Inspired by: W

W started her first dance class this year, Creative Movement. Aptly titled as the little girls filling the studio certainly move all which ways, sometimes even the way their teacher suggests.

[And only sometimes. It's a riot.]

Suiting W up in her blush pink tights and slippers, her black leo with cap sleeves and a filmy pink skirt before her very first dance class was a special moment for me. She's growing so fast, and her excitement is so pure. Watching her walk tight circles on her tiptoes is charming, witnessing her beautiful turnout and plié is an inspiration to this Mama.

Our little Creative Movement-er has taught me this: Approach new things with joy! New doesn't have to be scary, it's a chance to learn and grow. New is an adventure. New is another anecdote for the story of your life. New can be delightful.

So go for it! Learn a new skill, take a new class, visit a new place. Be inspired.

Are you trying something new this year?


Personal Project: Valentines for the Kids

I saw this adorable idea for Valentine's Day cards on Pinterest and just had to make a couple for the kids.

I think my monster could use a little work. ;)


Personal Project: Care Package

Have you ever received a care package?

An unexpected box full of love and goodies from someone who cares about you?

I have. It's awesome.

It's easy to forget how something simple can mean so much, especially when people you care about live far away from you.

Well someone we care about just moved to a new town. We thought a simple box of goodies might be a fun way to say hi.

I re-purposed an equipment box to hold popcorn kernels, coconut oil spray and my special 'everything' seasoning. A few recipes, including how to make popcorn on the stove and our favorite chili. Valentine's for the kids and a neat 4-in-1 movie.

[Who doesn't like Matt Damon, right?]

Our W made some sharpie art while I was obsessing about inserts. It really turned out lovely so she and I decided to make it the card cover. Inside I practiced my calligraphy. We had a lot of fun picking things out and making things to include.

Have you ever received a care package? What was in it?


[on the table] Black Bean + Lentil Chili

We've made this chili 4 times now and we have voted it our favorite family chili!

Full of vegetables and loaded with beans plus one very special ingredient.

Allspice! Also called Jamaica pepper, allspice is the dried aromatic fruit of a tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico and Central America. The name 'allspice' was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

In chili it really adds something special. We know this because the first time we made it, we were especially fond of it. The second time, it fell a little flat.

 [I don't mind telling you K made it the second time, lol!]

We discussed the recipe and the way he made it and came to the conclusion that he may have left the allspice out, or just used what was left which may not have been enough.

We remembered that initial tasting and decided we'd try it again another time. We did, following the recipe to the letter and it was AMAZING again. Yay! Allspice truly is the key ingredient.

Want me to share the recipe?

Garnished with oyster crackers and shredded cheese, yum!

Black Bean + Lentil Chili

3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 large carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 29 oz can diced tomatoes
2- 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy pot over medium high heat add the coconut oil, then the onion, celery, carrots and red bell pepper. Sauté until the onions have softened, then add the garlic and continue to cook for just one minute. Add the spices next through the bay leaf. Cook for about two more minutes to get them fragrant. Add the broth, lentils, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and raise the heat to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes to get the lentils tender. Add the black beans and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes. Serve with oyster crackers and shredded cheese.

Note: Don’t skip the allspice, it is the ingredient that makes this chili special!

Will you try it?


Personal Project: For My Valentine

I came across this quote on Pinterest and fell madly in love. The message is so full of conviction, so full of pure heart, it literally brought tears to my eyes.

[Does that sound overly dramatic? Full disclosure: there may have been wine consumed prior to the teary-eyed reading of above quote. Don't judge me.]

I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my Valentine for K. I decided to use my new skill for a handmade flair, rather than creating it on the computer. Then I scanned the result and converted it to vector format before cleaning up the edges. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? It was fun!

Now that it's in vector format I can easily change the colors, adjust word and line spacing, etc. It would make a lovely framed art piece too! 

Romantic, yes? Happy Valentine's Day!


Visual Design Fun: Polyvore Set - Valentine's Day

K and I will be staying in this Valentine's.

Which isn't such a bad thing.

[For real.]

We're staying in for a few reasons: 1. Childcare is difficult to obtain. 2. Especially on Valentine's. 3. Restaurants are expensive. 4. So is childcare. 5. Why not put the kids to bed early, enjoy a simple meal with lovely wine, spend some time together and pay nothing at all.

I know what you're thinking.


So Polyvore and I created a cute and simple outfit for our big night.

Cute, right? Do you have big plans for Valentine's?


DIY Stamp Fun

Miss W and I had a fun time playing with these DIY stamps I made from circle stickers and wine corks. I don't do a lot with stamps and ink pads, but they definitely are a fun medium to work with. We stamped card after card with our quick homemade hearts. My stickers were a little spongy so the more we stamped the thinner they got which meant we began to see a little cork edge on our stamp images, but the cards still turned out super cute.

Are you trying something new for Valentine's?


My Crazy Obsession

I admit it!

I. Am. Obsessed.

Inspired by iphone clear case inserts I've been seeing everywhere on Pinterest, I decided it was time to find a case for my Samsung so I could make lots of beautiful art for my phone.

So I did. And then I went crazy, armed with sharpies, leftover wedding invites and my exacto knife.

I made monsters. Geometric art. Sailboat and a sunset.

A reindeer. A line from a near and dear to my heart poem.

And my hands down, makes me happy every time I look at it favorite: The street scene.

I keep seeing things that inspire me to make more. There is just something about tiny pictures that make me smile. I haven't even begun to explore photos yet, or even art I could make on the computer. Just imagine the possibilities!


Faux Calligraphy

I learned something cool, something cool today! I know it upside down and inside out, I learned all about...faux calligraphy!

[If you don't have preschoolers, that was a total ripoff of Sid the Science Kid. PBS. Check it out.]

I learned how to do faux calligraphy. Here's how: Right something. Maybe in a scripty hand. Now add a little weight to all your downstrokes. Tada!

I am going a little overboard with this new skill. I wrote a note to my brother and did the entire thing in faux calligraphy. He's either going to think I'm drowning in time or trying too hard.

Either way I come off a winner, right?


[on the table] Superbowl Eats

Flourless Blondies.
Super Bowl Sunday we planned to watch the game and eat yummy food.

Black Bean and Avocado Quinoa Flatbread.
We didn't have a favorite in the game: Yay for the Seahawks who hadn't ever won and Yay for the Broncos because we like Manning.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip.
We planned to eat our yummy food and enjoy a [hopefully] good game and laugh at [hopefully] good commercials.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites.

We were disappointed on all fronts.

Okay, not all. The food was good. And we enjoyed the halftime show. [Bruno, you were the real winner that Sunday!]

The blondies were a never made before gamble, that totally paid off. So. Good. The flatbread was chewy, crunchy and spicy. The spinach dip was also a newbie. Good. Not great, but good. The cauliflower bites were a third round disappointment. The flavor is always good but we never seem to get the crispy bit right. K's suggestion: Why don't we try chicken.

FINE, lol.

Was your Super Bowl all that you hoped for and more?


Do you Tutu?

I have a weakness for fashion bloggers. I'm inspired by their choices.

[And often envious of their closets.]

I've been gravitating towards the more ladylike looks I've seen lately, and was craving a full, filmy, girly skirt. K and I had tickets for a four course wine dinner and something ladylike seemed appropriate. Scratch that. Something ladylike was necessary.

So I made this. I cobbled together a few tutorials I found online and ended up with a black on black tulle skirt. Wearing it made me feel...fancy. Coquettish. Ladylike.

Also, a little static clingy. Yikes!

Learned from this project: More tulle, doll. More tulle. A few more layers would've been better. You could quite easily see the built-in slip under the layers of tulle, and I would've enjoyed the full effect of six to ten layers of tulle versus the three I used.

Next time.