Posts Tagged ‘ My Life

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! :)

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!

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.

Review: Dutch Monkey Doughnuts

Buttermilk Cake Doughnut from Dutch Monkey

Buttermilk Cake Doughnut

Those of you who follow me on twitter have already heard of my love of these doughnuts, so today I’m sharing that love with the blogosphere.  Dutch Monkey Doughnuts is a small, local doughnut shop in the northern suburbs of Atlanta that believes in making things from scratch and as locally obtained as possible.  I had to smile when they posted the following tweet last week:

“So, a salesman from a doughnut shop supply company just dropped by, looking to add us as customers. The look on his face when I told him that we make all of our fillings, doughs and batters from scratch was priceless! “You make your blackberry jelly from real blackberries?” “Yup.””

These aren’t your standard glazed variety doughnut, with flavors like red velvet cake, carrot cake, jalapeno-cheddar w/bacon,  pineapple coconut lime fritters, and the infamous dutch monkey they take it to the next level.   I’m not a breakfast person but I love their cake doughnuts, they are like having permission to eat dessert for breakfast! :)  The standards are available daily (closed on Monday) but the real treat is the daily specials!

Standard Menu Includes: Raised Glazed, Chocolate Iced, Strawberry Iced, Cinnamon Sugar Rings, Buttermilk Cake, Creamsticks, Maple Bars, Apple Fritters, Cinnamon Twists, Buttered Maple Bacon, Lemon Meringue, Boston Creams, Cinnamon Rolls and The Dutch Monkey

Did I mention they also have the cutest little shop ever complete with porthole windows and step stools to allow the curious a glance at them hard at work in the kitchen?  If you are up GA 400 north direction take a detour off Exit 13 and pick up a yummy doughnut…I’m 100% certain you’ll thank me!

Dutch Monkey Doughnuts
3075 Ronald Reagan Blvd
Cumming, GA  30041

Tuesday through Friday – 5:30am – 4pm
Drive-thru open 5:30am – 9:30am  (weekdays only)

Saturday and Sunday – 7am – 1pm

Closed Monday

 

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!

DPPcarrotcupcake4

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

DPPcarrotcupcake10
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!

DPPcarrotcupcake12

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

DPPcarrotcupcake13
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!

DPPcarrotcupcake16
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.

DPPcarrotcupcake20

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!

Review: If you craft, you should swap!

Do you Swap-Bot?  No, that isn’t some sort of robot comic…it’s a super-fun swap site that brings together crafters (and non-crafters) from all over to participate in item swaps through the good old fashioned mail.  This description from the site sums it up pretty well:

What is Swap-bot?

Do you like sending and receiving snail mail? Do you like writing letters, making crafts, or putting together fun packages? You should try swapping! Swap-bot is a online service that organizes group swaps and a community of creative individuals. Swap-bot takes the hassle out of participating in group swaps by organizing all of the participant information and doing all of the partner assignments. On Swap-bot, you can host swaps, join swaps, and chat with other swappers from all over the world. Give it a try!
Click here to read more about the Swap-Bot

I originally happened upon Swap-Bot during the Weddingbee Valentine Swap in February (click here to see my post on that swap).   Once I had completed the Valentine exchange and saw how easily  I was intrigued about this swapping community and how it worked.  My problem is I enjoy making things but often don’t have a reason to do so…and swapping might give me an outlet to experiment with new techniques and methods!   After a couple more simple swaps (postcards and handmade envelopes) I was hooked.

Through Swap-Bot I’ve been able to swap different things with people all over the US, and a few other countries as well.  While I’m sure every group has it’s problem children, I have yet to encounter a less than wonderful person on Swap-Bot.  I’ve found a group of people that love crafting as much as I do, and go out of their way to cheer a fellow swapper when they are down.  The other fun thing for me is the great variety and range of crafters involved.  In one swap I might receive an item from someone who is just learning to sew and my next swap might be an old pro.  Each swap is hosted by another member and comes with a set of rules/suggestions to follow for that particular swap.  One example might be to only use recycled materials, or only spend $1…all things that make it a bit of a challenge to master!  I’ve swapped aprons, thrift store finds, postcards, craft stash items, stickers, handmade envelopes, embellished tote bags, and all sorts of other things.  Sometimes I might not necessarily be able to use what I receive (and it’s ok to re-gift later) and other times I LOVE them…and that’s all part of the fun.

