Nesting

I got into the whole pregnancy nesting thing a bit late in the game. At least that’s what it feels like. Fellow blogger Graylin Porter has been posting pictures of her adorable nursery and she’s still got months left! My mother and friends have been asking after the baby’s room since this summer. I guess it’s just safe to say I didn’t rush the process.

Whenever asked I say that the nursery is “adventure themed” but it has as much of a theme as our wedding did. Our wedding theme was “fun.” People really love a theme though, so there you go! It was really cool to incorporate a print of a US map I got for Christmas last year. Tyler’s grandfather’s hobby was framing and we were able to use one of his frames for it. The hot air balloon Tyler gave me for my birthday looks perfect with it.

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The most special part has to be the baby blanket that Tyler’s mom made though. It’s absolutely incredible. She made it by hand while living on her sailboat in Central America. It’s perfect for our soon-to-be beach baby. If there’s one thing I don’t doubt, it’s that this kid will be a total fish (his/her father might not make it otherwise). My mom bought these sweet notecards that she framed to go with the blanket.

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The best, best part of the room? All the generosity that got it here. We’ve been so incredibly lucky by receiving tons of hand-me-down baby items while also being able to repurpose other furniture. This dresser/changing table? That’s from my nursery! Tyler had been using it as a dresser but he was forced to give it up (I don’t think he minded).

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This crib? A gift from a coworker whose children are too old for it. And these are just the big pieces. In the closet and dresser are all sorts of little items that have been passed down to me. Almost every piece of clothing I wear right now is the same.

These are the things that remind of the community of love that surrounds this little one. Displaying them for him or her is the most fun of all. I really look forward to being able to share this generosity with others when the time comes as well. It’s been the hidden surprise to all of this- how glad others are to help and how they go out of their way to do so. Pay it forward!

The Best Time of the Year

I love most holidays. In general, I love any day that is out of the ordinary. This means I embrace holidays that seem created by Hallmark (Valentine’s), and fraternities (no offense, St. Patrick’s Day). I equally love my birthday and yours. Any reason for fun food and beverage is worth while to me. If we get the day off the work? Then it’s the absolute best!

Regardless Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Its focus- being thankful- is hard to argue with. It’s safe to say that each of us has something or someone in our lives that we take for granted, even despite our best intentions. Maybe it’s our health, our spouse, our parent, our home, our job, a friend, our hobbies. It doesn’t matter. Being grateful and thankful on every day often escapes us. A reminder really couldn’t hurt. Plus we celebrate the day with the two best things in life: family and food.

Often the people we spend Thanksgiving with aren’t related by blood. Although my family will most likely be annoyed by me saying so….I like Thanksgiving this way. I celebrate with my family every Christmas. Thanksgiving is my opportunity to be thankful and spend quality time with the other family in my life- those I choose to make a part of my life.

After 4 years of Friendsgivings in Texas, I didn’t know what we’d do when we moved back to North Carolina. Would we start going home? But last year we hosted our first Friendsgiving/Thanksgiving potluck (with my mother which was an added bonus!) with many new friends. This year, we’ll do it again.

I’ll have to control myself and my urge to make a thousand different dishes. I’m doing my best to limit it to 2. With only 3 weeks until baby’s arrival, I’m not having to work too hard to convince myself to take it easy. My back and legs do that pretty well.

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I’ll just do this instead.

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Clara’s getting her cuddles in pre-baby arrival.

Tyler and I already got the week of Thanksgiving off to the right start with our annual tradition of watching The Last Waltz. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing then check out:

Pregnancy Brain- Fact or Myth?

*No science will be used or referenced in this post. I’m all about the anecdotal truths right now. 

A couple years ago I was on the way to lunch with several coworkers. One woman, a mother of three who I admired both for her intelligence but also for her unfaltering patience, spoke of pregnancy brain. She described a fender bender she was in when pregnant with her third child, a situation that was clearly  her fault. When she blamed it on “pregnancy brain” I scoffed internally. This seemed like people blaming errors on having a “blonde moment” (another thing I take offense to).

