Friday, November 16, 2012

Super Full High Five for Friday w/ a Recipe!

WHAT?!?! It’s Friday again?!?! I haven’t posted in 11 days, nor done a High Five post all month!!!! UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Time to make up for that with a super full High Five for Friday which includes some stuff from the last 3 weeks!

1.  Last weekend I went to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. It was A-Mah-Zing! If you’ve never been you should go. It was the first weekend for the Christmas decor, and it was stunning! It also really put me in the holiday spirit. I’m going to write a post all about the trip instead of trying to put it all into this one.

Tricia and me at her Bachelorette party. I forgot to get a shot of us at lunch.
2.  The weekend before that, I had lunch with one of very best friends Tricia. She lives just north of Indianapolis so we met halfway in Columbus, IN. We went to their downtown area, which was adorable, but should have a sign when you enter that says “Closed on Sundays” because nothing was open except this burger place. We ate there and it was delicious, but I was disappointed there wasn’t more open.

3.  Blake’s cousin is getting married next month and his aunt is throwing a shower for his fiancĂ© this weekend. I’m going to be making her gift, and I’m really hoping it turns out well. I can’t quite get a read on her, so I don’t know if she’ll appreciate a homemade gift, so… we’ll see. I bought enough stuff to make a duplicate one for me, because I’m super excited for it, and if it works out the way I envision it in my head I’ll post a tutorial, not that it’ll really be difficult, since I’ve waited until the night before to even put it together.

Old pic of my sis and I. It's sad that I don't have any recent shots
4.  It’s a big birthday month! I’m betting it’s because Valentine’s Day is 9 months earlier. My sister turned 33 and my niece turned 14!!! It’s so crazy to me that she’s so old already, and it makes me sad that I don’t get to see her nearly enough. One of my girlfriends turned 28 earlier this week and is having her party tonight. Sadly I won’t be able to go, but I got her a gift and an awesome card to make up for it. (I love picking out cards!) Two of my coworkers also had birthdays earlier this month and another one of my girlfriends is due any day, she’s already 9 days late!

5.  Little tid-bits: I went shopping earlier this month where I got a fabulous broach and cute shoes. I also made some yummy Chicken Tortilla Soup last night. It was so easy! (Recipe below) Has anyone been into Target since they put all their holiday stuff out?!?! I’m in love and wishing I had endless amounts of money to spend there, but sadly, I don’t. I did see an adorable wreath in there though, and I plan on making one of my own soon. (I think I have a wreath obsession!)
So that’s a very quick summary of some of the fun things I’ve been doing this month. I love this time of year, but it’s also very busy and makes it hard to post. Does anyone else struggle with time management in Nov and Dec?


Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup (Crockpot)

1 carton of Pacific Organic Tortilla Soup Starter
1 container of corn “salsa” (I get the container in the produce section of my Kroger. It’s basically corn, onion, peppers, and spices. It’s not very liquid, which is key)
2 large chicken breasts (Frozen is fine)
Shredded cheese and Tortilla chips/strips for garnish (Optional)

Put it all in a Crockpot and cook on low until chicken is cooked through. Shred meat. Serve with some cheese on top and tortilla chips/strips.

I told you it was easy. I put my chicken in the Crockpot frozen at 6:30am before going to the gym. It cooked all day until I got home from work until 5:30/6:00pm. I just took a wooden fork to the breasts while they were still in the pot to shred the meat, it was so tender. It was simple, yummy, and super satisfying on a cold night. I used sweet potato tortilla chips (try them if you get a chance, they’re very tasty) so the meal was also gluten free, just in case you are celiac or don’t eat a lot of gluten. (Neither one of us is Celiac but we’ve been talking about going gluten free/low gluten after the holidays, so I’m testing new recipes and foods for that)

Does anyone have some yummy easy gluten free recipes for me to try? Easy is key for me. 

Be sure to check out Lauren's link party for more H54F fun!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Long Time No Post

