NYE Plans - 2012

This year, we were originally going to go to our neighbor's house for New Year's Eve (we went last year and it was pretty fun even though I was super pregnant and crabby!).  But with family being in from out-of-town for my grandmother's services, we decided to do a small family gathering at our house instead.  My aunt and cousin are only in town until Tuesday, so New Year's Eve is the perfect time to spend with family.

I "won" a fondue set in the white elephant gift exchange at my husband's family Christmas gathering, so I'm excited to break it in!  I'm planning to make a cheese fondue using this recipe, and a chocolate fondue using this one.

My sister-in-law, cousin, and I all decided that the theme for our New Year's Eve gathering would be "Pajama Party," so that everyone can show up in their pajamas and/or bring their slippers, blankets, or other comfy attire.  Todd will make a fire in the fireplace, and we have champagne to sip at midnight!

I decided to add one other fun aspect to our party - a craft project!  I have to be honest here, this wasn't my idea... I spotted it on one of Jennifer Perkins' Pinterest boards and immediately knew it was perfect for our pajama party!  I bought pipe cleaners in various colors (including metallic, of course) and some self-stick rhinestones.  The challenge?  Make your own New Year's Eve tiara!  Hopefully, I'll get some good pics to share with you later...

In the meantime, I've been sorting through and editing photos from our Christmas extravaganza events (three days of celebrating...) and I hope to share some of my faves with you soon!

One of my fun Christmas gifts was this battery-operated milk frother.  I've been attempting to relax on evenings by frothing milk to add to my coffee with Bailey's and sitting by the fire.  When you have a sweet skull tiki mug like this, even better, right?

now playing:


My grandmother...

My grandmother and I, March 2007.

On December 26, the morning after Christmas, my grandmother passed away.  The day before (Christmas), she was placed into hospice care at the hospital, so we knew that it wouldn't be long.  She had been unwell for quite some time.  So I can't say that it wasn't expected.  But somehow that doesn't make it hurt any less, just because we knew that it was coming...

I saw her in the hospital a couple of weeks before she passed away, mostly because I knew that when she would see Iggy that it made her smile.

My grandmother was beautiful.  I will miss her very very much.

now playing:


DIY: Pinwheels! (w/free template printable)

I was short on time with my last group of students before winter break, and came up with this pinwheel project idea.  They came out so cute, I thought I would share it here with the idea that these pinwheels are a great craft idea if you're on break with the kids, or to make at children's parties, or even to make ahead of time and use as party favors!

Here's what you'll need (per pinwheel):

  • 6"x6" paper, heavier weight (read options below)
  • Pinwheel template
  • unsharpened pencil with eraser intact (those fancy decorative pencils that neither draw nor erase well are perfect for this!!!)
  • straight pin
  • needle-nose pliers
  • tiny bead (optional)

I made a free printable template of the pinwheel layout here.  It prints onto regular 8.5"x11" paper, but the pinwheel paper square is actually only about 6"x6".  I recommend using a slightly heavier paper, like construction paper or scrapbooking paper.  In the example above, I used watercolor paper, painted on both sides.  In a pinch, you could actually use the printed out template to have kids draw onto and just use the printer paper for the pinwheel, but they're not as sturdy.

The thing to remember about pinwheels is that both sides of the paper are seen.  So if you use colored paper and have kids draw designs, make sure they draw on both sides.  At school, we used experimental watercolor techniques over the course of two days (one for each side of the paper) in order to create our pinwheels.  But I was thinking that if you're going to make a bunch for party favors, two-sided scrapbooking paper is absolutely perfect for this.  Especially if you use 12"x12" paper, you can get four pinwheels from one sheet!

So, step one is to decorate your paper (optional, but if you choose to, do it now instead of after it's all curled up!).

Then, cut your square template out, and place the template over your 6"x6" paper and cut along the diagonal lines toward the center, through both sheets.  This is how I make sure I cut far enough into the middle, but also so I dont go too far in.  That's all you really need the template for.  You can recycle it now.

Next, you'll gently bend every other corner towards the middle of the pinwheel square.  Use a straight pin to secure the points down and push the pin through to the back side of the pinwheel.  If the head of your pin is tiny, use a small bead (optional) to make the pin head larger and to keep the paper from pulling through.