Check out a few of the fun items I’ve either sent or received through Swap-Bot:

These are a few photos of a book of photos put together as part of a photography scavenger hunt I received from a wonderful new blog friend in France!
Would you have guessed the cover collage was a single shot of glass beads?  Pretty fun huh?

And here are a few shots of handmade envelopes I’ve sent to people in Florida and England:

Cons:  Can be addictive & if you aren’t careful with the swaps you choose could add up to more $$ than you think

Pros:  Too many to list!! :)

I love swapping and I think you might as well!  Do you Swap?  If so share the sites you use and what you think?  And if you don’t check out Swap-Bot and see if it’s for you.

Hope to swap ya soon!

**Note** I do not work for nor do I receive any support or benefit from my recommendation of any products, websites, or corporations.  These are purely my options based on my experiences with these products, websites, and corporations.

Update: Craft it Forward

A while back I mentioned winning a unique sort of contest from Amy over at The Nifty Foodie’s Life.  Last week right before we left for a little anniversary trip, I found a fun surprise in my PO Box.  It was my Craft-it-Forward treat from Amy.  Check it out…

Aren’t these dishtowels just the snazziest ever?  I love the colors!
And, if the dishtowels weren’t enough…check out this adorable little baggie!

And while I had originally thought I’d have my own packages to my winners in the mail by our 1st Anniversary…it just didn’t happen.  Life happens, but here is a little sneak peek of some thrift store goodness that *might* be finding its way into a few of the Craft-It-Forward packages I’m putting together for you lucky ladies that are patiently waiting for me to get with the program.

I love finding entire bolts of fabric at the thrift store, especially when they are 50% off $4.64!

Sadly, it also seems that 2 of my winners never responded to emails… so if anyone else out there feels left out of the Craft-it-Forward movement shoot me a message.  I bet we can work something out ;)

Anyone else out there feeling a bit behind with all there summer projects this year?

A year ago…

We were…

chilling out on a beautiful stretch of Mexican beach
checking out the local wild life outside our door
Making waves
and living the good life under our palapa at the amazing Escencia Estate

Sigh….can we go back?  Like, TODAY perhaps?

Ramblings: Office Relocation Progress

Well hello there….yes, I know it’s been quite a while.  Things are quite out of sorts these days in my little crafty corner of our house.  Several months ago hubby and I discussed the option of moving my home office/crafty area into the room that was currently our spare bedroom.  This is exciting because it means more natural light, so fewer headaches on the days I do my real job in there, AND more space!!

The kicker is our house came with a huge corner desk built-in the room I had previously been using, and several white shelves attached to the walls (the old owners loved their knickknacks).  So it wasn’t a quick change.  As of right now we have completed the process of removing everything from the old room and moving EVERYTHING from both rooms into the new one.  It’s crazy, and stressful because I can’t find anything! :)

However, I love my new desk hubby gave me for Christmas that I can finally use…and I’m still excited about the new rooms!  Want to see a bit of my mess (after a day of trying to organize)?  No laughing at my iphone photos…I’m afraid if I bring the nice camera in here, I’ll lose it in a pile of “stuff”!

See, it’s not that bad right?


Um, as long as I don’t turn around from the desk I don’t have to see this.
Or This…


I’m not sure why my ski boots were in the spare bedroom…and that big white bag on the bed?  Yep, that’s my wedding dress!  I really need to get that professionally cleaned and either sell it or package it up.  See that black shelf? Ikea… circa 1996…and basement bound once this is over!   I won’t even try to show you the wall in-front of the closet, because it’s piled high with boxes that spill into the closet so that I can’t even get into in the event I needed something out of it.  Sigh…..

Any great ideas out there on how to ignore the huge mess behind you so you can continue to work without it driving you crazy? ;)