Friday, April 30, 2010

Nursery of the Day

Since we have been hard at work on our own nursery, I have been obessed with following bloggers who are also working on nurseries.

Violet's nursery is one of my favorites. Check it out here.

Photo Source: withTWOcats blog

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Consignment sale shopping!

My mom and I also hit up the Divine Consign sale on Saturday morning before the fabric stores. Saturday was the half off day so we got there bright and early to stand in line for a bit before it opened at 8 AM. Even though I previewed the sale with BCK on Thursday, I was still excited. I love not knowing what you will find at these things!

The maternity section was pretty well combed over. I had picked up a pair of pants that were originally $98 (I know because they still had all the tags on) for $5 on Thursday night. They are nice and long so thank you Ms. Previously Pregnant Long Legs for consigning your brand new maternity pants.

With my mom, I tried on a lot of non-maternity stuff that was a bit bigger. My main goal was to find a jean skirt that I liked in the non-maternity section so that I could convert it to a maternity skirt a la this tutorial. I found a Boden skirt that actually fit me (meaning that I could button it still) so I will wear that until I can't button it and then do the refashion. This skirt cost me $4, which is better than the $70 for the one i was looking at at Ann Taylor Loft Maternity.

I also picked up a Jones New York black floral dress that still had the tags on. LOVE THIS! It is a tank style with a fitted bodice and a full skirt. Very Mad Men. In fact, that may be why I bought it. It it still a bit too big for me, but I imagine that I can rock it when the weather is a bit nicer here and then my plan is to alter it to actually fit me. It is a few sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy size.

My mom got a dress and a cool shirt with a beaded neckline and then we were just sort of standing by the jacket section when she saw this awesome olive jacquard coat. Again WITH THE TAGS ON. And of course it looked great on so she bought that. It was a find.

I may have to hit up the sale in two weeks in Whitefish Bay. Hi My name is Amy and I am addicted to used clothing sales.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reupholstering - Not my new hobby

DIY Baby Schlotty continued over the weekend with Project #2: Reupholstering the Rocking Chair.

We were very lucky to get all of our furniture for the room from some friends, including one of those wooden glider rockers with ottoman. The chair was in great shape, however, the cushions and fabric had seen better days. I had always wanted to try re-upholstering so I thought this was a good first project.

If you don't want to read the long version, the short version of the story is: I don't think I will be taking up re-upholstery as a new hobby.

It started early Saturday morning when my mom picked me up and we headed to some fabric stores. I had no idea what I was doing and my mom had done this before so she was going to help find some appropriate fabric. I brought along the curtain fabric and the measurements for the cushions and ottoman. We focused a lot on finding something to match the curtains exactly. We found a contender and got a sample piece cut off to take home. In the Milwaukee area, I highly recommend Manhattan Textiles and Bazaar Home Fabrics.

When I got home with the sample and we put it on the chair it was blah. It blended in too much with the wood and the paint. We needed some pizazz. So I consulted these Martha Stewart animal alphabet cards that were my original inspiration for the room and the orange curtains. There is a lot of green in the cards so we though green might just be the punch the chair needed. My mom headed home and Nate & I headed to Jo-Ann fabrics to see what they had since our JAF has a large upholstery section.

We found this crazy lime green fabric. Woah. Lime green fabric with orange curtains? Is this the 70s?!

We set out to work. Here is the ottoman with a close up of the previous blue fabric.

We started with the ottoman since that really only required stapling fabric to wood. Here Nate works to get the old fabric off.

Then basically we used the old fabric as a pattern to cut out the size we needed from the new fabric. Voila - the ottoman was done! (you also get a quasi-sneak peak of the rug in these pics)

Now the hard part - the cushions. We started with the seat and seam ripped the old fabric off of the cushion, again using it as our "pattern" on the new fabric. We saved the ties that were sewn on the fabric to attach it to the chair and used the old cushion foam since it was still in good shape. Then, we basically made a pillow case with the new fabric to put the foam into. Of course, that sounds easy. We really had to put the fabric on and off a few times to get it where it wasn't wrinkling.

The next day, we decided to tackle the back rest piece. Again, seam ripped the old fabric off the chair and used it as a pattern. The back piece was challenging because there were 3 indentations that had to go through the foam. Since I do not have an industrial sewing machine, these were definitely going to have to be hand sewn. BLAH. Again, we started making a sort of pillow case for the cushion. This cushion had fabric straps coming off the top with velcro to attach it to the chair. We made new straps out of the fabric, but re-used the old velcro. Once we got the pillowcase to fit over the foam, Nate started handsewing. YES. That is not a typo. My husband stepped up to the plate to hand sew. I don't know why but he is really good at hand sewing - far better than I. Then I found out that he had to take home ec in middle school where he learned this craft ;). Anyway, he did a great job, even if he did utter some cuss words in the process. (Did I say that reupholstering is a pain in the a**?!)

Voila - the chair in front of the curtains:

The chair also came with padded armrests that snap into place. I don't know if we are going to make those or not.

You might still think the color combo is a little crazy, but I promise once you see the entire room, it works. Once we start on these room projects, we have a hard time stopping so we went and hung up the animal cards right away to see how it would look with everything and we totally love it. But that is another post for another day ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Update

It's been a busy week! I had something going on every night this week. I hosted Book Club Monday night. This month's book was Sarah's Key. Everyone enjoyed the book, although we did note that sometimes the main character got a little too dramatic for our tastes (and I usually love drama!). I gave this book 3 stars in my Goodreads profile. It's not bad but there are better books out there.

I also recently finished Interpreter of Maladies since I was on a Jhumpa Lahiri kick after Unaccustomed Earth. I also love the Interpreter of Maladies collection, however, I think Unaccustomed Earth is better. Both have 5 stars in my Goodreads profile. 2010 continues to be a slower year of reading than 2009 was. I have only finished 6 books since January 1; last year this number was 9! {Admittedly, I am not counting pregnancy books - if I did I would be well over 9.} Right now I am 100 pages into Sophie's Choice. I have not ever seen this movie, but reactions have been, "WOW" or a silent scared looking face when I mention to people that I am reading it. The description on the back cover does an excellent job of not revealing too much so mostly I am dying to keep reading it out of curiosity! Our next book club book is Little Bee by Chris Cleave so I will be heading to that one next.

In other book news, Nancy Drew turned 80 this week! Oh I used to love Nancy Drew!! Happy Birthday Nancy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Camera!

I used the blog in an attempt to solicit feedback on cameras around the time of my birthday, when Nate said he wanted to get me a camera for a gift. We finally purchased one last weekend and it arrived yesterday!!!

We decided to go with the Nikon D5000, which is a DSLR and video camera in one. This is definitely a camera upgrade and I am looking forward to learning all of the features and being able to take lots of different types of photographs.

Given that we went with the upgrade, we also decided to forgo anniversary presents to each other this year. Our anniversary is one week after our due date so this works out well!

I don't have any pictures from it to post on here yet, although I did take about 50 photos of Nate in various states of watching television last night to test out some things. Once i actually figure out what I'm doing, I'll start posting!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baby Schlotty Ate Well Last Night

Last night my mom and I went to the first of the Spring 2010 series of cooking classes at Coquette Cafe. The theme was "french classics". The classes are done demonstration style - so the entire class sat and watched the chef prepare a course and when he was done with the course, we ate it. Last night's class featured 3 chefs, all of whom were entertaining and made the class interesting. The first course was a Petatou made with portobello mushroom, potato, frisee, goat cheese and thyme. It was DELICIOUS. I could have eaten 6 more of them. It was paired with a beaujolis wine.

Next came the soupe a pistou, which was equally great. It was made with a variety of vegetables, chickpeas and basil oil. I wanted a bowl, not a cup :). It was paired with a white wine, of which I am blanking.

The main entree was Trout a la Grenobloise. I hadn't had trout before and I was very pleased with the flavor. It was made by searing the trout and topping it with a lemon dressing, candied radishes, capers and watercress. This was also paired with a different white wine, again - don't remember the exact one but they did give us a sheet.

