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!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Musical Monday-Sorrow from The National

This song doesn't really convey any specific feelings about the past week.  It's just one of my favorite songs from The National and with autumn pretty much here it fits the weather.  Fall is always kind of a melancholic pretty.  I know I talked before about music feeling seasonal and this summer I picked lots of upbeat songs.  Fall always feels like time for The National and The Decemberists and maybe Fleet Foxes.  Does anyone else notice their musical tastes changing with the seasons?

Anyhow, two weeks from now I'll be back in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  The fall colors are supposed to be prime at that time and I can't wait.  That's about all I'm really looking forward to at this time.  

Be sure to check out Musical Monday at My So Called Chaos and see what everyone else is listening to this week.  And don't be afraid to link up with us!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

This week has flown by!  I feel like I was just writing up my last week's favorites.

1. Still no kidney pain!  I think the lithotripsy worked!  I've haven't gone this long without side pain for over a year and a half!  Awesome!  I can't get over how great I feel.  I guess I didn't realize how sucky I was feeling.

2.  I found a great quote from George Bernard Shaw that I just love!  Here it is:

Nobody wants to be a "feverish selfish little clod".  And it's true, it's not the world's job to make you happy.

3.  I made cream cheese pumpkin muffins Wednesday.  The Taste of Home link doesn't have a picture, but you can check mine out.  They taste best if you let them cool completely.  I usually make these once a year as a nice change of pace.  (FYI- I semi-tried the baked apple recipe I shared last week. I made them in a crockpot at work on Sunday, but didn't have a stove top to thicken the sauce on, but we did have caramel sauce in the fridge at work.  They were pretty tasty!)

4.  I've started cleaning up my flower beds.  Last year I didn't trim back my perennials. I don't really remember why.  I think the snow just came and never melted away.  Anyhow, so this spring, my echinacea and rudbeckia came in with a vengeance.  I love them, so it was okay, but I figured if I didn't cut them back this fall, they'd end up choking out everything come next spring.  Plus, if I clean up a little a day, it's much less overwhelming.

5.  This coming week is Selfish Sewing Week hosted by Imagine Gnats and Kollabara!  I'm hoping to get a project or two crossed off my WIP list.  Are any of you participating?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Craftsy's Big Fall Sale is Happening NOW!

Have you heard Craftsy's BIG Fall Course Sale is happening now? Learn from the world's best instructors in the comfort of your home, when you shop up to 50% off ALL online classes! Once you enroll you can watch your classes anytime, anywhere, forever. Hurry, offer expires September 22, 2014 at 11:59 PM MT. Shop Craftsy's BIG Fall Course Sale and save. 

I finally broke down and bought the Homemade Italian Pasta class.  It was half price and with winter coming soon, I figured it was the perfect time to learn to make pasta.  And I can finally try out that hand crank pasta machine I got at a garage sale this summer.  Hurray!


So if you want to learn a new craft, now is the time to enroll.  Learn at your own pace in a supportive community with great instructors.  Whether it's cake decorating, quilting, Thai cooking or something in between, Craftsy has a class for it.


Note: As an affiliate for Craftsy, I do receive a commission for any classes bought through my referral links, but I only endorse products or companies that I myself would use.  I'm a big fan of Craftsy and highly recommend them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Queue Up- What You Should Be Watching on Netflix

I think I mentioned before that we don't have cable or a dish at our house.  We do have an antenna so we get PBS and the local ABC, NBC, FOX, and CW channels.  But, since I work so many nights, most of what I watch is on Netflix.  Lately, there's been a lot of good stuff added, and winter is coming, so you're going to want to stay inside more....  Here's what I've been streaming.

