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Monday, August 18, 2014

taco (salad) tuesday (and I know it's Monday)









 easy peazy guac: one avocado, scoop of salsa, and squirt of lemon juice

I sauteed half a chopped onion with cayenne pepper and chili spice (what's that called?). I added my ground beef and cooked it and then drained it. While it was draining, I threw my romaine lettuce in the cast iron skillet to get wilty and some flavor. 

I then made a bed of lettuce, added the meat, the guacamole, and grated some Colby Jack cheese on top. I added a spritz of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and it was finished. Super easy, and lots of good nutrients. :) 

Happy Cooking!

finished cafe coffee toddler pullover

Yesterday evening after work, I just sat on the couch and finished these sleeves. I was planning to pick up stitches and knit a garter stitch collar, but I think the rolled edge boatneck is just darling. What do you think? Leave a comment below and I'll decide whether this baby is finished or needs one more thing, :)






Instructions to follow soon. Happy Knitting!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

creating a canopy

So, crazy story. I found an adorable bed frame at Restore last spring. It was perfect. I'd been hunting Craigslist up and down for this exact bed frame. I'd found a few, but they were so, SO far away and I had no way to go all the way across the state for a good deal, because I was asking friends to help me pick it up. So, one day in Restore (the Habitat for Humanity store), I found this frame. I was so excited! It was exactly what I'd been looking for. It needed to be refinished or painted or something, but I figured that would be part of the fun. I was still living in a dorm, and had no place to put it, but I got it anyways. I had a friend who was going to let me store it at her house, but I had to keep it temporarily in my dorm room until she was free.

The bed frame looked exactly like this, but it was just a dark wood stain without the paint:


A few months later, right before school ended, some lovely friends from church said that they liked refinishing furniture, so I brought it to their house for them to refinish while I was studying abroad in Spain.

Went to Spain, had an awesome time, hiked, traveled around, bought lots of blankets from a particular blanket vendor who was my favorite. He was really sweet and we'd always chat for a while.

Got back to the States and went to pick up the bed frame. Whatever finish had been on the frame previously would NOT come off, so he just recommended that I paint it. I was totally fine with that, so my roommate and I packed it up in her car and headed back to our new place. :)

We set the bed frame up, and played around with where in the room it should go. A few days later, my dad and brother brought my mattress down. I'd been sleeping on a pallet on my floor next to my bed frame, which was fine, but I was definitely excited about the bed. 

We needed plywood to support the box spring, so we made a trip to Lowes, and purchased and cut the wood to size. We came back to the house, and put the boards into place. 

It was time for the moment of truth! We pulled the mattress out of the hallway and tried to put it in the bed frame. The operative word is TRIED. Because the bed was an antique, and handmade, and everything I wanted in a bed frame, it was not a modern, standard mattress size!
It was only about 1 inch too short and too narrow for my mattress to fit, but there was no forcing it to work. Disappointed, I asked my dad what I could do. "Get a custom mattress." But the very word "custom" is out of the price range of a college student.

So we de-assembled the bed frame, put it in my dad's truck to give away, and just laid the mattress on the floor and he headed home.

A few days later, my roommates came bouncing into the house with a metal bed frame they had found while dumpster diving. While it wasn't my favorite, antique, handmade frame, it was useful. My roommate's boyfriend helped me set it up a few days later when I finally decided that my dreams of an antique frame were not going to happen.

Life happened. I got more settled. I went to work. I fought the ants that continue to invade my house. I organized my desk. I still wanted to do something with my bed, but I wasn't sure what to do with it. 

Then I saw this picture on Pinterest:


It's so inviting and comfortable and cozy looking! Some pictures I see online and they look nice, but they don't look like something that I would like calling home. But this did!

I had a gorgeous blanket with the tree of life pattern on it from my favorite blanket vendor from Granada in the Arab Market. It was folded up, draped over a chair in the living room, so you couldn't see how lovely it was. So yesterday, I set off to AC Moore to find supplies to some how hang my blanket up like the one in the picture. Unfortunately, there's not many tutorials on how to create your own canopy. In fact, there's not any. Lots of pictures. Lots of canopies you can buy, but no how-to instructions. I just decided I would have to figure it out.

About an hour later, I had this: 

 
I also hung up my picture of a flamenco dancer that I got in the Arab Market, as well, and a picture of a little girl painted by Diego Rivera. 

Because there's a lack of knowledge or instructions on the internet about how to make this super simple way to turn this:


to this lovely canopy, I'll explain.

It is a matter of balance. BALANCE is the most important thing ever in this project. I screwed stuff into the walls and took it out several times because the distance was too great or too small and the blanket would slip through off. If you balance it correctly, it just hangs there nicely. :) 

So I used a picture frame kit that I got at AC Moore for $3 and a curtain rod from Target for $13.


For the main, first drape, hang up the curtain rod following the instructions on the box. I got a standard 28-48 inch rod and adjusted it so that the length was about five inches shorter than my bed was on each end. 

The structure of my room helped me with the next step, but you can totally hang the picture frame wire from the ceiling if you don't have the little soffit. I then used a screwdriver to screw the wire brackets to the walls, each a few inches narrower than what I had done with the curtain rod, leaving the wire slack, but not hanging low.

I then pulled the fabric through the wire, and TADA! 
(and washed the sheets, and made the bed, and plumped the pillows and then tada, but you get the idea).

Eventually, I'll find my twinkle lights that I know I have somewhere with the blanket so it will look even more cozy at night, but for now, I'm really happy to have something above my bed other than a beige wall. And best thing, was that it was super easy and didn't cost nearly as much as it would have for me to go find and buy a wooden bed frame. 

If you have any questions, or want to post pictures of your homemade canopy, just post below :)

Happy Sunday! (and happy nesting!)

Monday, August 11, 2014

cafe coffee baby pullover progress

As I'm sure many of you experience, some weeks are crazy, filled with errands, long hours of working multiple jobs, running from one place to another, traveling to visit friends and family, etc. Last week was like that for me, but this week has been very restful. And it's only Monday! :) 


I'm sitting at home on my couch listening to knitting podcasts from Never Not Knitting and admiring other knitters' projects and working on my Cafe Coffee Baby Pullover. I will posting a pattern once it is finished. This was one of those projects that I had all intentions of following a pattern for, but in the end, I only really used the pattern I found to figure out how many stitches I needed to cast on and how to establish raglan sleeves. In the end, I actually created my own way to make sleeves because when I reread the pattern, I wasn't remotely following it. So, out of that mistake, I'm getting design my own baby sweater. 

But in all reality, it's more like a toddler sweater. Maybe a really big baby could fit in it, but it will probably be more suitable for a 1-2 year old. Its relaxed fit, machine washability, loose neck, and soft fabric will be perfect for a messy, adventurous toddler who has more opinions about his clothes than a non-verbal infant would. It could be worn with a t-shirt and toddler jeans (why is anything in a small version instantly so much cuter?) or with khakis and a button-up shirt for a fancy day :) or whenever toddlers have "fancy" days. 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

summer garden tours

One of my favorite things about spring and summer is all the gorgeous garden tours. I did several in Spain, primarily in the Alhambra and Generalife, but also just wandering through the Royal Gardens in Madrid, a random garden in the center of Malaga, and a few gardens in downtown Dublin.


Last weekend, I got to tour Wing Haven, a serene little backyard garden near downtown Charlotte, NC. Wing Haven was created and cultivated by Elizabeth and Edwin Clarkson. 



They started in 1927 with a house on a bare clay lot and exchanged bricks, bird baths, trees, and other plants to create a green haven for birds and butterflies and other wildlife. As time passed, they purchased the lots next door until they had 3.5 acres of gardens. 



They also took in birds that neighbors and friends brought them that needed care when they were injured or abandoned by their parents. 



One bluebird in particular, Tommy, was more of a house bird and remained a favorite family pet as he flew around the gardens and always returned to perch on Elizabeth's or Edwin's shoulders. 


The garden was full of elegant symmetry, which was juxtaposed with the rambling trees and vines that grew overgrown to provide shelter for the wildlife. 



Fountains were at every turn, with birds (and bugs) bathing in the refreshing water. 


And Peter Rabbit stopped his munching the grass to stare at us until he decided we weren't a threat, and then returned to his grazing. Because it was designed for the animals, the staff encourage everyone to be very quiet to promote a sense of peace. It's refreshing for people and I'm sure the bunnies and other creatures decide to stay within the walls because of the protection and food offered there.


If you get the chance, it is a lovely haven from the noise and bustle of the city. Just wear bug spray. I didn't and I definitely regretted it. :) Where have you gone this summer? What are your favorite summer retreats?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cafe coffee baby sweater

Yesterday I finally unpacked and organized my yarn. I decided I really wanted to make a top-down raglan baby pullover. I wanted it to have stripes. I only had two yarns that were the same weight, so I decided to take the plunge and stripe beige and gray. As I worked on it today in the library, I was pleasantly surprised about how everything was coming together. I made a mistake with the increasing for the sleeves, so I just redesigned them. Also, for being a fingering weight yarn, this project has gone by very quickly. When I finish it, I'll post an outline of my pattern with a link to the original I based it off of for reference. :)


For whatever reason, this sweater reminds me of quiet afternoons in a cafe drinking coffee. Maybe it's the warmth of the beige from the wood floors and the cool gray of the metal stools. 



The contrast of the beige and gray has made the gray look like a dusty blue. It really shows how color context changes how we perceive the warmth or coolness of a color. Do you have any favorite baby projects or gifts?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Daisies and dinner: making a home

While enjoying the busyness of work, I've also been finding great joy from creating a home. Having a place to call my own and being to welcome people into it for meals, and prayer, and late-night talks, and spend-the-nights, has been amazing. 


One of the responsibilities and joys of a home is grocery shopping and cooking. Aldi's has become my favorite grocery store because there I am able to purchase healthy, raw ingredients for yummy food to feed anyone that comes by.

The other night I made spicy turkey meatballs in my cast iron skillet. 

Ingredients:
Ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped finely
Italian breadcrumbs
Generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Marinara sauce
Pesto 
Pasta

Mix meat, onions, breadcrumbs, and spices together in a bowl while about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil is heating in the skillet on medium heat. Roll meat mixture into 2 inch balls. Drop into hot oil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, turning them over ever two minutes to cook evenly. Once finished, place them on a plate with a paper towel in order to soak up excess oil.

Boil water for pasta. Cook pasta according to directions on box.

Mix marinara sauce with a tablespoon of pesto sauce and heat over medium heat.

Drain pasta. Serve meatballs and sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. And it's always desired :)

Salad and summer watermelon go great as sides.