Getting Crafty: For the Makers gift box fun!

This year, for Christmas with my PREP ladies, I bought us all a very cool little gift – a gift box from For the Makers. For the Makers is a subscription craft service where they send you a box each month with 4-5 crafts with all of the supplies you need (like Birchbox but for CRAFTS…awe-some). Very cool, and while I haven’t signed up for an official subscription, I loved that I could test drive with the gift boxes that were available in December. They were mini-versions of the regular box that included vintage beaded heart shoe clips, glitter ornaments, and an awesome little leather pouchette.

I finally got around to breaking out the box and put together the pouchette and shoe clips yesterday. AND, since I don’t have a job and can therefore browse Pinterest endlessly, I also found this cool tutorial for painting leather. It was the perfect way to spice up my little pouchette, and I love it!

I did a lot of test painting on my leather, and ended up not using the white base coat for mine – I just mixed a little water into my colored paint. I wanted it to have a slightly more worn-in feel, so this worked out great. I also had really light leather, and it wasn’t as important for the color to pop as much against the leather, so the technique you use  kind of just depends on what look you want and what you’re working with.

Here are the paints I used. I wasn’t sure what kind of sealer to use, so I just went with this Krylon Satin Finish spray, and it looks great and hopefully will hold up. It was also good because I accidentally picked up a glossy acrylic paint, and the spray made it a little more matte so it matches the non-treated leather a little better.

I love this – it’s the perfect size to fit my cell phone, and so hopefully I can use it as a grab and go kind of thing. I’m also thinking about sealing the envelope edges to make it a bit more secure for credit cards & ID – but we’ll see how this works out for now!

The shoe clips are also adorable – can’t wait to wear them out on these wedges! Apparently, they’re also one of a kind vintage hearts, which makes them even better. Too bad I didn’t make them in time for St. Patrick’s day.

It was so great – For the Makers provided everything I needed to put these together (including a needle) except the Tacky Glue and scissors. And, btw, I hadn’t used Tacky Glue since I was a kid. Instantly, memories of gluing yarn and pom poms to construction paper came flooding back, and I was happy to feel like an 8-year-old again.

Overall, I am really happy with my little box, and it has inspired me to start being more crafty! I have tons of supplies and fabric and ideas floating around, but motivation is definitely the hardest part.

Here’s to crafting!


The Galapagos Islands: What can I say? It was amazing.

Last week, I returned from a trip in the Galapagos Islands – it truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity. As I was flying back to Raleigh, I was left with a feeling of sadness about leaving this amazing place, where I got to see amazing animals that I will most likely never get to see again, at least in the wild. It was an inspiring reminder of the wonders of this beautiful world that we live in – something that is easy to forget as I settle back into my everyday life back here in civilization. There was a group of 13 of us, and we spent 7 days on a 78-foot yacht with room for 14, and I will say that I never thought I would enjoy my time on a boat as much as I did for this trip (generally, I hate boats). After a few days of rough water, we were very fortunate to have great weather and calm seas.

We chased dolphins around the middle of the Pacific Ocean so we could snorkel with them. I saw a mom, baby, and dad dolphin dive directly below me. Each time we saw the pod and it moved on, it was ‘una mas!’ and we were back on the dinghies to follow them again. It was an exhilarating morning, to say the least.

The sea lions…oh the sea lions! They were so cute – like little puppies that you wanted to cuddle. We saw them sunbathing, swimming, playing, fighting, nursing, rolling around in the surf.

We only had one day of all rain, and it was still a great day. We played board games, read, and napped. AND in the afternoon, we snorkeled in the rain with penguins, sea lions, and sea turtles! It was an awesome experience, and I’m so glad that I went! Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of this…there were many times on this trip when I wished I had an underwater housing for my camera!

We got within inches of giant tortoises – they’re amazing creatures. My trip was officially made at this point. Almost all of the animals on the islands don’t react to human presence, due to a lack of natural predators. Mostly if we stayed low and moved slowly (so they didn’t think we were being aggressive), we could get very close, and if we stayed still, they would come to us.

We saw Nazca boobies nesting and babies in all stages of life – eggs, tiny and newly hatched, fuzzy, almost as large as adults, and fully grown.

We saw Blue footed boobies, who really looked like they had stepped in buckets of blue paint – their feet were so bright!

We saw both brown and white red footed boobies.

I didn’t realize that they had blue beaks – they were so colorful and pretty.

We saw Blue-footed boobies, sea lions, penguins, and marine iguanas all resting on the same rock, a respite from the rain and surf. In short….I saw all the animals you learn about and read about, and it was so cool to see them in the wild, up close.

Our tour guide, Juan, was amazing – he was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He really gave us an education while we were there, but without making us feel like we were ‘learning’. He would get so excited about everything that it really made the trip. He grew up in the Galapagos, and has been doing tours for years, so it’s clear that he really loves his job and the islands, and loves showing people these amazing animals, places, and plants.

As I begin my job search in earnest, Juan’s enthusiasm and love for his job is on my mind – and I’m hopeful and determined to find a job that allows me to be happy, joyful, and grateful every day.

My trip by the numbers:

Days on the boat: 7
Days total: 12
Number of islands visited: 6 (Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Marchena, Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana)
Number of tortoises seen in the wild: 12
Number of photos taken: 1,620
Rainy days: 1
Games of Rummikub played: countless
Number of people on the tour: 13
Times I swam in the middle of the Pacific: 2
Times we crossed the Equator: 2

Tour operator: CNH Tours (we did the Northwest Itinerary)

More of my pictures posted here on Flickr.

