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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Checking In and Checking Off


As May wraps up I thought it would be a good time to check in with my 31 for 32 list that I first wrote about a while back. A lot of the goals on the list are medium- or long-term things, so a few have been started, but not finished. It's fun to peek at this list from time to time and remind myself of my goals and keep going!

31 things to do before 32


1. Do something new/different with my hair
2. Move back to London
3. Get more houseplants
4. Start a garden (of some variety respective of living space)
5. Get back in shape. BEGUN!!
6. Walk a mile a day for at least 1 month. Have been working on #2MilesADay for 2 weeks now!
7. Attend a NYC sporting event NY Rangers vs. Winnipeg Jets, 1 April 13
8. Try 12 new recipes (proper recipes, not "I threw this together and it is dinner") 5 of 12 tried
9. Make a new friend (of the "in person" variety, not just the online variety)
10. Visit Paris again
11. Visit the Statue of Liberty (because I've never been, and it's currently closed).
12. See 3 Broadway shows. Newsies, 4/13
13. See 2 West End shows.
14. Finish Project Life 2013
15. Get caught up on my scrapbooks from 2011 & 2012 & get at least most of 2013 done. steady on!
16. Finish the Valentine socks.
17. Find a job I like (if not love).
18. Learn to embroider**
19. Visit Boston
20. Put together our wedding album
21. Spend more time outdoors
22. Visit Washington, DC
23. Get a new fishtank + fishies
24. Adopt a shelter dog
25. Sew and/or knit at least 50 items for BlytheCon UK
26. Put together our mini-moon album
27. Drink (aka: buy) less soda weekly Working on this for sure!
28. Take a class or long workshop on a subject I'm interested in
29. Volunteer for something
30. Keep in touch better with my girl friends
31. Go on proper date nights at least twice a month
** - this is a different goal than before as I realized I had a duplicate. Oops!

Is anyone else out there working on a goal list small, large, or otherwise? Summer goals? Location goals? Life goals? Do tell!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sponsor Laura Kate is Crafty in June!


Would you like to get some exposure for your blog, shop, or site? Please consider sponsoring here on the Laura Kate is Crafty blog. Sponsorship is incredibly affordable with 3 ad sizes available and I even offer a 100% free option for ad swaps!

The blog is growing every day. 2013 pageviews are about 100-200 a day, with a monthly view of 3,000 - 5,000+. Followers via other social media are on the rise as well. I aim to post at least 4 times a week. Each week I share my Project Life pages on Tuesday, most Sundays I share a recipe, and my scrapbooking/Project Life freebies have become quite popular. Non-themed posts happen along the way.

I'd love both new and returning sponsors and hope you'll consider becoming one! Check out all the details ---> here.


*************

A big thanks to my May sponsors, all of whom were continuing sponsors! Please check them out!
* Pointless Pretty Things
* TastesLikeLove
* Every Hour Here
* Sparkle Monster



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Project Life: Week 21

Welcome to week 21. For me, this was a week where I realized when I sat down to choose photos, that I'd mostly not taken many. Between The Scot and I, we both pretty much just had Instagrams, and not larger format snaps. But, you know what? That's totally ok. I just went with it and I think it looks as pretty as any other week.


As a few of my photos had a blue shade to them, I really used that element throughout. I haven't much used the dark teal-y color in the Seafoam kit, and this week it was my main focal point.

Keeping things simple, I used only the BH Seafoam kit/papers this week, along with one card from my own Lego-style card set, as well as my usual Martha labels and a touch of washi tape.


I included some packaging from my new Fitbit Flex (which I am LOVING, even if it took nearly 3 miles of walking in dead heat along a major road to procure). Using ephemera like this sometimes isn't super neat & tidy, but I don't really care. I wanted to remember adding this part in to my fitness & health journey, and the packaging, while not perfectly aligned to a 3x4" box, still helps tell the story. To me, anything that helps you tell the story of your life right now is totally valid and totally works, even if it doesn't have the "perfect look."

So that's it for this week in Project Life. My in-laws are arriving on Thursday night. We'll see what they bring to my Week 22 (& 23)!



