Fiber Musings

Autumn Wedding – Reminiscing

tm617-1Today is our fifth wedding anniversary. The years have flown by and everyday I am thankful that I was blessed to marry a man who challenges me, supports me and constantly makes me smile. It is with a full and joyous heart that I flipped through some of our wedding photos this morning. I wanted to be married in the thick of Autumn, I love the joy that the season brings and liked the idea of having our family gathered together during the season of thanksgiving. We were married in a beautiful little church outside of Chicago and held our reception at the Hotel Baker in St Charles- both were beautiful historic venues. In honor of our anniversary I wanted to share some of our wedding photos. To respect the privacy of my friends and family I have chosen not to include many of my favorite portraits, however, let there be no doubt- strip this wedding of the flowers, the decor and the bubbly and it would have been just as special because of the people who were gathered there that day. I designed the wedding decor and graphics and most of it was made by hand with the help of friends and family. I have very sweet memories of times spent with those dear to me crafting, sewing and creating. I hope that the photos provide inspiration and ideas for those of you who may be planning a wedding in the future.

I have included a list of my vendors at the end of the post. I highly recommend all of them.

wedding collage Read the rest of this entry »

Monday Meal Highlight – Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash

There is a serious bite in the air today, which means that it is time for me to share one of my all time favorite winter meals. This tangine recipe from Cooking Light has become a staple in my household. I make this again and again all winter long and we never tire of it. This stew is rich and tasty but still a quick fix that requires relatively few dishes- Score!

Not only is this one of my favorite meals to dish up at home, but this is also something that I love to make over the open fire while camping. (See below for my easy camping prep suggestions). We have dined on tangine while winter camping in Yosemite and during a torrential downpour in Big Sur which nearly washed away our tent. Whatever the occasion, when you really need a heart warming, cozy meal this is a must!

Please refer to the above link for the full recipe. I occasionally get lazy and buy pre-cut stew meat in lieu of purchasing a roast and cutting it myself. If you have the time buy the roast, as it will yield a better result. In addition to serving with cilantro I also like to add a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt.

Finally, when camping I make to following advance preparation which guarantees a good result in the great outdoors:

  1. Measure the first 6 ingredients (all of the spices), at home and mix them together in a zip lock baggie. This way you don’t need to be toting all of your spice jars and measuring spoons with you.
  2. Bring a large freezer bag and use it to toss the meat and spices.
  3. Occasionally, depending on camping conditions, I opt to chop my meat ahead of time. When doing very primitive camping I don’t like to mess with chopping the raw meat at the site as cleaning up and sanitizing a cutting board, knife, etc can be more challenging- (I can hear my husband correcting me now… “It’s fine, just stick the knife blade in the fire…”)
  4. Don’t forget your can opener or veggie peeler- (Again, I hear my husbands voice: “You don’t need a can opener… I have my axe”). None of us want to see a man open a can of tomatoes with an axe. Or do we?
Cooking at Yosemite

One of my best memories of our time living on the west coast was enjoying this tangine around the campfire with our dear friends.

Hope that you all enjoy this recipe, whether from the comfort of your home or the warmth of your campfire!

via Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash – Best Recipes for Winter Vegetables and Fruits – Cooking Light.

Currently Obsessed with… Sole Society Mason Travel Satchel

Oh the things I could fill this bag with…. Suede flats, that merlot lipstick that looks great in the tube but that I never wear, 30+ diapers for Baby E… (Well, I suppose when you put it that way my weekend getaway sounds slightly less glamorous). But still, I am obsessed with this bag! I’m a big fan of the cognac faux leather but it comes in a range of other colors as well. With a $79.95 price tag this is a great gift option for the upcoming holiday season! Or, cough cough, a great anniversary gift- Kyle…
(But seriously my love, our anniversary is next weekend…hint hint)

Mason Bag Collage

via Cognac Travel Satchel | Mason.

Baby Varsity Sweater

As I sit with my husband and watch Sunday football I am inspired to share a knitting project that I completed last year for dear college friends of ours. We attended countless football games with Mr & Mrs G., so when we found out that they were expecting their first child, I decided that I absolutely needed to make their baby girl some University of Cincinnati fan gear! I found this varsity sweater pattern on Craftsy and thought it was a cute vintage look for a little baby girl. This project was absolutely worth the $6 price tag! The pattern is no longer listed for sale on Craftsy but I have linked to the creator NHP Designs pattern store, so if you are interested perhaps you can reach out directly and make a purchase.

Varsity Sweater Collage

The pattern itself was great- Read the rest of this entry »

Pumpkinned.

We came, we saw we “pumpkinned.”

DSC_3240Since we moved back to the midwest two years ago, we have made a point to go out to Michigan each fall and to see Gene the Pumpkin Man. He has the sweetest little place, complete with orange barns, tractors, vintage gas pumps…. you get the idea. Plus, unlike many businesses that assign a random endearing name to humanize their brand- (Grandma Betty’s Soul Food Diner… Farmer Jed’s Organic Tofu wafers….), Gene is real! The farm has been in his family since 1885 and he has been “the pumpkin man” since 1957. This year was extra special since it was Baby E’s first trip to the farm and we had a blast despite some chilly and slightly damp weather. We walked away with a wagon load of goodies: a selection of funny gourds, one big old statement pumpkin, a handful of sweet white pumpkins, two pie pumpkins, and the “kinda ugly pumpkin that we didn’t really want but we had to buy because our kid took a bite out of it.”

DSC_3233

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I am fleeing the city for a quiet fall weekend in Michigan. I will be basking in the simple joys of pumpkin farms and cider mills. My computer will not make the trip.

