4.30.2011

Adventure is Out There!

Leaving to Peru today! Passport, check. Antibiotics, check. iPod, check. Books, magazines, stationery, check, check, check.


Here are just a few of the songs that will keep me company on my journey:
"Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkle
"Uummannaq" by KT Tunstall
"Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap
"The Dog Days are Over" by Florence & the Machine
"SueƱos" by Juanes
"Bien o Mal" by Julieta Venegas
"Awake my Soul" by Mumford & Sons
"Sigh No More" by Mumford & Sons
"Only the Wine" by David Gray
"Runaway" by Mat Kearney


Please pray that I make it to Peru safely! This is the first time I've traveled internationally by myself, and it's going to be a looong day. I'm nervous & excited & anxious & content. I'll be sure to share my adventures along the way. ♥

4.28.2011

When Anticipation Overflows...

In 48 hours, I will be South America-bound. A continent that has always intrigued me, and one that I never guessed I would experience by myself. I'm going into this experience with as few expectations as possible (to avoid any ounce of disappointment and also because my imagination is not what it once was, and all the things I will soon experience seem utterly abstract as of yet).

I spent yesterday preparing. Sprayed my clothes with permethrine, organized my slew of OTC meds, downloaded some new songs, did laundry. It hasn't entirely hit me yet, and I'd like to keep it that way. Once it does hit I'm going to be a blubbering mess of excitement.

Tonight my sister & friends are coming over to say arrivederci. We're having orzo stuffed bell peppers (yum) & in honor of the city I will be venturing to (Cusco), we're watching The Emperor's New Groove, featuring Emperor Kuzco.

4.26.2011

Easter 2011

What a wonderful Easter! Celebrated mass at 7am with the family & then went out to breakfast. Took a nap and had an early dinner with the whole family. Delicious homemade goodies, egg hunt, and tower building. It was a great celebration. Here are a few pictures.


Happy Easter! The celebration continues for 50 days!
In other news, Peru is getting close (figuratively speaking). T-minus 4 days, folks!

4.22.2011

Earth Day Craft: Fabric Covered Foam Soap Dispenser

Happy Earth Day, folks. It's also Good Friday, which in my opinion is WAAAAAY more important. Hope you have a good one. No favorites of the week today, but here's a fun craft to try!

Here are a few links for Good Friday reference & reflection.
One from my alma mater: Preparing for Good Friday
An article from last year: A Good Friday Reflection

Anyway, on to the tutorial. Have you ever bought foam soap? It's totally brilliant if you've never tried it. The face wash I buy is in a foam dispenser & I got tired of throwing the container away. Let's face it, there's enough plastic in our landfills... So, I decided to recycle & revamp. These make a great Mother's Day gift, which is coming up, by the way!

Turn liquid soap to foam soap using this simple trick:
The secret is in the pump apparatus. Foam soap is just liquid soap diluted down with some air added. Just mix 1/3 liquid soap (stray away from the ones that have beads because these can get stuck in the pump) to 2/3 water, shake it up to mix. I've even done this with body wash to stretch a buck.

For the craft part of the project, all you need is an old foam soap/face wash container, fabric and decoupage.
Paint a layer of decoupage onto the bottle & attach your fabric. Your hands will get sticky, so be excited. Paint a layer of decoupage on top of the fabric, and smooth out any bubbles. Let this dry for an hour or two and put an extra layer on.  You can keep it simple, or you can add some letters or decoration, just remember to seal it on with another layer of--yep, you guessed it--decoupage. Let it dry completely before filling with the soap & water mixture. *Note: if your bottle is wonky, just cut two pieces of fabric that match up with the shape & attach to the front and back.*

Now, wash off that sticky decoupage with some hand crafted foam soap! Enjoy. Very self explanatory tutorial, but pictures to follow later (sorry... busy busy).

Also, found this in my daily email from Hugh. Brilliant if you ask me. Don't get so caught up in environmental causes and being "green" that you forget that people are most important.

4.21.2011

Feel Like Running? & Book Club Love

The BolderBoulder was the first 10K I ever ran. In fact, the BB was the first race I ever ran. Period. I spontaneously signed up one year and trained a total of four days... (not recommended, that's why this post is coming to you 38 days before the race). I keep coming back every year. It's wonderful. So Denverites/Coloradoans/Boulderites/people who love to run and will be in the neighborhood, join me will you?


Let's get fit & get ready! I return from Peru the night before the race... so this year it's going to be interesting to say the least. Register here.

In other random news, book club was a lot of fun. No recipe post today because we were crunched for time and I barely had time to snap any pictures before the group arrived.


A great dialogue with great friends. It was a lovely evening. Strawberry goat cheese salad, chicken with tomatoes, garlic mashed potatoes. Homemade pecan sandies, vanilla ice cream and praline sauce for dessert. Yum. The next book we're tackling is Let's Take the Long Road Home by Gail Caldwell. I'm also putting on my list of books to read: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The movie debuts in theatres tomorrow.

