White Pumpkin Decorating and Christmas Planning

Happy Halloween! Can you believe that it is already Halloween? This year has just flown by, each month faster than the one before!! It will be Thanksgiving in a blink of an eye and Christmas before we know it!

I just could not let Halloween slip by without sharing a little pumpkin decorating. I love decorating pumpkins but I do not particularly love carving pumpkins. I was watching The Chew this week- Clinton really is crafty- when I was inspired by his pumpkin decorating. He painted a pumpkin white and then modge-podged shiny confetti to the bottom half. It was right affective.

I decided I needed one myself but, that I would make some minor changes. I wanted to buy a plastic pumpkin so that I could keep my pumpkin and be able use it in years to come. We just got a brand new Hobby Lobby- I am sooooo excited about this. So, I off to Hobby Lobby I went looking for a plastic pumpkin as well as shiny confetti.

I want to say, that I have another new something I would like to bring to your attention, maybe you have heard of it? Raise.com It is a site where you can buy and sell gift cards at a discount. I did check to see if there were any Hobby Lobby ones available- but, not so much. However, there were some for Michael’s as well as JoAnn’s Fabrics- (that’s the store that caused Leigh to brave the Black Friday crowds last year.) Another store that I will be getting some cards for will be Target- hello, discounted gift card plus cartwheel plus 5% savings with my Target debit card- Ho! Ho! Ho!

I digress, where was I? Oh yes- glittered white pumpkin decorating. I was lucky enough to find a white pumpkin at Hobby Lobby but the only confetti I could find was not what I had in my mind’s eye. So, I shifted gears to glitter. And from here, this was the easiest craft ever!

all the stuffI mixed purple, orange and black glitter together in a solo cup and used a sponge brush to paint on Elmer’s glue. Then I just poured the glitter over the glue.

a little glitter hereThere were some places that I missed with the glue, but I just painted on some glue in those spots and poured glitter back over it- so easy.

patch it upI just kept painting and sprinkling until I made it all around the pumpkin.

let it dryI let it dry and then added it to my centerpiece on my dining room table! I love it and am so glad that I went with a plastic pumpkin so that I can enjoy it in years to come!

white pumpkin plus glitterDo you have any crafts that were silly simple and super awesome- you know we want to hear about them.

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P.S. I have been really thinking about Christmas garlands for my front porch. I think I am finally going to try my hand at decorative mesh and I am also pretty sure that the Fall Wreath will not be the end of my love-affair with burlap… do not fret, I will share it all with you!

                                                                            Where we Party!

 

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35! 35! 35! 35!

35. Wow.

35

If you are 5+ years younger than me I imagine you are thinking something along the lines of 35- distant future. And if you are 10+ years older than me I imagine you are thinking something along the lines of 35- was just like yesterday. Me, I’m thinking 35- wow.

For the past month or so I have been marinating on reasons why I am glad to be turning 35 rather than 25. I want to share what I have come to realize upon my reflection. The very first is one that I have known for most of my adult life- I get better at life with age. I would like to think this is generally true for everybody- although, I am sure there are exceptions to the rule. But, as I get older I get more comfortable in my skin, I become more in tune with those I hold dear and less apologetic for being me. I get better at life with age.

The second reason I am glad to be turning 35 is that I have 35 years of perspective. At 25, I was just barely tipping the scales of a more mature outlook on life. I hope that each year brings a renewed sense of gratitude for perspective. By no means is every choice I make the wisest but the choices I make these days are generally more wise than those I was making 10 years ago. I am grateful for that.

I feel like the last year of my life has been a year of growth and there have been plenty growing pains. So, I am glad to be turning 35 and filing 34 in the books! Not to say my growing is by any means finished but, I am glad this year is finished and I get a fresh canvas. The morning of my 25th birthday my grandmother called to wish me a happy birthday and I will never forget that call because she talked about it being my quarter century birthday. It wasn’t until she put it that way that I realized it was a milestone birthday. I feel like 35 is a milestone birthday too- in the  way that I am realizing that I am a for real adult. Kinda in that oh shit, I am an adult way. But, I am grateful for that realization.

I am glad to be turning 35 rather than 25 in that I am not quite as young and stupid anymore way. And the flip side to that coin is that I know better, so I must do better. I am glad I know better. I asked Bub this morning what might be some reasons I am glad to be turning 35 rather than 25 (I was just polling the audience) and he quickly pointed out that he was at a different point in his life at 35 than I am. We had been dating 2 months when he turned 35 and I just remember thinking then that he was old- After all, I was a tender 28 then. :)

Probably the biggest reason I am glad to be turning 35 is that I am much less concerned about the world around me and what the world thinks of me than I was at 25. I am much more concerned about my world these days than other people’s worlds. I am sure some would argue that I am past my prime, but I feel like I am just starting to get to my prime and that I have several decades of prime to go. That’s a very joyful feeling.

In ten years when I am turning 45 will the tide have changed and I be wishing to be turning 35 again? I would like to think not. I would like think that I will be glad to be turning 45 and 55 and 65 and so on. However, only time will tell. What about you? Are you glad to be your age rather than 10 or 20 or 30 years younger?

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Stay Tuned…

Faithful Reader, I apologize for going MIA this week. I have taken a step back from myself this week to reassess where I am and where I am going and how I am going to get there. If that sounds vague, I don’t mean it to be.

At the end of the day, as far as this blog goes- neither Leigh nor myself are going anywhere… We are just amending the rules. :) For the time being, going forward- we are each gonna post once a week. We are gonna each pick a day and that will be our day until further notice.

In addition to that- we are for reals gonna start going back and cleaning up old posts and bring them to the forefront because there really are some gems. And there are some recipes that we have tweeked and projects that deserve an update. So, look for those on Thursdays as our special salute to #Throwbacks.

This latest schedule change was totally brought on by me but Leigh, whose depth of understanding and empathy is incredibly graceful, was instantly on board. I am so grateful her.

Next week, we will once again turn a new corner.

All the Best, Coralie

 

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Getting Crafty with Craftsy!

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Again, you may have noticed that Friday came and went without post from me. The downtime I thought I would have has yet to materialize… but (thankfully) sweet Sheila has stepped up to the plate BIG time with this guest post. My thanks for lyfe! Today, she shares with us her experience with the craft lesson hub site Craftsy– which is something that I have ZERO experience with but have been tempted to try on several occasions. From her results though, it sounds totally worth it! She’s so cool. If anything, this post (much like her awesome others) make me woefully aware of what a bad knitter I am. So, knitting aficionados, take note of this brave new frontier! ~Leigh

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Craftsy is an online video instruction platform that features classes in all kinds of crafts, from sewing to cooking to cake decorating to what have you. Prices for individual classes are usually around $40, but they frequently go on sale, and over the summer I finally took the plunge on knitwear designer Gwen Bortner’s Entrelac Knitting course.

Though I usually learn pretty well from books, entrelac is a technique I had tried and failed to master using written instructions. I did find a YouTube video from which I learned the basics well enough to make a dishcloth, but it looked on the rough side to me, and I wanted to refine my skills well enough to make wearable garments etc. with entrelac. So, during a recent half-off sale, I signed up for Bortner’s course.

Here is a black & blue square dishcloth I made before taking the class.Here is a black & blue square dishcloth I made before taking the class.

I loved using the platform! The videos are very easy to navigate. The course was broken up into a series of videos with a detailed table of contents, and the progress bar along the bottom of the videos is marked to show beginning and endings of segments. You may add your own notes to mark certain points in the videos as well, and there is a nifty “30-second” repeat feature that can actually be adjusted to any length of time to infinitely repeat any segment of the video, a super-handy tool when learning a new knitting technique. Also, if you do not have the fastest computer in the world, you can turn off the high-def version of the video for a smoother feed (just click on the HD sign, which took me forever to notice for some reason, along the bottom of the screen).

Gwen Bortner was an extremely knowledgeable teacher who covered everything I wanted to learn about entrelac, and, as advertised, she was available to answer both of the questions I submitted, within 24 hours in both cases. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed knitting along on the same projects she was using to demonstrate the techniques. The lessons progressed very organically, covering a few new aspects of the technique with each new project. I made the first two projects, but elected not to make the third; it was still easy to get the gist of what was being taught by just watching the lessons for the third, and I’m confident I’ll be able to use those techniques if they come up in a pattern I’d like to make in the future.

Infinity Neckwarmer from Gwen Bortner’s Entrelac Knitting Craftsy class. I added the garter stitch borders because I didn’t like the raw edges in the original pattern.Infinity Neckwarmer from Gwen Bortner’s Entrelac Knitting Craftsy class. I added the garter stitch borders because I didn’t like the raw edges in the original pattern.

Talking of the future, what of Craftsy’s claim that you will have “lifetime” access to the classes you purchase? I work in an academic library, and just a few weeks ago met the person in charge of recovering the work of deceased faculty members from floppy discs (it turns out that most files from the 3.5” ones can still be recovered, but she’s still working on finding a machine that can read the 6” ones), so, I have a few questions about how this actually works in practice. Will Craftsy continually update the video library to be playable on evolving media, even when all the projects are out of fashion 20 years from now, or will they just retire older classes once people stop buying them? Will Gwen Bortner really still be responding to questions about her entrelac video in 2050, or will she have been replaced by “Gwen Bortner” by then?

On the other hand, I can’t think why I would go back to the class having gone through it once and pretty much learned what it was teaching, so I think the lesson is to watch your classes within a couple of years of having purchased them (which is something to keep in mind when loading up your cart during sale periods, not that I would know anything about that). Actually, you should at least look through any Craftsy class that you purchase right away to make sure it’s what you expected, since they are returnable within 30 days. It’s also a pretty good idea to print out any course materials or patterns you think you will want to use again.

Textured Infintiy Scarf from Gwen Bortner’s Entrelac Knitting Craftsy class. It’s fully reversible, and I added the ribbed borders by using the reversible pick-up technique taught in the class.Textured Infintiy Scarf from Gwen Bortner’s Entrelac Knitting Craftsy class. It’s fully reversible, and I added the ribbed borders by using the reversible pick-up technique taught in the class.

I still think that for most purposes, books are a better value than online classes, if only because they will still be available to you until the paper falls to dust, and obviously they contain way more patterns (for example the patterns to all of the beautiful entrelac sweaters Bortner wore to shoot her class videos are available in her book but not through the online class), but I think Craftsy is better understood as a replacement for live instruction rather than books. Technique classes with famous designers at knitting shows cost around $80-100 these days; similar classes at your local yarn store are in the $40-80 range here in Chicago, and for those you only go through them once, in real time, and with the teacher’s attention divided between you and however many other students there are. Craftsy classes are a great value compared to that, especially if you manage to snag the class you want on sale. (And Craftsy classes go on sale a lot; you can keep track of sales by following Knitting Club on Facebook, or Craftsy on Twitter).

Up next in my Craftsy queue: Double knitting! This is another technique I’ve mastered, but kind of sloppily, from written instructions. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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#throwbacktuesday?

Guest PlaylistDJ Russell
Guest Playlist

If our publishing schedule is something you follow, you may have noticed that last Thursday came and went without a post from yours truly. It is with a sad but hopeful heart that I share with you that my sweet, precious brother Russell was recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I, of course, immediately flew home to be with him and my family as he was admitted into Emory Hospital. Although the disease is super serious, the prognosis is hopeful as he is a young buck and we caught it earlier rather than later. His care and caretakers are top notch and he is exactly where he needs to be.

Needless to say, blogging has been one of the furthest things from my mind and I appreciate your patience (especially Coralie’s) as we deal with this. And although cancer is never fun, there is, however, a lot of waiting. As such, I will hopefully have some time to regularly update the blog. Today, however, I wanted to throwback to a guest post/playlist that Russell actually wrote for the blog. If you’ve met Russell, then you know how special he is. He is one of the funniest, sweetest individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to know and am lucky that I even know him, let alone that he is my brother. So, if you get a minute in your day, send some positive energy my family’s way.

Here is a youtube playlist I created (as we are slowly moving away from Spotify as a music hosting platform) of his original playlist as well as his song choice explanation.

1. Victory Dance/ My Morning Jacket- I’ve recently really gotten into MMJ. I saw them at Centennial Park in Atlanta two weekends ago and they played this song and the crowd went nuts. It was awesome.
2. Lay Your Burden Down/ Gov’t Mule- I chose this song because with school and other responsibilities weighing so heavily on me sometimes I just have to remember, “ If it’s heavy, lay your Burden down.”
3. Two Tickets to Paradise/ Eddie Money- Who doesn’t like this song? Like seriously?
4. Feel Like Making Love/ Bad Company- The band I’m in (Big Milk) has recently started to cover this song. There’s nothing better than busting into the chorus and trying to harness your inner Paul Rogers (lead singer of BC).
5. Outta My System/ My Morning Jacket- This song is just about being young and stupid. You know sometimes you just have to get all the wild and crazy activities out of your system, because I’m sure once you get older it will be harder to turn up.
6. Devil In A New Dress/ Kayne West ft. Ricky Rozay- I remember the first time I heard this album and it was mind blowing. Its still one of my favorite albums to this day, Kanye and Rick spit such balling verses on this song.
7. Love Gun/ Kiss- “ I’ll be a gambler baby, so lay down your bet. When we get together Mama, you’ll sweat. No where for hiding baby, nowhere to run, you pulled the trigger on my LOVE GUN.” I think we all know what Paul Stanely is talking about here.
8. California Waiting/ Kings of Leon- Just a real solid Spring/ Summer jam.
9. I Don’t Regret/ Thomas Wynn and the Believers- This song is a song about how a lot of times you may mess up your relationships by saying things that you regret when you are partying on the scene, but through it all you don’t regret the love you shared.
10. I’m Single/ Lil Wayne- What a great song to follow up “I don’t regret.” When you do screw up your relationships there is always a time period afterwards when you just need to ball out and get back on the scene.
11. Willin’/ Little Feat-

