Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 22

In which I post fun and favourite things from my week, semi-regularly... every-other... randomly... on Friday! 

1. I've basically gone nuts on Pinterest since posting this on Monday. It's kind of an "oh shit I told people to look at something, I'd better pin ALL OF THE THINGS!!". Needless to say, my 'what's for dinner?' board is filling up nicely.

2. I'm a little bit obsessed with trees. Anything with tree patterns or designs on it and I'm smitten. I almost bought every available item that David's Tea recently released with this new pattern but eventually settled on this set. It's adorable. Do you drink tea? You should try David's Tea. It's the best. I'm currently drinking a tea called 'red velvet cake'. Ya, cake flavoured tea. BAM.

The trees... I am in love

3. I bought Michael Smith's 'Best of Chef at Home' a few years ago and it's become quite the staple in my kitchen, specifically this recipe. It's a build-your-own salad dressing recipe where you swap in different sweeteners (honey, sugar, maple syrup) and other ingredients to get a variety of salad dressings. It's a little bit science and math and that's my bag, baby. The variations are down the side. Our favourite is the Fennel Balsamic which doesn't taste like licorice, thank goodness.

4. The living room project is coming along nicely and I've done MUCH painting over the past two weeks. There was some light grey, some chalkboard paint, and some VERY awesome purple that happened. The purple is the most dramatic so I'm saving it for a living room post, in the meantime here's what the chalkboard paint looks like. It's right next to the kitchen and we've been using it for menu, to-do list, and general calendar reminder type things. Future uses hope to include: board game score keeping, football pool tracking, and dog tracing.

Oh what's that... where has the ugly beige carpet gone? Ohhhh stay tuned!!

5. This is my 61st post this year!! I'm breaking records on the ol' Elbow.

6. Links this week:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Milestone Post #60

This is my 60th post of 2012, which puts this year in the lead for most posts! In 2011 I had 59 posts and more than half of those (30) can be attributed to NaBloPoMo so I'd say 2012 has been a banner year for the ol' Elbow.

I've felt really good about blogging this year. I find myself excited to write and to come up with new topics. I think I have learned the most over the past year, in all of my 8 (!!) years of blogging.

I find myself brainstorming new ideas all the time and I'm extra careful to take pictures of everything I do just in case I need it for a blog post. This summer especially, I found myself taking my posts more seriously and editing more carefully. It takes more time to produce a post but because I'm really enjoying it I haven't minded spending more time writing. I've learned how important it is to keep a regular schedule. I haven't felt the need to blog everyday - and frankly I don't have the material - but since taking on a twice-a-week mentality I've gotten into a good groove. It doesn't always happen but it's something to work towards.

In honour of my milestone, I thought it fitting to posts a few lessons I've learned through my 60 posts this year and my 300+ all time posts. I am by no means an expert but I've really felt like I've learned a lot this year and to me, that's worth sharing.

1. If you don't enjoy it, you won't put the time in. Blogging isn't for everyone, and that's ok! Neither is skydiving! If you try it and you don't enjoy it, don't feel the need to keep going as it won't be rewarding.

2. Blog about what you love. I know that sounds so cliche and appears in basically every blogging advice article. It's true. I thought I wanted to blog only about food and cooking but I found it too tedious and I don't have the photography skills that food blogging deserves. That being said, I still want to keep posting recipes, just not all the time.

3. Coming up with features and series has been the easiest way for me to keep a semi-regular posting schedule. When I started 'Friday Favourites' it was a way for me to share items that might not deserve a full post and also to keep me honest about posting. It's morphed into bi-monthly favourites but it's a good milestone for me to work from. Starting a series is helpful too - breaking up a larger story or project into several posts keeps each posts unique and manageable and gives you more material to work with.

4. If you have the time and the ideas - write many posts at once. Then save as drafts and post at your wish or schedule the post to publish when you're on vacation. Often writing one blog post will give me several other ideas so I'll draft a few posts and come back to them later in the week and then publish them so they are spaced out appropriately. Confession - I actually wrote this post before posts 58 and 59 were published!

It's been a fun year and I have enjoyed writing more in the past 6 months than ever before. I have appreciated every single one of your comments. I figured out how to add a 'reply' to comments option and I have been trying to do so over the past few weeks so be sure to check back in if you've left a comment. THANK YOU, seriously, THANK YOU for reading.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New 'What's for dinner?' links

 I added a new feature in the sidebar to the left. It's called 'What's for dinner?'. What am I going to use it for? Well, I'm going to tell you 'What's for Dinner?' this week in the Wau-Ley household!

I will miss the market bounty... cheddar baked chicken fingers & corn w/ quinoa salad, also beans. 

I'm a little bit obsessed with meal planning and I have thousands of recipes bookmarked and too many cookbooks to count. Sharing this obsession with you makes me feel like it's ok... right?? *shakes in corner while gripping pre-order form for Smitten Kitchen cookbook*

Turns out they only sell 6+ pound chicken roasters at the market. This fed us for a week. Whoops!

I plan on updating it either on Sunday or Monday for the week and post links whenever possible or at least a link that is similar to what I'm making.

