Saturday, March 30, 2013

Endometriosis Awareness Month

Hi all! March is Endometriosis Awareness Month! Even though there is only a day and a half left in this month, I still wanted to give you an opportunity to learn about this condition that affects me and many other women. I wrote about it over at The Loveliest Way, so check it out!

Friday, March 29, 2013

His & Mine

My terrarium:
(Calla thinks it's hers, as she thinks about all things in this home.)

Rob's terrarium:

His version expresses his philosophy of tending a yard and garden. Rule #1 - Bigger is better. Rule #2 - There is always room for more!

(Thanks, Debbie, for the awesome container!)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Robby's Cat

People have asked me whose cat Calla really is. It's a good question. We all know that pets typically can choose a favorite, and this is so true of Calla. She is without a doubt Robby's cat. She adores him; she tolerates me. When we head outside in the morning (which we often do), she will wait at the door until Robby comes instead of just walking out with me. It's amazing how she obviously prefers him! Perhaps she senses I am competition? Newsflash, Calla: I win.

One of the cutest things she does with him is jump up on his shoulders. She's done this since she was a kitten. She starts by stretching, then squats down and jumps, expecting him to catch her, which he always does. Then she sits contentedly with him and takes in the view. She often gives him an eskimo kiss of thanks.

Incidentally, she once gave me the opportunity to catch her, but I failed, and so she permanently revoked my participation in this activity.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are an Easter (Good Friday) tradition, although it's never been one for me. However, when I continued to stumble across the recipe over the last week or so, and after realizing it is basically a cinnamon bun, I decided to give it a try.

I spent the day with my momma and we baked these. There is nothing quite like the smell of cinnamon dough baking away in the oven, is there? My dad kept coming in and asking if his cookies were done yet. (Not cookies, Dad -- hot cross buns!) He also said he wished we would make him a hot cross steak.

The buns turned out wonderfully - warm and soft and light. We bounced back and forth between William-Sonoma's recipe and Pioneer Woman's recipe. I think next time I may just do PW's altogether although both seem similarly good. PW has a neat trick of folding the dried fruit/cinnamon+sugar/zest in. I like that.
These buns are basically a sweetened yeast roll with spices, dried fruit, and zest (if you like). Ours were simple, using only raisins, cinnamon, allspice, and cardamon. I am an orange zesty kind of gal, but no one else really is, so we left that out. Next time, it's going in! I think it needed a punch of citrus. The defining factor of these buns are the icing crosses.

You can see that ours were definitely imperfect--but we didn't mind! We had a great time making them and enjoying them.

How about you? Do you have any Easter traditions you will be having or doing this week?

Monday, March 25, 2013

I left my heart...

Thursday evening after work, Robby and I quickly packed up and headed to San Francisco to visit Chels and Roger. We had an amazing time. I think this is the best San Francisco trip we've experienced yet. Things just worked out - an amazing apartment to stay at for FREE, great parking, gorgeous weather, coincidental back routes that saved us tons of time. It was fantastic.