The straight pin will now go through the pencil eraser (I like to push it through perpendicularly close to the metal base) until the pointy end sticks out through the other side.  Then use the needle-nose pliers to bend the end of the pin (making an "L" shape) to keep it from pulling back out.

Okay, that might sound more confusing than it really is.  Just use the straight pin to stick through the whole thing and through a pencil eraser.  Bend the pin so it doesn't come out of the eraser.

Here, I even made a complicated diagram for what's actually a really simple task.  I'm afraid my teacher tendency to over-explain everything fifty different ways in order to reach everyone is getting the better of me here...

Let me know if you have any questions.

My sample pinwheels came out so well that I made a gigantic pinwheel out of posterboard and a wooden dowel, with thick wire as my "pin."  I painted both sides of the posterboard using acrylic paint first.

Whaddaya think?

now playing:


Xmas Decor 2012

It's funny... I was so excited to share all of our Halloween decorations that I took photos even before I was finished, and had to split my posts into two parts.  But, uh, Christmas?  Not so much.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Christmas and all... it's just that we teach all the way up and through the 21st, so it gives me pretty much zero time to decorate when I'm too busy trying to figure out how to get all my damn presents purchased and wrapped.

Yeah, bah humbug to you, too.  I'm doing the best I can here.

Anyways, this post is about our Christmas decor.  I don't have as much as our Halloween decorations (no bathroom things), but we still do pretty well.  So I started up above with our main living room Christmas tree.  Todd painted the red star at the top so it had a more nautical star feel, and I made the tree skirt, way back when we first started dating.  It needed a few repairs this year.  We also have blue garland, and kind of have a love for non-traditional colored christmas decorations, so we keep an eye out for that.

Also, a close up of some of my fave ornaments: (clockwise from top right) a tree I made in first grade, a handmade Miss Piggy ornament from a craft fair that I picked out when shopping with my mom when I was little, and a martini "tree" ornament from my mother-in-law a few years ago.

Continuing our love for non-traditionally colored items, see our stockings below.  Todd and I bought these the same year we bought our tree and I made the skirt.  I hung all of our stockings from the mantle, and I'm thinking of making the red one with the tattoo print cuff into Iggy's stocking.  Just need some glitter paint or something like that... and the green santa "Jenny" stocking is mine from when I was little.  My mom gave it to me when I moved out, and it's so cute, so technically, I have two stockings.  We don't usually fill them, but perhaps next year when Iggy's older I may start something.

On top of the mantle is my reindeer collection.  It's a mix of new and old/vintage reindeer that I find, and usually each year I try to add at least one.  I think I found two this year at the antique mall by my house...

The larger gold glitter reindeer (photo right) is actually a vintage reindeer!  I love both the size and condition of him.  I think he's my favorite.

Below is a handmade beaded christmas topiary tree.  I made it myself!  I do keep it on the mantle, because the beads are attached by straight pins and I don't want Iggy grabbing it - it is somewhat fragile, but I absolutely LOVE how it looks.  I made it a long time ago before I even moved out of my parents house.  My grandmother had a similar one, and I loved it so much that I made my own.  (Note to self: do a DIY post on this project for next year!)

Other than the mantle and the tree, our house isn't super decorated.  Oh, I have a tablecloth and some candles for the dining room, but right now there's a zillion presents to be wrapped on it, so there was no way I was going to be able to take photos.

There are a few minor things about the living room: a white feather wreath on the front door, silver mirrored stars on the walls in the entryway, and cool springy ornaments hanging from the chandelier over the couch.

I do, however, have one really fun in-progress Christmas item in the basement: my pink full-size Christmas tree!  We bought it at Borders (a few years before they went out-of-business) when they were having a 50% off sale, and I actually have pink lights on pink strings for the tree, too.  I like to buy the most ridiculously girly, glittery, sparkly, cheesy ornaments I can find for it.  Some of my faves include (see below, left to right): the mermaid, a glittery deer (one of a set of 4), and a long silver glittery bow.

