Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Goals: Books!

It's that time of year again. When everyone is making resolutions for the coming year.  I always feel like a resolution is destined to fail unless you have a plan to go with it though.  One resolution I always make is to read more.  In 2013 I met my goal of 24 books, but 2014 was a pretty sad book year.  I thin part of it is that I read less at work.  I used to read on my lunch, but now I often play Scrabble on my cell or surf the net.  So, I decided for 2015, I need a better plan than just carrying a book with me.

I decided that I want to read four books a month.  (Which is way more than I read this year.  But, I have plenty of free time if I cut back on surfing the web and plenty of books, so that's the goal, at least until the snow melts- then it may be re-evaluated.)  In order to make this more apt to happen, I'm picking four books out at the end of the previous month and aiming to get through them in the coming month.

Here are my picks for January:

And here are the Goodreads synopses for them and how I got the book:    

The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall (won the book and DVD on a blog giveaway): What would you do to inherit a million dollars? Would you be willing to change your life? Jason Stevens is about to find out in Jim Stovall's The Ultimate Gift.

Red Stevens has died, and the older members of his family receive their millions with greedy anticipation. But a different fate awaits young Jason, whom Stevens, his great-uncle, believes may be the last vestige of hope in the family.

"Although to date your life seems to be a sorry excuse for anything I would call promising, there does seem to be a spark of something in you that I hope we can fan into a flame. For that reason, I am not making you an instant millionaire."

What Stevens does give Jason leads to The Ultimate Gift. Young and old will take this timeless tale to heart.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney (from a library used book sale): Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance. . . . 

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett (from my Secret Santa parnter): Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt's Possession.

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays

 A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot (found at a second hand store- brand new! for 98 cents): A Chance to Die is a vibrant portrayal of Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary and writer who spent fifty-three years in south India without furlough. There she became known as ''Amma,'' or ''mother,'' as she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for underprivileged children. Amy's life of obedience and courage stands as a model for all who claim the name of Christ. She was a woman with desires and dreams, faults and fears, who gave her life unconditionally to serve her Master. Bringing Amma to life through inspiring photos and compelling biographical narrative, Elisabeth Elliot urges readers to examine the depths of their own commitment to Christ.

 So there you have it!  Wish me luck. :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

5 Things- Last Time in 2014!

It's crazy that 2014 is almost finished.  I've been polishing my goals for 2015, and thinking about what I hope to accomplish in the coming year.  I love New Year goals.  It's like a fresh notebook to write all your dreams in.  So this week, most of my things are related to making 2015 awesome.

1.  I enrolled in Campfire Chic's Spark e-course.  I don't feel super burned out per say, just more like overwhelmed and not sure what I should be doing.  I have followed Kam's blog for a while now, and this e-course is only a 30 day project- you get an email each day and only costs $10.  I figured it was worth a shot.  :)  I've only gotten the first two emails but I think it's going to be a good thing for me.


2.  Originally I was going to make my own planner for 2015, but then I realized I wanted something more than a planner.  So, I got the Emergent Task Planner notebook from David Seah.  It's only for 3 months, but each day gets its own page and there's lots of room for making lists and planning out your day.  I'm not one to plan out my time in increments, but I think it will still work for me.

3. I finally backed up my blog.  It's been on my to-do list, since I saw My So Called Chaos' New Blogger tips post about how easy it was to do.  My husband got me a cute little flash drive for Christmas, so I figured it was time.  It took like all of 5 minutes to dig up the instructions again and do it, but I feel much better now that I have done it.

4. This year feels like Christmas was upon us in no time.  I knew there was only three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and thought I was doing good, but all of a sudden, Christmas was here and I didn't bake nearly as much as I had been planning on, I didn't finish a lot of the gifts I wanted to make, I had things made that never got listed in Etsy, and I didn't even finish my Christmas cards.  One of my goals for next year is going to be to get ready early, so I can actually enjoy the Christmas season in 2015.  

5. This is not so much a thing as a question.  How many blogs do you guys read?  I use Bloglovin, and I love how easy it is to keep track of all the blogs I follow, but I find if I don't check in at least daily, I quickly end up with an overflowing list of unread posts.  Like we're talking 300 posts. Any tips or tricks for following your favorite blogs?  Should I be limiting the number I follow, or just skimming more?  Let me know what your system is.

Friday, December 26, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Show Off!

This was my second year of participating in the 12 Days of Christmas Swap (hosted by the ladies over at Chaotic Goddess Swaps).  I was partnered with Ashley from Happy. Pretty. Sweet.  And happy, pretty, and sweet all are good words to describe Ashley.  We know each other from the blog world, but it was fun to actually email each other and see how much stuff we have in common.  We both love Jane Austen and Doctor Who.  She's very crafty and she loves cats.  I think if we lived closer we would have to hang out.

My huge package from Ashley arrived right in the middle of work-pocalypse.  We were crazy busy and someone ended up crying at least once a day just from feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.  Then some strain of gastroenteritis started making its rounds through the hospital, hitting both patients and staff.  My little present a day was the bright spot of the day many days.

So, want to see what I got?  I was going to write down what I opened each day, but then I was sure I'd remember. Guess what, I don't.