Bletchley Circle
Netflix only has season one, but it works as a mini series of sorts.  It's three episodes about four women who worked as code crackers during World War II, but are now living as civilians sense the war has ended.  The four reunite to try to catch a murderer on the loose.  The four friends are quite different- their old boss is a librarian, one girl is a free spirit, one is timid and stuck in a bad marriage, and the main character is happily married with two children.  It's not a perfect series and there's a little bit of implausibility to it, but it's a sweet little series originally from PBS.  Plus, the clothes, hair and make up is pretty awesome.

Season 9 was just added to instant.  I love this show, but never keep up with it on tv due to work.  Is there anyone not familiar with Bones and Booth and the gang?  I like how Bones has evolved from the start but the essence of her character has remained in tack.  She's still analytical and thinking, but she's gotten better at understanding emotions and empathizing with her friends.

The Killing
Netflix produced a fourth and final season for this AMC show.  Warning: This series will suck you in!  Most episodes end on a cliffhanger.  Season one and two are one murder investigation, season three is a hunt for a serial killer, and season four is a big murder investigation, that ties in with their actions at the end of season 3.  I love detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder.  They both make frustratingly stupid decisions at times, and face the consequences.  Linden especially irritates me at times but you're still always routing for them and their friendship feels real.  Warning, this one can be kind of gory with some sexual content.

Arrested Development
A comedy!  And a pretty funny one at that.  I first watched it a couple years ago, then rewatched it when season 4 came out on Netflix.  Now I'm rewatching it again.  The jokes are just so good.  And I love how they circle around to something that happened episodes ago and suddenly it all makes sense.  This series is so intricately planned out.  It's just great.  If you haven't watched it before, watch it!  And if you had, it's probably time you rewatch it. 

Let me know what you recommend on Netflix!  I'm always looking for new things to add.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Musical Mondays: Ritual Union from Little Dragons (Maya Jane Coles Remix)

Warning, this song will get stuck in your head.   I find myself humming it at work and singing the refrain under my breath.  And I'm not sure why but it really seems appropriate for this summer is over, fall is coming weather we've been having in Wisconsin.  Leaves are already changing, people!  We've had frost a couple times and my flowers are pretty much done.  I love fall, so I don't mind too badly, but winter gets uncomfortably long here, and within three months we'll probably have snow.

But, I'm trying to be more positive and focus on the good things in life.  It's too easy to get sidetracked with the yucky stuff and miss all the good stuff right under your nose.  So I'm going to soak up all the nice days autumn gives us. 

I don't really have any back story for why I chose this song this week, other than it's a long time favorite and it felt right.  There's no real video to go with this remix, but it's so good it doesn't need a video.

So I hope you all are enjoying whatever kind of weather mother nature is giving you and we'll catch up more in a few days.  In the meantime, be sure to check out Miss Angie's blog and see what everyone is listening to this Musical Monday.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

1.  My kidney stone is gone (I think).  I haven't had any kidney pain sense my lithotripsy on Thursday and the doctor thought everything looked good.  I go back in a month to be sure.  It's pretty awesome though, because I heard all these horror stories about passing the fragments of the stone and how painful it is, and I had like no pain.  I took one Vicaden due to the back pain I had after the procedure (you feel like someone punched you many many times in the side), but that's been about it.  I'm so happy!

2.    I'm really downsizing things.  I gave my old sewing machine to a friend along with a bag of fabric scraps.  I cleaned up my bulletin board and and trying to find other ways to get rid of things.  I know I talk about it all the time, but I'm really feeling motivated to get stuff done this week. 

3.  My friend Chris, who's also a massage therapist, came over last weekend and did some massages at my house.  I had to clean out my office to make room for her table and it was so nice having space that once she left I resolved to make it more roomy (which is why I'm getting rid of stuff).  Chris has just this awesome spirit where she makes you want to be a better person.  She lives far away so I miss seeing her, and it was so nice to catch up.  We talked about so many things.

4.  How yummy does this crustless apple pie from A Beautiful Mess look?  It is definitely on my to make list for this week.
Picture from "A Beautiful Mess"

5.  I've been reading more.  It seems like my reading always tapers off in the summer.  Maybe it's because it's so nice and warm out and I just want to soak it up, but as soon as the temps start dropping below 70, curling up with a good book is so nice.  I didn't realize how much I missed books until I picked them back up again.