Let me start by saying sorry for not posting since before Halloween. I didn't even get in a H54F post last week! I guess that means I'll have to do a double High Five this Friday. I know it's late, but HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
The hubs and I in our Halloween costumes as zombie Cleopatra and Cesar. The Zombie makeup was too light, so we ended up just looking tired, haha! Oh well.
It's been a very busy 10 days for me at work. A little detail about me: I work for a small commercial real estate and property management company. My official title is Office Generalist. What's that mean? It means if something needs to be done, for any department, I get to do it. There's a whole seven of us in the company; a property manager, a controller, an AP/AR person, a leasing manager, C.O.O., the owner, and me. The nice part about my position is that there's variety. I'm basically the assistant to everyone in the office, so, on a daily basis, I get to do some accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, property management  and executive assistant work. The best part of my job, is that I'm also in charge of marketing and managing an event space that's located in our office building, so I also get to do some event planning work. We recently launched a brand new website and started marketing through social media, the managing of these marketing aspects has been given to me as well. I love the company I work for and I love the variety of my position, as I get bored easily. The down side, is that there is a definite ebb and flow, which results in a lot of down time followed by a lot of busy time. Last week was definitely a busy time, and since I tend to write most of my posts while I'm at work, in between tasks, that busyness resulted in no postings. 

Why don't I just post on the weekends? Honestly, I don't know. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that, at work, I'm already on the computer and typing so why not just add a post to my to do list for that week? Also, I tend to spend most of my home time working on projects or soaking up time with my hubs, I kind of like being around him. And, since he likes being around me too, I assume, he tends to give me grief when I get on the computer when he's around. I'm sure if I had a large following, or I was making any money off my blog it'd be a different story, but since I'm still just starting out, it's easy for me to give into his teasing. 

Then there's my recent struggles with my blog. First, I'm having to accept that I can't just start a blog and instantly have hundreds of followers (WHAT?!?!). Second, I'm trying to figure out what the purpose of my blog is, and where I might fall into the blogosphere. I like to think of myself as a well rounded person who's neither left or right brained, and who has a short attention span. As a result, I can't find myself being content blogging about just one subject. I'm also not going to be "reinventing the wheel" for any subject matter, because, let's face it, thanks to Pinterest, you can find out how to do ANYTHING! So here I am, an average person, who enjoys crafting, quilting and cooking. I'd also like to be more athletic, have a tidy house, and be debt free. All of which are topics I'd like to write about. Someday, I'd like to be a mom, and write about that as well. So maybe, I also need to accept that this blog will probably never have hundreds of followers, as I'm too all over the place, and love my blog for what it is, an extension of me, and an outlet for me to talk about whatever suits my fancy that day. Probably the biggest thing I need to accept, is that I will probably always have to work a full time, 40hr/5day/wk, job, which means, sadly, that I will probably never be able to devote as much time as I'd like to my blog. I know I'm not the only person out there who currently is struggling or has struggled with these matters, especially starting out, so if you can relate, I'd love to hear from you. 

What are you or did you struggle with starting out with your blog? 
How are/did you get past those struggles?

Thanks for listening to my rambling thoughts on this gloomy Monday. 

I know it's already the 5th, and I really should have posted these at the beginning of the month so you could join in, but, like I said, it's been a busy 10 days, so here are my October photo-a-day pics and the November list. Check out Fat Mum Slim if you have any questions about how to do the photo-a-day, and don't be afraid to start now with November. There's no rules saying you have to start at the beginning of the month or do every photo (I missed a few in October). 

I loved some of the shots I got this month! You may recognize one as part of my blog button. When I look at them all together like this I notice some themes for this month, for me, seemed to be food, my pups, and the fall colors. Love it!
FMS's November Photo a Day Challenge list. Can't wait to see what themes come out of this one. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pre-Halloween H54F

Happy Friday everyone! It's almost Halloween and I'm loving it! Are your costumes ready yet?
  1. The weather was absolutely amazing this week! (Of course, it's turned to crap today and will be cold and gloomy all weekend and into next week)
  2. The leaves are so amazing this year, I can't stop taking pictures of the trees! (The last two years it's seemed that we've gone from green to dead with little to no color, so I'm loving it this year)
  3. I think we'll be carving our pumpkins this weekend! (I love toasted pumpkin seeds)
  4. We're doing a big family dinner at my MIL's house tomorrow, and I get to introduce everyone to my favorite burrito recipe! (My mom makes them, and they're heavenly! I'll probably end up sharing the recipe, but for right now I'm hoarding it)
  5. Our friend Sara just moved into a new place, so she's hosting the Halloween party this year, tomorrow night! (We'll be going after dinner, of course. Read on to find out what we're going as)
Be sure to check out Lauren at From My Grey Desk for more High Fives!

It's that time of year again!!! The time when you get to be crafty, creative, and play dress-up, some of my all-time favorite activities! This year, is a little lack luster compared to last year, for a number of different reasons, mostly poor planning, but I think it should still be enjoyable. Our costumes are usually a combination of store bought items and DIY, which makes it super fun for me. I know it's corny, but my husband and I usually do "couples" costumes. We didn't start off that way, but I think a pirate party made him realize that we're a much cuter Halloween couple when we actually look like we're matching in some way.

