Saturday, December 15, 2012

For The Book Club - A Shopping Guide

Sometimes I visit The Folio Society just to eat my heart out! They have cloth and leather bound classics as well as modern tales with whimsical, colorful illustrations.

Kate Baylay illustrated this. Her talent is priceless.

I think these guys are super cute without lacking sophitication. The Literary Gift Company hails from the UK but ship all over the world! They have great gifty things like this candle, too.

"There was no moon, and everything beneath lay in misty darkness: not a light gleamed from any house, far or near all had been extinguished long ago: and those at Wuthering Heights were never visible—still she asserted she caught their shining.
'Look!' she cried eagerly, 'that's my room with the candle in it, and the trees swaying before it [...]" --- Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights


And then there is this. It's a scent called "In the Library." 

"In the Library is a warm blend of English Novel, Russian and Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of wood polish."

The scent is made by Christopher Brosius from Brooklyn New York whose story is more than interesting. I recommend you visit CB I Hate Perfume just to peruse his cleverness.


And finally, The Jane Austen umbrella from Literary Luminaries.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas DIY - A Christmas Tree Flag

I found this super festive ribbon in green and white wide stripes that said "Lots of things merry and everything bright." It was too cute not to share so I made wee tree flags with the ribbon. I've included step by step photo instructions here. This DIY project is good for adults and kids for a couple reasons. First, it is very inexpensive and requires a walk outside. It's also a very fast project. Enjoy doing this and if you're inclined, share some photos of your own work with me!

The basics: Ribbon of your choice, very sharp scissors, tree twigs, hot glue and small ball ornaments.

Make sure the ribbon will go around the twig nicely so you know where to start your glue and how your flag will lay once you add it to your tree.
Here is the bowl of ornaments  collected. The best to use for this project are small glass ornaments that have the metal top (you'll remove the metal top eventually)l
This was my favorite to use.

Then remove the silver hanging loop.
After you've hot glued the flag on the stick, put a generous amount of hot glue on the stick and put the stick in the hole where the silver loop used to be.
Here are some that are finished and placed. Cute, no?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Street Style - Me Again!

I just can't stop! I've lost 105 pounds. It's a struggle everyday and I've rewarded myself with some new clothes.

The jacket is Anthropologie from about 6 years ago. The top Banana Republic, thrifted! The shoes, thrifted, the denim, Target, The scarf JC Penney $12.99. The Jewelry by Amy Peters Studio, "Thank Your Lucky Stars!" And the cuff, Uko.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Gift Giving

Yeah so, it's here. The proverbial ship has sailed and we're now headlong into the holiday season.

There are no rule books anywhere that says how to do things but it feels so good to give and give and give.

Every year the husband and I have a party. I love to give gifts to the wee ones that friends bring over, and give cookies and mulled cider to the grown ups.

Once in a while a guest a will bring a hostess gift to me which is always unexpected and well loved.

I visit a website often called Creature Comforts. Ez has a list of some really cute stuff that she written about for the holidays. I've included them here and for the shopping guide, visit her! If you really want to thank your hostess, these are superb!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What is a Republican

I have put this here today because people are confused. I am a moderate Republican. I am:

*Pro-Choice (Roe V. Wade)
*Pro Women's Rights (I can vote and own land)
*Pro Civil Rights (This includes homosexuals)
*Pro Conservation (Recycle)
*Pro Independent Business
*Pro Economic Stability
*Anti Taxes
*Anti Big Government
*Anti Organised Religion

What I am not:
*A racist
*A warmonger
*A rich person
*Anti women
*Anti Freedom

I recommend visiting CNN where I got this. Very enlightening. By the way, I suggest you teach your children that among people you know, one should not discuss money, religion, sex or politics. It lacks graciousness and you may offend someone.

CNN Explains: How today's GOP has its roots in anti-slavery crusade

By Tom Foreman, CNN
updated 10:27 PM EDT, Sat August 25, 2012

  • Republicans emerge as an anti-slavery party in 1800s
  • Abraham Lincoln was party's first president
  • GOP got name Grand Old Party from a Chicago newspaper

Washington (CNN) -- Some may not realize that the modern Republican Party owes its origin to the fight over slavery nearly two centuries ago.
In the tumultuous mid-1800s, right before the Civil War, some political activists were concerned about keeping slavery from spreading into new western territories, and they saw no way to stop it through existing political powers: the Democrats and the Whigs (the pro-Congress party of the mid 1800s that largely destroyed itself in the 1852 elections in a battle over slavery).
So they formed a new party, taking the name "Republicans" in a salute to earlier American politicians.
By 1861, they had their first president: Abraham Lincoln. Soon after, slavery fell. The Whig party disappeared. And the Republicans began a long steady rise in power.
Even back then, the party liked to talk about fiscal responsibility -- immigration, religion -- and the need for a strong business climate. All of this spurred a sympathetic Chicago newspaper to call the Republicans the Grand Old Party, or the GOP.
Republican voters were strongest in rural and western parts of the country, and they were highly successful at maximizing electoral votes to produce presidents: Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt were among their early successes.
However, World War I brought sharp policy disagreements to the party. And when Herbert Hoover ushered in the Great Depression, the Republicans were driven into retreat.
It would be 20 years until they won the White House again, under Dwight Eisenhower.
But since 1969, they have been largely back to their winning ways.
During that time, Republicans have been in the Oval Office for almost twice as many years as the Democrats -- Nixon (elected to two terms, but resigned at the start of his second), Ford (served out Nixon's second term), Reagan (elected to two terms), George H.W. Bush (elected to one term) and George W. Bush (elected to two terms).
And I still am wishing today that Mitt Romney restarted the tradition.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bitterballen with Chanterelles - A Dutch Treat