See you next week…15-10-02 Apples away

Boo! Inspiration for Pumpkin Decor

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Chalkboard Pumpkins via Rachael Ray Magazine

Happy October my friends! I feel the seasons changing and the brisk air warms my heart. Yesterday Baby E and I went on a nice long walk, we both bundled up enjoy the chill in the air and the blowing leaves. A few trees have started to turn here and my neighbors have begun string up spider webs and putting out their pumpkins. As we passed by the local elementary school the window are full of paper pumpkins. I have mentioned before that I am not a huge fan of Halloween decor, however, I do LOVE pumpkins. This weekend we will be heading out to Michigan to visit my parents and to do all of our favorite fall festivities. We will go to our favorite pumpkin patch and then stop by the cider mill for a hot drink and yummy donuts. Recently I’ve been makings plans for what kind of pumpkins I will be hunting for this year and seeking inspiration from around the web. I think that I will definitely be making some chalkboard pumpkins as shown above. (After all, these can quickly change from a Halloween pumpkin to a Thanksgiving pumpkin by switching out “Boo” with “Gather”). Instructions for the chalkboard pumpkins can be found here. See below for other great pumpkin ideas!

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Painted pumpkins via perfectly imperfect

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DIY Sequin Polka Dot Pumpkin via Sugar & Cloth

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Monday Meal Highlight – Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika

When I quit my job to stay at home with my son I was blessed to be able to focus my attention on the things that matter most to me: My baby and my husband. I just left a fast paced, deadline driven job and surprisingly I now find myself structuring my day at home with similar deadlines. In my head there is a miniature checklist each day- On Monday’s for instance, we do the following:

  • Meal planning for the week
  • Take Baby E for a walk
  • Complete daily chore
  • Afternoon grocery shopping
  • Wash & fold laundry
  • Monday Meal Highlight blog post

Somewhere in there I also try to get Baby E down for 2 (or three) naps, feed myself, grab a cup of coffee, work on freelance work, change 5-6 diapers and shake a rattle with my left foot while sneakily eating pieces of dark chocolate. I wake at 6 a.m. to feed Baby E, but I consider my “work” day to start at 8 a.m. when my husband leaves and to wrap up at 6:30 p.m. when he gets home. I challenge myself to end each day with a clean house and dinner ready at 6:30pm. (Full disclosure: this only happens half the time….sometimes…. occasionally).

Monday is one of my favorite days because I love planning out our meals, organizing my grocery list and hitting the local store. I feel that Baby E enjoys cruising through the grocery too- The colors, the smells, the music, the cheese samples…. Anyhow, I spent my first two months as a stay at home mom going bonkers in the kitchen before reality hit. I was spending WAY too much money on groceries. So, I have recently been trying to find healthy, flavorful meals that won’t break the bank. (Without relying solely on my mom’s Tuna Casserole recipe… Uck! Sorry mom)

Enter: Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika from Bon Appétit… (Can we get a longer recipe name? Please, anyone?). This little gem of a weeknight meal is the perfect example of a great meal that comes together quickly and wont cost you a fortune. The same ingredients are reused in different ways to create a meal that seems complicated but that doesn’t require a huge laundry list of items. I especially like this recipe because it utilizes many staples that I try to keep on hand anyways. The canned beans and tomatoes are excellent budget friendly fillers and it seems that there is almost always a sale on some variation of chicken breasts. (I’ve made this with boneless skinless, bone-in breasts and bone-in thighs. Note: your cook times will vary- See here for some chicken cooking basics) Not to mention this is a great make-ahead meal. Throw it together the night before or while baby is sleeping and pop it in the oven 20 minutes before you want to eat. The great thing about roasting your dinner is that you have the duration of the roasting time to set the table, clean dishes… etc!

I like to serve this with a box of pine nut couscous or if I’m really in a hurry 90-second microwaveable brown rice. (But seriously, it’s killer with the couscous).

I hope that this becomes a staple in your home just as it has in mine!

via Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika Recipe – Bon Appétit.

Spooky Spider Cake

I am not huge into Halloween decorations- I do the costumes… I eat the candy… I frequent the pumpkin patch but something about making my home look like Chuckie’s haunted play castle just doesn’t agree with me. (I know, I’m lame)…

A few years ago, however, I uncharacteristically concocted a Halloween cake that had even my husband squirming in his boots.

 

So here it is, the Spooky Spider Cake- Mmmm tasty! (Pardon the picture quality, at the time I didn’t plan to blog this!)

cake

Here is how I pulled it off- Read the rest of this entry »

Hiding in Plain Sight – Open Kitchen Storage

My husband and I have always lived in reasonably small homes. We moved out to Silicon Valley after graduating from college and we couldn’t afford more than a 1100 square foot apartment. Eventually, what started out as a necessity became a preference. Each purge felt empowering, and we took pride in being able to live with less. We downsized from 1100 square feet to 750 square feet. When we moved to Chicago we downsized again, living in a 570 square foot studio for three months while we hunted for a condo. Finally, we purchased our current condo, a 1200 square foot urban loft. When purchasing this property we knew that we planned to have our first child here, so we splurged and purchased a 2 bedroom unit. This is the largest home that we have ever lived in together and it comes with many “firsts” for us: Double vanity…. In-unit laundry… Separate tub & shower… and great city views, BUT it does have the smallest kitchen of any property in which we have lived. (Perhaps with the exception of our stint in the studio apartment)…

At any rate, upon moving, I knew that I would be faced with two major storage challenges:
1) Where to hide Kyle’s vintage surf board… (In the furnace closet wedged behind the A/C filter)
2) Kitchen storage.
The latter required a bit more creativity.

I scoured the internet for inspiration and found that I wasn’t the only one trying to think outside the box- (or should I say cabinet… ba dum cha!) Hiding kitchen equipment in plain sight not only saves cabinet space but it can be downright beautiful!

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