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the dining room fixture in my dining room was fine. it worked. but it was dated and not my style. with a little spray paint and some paper i gave the chandelier a little update.
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before i did anything, i removed the lightbulbs and glass covers, cleaned the chandelier and taped up the sockets. using tape and paper, i created a tent around the fixture to protect the ceiling and walls.

the chandelier was sprayed with a couple of coats of black spray paint. between coats i worked on the paper lampshades.

i printed a few sheets of my little pine forest pattern with a light grey background. in the spring i’m planning on switching the design with the yellow lemons from this years calendar. they will go great with my yellow countertops.

you don’t have to print your own paper for the shades, though. you can use gift wrap, scrapbook paper or anything else that suits your mood. dining-room-light-diy-accordian
i cut the paper to be about and inch and a half taller than the glass shades and long enough to wrap around the glass cover twice. i scored the paper every 1/2 inch. the paper was then accordion folded.

if the paper you choose doesn’t make it around twice, you can easily use double sided tape to put two lengths together.

to create the shades the ends of the paper were taped together and tiny holes were punched about an inch down from the top on the center of each fold. twine was then fed through each hole. some cute ribbon would add a nice touch here.
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after the paint was dry, the final step was to put everything together. the tape was removed and the glass covers and bulbs were put back on. the shades were slipped over the glass covers and the twine was tightened a bit and knotted. the top needs to be a little bit smaller than the bottom so the shades won’t slid off.

i am pretty happy with my new and improved chandelier. and when i get tired of it, i can easily switch out the shades to anything i want.


adventures
almost every year since i started designing calendars there has been a short saying that goes with the year. this saying is usually included in the front of planners, on a pencil or on a postcard sent with orders. for 2015 the saying was “new adventures” and that is something i plan on doing soon.

in about a week i will be heading out west for a road trip. i’ve road tripped out west many years ago when i was in college so this time i plan on visiting some different places. there’s no set itinerary, but a few goals – to see buffalo, mountains and lots of stars. there will be some camping, hiking and exploring.

the shop will remain open, but there will be limited shipping from september 18 to october 4 – mostly planners, calendars, pencils and some stickers. the plan is to ship from the road when ever i have cellular reception and can find a post office.

all this is to say that if you are planning on ordering address labels, personalized notebooks or notecards now is the time to get them. use the code “ADVENTURE” and save 20% off orders of $15 or more. code is valid until september 16.

hope you get go on an adventure sometime soon!


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i have a friend who i talk probably too much about tv with. we have a rotating set of shows that we feel we need to discuss the day after we watch it. last year i got her hooked on House of Cards. the problem is neither of us have the control to watch just one show a day, so it’s not that easy to recap. this year we decided we just have to binge watch the second half of it together – this way we can go over the play by play live.

here’s how we plan on accomplishing it.

1. this sunday has been marked as our binge watch day. we figured we can get through 7, maybe 8 episodes. this means we both have to get through 5 or 6 episodes between friday and saturday. i’ll get through a few today while i make items and package orders and a couple on saturday.

2. the binge watching will be at my house since my friend has a husband and teenager who are going to want stuff from her. i believe a partial white lie might have been told by her about our plans for the day, but whatever works.

3. it will be a day of comfort. yoga pants, fleece, slippers and lots of blankets. the blankets are mostly for my friend since i keep my house at what i am told is an unacceptable temperature. my glasses will be ready for when my contacts become dry from staring at the screen.

4. there will be plenty of coffee to start off the day. the food will be easy prepare ahead food. like veggies & dip and nachos. the nachos are going to be made with salsa i made last fall and is marked in my freezer as “wicked good”. i don’t remember what is so wicked about it, but i have been saving it for something special. i hope my labeling holds up.

5. half way through we are planning a walk around the neighborhood. it’s going to be cold out, but i figure the fresh air, sunlight and movement will do us good.

if you’re planning on the same this weekend, happy viewing.


snowday
winter is my favorite season and the snow makes it even better. there is a storm blowing through connecticut right now so i have declared today a snow day for letter C. to celebrate you can save 25% off your order until tomorrow night. just use the coupon code “snowday” during checkout.

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on a snow day i work from home (not because i don’t like to drive in the snow, but mostly because i don’t like to clear my car of snow at the end of the day). i don’t work from home often since orders need to get out, so the days i do work at home are a nice change of pace where i plan, draw and work on new products. it also means there is soup on the stove (this is simmering right now) and a lot of looking out the windows (the view is much better than an auto body shop).


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the last few months have been all about calendars, planners, notebooks and more calendars …around-here_1-14_5
with a some other fun gifts in-between.around-here_1-14
i snuck away for a couple of days to portsmouth, new hampshire with my sister and her family.around-here_1-14_4
a little bit of christmas cheer came to the studio. instead of an advent calendar i did 12 days of gifts with my nieces and nephew (although i still owe them 3 days).around-here_1-14_6
at home i did a little kitchen organizing and now want go out and buy tons of stuff to put in glass jars.