I found this recipe ages ago on Design*Sponge. I made them one night as a nod to my own Dutch heritage and everybody swooned. I made them last Thanksgiving and now I am making them again this year. The styling at Design*Sponge is so spectacular I used their pics here. If you've never been to visit that sensational site, you'd love it. I recommend visiting for some input from Yvette Van Boven who invented the twist on this Dutch favorite. Also, Yvette is a sensational cookbook author and food stylist. I have her book Home Made
and it is sensational.

Bitterballen with Chanterelle Mushrooms
The Bitterballen Ingredients
Step by Step

Real Dutch Bitterballen with Chanterelles
1 onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plus 1 handful of flour
1/2 cup (75ml) White Port
2 cups mushroom broth (500ml)
salt, pepper, nutmeg
3 cups chanterelle mushrooms (250 grams)
1 handful of parsley
2-3 eggs
1 handful of fine breadcrumbs
Day 1:
Make the filling:
Fry 1 Onion (chopped) in a wide pan with the butter.  Once the butter has melted add one tablespoon of flour.  Stir and let cook a bit.  Add the White Port and mushroom broth.  Salt and pepper to taste and add some nutmeg.  Add the chanterelles and parsley, and cook this until a thick roux forms.  Let this mixture chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Day 2:
Set up your assembly line:  Set aside three bowls, and a tray lined with parchment paper.  In one bowl place a handful of flour, in one bowl 2-3 eggs, lightly beaten, and in the last bowl, your breadcrumbs.
Divide the mixture in half and roll into two logs.  Cut each log into equal parts, about the size of a large grape.  Roll each ball in flour, then dip in the egg, and then roll in the breadcrumbs.  Repeating the last two steps will help to form a thick, firm crust.
Heat your oil to 350F degrees (180C degrees).  Fry the bitterballen in small batches.
Serve immediately with creamy mustard (made with one part sour cream, one part mustard) and beer!
Thursday, November 8, 2012

Street Style - It's me!

I usually pick someone off the street for these posts, hence "Street Style." Plus, I hate visiting fashion blogs where Annabelle X blogs about herself and her awesome clothes. It appears vain and boastful and narcissistic.

But for this one, I'm going to be Annabelle X.  I really liked what I was wearing. Actually I felt like a totally cool hipster chick. The kind I always look at and think,  "Man, I wish I was that cool." Seriously, yesterday, I might have been that cool chick to someone. You know the ones too. The girl who has Little Majorette and Empire of the Sun and Alex Winston, supplemented with The Kills on her play list. The one who exercises regularly at the hip yoga studio that other super hip folks go to. The one that says she'd love to be vegan but can't give up bacon. The one that is craftier than any crafter, craftier even than Martha Stewart's whole staff. You know the one!
I felt that cool; that hip.

I wore a dress from Macy's that's really too big for me. When you look at the pictures you'll probably be like me and say, "Shorter, perhaps." The tights are Italian no name tights with a really cool motif on them. I got them at Marshall's for a bargain but I hope they'll at least last through winter. They're epic. The sweater is a basic black with 3/4 sleeves from Ann Taylor Loft. And the earrings...OH THE EARRINGS. They were my favorite part of the outfit. They were gifted from Granny. And the booties. I wish I had taken a better picture of the booties. It's hard to capture the very turn of the century look of them. They are real "Anne of Green Gables." They're from Anthropologie about 4 years ago. I love them.

Anyhoo. Check it out. Let me know what you think!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Homemade Chicken Broth

Halloween is over. Harvest is here and so we move swiftly into the colder winter months.

I don't know about you, but I love soup on a cold winter's eve. And paired with a grilled cheese sandwich...a feast!

Every great soup needs a great stock. More often than not, I use a chicken broth base for all kinds of soup. Today I'll share the broth recipe which you can use in this hearty lentil soup recipe...

Home Made Chicken Stock

  • 1 large bag baby carrots
  • 1 whole onion quartered
  • 3 large garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 bunch  fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 carcass of leftover rotisserie chicken
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Put all ingredients in large soup pot 
  2. Cover all ingredients with water
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes
  4. Reduce heat and simmer until all veggies are tender to the fork (another 40 minutes)
  5. Strain through a fine sieve or cheese cloth
  6. Store in 16 oz containers until ready to use for soup or for a day when you aren't feeling well.

Just before lowering heat to a simmer.