So in no particular order, here are my 12 Day of Christmas gifts:
  1.  A package of "hello" note cards.  Super cute!  Red with gold lettering.
  2.  A pair of polka dot socks. 
  3. A cute, blingy bracelet.
  4. Knit cowl and ski band in turquoise.
  5. Some Crabtree and Evelyn lotion and shower gel.
  6. A copy of Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer.  Sounds good.
  7. Some bright and fun body glitter.
  8. Lindt chocolates.  Yum!
  9. Some Frozen themed tissues.
  10. Ulta body lotion in "Fresh Lilac"
  11. Tea!  Love tea in the winter.
  12. Headphones.  They were in the package, but I tore them open and having been using them.  These came at a perfect time, because my current pair have a bare wire and I'm not really sure they're safe to be jamming in my head. Thinking I should make the headphone cord wrap I saw on Pinterest.  Especially since HB likes to chew on my headphones.
If you want to see what everyone else got, including what I sent to Ashley, go check out the swap link up at Chaotic Goddess.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

5 Things- December 21

Another week down.  Can you believe we're almost done with 2014?  This year has been filled with happy moments along with disappointments, but I guess that's how every year is, right?  Here are things I'm loving, looking forward, or thinking about this week.

1.  Christmas cookies!  As in, I have hardly baked any!  I did make two loaves of babka for the hospital Christmas tea.  Basically, every department takes a day hosting the tea with a different theme.  The theme for our day was Christmas breads.  I forgot to take a picture of my bread, but here's a babka I made last year.  It's kind of like a rich coffee cake with its roots in eastern Europe.  I learned the recipe in my Craftsy Bread Making Class.  At this point, I'm kind of thinking Christmas cookies aren't worth the hassle.  I don't have anything else I need to serve them for, and I'll just end up eating 90% of them myself.  (Just ask the peanut butter cups I made two weeks ago.)

Walnut Babka

2.  2015 Goals!  I love making goals and to do lists and no time seems more perfect for new goals than a new year.  I took myself out for lunch on Friday to make a list of what I am hoping to accomplish in the coming year and some action steps for the bigger goals.

3.  Mastermind group!  I saw a link on Lemon and Raspberry a few months ago that was about how to start and run a mastermind group.  It sounded intriguing and it made sense.  Sometimes you need someone to push you on, brainstorm with you, and hold you accountable.  I had one friend in mind initially who would be great to pair with this, and shortly after another friend popped in my head.  It was crazy because the second friend and I are not very close.  We grew up together in the same 4H and stuff, and say hi when we run into each other, but we never really hang out together.  But, I had this feeling she'd be perfect for it.  I ran into her at church one Sunday and after the service we were chatting and I just sprang my plan on her.  And she was totally game. 

We met up with the other friend for supper a few weeks ago and we had a great first meeting.  I think it's going to be great.  We started a Facebook group and are going to try to meet once a month at least.  We all are driven and have big plans, but need someone to be pushing us along.  I think it's going to be great!  If you need help accomplishing your goals, I highly recommend at least looking into starting a group.  Think beyond your inner circle.  Sometimes what you need is not a friend, but an accomplice. 

4.   Christmas shopping is done!  (As long as my last packages from Amazon and Target get here in time.)

5.  Loving Spotify Premium!  They were giving a 3 month trial away for dirt cheap and I signed up.  I think I may be addicted.  No commercials, can I can listen to whatever I want on my cell phone instead of having my play lists shuffled.  I have it going almost constantly.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Forced Slow Down and A Belated Musical Monday

So I've told you guys how work has been crazy, and there's been tons to do to get ready for Christmas, and if you could see my house right now, it looks like a bomb has strewn objects all over it in a random pattern with no logical order.  My sewing room is a disaster, there's weeks worth of tooth paste spit in my bathroom sink, dead plants in the window sill, and cat toys everywhere.

Do you ever feel like that?  That life is just spinning out of control and all you can do it hold on?  That's how it feels here.  I keep making lists and trying to get everything done, but it's just not happening.

Lake Superior- October 2014
I like this picture of lake, because it kind of looks like how I feel right now, waves of more stuff crashing in- stuff to do, places to go, work, everything piling on top of each other.

Then, early yesterday morning, I woke up with a stomach ache.  I chalked it up to eating ice cream right before I went to bed, but no such luck.  I'll spare you the details, but I was sick.  I called in to work about 9 am, and at the hospital, anytime you have diarrhea, vomiting, or similar gastroenteritis symptoms, you have to be off for three days.  I spent most of the day in bed or the bathroom.  I slept a lot, and then I finally felt like eating real food around 6 pm. 

I feel much better today.  I think sometimes your body just quits on you.  You're stressed, you're eating junky food, you don't take care of yourself, so your body just decides to hit reset for you.  This morning, I feel like I can get the house clean, finish wrapping presents, maybe even do some baking and get some blog posts wrote.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes, getting sick is really a blessing in disguise.  I feel more "with it" today than I have in weeks, and that feels great.  I'm craving a nice big salad, and I have two forced days off at home to get stuff back in order. 

And... I also have a belated selection for Musical Monday this week.  This song pretty much encapsulates how I'm feeling.

So, better late then ever to show up at Musical Monday, right?  Want to see what everyone else was listening to this week?  Head over to My So Called Chaos where the link up lives to see what everyone else is listening to.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I'm Here, I'm Here!

Oh my goodness.  December has been a crazy month.  I mean, it's always chaotic with Christmas and everything that goes along with that, but it's also been absolutely nuts at work.  I've been doing a lot of day shifts so I get home and I'm just exhausted.

But, I wanted to pop over and give you all some sign of life.  And, I have another swap to show off.  For the Broke and Bookish Secret Santa, I signed up for the two book swap.  And my partner spoiled me!  Shipping dates are kind of open ended in this swap.  You just have to mail your package no later than December 15, so it was  a nice surpries to get mine over a week early.  Here's a picture of my treasures:
A photo posted by Kayl (@lavender_kay) on
Amanda from Fig and Thistle had my name and the package she sent was awesome!  She sent me Madd Adam by Margaret Atwood- one of my favorite authors and The Bookman's Tale which is a bibliophile mystery- one of my favorite subgenres.  And if that wasn't enough, she also sent a package of coffee, some chocolate and the cutest little pins.    I forgot to take pictures of what I was sending my partner. But she got two books off her list, some peppermint hot cocoa, and a candy bar too (same brand but different flavor of what Amanda sent me). 

I'm also in the midst of opening my 12 Days of Christmas pressies  and will be sure to post a pic when that's done.  It's been so nice to have something to look forward to when I get home from work each day.

Hope you all are surviving the holiday season and hopefuly I'll be back in the blogger groove soon!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cozy Swap Reveal

So do you all want to see what I got from my Cozy Box partner?  First let me tell you a little background info:

Cozy Box host was Brandi from Lipstick and Tractors.  This was the first of what I hope will be an annual event.  Christmas swaps are fun, but it was kind of nice to have one that was just late fall.  It's a time of year that gets pretty depressing around here and having a swap to participate in was fun.  I "met Brandi" when we were paired up for the Local Flavors swap this summer.  She's from Iowa and just a great girl.

She paired me and Miss Angie up as partners.  I "know" Miss Angie from "Musical Monday" link ups, her blog My So Called Chaos, and because she co-runs Chaotic Goddess swaps.  So it was fun to be paired with someone that I actually feel like I know.  I had a lot of fun shopping for Miss Angie.  We love a lot of the same things so it was great.

I got her package in the mail Saturday when I got home from my shopping trip with Lori.  I immediately ripped it open (didn't even bother unpacking all the pretties I had bought that day).  And it was awesome!

Pardon the poor lighting please.  I've been working so many day shifts lately that
it seems to be dark whenever I do pictures.

Let me give you a run down:
  • An adorable hedgehog Christmas ornament.  HB saw it and immediately thought it was a cat toy.  I had to hide it on him in a drawer in my office.
  • Matching snowmen nail polishes.  I painted my toes the red glitter today.  It has an awesome raspberry hue to it and I love it.  Makes my feel happy whenever I take my socks off.  The silver glitter is so Christmasy- I can't wait to try it out.
  • Some Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix in caramel.  Yum AND adorable!
  • Some Santa and snowman note pads.  I am a paper hoarder.  Sometimes I think I make lists just as an excuse to use paper.  These will be super handy with holiday list making.
  • Ghirardelli peppermint bark!  Delicious!  Really made me want to make peppermint cookie bark like right then and there.  (In fact, I bought the ingredients for it today when I was at Walmart.)
  • Hot cocoa on a stick.  Love stuff like this!  And I can't wait to try it.
  • And a gorgeous scarf!  The picture does not do it justice.  But it's rich jewel tones with metallic thread throughout. I have a couple others in similar prints, but none in this color scheme.  It's so bright and cheery!  I have been using it with my winter coat every day sense I opened my package.

Thank you so much for the great swap, Brandi, and for being an awesome partner, Miss Angie!  Can't wait to do it again next year!

Head over to Lipstick and Tractors to see the big reveal on what everyone else got!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Musical Mondays- My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit

Do any of you have this problem:  Life starts getting hard and you convince yourself that it's not going to get any better so you want to extricate yourself from whatever circumstance is giving you a hard time.  If you're like me, you have mad skills at developing such a negative attitude that you feel like moving on is the only way to make things better.  Sometimes moving on is the only solution for a problem, sure, but sometimes I just move on when I don't want to deal with a situation.

The most common situation for me to feel this way about is my job.  I know I don't want to stay where I am forever, but I can do the job well, it pays good for the area I live in, and I like the majority of my coworkers.  Right now we have this crazy situation at work.  I don't want your eyes to all glaze over as I go into the difference between on call physicians and a hospitalist program.  So basically, all you need to know is that our work load has increased exponentially while not having any more staff to help out.  It feels like there was no groundwork laid for the new plan- like management just said, "Okay we're going to use hospitalists starting Monday" but didn't worry about getting the hospitalists clearance for software, making sure they could print from their office, or really updating staff on what would be going on and the new processes, or worry about making the transition smooth.

So, last week I had an emotionally breakdown at work, and I know of at least four other staff members that have since than too.  It's become so common place that we're joking that we are going to have a sign up sheet now so that it's only one of us a day.  Anyway, my whole point is that I want to quit.  I always want to do something else, but now that things have gotten tougher, I really want to quit.  I'm trying to step back so that I can see that it's just because things are so hellacious right now and things will get better.  I tell myself it's a good job, and I love my coworkers.  So every time I here this song from First Aid Kit, it's like a verbal reminder.

Gotta keep on going, looking straight out on the road
Can't worry 'bout what's behind you or what's coming for you further up the road
I try not to hold on to what is gone, I try to do right what is wrong
I try to keep on keeping on
Yeah I just keep on keeping on

A little hokey to apply such a sweet, little song to work?  Probably, but hey, whatever works.   Hope you all are having a good week at whatever you're working on and if you run into an obstacle- remember to keep trudging along.  Sometimes that really is the best way.

Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos></a></p>
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 As always, head over to My So Called Chaos to see what everyone else is checking out this week!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

5 Things- November 23

It has been a tough week here.  I worked all day shifts at work (yuck), we started a new hospitalist program at our tiny hospital, and it's making us crazy busy which is resulting in major stress for all med/surg staff.  Yuck.  I got home most nights this week and chilled out by taking a bath and/or drinking a Smirnoff, and then just vegging until it was time to go to bed.  But there have been some fun things.

1.  Yesterday I spent the day in Ashland, WI, with my friend Lori.  Ashland is about two and half hours away from here I live, and it's not a very big town, but they have an awesome down town with lots of fun shops to explore.  They expanded their food co-op and we had so much fun checking everything out.  We had good food, and got coffee at Black Cat Coffeehouse.  We both got almond joy mochas with snickerdoodle cookies.  It was heaven.
A photo posted by Kayl (@lavender_kay) on
2.  Have any of you checked out More Love Letters?  It's a project to share love with total strangers who are in need of encouragement and a little love.  If there's someone you know who could benefit from some letters of love, you can nominate them.  The letter requests up this round are just tough- a lonely lady turning 100, an active guy now bedridden with brain cancer, a recently widowed man who lost his wife of 40 some years.  I'm making it my mission to send some letters this time around.

3.  I have been wasting waaaaay too much time playing Burger Shop 2 when I get home from work.  What is Burger Shop 2 you ask?  It's a cute little game, where you are working to rebuild your burger world empire by making everything from waffles, cheese burgers, steaks, soup, whatever your customer's little heart desires.

4.  Buzzfeed had a great article about therapy cats.  Iris Halmshaw's cat Thula helps this four year old, autistic, art progidy navigate life.  They are an adorable pair.  And Iris is quite the artist!
5.  As a coffee drinker and very white girl who likes to pretend I have a little more street cred than I do, I can't help but love this mug.  Tupac quote?  Too perfect!  How can the USPS be in financial trouble when everything costs so much to ship. :(

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Five Things- November 9

Hello! It's been a good week here.  I hope you all had nice ones too.  I've been feeling productive, getting sewing done, organizing stuff, and even thinking about Christmas.  Here's a few things I'm loving this week.

1.  I've reopened my Etsy shop for Christmas.  You can see a sneak of what is in it on the toolbar to you right.  And if you see any little treats you'd like, feel free to use coupon code listed below for 20% off anything in my shop for a limited time:

I'll be adding more things from now to the end of the year.

2.  And if you'd like to win a bag I've made, I have one up for a giveaway on Chaotic Goddess' website.  They're hosting 12 days of giveaways!  Mine is day eight.  Here's the link: Super Tote Peacock Bag at CGSwaps


3.  I signed up for another holiday swap!  The Broke and the Bookish has a Secret Santa book swap.  I just couldn't resist.  Swapping books is always so fun.  And I missed Chaotic Goddess' summer book swap so this is just making up for that one right?  :) If you're interested in signing up, going check out the post for more details.

4.  I made Italian Wedding soup for the first time using this recipe.  It was soooo good!  I used kale instead of spinach and didn't add the beans.  I plan on making it again soon!

5.  Finally, does anyone else with cats experience problems getting pictures done?  My cat now knows the sound of the camera being turned on and as soon as he hears it he comes running.  He's quite the little ham.  Here's a couple outtakes from pictures I was trying to do this week.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Finishes- Swoon's Bonnie Bag

A few weeks ago, I was rummaging through my three binders of PDF patterns looking for a new fall bag pattern, but nothing was looking appealing.  Finally, I decided to stroll around on Craftsy's pattern pages.  For those of you unaware, Craftsy has a whole library of patterns that independent pattern makers have uploaded and sell.  Some don't charge, most charge between $3 and $10.  I came across a pattern from Swoon for their Bonnie Bucket bag and thought it would meet my criteria for an ideal bag: large- but not so large that it gets mistaken for a diaper bag, multiple fabrics used, but not an overwhelming amount, and easy on the yardage.

So, I cut out and taped the pieces together.  By the way, nice thing about this pattern is there's only two pattern pieces that need to be taped together, the rest all fit on a page.  Then it took me a few days to decide on fabric, and get it cut out, and then it sat in a stack on my coffee table for about a week.  Finally, on Wednesday I decided to get to work on it.

The patten shows how to make a welt pocket for the exterior, which is something I had never tried before.  Mine did not turn out perfect.  You can see little bits of white interfacing showing through, but it was fun to try something new and outside of my comfort zone.  I think it'll be a great place to stash my cell phone, so I don't have to rummage through my bag to find it every time it rings.

Front of the bag
I was applying the exterior bottom to the exterior sides, and the directions stated to be sure you were sewing it to the right end.  I thought to myself, "duh, how could you mess that up", finished sewing mine together, flipped it inside out, and basted my handle in place only to realize I had done just that.  Luckily, it wasn't too terrible to seam rip apart and start over again the right way.  The rest of the bag went together very smooth.  The zipper installation is a breeze with a zipper foot, and after attaching the lining (which I decided against interfacing and don't regret since I used fusible fleece to interface the exterior) you flip everything right side out, topstitch the top edge, and attach the handle.