Holy Thursday and a rainy one here in the Mile-High city. Sipping on some fresh pressed coffee with almond syrup. Great day.


4.20.2011

What She Wore Wednesday, Freckles & Stationery Goodness

First outfit post features my sister, who always looks good--no matter what. Here's one of her casual outfits.

Shirt: H&M Paris. Necklace: Cotton Lane. Jeans: Martin & Osa. Shoes: Ross. Glasses: Target Optical. Delicate bracelet: Ignace Paris. Black silicon bracelet: Church, it says Sacrificium for a reminder throughout Lent.

On Friday, I got a special package from Ms. Megan. I was so giddy. I can't wait to send the beautiful cards I got. Faithful pen pals, be excited you might be receiving one in the next few days! Check out her very affordable & snail-mail friendly Etsy store, Moon Beam Wishes. Can't rave about her enough. Oh, and she has a wonderful blog found here. I was also lucky enough to be her 80th sale, so she included some extra goodies. I am thrilled!


I downloaded this pattern last night from Keyka Lou & hope to make one or two of these before I head south. Maybe one for Mama, as I will miss Mother's Day this year. If you want to buy one of her lovely patterns, scurry on over there quick! Her $5 pattern sale ends today. Love that fabric too? It's from dotty logic.

& of course, freckles. Brought to you courtesy of Mr. Golden Sun & the grainy setting on the camera.


Happy Wednesday, all. Book club tonight, which means a special recipe for you tomorrow! Linking up with one of my favorite blogs, The Pleated Poppy for her famous What I Wore Wednesday feature.

the pleated poppy blog

4.18.2011

La Semana Santa: The Holiest of Weeks

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, began Holy Week. I wanted to post some helpful references and tips on how to make it a truly holy Holy Week and exactly what this week leading up to Easter is all about.

Palm Sunday
Daily readings for Monday of Holy Week
Daily readings for Tuesday of Holy Week
Daily readings for Wednesday of Holy Week
Daily readings for Holy Thursday, information about Holy Thursday
Daily readings for Good Friday of the Lord's Passion, information about Good Friday
Holy Saturday
Easter Sunday, information on Easter Sunday

Having a Blessed Holy Week, a reflection by Archbishop Dolan of New York
A site full of helpful reflections & resources

It's a beautiful time in the Church to reflect on the sacrifice & love that Jesus had for every one of us.

My alarm buzzed at 04:32 this morning & every bone in my body wanted to go back to sleep. I almost did until I thought about Jesus's sacrifice, all the more relevant this week. One more hour of sleep or feeding the flock at a local homeless shelter? Luckily, God gave me the grace to plant my feet on the floor & get moving. Made it downtown just a little late at 05:35 to help serve some of society's most neglected. It reminded me of what we celebrate this week, most especially of Holy Thursday where Jesus washes the disciples feet: "If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet" John 13:14. An outpouring of love. I experienced it today, and I hope you will experience it as well when you consider the sacrifice of the cross this week.


Have a blessed & holy Holy Week!
-Nicole

4.16.2011

Saturday Snapshot: 04.16.11

In summer of 2008, I flew to Cleveland to visit Griffin and his family. Our ultimate goal was to spend the summer in Colorado, so with little money in our wallet and a lot of courage, we bought bus tickets. Greyhound bus tickets from Cleveland to Denver. Along the way we met some nice people, met some recently released convicts, hit up Arby's at 3am, stopped by Chicago, and got pink eye! By the time we made it to Denver we were a sight for sore eyes, that's for sure. Couldn't have done it without love & travel Scrabble! So many fun adventures with that guy. Check out that sweet panoramic! Linking up at Yellow Songbird.



yellow songbird

4.15.2011

Four Favorites Friday: 04.15.11

Happy Tax Day & Friday to you all. Hope it's been a fabulous week. Mine was wonderful & busy (and included quite a few holes in my body... shots in preparation for Peru).


1. This brilliant honeycomb-style shelving. Found via Design*Sponge with a full how-to & it seems fairly easy to make. Griffin ♥s woodworking, so maybe I'll have him make something like this for me... It reminds me of bees & organic chemistry & happy.

2. Hello delicious recipe! Stumbled upon Kevin & Amanda's blog the other day, and I'm telling you I honestly drooled. She has great tips about blogging, photographing, and delicious recipes. She even has a feature where you can click a picture & it will tell you what settings she used and what camera for each picture. Brilliant!

 3. Kojo Designs (love that blog, beautiful sisters) is hosting a month of copy-cat projects that they call The Sincerest Form of Flattery. Many of my projects are copy-cats & I love making beautiful replicas and saving money all at the same time. Check out this project where Tasha from Creation Corner made a delightful tote bag based off of one from Pottery Barn. Love it! Find the full tutorial here.

 4. Lofted beds. I love sleeping up high. I was always the girl that wanted the top bunk, and I loved the cruises with the family where the beds popped out of the ceiling. I'm loving the space-saving idea of lofted beds. Maybe Griff can build us one if we get married (don't want to jinx anything, so I'll use the "if"... even though it's hopefully a "when"). Bed found via Houstic... very fun site. Also, pictures of my new bed coming soon!



Volunteering at a health fair tomorrow & getting ready for Peru. Nothing else on the weekend agenda besides sleeping and taking it easy! PS-It's almost HOLY WEEK! Have a great one!

4.14.2011

Caprese Inspired Balsamic Chicken Salad

I hope you are experiencing some nice weather like we are here in the Mile-High city. Scratch that. It's snow/raining & gloomy. Perfect day for a cup of tea & a new recipe! Gotta love days like this. Whip out that rainy day playlist!

This is a quick, delicious & healthy chicken salad my sister and I came up with. It's light, fresh, and reminiscent of spring. It can be used as an appetizer (top on crackers), as a main course (as a sandwich), or even as a thick dip.

Ingredients:
1 can of Member's Mark canned chunk chicken breast (you could also use shredded chicken out of the crock pot)
1.5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt (not pictured)
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper (not pictured)
1 tbsp. chopped basil (use fresh basil, not dried)
1 roma tomato, diced (more depending on your taste)
Mozzarella cheese sticks, diced (optional)

Here's how to do it:
1. Drain chicken if you're using the canned stuff.
2. Place in a large bowl. Add all ingredients & stir.

Ingredients all mixed together.
3. This is where you can get creative. For an appetizer, top mixture on crunchy bread, crackers, or pita chips. Top with a little slice of mozzarella, and you're good to go. If you're using this as an appetizer, let each person construct their own because the dip can make the crackers soggy. For a sandwich, toast bread under the broiler until golden, add chicken mixture, top with more mozzarella or parmesan & broil again until cheese is melted and brown. Enjoy!
Topped with freshly grated Parmesan.

Broiled to perfection & ready to be devoured!

I made an open-faced sandwich out of mine. DE-licious & very easy.

4.11.2011

Weekend Wrap-up

What a wonderful weekend! Since it's Monday, let's relive it, shall we?

On Friday after work I picked up my grandma and we headed out to meet my sister for dinner. Had some time to kill before the movie so we went to *gasp* Starbucks (I know...). My grandma can count the number of times she's been to Starbucks on one hand, so we helped her order a Vanilla Mocha. Delicious! [Aside: does anyone else think the new logo just verifies the fact that SB has a near monopoly on the coffee business??? The mermaid is bigger and badder and they don't even need words... wee bit scary... just sayin']Then went to see Soul Surfer, which was wonderful. I had no idea it would have such Christian overtones, but was pleasantly surprised. Lots of good conversations. My grandma (75 years old) has recently come in contact with her first love (and fallen for him again). It's the most darling story. She, however, will not go visit him because his wife is still living (honorable thing to do, I'd say). The wife has very bad Alzheimer's and "Blackie" is by her side day in and day out despite her not remembering any bit of him. Just hearing the stories makes me feel like she's living inside a movie; her eyes get all misty as she gets lost in the memories. She's a wonderful, wonderful lady. I just love spending time with her! The best way to spend a Friday night for sure.

Saturday, Cass (sister), my mom & I went and got facials. Oh man, they were great. Had a lazy Saturday, and didn't do much else.

Spent Sunday resting, reading, cleaning, and laundering. Visited a friend's new baby. Went to church in the evening and had family dinner out at a local Italian place. I went shopping with my sister afterwards to pick out a purse & bought Hunter a toy, which he demolished within 8 minutes. Dogs will be dogs. Haven't caught up with Griffin (lover boy) yet this weekend, but he had a busy one. His nephew had "bring someone you love to school day" and when asked who he would invite, he said "Uncle Griffin!" ♥ Darling. Can't wait to hear all about it. We have a video chat date this week, so I'm looking forward to that.

Today is a busy one. I'm donating blood this afternoon, and then going to get all my lovely shots to prepare me for South America. Sore/dead arm tomorrow & looking forward to it! This trip is sneaking up on me, so I'm forced to stay on my game.


Spring is in full swing! Hip hip hooray. Here's to a great week! Recipe post & bed pictures to look forward to & a few other surprises.

4.08.2011

Four Favorites Friday: 04.08.2011

1. I'm currently reading this delightful novel for book club. Quite a nice change from the last book we read (Every Last One by Anna Quindlen). An old English man, a cup of tea or two, and all the fun British jargon. I'm in!

2. Fishtail braids! I love these. I'm still learning, but I think they add a little fun and elegance to any outfit. Here’s an easy tutorial (please note the sweet 80’s kid at the bottom). This beautiful blogger also shares my affection for these braids.

3. Date with my grandmas tonight to go see this movie! It features a Colorado girl as the star (yay) and tells the true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton. I'm positive that it's going to be great!

4. Caprese. It just makes my mouth water. The smell of fresh basil is intoxicating. It reminds me of spring and summer (& it's meatless). I will post a recipe next week for a caprese inspired dish! Souvlaki for the Soul has a great recipe for Caprese salad bruschetta if you've never tried it. The Fresh Fridge also has a good one. As Rachel Ray would say, "how good does that look?!"


My grandma gave me her antique wrought iron bed & I had a lot of fun setting it up last night (pictures soon). Had a nice long chat with the Mr. ♥, watched the Orioles win, and slept fabulously.

Happy Friday, all!

4.06.2011

My First Etsy Purchase

I know, I know. I'm such a rookie! All I know is that it won't--by any means--be my last. Here's the beauty right here courtesy of Cotton Lane:

I seriously got giddy when I saw the parcel & ran home from the mailbox because I was so thrilled. It's simple & elegant & so so great.

Caroline is the sweetest girl (alright so I've never met her in real life, but she is)! Her blog is darling & her Etsy store, wonderful.


If you've never checked her stuff out, please do. I know I will be a frequent flyer at her store! My sister now wants one of these necklaces in mustard.

24 days and counting until I leave to Peru, hit the gym this morning, and coffee with a friend planned tonight means I am a happy clam!

Have a GREAT day.

Oh, PS (this is a big PS), Caroline is hosting a giveaway for her blogiversary (YAY!). Hit up her blog here to find all the great ways you can enter! Good luck! Not to mention a rockin' discount code. Umm hello mustard necklace coming my way! :)

4.05.2011

Tutorial Tuesday: Cinched Sleeve T-Shirt Makeover

Easiest project. Are you ready?

Grab a sleeved t-shirt that needs some extra love, and flip inside out. I have about 10 of these "boyfriend tees," the ones that are V-neck and have a little pocket. Cute! But I rarely wear most of them anymore because they're all the same. Here's a quick & easy way I revamped one. You'll need scissors, matching thread, elastic & a t-shirt (probably all things you have on hand, so this project is very cheap or possibly free).

Starting at the hem where the shoulder meets the sleeve, stretch a piece of thin elastic down the length of the sleeve & cut. Here's the length mine ended up:

Pin to the hem where sleeve meets shoulder and sew to hold it in place.

With the presser foot down, hold the shirt and stretch the elastic. Continue to slowly sew as you guide the shirt along. Backstitch a few times & trim the threads.


Repeat on the other sleeve, and YOU'RE DONE! So easy & it adds some jazz to an otherwise un-loved tee. What a CINCH (pardon the pun, I just had to!).

Seriously, the cinched look is all the rage. You could do this to the bottom of a pair of capri-length leggings, up the sides of a t-shirt, etc. The possibilities are endless. Oh and that darling necklace I'm wearing, more on that tomorrow!

Happy Tuesday!


Tip Junkie handmade projects
craft

4.04.2011

Care Package to Paris

Random weekend. Watched an indoor lacrosse game, shopped, got my eyebrows threaded (first time!) & hoped to go the the Rockies with the fam, but after a record high of 83 on Saturday, the game was postponed due to rain/snow on Sunday! Oooh Colorado weather.

Lots of fun planned this week. I'm sending a care package to PJ in Paris including some great goodies & three crafts from the tutorials I've shared with you all.

After seeing my sister's and my eye masks, he desperately wanted one. I used a fabric called "Boys Will be Boys" that I thought was fitting! Tutorial found here.

The coffee cozy is not something he'll need much in Paris (very few take-out coffee places and very few cardboard cups), but it will be fun when he returns to cardboard-coffee-centric America. How-to here.

Personalized luggage tag. These colors are bright, fun & ready to help identify his bag (& yes it actually does have his address on it in real life)! You can do it too here.

Also to be included, is some macadamia nut oil for his hair. He got hooked after using some of my sister's. Makes the hair very very soft.

I'm also still working on Hunter's bed, mentioned in this post. Haven't met Hunter? Let me introduce you!

Hunter, blog friends. Blog friends, Hunter.

He's a doofus and I love him so. We have no idea how old he is because he's a rescue dog from the Denver Dumb Friends League, but he's still got some puppy zest left in him. Also, the above picture is a rarity, most often he closes his eyes in pictures (doesn't do so well with a flash). Case in point:


HA! Anyway... Here are the scrappy strips that will make up the sides of his bed. They're as boyish as I could get them.


I've cut the fleece (lovely dark grey), just have to make the sides even & assemble! I'll update with pictures!

Happy Monday. It's APRIL! Jump for joy!