“ I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty don’t ya know, and I’m still, willin’
Out on the road late at night, Seen my pretty Alice in every head light
Alice, Dallas Alice

I’ve been from Tuscon to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me: weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’, to be movin’ .

If this song doesn’t make you wanna be a trucker, I don’t know what will.

12. Can’t Stop/ Mayor Hawthorne feat. Snoop Dogg- Mayor Hawthorne is someone who my sister and I have really dug. It’s a white guy who has tried to bring back that classic soul sound. He got Snoop to come and do a verse on here and S-N- double O-P D-O- double G did not disappoint. Its not so much of a rap verse as it is him singing and it is too nice.

13. You Are the Best Thing/ Ray Lamontagne- There is a great horn line in this song and it just has a real good vibe to it. One of the few songs where Ray is not just whispering.

14. Life Line Woman/ Thomas Wynn and the Believers – This song is just about finding that one good girl that just keeps your life going.

15. Streets of Arklow/ Van Morrison- Classic hot tub jam. Whenever I hear any song off the Veedon Fleece album, I can just picture myself in our hot tub in Lavonia during a cold winter night.

16. Win Lose or Draw/ The Allman Brothers- Just some real soulful vocals from Greg Allman. This song can definitely heal the hurt.

17. Fight For Your Right/ The Beastie Boys- This song is about not letting the man bring you down. Sometimes you just have to break free and not listen. You have to fight for your right to party.

18. Waiting in Vain/ Bob Marley- With Summer being right around the corner this is for sure a great song to listen to by the pool or ocean. I don’t want to wait in vain for your love baby.

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Broccoli Salad with Momma’s Dressing

Y’all. I am excited to share that since Bub and I refocused ourselves on healthier lifestyle choices I have lost 10 pounds. It always amazes me what my body will do when I make changes in what I eat, how much I eat and if I exercise. I give you this mini-update so to tell you that I have tried to not only keep salad fixings in the fridge but to keep a salad fixed in the fridge. I do not feel bad about chowing down on a big ole salad.

In an effort to not let salads get boring I thought I would mix it up with a broccoli salad. This brings me to Paula Deen. Nope- not gonna talk about her public relations train wreck(s) but I do have 2 things to say slash share. 1. Generally, 95% of the time, Paula’s recipes are divine. 2. Kristin Wiig on Weekend Update did a hilarious job of poking fun at Paula- so much so that I am including that clip here.

But anyway, Paula’s broccoli salad is super fine and tasty but not exactly healthy- it’s the mayo based dressing that ix-nays it from the healthy column. Seeing as how I am really trying to stay in the healthy column- the mayo dressing would not work for me. But, there is a dressing on a salad in my Momma’s cookbook that would be easily adaptable to suit me.

First things first, I chopped up a couple heads of broccoli and then chopped up half a purple onion. I could have used Leigh’s life hack for cutting some cherry tomatoes but I decided to leave them whole. And lastly I sprinkled the undressed salad with bacon bits.

no dress

As for the dressing I used 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of water, 1 pack of (Wish Bone) Italian dressing mix, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 5 Splenda packets and 1/2 cup of EVOO. I combined all this in a blender bottle and shook it like hell.

shake it up

Next I drizzled this dressing over the broccoli salad, covered it and shook it to give everything a nice coat. And then popped it in the fridge and it was ready every time Bub or I were ready for a salad! Easy peasy!

Broccoli Salad with Momma's Dressing
 
Ingredients
  • 2-3 heads of broccoli, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • bacon bits
  • cherry tomatoes
  • for the dressing:
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 pack (Wish Bone) Italian dressing mix
  • 5 packets of Splenda
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oi
Instructions
  1. Combine first four ingredients and set aside
  2. Combine dressing ingredients and mix together well
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and shake or stir well to completely coat
  4. Store in fridge until ready to eat

broccoli saladAnybody got any good ideas to lighten up some old classics- you know we want the scoop.

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