Chels has a good friend who graciously offered her apartment while she and her husband were traveling. This place was fabulous with an incredible view. Robby and I were able to stay there for two nights, and both nights the four of us hung out talking, eating, and playing games. It felt like we really lived there, and Chels and Roger were visiting us! Except for the fact that they brought over the snacks :)
What a view! You can see the Bay Bridge across the way.
At night, we experienced the Bay Lights! 
Friday morning Robby and I lounged and grabbed coffee together, then headed over to Tony's Pizza in North Beach while we waited for Chels to get off work. Once we collected Chels (Roger was still working), we detoured at a great consignment shop where Chels bought me boots with her credit, then headed to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. This was beautiful, although it was more tropical than local as far as the plants went. We were pretty amazed by the collection of carnivorous plants!
We drove around the park, making a stop to see the tulip garden and windmill, then ventured over to the incredible Land's End. We made a specific stop at the Giant Camera next to the Cliff House. We're not exactly sure what we expected, but what we got was quite the disappointment! Still, as disappointments sometimes go, we had a great laugh about it, and couldn't dwell on the failure of the Giant Camera too long when we headed back out to views as these:
Our final stop that evening was the famed Food Trucks at Fort Mason. This was such a blast! Dozens of gourmet food trucks fill a parking lot decked out with seating, lights, and a live DJ. It was hard to choose from the many great looking meals, but among the four of us, we tried a pork (us) and tofu (them) sandwich from The Chairman, Japanese rice balls and a noodle soup from Onigilly, a fish taco from The Taco Guys, a handcrafted popsicle from Fat Face, an empanada, a chocolate taco, and pierogis. It was so much fun!
The next morning, we joined Chels and Roger for coffee at their place, then split off boys and girls. Robby and Roger went for a bike ride, riding over the bridge and up to an amazing viewpoint, and Chels and I went to Muir Woods for a short and easy hike.
The four of us reconvened in Saucalito and had lunch at a place called The Fish. It was quite the wait, but the fish and chips I had were the best I've ever eaten! Seriously amazing. Everyone else's food looked and tasted pretty great, too...although a dish of potatoes and mushrooms just can't compare to fresh fried fish and fries.

From there, it was just a matter of getting back to the apartment, packing up, and meeting Chels and Roger to say our good-byes. These visits are never ever long enough. I miss them already.

If you (like I once did) think that San Francisco is only about Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf, you must plan a trip soon! My sister the travel agent will gladly help plan your visit :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring Wreath

A couple of weeks ago Rob trimmed and pruned our elm trees. It's actually really exciting to be at the point where our trees need a trimming! He made a HUGE pile of branches--probably 4 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter. He was breaking them up, trying to cram them in the green waste bin. Now I am a sucker for branches. There had to be something I could do with them.

I had just (yes, just, as in three days before) thrown out my Christmas wreath on our front door. It looked pretty sad, all yellow and crunchy, but removing it made my front door quite bare. Project! Those branches would be perfect to bend into a wreath.

I chose medium sized branches that still had some bend, grabbed a little twine, and got to work. It was simple--I just started by twisting branches together and worked my way around, adding more and more branches and tying here and there with twine. Soon a circle took shape, and since the branches were freshly cut, I could bend them as needed. After I had my basic wreath, I went around the yard choosing and cutting flowers. It turned out lovely!

Too bad the flowers only lasted a day. Still it was amazing having a wreath born completely from our yard.

If pruning is in your forecast, give this a try!

Have a spring idea, recipe, or project to share? Hop in!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

One-Hour Skirt - Worth the two hours ;)

If you're like me, you never trust anything that says it can be done in an hour. This is true of this skirt, especially if you're a novice sewer as I am. But it can be done in two hours (um...maybe give yourself three, just in case) which isn't too bad! Since you only need a yard of fabric and a little bit of elastic, you can get away with a new skirt for under $10! Plus, you'll feel pretty fantastic wearing something you made.
This sewing project comes free of charge from Brett Bara, author of Sewing in a Straight Line and a regular contributor to Design*Sponge with her Sewing 101 column. You can access her post here. She even has a video tutorial to check out! No excuses now :)

Since she does a great job of explaining the how-to (it is her project, afterall), I thought I'd just give a few tips coming from a gal who has made one and made mistakes doing it.
  1. She says to use an elastic that has a width of 1 3/4 inches. I will definitely do a skinnier elastic next time and recommend the same to you if you have a heavier-weight material. Plus, I think the skinnier band will look a little more chic.
  2. Make sure your elastic casing is wide enough. If you're a newer sewer as I am, you'll make mistakes, and you'll make it too skinny, which means you'll be fighting to stuff that elastic in! 
  3. Make sure you have a large, sturdy safety pin. I spent way too much of my valuable time trying to get the elastic through using a stupid tiny pin. Once I got the right pin (thanks, Debbie!), it was much easier!
  4. Use the same color of thread as the material you have, especially when top-stitching the band. I thought a contrasting color would be neat, and it probably would have been, if I had the skills to make it look great. Sewing through a thick band is tough, and my stitching is terrible there! (Hence the white tank covering it up, haha!)
  5. Double-check the length. I definitely made this a bit short, especially around the, uh, rear portion. Note to self: factor that little aspect in next time.