What are you loving this week?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting Some Work Done

I know I've been pretty much MIA this week, but I've had other things on my mind.  I've been having flank pain for over a year.  At first I thought I had just strained my back, but it just wasn't getting better, in fact it was getting worse.  I finally talked to my NP about it when I went in for my yearly physical.  She ordered some labs and a CT and they found out I have a big, kidney stone lodged in my right kidney.  So, after a consult with a specialist, it's been decided to try to blow that baby up.  And today is the day.  I'm going to have lithotripsy, which is a pretty non-invasive procedure.  No incision even.  And if it all passes fine, I can go back to work this weekend, but I do have to be put under to have it done.

So, it's kind of nerve racking, but I really hope it works.  (It has an about 75% success rate.)   I'm having it done at the hospital I work at, so it's going to be weird to be on the others side of things and have the girls I work with be my nurses but I'm really, really looking forward to no more flank pain.

So, if you're the praying type, say a little prayer for me.  And I'll see you all when I wake up...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

1.  Fantasy Football!  Football is really the only sport I follow with any sort of dedication.  And Fantasy Football is one of the things my husband and I both love.  We play in a league with a wide group of friends- some are people he worked with before I ever met him, some are my old friends from work, some are his friends from work.  We just drafted on Tuesday and I'm pretty happy with who I got.  I won't try to go into explaining how it's played and scoring and all but if there's any other Fantasy Footballers out there, give me a holler with your team name.  My team are the Lady Bugs which is a riff off my married last name.

It's funny because it's true.

2.  Spotify.  Specifically Spotify Playlists.  I love making them, and I really love some of the ones Spotify has put together.  I've found lots of new artists that way.  But, did you know Spotify also has books on tape?  Here are some of my favs:

The Jane Austen Collection

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

There's lots of other fun ones too.

3.  I booked my reservations for my husband and I for a little weekend getaway back to the Upper Peninsula.  We're going to spend two nights in October back in the Keewenaw.  We're staying in the dinky little town of Kearsarge, at Vic's Cabins.  I absolutely cannot wait.  I love rustic little, mom and pop operations as long as they're clean, and these cabins have gotten really good reviews.  I think my husband could wait (he's not big on rustic), but he's being a good sport about it for the most part. 

(Red dot marks Kearsarge.)  But seriously, I am soooo excited about going back in the fall!  Hopefully there will still be leaves on the trees.  Beautiful colored leaves!

4.  Family Reunions.  My dad's side of the family gets together for pretty much only weddings and funerals with the exception of once a year, Labor Day weekend, when we all try to get together at my aunt and uncle's lake home and catch up.  It's nice.  There's tons of food.  Seriously, I've never seen so many creamy pasta salads in one place.  There's pontoon rides.  And there's lots of laughing.

5.  I love Quilty Magazine, and this Summer of Love quilt pattern makes me want to start yet another project, but I'm thinking I should finish some of my other WIPs before making more.

Seriously, how cute are Log Cabin quilts?
So there's my pics for this week.  Anything you're loving that I should be checking out?  Let me know.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Why I Love ePantry... and a Giveaway

I talked about ePantry back in April when I signed up.  Well, I've been using them for six months now, and I've been very happy with both the service and products.  Quick rundown of how ePantry works- first you fill out a little survey about the size of your family, how many bathrooms you have, etc, and then they tell you how much product they estimate you'll need, but your always free to tweak their recommendations by adding or deleting whatever you like.  Then, about a week before your next shipment is set to go out, they'll email you and tell you to give your cart a look-over.  If it all looks good, great, if you want to add or delete anything, go for it, if you want to wait a couple days or weeks before they send your order, just adjust the arrival date.

