Twelve Seven

Sorry, all two people who read this – I have been MIA due to family and work obligations!  It happens.  I know you understand.

I have a growing obsession with hand thrown pottery.  There’s just something about a hand crafted bowl or candle stick that I really love.  I am slowly collecting pieces and also scoping out others that I desire.  It is my goal to replace my IKEA dishes with a pottery set one day.

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Kate and I went to an event called Empty Bowls on Saturday.  For a $15, you got a bowl and then were able to fill it with soup, salad, bread, desserts – all from local restaurants.  All proceeds were split between the Food Bank of South Jersey and The Perkins Center for the Arts which is where the event was held.  Bowls sold out FAST!  We were able to snag two we really liked (K picked out her own, on the left).

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These candle sticks had been a gift to my mom many years ago (even before I was born!).  I have always admired them and when I moved into my very own home, she let me take them (it may or may not have included some serious arm twisting).  I am still waiting to purchase the perfect beeswax tapers (also holding out hope that Santa brings me the Bayberry tapers from a previous post) to put in them.

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This little gem here, holding Kate the Elf, was a piece a roommate of mine had left behind.  She was a fine arts restoration major and apparently had made this little cup/pitcher combination in one of her pottery classes as an undergrad.  When she left, it was just sitting alone in a cabinet so, I snagged it and gave it a good home.  I have had it ever since.

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I am absolutely obsessed with East Fork Pottery.  I love their “classic collection” minus the tumbler (I just prefer the feeling of glass).  I just wish it came in all eggshell.  I’m a little too weird about my colors being coordinated.

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I also cannot get enough of these handmade plates from tdqceramics on Etsy.  I love the shape of them, which is strange because I usually crave serious structure in my decor.  They are a definite investment at $275 per setting but perhaps something I could collect gradually?

Does anyone else love handmade pottery as much as I do?  What do you collect?

 

 

 

Twelve – Two

Friday.  Finally.

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Above is my first attempt at Minimal Christmas Decorating 2016.  Oddly enough, I like how that little bookshelf looks.  At first I was all – it’s way too bare.  But, now, looking at that expertly Instagrammed photo – I’m liking it.  Simple.  CALM.  Only problem is we’re one outlet short.  Oh well, time to go get another surge protector.

Side note: I am still on the hunt for an NES Classic for Brett.  It’s a bit ridiculous but, oh well.

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img_67181(My mom made this advent tree and our kids love it.  Ornament one was being hot-glued while I took this photo.)

Rabbit Rabbit.

December 1st.  This day marks the beginning of my most favorite time of year, Christmastime.  And as our family slowly begins to decorate our home, a wave of warmth and comfort rushes over me.

I have this strong urge to really minimize our holiday decor this year, although I am not sure that will go over very well since my husband lives and breathes Christmas.  He actually already has his very own little tree up on the screened in porch for all of his sports ornaments.  He would be happy with every room in the house decorated.  I draw the line at bedrooms and the bathroom (sorry, B).

traditional-christmas-decor(Brett’s dream Christmas decor)

I continue to scour the internet for minimal Christmas decor inspiration but none of it really works for my house.  Most of the pictures I find are of blank, white walls with perfectly aligned bookshelves.  Not, lived in by a rotating cast of anywhere between 3 – 5 people and 3 cats.  I am pretty sure they are 100% staged for the internet.

e17a8283ba0b6a550c86ee6d6e980bcd(While this is gorgeous, my cats would be all up in those streamers, and my 5 year old would be trying to re-purpose those stumps as gymnastic equipment.  Is putting stumps in your house an actual thing anyway?)

I also follow a few super minimal bloggers who are posting their suggestion but, I want a bit more than just washi-taping a few sprigs of holly to my wall.  I’m not that minimal.

