Friday, November 30, 2012

handmade holiday day 8

These coasters are oh, so pretty! What I love most about this gift idea is that you can make these for just about any one on your nice list. I mean, who doesn't use coasters? And you don't have to use pretty paper- there's holiday paper, vintage paper and paper that would almost be too silly to use.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

For anyone who is trying to master a skill, who is practicing a craft, who has a passion burning deep inside them or if you just like this documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it is pretty amazing!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

handmade holiday day 7

I'm loving this handmade shoulder bag from upcycled bike inner tubes. Being the bike riding family that we are we have a lot of old inner tubes around the house- it's nice to know that we don't just have to throw them away anymore. We can donate them for upcycling.

Ebert and I gave this clutch as a birthday present to his mom a few months ago. The shoulder bags are a bit pricey so this is a nice alternative. It would make a great stocking stuffer!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

handmade holiday day 6

Colorful and fun yarn ball bookmarks! If I were going to make these I'd also go to my local used bookstore to find an interesting art book about London or an organic cookbook or a children's book from my favorite author and give them as gifts that way.

As much as I love our new toy there's nothing like the feel of paper in your hand as you turn the pages of a book. I love walking into an old bookstore to see the rows and rows and shelves and shelves of books. It's exciting to think of all the stories behind those bindings.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

chipotle chicken sweet potato pumpkin ale chili

It should be no surprise that this chili has a long name because it takes a long time to make. I thought I could easily make it one night during the week but it ended up taking me a few days because I didn't plan ahead very well.

First of all, it would have been much easier if I had used canned black beans but I decided to make my own. So on the first night (Sunday) I soaked my beans thinking that in the morning I would cook them in the crock pot all day... but when morning came I decided not to. Instead, I cooked them that night (Monday) when I got home. I also cooked the chicken and prepped the veggies, once again thinking that I would just toss everything in the crock pot in the morning. Wouldn't it have been nice to come home to a dinner that was ready? Yes, that's what I thought too- but, of course, I didn't get up early enough to do that. I'd now been trying to make this chili for 2 days... and still no chili. When I got home that night (Tuesday) I ended up throwing everything in the crock pot so that it could cook all night and be ready in the morning.

That next morning Ebert and I woke up to the aromas of garlic and smokey chipotle. Those are not the usual smells that I'm used to in the morning but it certainly got me excited for some chili. And then finally that evening (Wednesday), we dined on chili...and it was delicious!

These are the variations I made to the recipe-

  • I used this pumpkin ale.
  • I couldn't find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, instead I used 2 jalapeno peppers and 2 Tablespoons of chipotle powder.
  • I also used a lot more minced garlic and garlic powder than the recipe called for. You can never have too much garlic as far as I'm concerned.

  • Happy Cooking!

    handmade holiday day 5

    These hand painted wooden spoons are perfectly festive for the holiday season. You could give them as a set of 4 or pair each spoon with a decadent brownie mix or your favorite gluten-free chocolate cake mix.

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    handmade holiday day 4

    I put this gift box together as a gratitude present for my agents. I gave it to them a few days before Thanksgiving since it's my favorite holiday and I wanted to show them how grateful I am for everything they've done for me this year. I tried to buy all local products and this is what I put in the box -

  • Apricot Rosemary Spiced Jam
  • Rosemary Sea Salt
  • Mulling Spices
  • Artisan Chocolate Bars
  • Pumpkin Spice Votive
  • And I used this printable for the git tag.

  • Put together your own gift box with your favorite local products to give to your favorite people!

    happy monday!

    Thanksgiving desserts make me happy! Even when the pumpkin pie and cranberry pear crostata I baked didn't quite turn out the way I was hoping they would. It was a good thing there were two other delicious desserts to eat!

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    week in photos

    11.18.12 - 127

    11.19.12 - 128

    11.20.12 - 129

    11.21.12 - 130

    11.22.12 - 131

    11.23.12 - 132

    11.24.12 - 133

    handmade holiday day 3

    Just think how much sweeter the holidays will be with the gift of scented sugars. If you don't like citrus or mint you can also try vanilla, lavendar, or herbed scented sugars.