The leftovers after straining.
The star of the show. Finished stock.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wicked Space

I have been loving deep space satellite photos. I used to watch Carl Sagan with my Dad when I was young. And I was 6 when I waited in line to see Star Wars with my folks. Science has always intrigued and moved me. I hope you enjoy this little film from Wired Magazine.

Monday, October 22, 2012

One Bad Bird

Today is my birthday! Twenty Nine and counting!

On Saturday night my husband and I threw an epic birthday party for me and had 50 friends join us in the celebration.

This post however, is not about the birthday festivities. Oh no. This post is about my birthday invitations. They were designed by One Bad Bird Design Studio.

Penelope, the owner/designer of these sensational creations, is an absolutely wonderful person who will literally bend over backwards to get you exactly what you want! I have never had so many complements on an invitation in my life. I loved them and my guests did too. So festive! With Halloween right around the corner, you could have an epic party, too. I think our party was a success because of the invitations. Paper goods set the tone for the fete!

One Bad Bird has no limitations on what she can do for you. On her Etsy site she has a $20 custom design fee. For $20 and $10 more at Target for printing, you can have yourself awesome invites that will not break the bank.  Check these out! And for your next party, I am telling you One Bad Bird is your invite destination!

(I have not included my actual invitations as my address is on them...I know you all want to hang out with me but for privacy purposes, I have included OBB's originals).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Easy DIY Messenger Bag

This is just a very simple but very useful project.

Get 2 yards of fabric you like. It should be pretty weighty, though, as you want it tough enough to put things in. It is after all a bag.

Fold the bag evenly right sides together and sew up either side. Do a double stitch on the machine and do a triple on the bottom for security, press it and make the strap.

I measure the strap long so it could be adjusted later. I folded it in threes as you would fold a business letter. The I stitched it twice in the middle and pressed it before adding it to the inside seams.

I added a pocket to the inside, but this step is optional. I also embellished it with vintage buttons. I call this bag "Apples and Oranges."

Try it. You won't be disappointed!

The inside pocket.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lovely Martha

So I'd like to think I'm a versatile girl. In fact, I'll try just about anything once.

When I was young I went fishing for the first time. I was perhaps six when my dad, who is a master clammer/crabber/lobster man, took me on my first fishing trip. I caught a little trout and felt like a million bucks. About 20 years later, I went to a ranch in outer Lincoln and made a fishing pole out of a stick and caught a 3 pound Large Mouth Bass. Woo-hoo!

My grand-dad is a big fisherman and use to get on the boat every weekend. We'd catch our fill of Rock Cod.

But now, I am an ANGLER! Not a simple fisherwoman - an ANGLER!!!

My husband's very closest friend, Mike, called us and asked us to join him and his wife on a charter fishing trip the following day in San Francisco. To be honest, I had no desire to go. I rolled my eyes and hemmed and hawed. Then my husband passed me the phone and Mike said, "C'mon, Gwen, please come with us. It'll be great." I answered cheerfully but secretly begrudgingly, "Ok!"

And, Thank God, I agreed to it! It was one of the most exciting days I have ever had in my life!

Mike and Christina picked us up at 2:45 AM. Yup, our day started before the crack of dawn. We got coffee, ate bagels and drove to the San Francisco City. We parked somewhere near the Embarcadero, grabbed our stuff and jaunted to the dock - all in the pitch of night.

We were the first group on Lovely Martha and we scoped our spots right away. We met the captain and the crew and as soon as I arrived on the deck of the boat, my previously cantankerous attitude left! I was so excited.

The other group of four Japanese folks arrived and we were ready to shove off.

The crew went over safety, courteousness and basic angling - for instance, when you hear the fish on a hook, scream, "FISH ON!"

As we made our way through the darkness, all of us sat in the cabin exhausted and freezing. My husband slept, Mike slept and Christina and I chatted. All the Japanese folks slept and then the boat slowed to 3 knots.

The air was bright with glare and fog and we readied our poles. The first fish was caught shortly after that by one of the Japanese girls and it was a biggie. I was a little discouraged but the Captain (also, Mike) came over to me and said, "Don't you worry, I bet you'll catch the biggest one of the day!" I brightened and went and stood by my pole again!

There is quite a bit of waiting on a fishing boat. It's about 97 percent waiting and 3 percent of sheer heart racing excitement. And that three percent is a hgih I'll chase forever.

At around high noon, Mike (the captain) came on deck to check out the scene. I glanced at my pole and saw some movement. The entire boat including me screamed, "FISH ON!" It was my pole. I ran to it, grabbed the pole and began reeling with all my might! I was helped by one of the crew members who kept telling me to point the tip of the pole to the bow of the ship...I was reeling and pointing and panting. And Mike (the captain) told me to relax! How could I relax? I was so extremely excited I was overwhelmed. It took me a good five minutes to reel this fish in. Pure excitement - like your first kiss or the first time you drove a car. Mike Rescino, the captain of the Lovely Martha, grabbed my fish with the big net and VOILA...his premonition had been correct! I had caught a 35 pound Salmon.

To say our day on the Lovely Martha was good is nothing short of an understatement. It's right up there with my wedding!