The dessert was very simple, yet mouthwatering. A strawberry rhubarb gratin with walnut crisp, topped with creme freche. I was happy that the strawberries were baked so I could eat this dessert - I have an allergic reaction to raw strawberry. I also am allergic to walnuts so I tried to avoid them but I'm sure I ate some of them - I don't have a deathly allergy. The discomfort that I felt (itchy throat) for the rest of the night was worth it. This was paired with a sparkling white wine.

All in all it was a great meal. As my friend EL pointed out, it was nice to be able to try some of the stuff that you typically might not order if you went there to eat. The portions were on the small side. It would be even better if you could actually enjoy the four glasses of wine rather than touching your tongue to the wine to get the flavor like I did.

I highly recommend the classes if you live/reside near MKE area. Click here for the schedule.

Photo Source: Logo of Coquette Cafe

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mini Vacay in MAY

Soon golf tournament season will be upon us. Nate is lucky during the summers to get involved with a lot of golf tournaments through his job. I say lucky because if he didn't have this option, he would be stuck golfing with me and I am terrible with any sport involving an apparatus of any kind (e.g. golf club in this case).

I also love golf tournament season because most golf tournaments have a) goody bags and b)prizes. For some reason, he is really lucky and more often than not wins a prize. And usually, when picking what prize to put his raffle tickets into, he picks something for me. AWWW! What a sweetie! So I have made out really well with golf tournament season - Penzey spice baskets, massages, aveda gift sets. With this there also come a million koozys, lunch bags, pencils, of course.

Last year, he golfed with our friends J&RN at JN's workplace golf outing. He called me afterwards and could barely contain his laughter at the prize he had won. I came home and he made me close my eyes - I opened them and he was wearing this weird hotel bathrobe, these leather slippers that looked like penguin feet and holding a gift certificate for a hotel in Appleton, WI. Mind you the hotel certificate was NOT the same hotel that donated the bathrobe. AT the time, I did take a picture of him but promised him that I wouldn't post it because it was so ridiculous.

A year later, we dug that hotel gift certificate out of the office and discovered it expires in June. Therefore, we planned a little weekend trip to the exciting city of Appleton WI next month. PUMP IT UP!

I actually am pretty excited, but as you read earlier, it doesn't take much more than a free koozy to get me excited! I haven't been to Appleton in a long time. My aunt J used to take me shopping there once a year and I could pick out an outfit. We also would go visit her friend M.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Icing

This weekend we checked a lot of yard work off the list. Nate fired up the lawn boy for the first lawn mowing of the season and we re-wood chipped our garden area between our house & garage. I also finally got around to painting the bird feeder that my grandparents gave us for Christmas. I used some leftover paint that we had from Nate's repainting of our front door. It is hanging in our front yard and looks very cute with the red front door, which I did not capture in this picture, hurriedly taken this morning before work.

I also made Ina Garten's chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. I've always got an eye out for chocolate/peanut butter combinations since they are Nate's favorite and I also am a fan. These were SO SO tasty. Nate immediately claimed that he would be licking the bowl and beater for the frosting. We ate 4 cupcakes, scooped out the extra frosting with pretzels and licked that bowl clean. HEAVENLY.

The recipe for both the cupcakes and the frosting is here. I did use room temperature ingredients where called for and I have to think it made a difference - the batter and cake are very light and fluffy. We did not crush peanuts for the top.

Finally, we took the plunge and started the last season of The Wire (Season 5). I am sad that it will all soon be over as this is one of our favorite shows ever. We are 6 episodes in...

Photo Sources: That classy birdfeeder picture is my own and the cupcake photo is from Carly's Kitchen who also agrees that the cupcakes are delicious.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Holy Cow! It's Friday!

What a week! I can hardly believe that it is Friday or that April is half over.

I am anxiously awaiting my 1154 Lill Bag that I ordered while attending a party with my friend HB last Monday. I frequently visited this store when I lived in Chicago and even had a purse made there (courtesy of a gift from CD & MB). Now that I have become more involved with sewing, I am even more infatuated with the concept of this store and their fabric! Seriously - I have visited the "become a LILL rep" page more than once...if only for the fabric samples you get! I am thinking about hosting a party in the summer.

I am also excited that I only have 3 weeks of class left! I have already informed the University of my pregnancy and that i won't be available for the fall semester. It will be nice to get back to having only one job for a while, even if that one job is currently driving me crazy.

This weekend I plan to do some more DIY Baby Schlotty and I have a Sip n See for a co-worker. I'm also hoping to rest up because next week is going to be crazy busy - Book Club, Cooking Class with my Mom @ Coquette, Investment club, dinner with friends and the Divine Consign sale!! (I'm hoping they have maternity clothes.)

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Walk this Way

My colleague and I are, frugal and we park in the free lot at work, which is of course one of the futhest away from our building. She was curious to see how far of a walk it was so she brought her Garmin to work one day and discovered that we walk 1/2 mile EACH WAY to get to our office. That is 1 mile of walking each day! We were both pretty proud of ourselves.

Since the weather has been really nice here in Wisco, we have also been getting out around lunch to do a 1.75 mile loop around campus. It is amazing how much more energy you have after getting outside for a little bit halfway through the day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

20 Week Update - Curtains and Paint - Dunzo

Today marks 20 weeks. I am pumped. This was one of the milestones I have been looking forward to for a while now - halfway through pregnancy. So far my pregnancy has been pretty drama free. I have had low to normal blood pressure, no UTIs or anything sketch, and every test/screen they have done has come back normal. My remaining "symptoms" are insomnia (every night - I'm up at least from 3-5. call me - we can chat!), and pizza face. Thus I have a love/hate relationship with pregnancy hormones...mostly favoring the hate. I started to feel the baby move during the 16th week which was a high point thus far. Nate (or even I) can't feel movement from the outside yet. We have our 20 week ultrasound on Thursday which I am also looking forward to. I'm halfway in maternity clothes world and halfway out. My dress pants were the first thing to go and my last pair of jeans could be buttoned during week 17. I hate the belly band for extended periods of time so I although I have one, i don't really use it much. These days, I wear a lot of dresses and skirts. I'm still running, which I am proud of as I wasn't sure how long I would be running for. I plan to keep it up until I get too uncomfortable. I run about 3-4 days per week. I cannot run 2 days in a row. Literally I get 2 blocks and have to walk on the 2nd day so it's every other day. I run for 30-35 minutes at a time. I stopped calculating my pace a long time ago so I really have no idea what it is. I do know that my husband could probably beat me in a 5k now. I also do the Shiva Rae Prenatal Yoga Video. It is very helpful for stretching out my back, which bothers me sometimes.

So that's 20 weeks of pregnancy in a paragraph!

My first DIY Baby Schlotty project is curtains. We painted the room at 14 weeks. Yeah, that's early. We were excited. You will be able to see the blue/grey color of the paint in the pics below. Let's back up though to what the paint in this room was originally - sort of a glaring aqua:

We painted it a more toned down blue and the room served as our guest room:

When deciding what color to go with, we wanted to have a pale color to take advantage of all the light this room gets and also be neutral. The grey-blue won out. In the pictures I think it looks more blue than grey but the paint really changes with the light, which I like. The color and paint we used was the Olympic Low VOC in April Sky. Nate did a fabulous job painting.

My first project was to make curtains. We already had nice curtain rods up (see above picture) but the curtains did not go well with the new paint color. We needed something bold. I found Amy Butler's August Fields in Tangerine on Clearance at! I liked it, Nate liked it so we ordered it. The grey/blue in the middle of the flower things is a great match to the paint color.

The fabric came to $13.62!!! Craziness. I love getting a deal! The quality of this fabric, which is the home decor weight, is phenomenal. I would definitely recommend it - very easy to cut and sew!

I had the idea to basically copy the curtain done at Young House Love - that is to use curtain rings. 4 packs of curtain rings ran us about $20 at Lowe's.

These curtains were really easy - basically cut two panels per window, hem all four sides, clip the rings on and hang. Young House Love features a no-sew tutorial, but I personally think it is easier to sew rather than to use stitch witchery.

So voila - the curtains and some glimpse of the paint:

We really like the combo and think it will work equally well for a boy or girl. Check that off the (long) list for $33.62!

Monday, April 12, 2010

No more Schlotty Schlocks

Tomorrow marks the 20 week mark of my pregnancy! Only 20 weeks to go to tackle my L-O-N-G list of DIY Baby Schlotty. I started some of the list over the weekend. I have noticed that pregnancy brain has made crafting more time-consuming than it used to be. Example - I made the 2nd set of curtains for window #2 in the baby room yesterday. I measured the window, measured the curtains on window 1. Made the curtains, hung them up and window #2 were way longer than window #1. How did that happen?! So i have some hemming to do.

Due to this, I am suspending the Schlotty Couture Schlocks site for an indefinite amount of time. I don't really need one more thing to keep track of right now, because let's face it - I'm doing a terrible job keeping track of everything else. Thus if you try to go to the site, you will notice it is no longer up. Perhaps I will resurrect it again sometime. To all of you who so graciously advertise on your own blogs, you can remove the ad! THANK YOU! My goal with selling Schlocks was to get enough money to buy a new sewing machine, which I was able to do.

Tomorrow, I will give you a sneak peak at DIY Baby Schlotty. Stay tuned!

Weekend Recap

Friday we were rescued from our house by A&HC to go see Date Night. I thought it was cute. A for sure rental indeed.

Saturday I got a bang trim. My hairdresser was shocked to see me. She always bugs me to come in for a bang trim, which is complimentary, in between haircuts but I get lazy and just start to wear more headbands and bobby pins when my hair grows out. What can I say - maybe pregnancy is making me more responsible, ha ha ha. She also gave me a sample of Moroccan Hair Oil to try. I have been reading about this in various magazines and other blogs so I was excited for the sample. So far I am on board with those that call it the miracle product. I also saw that Tresemme came out with a dry shampoo. I have not been able to find a 'cheap' dry shampoo so I picked some of it up. Loving that stuff too. Now I wash my hair every 3 days instead of every other.

We spent a good chunk of Saturday exploring Bayview since neither of us was very familiar. Milwaukee guide here.

Sunday we had plans to go to Art in Bloom with my mom and two of my aunts. I have been telling my mom about this for several years. We started with breakfast at the Pfister where my sister works. Several of the St. Louis cardinals were there eating breakfast so my aunt J was trying to sneak pics of two of the especially cute ones sitting near us. Art in Bloom was fun. I was a little disappointed with it this year - not a lot of variety in the types and colors of flowers used. I have thought it more stunning in years past. Here is a pic of my mom and Nate standing near one of the pieces that used S. trifasciata laurentii (commonly known as "mother-in-law's tongue").

The rest of Sunday was spent napping, crafting and watching our favorite show, The Amazing Race. I am thrilled that Carol & Brandy are finally off! Next, i hope the models go - they are awful.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Up in the Air

After working out last night, we went to the grocery store. We made an impulse Redbox stop and rented Up in the Air. How charming and handsome is George Clooney?! I really enjoyed the movie until 10 minutes from the end when I ended up hysterically sobbing. I pulled it together but then Nate asked how I liked it and the waterworks started again. Seriously, I am getting watery eyes just typing this. Even though my mom and nana mentioned that they didn't expect the ending, I wasn't prepared for it. Nate didn't seem to get why I was so sad. I think he secretly blamed pregnancy hormones.