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    week in photos

    11.11.12 - 120

    11.12.12 - 121

    11.13.12 - 122

    11.14.12 - 123

    11.15.12 - 124

    11.16.12 - 125

    11.17.12 - 126

    handmade holiday day 2

    I think a terrarium is a great handmade gift for the holidays. Just follow these instructions on how to make your own.

    What I love most about DIY terrariums is that there are so many different ways you can make one. You can buy expensive, fancy vases or reuse glass jars. I've been saving jelly jars for months so I can make Christmas-themed terrariums. I'm particularly fond of succulent terrariums as you can see here, but I do like the simplicity of using air plants. See what I mean? The possibilities are endless.

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    handmade holiday day 1

    It's Black Friday, the start of the holiday shopping frenzy. I'm avoiding any and all retail stores this weekend. As much as I love a good deal there really isn't anything that I have to have that I'm willing to stand in a long line for.*

    There are always so many great gift guides during the holiday season, hers is one my favorite, so I thought I'd join in on the fun this year. From now until Christmas Eve I'll be sharing gift ideas that you can make yourself or that someone else has handmade with love.

    The first handmade gift idea I'm sharing is this spiced ginger cake & rosemary apple butter from Roost- keep the flavors of fall lingering through the cold winter months.

    *Ebert did ask his aunt, who was braving the crowds last night, to pick this up for him. He didn't want to stand in line himself but he figured if someone else was already going to then why not get it. Brilliant idea! I'm excited to use it and it was very nice of his aunt to do that for us.

    week in photos

    11.04.12 - 113

    11.05.12 - 114

    11.06.12 - 115

    11.07.12 - 116

    11.08.12 - 117

    11.09.12 - 118

    11.10.12 - 119

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    happy thanksgiving

    Thank my husband, to my family, to my friends. I am most thankful to be surrounded by abundant love from the people in my life.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    butternut squash galette

    In preparation for all the Thanksgiving baking I'll be doing tomorrow I've been practicing making pie dough from scratch. Instead of baking a sweet dessert like this I decided to bake something savory and found this recipe. There was a lot of prep work with this recipe and I do mean A LOT! Give yourself a full afternoon for this one especially if you don't make pie dough from scratch very often. But let me tell you that all the time put into making this galette will be worth is delicious!

    And if you want to know the difference between a crostata and a galette you can find out here. And don't these just look amazing?

    I'll be sharing my Thanksgiving baking over the next couple of days. What do you make for Thanksgiving?

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    one week later

    The exciting news I've been wanting to share for an entire week is that Ebert and I attended Obama's re-election night party in Chicago last Tuesday. It was an amazing experience— a night I will never forget!

    Sure we had to stand in a crowd of thousands and thousands of people for over 4 hours and we were tired and thirsty and it was sweltering hot at times but we were all in this together- cheering on and showing our support, not just for our president, but for each other. For the hope that if we just work together, give a little and share a little, that the dream we all want to believe in can be enjoyed by all.

    I might be a little too optimistic but if we don't have dreams to believe in then what do we have?

    Looking back at these pictures I can't believe that I was actually there. I wanted so much to be in the moment enjoying the experience for myself but I also wanted to share it with everyone else. It wasn't until the next morning as I was driving to work listening to NPR's recap of the election that it hit me. I was there. I heard the president speak. I connected with thousands of strangers because we all had one thing in common...we were overjoyed that Barack Obama was re-elected as our president.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    happy monday!

    He makes me happy! Especially when we randomly run into each at a stop light while I'm driving home and he's riding his bike home. We rarely run into each other on the road. You'd think it would happen more often because we take the same route home but maneuvering through the streets of Chicago during rush hour is so much easier on a bike than in a car.

    Just look at that smile, his smile, it makes my heart sing!

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    chicken tortilla soup

    This chicken tortilla soup is my go-to soup recipe. It's delicious and really easy to make and perfect for the chilly fall nights we've been having in Chicago. It's even better the next day after all the flavors have mixed together and there's just a bit more kick to it. I would recommend doubling this recipe. You will definitely want leftovers.

    week in photos

    And I'm officially caught least with my 'week in photos' posts. Now it's time to get back to some regular blog posting especially since I have a few exciting things to share. Here's a hint.

    10.28.12 - 106

    10.29.12 - 107

    10.30.12 - 108

    10.31.12 - 109

    11.01.12 - 110

    11.02.12 - 111

    11.03.12 - 112