Monthly Archives

November 2014

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Clearing my brain fog

November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Our wedding was over a month ago, December is next week. I don’t understand where time has gone. With the holiday hype starting earlier than ever (I swear I saw Christmas trees out before Halloween), it seems that Thanksgiving is just a blip on the holiday radar.

If I’m being truly honest, I myself haven’t given it much thought beyond making my dish to bring to our family gathering. In fact, I’m definitely at fault for ordering Christmas gifts already (in my defense, I do have to mail them across the ocean next week so they’re under my in-law’s tree in time, but still).

Driving to work in a light dusting of snow this morning, I realized I haven’t taken time to properly think about what I am grateful for. That’s part of the reason my post is late this week: I haven’t taken time to truly think about this time of year. I’m ashamed because I am extremely blessed and have so much to be thankful for. Yet my brain seems to be in a generalized fog: yes I’m lucky, yes I’m thankful, yes I am fortunate.

Not okay. If my above thoughts were put into an essay, I would fail the assignment miserably. Where is the evidence to support my claims?

Today, I am wiping off my brain fuzz and am putting some real thought into what exactly I am thankful for this year.

  • To be surrounded by incredibly supportive family and friends. Our wedding reinforced this for me. Keith and I spent over four years apart and through it all, our families and friends were there to hold us up when times were hard and to celebrate with us when they were good. For this, I am thankful.
  • To be able to go to work with a smile every day. A tumultuous career move earlier this year was one of the best decisions of my life. I feel valued and appreciated in my new job, which I know is hard to find. I’ve made new friends here, I am give the freedom and support to do my job how I best feel it should be done. For this, I am thankful.
  • To know love in many forms. Whether it’s love in the form of a friend, a cousin, my mom, my husband or my cat, I am so lucky to have such great love in my life. And don’t laugh about the cat, Sylvia has gotten me through some lonely times. For love, I am thankful.
While this list is far from complete, it is important to me that I take the time to do this. I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I let this holiday pass without taking the time to really prove to myself with specific examples just how much I have to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
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Recent projects: weekend edition

November 17, 2014
This weekend was chock full of crafting! Saturday was the perfect snowy day to begin my endeavors. After checking out the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, I have found a new love. The ReStore is full of lots of random things. My friend and I were greeted by stoves when we walked in, then we ventured over to the cabinet doors, sinks, light fixtures, toilets, you get my drift. Seriously, this place is great for cheap, basic pieces for your crafting needs. I was good and only bought what I needed for a Christmas present. And because of their low prices and discounts, I paid a whopping $1.33!
The Salvation Army and Goodwill were also on my list, and I picked up a few things at each. I’ll show you the Christmas present make once it’s finished, but for now, here are a few of my recent projects.
You’ll remember this chicken wire frame from a recent post. This weekend I remembered to grab some sawtooth hangers so I could hang it, and it makes a fun addition to my little corner spot. I can’t wait until we get our wedding photos so I can add them to the frame. It will either be those or some photos from a trip to Pairs. Stay tuned.

Here is my super simple burlap wreath I made this weekend. All it took was two rolls of burlap, a wire wreath frame and a bit of floral wire and ta-dah, I finally can replace my old ornament wreath that’s slowly been losing it’s baubles.
And finally, here is the finished table I painted in my first experiment with milk paint. Though I didn’t work on this table specifically this weekend, I did help a friend repaint her coffee table with milk paint, so I thought it was fitting.