We’ve amassed quite a collection of really cool, vintage items over the past few years.  Perhaps, we could try only decorating with those items this go-round?  Brett did already put up the tin MERRY CHRISTMAS banner we have.  Thoughts?

img_3088(Yes, I showed this photo on my elf post but, there’s the STMAS in the tin banner.  It’s actually super cool.)

img_31171(Our crazy vintage flocked wreath.  The Santas freak Kate out.  Ah well, you can’t please everyone.)

img_30651(My really awesome bubble lamp from the antique store.  Sorry the picture is in my kitchen, I’ll stage it better next time.)

 

 

 

Gift Giving – Wife Edition

Last night, Brett asked me to curate a list of Christmas gifts I would like.  Oddly enough, this is rather difficult for me because, while there are plenty of items I would enjoy to have – when push comes to shove, there is nothing that I truly need.  But, since it’s Christmas time, I will play along and attempt to think of five items I would love to see wrapped up with my name on them!

1.Tombow Beginner Lettering Set by Tombow USA ($15.99)

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I am not the most artsy/craftsy person out there.  However, I do love handwriting things.   As a child I had terrible handwriting and my mother would make me copy books to correct it.  Now, I have (what I think is) lovely handwriting.  I get complements all the time.  Because of this, I really would like to learn how to hand letter properly.

2.10″ Bayberry Tapered Candles by Food 52 ($48)

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This time of year, I love lighting candles.  In fact, I have already gone through a ridiculous amount of my beeswax tea lights that I bought off of Etsy a few weeks ago.  I have a pair of vintage candle holders that my mother gave me a few years back.  I remember them from growing up and I would love to actually start using them, rather than just have them sitting out for decoration.

3.Recipe Cookbook from Amazon ($17.99)

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If you ever saw my kitchen, you’d likely notice the massive amount of both cookbooks and random recipes printed out and tucked into as many places as I can squeeze them.   Since I would not only really like to be able to find a “home” for my favorite paper recipes, but also have something to one day pass down to Kate, I think that this simple binder of collected recipes would be a very nice thing to have.

4.Chef’s Towel Set by Snowe ($32)

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My friend Jess recommended linen dishtowels a few months ago.  So, I bought a few vintage ones (also note: very loud and mildly obnoxious in design) and she was right, they are the best at drying.  Took a while to get rub your face in them soft but, very absorbant once they were.  Of course, three is not really enough as one is always dirty so, I would love some additional towels.  These striped ones are lovely and one can always use a clean dish towel…

5.Day at the Beach Tumbler by Bennington Potters ($18)

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My parents have a house up in Vermont, not too far from Bennington Potters.  Every time I go up there, I always mean to stop in and buy myself a piece of pottery.  I can tell you with all honesty that I have only been in the shop once and I still have yet to purchase anything.   I would enjoy starting a nice mug collection and maybe one day move up to place settings!

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Dream gift: Ultimate Cooking Set by Poulder’s Old World Market ($132)

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These are handcrafted spoons.  A good set of wooden cooking utensils is on my dream list.  These two beautiful spoons are more money than anything I have asked for combined.   I hope, in years to come, that I can buy myself (or be gifted) one piece at a time to start a collection.  Some girls want jewelry, I want handmade wooden spoons.

On the Elf on the Shelf

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A few years ago, my mother did what is probably one of the most heinous things a person can do – she bought my kid an Elf on the Shelf.   I thought I was going to kill her.  Regardless, the little bugger now comes to our house every Black Friday.  Meet “Kate” our elf on the shelf (can you tell that my daughter is really gifted in the naming department?).

Yesterday, during lunch at work, we discussed the elf on the shelf.  Most of the adjectives used to describe the elf were expletives, followed with a lot of grunts and sighs.  And, I would say 99% of us admitted to being satisfied if the thing simply remembered to move from night to night.  No, elaborately staged elf scenes here, although I do know a few people who go all out.

How do I feel about the elf really?  I don’t know.  As an exhausted parent, I do like the little extra help I get in the behavior department.  However, I know that since every family has different traditions, it can get a bit dicey.  For instance, Kate saw an elf out at her friend’s house Sunday.  It had been a birthday present for their son the day before.  She stared at it with both horror and confusion as she tried to determine why their elf was already at their house.  I dodged that bullet (hopefully) by explaining that since their elf was new to their family, he needed some time to acclimate, so Santa sent him early.  And, last year, she came home from preschool in tears because a boy in her class touched their elf (actually it was a reindeer) and it lost it’s “magic”.  Thankfully, a quick email to her teacher remedied the problem but, she was very distraught for an entire weekend.

