Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's mini me!

This summer, there is a lack of people living in my building, so we needed to keep track if people were here or not. First we were going to just find three different magnets, but then the light bulb went off.... We needed magnets that looked like us.... So here you go!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Burp Catcher

Back again for another baby-stuff-making installment! I have definitely been slowing down my crafting and have not really accomplished much since I made these burp cloths several weeks ago. But I am in love with them so far (we will see how functional I find them...) so I figured I should share!

So I had some flannel left over from the circle quilt I made (and some that didn't quite make the cut to be put on the quilt...) and bought some microfiber (super dooper soft) dish towels from Family Dollar for $1. I sewed them together and here you have it! I started looking at a tutorial and then decided that it was easy enough that I would just wing it. (weird)I thought it looked too...hmmm, whats the word...flowy maybe? So I semi-quilted it by doing a big cross and an X across it to keep the fabric a little tighter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Clothes Keeper

This week/weekend was a pulling things together kinda time. I finished up some projects and tried to put things away just so I felt more together and I didn't feel like I was lying when I was asked for the 500th time, is the baby's room ready? I think I am about ready to truthfully say yes! I finished up the dresser this week. Which proved to be more difficult than anticipated. It seems that this 500 year old monster (not really...but still super old) did not want to follow the normal drawer pull rules. According to Home Depot there are 8 standard drawer pull widths. This guy's width was partway between the biggest 2 sizes. (I do feel for it is rough being between sizes...) So I ended up having to use knobs on the entire things. Which is fine with me, I had kinda wanted to do that anyways...

So for the big reveal...

Compared to....
Not too shabby! And here is the finished (for the most part...I need to organize that bookcase a little bit...) product for the far wall of the room. (you can see a little of one of my next projects in the mirror, but I will have to go into that one later because I am at a point where I need to run to joann's to get some more upholstery tacks...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thong Stories from the Past and Present- a continuation

Once upon a time I was an incoming freshman student heading off to college. This is one of those stories that cracks me up... and is a bit embarrassing, but I'll share anyway. It is also one of those stories that I sometimes use to remind myself when I have questions from incoming students that I have to remind myself "No question is a stupid question".... because well, let's be honest. Sometimes they are. However; I will also state that I never called and ask one of the admissions counselors, housing people, or academic advisers this question. So there. I still didn't ask a stupid question.

Circles and Drawers!

Hey guys, back for another installment of my crafting summer! I took a break this weekend (from was a super busy end of the week/weekend) but I started up again with some fire yesterday! I finished my quilt! It actually ended up being easier than i had anticipated and should not have been this long drawn out process since February when I began with the first step. I just got too ADD for it all and took over lots of projects in between steps. But I did it!

I'm awful

Oh guys, I stink at this. It's not that I'm not crafting, it's that I often forget to take pictures throughout, or, if I remember, I'm TERRIBLE about uploading them onto my computer. I'm going to make this happen though!

Projects to come:

Christmas decor (yikes....)
OAMC - my new favorite thing
An apron for my friend's bridal shower
Progress on my craft room.

I think that's it. There will be a post up before I'm allowed to sleep tonight!

Sorry I've been so MIA....but I'm enjoying all of your projects!

Monday, June 20, 2011

How I MacGyvered My Thong: A Surprise Craft Project

It started out a pretty normal afternoon. I had just left the dentist and was heading back to my car, thinking about my newly cleaned teeth and the fact that I was going to head out to Joann's. I decided I needed a new project, and figured I would wander around until I found something, once I got there. So as I said, I was walking when suddenly something didn't feel right. I tried to figure out what it was, when suddenly it became apparent. The little string part- the area that probably has the most tension had been ripped.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mamma Mia: The Guests Get Crafty Too!

I have another baby shower recap for you today! After this, we will have one more and a giveaway. SO.... make sure to stop by.

When planning for the baby shower, Allison had requested we make onesies, much like in Offbeat Mama. So Allison & I searched for good deals and onesies (Allison rocked  at this!) and the gathering of supplies began! People really got into it... more than I thought they might, so I was happy. Here I am working on my onesie:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Busy Bee

Hey guys, Blog Hog here... When it rains it pours with my crafting. Maybe it's nesting already kicking in...but really guys, that is just how I am. I get super motivated and wanna get it all done NOW. And I am feeling a little time crunch as well I suppose.

Let's look at my list...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dotty Spotty Glider...Part One: The Footstool

So I finally found the material I bought for the glider! Yay!! So I figured the footstool would be the easiest part to begin with... When I saw that it involved no sewing I was slightly scared, though I really don't know how I could have thought that it would need sewing. Basically all it takes is cutting a big rectangle and then sticking it on. It was stapled, but this crafty girl does not not own a staple gun. Weird. So I decided to play with upholstery tacks. So I bought some cute white circle ones to go with the fabric. And then went to work!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quick Little Project While I Felt Motivated...

So I was a crafting machine last weekend. I decided that we needed to have a better system for our incoming mail. Ok, any system would be better than the drop it on the table and let it pile up. But when I was researching baby projects I wanted to work on (which by the way has grown from my last list...) I saw some tutorials for different organizers for the nursery, living room, recipes...and I thought, hey I can do that. Of course I chose to go without a pattern and just use whatever I had....and so I don't really have measurements for anything. I made the width of the pockets enough to fit a few card sized envelopes and just went with it. And then I had a smaller piece of fabric I used to make a little spot for coupons...