What do you think of my latest creations? I promise I’m working on taking nicer photos, I just couldn’t be bothered to get out my camera on a Sunday night to take pictures.
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Recent projects: chicken wire frame

November 11, 2014
You know how life sometimes gets in the way? Well that’s what happened with this project. I bought the frame a few months ago at the Oronoco Gold Rush Days, an awesome antique show/flea market/swap meet. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it was in August. And it’s now November. And I just finished. BUT at least I finished!
Some friends and I went to the Gold Rush on the last day. I was told that prices were often marked down, though we were running the risk of all the “good stuff” being gone. Well, treasures were there to be found my friends! I scored an awesome bench for our entry way and a vintage lace wedding dress. Yes, I did call my then-fiance and told him I’d bought a second dress (gosh I’m so funny). There is a ton of lace on the dress in perfect condition which is now patiently waiting in my closet for inspiration to hit.
At the end of the day, we came upon a stall where everything was marked half off. Obviously we stopped. That’s when I found this guy. For a whopping $5, it was all mine!
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the frame. I started by stripping off the original paint. Unbeknownst to me, underneath the layer of (awful) green paint was another layer of (even more awful) yellow paint! So the stripping process took longer than I had originally planned and by the time the paint was mostly off, I was done for the day.
Fast forward a few more weeks, when Keith and I were quickly tackling the coffee table I talked about here. Since the paint was out, I decided to quickly paint the frame. Once that was finished, all I had to do was attach the chicken wire.
Except that I didn’t like the paint color. I was using the minty blue-green I’d used in a number of other projects, and I think I overdid it. So the frame sat disassembled in the garage for a few more weeks.
About two weeks ago, I went to Adourn for a milk paint demo. BINGO! Found the perfect color for the frame! It only took me two weeks after the demo to find a free Sunday to finish the piece. I lugged the frame into the basement, which is now my crafting area of choice, and painted the whole frame with Trophy, a stunning deep gray from Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. Piece of cake. Now to just add the chicken wire.
It was then I realized I didn’t have a staple gun which is very necessary for putting the chicken wire on the back. A quick trip to Home Depot remedied that, and I was finally finished (after some help hammering from the ever-so-helpful Sylvia).
Life is funny sometimes. I always think “oh, I could be a crafty person and make some really cool things” and I fill up my Pinterest board with hopeful projects. But then time slides by and my projects end up sitting in the garage for weeks (or months).

But when things do settle down for a few moments and I come back to those half-forgotten projects, I am always so excited just to be making something with my own hands. With this project especially, I feel really proud that the finished piece turned out just how I wanted it to. It reminded me that I am crafty, as long as I remember to spend some time doing what I enjoy.  
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Local food movement

November 3, 2014
One thing I’ve become more and more passionate about recently has been local foods. I think the global food market is great for expanding food choices, brining new revenue options to the countries that produce these foods (I’m thinking of quinoa, a “supergrain” that comes from South America, or lentils, which originated in the Mediterranean).
That being said, I am a huge advocate for buying things from your local community. By supporting someone geographically close to you, you are putting your money back in your community, supporting your local economy. I was hit by a wave of enthusiasm for the local food movement again this weekend when I attended the Feast! Festival.
After talking with one of the organizers for an article I wrote (which you can read here), I was totally revved up for this gathering of local food merchants. Over 100 vendors congregated in the Mayo Civic Center to showcase their products. It was a fabulous display of hard work and determination, as starting your own company is hard enough without attempting to navigate the licensing procedures that go along with the food and beverage industries.
All of the vendors at the show seemed so happy to be there! A friend and I perused the aisles, trying out some of the incredible foods and talking with their makers. A few of my favorites: Alemar Cheese Company (they make the most incredible soft cheese I’ve ever had and are based in Manako), Gray Duck Chai(awesome chai tea concentrate made in Minneapolis), Triple Crown BBQ Sauce (which makes unreal barbecue sauce, based in Minneapolis) and Urbal Tea (teas made in Milwaukee).
Every time we stopped and talked with the makers, you got a sense of pride and joy in their product. Many of their ingredients are also sourced locally, which makes such a great web of local economic activity.
There is something incredibly satisfying about making a purchase you know is going to be truly appreciated by the company, and I feel like every dollar is well-spent when I buy from someone local. Being able to talk face to face with business owners, being able to try their food and realize just how wide-ranging the local food community is, even here is southeast Minnesota, is truly something to cherish.

What are some of your favorite local food discoveries?