I'll be linking up at Project Life Tuesday on The Mom Creative.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Eat Something Sunday: Classic Beer Brats


It's Eat Something Sunday-on-a-Monday! This week I'm sharing my take on a summer barbecue favorite (especially if you're from the Midwest): beer bratwurst. My husband had to work today, but our Memorial Day still got a little picnic influence with this tastiness. This preparation is easy as can be and the flavors that it adds to the brats are just delicious. Though I've used a CrockPot for my recipe, you can use a disposable roasting pan (covered) in a low temp oven, or something like a Nesco roaster for a party-sized amount of brats.

Classic Beer Brats

1 package (4-6) fresh, uncooked bratwurst
2 bottles beer
2 onions, sliced

unpictured:
rolls
fixings


1 - Chop your onions simply into rings, toss them in the CrockPot
2 - Add your brats
3 - Pour in the beer

After the beer has settled, stir a bit so that the sausages are all covered by beer. Turn the CrockPot on low for 4 hours. If you don't plan on finishing them for a while, you can just adjust the heat setting to warm after 4 or 5 hours on low (this is what I did - mine simmered in the beer for about 6 hours total, the last 2 on warm).

mmmm...ready to grill!

Finish by grilling them up! As the meat is pretty well cooked, it's really just about crisping up the outside and getting a tasty char. Any that aren't being immediately put into buns can be put back into the beer/onion mixture until someone claims them as dinner! The beer-soaked onions make a yummy addition on the bun along with your other favorite fixings.


Happy Summer! Here's to many tasty grill outs!



Friday, May 24, 2013

In Remembrance

While this weekend will no doubt be filled with many barbecues, family picnics, and general enjoyment of a 3-day weekend + the start of summer, it's not to be forgotten what Monday is truly all about. A day to remember those fallen in military service. Should you wish to commemorate the day in a simple way in your Project Life album (or other scrapbook or project), here's a little card for you.


download it >>>> here <<<<


Poppies here in the US are worn for Memorial Day and in the UK for Remembrance Day (aka: Veteran's Day in the US). They always always always make me think of In Flanders Fields. Simple yet full of meaning.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Walked 5 Miles Yesterday

Yeah. I walked nearly 5 miles yesterday. Most of which was in the city. And about 4 of those weren't really on purpose. As I shared a bit in this past week's Project Life, and if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I've been walking lately. Mostly pointed powerwalking-type walking. Proper shoes, comfy clothes, and a planned route.


And then yesterday I broke out my flip flops for the first time this year and headed into Manhattan to get some workout clothes at Old Navy. Which led to wandering around Macy's and JCPenney and then stopping part way home to try a different Old Navy and do some other shopping along the way. Needless to say, when I got home, there was no "proper" walk for the day and my feet were quite angry with me. 3 year-old flip flops are great for strolling. Less so for hours on the streets of New York City on a crazy hot day.

The walking, though. While it's not easy, it's not rough. It's challenging to my body as the past years I rather just stopped exercising or having much concern for my fitness (apart from the great yoga classes I took in Armenia). My years of dancing earlier in my life made me never think about it much. But in the years after I stopped taking dance classes (something I miss a ton all the time), the muscles atrophied and my stamina and strength are not anywhere at all where they used to be. My asthma, which has been getting worse again in recent years, isn't fond of the extra weight my body is carrying and my lungs remind me of this on a regular basis. So I keep walking.

I plan to keep writing a bit about my journey to a fitter and healthier me on the blog. Part of my journey is that I am monitoring my food choices more closely and trying to make healthier habits. That means that I am hoping to lose some weight. But I want to put this out there right not: this is not about being thin. This isn't about being a particular size at all. What it is about is the fact that I'm not the healthiest me I can be. Last year I added about 30 lbs. to my frame which already was having a bit of trouble with the weight it was carrying. In the meantime, my asthma has gotten progressively worse. My feet hurt a lot of the time. I have more back issues than ever. So while, for me, my journey to being fitter and healthier will hopefully involve shedding some pounds, the weight loss aspect isn't because I want to be a skinny girl.

I am not a skinny girl.