Besides that, though, it's a great easy sewing project. With Easter just around the corner, you can whip up this little number in whatever color your heart desires in no time! Better yet, make it for your little girl! (I'm envisioning E and A in matching ones, Steph!)

Have a spring idea to share? Please do!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Terrarium

I put together this terrarium on Monday, and I am in love with it. I'm not sure why, but for some reason the teeny tiny plants looking like a little forest makes me smile. Robby loves it, too. He wanted me to wander around the house and find more glasses to make a whole terrarium garden. I'm currently trying to burn through the last of a White Barn candle to use that jar. It would be a great size. 

This really is the sweetest and simplest spring project, and you can dress it up in all sorts of ways. For my friends with little ones (I'm thinking specifically of Anna here!), wouldn't this be a fun thing to do? If you leave it outside, you could even let them introduce some friendly ladybugs. And talk about a pretty great centerpiece for a wedding or dinner.
Not that this project needs a whole lot of explanation, but just in case, here ya go:

Materials and Directions

-Glass jar: Really anything will do, such as a wide-mouthed mason jar, a vase, a fishbowl even! The key is to keep it simple and make sure it is deep and wide enough. I had this one from forever ago.
-Little rocks or pebbles: Find some in your yard, or do like I did and buy a bag from JoAnn's for $2.00 Have fun with shapes, colors, sizes, textures.
-A piece of cheesecloth, burlap (that's what I used since I had it on hand), or green yard material to place between the rocks and dirt. Make sure it allows water to flow through.
-Soil or dirt
-Baby plants: We found these in our yard! Anything with roots will work, but keep in mind evergreens may be better. Succulents are especially nice, but I didn't want to buy any.
-Rocks, bark, or other "accessories" to dress up your forest

Place the rocks in first, as many as you'd like. Put your breathable layer next, and then add a good few inches of soil. Pack it down. Add in your lovely little plants, packing it nice and tight. Accessorize with rocks, shells, bark, or whatever else you'd like. Tie a spring-colored ribbon if you want. Keep your plant family nice and moist. The glass jar can get warm!

You'll fall in love with yours, too. Just watch. :)

Have a spring project, recipe, idea, or photograph to share? Hop on in!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Dying Fabric, Ombre-Style

A couple of years ago, I was given the Great White Bolt of fabric. It's every crafter's dream to have quality items just handed to her. This bolt has served many purposes: bridal gifts, chair covers, table cloths, napkins, ribbons, tote bags. For all its done, though, there's been one thing lacking: color. So I added color!

Dyeing fabric is not as difficult as I thought it would be, and it is really inexpensive! About $4.00 to take a piece of white fabric and give a coral ombre makeover.
I followed the directions found at Rit Dye's website. You can access that here. Or you can read on to have the step-by-steps for what I did to achieve the color and look I have.

Materials and Supplies

*White or light fabric (or shirt, skirt, dress, etc.), washed
*Rit dyes - I used the powder, and I mixed two to get the coral color (Fuchsia and Golden Yellow). I mixed half of the Fuchsia and a quarter of the Golden Yellow.
*Pyrex measuring cup
*Large plastic bucket for mixing the hot water and dye
*1 cup salt
*Squirt of liquid detergent (I think dishwashing liquid would work, too)
*Metal spoon
*Rubber gloves
*Tarp or whatever you use to do painting/crafts

I set up my dyeing area outside on the grass. I always use an old sheet to do painting projects, so that's what I used for this. It really isn't as messy as it appears -- just keep the animals away or you may end up with a pink cat!