View from the top.

There's a couple things I'd change if I make this bag again.  The main thing being not to use broadcloth for the exterior.   love it because it's cheap and comes in a variety of colors, and while it's okay for linings, it just feels kind of chap next to the Anna Maria Horner fabric I used for my focal piece.  I just need to quit being so cheap and invest in some Kona solids or something. I also made a booboo when I was cutting out my bag.  The blue front and back should be kitty corer from each other as are the AMH pieces.  I thought I'd be smart and cut them at the same time by just double layering my fabric.  I don't think it looks bad or anything, but next time I'll cut mirror images.

Plenty of room inside

Do you sew?  Or knit, or crochet, or quilt?  Check out Craftsy for some great patterns.  There's some really amazing free patterns available.  You can download and print to your little hearts content.

Shop Indie Patterns

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Homemade Italian Pasta- Thoughts on Lesson 3

I'm still working on my Craftsy Handmade Italian Pasta lessons.  So I figured it's time for an update.  Lesson three was about hand cutting your noodles at different sizes for different reasons.  The lesson goes over making bow tie pasta and a garganelli which is kind of tube shape with ridges on the outside.

I focused on the much simpler pappardelle, angel hair, and maltagliati.  The pappardelle is super wide.  Angel hair of course if very thin.  When hand cutting pasta, you fold your pasta into a loose tube and simply cut.  I don't think I my pasta was dry enough because it was very smooshy when I cut it.  Well smooshy isn't the right word, but my knife did not go through it super easily and it kind of crushed my layers together.  Maybe I need to sharpen my blades.  This also made it hard to cut angel hair thin enough, but I managed to hack my way through it.  And it still tasted super when I cooked it.

Maltagliati is a laid back cut used for soups.  Basically, you roll your pasta into a loose tube, and just cut a small triangle off the corners, then cut off the triangle tip off, and repeat until your pasta is all cut.  Once again, drier pasta or sharper blades (or both) would have made it easier, but I managed.  I haven't made a soup that needs noodles yet, but I have a ziploc bag of little pasta triangles all ready to go once I do.

Interested in learning how to make pasta for yourself?  Or interested in learning to make Italian soups, Mexican street food, or French pastries?  Craftsy has a class for that!  Check out their online cooking classes for yourself.  They're always adding new courses.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sign Up for 12 Days of Christmas Swap!

Guess what!  It's time for the next Chaotic Goddess swap!  I love swapping with these girls!  They run a smooth, efficient, and fun swap.  I sat out the Halloween swap because I'm not a big fan of Halloween- besides the candy, I love the candy.  But the 12 Days of Christmas swap is great fun!  You buy twelve little presents for your partner, wrap each one up, and mail them off.  Then when you get your box, you get to open one present a day, for twelve days before Christmas.

Last year I was paired up with Aubrey from High Heeled Love.  If you want to see what she spoiled me with, the link to the post is here.

I'm already looking forward to wondering who I'll get paired with this year!  If you blog or vlog, and want to join up, get going!  Sign ups are open until November 10!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Musical Monday- Joy Wave's Tongues

I've been feeling super creative and motivated the last few days.  Which, is a pleasant change from how I've felt so far this fall.  I'm hoping Daylight Savings Time ending is kind of giving my brain a reboot.  I sewed quite a bit on Saturday and have been getting projects cleaned up and getting the wheels turning on a project that has been in my head for a couple months now.

So, you have to have upbeat music to work to, and this song is one of my favorites.  It's just catchy and fun.  The video is "unique".  It's funny, but not suitable for work so I'm just embedding the song here.

So do you want to see what everyone else is listening to?  Of course you do!  Head over to My So Called Chaos for the link up!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Wrapping Up October

We're on to November!  We got a light snow two nights ago.  It was pretty but also depressing.  So, it's time to wrap up October and get ready for November.

1. I didn't finish any books in October!  I've read a little here and there but have just felt too antsy to sit down and get absorbed in a good book.  With cold weather coming, I'm looking forward to reading more.  Snow and ice are perfect excuses for sitting indoors drinking coffee and tea and reading.

2. I have been baking and cooking a lot lately.  I've made this apple crisp from "A Family Feast" which was pretty tasty, cheesey vegetable chowder from Lulu the Baker (I had forgotten how delicious this was!), some maple  flavored coffee syrup using Nellie Bellie's directions, and yesterday, a banana cake for a birthday girl at work.  I really do love cooking and trying new recipes.

3. Here's a giveaway if you're looking for a chance to score some new fabric: Our Busy Little Bunch is giving away a fat quarter bundle of Roots and Wings,

4.  November is National Novel Writing Month month or NaNoWriMo.  I'm going to give it a try.  I have plenty of other things going on, but if not now, then when.  Right?  Right.  If you want to try it, go to NaNoWriMo's website to sign up.  It's free.

5.  And finally, my last Local Flavors swap partner, Brandi- of Lipstick and Tractors is hosting a Cozy Box swap.  A chance to meet up and swap books of fall/winter goodies with a new friend.  You don't have to be a blogger, so if you're interested in signing up, check out her post with the specifics!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Musical Monday- Every Other Freckle by alt-J

It's dreary outside.  Lots of leaves on the ground, most of them are reds and oranges, but check out this one I found when I was hauling the garbage to the curb:

It's black, but not like a crunchy, dead, leaf.  Still really supple.  I'm not even sure what kind of tree it came from.  It doesn't look like any of the other leaves in my yard.

