Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lavender Shortbread cookies

Looks like we broke the hiatus. It's been way too long, and life hasn't stopped for one bit.

I went to a giant craft fair this weekend and I was totally inspired by all of the talent! And I still don't have much time to hone any skills of mine but I still bake, and this time it's floral.

I have fallen in love with lavender recently. I never liked it as a kid, but it's really grown on me! I now have lavender oils, soaps, epsom salts and now cooking lavender.

It's not for everyone, let me be clear. But if it's a stormy autumn night and you're home alone having spent the last 4 hours taking notes on the psychology of perception, some times you have to take a break and make some cookies.

Especially ones that make you feel like you are in a bakery in Provence!

Adapted from Joy the Baker, a hero of mine.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Challenge 8: Warm Love

Like Maggie mentioned in her version of this challenge's post, we decided to make this challenge really open-ended. And by that I mean, there were no rules. Something about Valentine's Day. That's it.

I'm the kind of person who loves Valentine's Day when in a relationship and hates it when single. I am not the kind of person who buys cheap chocolate the day after. I like to spoil and be spoiled. Perhaps not the most flattering view of me... but when I give a Valentine's gift, I like to make it thoughtful and suited to the recipient's taste.

Have you ever heard of Dr. Who?
Until recently, me neither. I never watch it, but apparently it's all the rage to some people. It's a British Sci-Fi that has been running for about a billion years. And in an old, old (ok in the 1970's-ish) versions, there is a version of the Doctor wearing this scarf:

And using this, from a Dr. Who fanatic I found thanks to Google Images:

And my person of interest, being the nerd he is, got a version of his own (yeah.. picture quality could be better, I know):

As I stated in my last post, I have recently learned how to crochet. This one took me about 5 weeks (it's about 12 feet long!)


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Challenge 8: Engagement Photos (Maggie)

For our first challenge of the year, we decided on a Valentine’s Day theme. It was very open ended and I had a lot of ideas and a lot of different directions I wanted to go. But it occurred to me that this is the only Valentine’s day that I will carry the label “fiancée” so I better make it count.

I was really unsure of this “engagement photography shoot” idea that seems to be a must-do lately. I loved the idea of having these photos, but I was stressed out about a lot of things—what to wear, who to take the photos, where to take the photos, etc. So for this challenge, I’ve assembled a list of of how to minimize the stress and maximize the bliss.

5 Steps to Perfect Engagement Photos
5.  Find a photographer who fits your vision.
Lately, I have had lots of friends and family that have gotten married.  Each set of engagement photos are so different—some are modern, some are classic, some are edgy, some are relaxed…  I knew I wanted something in the middle.  I didn’t want too modern (have you seen those photos where you are left wondering if the couple even loves each other because throughout the entire shoot they are scowling the entire time…?)  I didn’t want too classic, because sometimes that seems too safe.  So I sought to find a photographer who had a balanced vision.  Someone with an artistic eye but also someone who truly wanted to capture our love. 
I had the great fortune that my uncle is friends with an extremely talented photographer.  After glancing through his portfolio, I knew he had that balance I was looking for.  If you’re in the Denver metro area, I would recommend him to anyone.  In the photo on the left, you can see that he has a unique eye for incorporating art into his photography.  On the right, he was able to capture how entirely enamored I am with my fiancé.  The absolute perfect balance.

4. Wear clothes that make you feel confident.
This is fantastic advice I received from a friend who recently took her own engagement photos. So I sought to find clothes of colors that I love. I would also suggest pops of color, We were al little more monochromatic than I originally planned for, but that was a little out of my hands (see #3 below). But there were a couple of pictures that included the small pops of colors and they are lovely.

3. Some things are out of your control, but sometimes those things make for unique photo opportunities.
Somehow, we booked our engagement photo session on a day that Colorado decided to dump about 2 feet of snow. I figured the photographer would cancel and we’d reschedule for another day. To my surprise, he wanted to go ahead and go for it. I’m so glad we did. I love, love, love the snow.
But on occasion, I did have to tell myself that it was going to be ok that I wasted a week planning an outfit that would be mostly covered by a jacket. Or that I wasted an hour straightening my hair. The snow certainly did frizz it out, but bygones. So be it rain, snow, or shine (or wind, or clouds or whatever mother nature chooses for your day), confront it with a smile. If the pictures don’t turn out exactly how you want, at the very least you and your fiancé will have a good story about it. But my guess is it will provide for photo ops that will set your photos apart from all others.

Frizzy hair?  Yep.  Am I mad about it?  Nope.

2.  Bring your ideas, be open to others.
I spent a good amount of time on Pinterest looking for my favorite engagement photos to try to capture similar moments.  Our photographer was open to all of our ideas.  I returned the favor by being open minded to his as well.  Especially when I heard him say, “Hey, you should kick snow in her face.” Wait, what?  Is this really happening?  Yep.  Or “Hey, run down this sidewalk and then I want you to tackle Maggie.”  I could have fought it and said “Thanks, but not thanks.” But that would have been a shame--they turned out great.  It’s like Andrew (the photographer) knew us at our core—that we are goofs and are playful and ridiculous. 

1.  Pretend the photographer isn’t even there. 
The greatest moments happened when Andrew told us to go about as if he wasn’t even there.  We had real conversations, we made jokes, and we loved every moment.  It was perfect.