Well, skeptics I am here to say I believe. I have to believe otherwise I am losing my mind. Let me present you with the evidence.

Exhibit A: This one is the smallest infraction but I’m building up here. Two weeks ago I jumped in the car with my car-hating dog in the back to head to our dog training class. I was already running late because I hadn’t been paying attention to the time. On the way I forgot where I was going and drove to Harris Teeter. It was when we went over a speed bump and Clara threw up that I remembered where I was going. Other versions of this same situation have happened multiple times. Luckily that was the only time that involved vomit.

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Poor Clara

Exhibit B: Our dear friends were in town and one was describing a recent trip to Vancouver. She was giving us an excited description of a whale tour. As Tyler started to discuss east coast versus west coast whales I got incredibly confused. Why? Because I couldn’t remember what coast he lived on! I kept insisting that it was reasonable to believe that Tyler may have seen the same whales as the on the whale tour. Please note, Tyler and I have lived on the east coast for over 18 months now. It’s not new. It probably took me about 5 minutes to fully digest where I’d gone astray in the conversation.

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This is where I live. It’s called the Atlantic Ocean. 

Exhibit C: Husband Tyler is somewhat colorblind so I am often correcting him in the color arena. That house is green not gray, etc. This past week I mocked him for thinking our dressers were both stained not painted. It took almost five days until I figured out that he was right. We gave away our painted dresser when we moved to North Carolina. Both our dressers are the same identical wood. One is the dresser my parents bought for my nursery. The other my mom bought when I was in middle school. I am very familiar with both of these dressers, and yet it took me FIVE days to come to this realization.

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Also, a fact: I want ice cream right now. Really just every day, all day.

Dogs and Gardens

One of the disappointing parts of moving when we did, in the early fall, was that we weren’t able to see our garden through to the full season. We left green tomatoes and ripening peppers and a basil bush just waiting for pesto. We invested a lot of time and money into a project we weren’t able to see all the way through. Despite that it was still a good experience and we learned a lot. Mainly we learned there is a learning curve in gardening. A big one.

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Beware squirrels.

This year we’re approaching things a little differently. I refused to consider the possibility of an in-ground garden after the insane amount of weeding I did last year. Also, we thought our old yard had sandy soil but we might as well be at the beach in this house. In the end, after a lot of back and forth, we decided on two 8′ x 4′ garden beds. I was talked down from making them 24″ high like the ones we built at LINC last year for Work on Wilmington. Those were some awesome garden beds. When I actually saw how high 12″ is though, I was on board.

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These are not the exact boxes we built but we did base ours off these. Photo Credit: K.J. Williams 

We lined the boxes with weed cloth and put a layer of leaves in before we piled in our compost/top soil. We bought it all mixed up already from Seaside Mulch. We bought it in bulk instead of bags which saved us a lot of money.

What we should have done differently: Our very next action after building the beds should have been to protect them from their number one enemy- our dog. Clara was delighted to leap through the bed on her way to the fence where she chats with other dogs and also to dig up my seeds and freshly planted baby broccoli plants. So much fun!

After SOMEONE insisted there was no way Clara was going to dig in the garden again after she’d gotten in trouble for it, she did it again many more times. I won, he built me a fence. It’s pretty basic, just plastic mesh zip-tied to rebar poles. We* used sod staples to secure the fence to the ground.

*Please note when I say “we” in the same sentence as “build” or something similar I typically mean Tyler. “We” built garden beds, “we” used sod staples, etc. On the flip side when I say “we” planted or “we” weeded, I just mean me. 

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Fence Day!

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Finally these plants can rest easy. Whew. 

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There’s the culprit now, eyeing her prey…

Now we’re down a few broccoli plants (but how much broccoli can you really eat anyways?) and I’ve planted new spinach and beet seeds, along with tomato, pepper and herb plants. We’re trying not to plant so many different things this year. Trying is very hard for me.

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Whoops. 

