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Monday, December 31, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

christmas thangs.

our tree wasn't the only thing that got lit this year : wrapping homemade baked treats.
meow meow mother teresa.
as for mentioned drool worthy sweets : a special dinner with special friends.
map + canvas + bonnie raitt = a last minute gift made for paulie.
pink & mint cozy socks on girls night.
windy with a bow on top.
christmas morning smiles from the boy aka my favourite little 'train nerd'.
buddy the sweetest christmas kitty : my favourite presents of all time.
a group tree pic at every home i visited this holiday season.
pretty girl coco sat still long enough to let me take her picture.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry fuckin' christmas!

i hope you all had a beautiful christmas with your families, and are just full to the brim 
with turkey, booze and the happiest of memories.
merry christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

handmade wrapping paper: that's a fucking wrap.

each year i have the same issue when it comes to picking out wrapping paper -- i just don't like any of the shit out there. and for the stuff i do, it's all about $10 a roll, which is just bananas. because i like the tree to to be the shining star, i try to keep my wrapping minimal and clean, but with some character and charm, so this year i decided to make my own. now i know what you're thinking, ain't nobody got tiiiime for that, but honestly it took less than 20 minutes to stamp almost three full rolls of paper, and they turned out just fucking darling.
i borrowed a beautiful stamp set from a friend, and purchased a few rolls of kraft paper from the post office -- at $2.49 a roll, i can pretty much wrap all my gifts for less than $8 in paper. i choose to stick with 3 stamp styles, and 2 different colours for the ink, to keep things familiar and complimentary. i also recruited paulie to stamp a roll for me, which he bitched about the entire time, but ended up really lovely.
once all the sheets were stamped, i let them dry and then began the wrapping business. using a bit of red & white bakers twine, some fresh cedar and washi tape, the gifts turned out exactly how i wanted them to look and i am even more excited to give them to our friends and family. only a small part of my heart will break into a thousand pieces when those bastards rip their gifts apart to get to the goods, 
but it's all part of the fun, and i'm ok with that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

for the lazy baker: cranberry & pistachio chocolate bark.

when i first began what has become the tradition of baking holiday treats, i stuck to a tried and tested recipe for sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. i would get together with my girlfriends cassie & neena, and we would bake and decorate hundreds of cookies in the days leading up to christmas. they were delicious, pretty and fun to make, but somewhere along the line, i must have sustained a serious head injury, as i have since started adding a new item to my list of holiday baking as each year passes. for the past two years, we have switched up the sugar cookies to butter cookies (which are still full of sugar by the way), and added peanut butter balls and rolo turtles to the list. so why should this year be any different? variety is the spice bastard of life right? so i tacked on this recipe for cranberry pistachio bark and called it a day.
this special treat adds a fruity, nutty element to the baking i am already committed to, and adds some colour and texture to the tins and packages i will be making up to hand out. it looks equally pretty when served on a platter or wrapped as a small gift with cello, greens and a handmade ornament. with less than a week left until christmas, this treat is the easiest way to pull something together that takes less than 20 minutes to make but looks like much more work than that. no one needs to know you could whip this shit up blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back and high on bath salts. if that's the kind of thing you're into.

Friday, December 14, 2012

baby, it's cold outside.

k, not so much here in niagara. i'm pretty sure we will never see snow again. ever.
in the meantime, this fulfills my need for a winter wonderland.
i linked to the blog these images were stolen from below -- it's one of my favourite things on the internet, 
and is always full of beautiful things to love.
{every single last image via an early morning walk}

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

just say the word and i'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.

everyone has their all time favourite christmas movie -- some can't let a year go by without watching 'christmas vacation' (which is definitely my go-to, never-gets-old, hands down favourite), some are serious advocates for 'home alone' (my dear friend jen can recite the entire movie front to back, and even wrote the most amazing speech about it while in college) and some just can't get enough of 'it's a wonderful life'. paulie happens to be 'one of those'.

