31 December 2011

so long, 2011

i moved from a tiny, cramped apartment to a perfect (for me) little house that i love.

i listened to so much good music with really awesome people. there really needs to be more squares for this.

i had the best thrift store and estate sale adventures.

i had the best time laughing with my family and friends.

i tried more things. making is my favorite.

i snuggled with this cutie.

and i felt thankful for my amazing family.

i hope you had a spectacular 2011 - see you next year!

23 December 2011

it's december 23rd...

*can we talk about how great pugly pixel's tutorial for tinsel text is? because it totally is. a festivus miracle, perhaps?

21 December 2011

the holiday season // pink peppermint popcorn

i like to make food for people during the holidays; unfortunately, i'm usually crap at it. i'm no stranger to those late nights (early mornings, really) in the kitchen dumping a whole batch of something into the trash because it just didn't work out right. i'm also the person who leaves things semi- last minute, so there's that, as well.

but! here's a recipe that is super easy and pretty much no-fail. also? it's really good. to make pretty pink peppermint popcorn, you'll need:

- two bags microwave popcorn. you want something not completely saturated with butter and salt, so i chose orville redenbacher's tender white. if i had thought about it more, i would have popped my own.
- one bag andes peppermint crunch baking chips. this is only available during the holidays in grocery stores, but you can find it on amazon year-round (at insanely inflated prices, but if you need a fix...).
- sprinkles. totally optional, but fun.
- two medium-to-large bowls. for tossing.
- one microwave safe bowl (not pictured). for melting.
- wax paper. for drying.

- pop two bags of popcorn according to instructions. put one bag in each bowl.
- melt the peppermint chips in the microwave. heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until the chips are completely melted.
- divide the melted chips between the two bowls of popcorn.

- toss/massage/roll the popcorn until it is almost entirely coated in peppermint. 
- add sprinkles liberally and toss a bit more.

- lay sheets of wax paper on a flat surface and spread the popcorn in an even layer to dry. try to avoid clumps and clusters.
- let dry for at least an hour.

- package and enjoy!

being a procrastinator actually helps with this recipe because it's best made right before it is to be gifted (or eaten) - wait too long and it starts to get stale. it's easy to make large quantities, too - just remember 2 bags of popcorn to 1 bag of peppermint chips. my niece and i made three batches in under an hour and it yielded approximately 42 cups of popcorn.

13 December 2011

the holiday season // root beer float cocktail

i just wanted to pop in to share a quick recipe today. the hands-down hit of the party the other night was a root beer float cocktail made with marshmallow vodka. it's a cinch to make, a real crowd pleaser, and, if you give it a silly name like rudolph root beer or frosty float (see what i did there?), it's perfect for holiday get-togethers.

to make a frosty root beer float cocktail, assemble the following:
- root beer (i chose a bottled craft brew from world market)
- marshmallow vodka (i think vanilla vodka would also taste great - it would be interesting to try a homemade vanilla bean infused vodka, too!)
- whipped cream
- ice

pour the vodka and root beer over the ice and stir. my sister made the drinks at the party and she paired two shots (approximately 3 oz.) of vodka with 6-8 oz. of root beer per mason jar (16 oz. size). the drinks were on the stronger side, but they weren't overpowering (flavored vodkas can be deceiving, though, so drink responsibly!)

top with whipped cream and stick in a striped straw for maximum happiness. oh, so good, i tell you! and it gets even better when the whipped cream has melted down a bit and the drink gets a bit sludgy (that's not a good food adjective, but you know what i mean, right?)


12 December 2011

tinsel + tonic

i had a holiday "tinsel + tonic" party this weekend, which is, of course, the perfect excuse for going overboard on vintage glass ornaments, kitschy santas, and crafty fun.

i made homemade christmas crackers (directions here) and yarn pom pom garlands (directions here). homemade touches were complemented with thrift store finds and fun finds from bake it pretty.

pinterest played a big part, too. make-ahead mason jar cocktails? such a good idea. also? i never want to have another drink without a festive paper straw (purchased here).

even the portraits were decked out in holiday finery (can you tell who the subject of the portrait is? a good story post coming soon).

it was so much fun to get my house ready for the season - i don't think i put a single decoration up last year. the party was a success with lots of laughing and talking into the wee hours, vintage records, good food (and so much of it, my goodness!), amazing friends, and a bit of mischievousness for good measure.