So I didn't really take any pictures of the process...but I layered the fabric and then folded the fabric from the back around to make a binding for the front. I also created a loop that I used to hand up on our key holder. (Look familiar?)
And here it is with our collection of mail from the was not too out of control because we just cleaned... (It is organized with Matt's mail, My mail, Bills to be paid, and case you were curious...)

Friday, June 3, 2011

pay no attention to the stuff behind the curtain...adventures in manly crib skirt making

Oh hey guys...2 posts in one week? I am cruising! Well we just got back from vacation this afternoon and I needed to do some crafting, so away I went! While we were gone I went to a Joann Fabrics...who just happened to be having a grand reopening...and handing out 50% and 40% off coupons. How could I resist? I am a sucker for a coupon... So I ended up finding this adorable fabric that worked with my primary colors theme I am going to incorporate into the baby's room. And it would be the perfect crib skirt to hide all of the stuff I am storing under there.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I heart this.

Another break in baby shower posting. Remember in my previous put post I told you my mom is a wedding cake decorator? Well I found this post today.

Go check it out. I will wait. I'm patient. Alright.... I'm not that patient. :-)

I would have loved this as a child. I could have been "decorating" my own cakes a well.

Things like this make me want to pop out babies to spoil. Good thing Allison will be doing some pushing soon enough so I have a baby to spoil. I just need to become more boy focussed in my finds.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Where am I?

Wow guys, so sorry for the delay in blogland from this girl. I have been crafting...I swear! I have had a little growing monster in my belly for the last about 7 months now (only 64 days left!!) that has been delaying my posting...along with work and all that other fun life stuff. Unfortunately I did not have the energy to take pictures of most of what I have been busy with...a few quilts here and there and sweet infinity dress for a wedding...but maybe I can report on those a little later. Now I am occupied with my baby crafts! YAY!! Summer crafting season is about to take flight!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mamma Mia! It's the cake!

When it comes to cakes, I tend to have outlandish ideas. Part of that comes from the fact that my mom is a wedding cake decorator. Another part comes from the fact that I worked at a bakery in high school and during college and so I know the norm and I know the fantastic. It also has something to do with the fact that I have a small bakery in my kitchen when it comes to my decorating supplies.
So when it was determined that my mom was going to be making the trip from Wisconsin to the shower, it made most sense that she was going to be doing the cake.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Interruption of Baby Shower Posting

As I was reading an interesting article, Miss Mary, The Blog's #1 Fan, messaged me about how I needed to blog more often. Ironically, this article is one that I felt the need to share... and so this is what I'm going to do. We have good news! It's a brand-new baby ... something?
Now go read it. Think about it. And respond with your opinion. How young is too young to allow a child do their own DIY project? Literally... they seem to get to pick everything. I'll share my thoughts too... but not until I hear from you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mamma Mia! It is a baby shower!

This past Sunday was the baby shower... Mario Bros. style! My goal with the shower was to have a theme but for it not to be over the top. So I was aiming to have the place look like an Italian restaurant with pops of Mario Bros. What does this mean? Well it means that I order table coverings from Linen 'n Things, give my excuse to purchase glass liquid dispensers, purchasing plants and flowers from Eastern Market, and then crafting up some Mario Bros. items in between. Today I'll show you the table decorations. (I need to spread this out so that we have multiple posts here... why, I'm not sure, but this is what I am doing).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A craft mess...

I cannot lie... I am a craft mess. After I complete a project, I generally end up on the short list for being declared as a natural zone. Today was supposed to be different though, I  recently cleaned the living room and was keeping that in mind. I actually started on the couch, but decided I should move on to the floor as I began to cut into the Styrofoam ball.

See? It looks innocent enough... And then suddenly....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

50 First Showers

It is not all that uncommon for brides to be to have wedding nightmares... you know they end up at the church naked or their groom doesn't show or someone ruins the wedding or they don't get the cake they had planned... you know, those types of dreams. (WHOA RANDOM LONG SENTENCE).

Monday, April 11, 2011

You + Hubby = Makes me something to spoil!

So a friend of mine is preggers... which I'm super excited about! And this will probably be the topic of a few posts to come up because I'm throwing a baby shower!

This isn't about the baby shower though... it is about another special day in the life of soon to be parents:

Show Us Your Goods So We Know What We Are Having Day!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

To Have and To Hang

One of my favorite activities each year is to host an online Emmy prediction game. I started two years ago, and it has been a great way to incorporate an "online party" with friend and family who live all over the country and world (yes, I'm talking about you, Mary!) This year was no different, and the winner then receives a prize. No one knows what the prize is ahead of time though, mostly because I don't know what it will be.

For the second year in a row, my sister won the Emmys! Ridiculous. But a ton of fun. Last year I sent her pies in a jar, this year I decided to make a hanger for her eventual wedding dress. Now this idea didn't just come to me one day, no it was while I was swimming when my swim instructor/friend said she had just purchased them for her wedding... and that when the light bulb went off in the swimming pool. Oooo... potentially dangerous. :-)

Monday, February 28, 2011

B is for Book

I realized that I never told you about one of my large projects that took on for Christmas. When I was working on my 30 things to do before I turned 30, one of the items I had listed on there was write a children's book.

Did I write a book? No. I wrote seven. So my cousins on my mom's side have some very adorable children. I am going to refrain from posting pictures of them though, because I'm not sure that their mothers would like that plan. Regardless though, there is Jacob, Ethan, Emily, Naleyah, Jaydah, Aleada, and Gavin. And so I wrote 7 different books that had each of them as the main character and then illustrated the book to match. Each book also had a lesson that was appropriate for each of them. It was a lot of work, but I loved it!

Craic Cookies

In Ireland there are lots of words that I took to mean one thing that to the Irish actually mean something completely different. This Friday in Cead Mile Differences we are going to look at what some of those words and phrases are. I decided for a sneak preview we would discuss the word Craic (pronounced crack) which in Irish means good fun, or good times. I will never for get the staff meeting I sat in the first Monday I worked in Ireland asked a coworker how her weekend was. She smiled and said "it was really good, a few of the others from the office and I went out and even though it wasn't the plan, ended up having great crack." (as heard by me). I sat through the meeting freaking out wondering what the heck I was doing in a company and a country for that matter that proudly regaled their crack habits. After working up the courage to ask my supervisor if there was a serious crack problem in Ireland, the miscommunication came to light and everyone got a very big laugh (at my expense). I loved introducing this term Craic to the study abroad students that came every semester and especially loved showing the sign in the Guinness Factory that said "Welcome to Guinness, home of the craic"

I heard about this recipe from a friend who love the Kelly and Regis show and knew that I had to make it. The first time I made these cookies were for a girlie dinner at my sisters house. Even though we had stuffed ourselves with cheese from a delicious raclette dinner, the five us managed to put away over 30 of these cookies. We weren't proud, but did deem them addictive...kind of like we would imagine crack to be. But since we are ladies and we did have good fun making and eating them - we deemed them Craic cookies - a favorite amongst my friends.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Driving in Ireland

When I moved to Ireland, the whole everyone driving on the other side of the road thing really got to me. I was terrified to cross the street because cars seemingly came from nowhere seeking to run me over. Even the painted "Look Right" signs at every streetlight corner couldn't stop me from occasionally stepping in front of a car I expected to see coming from the other direction.

As time wore on I became a much better pedestrian, but I was still terrified to become a driver. Fortunately, work beckoned and I had to drive myself and an admissions counselor to a recruitment fair. I was a nervous wreck, convinced I would cause physical harm to those around me. I put the car in gear and inched forward barely able to grip the steering wheel due to the sweat pumping out of my hands. Taking my first turn out of the car park, I managed to bump the side view mirror. No damage done to anything except my confidence! I am happy to say that was the low point and it didn't take long for me to acclimate to driving on the left side of the road. What did take a little longer was getting used to the rules of the road. Today's differences are going to focus on driving.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Travelling on my stomach

One of the perks of living abroad is being able to travel to some really amazing places. Ireland isn't on the Continent making it require a flight to get most places, but with airlines like Aer Lingus and RyanAir, if we plan ahead we can get round trip tickets for $30 to various European cities.

I have a little confession to make though - when I was a novice traveller, one of the first places I liked to identify upon landing in a new city was the McDonald's. It sounds shameful now, but there was something comforting about finding something that was the same when I was surrounded by so much that was different. I also must confess that in the early days I ate at a lot of restaurants that had pictures for menus. I am not proud, just honest!

As I became more comfortable being in places that were totally new, I also became braver. Part of that braveness came with having my sister and my friend Aaron as travelling companions. They took a lot of the scariness out of finding new restaurants and ordering new things. I also learned that I will never starve while on holiday and if I make a bad order, I can always order something else.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sad Deer:The Picture

When posting about the deer, I had intended to include a picture of Sad Deer that Sissy P has texted me. Except that the picture had disappeared off my cell phone, and so that was a no go. She has sent me another copy though... so here is Sad Deer! (And thanks Sis!)

feeling funktastic

When we were in college my friend Megan and I would talk on the phone almost every Sunday evening. Partially because it was a great time to catch up and partially because we were both prone to suffering what she coined as the Sunday blues (in distinct contrast with the Friday buzz). Sundays were often the days we had left for sorting the apartment, cramming in last minute study, and generally finishing all of the things deemed not fun enough for a Saturday. Every now and then the Sunday blues were a product of the Saturday evening regrets. Whatever had happened over the weekend it was always great to end it talking to Megan. Incidentally Megan is famous amongst our friends for coining phrases that have stuck with us for life. One of my favorite phrases came after a break up with a guy we didn't think was capable of hurting her. She looked me square in the eye and said "Zippers. Who needs them." We laughed til our sides ached and as the years went on and the break ups piled up, we always returned to that phrase as a way of reminding ourselves that boys may come and go, but good girlfriends are always there.

Luckily as we grew older, the everyday hustle and bustle of life took over. The Sunday blues became less frequent (some might say because everyday seemed more like a Sunday but that would just be too cynical), which is why it took me by surprise this past Sunday when I found myself in a funktastic mood. The reality of moving countries, combined with several weekends of saying goodbye activities had started to take its toll on me. The not knowing of the exact when or where dangled in front of me plunging me into a severe case of the Sunday Blues, not felt since the 90's! The 8 hour time difference made it impossible for me to call Megan until later so I turned to the activity that these days makes everything seem brighter: cooking.

This is one of the first soup recipes I ever tried and the first go produced a decent result. This time however, I have a bit more soup making skills under my belt and was able to adjust the recipe to make a deeply satisfying bowl of soup with just the right amount of kick.

I hope you enjoy!

Makes 6 -8

1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 medium onions, cut into a medium dice
6 cloves garlic minced
1/2 bunch celery, cut into a medium dice
2 medium carrots, cut into a medium dice
1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder (I used Cayenne)
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 cups water or Vegetable Stock
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
1 small dried chipotle or 1/2 canned chipotle, drained (I only had powdered and it was delicious)
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
Salt and pepper

Preheat your pan. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. When the vegetables have begun to brown, add the chili powder, ginger, and ground cumin. Cook this mixture until a heady aroma rises from the pot and vegetables are fairly soft.

Add the stock and the sweet potatoes. Cook until the sweet potatoes are very soft, just about falling apart, about 40 minutes. Taste the soup and add chipotles accordingly. Remember that the heat of the chipotle will continue to develop over the next day or so, so if you are heat-averse, be conservative at this point.

Puree the soup and return it to the pot. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. If the soup is too spicy, a bit of sugar will tone it down a little. If the soup is too mild, a little more chipotle will add some kick.

Adapted from the recipe taken from The Complete Vegan Kitchen

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Boob Tube in Ireland...uh, quite literally

For this week's feature on the differences between Ireland and the US, I thought we would focus on the television. The physical television really isn't that different than what you would see in the US, minus the plug. But the programming, and the channels, oh dear friends are quite different indeed! It's hard to know where to start. We'll start with the National Television station: RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann), The radio bit has been around since 1926 and the TV station began in 1961 - its a ststuatory body run by a board appointed by the Irish government. RTE has RTE 1 and RTE 2. A lot of the programming comes from America, anywhere from one week to several months later than it would have been run in the states. They obviously cover a load of Irish sports, politics, etc. We also get the BBC stations here and then a wide range of cable stations.

Some of the biggest differences include:

If you have a TV in Ireland, you are required by law to pay a yearly TV license. This license is €160 a year and is supposed to mean that we can view programs without loads of commercials. This works for the BBC stations, but sadly not for the RTE ones. If you don’t pay the fees you can wind up being hugely fined or in some cases even going to prison!

Nudity. As alluded to in the title of this blog – nudity and cursing are allowed on normal, not cable television. The first time I saw full frontal nudity and heard the f word, I nearly fell off my couch! There is no need to pay for Skinemax here, just wait until 9pm and you never know what you’ll get!

Program schedules. It is very normal for a weekly program to not actually come on at the same time every week. One week it could start at 9:00, the next week at 8:55, the following week at 9:15. If there is a program you really want to see, you must be vigilant in seeking it out!

Everyone watches the same thing. It could be because Ireland is a smaller country, that there are less offerings or that people are following the habits of their parents, but I find that almost everyone watches the RTE programming, RTE news, and RTE movie of the week (every Wednesday at 9:30 or 9:35). Until I lived with Carl, I didn’t participate in the watching of these programs, but they do a thorough job of keeping the public informed of what’s happening in the country. Right now RTE is working overtime with all of the depressing news about the Irish economy they are reporting!

News. The news in Ireland is presented in very calm and nearly monotone voice. Sometimes I really have to focus to hear it - it's very different than the reporter voices you would hear in America. Some how the news seems slightly more serious and less subjective when you listen to it, which is completely ironic considering it is a government run station!

As we are getting closer to knowing our leaving date I have slowly realised the things that were so different to me in the beginning are so normal to me now, and when I go home I have a feeling there are more than a few things I am going to miss.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The S'moreo

So last week, my friend Val came up with a great idea.... the S'moreo. It's a smore in oreo format. So she shared it with the office. Office Patti then had the idea to email Nabisco (the maker of the Oreo) this great idea as well. And as lunches occurred, we would continuously re-invent it. We talked about it at a gathering on Saturday night, gathering the input of the office spouses. This could be fabulous.

So on Tuesday it was decided we should make them. MC had gotten materials. Val brought in the chocolate. And then the question of the actual cookie bottom came into play. It needed to be a graham cracker... but it should be round. How would one make a graham cracker round? So last evening, I made homemade graham crackers... and today the S'moreo came to fruition with the help and supplies from all in the office.

I present the Student Life S'moreo.... maybe some day it might be found at your local supermarket!

Photography by Val

It's still cold outside I am still blogging about Christmas! Amongst my goals for this year: to try and blog about ideas for the holidays before the holidays. Let's just say you are now officially 10 months ahead!

Above are examples of two beautiful homemade crafts that added immeasurable charm and happiness to our holiday decor. The poinsettia wreath was a gift from my friend Liz. It came as a kit from Martha Stewart with everything you needed included in the kit. I have to say that is my favorite kind of craft: all the ingredients, clear instructions, and a beautiful finished product. It is also fuel for the imagination. This wreath is almost completely made from crepe paper. Each flower is comprised of three double sided petals and then glued on top of each other. Think of the possibilities! Next year I have big plans for poinsettia's to feature big in our holiday decor.

How cute is the stocking garland? I know, adorable. My sister made this for me and I absolutely love it. I love the patterns of the paper, the sheer brilliance of the concept and the Wow effect it brings to a room (or a mantel for those of you lucky enough to have one).

My sister lives close to the Phoenix Park (the largest enclosed park in Europe - bit of trivia for ya) which is filled with huge horse chestnut trees. In the Fall the trees shed hundreds and hundreds of conkers. Conkers are used by school children (and certain adults) to play a popular game where you thread the conkers and then try to knock the other person's conkers off their thread. On a walk one afternoon Laura and her beau collected a ton of them to play the game and brought them back to their homet. After using the extra's for a lovely candle display, Laura had a brainstorm and created the amazing garland you see above.

She cut out the paper stockings so that the top of the stocking was on a fold and slipped it on the rope between each of the conkers. She used double sided tape to keep the stockings together. I think the ingenuity comes from the different papers and the different size stockings. You could easily use this idea for all sorts of shapes - hearts at Valentine's, eggs at Easter, etc. And if conkers aren't available in your neck of the woods, try acorns!

Sorry for the quality of the photo - apparently the i phone really didn't catch the details.

Also sorry for the state of my windows. . . I really have no excuse for those!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oh Deer Mary!

So I have a friend named Mary. She's also Kathleen's friend. I met her when I was in Ireland... and we traveled together to Germany during that summer.
Mary in Frankfurt
 Now we are facebook buddies... which is great when you have lived in another country because you can still keep in contact with friends.

My last day in Ireland, saying goodbye to Mary

So why is Mary coming up? Well about two weeks ago, she sent me a message on facebook that said, "I saw this... and thought of you".
You can purchase this here.

Which translated to.... you need to finish that post!

And I didn't. (Sorry Mary).

I did respond though that I needed to finish that series.

Mary agreed... about two weeks later. Telling me that she checks the blog every day... and she's waiting.

So Mary- this post is for you! (And Hi!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Back of the bag recipe

Friday was my sister-in-laws birthday and we were all getting together for a family dinner. Because our apartment is too small to host everyone at one table for dinner, most of our family meals are held at Carl's parents house. Carl's mom is an awesome cook and I love having dinner there. It makes me feel young and safe and spoiled. Sometimes though it can make me feel too spoiled, because it is rare that I get to return the favor and have them in my home where, especially Carl's mom, can sit back and relax. To offset this guilt, sometime a while back, I started bringing baked goods whenever we go over for dinner. I wrote about the Pecan Pie I brought one time, they love the Mexican brownies, Carl's dad is a fan of the pineapple upside down cake. It makes me feel like a part of the family bringing new sweet treats for them all to try.

I always try to choose something with an American twist to it. Partially because I like to bring new things that remind me of my home to their home and partly because if it's new to them, they won't know if I mess it up! What could be more American than Nestle Tollhouse anything? Finding Nestle Tollhouse chips of any variety here means heading to a specialty store and paying double what you would at home. But sometimes, it can't be helped!

For Julie's birthday I picked up a bag of White chocolate chips and got busy making the cookie recipe right off the back of the bag and these cookies are awesome. They were so good that Carl told me I couldn't take them all to his parents house, I had to leave some at home for us!

Sometimes old school is the only way to go.

Nestle White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Baking Cocoa (Only had a dark chocolate cocoa and was wonderful)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (I only had a half cup in my cupboard and they turned out great)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Premier White Morsels


PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F.
COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Friday, February 11, 2011

On Elections and leaders

Explaining the election could take weeks if I am not careful. The process is here is different than the US process in almost every way it seems. This is the second election that I will have witnessed in Ireland and I am finding the second time nearly as confusing as the first. To start off here are some vocab terms:

An Taoiseach - Prime Minister (Currently Brian Cowen)
President - Head of State (Currently Mary McAleese) Presidents can serve up to 2 seven year terms
Oireachtas Éireann - National Parliament
Dáil Éireann - the Lower House (most powerful and directly elected)
Seanad - the Upper House

Fianna Fáil - current party in power
Fine Gael - expected party to win in election
Sinn Fein
Progressive Democrats

In Ireland they have what is called proportional representation. When they go to the polls to vote, they vote for their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. The logic is that this provides a more accurate proportional representation within the Dáil.

When you vote in Ireland you vote for a party. If that party is elected then the current party leader will become the Taoiseach.

One of the things that still surprises me everytime there is a referendum or an election are the amount of posters that go up around the whole country. It reminds me of being in high school and seeing all of the SGA posters go up. One night there is nothing on street light posts and the next morning they are everywhere. Literally everywhere. I live 5 miles from where I work and I tried to count the amount of posters I saw between home and work. I lost count at 200.

Another thing I found fascinating and confusing is how an election is called. the current Taoiseach must go the President and Request to dissolve the Dail. Once this dissolution has been approved, there is a 30-60 period within the next government must be elected. This is the part I think is magical because there are only election programs, debates, etc for 30 days. The public goes out and votes and boom - there is a new government. This process means that the government can spend less time on the campaign trail and more time actually governing the country (in my wee humble opinion). Granted Ireland is a much smaller country than the US, but it seems to me things would be a lot less intense if the nation didn't spend two years half of each presidential term working towards the election.

In the case of this general election in Ireland, Brian Cowen was essentially forced to dissolve the government. After surviving a narrow vote of confidence, I think he realised that the country is ready for someone else to give it a go. I don't know how much news makes it way to the US about Ireland, but the recession here is of epic proportion and continuing to get worse everyday. The next big thing the country has to worry about is paying back the first installment of the IMF loan. If Ireland defaults on that it will be immeasurably damaging for the country....but I digress.

i hope you enjoyed your Friday history lesson! The election is on the 25th of Feb and I will be sure to share the results with you.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chex Mix of Champions

Every December growing up, I would come home from school and ask my mom "Did it come? Did we get it yet?" I remember running home from the bus stop busting through the door and looking for evidence that it had arrived. The package. The package that not only my sister and I dreamed of all year, but also our friends. The package that was filled with homemade treats we were witness to once a year.

Most of my dad's family lives in Iowa and it wasn't possible for us to spend many holidays with them. Even though we were far away, they always made us feel special. Every year for Christmas they would put together the most delicious package of Christmas goodies a girl - young or old - could ever dream of. Over the years the packages would change slightly, as would our favorite bits, but there was one constant that we received every year and was the favorite every year: Chex mix.

I am not talking about the stuff you buy in the blue and white bag called Chex Mix. I am talking about the Mix handcrafted from the cereal and with a few special touches added in. I am sure that everyone has their favorite add-ins, but where we come from - this is the only way to make and eat Chex Mix.

The Mix

1/2 cup butter
2T Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 t All Season Salt
1/2 t Garlic Salt or Onion Salt
2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
2 cups Cheerios (plain, oat or honey nut)
1 1/2 cup Cashew nuts
1 1/2 raisins

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a small sauce pan combine butter, worcestershire sauce, season salt, and garlic salt. Stir until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.

In a large bowl combine all of the cereals and the nuts. Pour the melted buttery goodness onto the cereal and combine. The best way to keep from damaging the cereal and still coating all of it is to use your hands.

Spread into baking dishes and cook for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and pour raisins into the still warm mix. Watch them plump up. Try to wait it until it cools before putting first handful in your mouth.


Monday, February 7, 2011

A craft we can do together

Recently jigsaw puzzles reentered my life and I have to tell you - it was a magical day. Due to living in small apartments, moving almost every year and spending a large portion of my time in pubs or at work, I lost the joy of jigsaw.

Whenever we had girls night at Jill's though, I noticed she had jigsaws around. A beautiful one that had been glued and framed on the wall, another one partially done on a board under the coffee table, more still in the box tucked in the corner. I have to admit I had puzzle envy! Our apartment though - there is no room. I made due with admiring hers from afar. . .

Until Christmas when Jill picked my name for Secret Santa and totally blew my mind with the awesomeness of her present (and also totally blew the €25 spending limit - how lucky am I?). She presented me with a jigsaw puzzle and puzzle board. I had never even heard of such a thing. It stores puzzles in an upright position and can be tucked behind or under just about anything!
Source (coincidentally the puzzle in the ad is the one she gave me to go with the board)

Recently I told Carl I thought we spent too much time on the couch watching TV and not enough time actually doing something together in the apartment. During the other seasons we are great about going for walks and being outside, but during the long cold and dark evenings we just don't get out. He surprised me by suggesting we get a jigsaw (I had done the one Jill gave me with my mom and sister). I was a bit skeptical at first, but was delighted to find that he enjoyed the puzzle as much as I did and that we loved working on it together.

We loved it so much I am surprising him with a new one on Valentine's Day and quite possibly a cheesy card attached that says something about him holding all of the pieces of my heart. Get it? Gross I know!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Christmas in Ireland

Since Carl and I are moving to the US (it's true I can't tell you enough) in the Spring and we had just been in the US for the wedding and honeymoon, we decided to spend Christmas in Ireland.

What is Christmas like in Ireland? Well it's similar and totally different all at once - like most things! One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the food, so let's start there. First of all at every festive dinner (whether for work or at home) every guest gets a Christmas Cracker:
Inside the cracker is a hat, a joke and a toy. Depending on the poshness of the cracker will depend on the quality of the toy. I have received pencil erasers, key chains, nail files, mini deck of cards, it can really run the gamut! Everyone is then required to wear the hat for the duration of the meal:

The Irish don't have Thanksgiving in November, so the traditional Christmas dinner is very much like our Turkey Day. A typical menu might be: Turkey, Ham, Stuffing, Potatoes (usually roast), Brussel Sprouts (surprisingly delicious) and various other vegetables.

Where it gets really good is dessert. There are so many desserts! Christmas cake, which is like a really good version of fruit cake, that is lit on fire by drizzling it with brandy before serving. Christmas pudding, a cold version of Christmas cake (pudding in Ireland isn't like American pudding, it's more like a spongey cake), Trifle (delicious layers of custard, fruit, cream, sponge cake fingers, and jello), Mince pies (shortcake crust filled with raisins, cinnamon, glaze) and topped with cream. And those are just the traditional desserts - there was always more everywhere we went. After the meal, teas and coffees are served and the tins of chocolates go round.

I know in America we have chocolates too, but in Ireland every single household and office you go into will have at least one if not several of the following tins of chocolates: Roses made by Cadbury, Quality Street, Celebrations made by Mars, or Heroes also made by Cadbury. They are filled with individually wrapped chocolates. And these little suckers are addicting!

Christmas Eve isn't as big a deal here as it is at home, simply because the day after Christmas is an even bigger deal. December 26th is referred to as Stephen's Day and everyone has both days off as a holiday. Irish people are astounded that Americans only have one day off at Christmas, they literally think we are nuts. Carl loves to ask me...repeatedly...why we call it the holiday season when in fact it is only one day off. Help!

It is also tradition that most offices close from the 24th - 1st January. This includes some shops and restaurants. We decided to get out of the house and go for a meal on the 28th and went to 5 of our favorite restaurants before we found one open! Insane! And no one says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. It is strictly Happy Christmas or Nollaig Shona Duit (in Irish)!

The holiday season officially ends on the 6th of January or the Day of the Epiphany. History lesson time:

The Irish call Epiphany Little Christmas or "Women's Christmas". On the feast of the Three Kings the women of Ireland in times gone by had a bit of rest and celebration for themselves, after the cooking and work of the Christmas holidays. Today Irish women may spend the day shopping, take a meal at a restaurant or spend the evening at gathering in a pub. Women may also receive gifts from children, grandchildren or other family members on this day. Other Epiphany customs, which symbolize the end of the Christmas season, are popular in Ireland, such as the burning the sprigs of Christmas holly in the fireplace which have been used as decorations during the past twelve days. Source

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Proud to partake of your pecan pie

Do you remember this scene from one of the all time greatest films out there?

Harry Burns: Repeat after me. Pepper.
Sally Albright: Pepper.
Harry Burns: Pepper.
Sally Albright: Pepper.
Harry Burns: Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash.
Sally Albright: Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash.
Harry Burns: But I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie.
I loved When Harry Met Sally. I wrote about it in high school for my final English Paper. I quoted it endlessly. I may have *very embarrassingly* even told a few fellows that I wasn't their consolation prize. Oh the shame (and talk about dating myself!).

Anyway none of this has anything to do with the recipe I am posting today except for the fact that i can't ever see a Pecan Pie without think about Billy Crystal saying Pecan Pie and Meg Ryan trying to copy it perfectly. Sigh. If only all dating were so witty.

The funny thing is until 2010 I didn't even like Pecan Pie. Wait, I should correct myself, I didn't think I liked Pecan Pie. You see, at some point in the 1980's, probably 1982 I went to a Thanksgiving dinner at my great aunt Thelma's house. She had made many many pies, one them being Pecan Pie. I tasted it, didn't like it, and so began my vigilant avoidance of all things pecan. At the time, it wasn't so big a deal. There were loads of other dessert choices, my favorite being apple.

Fast forward nearly 30 years and I am lamenting all of the pecan pies I skipped over, assuming I didn't like them. I just ignored them, turned my nose at them, and plunged towards pumpkin or apple. Oh what I wouldn't give for a chance to apologize to those pies. Beg forgiveness.

What might have changed in 2010 to make me realise the errors of my ways you ask? For Thanksgiving we always transport cans of pumpkin from the states to Ireland and make pumpkin pie. This year with the excitement of the wedding, the pumpkin was sadly left behind. We were feeding a big crowd and needed two pies. Since I was already making apple, I decided I would make a pecan for the others. You know, those type of people, who eat Pecan Pie.

Well lo and behold. I could not get enough of the sucker. I loved it so much I made 3 more between TDay and Christmas.

The moral of the story - don't trust your 8 year old palette! Sometimes trying something again is worth the risk :)

This pie is super easy to make, but takes a long time to cook. I recommend making it immediately and sharing with as few people as possible!

Pecan Pie

½ cup sugar
4 T Brown Sugar
½ t Salt
1 cup Corn Syrup (I used light the first time and dark the rest of the time - all delicious!)
⅓ cups Melted Butter (salted)
3 Large Eggs
1 t Vanilla
1 cup Chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

You have two choices - make a pie crust or use a store bought. I make mine, but the non roll kind.

Combine sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.

Place the chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell first. Next pour the yummy syrup mixture over the top.

You will want to cover the pie with tin foil for the first 35 minutes of baking. Remove tin foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Continue baking until the center if firm and no longer jiggling.

Share with only people who are incredibly dear to you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweets for the Sweet

After the excitement of the engagement wore off, I spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about what our wedding favours should be. Some people (websites, blogs, and etiquette books) say the favour really isn't necessary, but I can't help but disagree. When a good wedding comes to an end and they play the last song there is a certain sadness that the end of such a happy occasion has arrived...having something to take with you is a teeny tiny way to make the celebration last a little longer.

I love food. And Carl and I together love to have a sweetie (his word, not mine :) after dinner when we're snuggled in on the couch. Right away I knew I wanted our favor to be edible. If I lived in the same country we were get married in, I would have seriously considered baking our favour (and probably driving myself insane in the process). But alas it wasn't to be. The more wedding blogs I read and the more candy buffets I saw, I knew that I would have one. It wasn't practical, it wasn't as budget friendly as some other options might have been, but all that seemed inconsequential because somewhere worlds collided and our fate was sealed.

Making the candy buffet was a collaborative process. My dad and step mom found all of the lovely glass in North Carolina. I ordered the candy in bulk a few weeks before the wedding to my mom's house. My sister and I created the banners and the candy labels. Our Day of Coordinator actually did all of the displaying of the candy (it was eye candy too - so pretty). And the guests, well the guests did an amazing job of eating the candy.

I am including links below to the tools I used to created it all. The banners are from Martha Stewart and I first learned of them when my sister used them for the awesome Bridal Shower that she and Amy threw me.

Needless to say Candy translates to every occasion: birthday parties, baby showers, bridal showers, barbecues, snow days! I have seen small candy buffets and large ones, monocolour or multicolour, all chocolate or all gummy...whatever your tummy desires!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Carl and I are moving to the United States. It still blows my mind!

We are in the process getting his Visa and sometime during this year we will be making the big transition from life in Ireland to life in the US of A. We are really excited....and terrified...and happy...and sad, a range of emotion that comes and goes in waves of hysteria.

A few nights ago Carl and I were walking back from the cinema and like so many of our conversations recently, talk turned to America. Instead of getting too serious, I teased him saying it would be his turn to get used to all of the little differences that he'll find in America. Two hours later and we were still listing all of the things that I found surprising or downright shocking as an expatriate.

As I was falling asleep later, I thought about my life in Ireland. After 9 years, I still don't understand some of the vocab and references, I still get surprised by what I can't get at the grocery store, and I am still learning so much about this country I have had a love-hate relationship with and am about to say goodbye to.

As a swan-song to this lush green land and as a way to record things I don't want to forget, I am going dedicate one blog a week to life in Ireland. I asked Carl for help with a title for this section and he came up A Cead Mile Differences. Cead Mile Failte means a hundred million welcomes and it is used in Ireland all of the time, Cead Mile Differences is a little play on words. A hundred million differences.

Some will be funny, some will be sad, and some will seem downright bizarre, but I hope you will enjoy learning about life in the Eire.

Image source

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Particularly Pretty Pinwheels

*We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to discuss blog titles. Currently I am on an alliteration kick and I apologize...I really just can't help myself. It's something that I have enjoyed since I was a wee child and I must warn you now that they won't always make sense, but you probably knew that already?

We got married in the Embassy Suites and I loved the reception area. It was long and skinny with terraces at both ends. It provided the perfect areas for dancers, sitters, smokers, and chatters. What I didn't love about the room was the chairs. I loathed them in fact. Seeing them reminded me of every conference session I had ever sat through...when the meeting lasts about 10 minutes longer than your bum could take sitting on that chair. We looked at renting other chairs, but the cost could not be justified. Even the cost of chair covers, bordered on offensive, but in the end we went with them and the price justified the return. What I couldn't spring for however were the bows. They cost more than adding Guinness to the Open Bar. How is that possible you ask? I have no idea and this was one bride that could live without big lovely tulle bows.

The chairs needed something though and that's when I remembered pinwheels. Again, this is another simple craft I made countless times as a child. With updated and fancified materials it was a great finishing touch for the chairs, that by the end of the night turned into hats and necklaces for the guests. One of the things I loved most about having made so much of the decor was the fun the guests had with it all.

What you need:
Glue Gun
Center of wheel (button, pebble, wood heart, etc)

Cut the paper into 12 inch x 3inch strips - you will need two per pinwheel.

Fold the paper in a fanlike accordion (the folds should be about 1/2 inch apart). Glue the ends of the two strips together. Then glue the remaining ends together, leaving you with a large circle.

Press the edges in together and secure with glue. Once dry and stiff, glue the button (or other item) to the center.

Glue ribbon to the back of pinwheel.

Use as chair backs, attach to gifts, make a beautiful garland, the possibilities are endless and again like so many of the other ideas, depending on what paper you choose, these can be made to be seasonal!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fabulous Folded Flowers (aka Origami)

As you saw with the fortune tellers, I love creating things out of paper. It feels like you are making something from nothing. While I can't say that I have spent a load of time doing origami, it is something that I have always appreciated and admired. It is a long standing Hawaiian tradition to have 1001 Origami cranes at birthdays and weddings as a symbol of good luck. It got me thinking that I should explore origami as part of the wedding decoration. After some searching, I found this tutorial that taught me how to make paper flowers. Five petals and one flower later, I was hooked!

We were going to have some logistical problems though. I need to start working on the flowers in Ireland, otherwise they would never be done in time for the US wedding. Shipping them wouldn't make sense as it would just add to a budget we were trying to cut down. In the end, we did all of the folding in Ireland, leaving them flat for carrying with us to the US, and did all of the gluing in the US and it worked perfectly.

All you need to make these beauties are paper, glue gun, and patience. (Patience if you are making 150 of them for a large occasion, otherwise you can go ahead and chuck the patience right out the won't need it)!

When choosing the paper for these flowers, don't choose something too thick. I used a velvet adorned paper from Laura Ashley that in all honesty was a little too heavy. It made the folding more difficult than it needed to be, even though the result was beautiful!

Here are some examples of the finished products:

These flowers can have many many purposes. We used them at each place setting as a way to add color to the tables. They can be used as gift tags, or clumped together as a faux bouquet. Depending on the paper you use, they can be seasonal as well. And if you are a young boy, you will think of even more inventive ways to use your flower: