Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Sale: More items just posted to my Etsy Shop!

Check out my shop here.

Everything is 15% OFF all month long using coupon code 'DECEMBER'!!

I'm having entirely too much fun with this ... ;)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sources for Specialty and/or Quirky Gifts

Been browsing the web lately looking for "exciting and new" (Always gets me thinking...) gift ideas. This year Kevin and I have decided not to really "do" gifts since it gets out of hand and we're trying to save money. If we buy a gift for one person we have to buy gifts for 30 people because that one person knows like 5 people who we also know and ... basically, things get expensive fast.

However ... Kevin has his birthday (30!!) and our anniversary 2 days from each other, followed closely by Christmas. I know how difficult this is (for kids and kids at heart) to have their bday and Christmas so close together; parents tend to combo-gift, which is kinda lamesauce (totally just learned that!), however much I might understand and appreciate its frugality.

So I'm trying to make sure Kevin isn't forgotten: on our Anniversary (7 years) and his very important (to me) and a tiny bit stressful (to him) 30th bday.

All that to say, I found a few interesting sites in my quest for a cool Kevin-worthy gift. I thought I might share since ... well, tis the season.

1. for their unique and pretty pieces:

2. for their goofy and lol-inducing sticky pads and stamps:

3. for their adults-are-kids-too theme:

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I've had such a full morning already! 

Sausage balls and coffee to start the day; the bird is in the oven (fingers crossed! kinda nervous!). 

Kevin is on the roof putting up Christmas lights - it's cool and foggy outside and the cats are watching us from the window. 

When I go out to hand him a tool and come back in the house it smells WONDERFUL!! I've missed that turkey smell on Thanksgiving.

Have a great Thanksgiving day everyone!

One of the place setting with Fiestaweare and vintage linen napkins.

Centerpiece with some of the gorgeous roses from our backyard.

Sausage balls to fuel the morning

The glorious bird! Pictured after one hour of roasting.

The cats watching us from the window ...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

As I mentioned previously, I am doing my own Thanksgiving 'spread' this year ... all by my self.

This is kind of a big deal.

Every Thanksgiving (and Christmas) since we got married Kevin and I have spent with other people - either friends or his family - so I've just made sweet potatoes or apple pie or something. This year I have a turkey and a ham (Honey Baked of course) and I'm making several sides (I hesitate to call them "vegetables" since they are really so far departed from, for example, steamed broccoli).

Here is my menu:

- Roast Turkey (this makes me nervous)

- Pan Gravy (this also makes me nervous)

- Spiral Cut Ham

- Sweet Potato Casserole (tried and true recipe - delicious!)

- Mashed Potatoes

- Parker House Rolls (a first for me but the recipe looks easy)

- Green Bean Casserole (I have tried and loved more foodie variants but I'm going old-school this year)

- Cornbread Sage Dressing

- Lime Jello Salad (there is just something magical about having this on my plate during the holidays, no lie)

- Cranberry Sauce (yes, from the can; jellied and whole fruit)

So turkey and pan gravy officially make me nervous. I have never made them before. I'm kind of scared. But I'm staying positive!

*I will make a delicious turkey*
*my gravy will not be lumpy*

Part of me kind of wishes we had people coming over, but this year - another first - it's just going to be me and Kevin. I love sharing my cooking with people but sometimes I get so tired of sharing the holidays with family. Does that sound awful?? I know everyone says that is the point of the holidays but when family is nuts and it's just more of a stress and a duty to spend time with them, sometimes it's a nice, well-deserved break to just spend a holiday with your favorite person ever and some pretty awesome food (actually I'm not 100% assured of 'awesome').

Small sidenote: I love Thanksgiving and I appreciate this country but ... I kind of think about these people at Thanksgiving.

What's kind of silly (and always a disappointment for me) is that I have this image in my head of what holidays should be - always have since I was tiny - but they have yet to fully live up to those expectations. That's why expectations are generally to be avoided, I've learned.

Anyway, I have this rose-colored vision of Thanksgiving that entails me getting up early to put the bird in the oven, brew a pot of coffee and put the sausage balls in the oven, turning on the parade and hanging out in my living room with my husband and us laughing and sharing the morning and 'making memories'. I think though that 'making memories' is a little overrated because I'm always making experiences ... sometimes I just don't remember them. Which is why I try living *right now*, in the moment instead of looking back so much.