One of the best things about the elf is that Brett’s boys really enjoy moving it around on the nights they are over.  If anyone makes the elf come alive, it’s them, which is appreciated.  It’s also fun that they can get involved with helping Kate have Christmas magic.

I guess then, we really only have a few days to locate Kate the Elf and get him located in some strategic spot in the house before her return from her Dad’s this weekend.  Is anyone else getting geared up to bring out their elf?  What are some of your favorite elf traditions?  Or, do you just skip the whole thing all together because it creeps you out?  Let me know!

shopping small, part 1.

every year my mother and i get up at some god-awful hour on black friday and head out to join the crowds.  it’s a tradition we’ve created and it kind of kicks off the holiday season for me.  while i am looking forward to doing it again, this year it’s more geared towards just following tradition as we are really waiting to pull out our wallets for small business saturday.  there’s just something about buying from family owned shops over monstrous super stores that appeals to the romantic in me.

i have already started shopping small this year, with the motto: fewer, better (borrowed from the many emails i get from the company cuyana).  side note: if anyone is in the market for a gift for me, i have been wanting their classic tote for a few years now, see below…

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brett and i went to a small works show at an art center local to us and i got a beautiful glass ornament for my aunt and a pretty little bud vase for my cousin.  neither too big, but both visually pleasing, handcrafted, and well thought out.

for my brother and sister in law, we had already picked up an amazing hand cut paper quote from squirrel tacos (love the name) and some beeswax birthday candles from the same etsy shop i ordered the advent candles from (although, these candles are pre-made, lol).

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sometimes, i understand that you can’t always shop small.  for instance, brett’s teenaged boys want playstation stuff.  unfortunately, no one but playstation makes playstation consoles and games.  so, we cannot do a 100% small christmas at this time.  maybe as the kids get older?  but, for the people in my life who will appreciate a gift that is more thought out, and likely better made and sourced, i will continue the small shopping hunt.

 

things to do

the holidays are just around the corner.  i know this because i woke up to brett playing “wonderful christmastime” to kate this morning.  they both love christmas music and the beatles, so – i suppose it was to be expected.  anywho, just like most people out there, i have a lot of prep to do to be ready for these upcoming holidays (is anyone ever truly ready for the holidays?).

1.test run sourdough

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that there is my sourdough starter.  i began making it a few weeks ago and it spent all last weekend/week in the fridge “sleeping”.  i left it out to wake up last night and fed it this morning.  i have very good intentions of making up some sour dough rolls for the week and some sour dough cinnamon rolls for thanksgiving morning.  oh, and yes – i work in a field that requires laboratory work, so that jar was something they left for us with treats in it. i just took it home and am using it for my starter.  (and behind that is my cranberry kombucha on it’s secondary ferment)

2.order advent candle kit

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i saw this adorable advent candle kit on etsy, available from Sunflower Candles.  it’s reasonably priced and it would be a fun activity to do with kate.  i also am trying to switch all my candles over to natural beeswax as it is supposed to be more environmentally sustainable.  hopefully, i can order this today (along with a few other christmas gifts) and it will arrive in time for us to make it to begin advent next sunday, the 27th!

3.apple pie pre-bake

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that there is last year’s dessert spread from thanksgiving 2015, which i hosted. (you can see one of my sister in laws here ignoring my horrifically ugly carpet to the left of the photo)  i made all of the desserts except the coconut cream pie and the pecan pie (that is the specialty of one of my other sister in laws and it is my kryptonite.  seriously, she is refused entry to holiday meals unless she brings it.  not really but…)  in the middle there is last year’s apple pie.  i sent my dad out for the apples at the food store and somehow he managed to purchase $20 worth of apples.  do not think that means i got more apples than i knew what to do with – no!  i got 8 of apparently the world’s most expensive apples ever.  that was the best.damn.apple.pie.if.it.killed.me.  this year, i will circumvent dad buying boutique apples and just get them at the farmer’s market, where i will legitimately purchase too many apples.  so, kate and i will do a test run this weekend, perfecting our filling and crust (which is always made by hand).