08 December 2011

the library // all the lonely people

a few days ago, i received a phone call from a local writer who began asking questions about the library's local history collection: did we have a list of schools and teachers from the late 1800s (when settlers first came to the area)? did we have any information on the individuals buried in our local cemetery?

as a good librarian should, i began asking questions to find out what the caller really needed. turns out, i didn't have to ask too many questions before the caller announced that she had recently visited the cemetery on a walk with her dog and that one of the spirits had followed her home to set up residence.


the spirit identified herself to the writer as maggie and, after a search on findagrave.com (a really excellent genealogy tool, by the way), our writer had a full name: margaret "maggie" jane ellis. the writer was certain that maggie was unable to cross over due to vandalism of her grave in 1969 (she died in 1936, so that's a long waiting game, but who am i to criticize?); however, she was unable to communicate further with the spirit because another malicious male spirit in the house was censoring maggie.

sounds like a full house, right? well, apparently, it is. the writer had had a paranormal activity group out to her house the previous weekend for K-2 readings, which verified the presence of several spirits. the writer was looking for any information she could on how to help poor maggie, who "smelled of rose perfume" and was "most certainly a teacher," get to the next world/life/level, etc.

after quite a bit of digging and calls to history committee members, i was able to scrape together a few details about the lonely soul. maggie was a spinster who lived with her parents before moving in with her brother, at the age of 47, to act as a housekeeper. according to her death certificate, maggie suffered from acute asthma and this is likely the reason she remained single, which seems such a sad fate to me.

we also uncovered a previously unseen photo of our early community (1890) featuring the ellis family, including maggie's grandparents on their 50th anniversary (seated), her parents (to the right of the couple) and her younger sister, rollie (far right). my genealogist contact is sure that one of the three unidentified girls on the left is our maggie. the writer, when she saw the photograph, felt certain that maggie is the girl in the dark dress, three from the left.

it's an interesting old world, to say the least.

07 December 2011

vintage christmas card display tutorial

last year, right before christmas, i came across a 1950s stationer's stock of christmas card samples at an estate sale. i think i picked up just over 50 cards for around $5.00, which is a great deal considering how amazing the designs and colors are - i would have gladly paid more.

i wanted to display the cards around the house this year and i briefly considered a garland across the door; this idea was quickly nixed, however, as i've been a bit garland-mad of late (the holidays will do that to you). instead, i came up with a minimalistic display incorporating one of my favorite vintage accessories - wooden hangers!

to make a christmas card display, you'll need:
1. vintage wooden hangers.
2. a drill and drill bit. make sure the drill bit corresponds to the thickness of your string.
3. string/twine; scissors; miniature clothespins; a tape measure; a marker or pen.
4. your choice of christmas cards, new or old.

to make the display:
5. arrange your selection of cards to see how many you can get across the width of your hanger. i could get about three cards across without crowding them.
6. measure your hanger and mark off where you'd like your holes to be. my hanger measured almost 16" - i made marks at 2", 8" and 14".
7. drill holes where you've made your marks. safety first!
8. cut lengths of your string. hold your hanger up and determine how long you'd like your display to be - i cut each string at approximately 36".
9. secure the string on the hanger by knotting a loop through each hole.
10. use the miniature clothespins to secure your cards to the string. hang your display and enjoy!

it takes a little bit of a balancing act to get each side level and i played around a bit with the arrangement before i was happy with the dispersion of color and orientation (portrait vs. landscape). all-in-all, though, it was a super easy, fast and inexpensive project (i had all of the materials on hand).  

i ended up making two displays for different areas of the house. i love being able to see all the cards during the season and i think it would make a great postcard or snapshot display for the rest of the year.

how do you display your cards?

(note: here's the non-christmas version of the display!)

02 December 2011

the holiday season // 12.02.2011

can we talk about how much i love christmas music? because i do. it's so darn chipper and happy. and sometimes it's wonderfully nostalgic and sad. something for everybody, right?

while you can bet that i am fond of the classic crooners and tunes, i am especially smitten with odd and non-traditional holiday songs. in a weird way, i've listened to these songs so much and for so many years, they have become traditional to me.

one of the first albums i listen to each year (who am i kidding - i listen to it all year) is sufjan stevens' songs for christmas. this album doesn't seem as odd and non-traditional as it did when it first appeared ten years ago (it was actually released over the course of several years) and i'm sure by now it is a staple of the hipster holiday season, but the first time my brother-in-law played that was the worst christmas ever!, i was completely mesmerized.

the album is full of unique renditions of traditional songs, as well. what child is this anyway? is another of my favorites:

and the tenderness of the friendly beasts is too magical not to share:

sufjan stevens' musicality is what has always drawn me to his songs and the same is true for this entire album - it's just a great blend of instruments, vocals, and emotion. if you're looking for a little something different this holiday season, give the curmudgeon who pored over the reader's digest christmas songbook in order to better appreciate christmas a chance.

what's your favorite christmas album?

01 December 2011

the holiday season // 12.01.2011

it's the first of december - are your holiday cards in the mail yet? yeah, me neither. if you're looking for a little vintage inspiration for your tidings of joy, visit the local zoo. apparently, exotic animals and christmas went hand-in-hand back in the day.

i found the utterly brilliant british pathe films via eartha kitsch a few weeks ago and i have been enthralled ever since. if ever during the stressful holiday season you feel the need to decompress, mix up a peppermint cocktail and watch a few of these gems.