I love looking back and reminiscing but there is something kind of sad and almost desperate about that. It just makes me a little down. So I try hard to just stay right now instead ... so I can work on making the very most of right now instead of wasting it on being nostalgic. There is no rewind button.

So instead of making up images of what life should be and then being being disappointed, I'm going to appreciate life for what it is.

This year I'm so grateful for ...

- My Husband and Best Friend
- Our Home
- Our sweet cats who are crazy but we love them
- My stable job and the fact that I like all the people I work for (what?! is that even possible?)
- Learning a lot of new things
- Having an open mind
- Old Friends

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving??

Friday, November 4, 2011

Recipe: Fall Shepherd's Pie

Yes, it's officially cold enough for Shepherd's Pie and heaters and sweatshirts. That makes me happy. Although leaving the house for work and finding out that it's 38 degrees is a little shocking. Not in a bad way, necessarily.

So yesterday afternoon I saw this recipe for Fall Shepherd's Pie. Backing up: This year, I intend to have my first Thanksgiving Dinner. I eat other people's Thanksgiving dinners every year but have yet to make my own. I haven't made my own Thanksgiving turkey! Ever! This is not good and this year changes it all. First turkey, first Thanksgiving in our house at our dining table, not another person's house and dining table. I've been writing up menu ideas and shopping lists and I'm getting my HoneyBaked Ham ordered. I'm feeling very festive.

Anyway, I found this recipe and got very excited about it since it made me feel like Thanksgiving and football (I don't even like football) and cold air and falling leaves and cocoa and Hot Toddys. It's a seasonal twist on the classic recipe: instead of ground beef, ground turkey (you could totally use actual Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, too), cranberries and sweet potatoes. It tastes like those last few bites of Thanksgiving dinner where everything on your plate has become one and there is sweet from the potato and tart from the cranberry sauce and savory from the turkey and gravy. Yeah.

Here is the recipe from - they seem to have a thing for rainbow foods but have other non-rainbow foods, too.

I split the recipe in 1/2 because it just seemed like a lot. It still filled two medium casseroles. Quantities below are original, not halved but I've added notes about my process next to applicable ingredients or instructions.

Fall Shepherd's Pie

Preheat oven to 350

2 pounds ground turkey
3 ribs celery, chopped [I still used 3, even though I split the recipe ]
1 onion, diced small 
2 carrots, chopped [I used 3 carrots, but mine were small-ish]
2 T butter [I used 3 T]
2 T flour [again, 3 T ... when in doubt more gravy is always better!]
1 box chicken stock
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag frozen cranberries
4 sweet potatoes
1 Russet potato, though any regular 'white' potato will do [I used 2 sweet and one regular potato]
Pinch Cinnamon & Allspice
1 cup milk
1/2 stick butter

Peel and dice the potatoes. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast til tender [I just boiled them on the stove]

Meanwhile, brown the turkey in a large skillet then set aside.

In the same pan [I added a little olive oil], saute the celery, onions, and carrots. Add and melt the 2 tablespoons butter, then whisk in the flour and let it cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't clump.

Add the cooked turkey back into the pan, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken the gravy.

When the potatoes are tender, drain and mash them, then mix in the half stick of butter and milk. Mix in the cinnamon and allspice. [I forgot about the spices until the potatoes were already spread in the dishes, so I just sprinkled them on top of the potatoes]

Add the turkey mixture to the bottom of a casserole dish.

Next, mix together the corn and cranberries and add them on top of the turkey. [I warmed the corn and cranberries in the same pan for a few minutes before adding]

Finally, spread the mashed sweet potatoes smoothly over the top and bake at 350 for about a half hour.

When things are getting bubbly and the top is starting to brown, pull it out of the oven.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I could not resist extra helpings of this! It's definitely a go-to cool weather dinner from now on. I decided to make it spur-of-the-moment but the ingredients are pretty much kitchen staples (except for the berries, but I did have a couple bags on hand) so you don't have to make a special trip to the store for this recipe.