Anyway, enough about mysterious leaves.  Unless you know what kind of tree it is, then let me know. ;)  On to song of the week.  It's from alt-J.  I'm really liking their album.  It just came out a couple weeks ago but one of the singles have been on Spotify for a while.  The album has an upbeat sound but still seems fall-ish.  I picture it as being a soundtrack to Lev Grossman's The Magicians.  Which is odd, because I didn't care much for the book, but I like this album.  Anyhow, it's good music to listen to when you're trying to make yourself do something when in reality all you want to do is lay in bed and have some hired help bring you coffee in bed and pick things for you to watch from Netflix. (Coincidentally, that's how I've felt the last week or so.)

So, check out Musical Mondays at My So Called Chaos and see if anyone else if feeling more motivated than I am.  And don't forget to check out my giveaway for a Baggu bag.  It ends in a few days!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's My 100th Post of 2014 and a Giveaway!

So this is the 100th post on my blog this year! In celebration, I'm giving away this super cute Baggu tote bag!

Abe's Market recently gave affiliates the opportunity to tryout a variety of different products for free.  I reviewed two facial products from their Mad Hippie line last month (along with the other products I use on my face) and now I'm here to show you the awesome Baggu bag I got from them.  It's a canvas duck bag in a sweet, indigo blue color. 

Baggu Tote Bag

The shoulder strap is adjustable and it also comes with two handles if you're a more hands on type person. :)  It's of a very generous size.  I easily stuffed four hardcover books inside, and there was room for more.

Very roomy.

It has a vented bottom so it's more room then a regular tote.  Baggu is a woman owned company, that uses recycled materials.  They make backpacks, weekend bags, and other styles in a variety of colors. 

This bags retails for $22.88, and if you want to win it, all you have to do is leave a comment with a link to a tutorial or recipe you like.  It can be one from your own blog or just one you enjoy.  Then just click on the Rafflecopter widget to let me know you commented.  There's also bonus entries for following on Twitter and Bloglovin if you're interested.  

This giveaway is open to readers from US and Canada. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Abe's Market is an affiliate but all views are my own. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Musical Monday- Dangerous Days by Zola Jesus

The Upper Peninsula was great!  We had sunny weather in the 50s the whole time we were up there.  It was windy, but that's par for the course when you're around Lake Superior.  I loved it. The fall colors were perfect.
Top of Brockway Mountain in MI.

Brockway Mountain is so pretty!  From the top you can see for miles.  I've been there several times  in the summer, but this was my first pilgrimage in the fall.  It was windy and cold, but it was definitely worth it.  We had such a nice trip and then I had to come back and go to work the next day.  That's always kind of a buzz kill.  I guess that's what being a grown up is all about.

Eagle Harbor, MI.  Love the contrast between the houses and the hillside.
It's a dark, drizzly day here.  I have the day off but I'm not feeling very motivated to do much.  So, it's definitely a day for upbeat music.   I've been loving Zola Jesus for about the past month and this is my favorite song of hers.

She has this great, big voice, and there's just a touch of electronica to this song that makes you want to dance a little.  Perfect for a dreary, depressing day.

Check out Musical Monday over at My So Called Chaos to see what everyone else is listening to.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Craftsy 5 Million Member Flash Sale

Craftsy has recently topped 5 Million Members and they're celebrating!  If you've had your eye on a certain class, check and see if it's on sale- a lot of them are.  And if you haven't tried Craftsy yet, what are you waiting for?   I've talked before about why I love Craftsy, and taken several classes already.  (Check back this week for my review of lesson three of Italian pasta making class.)

So don't miss Craftsy's 5 Million Member Flash Sale happening now! Get up to 50% off select online classes for a limited time only! Hurry, this offer expires on October 13th, 2014 at 11:59 PM MT. Shop Craftsy's 5 Million Member Flash Sale now and save.

Note, I am a Craftsy affiliate, but I have had nothing but great experiences with Crafsy and would not recommend them for my readers unless I thought my readers would have the same results.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Musical Monday- Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Today is my seventh wedding anniversary.  Seven years ago it was an abnormally warm October of about 80 degrees.   I would post a picture of us, but my husband doesn't like any pictures of himself on the internet.  He works in IT you'd think he'd be all over that stuff, but no.  So, instead he's a not so great picture of me seven years ago, and half of his body.  :)

Anyway, sense it's our anniversary, I thought I should post a song related to that.  (I totally feel like I'm a high school girl dedicating a song on "Friday Night All Request Love Songs" right about now, but here goes.

We never really had a song that was "our song" so when we were dating, I had picked this Snow Patrol song and "made" it "our song".  We even played it at the start of our wedding before the wedding party came out and everything.  But anyway.  It started out as a joke, but it kind of stuck.  So here it is:

How about you?  What's your song?  And if you want to see what everyone else is listening to today, go check out Musical Monday's over at My So Called Chaos.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

It's time for a recap.  Feels like I've been running in place a lot lately- busy but not getting much done.  But anyway, here's what I've been loving this week.

