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.

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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!