If you are in the process of planning your own engagement photos, best of luck and enjoy it!  xoxo—maggie.  Find some of our favorite places to visit.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

When I'm not studying the corpora quadrigemina...

Okay. It's been a while. I've learned the hard way that anything to do with grad school sucks up any and all of your time. Every moment spent not studying or working on some sort of assignment makes you feel guilty. Really guilty. And I'm not even in grad school yet. (Maggie, how did you do it?!)

These past few months, I have been applying to different schools (a full time job in and of itself!) and taking some intense courses to fill requirements (like neuroanatomy!). Which means that things that bring me simple joys (crafting, cooking, reading, exercising, etc.) have fallen by the wayside. Because, let's face it- stuff like that doesn't get one into grad school, or get a job, or anything that gives the illusion of 'adult productivity'. And that makes me grouchy. And stressed out. And... maybe I've gained a little weight. Well.

It's high time that changed.

I do have a couple projects sort of on the way. I've joined ravelry, as I now know how to crochet (thanks Lindsay!). I have also joined Pinterest, a wonder of wonders for inspiration. I joined a knitting/crochet club. And I'm determined to get myself out of this rut and feel as good as I used to before this stressed kicked in.

Don't get me wrong, though the applications are completed, I'm still biting my nails down to the bones waiting on an answer. And those courses are still ongoing and are tough as ever.

Oh life.


Monday, January 30, 2012

A mother’s love.

Ever make something that you intend to give away as a gift, but you like it so much that you want to keep it?  But the gift has absolutely no validity in your life, so you must give it away?  For me, this was that craft.

I have a lovely friend who is due in about two weeks (!!!!).  Her baby shower was held a few weekends ago, and I was really excited to make something for her and the baby.  I found a quote I loved on Pinterest (ironically, it seemed that about 50% of the gifts from the shower were something I had run across on Pinterest…).  So, I claim no ownership nor originality of the quote, it is not mine!   I knew I wanted to turn it into some type of frameable art, so...

I decided to make my mom proud and design a cross stitch.  It took me quite awhile to do the math and decide how big letters should be, where they should go, how to design it, etc etc etc. 
You will need a cross-stitch canvas (I used 15 stitch/inch), thread, needle and frame.  When it comes down to it, it’s a fairly budget friendly craft, and it only took me about an afternoon from start to finish so it’s easy on the budget and on your schedule.

I tried and tried and tried to sketch a template, but I failed every time.  So I uploaded it as a PDF here.  Hopefully, that way it is viewable in a way that it could be recreated if you feel so inclined to do so.  It’s designed for an 8x 10 frame with 15 stitch cross stitch canvas.

Which brings me to the final product:


Aaaand I am so excited to meet this little baby!!  Sharing here, here and here.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Simple DIY Gift

I wanted to start 2012 with a simple DIY idea that requires few materials and just a little bit of time.  I’ve mentioned my friend Michelle before.  She is a creative genius and constantly gives me thoughtful, handmade presents.  So, there is a lot of pressure to return the favor…

Lately, I have seen lots of personalized hangers (they are all over wedding blogs).  I set out to make a personalized hanger, more for decoration and less for hanging clothes (the type of wire I had was a little rough, so not ideal for clothes).  I luckily already had the materials on hand (with the help of my fiancé).  You will need:


--a hanger
--pliers or something to bend wire
--wire (the fiancé had this in the garage.  Next time, I would consider a thinner, easier to bend type)

Use the hanger as a comparison to mold the hanger.


Start shaping the bottom.  I used her name, but I think some type of design would be wonderful as well (next time, I’m thinking tree outlines).


The wire I had wasn’t quite as bendable as I would have hoped, so her name didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped, but I was still pretty happy with the end product.


Perfect as a wall hanging for a closet or bathroom or bedroom or wherever!  I also think it would be a cute wall hanging for dangly earrings.  Michelle is so imaginative, so I’m guessing she’ll put it to some creative use. 

It’s simple, quick, and easy to personalize, making it a wonderful gift.  Some places we like to frequent.



Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hellooooo, 2012.

It was an exciting 2011 for us at The Golden Means.  Katelyn and I actually had the opportunity to meet up (a British Columbia, Canada to Colorado, USA rendezvous is rare, at best).  Our visit was somewhat short, but we did have time to fit in one fantastic craft.  We went to Sippin' n Paintin'.  Perhaps you have heard of similar places, where you attend a class, enjoy a beverage, and an instructor walks you through a painting.  I would encourage everyone to give it a try.  My father, brother, mother and fiancé promised to attend a class with me—pictures to follow, as I can promise the results will be phe.nom.e.nal. 


Admittedly, I kind of fell off the face of the planet for the last four months of 2011.  Life got crazy.  I was finishing a Masters program (yay!) and swamped with my lovely little first graders.  Upon graduating, one of my first thoughts was how excited I was to be able to return to The Golden Means. 

It’s a big year for me!  I’m getting married!!  September!  I’m ridiculously excited to marry the love of my life (and for all of the DIY crafts--centerpieces, invitations and decorations, oh my).  We’re also in the process of looking for our first home, which will probably be one that needs lots of TLC so I’m really excited for the before and after pictures.  And for the first time since I was five years old, I am not a student!  Which is wild, and sad in some ways, but a huge relief to have actual free time again (which really equates to wedding planning and home buying time, but a refreshing change). 

So…2012.  It’s gonna be big.  And I’m so ready.




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