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spent a couple days camping this week with my sister at savoy mountain state forest. yes, we stayed in a cabin, but the lack of electricity, no cell service (didn’t realize that was possible in massachusetts) and no running water means to me it was camping. we did some campfire cooking, hiking (not too far because i’m scared of bears) and a little bit of reading (found out where bernadette went).

it was a great mini fall vacation with cool weather and leaves changing color.


here’s a quest blog post from my niece. she came up with this project for a road trip down the east coast she was about to take with her family.
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so i am going on vacation and aunt cindy and i were wondering what we could make to do in the car. i thought of a magnetic checker board.

we took some left over heavy chipboard and made squares. i painted them in two different colors and tapped a magnet on the back of them.

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we found a metal case that used to hold pencils from when aunt cindy was in collage. we printed out a sticker that was in checker board form and stuck it to the outside of the tin. when your done with the game, you open the case and put the pieces in it.

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this game is good for the car and the beach too because when you turn the board over the pieces will not fall. i know a checker board is black and red, but i love to be colorful!


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spending lots of time by the pool with these guys since school is out.

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making lots of products and packaging up orders.

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especially the petite heart pencils and mini pencils. one of the top sellers.

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packaging up some gifts.

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celebrating the little ones birthday with cupcakes and ice-cream cake made by me and her sister. made air head letters (one of her favorite candies) nerds for sprinkles.


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saturday my sisters and nieces came over for dinner, so i pulled together a salad bar. the first one we made was for my sisters birthday last summer. her girls wanted to throw her a little party. i asked what her favorite food was and they said salad. not sure if it is really her favorite food, but we went with it. i made a salad bar and they were in charge of decorations. it was a hit and now i wish one set up in my kitchen all of the time.

this salad bar came together easily. i made some simple pizzas to go with it, so while the dough was rising and sauce was simmering i got to chopping. the beets and carrots were roasted, chickpeas were cooked with a bit of olive oil and seasoning, broccoli was sautéed with onions & garlic and the rest was cut up or just placed in a serving dish. if more people were coming i would have used these for labeling the dishes.

there was more than enough food. after we ate, my niece made my mom and dad salads for delivery (since they have new puppies and couldn’t join us), then my sisters each took some to go. everything else was dumped into the lettuce bowl and now i have lunch for days.

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there are a lot of good things about making a salad bar for company:
• you can use any ingredients you have on hand
• make it simple, make it complicated – it’s up to you
• all the chopping can be done ahead of time
• no need to worry about matching serving dishes – use what you find
• make it a pot luck type of meal and assign toppings to other people
• perfect for any size of get together – just add more or less of each of your ingredients
• you don’t need to worry about what people will & won’t like – they have choices
• it’s ready to go and you can enjoy your company
• my favorite part – the leftovers for lunch the next day (or two)

here’s some salad bar suggestions:
• any kind of lettuce (i chop mine in small bites for easier eating)
• spinach
• cucumbers
• tomatoes
• green peppers
• carrots
• celery
• roasted peppers
• banana or hot peppers
• olives
• corn
• shredded brussel sprouts
• green beans
• roasted beets
• broccoli
• peas (i use frozen and let them thaw before serving)
• salsa
• avocados
• grilled zucchini
• slivered almonds
• beans (if using from a can i cook them a bit to get rid of the can taste)
• tuna fish
• hard boiled eggs
• ground beef with taco seasoning for a mexican salad
• cubed ham
• shredded chicken or turkey
• salami
• cheese – cubed, shredded – whatever you like
• crumbled bacon
• gold fish
• croutons

the possibilities are endless. if you’re feeling extra creative you can go with a theme. maybe italian and along with the basics include mozzarella, cured meats, tomatoes and basil, onions, olives & garlic bread croutons. or southwest with ground beef or bbq shredded chicken, salsa, avocado, corn, jalapeños, black beans, cheddar cheese & tortilla strips.


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i’ve said it before, but every time one or more of my sister’s kids sleep over i offer to make something good for breakfast – waffles, omelets, baked oatmeal, hash browns … doesn’t matter what choices i give them – they always want pancakes (even these little guys are actually pancake batter cooked in a waffle shaped skillet).

last week when my niece slept over i was trying to think of how i could mix up the normal pancakes for breakfast routine. my first thoughts were to make them a shape or maybe more crepe like, but then i remembered about the aebleskiver pan i bought on a whim a little while ago. not sure why i put it in my cart, but the next time i checked out i decided to keep it in there. i don’t know why. i have amazon prime. i didn’t need to spend more for free shipping.
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aebleskiver are basically little dough balls originally from denmark. the name translates to “apple slices”. there were no apples used in the making of these. they do take some time to make, but are a nice addition to my breakfast options. the dough is more waffle-like than pancake-like so the balls were a little crisp on the outside and light and soft inside. next time i think we are going to try making stuffed aebleskiver.

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the recipe i used is a combination of one i found here with the recipe that came with the pan.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups milk
3 eggs
melted butter (for pan)

separate egg whites and yolks. beat egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. while the mixer is going start the rest of the batter. combine flour, sugar, baking power, cinnamon and salt. then stir in milk and egg yolks. once the whites are done gently fold them into the batter.

heat the pan over medium high heat. brush with holes with melted butter. fill each hole about 2/3 full of batter. cook a few minutes. take a skewer and run it around the edge of each ball. if the ball easily moves, rotate it a bit. i was using a skewer and a fork. you’ll end up rotating each ball about 4 times until each side is cooked. it’s a labor of love.

once the balls are done take them out of the pan. they say eat them right away, but we ended up putting them in a 250 degree oven while we waited for my mom and my other niece to join us for breakfast.