a snowy start

What a way to start the year — freezing with a smile on my face!  I had not been back to the Mitten since Jan 2012 and that year, we had no snow until our last day and mostly balmy weather.  Well, this trip couldn’t have been more different.  It was the perfect weather for cross-country skiing, eating P-I-E, drinking hot tea, playing cards, and opening presents.  A great way to start the year indeed!

Michigan Vacation

the perfect party appetizer

These are my favorite appetizers for two reasons — they taste delicious and the presentation factor.  I haven’t taken these to a party yet where someone did literally say “Wow” and inevitably someone wants the recipe.  I would say they are the easiest to make since there is absolutely no cooking involved, but that’s not necessarily true.  It’s only if you have a second pair of hands to hold “the package” while tying them together that this rings true.  Doing them by yourself can prove to be a bit challenging if your chives are short and/or stiff.  After making these little guys for 10 years now, I have found that the key to success here is a long, flexible chive.  We were fortunate enough this last time to use some straight from our landlord’s garden (soft, strong, and flexible indeed).

Ingredients: The largest salami you can have sliced, Boursin Cheese (yum!), cherry tomatoes, & some sort of a chive/flexible green onion-esque thing-y.

Direction: Layer first three items then pick up sides and tie with a chive.  Simple as that.

And a note — I always tell our fellow party-goers that you eat it like sushi; that is, you pop the whole thing in your mouth at one time!

Boursin Poppers Ingredients

Boursin Poppers Ingredients

(another) handmade holiday

I love that my best friend in the world, the love of my life, is just as crazy as I am.  (I’ve always said, it’s why we work.)  We are makers.  If it can be made, we’re going to attempt it.  His projects are usually larger than mine, but occasionally, I’ll tackle something big too (remember this attic bathroom shower?)  The holidays (and birthdays) provide the perfect platform for us to exercise our insanity.  This year I made a few personalized items for my recipient, but I spent some time this year making my own wrapping paper.  I used regular mixed media paper 14 x 17 sheets and basic acrylic paint.  And since I didn’t have near as many packages to wrap this year (as opposed to last year), it was totally doable in one afternoon.

The hubs however, has had his project in the making for about a year.  While we were off the grid last year in West Texas, he busied himself by hand harvesting a few limbs of Wild Texas Persimmon. He then learned how to turn that wood into beautiful tools of the civilized world.  He made a few pens, pencils, and stylus’.  I think they are beautiful.  The persimmon has unknown markings with each piece you turn and it just so happened that the stylus for his mother had a beautiful black mark, almost like it was painted there.  It was perfect.

He’s so handy.  (And handsome to boot!)

Handmade Holiday 2012

good-bye 2012

Year End Review

Twenty-twelve was not completely unexpected nor was it boring.  I guess I should be a little more proactive about the future rather than contemplative about the past but alas, this is where my mind is.  The past 365 days had many highlights, particularly the seemingly mundane.  I think because I have been anticipating 2013 to be a year of changes and excitement that it somewhat shaped this year as one closer to home and family.  As I thought about my 10 favorite memories/highlights/gratitudes these are the ones that came to mind:

10. Travel near and far.  January brought us to Michigan and May saw me in New Orleans.  (The hubs, however, saw England, France, Italy, The Netherlands, & Denmark!) Which brings me to #9.

9. Lots of family time.  Because the hubs was away for 7 weeks, I got an extended stay with my folks.  It also meant pool-party Friday’s with my sis.  We were also together a lot during my Grandmother’s final weeks. But we also celebrated life, 60 years worth, with a big family party at the beach.

8.  And a lot of that family time happens Monday – Wednesday when they let me invade their space.  I can’t believe that January will mark two years of my 90 mile each way commute.  I’m also pretty pumped that I still have an incredible job.

7.  That incredible job has given me Friday’s off which as allowed me some extra time to try new artistic endeavors.  I painted more this year than I ever have.  I tried drawing again a few times.  I even dusted off my grandfather’s old film camera and gave that a shot too.  I even stretched myself in the last few months to finally learn illustrator too.  (The left side of my brain got lots of wrinkles this year!)

6. Life and death certainly are two-sides of the same card.  As I said hello to 34, I said good-bye to my beloved grandmother.

5. We weren’t short on celebrations of life and love though as the hubs and I celebrated #8 — even though we were separated by an ocean.

4. While the hubs was away, I focused my mind by moving my feet.  I’m not exactly at the same place I was (physically) in July, but I’ll be there again soon — very soon!

3.  It was a wonderful reader that pointed out that it looked like every weekend I had some kind of amazing meal… and you know, I think I did.

2.  One of the most pleasant surprises was getting plugged into a new community and hanging out with people twice our age!

1. I’m continually awed by how amazing my life is.  It’s not always easy, but I have so much to be thankful for — all the time.  And I am really, really looking forward to experiencing all that 2013 can bring.