Gimmeakiss Farewell

I've been in a bit of a blogging rut lately.

It's not that I haven't been doing anything worth sharing, I just haven't felt like posting. In fact, I have many posts that I promised you and then never followed up on, like a full re-cap of my cruiseall the thrifty finds I bought at the beachmy fully re-decorated bedroom... and the list goes on. In case you're wondering, the resolutions to those cliff hangers are: I don't like Jamaica and having food poisoning on a boat SUCKS; I bought a weird mirror, vintage cocktail skewers and a brass pear dinner bell; my bedroom still isn't 100% clutter free but all the furniture is final. Now you can sleep at night. You're welcome.

So, that being said, it's time to step away from this little blog of mine.

I think it's the time commitment. Even with the minimal posting schedule like I have, it still takes time to do projects, take and edit photos, and write my content. I read many great blogs with few words and fewer pictures, but that's just not me. I'm a go-big-or-go-home sort of gal.

I'm not going to delete the blog. You can still browse the archives, if you're into that. You can follow me on Instagram. (My account is private but, don't worry, I'm not stingy with the 'accept' button). I'll still be active over on Peanut Stand, mainly because with a 2.5 year old in full toddler mode, most of that content writes itself. I may even make a reappearance here down the road. Only time will tell.

Until then, happy trails!

Happy New Year!

As we open the door to 2013, I thought I might look back on some of the final moments of 2012.

I photographed my mantle the Friday before Christmas - as promised - but never posted them because I was busy doing last minute holiday preparations. Better late than never, eh?

On the left side of the mantle I have a vintage(?) tree candle that I've used in years past, two cone trees I made this year, and a crystal jar full of Andes mints. It's not Christmas without those little chocolates. For a tree-making how-to, check out the bottom of the post!

On the right side of the mantle I have an all-white nutcracker I picked up at Home Goods, a gray sweater cone tree from Target (though I think you could easily DIY this with a craft cone, an old sweater and some sewing know-how), another vintage christmas candle and a folded paper Christmas tree I made. I was so excited thinking I had stumbled on a new craft idea until my mom told me my great-grandmother used to make these a looooong time ago. I was a little bummed she burst my bubble, but I'm glad to have something else in common with my late Granny. Again, see the tutorial at the bottom. Several of the mantle trees are elevated by Blomster candle sticks from Ikea. They're designed to hold pillar candles, but if you turn them upside down the flared bases make perfect little display platforms. I only recently added them to the mantle, but they're going to stick around even after the holidays.

The center of the mantle has some little tea lights and a rolled paper wall hanging - have I showed this to you yet? I'm thinking not - that both live there year round, with the addition of all the incoming Christmas cards and the brown paper wreath I made last year. Admittedly it was too small for the space when I made it, but I was making do with what I could get on the cheap. This year I like the idea of floating it in front of the wall hanging to fill up space but still add a bit of holiday cheer. I'm not a slave to the idea that Christmas has to be an explosion of red and green, so I'm just fine with a neutral mantle with a hint of color on the wall.

The last home item we added in preparation for Christmas was Luke's new tire swing! We installed it the day before Christmas - thank goodness for oblivious toddlers because you could clearly see this through the kitchen windows - and unveiled in Christmas morning as a gift from Santa. I would have loved to taken the credit on this one, but it's hard to wrap a whole tree so all the glory goes to the big guy in red. Here you can see the hubby testing it out to make sure the tree branch would hold the weight. So far, so good.

After the chaos of gift-opening had settled some of the "grown-ups" borrowed Luke's new remote controlled robot cars and created our own version of battle bots, with a taped off arena and everything. We called it Robot Slap Fight. It was awesome.

On New Year's Eve Luke's shaggy hair was getting to me so I gave him a haircut. I intended to just give him a trim, but things got a little tricky on the crown of his head so I gave up and buzzed it all. He always looks so grown up with short hair! After I was finished he said "Thank you Mommy. My hair's all better now!" Could he get any cuter?

Shortly after his haircut (and post-haircut bath) hubby and I left him in the capable hands of our family and headed to Greensboro to ring in the New Year with the Avett Brothers - my favorite band and the namesake of this blog. Here are some (terrible) photos as proof:

Since it was New Year's the coliseum was prepared with nets of balloons and confetti cannons to go off at midnight!

As if confetti and balloons weren't enough, those of us in the back of the arena got a special treat. Halfway through the show the band came over to a small stage right in front of us and played a mini-set for us. It was like I was back in college, seeing them in a tiny venue again!

Also, after all these years, I FINALLY bought an Avett Brothers t-shirt. I typically don't buy concert/band shirts when I'm at shows but then I always regret it once I get home. Not this time! Plus, I now have a new shirt-buying strategy for concerts: go to the merch booth as soon as the band leaves the stage after the regular set. While everyone else is clapping and screaming for the encore, you can rush right over to the merchandise and walk right up, no wait! Then you're back in your seat in time for the encore. Alas I can't take any credit for this, the idea was all my hubby's.

image source

So that's how I finished off 2012. I still have lots of Christmas goodies to eat so the holidays are going to last me well into the new year. How did you ring in 2013?

Without further ado, here are the tree tutorials...


Brown Cone Tree
time: 1-2 hours, depending on how thoroughly you glue
cost: $10 or less
- craft cone
- jute, or other thick twine
- hot glue gun, several glue sticks
- scissors
- starting at the bottom, wrap cone with jute and glue as often as needed - I glued pretty much the whole thing
- that's it, you're done

White Cone Tree:
time: 2-3 hours
cost: $10 or less
- craft cone (or make your own out of cardstock)
- crepe paper streamer
- silver sharpie, or whatever accent color you choose
- tape/glue
- scissors
- based on the height of your cone and the width of your streamer, mark where you want each layer to "sit" on the cone
- color a 1/2 inch accent band along the bottom of the streamer - the sloppier the better
- starting at the bottom, wrap the streamer (loosely) until it goes around the cone 3 times - cut streamer
- cut slits in the streamer, starting from the bottom, roughly 2/3 the way up - again, sloppy is fine
- wrap the streamer around the cone 3 times and tape/glue to secure
- repeat steps 2-5 for each layer until the cone is covered
- NOTE: be sure to line up streamer seams in the back of the cone - no one will see that part, so keep the front looking neat

Folded Paper Tree
time: 2-3 hours
cost: free, unless you have to buy a magazine
- magazine (I used an issue of Architectural Record, but something hefty like Cosmo or National Geographic is perfect - People or US Weekly would be too puny)
- bone folder (optional)
- I used this post by Homemade Mamas and it's pretty simple. They link to a separate video tutorial, but I didn't feel the need to watch it.
- just fold, fold, fold!


Wow, I am on a roll.

Last year I did the 12 8 Days of Christmas where I shared all of the wonderful and festive things I did to prepare for Santa. This year, to top that, I posted about Halloween, cats, and then... nothing. It is 4 days until Christmas and I have nothing (blog wise) to show for it. In my defense, I was unemployed last Christmas which left plenty of time for crafty shenanigans. This year, I am gainfully employed (yay!) but that unfortunately puts me in the position of crafting or blogging, but not both. Plus, I'm just really tired, man.

I didn't go as much into decorating mode this year - meaning I didn't decorate my guest bathroom and I didn't strew pine cones everywhere - but I did cover the basics.

Tree up, lit and decorated? Check.

Stockings hung by the mantle with care? Check.

Presents wrapped and under the tree? Check. Presents wrapped in reusable fabric bags? Double check.

I didn't get around to making any oyster crackers or holiday bark this year, but we canned a bunch of homemade marinara sauce - using tomatoes from our garden, no less - to give as gifts instead. So, yay. I did however get around to crafting a few things for the mantle and I plan to take a few quick photos tonight to share with you. If I don't - and that's a big if - just pretend my mantle looks exactly like something out of Martha Stewart Living. Because it totally does.

But just so you don't think I'm making all this up, here's some Instagram pics of our family getting in the holiday spirit.