4.being neighborly

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our catty-corner neighbors (that’s what we say in south jersey if someone/thing is diagonal from  you) have invited us over for a bonfire and s’mores tonight.  perhaps i will bring over some yummy mulled wine that i can make with the mulling spices i bought last weekend on our mini-trip (btw – car is back in action! whoo hoo!).  now there’s a thought.

5.cleaning

like how i saved that one for last?  ugh – the house needs a good clean.  starting with the kitchen and bathroom.  i don’t even want to elaborate any more on this.  lol.

have a great weekend everyone!

 

simple kitchen envy

i love every bit of erin boyle’s simple matters series from her blog reading my tea leaves.  this week featured a quaint (but fabulous) old dwelling on martha’s vineyard, home to a cook.  i got a serious case of envy when i saw her bright, open, and airy kitchen.

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sarah waldman’s dream worthy kitchen – i am so jealous!

maybe i am crazy but i just adore the look of the open shelving for bowls and dishes.  i really wish we had more storage space like this in our house to help create a cozy feeling kitchen, instead we have a bunch of old, icky cabinets that are desperately in need of retirement (even after we painted them!).  see?

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wow!  our kitchen looks so clean in that photo.  this was right after we painted it yellow.  we don’t even own some of those appliances anymore (i’m looking at you keurig).

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this above photo – that i screen shot from pinterest (and apparently came from the life in grace blog) – serves as my kitchen inspiration!  the colors!  the open cabinets!  the bright windows!  love it all.

these photos leave me wondering what little things i might be able to do, since right now, renovating the kitchen is completely out of the question.  possibly some stick on back splash tiles?  maybe paint the icky kitchen floor?  finally get around to painting the flower cabinets the above teal/aqua?  reorganize?  minimize the utensils and other crap just floating around the kitchen?  perhaps all or a combination of those will be in store for 2017.

mini-vacation

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our small, but quite comfortable accommodations.

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someone could not find the tv.  surprise!  there are none here.

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even a make-up only face towel was provided, along with fresh flowers in every space.

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the paper moon selfie station.

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someone was very sleepy after a long walk around town.

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after dinner.

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look at me trying to get all artsy.  that’s moya to the right.

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a night at the speakeasy!

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no!  don’t make me go back to reality…

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this weekend, we escaped for a mini-vacation to jim thorpe, pa (the town formerly known as mauch chunk).  it’s only a short jaunt (about 1.5 hours) from our house barring you don’t hit traffic – and of course, we hit traffic.

we stayed at an amazingly cozy little bed and breakfast called the parsonage which was only a few blocks outside of the heart of town (which made it fabulously quiet and peaceful).  our hosts were incredible, breakfast was phenomenal, and no detail was overlooked.  quite frankly, i didn’t want to leave (apparently, neither did my car but that is a whole other story).

dinner saturday night was at a small but incredible restaurant called moya.   brett was pleasantly surprised with his gnocchi (he tends to like simpler foods) and my jalapeno shrimp were out of this world (spicy though!).  after dinner, we met up with some of our “neighbors” and went down to the local speakeasy.  what a fun concept for a bar.  they offered prohibition style drinks and even absinthe (yuck)!

we usually don’t do too many trips.  in fact, it could be debated that was our honeymoon since ours was non-existent.  so, this was a much welcomed get away from everything that’s been going on lately (with the exception of the car issue…).

monday happies

it’s monday – i am coming off a fabulous weekend away with my husband that ended up with our car breaking down and being left in pennsylvannia.  lovely.  i do want to share all about the trip but, i’m using most of my brain capacity to determine the whole fix vs. buy new debate (since i think this isn’t going to be a small problem), i am a little flat this morning.

anyway, please enjoy this hysterically happy version of the mannequin challenge!