It's a work in progress, because you can see that I do not have a whole lot of ornaments for it, nor do I have a tree topper or tree skirt yet.  I've been casually looking for something in the vein of a unicorn for the tree topper... so if you see anything of that sort, send me in that direction!

now playing:


Vending @ the roller derby!

I'm really excited to tell you about my new vending gig for Hell Razor!  I'll be at the roller derby, selling flowers and jewelry at the Aurora 88s Roller Derby League bouts!


I met Ieata Brains, the president of the league, at the Haunted Halloween flea market.  She mentioned a vending opportunity and I was super excited.  The first bout will be on January 13th at 7:00 pm.  So, if you're in the Chicago (and Chicago suburbs) area, stop by to check it out!  I'll be there with Stephanie (aka Calamity Layne) who'll be helping me sell and not be really socially awkward around people.  So let's see how that goes...!!!


This event is located at the Aurora Skate Center, 34W113 Montgomery Road in Aurora, IL.  Tickets are $12 at the door.  Perhaps Wayne and Garth will be there, and we can all hang at Stan Mikita's Donuts afterwards...  Kids 8 & under are free, so depending on how the January 13th bout goes, I may return with an Iggy for the next round...!

(all images via the Aurora 88s web and Facebook pages)

now playing: 


My not-so-great internet shopping experience...

My mom received a catalog in the mail from a website called SimplyBe.com.  She passed it on to me, thinking that I might like some of their clothes.  She was right!  There was one dress in particular that I reallyreallyreally wanted, so the next time I got paid I decided to place an order.  Even greater, there was a 20% off code available!  I was very excited and ordered my dress, along with another dress I happened to see as I was checking out.

Imagine my disappointment when I found out the dress that I really wanted was on backorder.  Oh well, I thought... I was willing to wait because it was so cute!  This was on August 19th, 2012.  I went online to do a little research and saw that there are quite a few complaints about this website when it comes to ordering/shipping/restocking of items...

It took a month for the heart print dress to arrive.  It was marked as shipped within a day or two of ordering, but took "forever" to arrive.  In fact, I was pretty much convinced that someone had swiped the package from my porch (which has never happened at this residence, so it would be weird), but then it arrived.

The good new is that I liked the heart print dress.  The bad news is that after about a month of owning it  (and wearing it - um, maybe 4-5 times?) I discovered that the back seam (of the sheer part) has completely split apart.  Ugh.  Nice quality, huh?  And I'm really careful with washing - as in, delicate cycle/detergent and hang to dry...

In the meantime, I ordered some boots from SimplyBe, too.  I was really excited about this purchase because I measured my feet/calves with a measuring tape, and followed the sizing chart in the catalog exactly as it was listed, so I was stoked to finally have a pair of cute black boots for the winter that actually fit!

Buuuuutttt... the boots arrived and were way too big in the foot and way too small in the calf.  I reluctantly packaged them back up to return them.  Couldn't even exchange them, because if I bought a bigger size for the calf, the foot would be even bigger.  If I bought a smaller size for the foot, the calves would be even smaller.  No win.  I even wrote a post about my boot fail here.

Which leads me back to my original black dress with the bows that I reallyreallyreally wanted in the first place.  The whole reason I ever ordered from SimplyBe at all.  Still.  Hadn't.  Arrived.  I wrote a message on the SimplyBe Facebook wall, and customer service on there reassured me that the dress was coming back in stock.  By now it's about October.  I ordered in August.

I finally got word via my order history on the website that it was supposed to come back in stock on November 15, 2012.  I was really excited and happy.  November 15 comes and goes with no word.

On November 23rd, I've tried to contact SimplyBe via email at their "contact us" email address, but it keeps getting returned to me, so I try posting to the Facebook wall again:

No reply from them, but oddly enough, I receive an email out of the blue that my order was CANCELLED.  Hmmm.  Suspicious to say the least.

The real kick in the pants at all of this is that the dress is listed as IN STOCK in my size on their site right now.  So why was my order cancelled?

I'm feeling really frustrated at this whole ordeal and I needed to vent somewhere.  It sucks because there are so few plus-size places to shop (especially at halfway decent/affordable prices!), but I can say with certainty that I will NOT be shopping at this website again, and I highly recommend that you stay away as well.