What I didn't like about the movie was how hokey it made Wisconsin seem. Wisconsin is fantastic, people! Don't believe everything you see in the movies. :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Egg & Chive Omelets: Egg-cellent Fuel for Taxes

Our taxes are DUNZO! I completely hate doing taxes. My patience level with them is next to zero. We finished our federal taxes a couple of weeks ago and then buckled down to do the state taxes last night. The state taxes were MUCH easier than the federal. I don't know why the federal govt doesn't adopt a similar model to the WI e-file system. As usual, we get a small refund from the state and owe money to federal. As NPR (and my husband, the financial planner) like to say, getting a refund actually costs you money since the govt borrowed your money free of charge and you could have been making 10 cents of interest over the year. (Is my sarcasm apparent?) Even though I know this is right, it still would be nice to get a refund! :)

Monday's episode of Anthony Bourdain featured a variety of famous chefs teaching simple foods to the audience. It was an episode that made me very hungry! Jacques Pepin did omelets - simple eggs and chive so I made two of those for dinner (for myself) last night. Yum! Thomas Keller did roast chicken, the chef of Les Halles, Carlos, did steak and frites, and Anthony did Boeuf Bourginon. Then Carlos and Anthony sat in Les Halles and ate the steak, fries and stew. I was so wishing that they would have been taping that episode when Nate and I were dining on steak frites at Les Halles back in November!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Earth Month

April is Earth Month and several Aveda stores may be offering services at the store for a donation to one of their clean water partners. The store closest to our house is offering eyebrow waxes for $10 and all $10 is donated. Apparently it has been a huge success thus far at the Mayfair store. I was happy to get a cheap wax, donate to a good cause and no longer have one caterpillar across my face. Those eyebrows were in there somewhere!

You can find out if the Aveda store near you is doing something similar.

Buttercup Bag for Liz

Here are pictures of the bag I made for my goddaughter, Liz.

The outer fabric is Cathedral Peony from Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks Collection. (This fabric is incidentally on sale here if you are interested.) The inner fabric (not shown) was a cream and pink floral that I had in my stash from Jo-Ann Fabrics. The light pink button embellishments are actually old clip on earrings that I cut off the backs to. I bought them with the intention of doing this last year at Fond du Lac's Main Street Days. I liked how they looked with the fabric. I am hoping they stay on!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Target, Tarentino and Crafting

For those of you that celebrate it, I hope you had a nice Easter weekend.

We had a nice weekend. I got off of work early Friday afternoon so my sister accompanied me to Target for a thorough walk through all of the aisles. We used to do this quite frequently but haven't done it in a while. For the first time ever, she spent more money there than I. (It helps when you don't fit into regular clothes!). Nate grilled out some brats and potatoes for us for dinner and then I returned her to the East side.

Nate & I capped off the night with just one of the movies on our long list of TO RENT: Inglorious Basterds. We both really liked the movie, although we usually are Tarentino fans. We spent Easter with all 3 of our families - my mom, my dad and Nate's family. I was figuring that I wouldn't get ham this Easter but we had it with my dad and Nate's family so I was happy.

We also dropped off a late birthday present for my goddaughter, Liz. I made her a the Buttercup Bag (tutorial here). The first time I made this bag, for C, I thought it was really easy. However, when I duplicated it for Liz, I was working at 4 in the morning (pregnancy-related insomnia) and it is much harder to craft at that hour. Still, I made my previously recommended modifications to Liz's bag and I love how it turned out. I attached the strap between the lining and purse outer instead of on top of the purse outer like the instructions state. Also, instead of sewing on the buttons after you put the lining and purse outer togeter, i sewed the flap on before sewing the lining and outer together so that you wouldn't be able to see the stitching from the button flap and the buttons. I will post a picture soon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fabric Swap!

Want some new fabric?

Particpate in the fat quarter swap at Sew Mama Sew! I did this last year and it was fun. But then again, i am obessed with getting mail.

Photo Source

Cuban Braised Beef & Peppers

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (Oops - I did not drain them)
2 red bell peppers, sliced 1/2 in. thick
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
salt & pepper
1 1/2 lbs. flank steak, cut crosswise into thirds
1 cup long grain white rice
1 avocado sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

In a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the tomoatoes, bell peppers, onion, oregano, cumin, some salt & pepper. Nestle the steak among the vegetables. Cook, covered until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4-5 hours, low 7-8 hours.

Cook rice before serving. Mix with cilantro. Using two forks, shred the beef and mix it into the cooking liquid. Serve on top of rice and top with avocado.

Recipe & Photo Source: Real Simple