What to make?

Every year I look forward to my husband’s family reunion. It’s a grand time with tons of family (obviously), food, and old-fashioned Texan fun! We all catch up, overeat, and then sit down to watch the show. The show happens to be the patriarchs of the family hilariously running an auction of goods brought in by the family. Some are purchased, some are of the white elephant gift variety, and lots are homemade. Last year I donated this, my labor of love:

African Flower Blanket

It was so fun to make, but I procrastinated and finished weaving in ends on the drive there! But THIS year I’m starting early. Er, planning to start early. First I have to figure out what to make! I plan to go with a blanket again (if only to narrow down my options ;) ). Here are the current top contenders (click on the photos to go to the patterns):

 WEEKEND IN STOCKHOLM THROW

1: Weekend in Stockholm Throw by Debbie Stoller

Larksfoot Blanket

2: Larksfoot Throw, courtesy of Meet Me at Mikes

an 'ordinarily extraordinary' blanket

3: An ‘ordinarily extraordinary’ blanket, courtesy of dottie angel

And there’s always 4: a random assortment of granny squares.

And so, I say to you, VOTE! Please, please, please don’t make me make my own decision.* Which do you think is best?  Last year my blanket was one of the top sellers, so I can’t disappoint! (No pressure though..) SO, which should I make? :)

*I reserve the right to make my own decision if I decide I don’t like yours. ;)
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Rainbow Party

Yesterday I had a rainbow party! I woke up, put on my brightest clothing (pink shirt, yellow sweater, blue polka dot skirt, and my rainbow socks!) and got to baking. You see, I had several layers to make for my rainbow cake!

Rainbow socks & baking

I decided to make red velvet cake for the red and purple layers. I used this recipe from Bitter Sweet. I doubled the recipe and then split it between two layers. For the center layers of my cake I used this amazing vegan white cake recipe from My Vegan Cookbook. SO TASTY! Since it specifically warns against doubling the recipe, I actually made it twice, then divided each batch into two colors. I sloppily iced everything with this white vegan cake icing as guests arrived! It was a mess, but soooo tasty.

Rainbow cake!

Alex got a few rainbow candies and made pink lemonade. We also made fruit and veggie platters in rainbow order, and our friends brought some more rainbow foods! It was a deliciously colorful feast :)

Rainbow fruit

I didn’t have to do much decorating, as we already have lots of color in our apartment! I did pull out my rainbow quilt. [The party was originally going to be a picnic in the park, but we were rained out. Austin needs the rain though, so no complaints here!] For the table, I laid down some sparkly cellophane, then arranged all of our rainbow food :)

Rainbow feast

Such a fun day, all dedicated to rainbows :) It was a great way to put some color into a gray and rainy day!

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Happy Belated V-Day!

heart tights diy

I hope you all had a wonderful Saint Valentine’s Day :) Ours was so hectic, but beautiful!! Lots of little specials throughout the day ♥

There are many big things happening in my world right now. Everything is hectic! We were in New Orleans over the weekend for my soccer tournament – super fun, but exhausting! Long story short: drove all day Friday, won first game Saturday 3-0, got a concussion in game 2 (we lost), French Quarter in the evening, cheered on my team Sunday (ended up in 3rd place!), and a looong drive home. Enjoyable craziness!

More news to come….but that’s all for tonight ;) Oh! And you can find the DIY for those adorable heart tights right here, on the pineneedle collective. Make cute things! xo

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Menu Planning

Last summer, my husband Alex and I decided to go on a low-fat vegan diet. He stayed on it for the planned 3 months (during which we also cut out processed sugar), and I decided to stay on it indefinitely. Of course, since I do most of the cooking, he’s on the diet at home still ;) We also cut out most processed foods, including faux meats. As a result, even though we ate relatively healthily before, we are much healthier now! But it also means that we cook a lot.

Menu planning is key. Since we both work full-time, it’s hard to go shopping every day. Knowing exactly what we need for our meals means we can make one quick trip for several days worth of food, without wasting any money on items we won’t use. So I set aside time to research recipes and plan meals ahead of time. It’s a great strategy no matter what your diet.

Menu Planning

1. Find a couple good cookbooks and/or online sources. I like to have both, so I can search depending on my mood. My current favorite cookbooks are Color Me Vegan and Big Vegan. Some great online sources are Pinterest (check out my meal board), Whole Foods, and Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

2. Pick out your recipes. I like to pick a 1-2 that are intense (because I love a challenge!), 3-4 that take 30-60 minutes, and 1-2 that are very quick and easy. It’s good to have a variety. I also try to use recipes with  some overlapping ingredients, especially with things like parsley that come in a big bunch. If you find more recipes than you need for the week, tag them for later use.

3. Plan your week. Going out Wednesday? Leave it blank. Are Mondays always exhausting? Choose an easy meal. Can you use leftover rice from one meal in another? Plan it out. I use “The Eat Sheet” from Mommy Tracked - it’s a great printable menu planner that includes space to list ingredients (pictured above).

4. Grocery shop. I usually get 3-4 days worth of food at a time, making sure to always have staples (e.g. grains, canned beans, olive oil) in stock. This way the veggies are fresh, and I have room to shift the menu a bit if need be. (Side note: I use this grocery list)

5. Cook! Since everything is planned out and ready, there’s no last minute scrambling (or snacking for two hours while you try to figure out what to cook…or is that just me?) You just get to have fun trying new recipes and recooking old favorites :)

Well, I hope that’s helpful. I know it’s really come in handy for me! Frequently one week’s menu will last a week and a half (if we have dinner at a friend’s on night, decide to have leftovers another, etc.). Since I only buy food for a few days, I can wing it in between shopping trips. Sometimes I leave a couple days blank just to experiment!

