I love flowers. One of the best parts about moving to Florida is that they bloom sooner and longer. I can still find morning glories and roses when I walk my dog around the block, and it’s January. In New England, January means a foot of snow. This is way nicer.
Here are some of my favorite flower photos I took over the last year or so, just because I am in that kind of a mood.
These guys ^ are from Trader Joes. I used to live within walking distance, and they always had a great assortment of flowers.
These ones are pictures I took while hanging out at a nursery. The greenhouse was amazingly colorful. Sometimes, I go to plant stores just to hang out for a little bit.
I was really lucky at my last apartment to have a wildflower patch tucked away in a field about a mile away. I had daisies, blacked eyed susans, lupine, and once I even found a wild peony blooming. I made sure to always leave at least a few blooms to go to seed so the patch would keep growing. Sustainable flower harvesting.
It doesn’t matter that I have seen every episode of the Great British Bake Off twice. It’s still on in the background while I am writing that post. And I still keep taking breaks from typing, so I can watch the contestants present their baked goods that I have already seen. It’s that good. Weirdly.
In the show, 12 contestants compete in a tent in the English countryside to win an engraved cake stand and recognition. They don’t even get money.
It’s tame compared to American cooking competitions. While the recipes get fancy, there are no weird ingredients thrown at them. They have a reasonable amount of time to finish. Heck, sometimes a contestant finished early. There is no trash talking. In fact, sometimes they help each other.
Kate helps Martha out
It’s positively socialist. Everyone knows how to be polite and how to help each other out; however, they don’t sacrifice their own quality of work. Kate, as seen above, wasn’t throwing the competition when she helped Martha out. She was being kind and giving Martha that extra hand she needed to pull it off, while trusting her work to stand on its own. She didn’t lose anything from the exchange. It’s just super refreshing to watch.
Also, Martha is only 17 and is a doll. Baking like her is a #lifegoal Totally love her. Absolutely team Martha. It’s more fun when you have someone to root for after all.
Most of the episodes are fairly mellow. There are shots of flowers blooming, baby animals, friendly banter in the kitchen, lots of dialogue from the amazing hosts. However, ever now and again, something goes wrong.
The prime example is #bingate. I won’t spoil it for you but the British tabloids wrote about it for weeks. And I kind of don’t blame them.
I could try to explain how great this show is, but it’s not going to work. On paper, it makes no sense. On paper, it should not be this popular. But it’s fantastic. The best, and you should watch it on Netflix. And bake something to eat while you watch. It’s more festive that way.
So I’m going to leave you with this, and a gentle push to watch it.
So little did I know when I accepted this job in Florida that I have moved to the homeland of one of the fanciest honey flavors in the world: Tupelo honey. Heck, little did I know when I accepted this job in Florida that honey has different flavors.
Tupelo honey is made from the nectar of the White Gum Tupelo tree, which only grows in swamplands in the Florida Panhandle and a wetland in Georgia. The blooms last for about two week in April, and the bees love them. Love them. You can read more about it in this article I wrote for work.
Anyways, I heard so much about this honey, that I had to go buy a bottle (see the “research” at the end of the article, totally self-serving). Note: It is that good.
But honey isn’t something I use a lot and this is FANCY honey, so Eryn and I are coming up with some equally fancy recipes or at least modifying the recipes found here at Savannah Bee Company (basically the queen bee company of the honey world.
So here you have it, our first fancy recipe.
For these you will need:
A little butter
This is not an exact science. Basically, cut the baguette to a manageable size and brush a little bit of butter on (you could also substitute with olive oil), add Rosemary to taste and then add a dollop of Ricotta cheese. Toast it until the edges of the bread brown.
Once you take it out of the over, sprinkle on the pomegranate seeds and then drizzly on the honey.
From there, it is just about snacking away.
Hope you like them and that you get a chance to try some Tupelo Honey one day.
This past year, I’ve been really into watercolor paintings. I find the act of creating something nice (well, hopefully nice) soothing when I am stressed out. I was looking back, and I think there has been significant improvement over the past year.