I doubt that I'll ever be a skinny girl. As soon as I hit puberty, I went to a C cup overnight and was the only 7th grade cheerleader who needed an underwire and who had hips. Right now, I've got a pretty sizeable tummy. I'm not fond of it. However, I also am sporting the most hourglass-ish figure that I've ever had. And that I quite like.

The other day a great article was posted on Jezebel entitled If You Must Think About Your Weight, Here Are 10 Things to Think and it's pretty spot on to where I am with my weight in regards to my health of late. I want to be able to take 2 flights of stairs without having to stop and catch my breath/use my inhaler. I want to be able to comfortably fit into clothes I love (that are in storage). I want to have less issues with my feet and be able to wear more heels again without crying in pain because they don't want to support this frame. I want to be in the best shape I can be when Alan and I decide to start a family. I want to lower my risk of diabetes (either during pregnancy or generally). I want to lower my blood pressure that's been rising more than the doctors would like. I just want to be fit.

And so I walked 5 miles yesterday. My feet were tired and my legs ached. But I was kind of happy about it.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Project Life: Week 20

And so we find ourselves 20 weeks down in 2013. This post is coming much later in the day than I usually share on Tuesdays, but this morning I had a bit of an adventure. I'll write about it later. But for now, onward to Project Life!


Not a special week in any way. I continued with my usual combo of BH Seafoam and BH Jade kits mixed with Martha labels. This week I did a few titles, etc. printed directly on the photos. It's something I haven't been doing a ton of lately, but I really like the look. Especially circles. I'm digging circles a bunch of late. (Yes, there is a photo missing. We were at an event on Saturday and the photographer on hand took a great snapshot of the 2 of us, but it's not yet been posted online. I plan to add it when it becomes available).


I really like how the title on this card turned out. Originally I had planned to place it straight across, but then I saw the angle of the stairs in the photo and it just clicked. Love it.


The title on this bit sort of contrasts the last one. My journey to a fitter and healthier me is indeed a journey. Ups and downs. And cheesy tater tots are delicious & tempting.

Check back later in the week for a small offering you might find helpful to telling your story of the upcoming holiday. In the meantime, you can always check out my index of freebies right here.

As I do each week, I'm linking to Project Life Tuesday at The Mom Creative.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Instalife

It's been calm around here. I've been walking a bit. The blog has been a bit quiet. But life has been happening. You can follow along on Instagram right here.












You may notice this isn't a recipe post. While I love my Eat Something Sunday posts, they sometimes make me a little stressed, and I've decided I'll be not worrying about posting ever Sunday, but will aim for at least twice a month. It will be back next week for sure!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Project Life: Week 19

Welcome to week 19. A pretty low-key week at our house that largely was filled with The Scot enjoying the Rangers being in the NHL playoffs. There was also a lot of salsa.


This week featured BH Seafoam, my own calendar card, Martha Stewart labels, and some Amy Tangerine stickers along with a lot of writing and some assorted washi tapes. Not a lot to say about the pages, really. They're pretty simple and self-explanatory!


I hope all the moms reading this had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday. In case you missed it, take a peek at the Mother's Day freebie I shared on Friday. Enjoy it!

As usual, I'll be linking up at The Mom Creative's Project Life Tuesday.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Eat Something Sunday: Almond Amaretto Tea Cakes


Today it was gloriously sunny and rather warm. Baking wasn't perhaps the first thought many people would have when their apartment is already a bit warm, but this cake is so light to eat that it really seemed perfect. A pound cake recipe, I've made it before as tea cakes with lemon and decided that I'd try a version with an almond touch. It really was perfect for a sunny, springtime treat.

While I'm showing this as tea cakes, the recipe I've adapted it from was designed for a loaf-style pound cake and it's quite delicious that way, as well. You'll just need to adjust the baking time to about an hour. You can also opt to leave the amaretto out, but I think that it adds to the almond extract flavor in a really lovely way.


Almond Amaretto Tea Cakes
adapted from Pichet Ong

Preheat oven to 325°F

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 Tbsp amaretto
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup (liquid measure) sweetened condensed milk (I use the whole contents of 1 small can)
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs (I was happy to use the beautiful blue Americauna eggs my mom brought us!)