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Weeknight Chili

Tonight I made Nava’s A Big Pot of Really Good Chili (cut in half), served over brown rice. Actually, I halved everything except the spices (woops!), but it tastes delicious :D A little spicy. I like serving chili over brown rice to add a bit more heft. Plus it’s healthier and more filling than chips or bread. I added the suggested corn toward the end, and topped with tomatoes and cilantro – yummm!

Nava's A Big Pot of Really Good Chili

When I’ve made chili before, I’ve used dried beans soaked overnight, and it takes several hours to cook. This is a great chili for weeknights. It uses canned beans, which cook much more quickly, and it’s very tasty! I bet it would also be great with a pinch of cayenne, or topped with chopped green onions. Let me know what you think if you give it a try :)

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Round Mirrors

I hope I’m not just falling victim to a design trend here, but I am totally crushing on round mirrors. Captain’s mirrors are cute (like the one below from BDDW). There’s something both old and new about this look. They really look great in pairs, or grouped with other wall decor.

CAPTAIN'S MIRROR

I really love round mirrors hanging from ribbon or rough rope, like in Minh and Ted’s house tour on Apartment Therapy, below. The rough texture with the smooth, round glass is the perfect juxtaposition.

Minh and Ted House Tour

I’ve been a fan of framed mirrors in the bathroom, but I’ve just recently decided that a round mirror is a great look! It really frames your reflection ;)

modern moroccan bathroom

And there’s something about curved wood that I find really appealing (one of the reasons, I’m sure, that I love Art Deco chairs!). Wood framed circular mirrors are simple and lovely. I’ve long been tempted to buy this one from West Elm:

ROUND MANGO WOOD MIRROR

And on a final note, these mirrors from Grain are just neat! Textils on glass, anyone?

Large Bound Mirror

So there you have it, my latest interior design obsession. What do you think? Where would you use a round mirror? Grouped or single, framed or bare, maybe convex! So many varieties, and I think I’d use them all!

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I want this.

It’s been a strange weekend thus far. Up and down and all over the place! Life is so full of moving parts :)  Right now the hubby is cooking dinner (yay!), and I ran across this while…ehm, cleaning the studio….;) So neat!

Map of Texas Hand Embroidered Necklace Custom Made Necklace

“Map of Texas Hand Embroidered Necklace” by Il Gatto Selvatico

Tomorrow I plan to check a few things off my 25 before 26 list! (I’m running out of time!) That is all. Have a great weekend!

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Positivity Week

I decided Sunday night to make the them of this week POSITIVITY! Positive thinking makes everything better. It’s been going pretty well so far :) If something isn’t going right, I take a deep breath and think positively. Always helpful! Plus, happiness is contagious.

Since we’re halfway through, I thought I’d share some mid-positivity-week inspiration :)

She believed she could so she did

shadow kiss

Awesome

Happy Furry Friday

Always Radiate Sunshine

So let’s all go out and radiate sunshine! ;)

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Beautiful Blogger Blanket

Last week I got a lovely note from Jill over at Stocki asking if I’d like to join in her Beautiful Blogger Blanket. I feel so honored! It’s a wonderful project – she’s collecting squares from crocheters all over the world to create a blanket, which will then go to one of the crocheters who helped make it. Isn’t that fun? I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

I’d saved a few patterns since I started crocheting last year, so this was the perfect opportunity to try them out! I immediately sifted through my yarn stash looking for cotton (the requested material), and suddenly realized that I mostly have acrylic…GASP! Is that bad? [I always want to try the organic cotton, but they're so expensive I tend to shy away for my own use.] Anyway, I got to go yarn shopping ^_^ I picked up white and purple (go figure!), and combined it with some green and blue I already had to create…

It’s so much fun to try new patterns! I started with the standard granny square in blue. Then I tried a lacy one with my green yarn (pattern here) – completely different from any I’d done before. I then did the largest in purple and white (pattern here). I had a little trouble following this one in the middle, but was able to figure it out. I’m really glad, too, because it’s so pretty! I finished with the three coordinating Flower Granny Squares (pattern here), which are just adorable. My husband loved my granny squares so much, he said I should crochet a blanket for us out of the flower ones! I guess I’ll tack that on to my rapidly growing list ;)

I am very excited to send these off tomorrow! Please post links in the comments of any granny squares you’ve made! They are such a variable form – I love seeing all the creative ways crocheters make them. Who knows – maybe I’ll make up my own patterns soon :D

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The Joy of Audiobooks

I have been doing a lot of crocheting lately. Most of my handmade gifts this Christmas were crocheted. I used to throw on a movie while working on projects (yay Netflix streaming!), but this winter I starated using a new method to keep my mind busy during my craft making: audiobooks! Brilliant, right? Besides the fact that I don’t like always staring at a screen, it can be distracting to try to watch something while crafting. On most projects, I can afford to look elsewhere a good portion of the time (especially on long projects like blankets!), but it does of course make me more susceptible to mistakes. Listening to an audiobook is just as interesting as a movie, but you can keep your eyes on your work!

For Christmas, my wonderful hubby got me some awesome headphones, so I’ve really been enjoying my crochet accompanied by a book “on tape” ;) We don’t have too many, but a friend did give me all the Harry Potter books, so that’s lasting me a while! Plus, Jim Dale (who narrates the series) is utterly amazing. It’s a whole new way to experience the series!

At any rate, that is my latest discovery in crafting :) I’ve even been taking my headphones and craft bag to work, so i can crochet and listen on my lunch break. I just pick a pretty spot in the park and enjoy :)

What do you prefer – TV, music, movies, silence? How do you work best?

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