Enjoy! And let me know if you love it, hate it or made any of your own modifications. =)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Etsy Shop Update

Since opening my Etsy shop this summer I have been making a bunch of jewelry to add to my shop and have worked on improving my technique, trying new techniques and new materials and worked on taking flattering photographs of my products. I was so excited when I made my first sale, too!

Take a look at my Etsy shop. Here are photos of a few of the newer pieces I've posted.

Amazonite and pink swarovski crystals.

Red quartz teardrop necklace.

Bubblegum pink coral bracelet.

Cerulean Blue and Lemon Yellow swarovski crystal earrings.

Crown necklace (matching earrings available).

Smoky quartz and gold pearl earrings.

{SOLD} Mint and silver layering necklace (30 inches).

Natural stone and copper necklace with Webstone, Amazonite, crystals and glass.

Artsy charm necklace with orange blown glass; yellow glass, Chalcedony and green glass on copper.

Orange agate ring wrapped in silver wire and mint green alabaster swarovski crystals.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I just want to be me: Ramblings and Philosophizings (... is that a word??)

Sometimes I weary of having to put on a face for people; a face that they will be OK with so they can get on with me in public. I'm pretty sure most people are just a show. What we are around any other human isn't really who we are because we just might make those other people uncomfortable. That makes me sad. It feels tacky.

I wish I could just be me, straight up. I want to be able to say what I think and feel and share the opinions I have now (I feel excited about them! But I can't tell you), that are so very different from the opinions I had a year ago and will have a year from now. I want to be me without people jumping on me and telling me I'm not right or that I'm going to hell or that there's a better way or I'm not getting enough fiber. Please. Just ... leave me alone.

I'm not sure if that's really what I'd want to tell them. I'm not quite sure I can put a finger on my feelings. But I do know that I would love to say what I think and listen to what other people think and just be cool with those thoughts being completely different from, and perhaps even in opposition with, each other. I don't want to be debated. I don't want to debate. I want to drink coffee and sit on my couch and talk to you and have you talk to me and just let ourselves be real. Be candid. Be very open.

Why are some things so taboo?

Why can't we talk without arguing?

Why do I have to agree with you?

There is no point in being here - living our one, short life that we ought to make the most of - just to battle with one another over manmade opinions and manmade arguements - manmade conclusions which we can't even prove.

Do you want to know what I think? Really? Because really, I'm scared to tell you. I'm pretty sure you'll get that offended, flared-nostril expression on your face like a scared horse when I tell you that I don't agree with you; that I don't agree on a lot of the issues that (seem to) define us. I'm pretty sure your eyes will dilate and you'll sigh loudly and start telling me about the 'hard facts' that prove I'm in the wrong and you'll start talking louder and your voice will quaver. So will mine when I try to defend myself. I am my father's daughter and a debate gets me hot and heavy in no time flat. Even a debate I didn't ask for. A debate I hate. I would rather throw up than talk to you about your religion or your politics or what you think is wroung about me. Last time I checked, I didn't ask to have my opinion changed by a high-and-mighty like you. I'm just sorry I'm not articulate enough to make you understand why I don't agree with you.

It makes me upset that I can't tell you everything I want to say and just ... leave it at that. I want to hear about you and what you think; and I want to tell you what I think, too. Can't we just ... leave it at that? Can't we just talk and philosophize and emote? And just be.

No I suppose not. Most people seem to think there are absolutes and since I don't align myself with those absolutes then obviously, absolutely, I'm in the wrong. Which most definitely requires a long debate at the end of which you, absolutely, win.

Maybe that means I just don't need you in my life. Does that offend you, too?

I want it to be OK for me to pick the people I spend my sacred minutes and hours and days with instead of you making me feel guilty for making that choice. It's my life. I let you be who you are, let you believe what you believe and tell me about it all the time. I tell you what I have heard about such-and-such and that it may not be quite the way you see it, I even smile and accept it without any comment at all sometimes. I can tell you feel comfortable telling me about you. That's great.

But why don't I have that with you? Who out there is OK with me telling them who I truly am? Are you sure about that? Can anyone just be cool with me and let me disagree and be confused and doubt and yell and be scared and confident and changing all at once?

Is that OK?

Monday, August 8, 2011

My New Etsy Shop!