You've been warned!

In conclusion, anyone have some suggestions for good places where I can shop for cute plus size clothing?  You know, some place that would appreciate my business and hard-earned money?

now playing:


Totally Awesome Blog Hop.

Chantillysongs Blog hop

I recently joined the "Totally Awesome" blog hop, which I found via the Charlie Foxtrot blog, and hosted by:

For some reason, the button doesn't link to the list of people on the blog hop, it just links back to Chantilly's blog.  So here is the link to the blog hop with all of the bloggers on the hop, if you're looking for some new fun blogs to follow!

now playing:


Iggy @ 10 Months

Technically... Iggy is 10.5 months right now.  But I realized I wasn't keeping up with my every 2 months schedule and I want to make sure I'm on track for the big first birthday party!  ...Whatever that ends up being...

Anyways, the big news is up on the top photo.  Iggy is STANDING.  On his own.  It's so cute.  No walking or stepping just yet, but standing for lengths of time, completely unsupported.  He can also now clap (like a normal person, not just flapping his arms up & down), and will sometimes echo noises people make.  No full-on words with intention yet, but intentional sounds at least.  Another new quirk of his is shaking his head "no" at really funny times, like when my mom tried to kiss him.  I don't know if he fully realized what he was communicating, but it was still pretty darn funny.

Iggy drinks from a sippy cup now instead of a bottle.  When we went for his 9 month doctor appointment (on Halloween, sheesh), the nurse seemed alarmed that I hadn't tried to give him a sippy cup yet.  I was all "what?" because I had no idea that he was old enough yet (remember, he's my first, and I'm the girl who refused to take a birthing class, so I'm kind of a figurer-outer on my own type...) but apparently the doctors office freaks out if they still have a bottle at 12 months and GOOD LORD WHY HADN'T I STARTED TRYING YET?!

Well, that's how it went in my head movies.

So I freaked out and started giving him the sippy cup which was frustrating at first, but within two weeks he had it down.  Now it's like no problem.  Why were they freaking out at the doctor?  All it did was freak me out.  Anywhoo... it's all good now.

Iggy's eating all sorts of regular-ish food now.  His favorite is shredded cheese.  He double-fists it into his mouth, but half of it dumps all over his lap so he has a shreddy cheesy diaper area.  It's a horrible mess.  In other food news, I've begun blending tofu into his food (think avocado-tofu and cheesy cauliflower tofu purees) and he seems to be cool with it.  He does not, however, seem to be a big fan of scrambled eggs.  I even tried mixing cheese into them but to no avail.  He eats a tiny tiny bite and then he's done, no more.

Iggy only has his two front lower teeth.  He's been chewing and seemingly teething for over a month now, but nothing new.  You can see in the photo below his bizarre new habit of putting the pacifier into his mouth pointing upwards.  What a weirdo.

Last weekend we took Iggy to see Santa.  We waited in line for an hour, and he was really well behaved.  He watched the kids in front of us go up and see Santa and he laughed.  Then I brought him up, and as I leaned over to hand Iggy to Santa, he started to squirm and fuss.  Oh geez.  But Santa flipped him around and was all "photo!" and it was over in less than 30 seconds.  Eh, maybe next year Iggy?  At least if he was gonna cry I was hoping it would be a full-on reaching out for mom howl.  I got this in-between crabby face, which I see plenty of on an everyday basis.

I really enjoy how much Iggy is turning into an independent little person.  I relish seeing him sitting on the floor, concentrating very hard on a toy or book.  I love seeing him pull himself up to standing and slowly letting go.  The excitement on his face when he realized he was standing was inexplicable.  So amazing.

See you in another two months for the next Iggy installment!

now playing:


Another weird collection

I was organizing my art studio the other day and realized I have kind of a weird collection that I'd like to share.  I save interesting and fun tags from items that I like.  Sometimes it's a brand name item I couldn't normally afford, so it's fun from a memorabilia standpoint (remember when I splurged - or saved up - and bought myself that fancy purse?) but other times I just like the graphic design, or its from a favorite designer.

I have a small bulletin board that hangs behind my work area - most of the time I forget it's even there, and it holds my tag collection.  It's 8x10 inches, and I made it out of an old picture frame and a cork square.