1.  Broadchurch!  This is the British tv show that Gracepoint is based on.  One of my friends recommended Broadchurch and so I powered through all three DVDs on Netflix and I loved it.  David Tennett (of Doctor Who of course) is the lead investigator and Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who) plays the priest.  It's a great mystery, with awesome character development.  It's eight episodes long.  Gracepoint seems more than "based" on Broadchurch.  Many scenes are word for word.  Only not as good as the British version.  And the lady who plays Kathy Eaton, the newspaper editor- oh my gosh, her voice drove me crazy.  But, I'm still willing to tune in to a couple more episodes at least.  For starters, David Tennett plays the same lead detective in both series, for another, there's ten episodes in the American version versus eight in the British, so there must be some more material to cover or something.

2. Here's a tip for all you travelers.  Google Maps only work if you plug in the correct endpoint.  Yesterday was my cousin's wedding, in a town about an hour from here.  I was running late and just punched in the name of the church on the little card they send with.  We arrived with ten minutes to spare, only to see that no one is there.  Hmmm... so I take a closer look.  The reception is being held at another church's reception hall.  We showed up at that church and not the church having the service.  I guess it could have been worse.  If there had been a bunch of cars there for another wedding, we probably would have walked right in, sat down, and crashed someone's ceremony.  As it was, we went to the local cafe, had some lunch and then waited around for the reception.  It was all good, but I was slightly amused with my own incompetence.

3.  I found this cool idea on Karamat Sews for a Scrap Jar Challenge.  Basically, you fill a jar full of fabric scraps and then if you win the jar, you have to make something out of it, refill it, and then the next winner gets what you made and the jar and the process is repeated.  It makes me wishing I had a sewing or quilting guild to do it with.

4.  Speaking of fabric- I've been super disciplined about not buying more fabric these past few months, but I finally caved the other day when I was on Massdrop and saw you could get Lotus Pond for $7.50 a yard (two yard minimum) and free shipping!  I bought four yards.  I think it will come in handy when making Christmas presents this year.  

5.  And finally!  Today is the day we head back up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  I think the leaves are at there peak and it should be a very pretty drive. Temps are projected to be mid 40s to low 50s, but feeling about ten degrees cooler due to wind and clouds.  But I'm still super excited about it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Homemade Italian Pasta- Thoughts on Lesson 2

Lesson two of Craftsy's Homemade Italian Pasta class is all about rolling and cutting your pasta. There really is a method to it all. But first, I had to mix up some dough according to the directions in lesson one. All you need for dough is flour and room temperature eggs.

After making a "bowl" out of my flour and cracking my eggs inside the indentation, you just have to mix the two together.

It kind of looks like a weird birds nest.
So you mix this into a dough, let it rest (much as you have to let bread dough rest before you can form it into loaves).  Then you cut it the same amount of pieces as eggs used.  So mine was cut into three relatively equal sized pieces.  You flatten these out, and then comes the fun part- using the pasta machine! I got mine at a garage sale for $3, and it sounds a little rickety, but it did the job fine.

You're not supposed to stop in the middle of pressing your dough,
so pardon the poor photo quality.  I was trying to hurry.

It was interesting to learn that there's a whole method to how you roll your dough, and you slowly adjust the thickness down, going piece by piece, until you've gone through almost all the settings.

Finally, once all the dough is rolled, you cut your three pieces in half (no need for yard long noodles) and lay it on dishtowels to dry out a little, flipping it about half way through to dry both sides.
Noodles in a pre-noodle state.
Then, it was finally time to run the dough through the pasta machine and cut it!  You then fold it in little nests of sorts and set it aside to dry.

Nests of noodles.
I'm really enjoying pasta making.  There's something about cooking food from scratch that is so cathartic.  I love it!  It's the same way I felt about making bread.  I really like how it's so hand intensive.  You spend minutes rolling or kneading dough, and there's this whole process involved, doing things just so, to get a quality finished product.  It just feels so tranquil.

 Note: All links are affiliate links, but all thoughts are my own.  This post is not sponsored by Craftsy and is just my own thoughts on the class.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Musical Mondays- I Don't Want to Change You from Damien Rice

Fall colors are predicted to peak in early October for us here in Wisconsin and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Which makes me super excited because this coming weekend is when I'm going to be going to the U.P. to celebrate my seventh wedding Anniversary.  My cousin is getting married on Saturday, so we aren't heading out until Sunday and then we'll come home Tuesday.  (And then back to work.  Why does work have to get in the way of everything fun?)

My friend Jules (the one that was going to go to Ingrid Michaelson with me) and I were talking at work about my trip and I mentioned that I was excited, but sometimes I think it'd be so nice to go on vacation by myself and just stay in a cabin for the week and work on my blog, and read, and just drink coffee, and take walks.  She thought that sounded like a great idea and I think our personalities would mesh where we could go and each work on our own projects and then just cook dinner and talk about what we accomplished during the day, and any epiphanies we had.  You know, no expectations about what you have to do, and being responsible for your own day, but still have that friendship there where you can have a deep conversation about what you're thinking.

Then I thought, wouldn't it be awesome to rent a house and have an all blogger independent conference?  How cool would that be? I found a place that would be perfect!  There's enough room you could spread out, but still be together, full kitchen, laundry and you can rent it for a full week for $500 to $800 (depending on the season), plus food, divide that by 3 to 6 people, and it could be a pretty reasonable getaway.  Or even if it was only for a few days.  I don't know.  But thinking about that much creativity in one place makes me feel super warm and fuzzy.  If any female bloggers/ writers/ creatives are interested in thinking about a trek to the middle of no where, let me know we could have all winter to ponder it.