I feel like a lot of these monthly shipping services try to sneakily bill your credit card and send you stuff you don't really want by not mentioning that you need to decline your order for the month.  I'm a busy girl, if I don't get an email it's hard for me to remember to check my cart by a certain day each month.  But I never feel like this with ePantry.  In fact, my family is just me and my husband so ePantry only thinks I need an order once every two months.  And they always give me plenty of notice before sending anything.  And, you can cancel anytime simply by calling or emailing them.

Some of My Favorites
ePantry carries Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day, Method, Tom's of Maine, Yes To..., among others, and they seem to be adding more all the time.  Here's a run down of some of my favorite products.

Mrs Meyer's Countertop Spray
I love the countertop spray because it works really well and smells great.  My bottle of lavender scented is almost gone.  We were having problems with ants getting in the house this summer, and spraying the countertops with this spray stopped them in their tracks.  I'm assuming it's from the lavender essential oils in the spray.

method Pure Naked Body Wash
I've always been a shower gel/ body wash type of girl.  I'm using the Olive leaf scented right now and it smells great and lathers super nicely!  There's no parabens, phthalates or EDTA in this stuff neither.  And, it comes in three different scents.

method Foaming Hand Soap
I switch back and forth between method and Mrs Meyers hand soaps for in my kitchen and bathrooms.  Currently, I'm using Sea Minerals in my kitchen and it smells great.  Fresh and clean, but not girly, so my husband doesn't mind using it.  Mrs Meyers basil scented soap is my other favorite.  Both also come in refill packs, which is a good deal environmentally and financially.

Mrs Meyers All Purpose Cleaner
I use Mrs Meyers All Purpose Cleaner to scrub my floors.  Just a few splashes in the bucket and add hot water.  Good to go. You can also add 4 tablespoons of the all purpose cleaner to an empty Countertop spray bottle and fill it half way with water to make your own Countertop spray refill.

method Fabric Softener Spray
This one of my newest ePantry purchases and I love it!  I have a front loading HE washer, and for some reason, about 2/3 of the time my fabric softener doesn't dispense.  So, I've switched to using this spray with three of the Norwex wool balls.  Basically, you throw your freshly washed laundry into the dryer, give it four spritzes of this spray and let it go.  It smells clean and fresh, but not fakey.  My laundry comes out static free and fresh smelling.


And now, for the best part... ePantry has given me four $12 gift credit cards to share with friends, so I'm sharing with four of you.  All you need to do is be one of the first four to leave me a comment letting me know you'd like to try it out and I'll email you the code.  Be sure you're not a no reply blogger, or leave me your email address in your comments.

As of 10/2- I still have two gift credits available!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Musical Monday- Say My Name from Odesza

So did you all have a good holiday weekend here in The States?  I worked today, but I did have the weekend off, and it was nice.  Spent time with family and friends.  Sat out by a camp fire and roasted smores for the first time this year.  It was great.  Now I have a couple days of work and then it's vacation for four days!  Hurrah!  I'm hoping to get some blogging stuff done and in the works over my days off.

But, I digress, Musical Monday it is, so it's time to share my jam for the week with all of you.  Sometimes you pick a song because it fits where your life is at the moment, sometimes you really like the artist, and sometimes it just feels right.  And that's how this week's pick feels.  It's by an artist that is new to me, and I stumbled across on a Spotify song list and just loved.  It's Odesza's "Say My Name".  It's hard not to want to be up and moving when you hear this song.  The video isn't much, but it gives you the words so you can sing along, if that's your flavor.

Honestly, I don't know why I love it so much, because it's not my usual cup of tea, but I just do.  I added it to my ever changing Spotify playlist Treadmill Motivation.  Because sometimes most of the time, the treadmill can be pretty dull.  So I find it helps to have an assortment of upbeat songs to shuffle through.

So you wanna see what everyone else is playing this week?  Of course you do.  Head over to My So Called Chaos where everyone checks in, and you can see for yourself.