Domestic Goddess Over Here

At some point since I started blogging recipes and posting an insane amount of meals and food on Instagram some of my friends and family started acting like I know what I’m doing. It seems ridiculous I know, but it keeps happening! I don’t want to dissuade anyone from this incredible idea that I DIY well but… let’s be honest here. I just look to my trusty resources.

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This stawberry rhubarb pie is by far the most attractive pie I have ever made. 

Baking Go-Tos:

Minimalist Baker is vegan but I love her style. She does not post any recipe that has a lot of ingredients or can be remotely connected with the word complicated. Thank goodness!

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Girl versus Dough’s blog is an awesome resource for both staple recipes and more adventurous forays. Her sourdough recipe is my fave!

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The Kitchn is my number website for baking and cooking. Their recipes always provide a lot of instruction that’s aimed at the beginner. Whether I’ve made a similar recipe before or not, I appreciate the very plain-spoken, foundational steps.

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Canning Go-Tos:

With canning, you need to really trust your sources. For example, I’ve found a lot of recipes for canning pumpkin butter but if you go on USDA’s website, they state that it is unsafe to can pumpkin better. You see what I mean?

A Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking is a great website and book for canning (along with other domestic things). I was fortunate enough to take part in Kate’s fruit butter canning class in Austin which gave me the confidence to make our apple butter wedding favors last year.

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Food in Jars is very reliable and has a great selection of recipes. Some may be too adventurous for you (me too!) but after making her peach jam, I totally trust her judgement.

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Ball Jars website has a good list of basic recipes. It may seem boring but for the beginner, it’s probably all you need.

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When in doubt you can always refer to USDA Canning Guide.

Pinterest: For me wanting to do a lot of DIY requires a lot of time on Pinterest (it’s research, not an addition). These are the Pinterest Boards I’ve created to sort my edible projects and adventures.

Eating is My Number One Hobby: It’s true.

Make Ahead Cooking: For your crockpot and freezer meal exploration

Breakfast is Best!: This is by far my favorite meal of the day.

Party Foods!: I love to host!

Boozin’: Clearly a very important board

Breads, Sweets and Treats: Sometimes the lines between breads, sweets and treats get blurred so let’s just mix them up.

Happy baking and creating!

 

Kiddo DIY Gifts

To wrap up my holiday homemade, handmade, local gift series, I’ll end up with little girl themed gifts. If you want to find out about local Wilmington gifts, holiday ornaments for friends and coworkers, or my annual Christmas panic you can read past posts.

Last year my nieces received scarves and jewelry boxes with earrings (jewelry was purchased). This year my youngest niece, Holland, asked for books, lip gloss, “world peace”, “nothing”, and “me” (meaning herself). She’s eight. The last three were hard to work with so I opted for books and lip gloss. I will do anything I can to encourage the girls’ reading so I bought three books off her list.

The ten year old, Georgia, also wanted lip gloss, which worked out as the recipe I found, made six little pots. I opted for a pink, shimmery, peppermint kind. This felt right up their alley.

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Pros and cons of this craft-

Pros:

  • It was really easy and took no time. All I needed was a microwave, a bowl and a spoon in terms of equipment.
  • The hardest part was pouring into the pots quickly so it looked nice. Didn’t look nice? Put it back in the bowl and microwave again. Easy. Done.
  • The color looks really nice in the pots but is subtle (if noticeable at all) on your lips. Very appropriate for a young person. It also feels very smooth and soothing.

Cons:

  • I didn’t have most of the ingredients I needed to make this. I bought the peppermint oil (not cheap but I can use for other things), a box of little plastic containers (so…everyone’s getting lip gloss for next Christmas), beeswax pellets (I also want to make candles so not a big deal) and sweet almond oil. I already had the shea butter. If I end up not using these items for other things then this is an expensive gift. If I do, then it’s incredibly cheap.

I knew Georgia was getting a desk for Christmas so I wanted to make her things for her room. I painted a small wooden tray black (pink and black are her colors) which in retrospect I wish I done a bigger one or made it glittery. To go with it I took two heavy paper mache letters (her initials) from a craft store and painted the sides black. On the front I used a large sheet of pink glitter adhesive paper (basically a giant pink glitter sticker) to brighten it. On the functional side these could be book ends, otherwise they’re decorative. She was a fan.