Here's what my collection contains at present:
  1. Tarina Tarantino - the older tag had a female face with crazy hair.  The newer tags have the simpler "bow" logo.  I also have one from the Tokyo Hardcore Collection.
  2. Hello Kitty - There's a ton of different tags, these are just two I particularly enjoyed the graphic design on.
  3. Betsey Johnson - still my number one favorite.  Wish I had the money (and the body) to buy more.
  4. Chanel - this one's a cheater.  I love Chanel, but can't afford anything besides the occasional makeup item here or there.  This tag came with some Chanel buttons my aunt gave me.  I'm saving them for a special art or craft project one day.
  5. Anna Sui - This is the tag from her Anna Sui for Target line.  I still have two dresses from this collection.  They're too small right now, but I'll never get rid of them.  I dream one day I'll be able to wear them again.
  6. Harajuku Lovers - I found my purse at Marshall's for an excellent price.  Score!
  7. Harajuku Mini - I still snag the boy's stuff at Target whenever I can.  Especially if I find it on the clearance rack - oh boy!
  8. Rodarte for Target - I think I purchased almost the whole collection on this one.  Again, stuff I have that doesn't fit, but I wont get rid of...
  9. Marvel/Converse - tag from my wonder woman shoes.  It's made of real heavy cardboard.  I like when companies put tons of thought into packaging and stuff like this.

So, I start to wonder sometimes if I begin to seem like a hoarder when I show you my various "collections," but since I haven't been doing any outfit/personal style posts, this is what you get.  All my stuff.  Feel free to show me all your weird stuff, too.  I'm ok with it.

now playing:


Meatless Chili

If you've ever stopped by my about page, you'd know that I don't eat meat.  People love to taunt me and think it's a challenge to try to "get me" to eat meat, or even try to trick me into eating it, as though my not eating meat is a direct threat to them.  Really?  I don't give you crap for eating meat - try not to give me any attitude for my choices, ok?


Here's the thing: I agree that certain meat-containing recipes are delicious.  I didn't stop eating meat because I thought it tasted icky.  I just like animals.  To pet.  Or go "aw, how cute." But not to eat.  That's all, no judgement on those who do.  Just my thing.

One recipe I've always loved is chili.  I like to mix it about 1/2 and 1/2 with elbow noodles, and sometimes I top it with some sour cream and cheese.  Yum.  But have you ever had "vegetarian" chili? It usually has a buttload of vegetables in it.  Like corn and carrots.  Damn, dude, stop ruining my chili with vegetables.  (Disclaimer: I actually love veggies, so no hate on that.  It's just, in my chili?  No.)

So, I have an awesome chili recipe to share with you that I developed all by my lonesome that's pretty pure to the basic chili concept: beans and tomatoes and "meat."  Well, fake meat.

It can be made on the stovetop in about 30 minutes, or you can dump everything into the crock pot and set it on low until you get home.  How versatile!  Here ya go:

HellRazor Meatless Chili:
  • Large 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped small
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups (approximately 1 bag/package) meatless "crumbles" (I like Boca.)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste
Add-ins and toppings (optional):
  • elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • shredded cheese (typically cheddar)
  • chopped onions
  • sour cream
  • oyster crackers (in lieu of macaroni)
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sautee garlic, oil, and onions until onions are translucent.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes and beans.  Stir.
  3. Add "meat" and spices.  Stir again.
  4. Let simmer approximately 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with toppings/add-ins as desired
(for crockpot version, just dump all ingredients into the pot, stir, cover, and set on low 6-8 hours)

You can actually double the recipe for a large group of people. This recipe feeds 4-6, depending on portion sizes.  If you choose to double the recipe, only use 1 1/2 times the spices.  

I like to make this for the two of us as dinner, and then I have lunch for a couple of days, too.  This is a yummy leftover, and easy to take to work.

now playing:


Xmas Ticket Presents!

I'm so excited!  Todd and I have a hard time surprising each other at Christmas, so sometimes we make agreements (like last year) where we just won't buy for eachother, or we buy a "couples" gift that both of us will use and enjoy.  This year we decided to buy tickets to shows!  We both get to go out (date night, woo!) and see an awesome concert, but we feel like we also get an individual "present" because we get to pick which specific shows we want to see.