Here are some of the sort of early ones. The really early ones I am not going to share. They have some issues/don’t really look like much.
These ones I turned into labels for some candles I did as a diy.
These these little prints I use as scrapbook fillers. It’s way cheaper than Project Life.
This is one I did a couple months in that I ended up giving to my dad for Father’s Day. I like it because I have step by step photos. It’s a little sloppy, but I was starting to tackle slightly harder designs.
I even started to bring my watercolors down to the beach. I was using these really cheap paints you can get at Michaels, because they are easy to carry around with you. I think they work okay, as long as you do not use the paint brush in the kit.
It’s hard to put my feelings about 2015 into words. It was both wonderful and heartbreaking.
I ended a 7-year relationship, losing one of my favorite people in the world. I quit a job that I enjoyed very much, despite some of its quirks. I moved away from my home state. I attended a lot of therapy.
But, I also learned a lot about myself. I found Addie, my delightful, wild and ever-hungry cocker spaniel. I made two new spaces for myself, one in Gardner one in Florida (the Florida one involved a lot of mint paint). I got to travel to Yellowstone with the beautiful Lyndsay Dean, where we saw the whole park in one day and had so much luck. Then, I got to go on a two week road trip with the wonderful Eryn Dion, where we both landed new jobs together and has do much fun (read about it here).
Just about everything changed. Some days it was not even a little bit okay. Other days, I could not have been more happy or more inspired or felt more fortunate. It was hard. Growing up, moving on, these are hard things. Some days it’s still hard.
But it’s rewarding. Addie is rewarding. Travel is rewarding. Moving was rewarding. Heck, even therapy was rewarding. And it creates a more interesting life, filled with greater opportunity, more chances for beauty, than a the alternative. Growing up it hard, but not growing up means missing out.
I can’t imagine 2016 will be as eventful a year as 2015 was. To be honest, I’m sort of hoping it isn’t.
I would like to spend the year exploring Florida, and hanging out on the beaches. Maybe, I’ll make a trip down to the keys and everglades, or pop back over to New Orleans since it isn’t very far. I want to swim with dolphins. I want family to come visit me. I want to grow a big garden, with flowers and vegetables. I want to paint pretty things (Eryn and I have a plan for a series of pun filled beach watercolors), maybe sell one. I want to run a whole 5K without walking once. I should probably set up dentists and doctors appointments. I want to continue to become more comfortable on my own.
I’m not going to call these resolutions, because I find new years resolutions normally don’t happen. Instead, I’m just going to think of them as achievable goals, and go from there.
It’s weird celebrating the holidays in a place the air never gets that nip in the air. No matter how many Christmas carols I listen to in the car, it still feels more like mid may. Yesterday, I wore shorts and a tank top to an evening event. Whatever happened to mittens and hot chocolate?
Inside though, I have a fireplace adorned with pinecones, holiday scented cameras and my woodsy Christmas tree covered in DIY ornaments and some vintage baubles that used to my grandparents.
Here are a look at some of the ones I made this year.
1. Balsa Wood Cut Out Creatures
For these, I would look up an animal outline online and then draw it the best I could onto the balsa wood. Then I would lightly score the wood with an exacto knife.
From there you just deepen the cut, until the balsa wood breaks away. It easier to break it up into little pieces than it is to try to separate it as two big pieces.
2. Balsa Wood Animal Portraits
These guys are my fav. You just cut out an oval and then draw a silly little animal onto the wood. I then framed them with a little bit of extra pom pom ribbon I had lying around.
3. Balsa Wood Trees
These are just decorate triangles of balsa wood. Nothing too fancy, but the raw wood just added a nice balance to the tree decorations.
4. Paint Pen Baubles
I had gotten the DecoColor pens for another project (painted mugs) and as it turns out they also worked really well on some glass ornaments from michaels. Eryn and I drew little trees on them as well as geometric patterns.