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For some reason this picture won’t turn. I hope you ge the drift.

 

 

They worked well with the two inexpensive translucent pink glasses to be used for pencil holders. At Target I found a pack of mini desk items such as a mini-stapler, mini-scissors, mini-tape, etc (all in purple) and at World Market I picked up a cute notepad and mini clothespins in different colors. Perfect for the desk which is more fun than functional.

The best part of these gifts? I got a hug after the girls opened every single one.

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I tried hard this year to simplify. No complicated crafts. No multi-month projects. This equals no tears or frustration! All in all I think it was a success! Hopefully I can keep this up every year…

DIY Christmas: Vintage Bell Jar Ornaments

As we’re previously discussed, the goal this Christmas is handmade, homemade or local. So far, I’ve only made one exception: books for my niece. No matter what the rule is, the exception can always be made for books.

The holiday season can be kind of a weird time when you’re the new person at work or your friends generally fit under the category of “recent”. When you haven’t gone through Christmas together you don’t know what the norm is for them. Do you plan to get them nothing but then they show up in your cubicle with a thoughtful gift? Were you going to throw a few cookies in a red and green bag only to find a gorgeous array of fudge on your doorstep? Best to come prepared. Plus these are all people you want to show affection to- you just don’t necessarily know how much!

This year’s remedy and featured homemade gift will be bell jar style ornaments. I found this idea at My So-Called Crafty Life, a blog I’ve used for guidance periodically. The number one thing you should know about this DIY craft- at no point did I want to give up. It was easy to assemble and fun to watch come together. The second thing you should know- it is not easy to find a lot of the little pieces you’ll want to put into your bell jars. If you’re going to do this project, it might be a good idea to start in November when stores seem inappropriately ready for Christmas. Once you hit December you’ll be very disappointed, staring at empty shelves. (Unless you use the Internet. Word on the street is the Internet has all sorts of fun things.

First things first. Take two-piece, plastic wine glass and shorten the ends. No, I don’t recommend using a hacksaw but that’s all I had. The stems you can just get rid of.

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For 5.5 oz wine glasses use a scalloped edge 3″ paper punch to cut out your bases. I took a red piece of thicker paper and used modge podge to glue it to a pretty winter wonderful design on lighter paper. The base needs to have a little heft to it.

Tacky glue did the trick to secure my little guys to the bases. The tallest trees you see here are 3″. Even 3″ was a little high for the wine glasses.

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Don’t worry about any glue peaking out from under your figurines. The glitter will cover it up.  I just love this little camper from Michael’s!

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Use a hot glue gun around the top of your wine glass to secure it to the base. A little homemade paper funnel will help you pour in your glitter. Be generous with the glitter!

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Aren’t the books underneath the tree perfect for my book club?!

 

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I hot glued a pearl bead (Joann’s) on top of each wine glass. It’s also how I secured the red twine around the top. So far all seems very sturdy!IMG_0901

I went to Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, AC Moore, and Hobby Lobby to get all the pieces you see before you.

Michael’s: Better for the more expensive but very different pieces. I also saw a cute VW bug and a little fireplace.

Jo-Ann Fabric: There I was able to buy a mixed bag of mini-trees in a reasonable size. Michael’s only sold them in large quantities. I also found the glitter deer and a couple old trucks I’m going to use for another project.

AC Moore: The first time I went by they had a wonderful selection of tiny deer, trees, snowmen, etc but they never replenished their shelves so I couldn’t buy anymore.

Hobby Lobby: Their Mayberry Street miniatures line didn’t offer many holiday items but I did find the books which I used under 4 of my trees for gifts for my book club members. I also bought the paper punch there which was considerably cheaper than at Michael’s and I couldn’t find it at all at AC Moore.

I really enjoyed this project although I cracked a couple wine glasses, spilled a ton of glitter and had to go back to the craft stores several times. Normally when I find a craft on Pinterest tears and frustration are a component of the end result but I enjoyed every moment of making these.