene items, school supplies, toys, and just fun things for kids that don't have much.

November 18-25 is the national collection week.  I usually buy little trinkets for my boxes throughout the year and school supplies when they're on sale before school starts.  So, today, I counted up my boxes and ran to the dollar store for a few more odds and ends and then got packing.

HB, the ever helpful cat, getting his big head in my picture.
I ended up having enough goodies for six boxes.  You can't see all the goodies,but there's pencils, sharpeners, kleenex, toothpaste and brushes. socks, some flip flops for 90% off, Lisa Frank sticker books (which, I got to to be honest- I kind of want one for myself), crayons, notebooks, soap, sugar free gum, hair clips, playdough, sidewalk chalk, and harmonicas. 

A cat free picture
So, I packed up my boxes, and tried to group the items by age appropriateness.

The three on the left are for older girls, the three on the right are for younger girls.  They suggest a $7 donation per box to help with the cost of shipping the boxes around the world.  If you pay online, you can print your own box labels with a barcode and they will send you an email to let you know where your box ends up.  Last year, my boxes all ended up in Kenya.  It will be interesting to see where they go this year.

And yes, that is Bailey Bear in a box.  I figured a little girl would get more enjoyment out of it than I would.  In fact, before I take these to my local drop off spot, I hope to get some more Bailey's whipped out for all the other boxes too.

If you are interested in packing your own shoebox, go to Samaritan's Purse for more information, or check out this video.

And then this video to see the end result of all your fun work: