Archive for the ‘ My Life ’ Category

The Perks of Being Busy

Hello there little blog…it’s been way too long since I last visited you! Sadly the web gremlins (the mean kind, not the fuzzy little gizmo kind) took you away for several months but thankfully our favorite web designer, Joy, was able to bring you back after my pitiful attempts failed.

I have several posts partially finished in the draft folder from before the gremlin attack that I need to sort through since I’m pretty sure it’s too late/too early for Christmas decoration posts.  Hopefully I’ll be back to pseudo-regular updates soon.

In the meantime I leave you with this….
Cupcake Wrap Photography
…the single best thing to come from new product photography. Edible props….and no I don’t mean the plate! 🙂

Featured – Occasions Magazine

Hello!  I’ve been struggling to get caught up recently and failing it seems….or at least where my blog is concerned.  It’s been a bit crazy recently with how much my little Etsy shop has picked up.   So, while this post is a bit delayed it’s still quite exciting and a bit surreal.

Earlier this year I was contacted by one of the editors from Occasions Magazine  about creating a set of stirrers in a lovely charcoal gray to be featured in their Winter 2012 Edition.  Occasions is a really great magazine featuring venues & events around the Atlanta area.  My stirrers were included in one of the color features focusing on charcoal.

Obviously it’s surreal to see something you created featured in a magazine but I have to admit it was also  fun to have a reason to peruse a wedding/event planning magazine again!

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Life: You’ve Got Mail

...and so do I!  A while back I joined in on a fun post card swap hosted by the lovely Jess of Jesstagirl & Her Officer.  I would mail a post card from my area and in turn receive one from another blogger located in another area.  It’s a fun way to now only have fun mail in the mailbox, but also a nice way to “meet” new bloggers you might not otherwise follow.

I was paired with Cailin of A White Picket Fence, who lives in Toronto.  I loved glancing through all of her travels and feel a bit of jealousy that she recently visited Harry Potter-land since I wasn’t able to schedule it in during my last work trip to Orlando.  An interesting fact is during the time of this swap I was getting ready for my first trip into Canada.  With this in mind, Cailin made sure to include random bits of trivia about her homeland.

Thanks Cailin, your post card(s) made my day and I had no idea hockey & lacrosse were your national sports!  A bit of a funny story happened while I was trying to mail a postcard from Georgia for Cailin.  I mentioned that the swap happened while I was planning a ski trip to Whistler, so I picked up a pretty Atlanta post card with big plans to mail it from the post office at the airport as I left for my trip.  The reason is they have (or at least had) a really cute airplane shaped cancellation stamp with the ATL initials.  I neglected to think that with a  early morning flight they might not be open…so Cailin’s post card from Georgia was actually mailed from Canada.  Which just seems to go against this whole idea….So Cailin, I still owe you a post card that is postmarked from Georgia!

Small things…big impacts

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 4 months since tornadoes took several rural Alabama towns literally to the ground. For those of us who don’t see the recovery taking place everyday it’s easy to think that things are cleaned up and rebuilding is well underway…but in some areas it literally still looks like the storms came through days ago. It’s shocking how far so many still have to go. Thankfully there are still people working, people donating, and people making a difference. In light of that, I’ve decided to post several small ways that we could all make a small difference. Small differences add-up!

For the cost of a stamp you can: Collect Box Tops & Soup Labels

Box Tops are found on various General Mills products that you already buy, like Avery, Scott, Cottonelle, Pillsbury, and other product packaging. For example we by Cascadian Farms granola bars, and they have Box Tops on them. We cut them off the packaging before it goes into the trash or recycle bin, collect them in a ziplock bag in our kitchen and mail them in once a month or so.  Same goes for Campbell’s soup labels…especially with cooler temperatures just around the corner (hopefully).

Box Tops 4 Hackleburg
This is a grass roots endeavor on Facebook, put together by a Birmingham mom and attorney to collect Box Tops for Hackleburg, Alabama schools. Hackleburg schools were destroyed which means they are starting over.She plans to deliver everything collected mid-September so you still have time to mail them a few!   
Click here for more information & Shipping Information

Box Tops for Schools Damaged by Tornadoes
This is another Facebook group started by a mom in North Alabama.  She is working to collect General Mills Box Tops as well as Campbell’s Labels for Education.  Whereas the group above is focusing on Hackleburg, Alabama schools, this group is working to distribute their collections amoung several schools effected by the April tornadoes.  They have already shipped collections to several schools in multiple states and are working with the coordinators of other effected schools to keep the effort going.  Click here for more information & shipping information

For the cost of shipping you can: Share pre-loved baby items

Boots on the Ground 365
This is a group of moms also near the Birmingham, Alabama area who have set out to help expectant moms who lost everything on April 27th gather the things they need to bring their new babies.  They are looking for new or pre-loved but in great shape baby items to help these families focus on the new blessing in their life, and even throw full baby showers for these moms-to-be.  One of the families they are helping is from my hometown…they lost so much more that most of us could even fathom, and these ladies are making a huge difference.   Click here for more information & Shipping Information

For less than $10 you can: Donate school supplies for devastated areas

Magnolia Disaster Relief

This is a group from the Atlanta, Georgia area.  They came together after the Tuscaloosa tornado, as volunteers from various organizations came together to help get relief items to the more rural areas that were effected by the storms.  Their mission is to aid our neighbors who have been affected by disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, etc.). We especially focus on areas that have been overlooked by national media and national organizations such as the Red Cross or United Way.   They work directly with rescue squads in these areas to make sure that only the needed items are brought in, and that they are taken to places where they can be distributed to those in need.  Now post-tornado they are working to make “hit kits” with all the essentials (water, food, toiletries, tarps, etc) for a small community affected by a disaster (tornado, hurricane, flood, fire, etc). The kits will be stored throughout the Southeast and be delivered to communities directly after a disaster strikes. Then, they will work directly with rescue squads in these areas to match requests for help with resources to meet those requests.

One of the projects they are working on right now is gathering school supplies for the children in these rural areas who are still recovering post-storm.  Click here for a list of items needed & shipping instructions  and click on their logo above to learn a bit more about them and the ways you might be able to help them out!

Life: Something blue…

Hello there!  It has been way to long that I’ve been away so I decided to give myself a bit of a red, white, and blue theme to get myself back in the habit of posting.  I have new craft posts coming up soon, but first I thought it only fitting to show you a few photos from one of the many trips that have kept me away from my blog.

So, Blog friends…meet “Blue”

Blue is a wild peacock that seems to migrate through my parent’s area of Alabama, staying for a few months at a time.  He has been showing up for the past 2 or 3 years, and bounces between their property and a neighbors.  From what I hear he is quite the attaction when he decides to perch on a fence post near the road.  Blue is also quite the tease, we keep trying to take a photo of him with his full tail feathers displayed but he refuses to show them off when we have a camera around.  Perhaps he is just modest?  I don’t think any of my photos adequately capture the intense shade of blue and green in his feathers.

When chatting about this odd bird in my parent’s yard, a friend asked if peacocks could fly and if they even had wings.  I think this photo answers the latter of those questions, although sadly I snapped it as he was tucking them in so it doesn’t show the full span.  Dude has a huge wing span, and he does indeed fly for short distances.  His “nest” is in a tree near the neighbor’s house and they have seen him perched on their roof before.

Another random piece of trivia for you: Peacocks have a really interesting “screech”.  And by screech I mean something that sounds akin to a female screaming.  Oh, and by interesting, I mean definitely not my alarm clock of choice.

See that look of indignation… I’m pretty sure Blue is insulted that his screeching first thing in the morning  might not be my favorite sound to awake to .  Oh well… is still pretty funny to see the guy on the parent’s porch and hear the stories of people slamming on their breaks to do a double-take of him perched on a fence post.

Life: Caught in the act…

Fuzzy Dog Watches TVOn the days I work from home I sometimes get a small glimpse of how the fuzz spends her free time.
I think for a moment she forgot I was here and wanted to catch up on her “stories”.  Also note the squished state of the couch cushion above her where she had been napping up there cat-style the first time I wandered down stairs for lunch.  I’ve decided I want her life!!

Life: All bundled up

For some reason it is unseasonably cold here in the peach state this week and we are all doing our best to stay warm.  Even our furry child is all bundled up today!

photo of dog wrapped in blanket

Hope you guys are all staying warm today!

Life: Childhood Memories

Tonight while cleaning out several boxes I hauled home from a recent trip to my parent’s house,  I found this little guy.

I plan to take him to work with me on Monday so that when I get a bit stressed out I can have him run across my desk and munch down on those stress aliens.  🙂

Anyone else get the cleaning bug this weekend?  And if so, what did you discover you had previously forgotten you had?

Life: Look Mom, I baked!!

So today I’m going to deviate from craftiness for a bit and it might be a bit longer than usual…I hope that’s ok.

Most of you might know my lovely online friend Jess of Jesstagirl and Her Officer, and if so you know she is hosting a cupcake Bake-N-Blog today.  What most of you may not know…is that I really dislike cooking.  To the point that while single I mostly lived off of sandwiches, fruits, and cereal (with vanilla soy milk).  I can cook, I just get very little enjoyment out of it…especially since that means I have to clean it all up later.   Armed with that knowledge it probably makes sense that I’ve never…ever…baked anything from scratch.   Then… I met a boy.  A boy who L.O.V.E.S baked goods, especially those made fresh from quality ingredients.  Thankfully the boy actually enjoys cooking so he typically is the one to whip up fresh muffins or things of that nature.  I always have big plans to bake him a nice birthday or anniversary cake but it seems something always comes up that keeps it from happening.  So, when Jess posted her plans for the Bake N Blog I decided I would use the long holiday weekend (one when we had guests coming in from out of town) to try my luck at baking from scratch. When  I told the hubs of this plan he looked puzzled, and maybe even slightly concerned! 😉

We were to pick a cupcake option from the amazing looking options from Ming Makes Cupcakes, bake ’em, and post about them.  So here we go!