  • Bring 4 cups of water to simmering. (I used a tea kettle.) Add the hot water, 1 cup salt, and powder dye into the bucket. Mix well with the spoon.
  • Add 2 gallons of hot tap water to the bucket and a bit of liquid detergent.
  • Get your fabric wet, and then get ready to dip! My fabric was wide - about 3 yards. I was able to fold it a few times, and it still soaked up the color just fine. I also rolled it, letting out the bottom as I went. The site suggests wrapping it around a dowel, and that would work, too.
  • Dip the bottom few of inches into the dye. Swish it back and forth, in and out of the dye, for around 10-12 minutes. The longer you hold it in, the darker it gets. Keep in mind that if you're trimming your fabric up for use, some of the edges will be gone! Give yourself room.
  • Dip more of the fabric in and do the same for less time, around 8 minutes, rolling out the fabric as you need.
  • Continue dipping the fabric in, layer by layer, until you're close to the top, lessening the amount of time as you go.
  • For the lightest layer, dip it in for just a moment. It will take in a light shade.
  • Once everything looks good, take out your dyed fabric, then rinse it in cold water, making sure the water runs down to the darkest layer. (I did this outside with the hose.) The final step is to rinse in warm water, so you'll have to do this inside. Rinse until the water runs clear, about 10 minutes.
  • Wash your fabric in warm water with detergent. I did this in the sink, so it gave me more time to make sure the dye was all rinsed out. My white sink rinsed out just fine with a little Barkeeper's Friend.
  • Dry your fabric, and you're set! I'd recommend washing it by itself the first time or two, but then it should be good to go!
I used my fabric to make a one-hour skirt. Stay tuned for the how-to!
Join in on the spring fun! Share a recipe, project, favorite photo or anything else for Spring Week!


Spring Week!

This Wednesday is the first day of Spring! Now, I know for us Valleyites, the coming of the spring season means that our hot hot summer is just around the corner. Still, you can't help but agree that springtime in the Central Valley is glorious and worth welcoming!

For us personally, this season is especially meaningful as we look to nature to remind us of God's power and grace to heal and redeem. No matter what we may be going through, there is always hope in Christ. I hope you take some time this week to stop and smell the roses...or daffodils...or freesia...or sweet peas...or whatever else may be singing the song of spring. I plan on sharing some spring recipes, projects, and more! There just might even be a linky, so be thinky about your favorite springtime ideas to share :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Snippets

Happy Saturday! I thought we would be greeted by sunshine this morning, but instead we have another cloudy day. No rain, so at least we can venture outside. Before I do, though, thought I'd share a few bits and pieces of our life.
  • I'm almost one week into the waiting period to see the results of our IUI. It's kind of nice that this one came as it did because I find I'm not dwelling on it like I have in the past. Still...looking forward to the day I can take a test!
  • One thing to complain about: The progesterone pills to take after said IUI are such a pain. They make me crazy. I'll just leave it at that.
  • I am loving the iPad app PhotoShop Touch that my husband bought recently. Because I was stuck on the couch Tuesday, I spent some time playing with it. Let me just say I have ZERO experience doing anything like this (never even played with Paint before), but it's been a lot of fun. I even made a new banner for my Loveliest Way blog! I'm pretty proud of myself :)
  • We celebrated my soon-to-be-brother-in-law's birthday last night. It was neat thinking that in just a couple short months he and my baby sis will be husband and wife. Scott will be part of our family forever! How awesome!
  • We're gearing up for our annual St. Patty's Day Auction and Dinner! This benefits our youth at church and helps raise funds to send them to camp. It's always a lot of fun. If you don't have plans for St. Patty's, come and join in on the excitement! And if you have anything to donate, email me :)
  • I started reading again. After my reading binge over December and January, it all came to a halt. I bought a few books, one of them being aa spiritual book called "Thrive, Don't Simply Survive" by Karol Ladd. Has anyone read this?
  • I've been trying to make really good fried rice. My first attempt was a soggy mess; my second much better. In my search for help, I found a great blog about Thai food and cooking called She Simmers. Check it out! She's a great writer, takes beautiful photographs, and is incredibly knowledgeable. I learned, for example, that there are different soy sauces for different regional cuisines. 
  • I splurged and bought Urban Decay's eyeshadow palette Naked. It is amazing. It's $50 but comes with a plethora of gorgeous shadow colors, a primer, and a fantastic brush. Check it out here.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend--even if it's rainy!