The first year we did it, I went as Princess Peach and he was Luigi, because he's just so much better suited as a Luigi, so we told everyone we were having an affair on Mario. (Sorry, no pic from this Halloween to be found) Our first year in AZ I had a girlfriend in town and he was chaperoning a school dance, so no cute outfits that year, but the next year we were both chaperoning so we had to do something fun. We were pursuing the costumes when we found an muscled Captain America jumpsuit, which Blake just had to have, so we went with a super hero theme. Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding and feeling comfortable in most of the options I found in stores. While we were out to lunch the next weekend I saw a girl wearing a cute mighty mouse t-shirt and it hit me! So my super hero costume was born and I went as Mighty Mouse, which was super easy and super cute, and for a while one of my favorite costumes.

I was super excited when we moved back to KY and were going to be able to go to our friends' Halloween Parties, since his new school doesn't do a Halloween dance. For those who don't know the hubs and me, we're pretty dorky, and love comic books and BBC, so the next two years' costumes should be no surprise!
Meet our version of the Green Hornet and Cato.

Followed by our all-time favorite costume, so far... Dr. Who and his T.A.R.D.I.S.!!!! His costume didn't require much work, but I made mine from scratch and loved everything about it! It was so fun to make and super comfy to wear. (For those who are not aware of who we are, the Doctor is a human looking alien who travels through time and space in a ship called the T.A.R.D.I.S. So yes, I was a space ship, technically, but watch just a few episodes on Netflix, and not only will it all make more sense but you'll be hooked!)

This year, Blake's doing a historical zombie walk for his kids at school, which has resulted in our costumes being Zombie Cesar and Cleopatra. I've made these costumes as well. Like I said, not as exciting or fun as last year's but I'll be sure to share the finished product anyway.

What are you all going as for Halloween? I love hearing other's ideas for costumes!  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Perfect Night Out Followed By A Perfect Night In

What an enjoyable weekend with the hubs! It started on Fri when he surprised me at the work at the end of the day to pick me up for a date. He preceded to take me to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner, which is not to die for food but pretty tasty and a fun atmosphere, plus it’s right around the corner from The Actors Theater of Louisville, where we went next to see Dracula! Every year Actors does Dracula, A Christmas Story, and A Christmas Carol for its holiday plays. Blake grew up going to these shows and I had heard so many great things about them, but we were never able to figure out a time to see them when we were in town visiting. Then we moved here and I was determined to go. We crossed A Christmas Carol off the list the first year, but things get busy during the holidays when you have to travel for family so we haven’t had the chance to see any of the others. This year I was determined to see Dracula, and was starting to get nervous that we weren't going to be able to when I realized it was already mid October. Blake saved the day though by going to get tickets on his day off from school and what a happy surprise it was to get to see it. If you ever find yourself in Louisville in October, make sure to carve out a slot of time to see this show, because it’s amazing! It’s in an intimate small theater in the round setting, so you’d never think they’d be able to pull off such great special effects, but there you are, finding yourself asking, where did he just come from!?!? It was a perfect date night!

Saturday was suppose to be an errand running day for me and then we were going to go to see a friend’s band play at one of the local bars…But it turned out to be another great Blake and Natalie alone time day, and it so enjoyable. Blake woke up early to work on his paper for one of hid grad classes. I lounged around like a bum for a little bit after I woke up, then got ready, and went to the kitchen to make some crock-pot chili for dinner. Mean while Blake finished his paper and went up to get ready so that by the time I was heading out the door to run errands he had decided he was going to join me. He went with me while I got my flu shot\and went to my monthly quilt block meeting. Then we had lunch at Panera, it was a cold day which meant I wanted some soup in a bread bowl, yum! Then it was off to Hobby Lobby to get some crafting and Halloween items, and his mom’s house to let her dog out, since she was gone all day in Indiana with a friend. We stayed over there for a bit watching a DVR'd episode of Dr. Who, always fun! On the way home from his mom’s I started to feel achy and get a bit of a headache, so he proposed that maybe we should skip the concert and stay in. I pondered on that, and then he told me we could watch Downton Abbey…SOLD! I’m addicted to that show, and hate waiting till it airs in the US, but now they stream them online after they've aired in England, which means we were able to watch the first 5 episode of season 3!!! So we got home, started a fire in our wood burning stove, I served us up some delicious, warm chili while he hooked the laptop up to the big screen TV, no scrunching around a small computer screen for Downton Abbey, and we snuggled up on the couch to watch all 5 episodes available. It was heavenly. Not a rip roaring Saturday night, but, for us, it was perfect! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Reaching for H54F

It's Friday again?!?! Man this week flew by. I guess that's a goof thing, right? Except I had a fairly uneventful week, which means I don't have much to high five about. Oh well, here goes nothing!