P.S. Happy Leap Day!

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On quitting my job / Resolution updates

Five years and three months ago, I quit my job and moved from Dillsburg, Pennsylvania to Cary, North Carolina. I had graduated from college the previous year, was living at home and was working at a small advertising agency. I had been there for a little over a year, and realized it was time to move out of my parents’ house. I quit my job and picked up and moved to NC without a job but with my friend, Ginny, and some savings. For two weeks, I settled in and tried to learn my way around a completely new area without a GPS (for me, this was pretty terrifying). Then I buckled down and started the job search. By January 2007, I had found a job at Centerline.

Two weeks and four days ago, I put in my two weeks’ notice for my job. My last day was this past Friday. It was a tough decision, but one that was a long time coming. After five years at Centerline, I was ready to move on. I just didn’t (and don’t) know to what. I don’t have a job lined up, and I don’t know what will happen in the next few months. What I do know is that: I have an amazingly supportive boyfriend; I am giving myself two weeks to relax and decompress, then I’m going on an amazing two week trip to the Galapagos Islands with my mom; I will bake and cook (and hopefully blog and probably watch TV) a lot.

Five years ago, I didn’t know what the 370-mile move down south would hold for me, but I trusted that it would all work out for the best. And it has, absolutely.

Now, I am again trusting that it will all work out for the best. And I’m so excited about it.

And now for my new year’s resolution updates…here’s how I’m doing so far.

  1. Blog more & take more pictures. Already posted twice this month…seems better than before, but this will be a constant work in progress.
  2. Make croissants (this seems like a great place to start).
  3. Make hollandaise sauce and master poached eggs. I did poach eggs for the first time on Sunday (1/29), and they turned out pretty well, but I don’t think I’ve mastered it yet.
  4. Try the Baked brownie recipe. I tried the caramel version from their Baked: Explorations book, and it didn’t really turn out well for me. So I want to try their basic recipe now and see if they turn out better.
  5. Make homemade vanilla extract.
  6. Use my cookbooks more.
  7. Use food from my pantry instead of spending so much on groceries, and wasting food that goes bad. I’ve pulled several meals out of the freezer to eat, and yesterday, I made egg casseroles in muffin tins for Kevin’s and my breakfasts, using all things I had on hand/were about to go bad. Recipes to come. I could definitely still work on this, though.
  8. Use my crockpot more. Here’s a good inspiration.
  9. Make doughnuts, using my new doughnut pan! I tried this recipe, and they were good, although not quite like traditional doughnuts. I’m looking forward to trying some other recipes.
  10. Update my blog header and/or template. I’m trying out a new template in WordPress, but while I like it, I don’t like like it. I’m considering purchasing my own domain and moving to a self-hosted blog (with Kevin’s help in the setting up and design department), so I’ll stick with this for now.
While I am working on some of these, I think it’s time to step up my game a bit more, especially now that I have all this free time.
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2012 New Year’s Cooking Resolutions

It’s been several months since I’ve posted, but I figure that the new year is the perfect time to restart.

2011 was a great year, and I am excited about 2012; I think it will be the best yet.

I have a few cooking resolutions for this year, and I would like to update this list as the year goes on. Hopefully I’ll also post the results of my efforts, which leads me to my first resolution:

  1. Blog more & take more pictures.
  2. Make croissants (this seems like a great place to start).
  3. Make hollandaise sauce and master poached eggs.
  4. Try the Baked brownie recipe. I tried the caramel version from their Baked: Explorations book, and it didn’t really turn out well for me. So I want to try their basic recipe now and see if they turn out better.
  5. Make homemade vanilla extract.
  6. Use my cookbooks more.
  7. Use food from my pantry instead of spending so much on groceries, and wasting food that goes bad.
  8. Use my crockpot more. Here’s a good inspiration.
  9. Make doughnuts, using my new doughnut pan!
  10. Update my blog header and/or template.

I’m sure there will be more to come, but hopefully this will get me started!

Happy New Year to you and yours. What are your resolutions (kitchen-related or otherwise)?

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30-day Photo Challenge, Day 11: Something blue

Today, Meredith and I went to Wrightsville Beach, and it was PERFECT.  The weather was warm but the breeze was cool, and the water and sky were beautiful shades of blue.

One funny/random/kind of weird thing: we got there about noon, and of course, it was practically impossible to find parking. We drove around for about 25 minutes just trying to find an open spot, and as we were driving past this random house, a bunch of guys who were walking to the beach yelled at us through the window.


“What?” we yelled through the window, looking extremely sketched out.

“You looking for parking?”


Gesturing towards an open spot in a driveway-ish area, “You can park here”.

Cue our kind of confused, skeptical faces as I backed up and pulled up to the spot.

“You can park here. It’s our house – we do it all the time.”

“Okay…” I say, still super skeptical as I pull my car up over the curb into the spot.

It turned out to be totally worth it. They were charging $10 for the day, but it was shady and I didn’t have to drive any more. I was slightly worried that I was going to return to find my car towed, but it all turned out well in the end. Now, if only our sunblock application had turned out just as well…

Here’s the Flickr group with the rest of the 30-day photos.

Coming up tomorrow: Sunset

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