Hello, faithful followers and readers! I wanted to share the link to my new Etsy shop - NLMdesigns - that I have finally decided to get up and running. I have posted several items there already and I would love your feedback!

There are so many more items to come, but I hope to get a good reception for what I have already before I add too much more. Hopefully people will like my stuff and I'll be encouraged to add more products. We'll see!

For now, I have about a dozen different pieces of handmade jewelry in my shop (a few of them are pictured below). I have been beading and jewelry-making for over a decade (I remember many sleepovers in the late 90's with my long-time friend, spent making jewelry and giving each other pedicures!) and I decided - partly at Kevin's encouragement - to finally set up a little shop and see what happens.

Lemon Drop Earrings

Teatime 'mismatch' Earrings

Turquoise Lady Earrings

BoHo Chandelier Earrings

Rock On - Necklace Pendant

There is also a selection of my photography from over the years. In high school I worked with a professional photographer - as well as venturing out on my own for a couple years after I graduated - photographing weddings, families, graduations ... and often we would spend the day scouting out new areas and taking a bunch of pictures, just for fun. I used to take tons of black and white film photography at that time (whenever film was still sort of popular - makes me miss the darkroom!). So there is some of that as well as more current work, some color and some digital.

Box Car


Arts District

Lost Bike

Palm Sunday

Thanks for taking a look and letting me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A couple weekends ago, we had Kevin's grandma to stay with us. She only lives about 30 minutes North but we don't see her all that often. She's busy watching Westerns, taking waterobics classes at the "Senior Citizen" (which is Grandma for the "Senior Citizen's Center", but apparently "'s Center" is unimportant) and annihilating her fellow octogenarians in fiercely-competitives rounds of Rummikub. I was quickly informed that the correct pronunciation is 'Roomy-Cube'. I have said and heard 'Rummy-Cub' my entire existence but ... I defer.

We spent the weekend watching movies she hadn't seen before (Sahara, Secondhand Lions) playing games and enjoying the cats. She doesn't have pets right now and she liked it when Charley (omg, I haven't posted pictures of my new kitten!!) would come and nap with her on the couch. I made Chicken Enchilada Casserole on Friday night for her first dinner and Breakfast Tacoes on Sunday morning. On Saturday (while Kevin and I were both gone, poor thing!) she had entirely TOO many Reese's Pieces and M&M's and made herself sick. It's like having a kid in the house. ;) I had to administer some Lemon-Lime Alka Seltzer as soon as I got home from my appointment that morning. Speaking of which ...

During this weekend, I had a previously-scheduled appointment at my hair salon for Saturday morning. I should add that I had scheduled a haircut for a couple of weeks before, after we got back from California; I had gone into the salon that evening after work only to be told my stylist (my very favorite stylist Anita) wasn't there and they had cancelled my appointment. Good to know! So instead of suffer through the poor, sweet, blabbering girl at the front desk who simply doesn't know how to schedule appointments, I just said I would call in to schedule an appointment later. So Saturday morning rolls around and I'm ready to go - I have needed a haircut for like a month and look like a wild animal, I'm already a little turned-off by the staff at this salon because of past experiences and I'm ready to just get it done. I was told the color and cut would take a couple of hours. My appointment was at 10:30am.

They didn't start mixing my color until 11:30am.

I didn't leave the salon until 3:30pm.

That's right. 5 hours of my day spent sitting in a salon chair.

The gal who was my stylist/colorist this time was very nice; we carried on conversations and laughed and everything seemed hunky dory. Til it was noon and I had all of 4 foils on my head. I had asked for highlights which she was calling 'dimensional color' ... apparently this takes like 3 days to complete? Oh, but not as long as gray cover-up would take. I don't have gray hair, she said, so it won't take THAT long. Ok. Good to know ... ??

Not to mention the seat I had this time was apparently located in the eye of a big fat black hole for cell phones. I felt like an amputee. Once I had read through Spring 2010 issues of every magazine they could find for me, I wasn't even able to text or call my husband (or check Facebook. unthinkable!). He had to call the salon to track me down to ask "Where the flip are you?!" (flip is not the real word that was used; word has been changed to protect innocent eyes ;) around 2pm by which time I was truly seething - beyond seething.

I am not the kind of customer who starts railing on the employee under circumstances like this ... maybe I should be. But I don't feel like that gets anything accomplished. Except of course for showing people my ass. So I put up with it. I keep waiting. She keeps saying that the color hasn't "taken" yet and "doesn't look like the picture". I tell her that doesn't matter (that stopped mattering a long time ago!). I say I have a house guest AND a party that evening that starts in a few hours and I really need to get this wrapped up. Like, now. The manager comes by a few times to check on her. Around 2:30pm she is like "She is still here? Hurry up!" I'm like "No joke!!" ...

I thought she said I DIDN'T have gray hair? That it wouldn't take "that long"?? I kept checking my watch with as much ado and associated huffing as possible.

Do you know how much it sucks having like, 278 foils on your head for 4 hours? And having towels draped over them to "keep them warm" while people pass your chair and noticably ogle you in the mirror like you are nuts? Seriously people, NOT my fault!

Once they start taking the foils OFF at last, I am told that they don't have time to cut my hair (which was driving me absolutely cuckoo at that point) because they had taken so long with the color. By now my 'sideburns' are epic and my neck shaggy like a hobo.

They had another appointment at 4pm so I would have to reschedule a haircut for another time.


*deep breaths*

*don't make eye contact*

*don't say anything or you may regret it*

The stylist finally gets all the abominable foils off my head and washes my hair. She asks me to hold her watch so it doesn't get wet. Really?

Then she has the audacity to try and style my hair for me before I go. I just say "don't bother drying it, I usually just damp style it anyway". So she puts some gel in to try and give it a toussled look and flops her hands around on my head like they are steaks. Have you styled hair EVER in your life!?, I think. She complains that it "looks so flat". Of course it does you imbicile! I say nothing but I end up styling my own hair because I just can't deal. I didn't even want it styled. What's the point at that point, ya know?

After all that, I realized when I get home that the highlights had been so poorly applied that they are a good 3/4" from my roots so it looks like I haven't even maintained my hair color in weeks and just let it grow out - all over my crown and where I part my hair. Seriously? After all that I can't just be left in peace to be grumpy and slowly get over it after telling Kevin the story 6 times in gross detail?

So I call the salon. I just can't take it. I can't not say something!!

I talk to the manager of the managers who says I "should have said something while I was still there". I remind him (I had already recapped the enter ordeal) that I was there for 5 hours. That I didn't have the time or mental endurance to even bother. I told him the stylist wouldn't listen when I said to please hurry and that it didn't matter if it wasn't an exact match to the picture she was using as a color guide. She didn't even cut my hair!, I said. He ended up apologizing and saying I could come in and get the color fixed by another stylist at no cost and to get my haircut (which I would have to pay for) and that someone would call me to get my appointment rescheduled.

I'm going back in this weekend to get it fixed and to finally get my haircut (third time's the charm??).

At this point I'm sort of embracing my shaggy hair. I wanted a shorter cut, like more Emma Watson (heart!) and less like Elisha Cuthbert ('24' ... ugh). But I think I'm actually 'working it' now and once my sad highlights are fixed and my hair trimmed and cleaned up, I could pull off Audrey Tautou or Katie Holmes.

Me on vacation on July 4th, dark (natural) hair with just a few highlights:

Me on Monday, July 25th with blonde hair! First day back at work (I was wearing a couple bobbie pins this day - I really didn't have the energy to style it)

This one's sort of blurry but it shows just how gold/blonde my hair is now. You can see some of the 'dimensional' highlights (pfftt) ... there is red as well as blonde:

After the stress of that appointment has diminished, I actually do like my haircolor. I panicked at first thinking I had gone entirely too blonde. The last time I was blonde, I was 3 years old and had Annie ringlets all over my head. I just had to get used to seeing myself like that. I don't realize how much of a change it is until I see it ON my head.

But everyone says they love my new color! Including Kevin who is my toughest critic so, I think the color can stay for a while. At least until I really, really have to have black hair. Or auburn ...

PS - The party on Saturday night that I mentioned was my friend's bachelorette party! We had a really fun time and all her sweet friends ooh'ed and ahh'ed over my hair. A much needed ego boost and girl's night with plenty of drinks and Mexican food. score! 

She is now married as of this Saturday, 7/30. Congratulations, Ashley and Daniel!!


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