1 - sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
2 - mix the sugar, almond extract, and amaretto.
3 - add the butter and cream together with the sugar mixture until fluffy (2-5 minutes)
4 - pour in the condensed milk and blend until nicely incorporated, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
5 - add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
6 - add the eggs and finish by hand, being careful to not over beat the batter.


Pour batter by spoonfuls into prepared pan (I used a NordicWare decorative tea cake pan that was well greased & floured) and bake at 325°F for 15-20 minutes or until the cake passes the skewer test. It won't be brown, but will look set and have a gorgeous golden hue. Allow to cool on a rack.


These are equally yummy with a cold glass of root beer or a nice cup of coffee.

Happy Mother's Day! Go bake your mom some cakes :)



Friday, May 10, 2013

Sometimes We Just Need Moms

This Sunday is Mother's Day here in the US and in a lot of the rest of the world. It's a great little day. While I won't be spending it with my own mom, I'm glad that I got to spend a few days with her this last weekend. Moms are awesome. My mom is awesome. The older I get, the more I appreciate her. My sister's also turning into a pretty cool mom. Who'd have thunk it? (Surely not me 2 years ago when I learned she'd be having a bambino). Someday I hope to be a mother too. I'd like to think that I'll be pretty decent at the gig, having taught little ones for the better part of 10 years, but I know I'll go through ups and downs like everyone else.

In honor of all the mothers in the world, I created a little Project Life-style freebie card set with some motherly quotes. I had collected quite a few and picking just three was a bit of a challenge. My 2 favorite outtakes were "Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother's love is not." from James Joyce and "If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?” from Milton Berle. The 3 I settled on make me smile, though, and I hope they'll do the same for you.


Download them > > > here < < <




As I mentioned in a recent post, I really love Kid President. Yesterday, he shared a new video just in time for Mother's Day. For all the moms out there - birth moms, adoptive moms, mother-figures, grandmas, etc. This one's for you!


Happy Mother's Day a few days early from me :)

No thank you, Mr. Roboto

robots
source

A quick post to let you know that certain archive posts (recipes, mainly) will be temporarily unavailable as I am trying to rid the blog of some bot attacks. They'll be back up soon, but I'm giving posts that have been getting crazy views and comments galore (that are clearly all spam) a brief takedown in hopes that this will stop the fake traffic & commenting. This also means that I'm no longer allowing anonymous commenting. Removing this option really bums me out, as I like offering the chance for anyone to comment, but since I'm not a fan of captcha codes or having to moderate every comment - things I feel make readers less likely to comment in general - it's the only option to prevent all the crap that's been coming in.

I love, love, love all my actual readers and am so glad when I see your views reading posts new and old and read the comments you leave. It's always great to respond to your comments. Half the fun of blogging is interacting with my readers and I hope you all feel welcome to be a part of the conversation!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Project Life: Week 18

Here we are at week 18 - a week I feared would again be crazy busy, but actually turned out to be a pretty easy breezy one. The early part of the week was pretty hum-drum. No big nights out or anything of that sort. A few nights of baking and groceries, though! My parents arrived Thursday afternoon and departed yesterday morning. They weren't interested in a lot of touristing, more in spending time with me and with the hubs. So this week is just a 1 insert week. (Yay!)


For this week's pages, I used quite the assortment of stuff: BH Seafoam, Jade, & Wellington kits; a card cut using an Ali Edwards brush; instagram card designs by Cathy Zielske and Design Editor (the double); Martha Stewart labels; my fave Basic Grey little letter stickers; my usual date stamp (Amy Tangerine) plus a new little blank date stamp (Dear Lizzy); and a Studio Calico veneer. I'm most thrilled this week that The Scot wrote a card for the album (upper lefthand corner - about finally getting his 50th state quarter). He always contributes photos, but only occasionally contributes things in his own words. So that was pretty fab.


The days certainly are getting nicer and nicer around here. I'm sure this will mean a lot more sunshiney photos as the spring progresses into summer. I can't quite believe that we're in May already, but the planet keeps moving around the sun, so I guess I'll have to accept that this year is flying by!


Today is Tuesday, so I'll be linking up at The Mom Creative's Project Life Tuesday.