5. Gold leaf baubles
As you can see in one of the above photos, we also covered some of the ornaments in gold leaf. We just used Modge Podge to get it to stick
6. Contact Paper Designs
I still have a lot of contact paper from that DIY statement wall I did, and I wanted to try using some of it on ornaments. It creates starker lines than painting and you can move it around if you want to adjust the look. It is however tricky to lay things on the curve of the sphere.
And there you have it, 6 different easy DIY ornaments.
Eryn brought me some wonderful flowers to decorate the table for our Florida Thanksgiving feast with some people from work. However, the bouquet wasn’t very “holiday-esque” so I thought I would try this tip from Paper and Stitch and add some berries.
Paper and Stitch recommended pepper berries. But earlier in the day I discovered the palm tree in my back yard had berries handing from it. Who knew that was a thing? So I decided to substitute them in, and I think it looks just as good. Check out all the arrangements I made. My whole apartment is done up.
For a little extra spark, I used some extra ferns and berries to make crowns that we wore during dinner. So fun! It felt sort of like a Charles Dickens novel, but with less sadness. When we weren’t wearing them, my home decor got a turn.
In some ways, this has been one of my most difficult years. In other ways, it’s been one of my very best years. Life is funny like that.
I just wanted to take some time to make a list of some of the things I am thankful for this year.
1. My family – I needed a lot of help these past few months, and they were there every step of the way. Now that I am on the other side of the country, they are still making sure I’m not left out. Case in point, this super adorable Thanksgiving banner with turkey handprints and a list of things they are thankful for. I cried when I got it in the mail it’s so sweet.
2. Adeline – This little cocker spaniel is one of the best things to have entered my life. Even when she’s being bad, I think she’s adorable. Her temperament is exactly matched to mine, she barley sheds, and she will almost always cuddle. She’s fantastic.
3. Eryn! – I managed to talk the girl into quitting her job, going on a road trip with a vague plan for the future, and then move to Florida with me. She’s been there for just about every bad day, and she’s just wonderful.
4. Lyndsay Dean – It was so utterly wonderful to go to Denver and Yellowstone and spend time with Lyndsay Dean this year. I missed her so much, and she truly is this wonderful, beautiful gem of a person. Bonus points, we saw bison cross the road, elk, a gizzly bear, a bald eagle and a wolf at Yellowstone all in one day.
5. Employment – The crazy road trip thing did successfully lead to a job (thank you universe), which was excellent. I’m also however super thankful for my time working at the Gardner News.
It literally pulls together the whole house. I smile every time I walk in the door and see all those little triangles.
Originally, I had thought about stenciling the wall, but thought better of it. One wrong mark with black paint seemed like a lot of heart ache to clean up. I spent a little time on Pinterest and realized contact paper was the solution I was looking for.
As it turned out this was pretty easy to put together. For $8 I was able to get roll of contact paper that came with handy dandy graph paper on the back.
To make the wall I cut out about 60 triangles that were three inches wide and two inches long.
While I was cutting them out, Eryn (because whenever I do a craft Eryn is around) was tracing out level lines on the wall.
The trick for it looking good was to make sure it was random, which sounds easy but it actually rather difficult. The key was to try to make sure we weren’t accidentally creating any horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines.
The front door of the my new apartment has 15 window panes. Enough to make me afraid to throw stones, give the neighbors a easy view of my apartment and Addie an even better view of the neighbors.
Addie quickly took to standing at the window and barking all the time.
I was worried the neighbors would hate us so something had to be done. There was a bamboo type curtain, but I thought it was ugly and Addie kept getting stuck in it. So that had to go and we needed a better fix.
My solution was to go to Home Depot and buy some window film immediately. I wasn’t even in the apartment 24 hours before I high tailed it to the store (I also bought paint).
I only bought one roll, which wasn’t enough to fully cover all the windows, but I’m very happy with the results, i.e. the barking stopped. I like the vertical stripes near the top, but I’m undecided on if the top panes show have something on them or if I should try to create a Scandinavian style decoration for up there.
The film was extremely easy to work with. Just a bit of soapy water in a spray bottle, and I actually used a credit card as a squeegee. They’ve been on for about a week now and seem to be holding on just fine.