One quarter of that chicken turned into this chicken pot pie. 

Cooking for a family every week, week after week, can get pretty boring and it's easy to lose inspiration. Hopefully the links I posts will be helpful to you and please (pretty please!) email me or leave a comment here with your favourite week-night go-to dinner recipes. I'm always looking for new meals to add to my repertoire.

The start of some pancetta, corn and edamame pasta toss

If you're looking for more recipe ideas I have a 'What's for Dinner?' board on Pinterest and I post links to recipes at the end of my 'Friday Favourites' posts. Together we can end dinner boredom!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happier at Home: on Possessions

Along with what seems the rest of the world I just started reading Gretchen Rubin's newest book, 'Happier at Home'. I haven't read 'The Happiness Project' (her first Happiness book) but I'm already feeling like picking up this second one was a great choice. I'm a big fan of my home, of being at home, having others in my home, and generally take pride in the whole big box; weeds and rabbits and unfinished projects and all.

The first chapter talks about Possessions. I haven't finished this section yet but I got to thinking about the stuff I have and what it means to me. There are certainly items that are more important than others but there were very few that I would have trouble parting with. There's some discussion on the philosophy of stuff is that less is more and experiences are more important than stuff but Gretchen mentions that some of this stuff brings us happiness and that's ok. She also talks about how stuff can enhance experiences. Here's the noteworthy stuff I came up with.

1. My car. I've had my car since December 2003, almost 9 years. From first year University to today and ongoing. I drove my car back to Manitoba, Florida, Calgary and then Kelowna, and out to Halifax. My car has seen all but 390 kilometres of the 6000 kilometres of the Trans-Canada highway with me as the driver. My car is pretty close to being my oldest possession and it has seen break-ups, make-outs, make-ups, and many, many highway dance parties. I know that I love it because it represents so much of my life thus far and I oddly wish I had taken more pictures of me with it in all the wonderful places it took me, as if it were my silent little friend along for the ride. At this point I have the intention of driving it into the ground; largely for financial reasons (it still works fine) but maybe a little selfishly so no one else can ever drive it.  A friend once said to me when I picked her up for a movie that it would be odd for me to show up in anything but my car and that it will be weird when that someday happens.

Writing about my car was a bit weird because cars aren't typically possessions we have forever and I know I will part with it someday. I guess there are different stories and expirations for all of our different stuffs.

2. My pink Kitchenaid mixer. Another object that's been with me for many years. At first I only used it to make whipped cream and now I use it weekly to make just about everything. My mom bought it for me as a Christmas gift in second or third year and it's been along for the ride as I've gone from Pilsbury prepared cookie dough to commercial cupcake baker. I hope I have it forever - I'll have to look into where I can get it repaired as I'm sure I'll have to do a few tune-ups along the way.

From my cupcake photo-shoot, this puppy is photogenic! The pink icing helps

I tried to make it to three items, seems to be a much rounder number but I just don't have anything else worth writing about. I have pictures but they are all digital and I suppose there's my dog but I don't really consider him a possession. I have a few heirlooms but they are largely things that were passed on to me after someone passed on themselves. In these cases I feel more attached to the memories than the things but in the case of my car and mixer I'm attached to the thing that brings the memories. Interesting dynamic.

What things to do you have in your life that hold a lot of importance to you? Do you have anything that's irreplaceable? What stuff will you have a hard time parting with?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stuff I Love: Fall Uniform Edition

The Internet has positively EXPLODED with FALL.

Everyone and their cat has posted that OMG STARBUCKS HAS PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES and OMG THE WEATHER IS FINALLY TOLERABLE. Seriously, it is and seriously I need to get to Starbucks.

In honour of the return to the best smelling season (don't you fight me on this, Spring!) I'm sharing some of my go-to fashions for this season.

1. Uh duh, scarves. I'm a bit scarf obsessed and they have become a bit of a security blanket for me and now the season is finally right! This one is super soft leaf pattern, how fitting.

2. More super soft cozy gear that I've missed - sweaters! In every colour and style. I'm a crew neck girl (I totally wrote 'screw neck' first hah), this one is available in a multitude of colours begging you to buy them all. (a few colours currently on sale!)

3. Cotton tank tops, largely white, sometimes black. I have a healthy stack of these and layer them under everything for extra warmth and then I don't have to wash my sweaters as often... please tell me you also use this excuse?

4. A bag large enough to hold #1 and #9 if necessary, preferably in soft buttery leather.

5. I seriously haven't worn pants in MONTHS. I bought these on Monday - currently on sale! They are cotton-spandex, very soft and have good stretch.

6. Not so fall related but I feel like I can call any accessories FALL fashion because this summer had some days that were so stinkin' hot that the idea of having to deal with anything besides the cotton tank and shorts that I lived it was considered torture. Bring on the accessories and geometric print anything.

7. Bring on the booties! Bring on the wool lumberjack socks tucked into booties! A good excuse to pick up some fun socks, too!