  1. My hubby's been telling me to dress up every day this week for a surprise, but I have no clue what it is! (Of course nothing's happened so far, but today he told me not to look at the bank account, because he knows I do that daily, it's a compulsion from being in charge of our household budget, which means he purchased something from somewhere that would give away the surprise. I'm super excited to see what it is, and why I have to be dressed up for it)
  2. It was a double plant adoption week for me! (I told you it was a pretty uneventful week. The tropical one will go in the house and the mums will go in the garden) 
  3. I talked to my sister the other night! (I miss her so much, but somehow our conversations tend to be spread out over weeks or even months. I think it's probably because we were never very close growing up, partially because we're pretty far apart in age, almost 6 years, as well as we're at very different stages in life. But it always does my heart good when I get to talk to her so that was a yippee for the week)
  4. I managed to run all three days for the full amount of time this week, and Blake's promised to run with me tomorrow! (This could end in one of us being very annoyed, but I love that he supports me enough to set that fact aside)
  5. I've been researching food a lot this week and I'm excited to try out this whole freezer meal planning thing soon! (I know it's nothing new, and I've certainly made some foods that I freeze, but I've never really done the all out prep once and have a full week or more of meals ready to go thing. Although, with it getting cooler outside I see some freezer to crock-pot cooking very much appealing to me.)
Sorry no pictures this week, but my hubby just surprised me at the office to take me out so no time. Have a great weekend and check out Lauren's blog for more H54F! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Burlap Fall Wreath Tutorial

Remember that first post (here) when I talked about the fall wreath I was creating and going to do a tutorial on it? Well it was super cute and I was very excited about it when I got done and it looked like this:
Of course less than a week later it looked like this:

Obviously I need to figure out a better method for this style of wreath. Anyway, I kept my pitiful wreath up for September because I had nothing to replace it with. Then it came down to be replaced by a skeleton for Halloween, so my door currently looks like this:

The other night, I realized that this month is flying by and I’ll need to replace my skeleton come November…So I decided to repurpose my wreath into a new wreath. This is a super easy wrapped wreath, like the Mercy Wreath, and obviously can be made from scratch, without going through the “ugly wreath phase.”

What you’ll need:
½ - ¾ yard each of two different burlap colors
1 Fat quarter of a fabric you like (or scraps, because you’ll only use about ½ the fat quarter)
1 wreath form
Hot glue gun (not pictured)

Cut All Pieces
Cut burlap into 2 ½ inch by WOF (width of fabric) strips and two 2 ½” x WOF strips from fabric. Also cut six 2 ½” diameter (approximately, feel free to eye ball this) circles from fabric. Decide which burlap color will be for your base and which will be for flowers. Sub cut two of the flower burlap strips into 2 ½” x 2 ½” squares until you have 26 squares for flowers. Sub cut one of the base strips into 8 squares (2 ½ x 2 ½) as well.
**TIP - Here’s a neat trick for cutting burlap straight: 
Measure how wide you want the strip to be at one edge of fabric. Cut a small snip about ¼ inch into the fabric.
Then pull one burlap strand all the way out.
You’ll then have a “gap” to cut along, giving you a straight strip the same width all the way up.
I did this with the red burlap when I created the “ugly wreath”, but was in a hurry for this wreath so I didn’t do it with the tan burlap. It still turned out fine for this project so don’t feel like you have to do this method with this particular wreath.**

Wrap Wreath Form
Wrap the wreath form with the strips of base burlap. Be sure to glue only at the back of the wreath form, attaching at the start of the strip with glue, wrapping tightly with some overlap, and attaching at the end of the strip with glue. If the end of your strip won’t make it all the way to the back of the wreath, go to where it last met the back of the wreath and glue there, cutting off the excess tail. Start next strip at the same spot as where the previous strip ended, overlapping them slightly. Feel free to wrap around the whole wreath form twice, especially if you have a wider weave on your burlap and the form is showing through. Of course, this is one of those times when the straw form is great, because it was the same color as my burlap so you couldn’t really see the form through my single wrap job. Ta Da!
**TIP – If you find your burlap weave is coming loose and strands want to come out, create some “glue seams” at the back of your wreath where your strip ends meet each other. Simply do a line of glue at that location, then use the tip of your glue gun to sort of “smear” the glue out so that it covers the whole area where the strip are meeting up and is fairly flat. It’s not super pretty, but it’s at the back of the wreath so it doesn’t matter and it’ll prevent your burlap from coming apart over time.**

Feel free to attach purchased decorations, but with this one I wanted to make some flowers to pretty up the wreath. I made 2 rolled flowers, 2 all red folded flowers, and 2 multi-colored folded flowers.