he introduced it to me as his favourite the first year we dated, explaining he and his family had watched it every christmas eve his entire life. every year like clockwork, the cbc was on and 'it's a wonderful life' entertained the cowley clan for the next 9 fucking hours straight: reason #1 i didn't want to like it -- the longest christmas movie in christmas movie history, you could roast twenty five, fifty pound turkeys and it still wouldn't be over. reason #2, shamefully: strictly because it was fun to make fun of it. i would see how annoying of a voice i could pull off while saying "every time a bell rings, an angel gets it's wiiiings", and in turn he would give me a look of pure death.

but as the years went on, and he kept the tradition alive on christmas eve's, i decided there was something really sweet about him having such a soft spot for a what i consider one of the more serious but romantic christmas classics. and it wasn't until i sat down, shut my damn mouth and paid attention, that this particular scene in the film made everything click for me; how could you not love a story about a man who would give his girl the moon if he could? i never intended to like this movie, and will probably continue to make paulie think i don't. 
they don't always need to know when you're wrong they're right.

Monday, December 10, 2012

day to day.

consuming enough vitamin c that getting sick is damn near impossible.
zac: the cutest googly-eyed black & white fuck i ever did see.
my pretty baby girl in her favourite spot : winter place settings.
most favourite nails to date. rip.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

christmas cards: handmade with love & wine.

every christmas without fail i convince myself it's a good idea to take on more than i can chew, which happens to be a lot considering i have a gigantic hole in my face for a mouth. this year, i had the brilliant idea to make all of my christmas cards. yes, you read that right, make. all of them. with an incredible amount of inspiration at my fingertips (from both my friends and the always reliable pinterest) i managed to pump out 50 cards all made by hand (usually just one, the other was most likely holding a glass of wine) and with a shit tonne of love.
using scrapbook paper, doilies, glitter, washi tape, ribbon, felt and anything else i had that could work, it was easy to pull together some really cute cards with a little bit of time and a lot of inspiration. i found this site & this site full of sweet, easy ideas, so to share the love, i thought i would post a few of my favourites.  i made the envelopes to match the cards and think they ended up really kitschy, festive and fun. if you can make the time to sit and craft your own cards, or even gift tags for less of a commitment, i think it will surprise you how rewarding it feels when you finally get the fuckers done. if you happen to have kids in your life this would be even more fun to do -- i can't believe i just said that. for now, i have a small pooch and a creeper of a cat who like to be a part of the process, and that's enough for me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

vicky's quick & dirty chicken noodle soup.

it's my mom's birthday today, so it was only fitting i share her recipe on what is hands down, my absolute favourite soup on the planet, her chicken noodle recipe. it's hearty, super rustic, full of flavour and tastes better and better as you eat it. until recently, i had only ever enjoyed her soup, so i never knew how she made it or what kind of work went into this tasty winter meal. thinking this was a full day process and a tradition i should keep alive to pass on, i added asking her to teach me how to make her recipe to my 30 by 30 list, and did just that a few sundays back. it was when she looked at me like i was asking her to teach me how to boil water, that i realized this was less of a task than i had pictured it being in my mind and of course, my mouth.

how we do: vicky's quick & dirty chicken noodle soup
{makes 1 enormous pot}
prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 1.5 hours
eating time: my family? before that shit has a chance to cool.

you will need:
small macaroni or noodles of your choice
pieces of chicken legs & thighs
5 stalks of celery
1 small bag of peeled baby carrots
1 large can of plum tomatoes
dried oregano & parsley
salt & pepper to taste
fill your largest pot with water and get it on the stove on high to get it boiling. while that's going, you can prep the chicken, which includes washing it and trimming off any excess fat, and is not a job i would be interested  in doing -- it makes me queasy just thinking about it. i actually had to look away while my mom man handled those legs and thighs, and i spent the entire time asking her how the hell she doesn't barf when she does it. she's tough as balls. when the water was boiling, she dropped the chicken and let it do it's thang while i did the less slimy task of chopping the veggies.