8. OH RIGHT how could I write a fall fashion post without some rain gear? It's tough to find cute rain gear but these Tretorn rain boots are about as close as I'll get. I have a pair of the 'Skerry Vinter' style (lined) and they work wonders for the salty wetness that awaits us in Octobernovemberdecemberetc. Note - they sell these in a taller, more traditional cut which I owned but gave away as the calf was too tight. Be warned if you have calves that could build a house... like me!

9. More rain gear in awesome colours. Invest in a good raincoat and it will last your lifetime. This one wraps up super small so you can keep it stashed in your purse for the ever changing weather in these parts.

10. Hello Essie fall line. I couldn't resist. I'm torn between these two colours.

That's what's coming off my shelf these days! Did I miss anything? What's happening in your wardrobe these days? Why do I feel like skirts and dresses are gone the way of the dodo bird once the days start to get shorter? Do you have tricks in your repertoire to keep wearing skirts all season? PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 21

In which I post fun and favourite things from my week, semi-regularly... every-other... randomly... on Friday! 

1. Our mini-trip to Buffalo for Labour Day was great as usual, though a bit too hot for my liking. I love that a holiday in the US means big sales everywhere. It also means that all the stores are open! To my American friends - hardly anything is open in Canada on holidays. If you run out of butter you're paying $10 for it at the Quick-e-mart.

2. I'm heading to IKEA this weekend to pick up a few things for The Great Livingroom Make-over. I still have a goal to quit buying IKEA crap but I feel like when I'm going to paint and completely change something then it's ok... maybe? Also, I'm only buying things that are solid wood. Why do I feel like I'm trying to justify this?

3. I made new cupcakes last week! They are chocolate mint: chocolate cupcake with chocolate mint chocolate chips and green mint and chocolate icing swirled on top. They were tasty. I don't love the colour combo on top, I think it would look better if it were pink or purple but then that's not really mint-themed at all. These are the conundrums that clog my brain daily.

Pretty but not quite the right colours...

4. Last week I bought a wonderful game called 'Cards Against Humanity'. Have you played 'Apples-to-Apples'? It's very similar except seriously raunchy. Seriously. You can actually download it for free online and cut out your cards. I chose to order the box and save myself the hassle. It's a great change to the family-style board games.

5. If you're a dog owner you should be able to relate to this article. I am seriously too embarrassed to admit what I've said to my dog... I know you love your dog or cat, just like I love mine but sometimes telling them you'll leave them at the park and never come back if they don't smarten up just feels like the right decision.

6. Links this week:
So much love

I'm loving getting back into the calm routine that fall always brings... I'm diving head first into my livingroom project and hope to have some updates soon! Stay tuned and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

DIY: shelf & furniture & more!

A very small part of The Great Livingroom Make-over...

It all started with a cheap-o, poorly designed floating shelf.

Our front entrance is small and deserves a space for keys, mail, and general stuff dumping. Solution: a shelf! How simple! I went to Home Depot, found a simple floating shelf for $12, installed it and called it a day.

The next day, my simple shelf had foiled me. It was hanging at about 15 degrees. We took it apart, put it back together, put some (non heavy) things back on it and... the same thing happened. Shelf = garbage. New solution: I will build a shelf. Then I can paint it blue! And make it look all rustic and home-made-like!

Here's the original shelf, AKA: so much FAIL.

See that gap against the wall... it was growing each day... like a mutant, thrill seeking death shelf... 

Here's the new shelf, AKA: so much WIN! and BLUE!

NEW SHELF! It's made of solid wood and the brackets are blue and wonderful! It also hasn't moved an inch since installing it 4 days ago. 

Annnnd ignore the weird being in the back. That awesome orange bowl was $10 at Homesense and it holds many keys. 

Basic process:
  • Bought an 6' planed, cedar fence board
  • Cut it into two 2' pieces (top) and two 10.5" pieces (bottom)
  • Sanded and stained all pieces, twice. 
  • Bought 2 metal brackets
  • Spray painted the brackets blue because it's fun
  • Assembled the whole thing and hung it on the wall making sure to cover the holes from the previous FAIL shelf. 
NOW! Now... I want to build everything! That shelf was a pretty simple project but it was very rewarding to hang it up and it looked way better than the original FAIL shelf, and it's completely unique!

My next projects:

1. There's an awkward space under our dining room window that would fit a nice shelf and I'd like to put a bar cart here. While I'm trying to quit buying things from IKEA, they have some great, raw, solid pine pieces that are begging to be DIY'd. Specifically I'm thinking of getting this one, painting it, and adding racks under the top shelf to hang wine glasses. 

2. Our current coffee table has a glass top and drives me nuts, it's impossible to keep clean. I've had it for a few years and like any particle board IKEA piece... it's starting to wobble. It's also too dark. I am generally sick of it. I think I can tackle this project start to finish and if I get any help it will be in using something creative as a table top - like a door - or a pallet.

3. I have a large buffet table that was my grandpa's and it's a great storage piece that fits next to our dining room table. Unfortunately it's a cherry colour which doesn't match anything else. I'd like to paint it and update the fixtures. This project is probably the easiest but it also includes emptying the whole thing which is a whole separate project...

Do you have any DIY's that you're particularly proud of? Any that you'd like to tackle this fall? Any new skills you'd like to master?