But seriously, it's Musical Monday so let's get to the music!  My friend Chris, the one who's the massage therapist, was the person who first introduced me to Damien Rice's music.  And I was pretty much smitten.  Once I heard Live at Union Chapel, it was a done deal.  It's been a while sense he came out with anything new so when his new single popped up in my Facebook feed, I was keen to hear what he's been working on.  "I Don't Want to Change You" sounds like classic Damien.  It's soft, and slightly melancholic, definitely autumn music.  As one commenter put it last week, autumn music should be "something I wouldn't mind having a cup of cocoa with" and I think this song fits the bill.

 And it's Musical Monday so be sure to check out what everyone else is listening to.  We all link up over at My So Called Chaos.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Italian Pasta- Thoughts on Lesson 1

So, I told you all last week that I finally broke down and bought Craftsy's Homemade Italian Pasta class, and I couldn't wait to dive right in.  I watched the first lesson Saturday morning while I drank coffee in my pjs.  (Part of the allure of Craftsy: If I want to learn to make fettuccine in my PJs with bedhead, it's totally okay.)

The instructor is Giuliano Hazan.  He is the son of Marcella Hazan, who brought Italian cooking to mainstream America.  Giuliano is a friendly guy who gives lots of tips and the camera zooms in on his hands often so you can see how he kneads the dough and he himself breaks down his technique step by step.

The first lesson jumps right in  to mixing an egg dough and takes you all the way to a finished dough (stopping just before the rolling out and cutting step), and then shows the whole process again making the egg dough with some spinach.  I like that they jump right in.  I loved the bread making class, but there was so may supplies you needed that I think the whole first lesson was going over yeast, bread pans, scrappers and such.  Pasta making seems to require less equipment.

At the end of the lesson they also go over storing you your cut pasta, and guess what!  Once it's dry it can store for months.  I think that's great, because I don't think homemade pasta is something you want to make everytime you want spaghetti, but if you can make a big batch and use it for three or four times before you have to make more, that sounds much more manageable.

I'm looking forward to lesson two: rolling and cutting the dough.  The class teaches you four different noodles, farfalle, and stuffed pastas  and it seems to move along at a good clip.  So hopefully I'll  have some pasta to show after lesson two.

 Note: All links are affiliate links, but all thoughts are my own.  This post is not sponsored by Craftsy and is just my own thoughts on the class.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fresh Faced

When it comes to beauty routines, I'd consider myself pretty low maintenance. I was my face before bed, and I use a cleanser in the shower in the morning, but I'm not one of those people who uses a millions different creams and potions. I do have a couple different face creams and toners that I do like. And, I am partial to herbal and natural products.  So here's what I use on my face right now...

Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner is my favorite toner.  I love how it smells (just like garden fresh tomatoes) and tingles a little but doesn't burn, tightens pores but doesn't dry out my face.  Love it!  It's only $11.99 at Abes Market for 8 ounces.

Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner

My go to moisturizer is Alba's Sea Lipids Daily Cream.  I love how it smells (kind of beachy, sea mineral-y).  It goes on smooth.  Is creamy but not too heavy and doesn't clog my pores.  I get this from Abe's Market also, and it's $11.99 for 2 ounces, but a little goes a long way.

Alba's Sea Lipids Daily Cream

Abe's Market was recently giving bloggers the opportunity to try some of their new products for free. So, of course I had to get on board.  Trying new things for free?  Yes please!

I decided to try out two of Mad Hippies' products.  First up was the Mad Hippie Peptide Face Cream.  It goes on smooth, has a nice floral scent and makes my skin feel super soft.  Both this and my Alba brand cream are petroleum, paraben, and cruelty free.  Alba is also GMO free, but Mad Hippie is BPA free.  Mad Hippie is $25.99 for 1.02 ounces.  I think both feel great so it kind of comes down to if you're willing to pay more for a product that may be more earth friendly and natural.  I also noticed that I recognize most of the ingredients listed in the Mad Hippie cream, while there's some in Alba's I'm not so sure about.

Madd Hippie Peptide Face Cream

I also tried Mad Hippie's Antioxidant Facial Oil.  My skin is naturally pretty combination, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised.  It's very soothing, and just as earth friendly and natural as the face cream.  I think it will be awesome this winter when my skin is dried out from indoor heating systems and wind burned from cross country skiing in the cold.  It comes with a dropper and I just put i couple drops in my palm and applied it where it was needed.  I was also surprised that my skin didn't feel cakey or oily afterwards.  It's made with Argan, pomegranate seed, and sunflower seed oils, along with several fruit extracts and they just soaked right in.  It's $24.99 for 1.02 ounces, but again,  a little goes a long way.

Mad Hippie Antioxidant Facial Oil
As a bit of a side note, have any of you tried Abe's $2 samples?  They'll let you try miniatures or single units of selected products for $2 each, shipping and handling included.  Recently they had UNIK's night cream ($60 retail) in a sample size for $2.  It was about 1/5 the size of the regular size product, so you can see it's a steal at $2.  It feels so smooth and nice.  I'm not usually one to go beyond washing my face before bed, but I make an exception for this yummy cream.  I've also gotten Lara bars, Eco Nuts laundry soap and other treasures for only $2.  I really recommend checking it out if you like a deal and like trying new things.  There's new samples every day.

I received my Mad Hippie products compliments of Abe's Market and all links in this post are affiliate links, but I only affiliate myself with companies I like and respect. I love Abe's and I'm sure you will too!