wash and roughly chop 5 stalks of celery and a small bag of baby carrots, we like our soup rustic, but chop your veg however you enjoy it most. once your chicken in cooked through, you can add the celery, carrots and 1 large can of plum tomatoes with their juice. flavouring is as easy as a few 'nonna handfuls' (very small handful) of dried parsley and oregano from nonno's garden, and salt and pepper to taste. let this baby go for a good hour, pull apart any large pieces of chicken and remove any bones, boil up some small macaroni or egg noodles, and you have the best homemade quick and dirty chicken noodle soup you could ask for, worth the nasty chicken prep all damn day.

Monday, December 03, 2012

alexander ebert: truth.

i'm going to preface this by saying a very large part of me loves this man's music because well, let's be honest, i find him insanely beautiful. at first it was purely physical, but as i learn more about him and watch him in interviews (this one had me drooling all over myself) i become more attracted to his whole style -- his creativity, his interest in more than just the genre he and his music falls into, and his story.  if you recognize him, it's not because he looks like jesus, it's because before going solo he was in the band 'edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros'.  if you like 'truth', listen to the rest of his stuff, a million years and glimpses are also so good.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

a year in review: for what it's worth.

exactly one year ago today, i sat on this very couch, probably drinking coffee out of the exact same mug, and began this fulfilling journey of documenting and sharing the things that make me the most happy, inspired and proud -- things that have forced me to reflect, learn and strive for, things i never would have accomplished had i not created a place to call my own and just let all the shit out. it has become a reflection of myself (not all of me, but a good amount) and a tool to guide me into the girl i hope to one day be -- it has opened not only my eyes, but also my  heart to the joy of accomplishing what i can, and letting go of what i can't. this space is a visual representation of the way this last year has changed me, and that means more to me than i ever expected it to.

a few months back, i shared the lessons i have learned through writing, and how i can see myself slowy but surely learning the value of having the power to choose what i will and will not allow to affect me. of course i still have my moments breakdowns and lapses in judgement, but i have solid influences in my life and am trying my best to use them to my advantage, to stand up to myself and the times where i am pulled down, so i can get back up, pick my balls up off the ground, and move the fuck on. the reward in that also came as a surprise, like an added bonus, like the four maraschino cherries at the bottom of my double white russian.

cheese aside, i spent the last few days looking back on some of my favourite posts, adventures and the life lessons that inevitably come from each of those experiences. from getting organized to embracing what is around me exactly when it's before me, i am proud to see what something like this little corner of the internets has done for an ordinary girl with some extraordinary goals, hopes and dreams; when physically removing yourself from welland isn't a viable option, it's only a click away to put yourself into this great big world, and i plan to do just that until it's no longer something that makes me as happy as it does.

a few lessons i didn't intend or expect to learn:

writing a blog requires some level of computer knowledge. before starting this i knew how to use ms paint, a word document and photo booth on a mac like it was my job. since then i have learned how to write very basic code, edit without losing every fucking thing i ever posted, and the miracle that is googling anything. any.thing.

just when i think i know what i'm doing, i'm reminded i haven't a damn clue.
trying to be like everyone else never works; i love what i love and i swear like a trucker because i like to and don't give a rats ass if that makes me appear less educated, classless or worthy of living in the ghetto i do. "you either like me or you don't. it took me twenty-something years to learn to love myself, i don't have that kinda time to convince somebody else." --daniel franzese

it doesn't matter if a million people read what i put out there, or if it never meets the eyes of another soul, this is for me, and i like what i see.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

magnolia & cedar: handmade christmas garlands.