Daddy and Luke decorating the tree

tree lit up with Christmas Village and fabric-wrapped gifts

new monster ornament made by Dull Roar Studio, aka my good friend Libby

a few of my favorite Christmas ornaments

wall hanging, of sorts, I made from framed Christmas cards, also by Libby

So there you have it. Photographic proof that Christmas exists at our house this year. Like I said, I will try really REALLY hard to take more pictures for you guys this weekend, but if not this will have to do. 

Merry Christmas!

The Truth of Cat Ownership

There are certain things one must accept when bringing a cat into your life: cat toys will be ignored, precious knick-knacks will be knocked to the floor, empty boxes are the best thing ever, and the cat will always, ALWAYS sit where you plan to sit. In addition, there is one last thing you should know about co-habitation with cats:
Or if you prefer charts and graphs...
(Yes, I did make a chart about this)

I said it. The cat's out of the bag. Pun fully intended.

Halloween Craftiness

Halloween night may be long gone, but the candy is holding out which means I'm still allowed to talk about Halloween. So there.

A few weekends ago the hubby and I took Luke out to pick our pumpkins. We settled on a massive specimen that was almost 2 feet tall and Luke had some fun digging it out and then sitting in it.

Being the tried and true Wolfpack fans that we are, we decided to carve a howling wolf into our pumpkin. Since our pumpkin was so big - meaning it had super thick walls - we had to buy a jigsaw just to carve it. Not that the hubby was complaining. The man loves his power tools.

To go with the wolf theme I made some scary eyes for our bushes using empty toilet paper rolls and some glow sticks - inspired by this pin. Although I did modify it a little bit. I cut a rectangular hole in my tp roll, cut the eye shapes into card stock, then taped the card stock onto the tp roll to cover the hole. This way I could have a little more detail since it's hard to make controlled cuts on a tube. I got a multi-pack of glow sticks, popped em in and covered the ends with duct tape. And voila, pinplementation!

What did you do for Halloween?

P.S. Wanna see Luke's Halloween costume? Head over to the Peanut Stand to find out!

Wake Up Light - Go Buy One

Let's talk about wake up lights. In case you don't know, a wake up light is an alarm clock with a built in lamp that gradually brightens in addition to the typical alarm sounds. According to many studies, the human body prefers to sleep and wake in sync with the sun but modern work schedules prevent that. In the winter this disconnect can cause tiredness or even depression.

I have always been intrigued by wake up lights because I am a terrible morning person and would sleep all day if I could, particularly in the winter when the sun makes itself scarce. The final push I needed was my new running schedule (first thing in the morning, 3 days a week). As the days got shorter I found it increasingly difficult to get out of bed or have any motivation to exercise. With the many binge-eating opportunities this season - the state fair, my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas - this was no time to fall off the wagon. So I put a wake up light on my birthday wish list and my hubby obliged me.

I went with the Philips Hf3470/60 model, available from Amazon for $70. There are a multitude of wake up lights on the market, but I chose this one because it is inexpensive, sleek, and had good reviews. Some of the more expensive models have additional features but I didn't think they were worth the extra cost.

These two promotional photos were pulled from the Amazon listing and give a good illustration of what this light looks like. What? You don't look that happy and gorgeous when you wake up?

This light is very bright and does a wonderful job of gradually waking me. The light has adjustable brightness and will go from 'off' to your selected brightness in the 30 minutes before alarm time. The light is so bright it even helps wake up my husband from across the room - no need to buy one for each of us. You can also add an alarm sound - beep, birds, or radio - that you can snooze. The only downside is that, like a typical alarm clock, you have to remember to turn on the alarm each night. It's not a deal-breaker but I had gotten spoiled by the programmable alarm clock on my phone, which I still use as a back up.

This last shot shows the light at home on my nightstand. All-in-all I would highly recommend a wake up light in general, and the Philips model specifically. I have only been using it for a week, but I am already in love. Anything that helps me drag my butt out of bed is a sound investment for me.

NOTE: no one paid me or perked me for this review. I selected this wake up light based on my own research and all opinions are my own. It makes me happy so I thought you guys might want to know about it.

Snippets of Creativity

By now you probably know that I can fill some downtime at work by making some images. Well, I'm back at it!

I made this money web layout for our open source: finance page.

I put together this against the current image for general use.

I also created a text-free version to make it more versatile.

That's all, folks!
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