Rolled Flower
Taking one of the fabric strips, at one end of it use a dab of glue to fold the edge into a small ball. Then twist the fabric as you wind it around the ball you created. While continually twisting, keep winding around creating a spiral disc shape. Add a dab of glue every so often as you wind to keep the spiral from coning or separating from the rest of the disc. When you reach the end of the strip, glue the untwisted tail to the bottom of the disc. Set aside.

Take 3-4 strips of the flower burlap (depending on how tightly you’ll be rolling and how large you want the flower to be). Use a small dab of glue to connect the strips end to end, creating one long strip. Now follow the same twisting and winding technique as before, being sure you’re gluing every so often. If you get to the end of the strip and the flower is not as large as you’d like you can easily add another strip by gluing ends together and then continuing your twisting and wrapping until it’s the size you like, then glue the flattened tail to the bottom of the disc.
Glue fabric disc to center of burlap disc. You now have a rolled flower that you can attach to your wreath!

Folded Flower
Variation 1: 

Take 9 of the burlap squares you cute from the flower strips. Fold one square in half once, and then fold in half again, using a dab of glue in the middle to hold folds together at the folded corner. Do this to the rest of the squares. Using a scrap piece of fabric or burlap, attach 4 folded squares to scrap fabric creating a larger square shape. Be sure to just use a dab of glue at the folded corner to attach at the center. You want your layered edges to be fluffable. Attach 4 more folded squares on top of the first set of squares, but in an alternate pattern, so that you end up with a diamond on top of the first square. (Look at the picture, because that came out a little confusing, sorry.) Use a dab of glue on the folded corner of the final square and put in the center of the flower on point. Fluff edges to “blend” layers enough to hide gaps. Woo hoo, one more flower down!

Variation 2:
Take 4 flower colored squares, 4 base colored squares and 3 of the fabric circles. Fold all pieces into fourths again, using a pinch of glue (I got sick of say dab) to hold them together. Glue first in second layers of flower the same as above, with the first layer being the flower burlap and the second layer being the base fabric. Then use the 3 folded fabric circles to create the center, still by just gluing them on point in the center. Fluff and done!

Finish Wreath  
Lay wreath on flat surface and play with flower placement. Once satisfied, glue flowers to wreath. Take a longer leftover strip of base colored burlap, and glue in half to create the hanger. Glue folded strip to back of wreath. Let wreath hanger set until glue is fully cooled. Hang wreath and admire!
I know I didn’t take as many pictures of the small steps as I probably should’ve, so, if you have any questions please feel free to message me and I’ll try to help make things easier to understand. Enjoy and Happy Fall Y’all!

Linking up with these fabulous blogs:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mid October H54F!

Another week down and time for some high fives! I can't believe we're already almost half-way through the month!

  1. I had an amazing time last weekend with some college girlfriends! (You can read all about it here)
  2. Yesterday was my MIL's b-day so we're taking her to eat at Toast on Market and to see the Princess Diana collection at the Frazier History Museum!
  3. I made a new fall wreath, finally! (I have a tutorial ready, I just need to get the pictures together, so look for that to come out this weekend)
  4. The hubs won some tickets to Actor's Theater of Louisville at Mercy's annual walk today! (I love going to the theater and our Actor's Theater is an amazing venue)
  5. We took our second test in my accounting class and again I got the highest score in the class! (Of course, this was followed by no one sitting next to me in class this week, sad face) 
Hope everyone else had a great week! Do you have any big plans for the weekend? I'd love to hear about them. Be sure to check out Lauren's site for other H54F's and have a great weekend!

PS: I've created a button, which is super exciting for me, so be sure to grab it from the side bar! If you let me know that you did I'll be sure to come over and grab yours! (That just sounds silly if you don't know what we're talking about, Haha!)

Also, I've updated my training schedule with what has actually occurred so far... I know I've been really bad about actually running on Saturdays, as well as I wasn't very motivated this week, and it shows. But tomorrow's and new day and Monday starts a new week to get back on track.