i'm not exactly sure why i'm going batshit crazy for christmas this year, but it's happening wether i know the reason why or not. maybe part of me is preparing myself that this could be the last christmas we spend in this house. then again, we've been saying that to ourselves and out loud for the last few good years, so why should this year be any different? maybe i'm trying to learn how to make everything as best i can, so my dreams of one day owning a house worthy of being on a 'holiday house tour' can come true. or maybe it's just that i'm sick in the head. what i do know, is that i'm falling more & more in love with the way the house feels & smells, as each day creeps closer and closer to the 25th.

since pretty well the day we moved in, i have wanted to make a fresh greens garland for the banister on our staircase. but not just any staircase, the holy shit packages of all staircases -- the number one reason we i wanted the house in the first place, the prettiest feature of it and how it just begs to be draped and flanked in lush, lacy cedar and waxy, leathery magnolia. it's stately and detailed and deserves to be showcased as such. so this year, i finally had the energy and drive to make it happen, and pulled together the garland i have been dreaming about for the past four christmases. why in the fuck did i wait so long!?!

how we do: cedar & magnolia christmas garland
··· depending on the desired length of your garland ···

4 boughs of cedar
4 boughs of magnolia leaves
green floral wire
wire cutters
jute or twine
start by preparing your greens, removing elastics, tags and any damaged leaves. i wanted it to look natural, rustic and homey, so i choose to use cedar for it's delicateness and scent, and the magnolia because it's multifaceted with a shiny, polished, deep green top, and brown soft velvet underside, and because i love any excuse to have as much magnolia around me as often and humanly possible. once you have your greens ready to go, you can clip the branches into 6"-8" lengths. don't be too particular about how they look and that they are all uniform, it's the variation of each piece that will make the garland less formal and more interesting. using a piece of twine or a measuring tape, determine how long you need your garland beauty to be. don't be scurred, although a wee bit time consuming, this is no sweat.
once all your greens are ready to work with, you can begin assembling your garland. start by making a small poesy of greens, a few pieces of cedar and a branch or two of magnolia; the width and fullness of these bunches will determine how wide your finished garland will be. i wanted mine lush and full to compliment the staircase, so i was generous with the size of bundles i made, but if you want a thinner garland, make your bundles smaller, and try to be as consistent as you can. wire the branches of your bundle together, using a good amount of tension, but not so much that you cut through your branches. as your garland dries up over time, it shrinks and risks the chance of pieces slipping out, be sure you take the time to make everything as secure as possible. build your next bundle and lay it on top of the previous, almost like you are rolling it on to ensure they are even around, and wire together. this will form a chain with a definite top and bottom, easy to lay flat on a mantle, railing of a staircase or around your front door. continue until the garland is as long as you require.
once my garland was long enough, i flipped it over and fed 2' pieces of jute through the greens intermittently along the entire length, to be used to attach the garland to the staircase. be sure to leave long enough tails to go around the railings or handrail, and be tied off well. the garland will be heavier than you would think, and you want to make sure it is secured tightly to the staircase or wherever you are displaying it. trim off any excess twine and adjust your garland until it sits the way that makes you happiest -- i found that by tweaking it a little bit here and there, i could hide how it was attached, which cleaned everything up.
in the end it cost me $80 in materials and took a little over two hours to make, which would have been more than double the price had i paid someone to make it for me. you can reduce costs if you happen to have a healthy cedar bush on your property, (or on your neighbours and have no shame) and can cut it yourself, also making it less girthy (such a good word) would help. i have already decided that at our next home, i am paul is planting an evergreen forest somewhere on the property -- a nice mix of pine, cedar, boxwood, fir, hemlock, spruce and juniper. maybe even throw some holly bushes and birch trees in there for good measure; you never know what you might need if you finally get that fire lit under your ass to get up and make shit happen.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

my nail polish collection: it makes me happier than it should.

i think i may have a small problem serious complex. at first i though it was just a guilty pleasure -- grab a bottle of nail polish when my favourite brands went on sale, or pick up the newest shade of the season, but before i knew it, i ended up with more nail polish than any non-professional manicurist should, and i can't tell you how shit-myself-happy that makes me. since moving into our home, my collection has outgrown two makeup bags and a large travel cosmetic case, and because i couldn't bring myself to buy another bag, only to stuff it under the sink along with the rest of the little fuckers, i had to figure out a more efficient, organized plan. 

luckily, one day while perusing through one of my favourite blogs 'the dainty squid', the solution to my first world, girl dilemma was staring me in the face: a nail polish rack? like my own personal nail salon sans vietnamese nail girls talking about me in their own language so i don't know what the hell they're saying about me right in front of my face? amazing. by the way, i have totally called them out while they yammered away to each other as i sat there innocently getting my nails done, and they fully admitted they talk about customers, so don't think for a second they're not talking about little ol' you, because they totally are.
i placed an order through amazon to buy the exact same rack and waited not-so-patiently for it to arrive. within 13 minutes of having it in my house, the choice to hang it in my office/craft room/shit show was made and it was screwed into the wall. as i began the glorious task of organizing all the polishes from lightest to darkest for optimal convenience during the selection process, i shamefully pulled bottles out of that travel bag i haven't looked at since the day i purchased them. so pleased with my new, organized and beautifully displayed collection, i made paul admire it with me, only to be accused of being "disturbed for having this much polish" and "was i aware that almost all the colours look exactly the same?". it's a good thing i paint my nails for me and not for him, what do boys know anyway?

Monday, November 19, 2012

handmade christmas snow globes.

let's face it, when it comes to anthropologie, there is no denying the immense beauty that is every single item that graces the shelves of that friggen' store -- everything they sell could work perfectly in my home, on my person or as a gift. the only problem is, they charge a million dollars for pretty much every thing. sometimes you can get things on clearance, which means you'll spend a little less, but not enough that the temptation to recreate everything doesn't cross your mind a time or two. or three. or always. so when i saw these darling anthropolgie inspired snow globes on pinterest a few months back, i pinned them  as one of the projects i was definitely going to attempt this christmas season. simple and yet so sweet, they turned out even more beautiful than i had hoped for. i'm not sure if that's because they were so easy peasy, or because i made them with friends at our second 'craft club' night, but i am in love with them. i want to make 100 of them.
a few mason jars, some dollar store decorative bristle trees, regular everyday kitchen sugar, hot glue and voila, you have yourself a waterless snow globe, easy to change up if you wanted to. my favourite thing about our craft nights, besides the wine, is how we inspire each other as we work away. i like how we bounce ideas off of each other, and how a suggestion motivates a change in plans and before you know we all have the cutest small red felt hearts on our trees. they look lovely lined up on my window sill, clusterfucked on the fireplace mantle, or as a centrepiece on our dining room table. to create more of a cohesive piece, i clipped some cedar and pine from the park down the street, and laid it out on the table to create a "bed" for the snow globes. once i had them nestled in there, i spread out some pine cones i also collected at the park, and it came together perfectly. i give lennon four days before he has eaten all the greens and has every last pine cone scattered around the house.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

because it's beautiful.

{image via}

if you find yourself asking yourself
(and your friends)
'am i really a writer?'
'am i really an artist?'
chances are, you are.
the counterfeit innovator is wildy self confident.
the real one is scared to death.

--steven pressfield.

Friday, November 16, 2012

bahamas: lost in the light.

i love everything about this.
i love everything about the album.
canadian? check. makes me dance? check. beautiful facial hair? check.
makes me wanna make out in the back seat of our volkswagen? check.
happy friday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

around me.

a special gift wrapped & ready : oh! we're in full bloom.
the most beautiful vintage fan patterned quilt. sadly, not mine.
beard. lips. plaid. pooch. love.
my new favourite place setting: keys, feathers, lace & gold.
i love when she sticks her tongue out at me.
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