My one warning is I’m not going to post a correct “food blogger” type post, because me baking is a comedy of errors. 😉

and I chose…

On Friday I printed off the recipe, checked over the list and left work just a bit early to pick up all the ingredients.  I made it home and took everything out ready to hit the ground running, only to realize I had forgotten butter… and crushed pineapple. We went out for margaritas instead.  They were yummy!  *random question* Does it seem odd to anyone else there is crushed pineapple in carrot cake?

On Saturday morning we got up, quickly finished preparing the house for guests, and then ran down to the perimeter area really quickly.  We needed to meet up with Jess & Kenny (who were in town that weekend) to pick up something we were buying from them and to pass off the Cupcake Flags that one of her lucky participants will win!  Guess what?  We still forgot to pick up butter but did get the crushed pineapple (and yes I still found it an odd ingredient and asked several people if they agreed…they just thought I was odd).

On Saturday afternoon I finally decided I had put off baking for too long, I mean I’d already talked up the fact I was baking us dessert….from scratch.  There was no backing down at this point,  so I drove down the road and came back with butter.  Smart Balance butter that is.  There was some general concern this might not be baked good worthy, but oh well.  I pressed on!


To get started I needed to clean and grate 2 cups worth of carrots. We recently purchased a set of new micro-plane graters, and threw out the larger one we hated.  This might have been a mistake.

DPPcarrotcupcake9(No clue why I focused in on the patent number of the grater…but in case you were ever curious it’s 5100506)

Maybe this is where my lack of baking comes into play…but I totally under-estimated how many carrots that would take.  OMG!  I felt like I cleaned and grated a thousand carrots, and apparently I have no idea what I’m doing because there were pieces of carrot all over my kitchen by the time I finished.  I even found one on top of the dog’s head an hour or so later.    Then I measured out the flour and added it to the bowl with my beloved little carrot shreds

At this point, I was getting a little cocky.  I was thinking, this is a piece of cake *pun intended*.  This was misguided thinking…because it was at this point I realized we didn’t have a full 1/2 cup of canola oil.  So….I made an executive chef decision.  I would use a bit of vegetable oil to round out the 1/2 cup necessary for the recipe.    This is the point my husband rolled his eyes and headed down into the basement.  I often tell people just how smart my hubby is, and while I am typically referring to his ability to process complex equations in his head…this was one of those moments where he decided it was best to say nothing.  Good job B!  So, I mixed everything together…and thought it looked NASTY!


However my little dollar bin Paula Deen cupcake wrappers were all kinds of cute!

So, I setup my cupcake pan with the liners, and then popped these bad boys in the oven.  Honestly, I was fully expecting them to explode while baking! 🙂

DPPcarrotcupcake14DPPcarrotcupcake15(See that mess in the bottom of our oven?…I’d like to point out I had nothing to do with creating that!!)

So, they baked in the oven without incident and actually looked like they might be halfway decent.  I mean they weren’t “pretty” but they didn’t look deadly either.  I set them out to cool on a cooling rack and started on the cream cheese icing.

This is where I was all confident in my abilities… Another bit of random trivia is that my mom decorated wedding cakes throughout my childhood.  I’m talking about those HUGE 80’s cakes, with 500 layers and columns.  So, while the oven might not be my friend…cake icing and I go way back.  You won’t be able to tell in these photos but I can actually do a decent job with the decorative icing when I practice a bit and have the right tools.  Sadly, I did not practice and the right tools are still eluding me after my move into the house (2 years ago).  I also have no photos of this process because by this point my FIL had arrived and was watching me with great amusement and much heckling (but that’s what makes him my favorite FIL. EVER).

Long story short, I mixed up the icing and it tasted wonderful!  Then because all I could find was the tip of the decorating set, I used a large ziplock bag instead.  I just snipped the tip from it and added my decorating tip inside and filled it up with icing.  The tip started to move around so I had to hold it in place while icing at the same time. Not my decorative crowing moment for sure…but icing ended up on top of the cupcakes so I call that a success!

Then the moment of truth…how would they taste?  Remember I had mixed two types of oil, used smart balance 50/50 blend butter, and ended up with some really runny batter.


The Verdict:

AMAZING!  Even the resident food snob agreed, this recipe was a keeper!  He’s even looked over Ming’s options and placed his order for the next cupcake baking attempt.

My Thoughts Looking Back:

  • I would actually check what I have on hand before making my list instead of just guessing.
  • I would have filled the cups with a little less batter so they ended up more rounded and less flat.
  • I would have doubled the icing recipe.  I felt like I cheated some of the cupcakes in the icing department because I was running out…although we love cream cheese icing so we might be the only ones who feel more icing is better.
  • Once refrigerated they tend to get a bit “sticky”…they are still yummy though.  I wonder if this has anything to do with my oil mixture?
  • I’m glad I gave baking a try and maybe I’ll do it again later.

The question now might be…did you enjoy it?  I wasn’t miserable, and I did get cracked up at myself a few times.  However, I still wouldn’t say I had “fun”.  I loved the outcome, but you don’t have to worry about this becoming a food blog!  Crafting is still 99% more enjoyable to me than baking 😉

Am I the only one out there that doesn’t enjoy cooking?  Please tell me I’m not alone? Also tell me which cupcake we should attempt the next time I’m feeling like battling it out with my oven!

Welcome to Dill Pickle Picnic

Hi!  Welcome to my new little piece of internet real estate.  I’m still cleaning up old posts, so just overlook that for now…but I was itching to get back to blogging so here we are.   I’m sure a few of  you are curious about a few things so in this post I’ll try to answer those questions and then tomorrow…back to crafty fun!

Why the new blog?
I’ve know for a while that if I were ever going to seriously “blog” I would need to rename it.  While I loved my CraftySmurfette moniker (and still do), the name still contains a trademarked little cartoon creature.  As a personal blog it was fine, but even opening an Etsy store with that name seemed like a bad idea.  Right now my crafty little creations aren’t getting a lot of traffic, but they have started to grow a small bit which made me realize that now was better than later.  So…here we are:  a new blog, all the old posts, a backlog of posts to catch up on since I’ve been away, room to grow,  and most importantly a fun new name that is all me!

What’s up with that name anyway?
It was a childhood thing…my BFF from childhood and I used to spend summer days and Sunday afternoon at my grandparents farm.  We LOVED dill pickles, so as kids we would pack our picnic baskets with a jar of dill pickles, napkins, plates, forks, & 2 cans of Mt. Dew.  Basket in hand we would set off to find our picnic spot…far away from random chores my grandma could dream up.  My grandmother, however, thought we were crazy.  Why on earth would we want to pack just pickles when she had all sorts of fried foods ready for us?  Thus, our dill pickle picnics were born, and are still a running joke with my friend & mom. For example, it’s not odd for me to receive a jar of sliced dill pickles as part of a birthday gift.  Dill pickle picnics are one of my fondest childhood memories, so carefree and fun.   Memories of summer days full of endless creative adventure, friendship, and whimsy…don’t we all wish we could feel that type of joy again?  This is my attempt to bring some of those feelings back, well, that and my outlet for my crafty stress relief.  Plus given my love of mason jars, it just seemed perfect 🙂

Who made it look so cute?
The amazingly creative Joy of HowJoyful.  Seriously, she is possibly the most creative person I’ve ever known (in real life & online).  Want a blog template?  She can whip you up one in no time.  Need an ugly dress recreated?  She’ll whip it into something amazing.  Need a new camera case or teddy bear pattern?  She has tutorials on her blog to help you out.  I’m thinking she might be able to help us all achieve world peace as well.  Seriously, Joy is a pleasure to work with.  I’m in the “online” world professionally so I had quite a few ideas of how things need to look and act, Joy took it all in stride and created exactly what I was dreaming of in ways I hadn’t imagined.  If you need a new look, shoot her an email.  While you are checking out her blog go ahead and comment for your chance to win one of her handmade handbags.  Go ahead, it’s ok….

What will you post about?
I still plan to use this as my space to talk about all things crafty.  There will still be tutorials of projects I’ve completed, in addition I’ll be posting photos of other projects, reviews of crafty products I like, and other stuff as I think about it.  Suggestions are always welcome!  Talk to me, what would you like to see more of?

Will you post about anything other than crafts?
Yes & No.  No, not on this particular blog.  I’d like to keep it pretty craft focused…but…Yes, I’ve also decided I need a place to randomly blog about our life.  So, once I get everything cleaned up here on Dill Pickle Picnic, I’ll be adding a sub-blog “Dill Pickle Picnic at Home”.  There I’ll share photos from vacations, talk about shoes I’m in love with, and vent about things that annoy me.  I’ll still be blogging anonymously but I think it’s still possible to “get to know us” without knowing our last names & where we work.  Sound fair?

Speaking of crafts and since I read that all posts need photos 😉 How about a teaser of a project I’ll post about next week

I think that covers it all…now you tell me:  what would you like to see Dill Pickle Picnic become?  What would you like to see more of?  Less of?

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