I picked Soundgarden (I've never seen them live, can you believe it?) - I'm a huge Soundgarden/Chris Cornell fan - yep, even the Scream album he did with Timbaland, I love that one!  So we have tickets for January 29th at the Riviera theater in Chicago.  Gotta make sure I go dig out my flannel!

Just TWO DAYS before this show, on January 27th, we'll be at the Riviera (again) for The Darkness, which is the show that Todd picked to go see!  I've never seen The Darkness live either, so I'm pretty excited for this one.  Expect some blog post action where I share all the fun concert-going deets with you!

(And if this wasn't exciting enough, Iggy's first birthday is January 31st!  What a week this will be!)

now playing:


DIY: Chalkboard Signs

So, here's a DIY idea that's not super mind-blowingly original, but I wanted to show off my project anyways.  Todd cut this speech bubble-shaped sign from out of plywood (it's like 1/4 inch thick plywood, but you could cut it out of particleboard or nicer wood - whatever floats your boat.

If you're not feeling real confident on drawing and cutting your own speech bubble, I've made you a template here.  It fits onto standard 8.5"x11" paper, but you could choose to blow it up if you want to go larger.  I also recommend sanding down the edges of your cutout (see how mine look kind of rounded?  That's sanding.)  You can also add one of those little sawtooth hangers on the back if you wanna hang your sign.  Mine's just flat because it's sitting on the mantle right now.  Might add a hanger later.  This sign would also make an awesome photo prop!

You've probably found a ton of "recipes" for chalkboard paint online.  Honestly, anytime I've wanted to make a chalkboard, I just use flat black paint.  Wait, I take that back.  We did use paint labeled "chalkboard paint" for our basement door/entryway board, but for this project (and several other past ones) I've simply used flat black paint.  It works.  Seriously.

So, we gave this wooden speech bubble cutout a couple coats of flat black paint, and let it dry.  One good suggestion for any chalk board is to "condition" it first with a piece of chalk: rub a piece of chalk on it's side to coat the board, then wipe away with a soft cloth eraser.  Then you're good to go.

Now, perhaps you wanna make your sign look all spiffy like mine.  There's a couple of secrets that not all websites share regarding this.  First of all, they're NOT using regular chalk.  It's a chalk marker.  I went to Michael's and found one for myself (it's by Craft Smart, and has a chisel tip).  Here's a comparable one I found on Amazon (click image for link):

So now that you have a marker and can achieve those pretty clean lines, you need to be able to do lettering!  I found FREE fonts that you can download to layout, print out, and then use to copy your own lettering design onto your sign!  I used Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded for the "Lebans" section of the sign, and I used Bergamot Ornaments for the "The" section (hint: it's the lowercase z key).  These are both free fonts you can download from DaFont.com - one of my very favorite websites!

I have to add one little snafu that came up with designing my sign.  For some reason, the Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded font wasn't (and still isn't) showing up in Microsoft Word... but it works just fine in Adobe Photoshop, so I just did my layout and printing from there.  Bergamot worked just fine on Word though.  I'm on a MacBook Pro, if that makes a difference to anyone out there.  If you try it out and it works, or if you have any ideas, please let me know!

I think I'm going to use these fonts to make a "grocery list" banner for the top of our entryway board, you know, so it looks all fancy.  If you make something, be sure to show it off so I can go check it out!

now playing: 


Right now...

Last week was a rough week, from many angles.  My grandma is in the hospital, and not doing well.  There's a whole bunch of ridiculous unnecessary family drama - both related and unrelated to the grandma thing.  For once, work may have been the least bad thing!  But there's always work drama too.  And it was pottery wheel week, so it's super messy and super stressful when that time comes.  Oh, and I've had some health things going on too... I'm being put on low dose thyroid meds, so we'll see how that goes.  I was told that your thyroid can cause you to feel overall crappy anyways, so my health issues may have just amplified everything else.  Oh geez.

So, here's to a better week this week.

I got through last week by making this self-portrait as grumpy cat.  Mad photoshop skillz.

now playing: 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...