Monday, December 20, 2010

My favorite Christmas things....

The Christmas spirit was a little delayed here in our household this year.  With the amount of orders my studio had and my lack of energy due to a little bun in the oven, the decorations took a bit longer to get up.  I didn't put out everything I usually do, just some of my favorite things.
So here they are, just in case you care ;)

When we were first married, we made a rather expensive purchase on a sentimental nativity scene.  I have fond memories of setting up and playing with my childhood manger.  So I knew I wanted to get one that had a story and that we could pass onto our kiddos.  However, this nativity scene is not "kid friendly".  Oops, wasn't thinking that 9 years ago.   We purchased it from an elderly man with Alzheimer's from his quaint studio in Maine, were my hubby and I met.  I had my eye on it for years and we finally bit the bullet.
I'm so glad we did!

 I have a LOVE for all things vintage...
to tablecloths, salt and pepper shakers, artwork and in particular Christmas ornaments.  When we were first married, we didn't have many ornaments besides the hammy downs from Matt's childhood.  We had the typical cookie ornaments, nursery school crafts, and a collection of tacky crystal angels and snowmen.  I knew I had to add to these, so went to a local antique store and stocked up on some vintage balls.  Some have broken since then (insert sad face) due to a fallen tree in our first apartment, but most are in tact.

1. Typical school craft
2. A sweet blue ball with applique
3. An intricate ball with great detail
4. A garage sale find... love these little people!
5. I try to buy an ornament from each place we visit. This one is a Murano glass ornament from Italy.
6.  The ugliest beaded ornament from Matt's childhood. It always makes it's way to the back of the tree.
Those are just a few of my favorites that decorate our tree!

Here are some other Christmas decorations that
I have collected over the years.

 I love those big vintage lights, but don't have the guts to string my house with them. So instead of outside,  I use the bulbs as a centerpiece on my dining room table.  The stockings are a fave of mine that I found for $2.99 each from Christmas Tree Shoppes.  The salt and pepper shakers were a gift from the hubby a few Christmas' ago...I LOVE them!

And a few more favorites....

We both love nutcrackers so our collection grows each year.  I think we need to slow it down a bit because our small little cottage can't handle my collecting obsession.  The vintage blocks with Merry Christmas on them is a 'must put out' decoration, just too cute to keep in the box this year.

There's a short tour of my home this season.  Looking forward to heading down to Philly to visit my family this Christmas.  Have a blessed Holiday everyone!

Check back for my attempt at peppermint bark and sea salt caramels!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I've failed...well kinda.

My cooking challenge went on hiatus as soon as I started feeling nauseous, exhausted (like the kind of exhaustion if a mac truck ran you over), no appetite and basically plain ol' yucky. 
You mothers all know what I am talking about...

Yes this all means....I am pregnant. This is my first, so I have no idea how this all works. I am just going with it, day by day.

I fee like life stopped for 5-6 weeks.  I have a wonderful hubby who took/takes care of me and my every need (even at 3am when I wanted nothing but Cheerios).  Now at 13 weeks, I am feeling somewhat better and may even try to attempt my cooking challenge again. I make NO promises.  But the doc says I need to eat and gain weight. 

My blogging took a back seat as well.  Holiday orders are out and being delivered as I type, so I can breathe again and enjoy this pregnancy!

Here's how we announced it to our friends! Enjoy :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Be patient....

Hello everyone!  

I am just sending out ANOTHER, yes another, annoying reminder that my production time is extended to 3-4 weeks due to high holiday order volume. 
I just ask that you be extra patient during this time, pretty please! 

 Sending emails asking for updates just sets me behind in the studio...I often spend more time answering those status update emails then in the studio making your necklace. SO keep in mind the production time and know that it will ship within that time, no doubt about that!  

To sum it up
Stop asking where your order is or for an update :)  
It will ship out within the listed production time, I promise.

{November 22nd was the last day to order for guaranteed Christmas delivery. 
Orders placed after that date will arrive in the first two weeks of January.}

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Old windows

I  have an obsession with old windows.

As I cause a traffic jamb on the side of the road, shoving them in the back of my jeep, I feel giddy with the possibilities.  Even though most of them collect in my shed, much to my husbands dismay, I do eventually use them when I feel inspired.  Here is proof that it's totally worth the honks and evil stares from those cranky drivers.  

Sunflower wallpaper applied with decoupage

My feeble attempt at stained glass

Whimsical wallpaper for laundry room

Freehand attempt of stained glass with lead paint

In the Summer, I did a u-turn for this beauty!  What to do with this one?!?  I have a vision to put it above my fireplace once I get sick of my botanical prints.  Not sure when that will be though.

I'm in love with this HUGE window!

So as this amazing window sits in the shed for the winter, I decided to get my hands on a smaller window that is just too cute for words.  No picture of that because my shed is too embarrassing to show you all, but this is what I hope to create with my next 'trash to treasure'.

Now, mine will be a bit different.  I hope to remove the glass panes and put mesh or screen on the entire back for my ever growing collection of earrings.  I haven't decided if I will do a shelf of not, we will see how ambitious I get.  Look for photos of this project soon, but not too soon :)


Do any of my fantastic readers have other creative ideas for old windows?  
I would love to hear!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Deadline!

Hurry...go tell your MIL, hubby and sister that Magpie Designz holiday deadline is November 22nd.  Sorry husbands, but November 23rd is one day TOO LATE.  I wish I could make exceptions.  Trust me, I get pathetic stories for a good month after my deadline, begging me to make just that one exception. 

Production time is 3-4 weeks during this peak holiday season.  Please, please plan accordingly. Now I am begging.  Also remember that the postal service is busier now too, so packages may take longer to be delivered. 

You've been warned.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh Pottery Barn.....

I have always been fascinated with lamp making. It's a mystery of where this passion came from but I was determined to create my very own jug lamps.  I found these lamps in the Pottery Barn catalog and fell in love.

However, I couldn't justify the $139 EACH price tag. SO I had to figure out a way to create them myself. After searching on Ebay for a bit, I came across some clear wine jugs.   I paid $12 for the pair (yeah, I know, a steal!) and then made a trip to Lowe's to pick up this lamp kit.  

Lamp kit from Lowe's

It was much easier then I thought to wire the lamp. The instructions were super easy to follow. I was SHOCKED when I plugged them in for a test and they worked!  You will be impressed with yourself, I promise.  Now it was time to fill the jugs with all sorts of goodies. My goal was to change them for each season.  I haven't quite mastered that goal, but I have two themes that I use often. 

Fall lamp with acorns and fake leafy branch

Summer lamp with pebbles and fake fern leaf

I am going to try a Christmas themed lamp this year.
Stay posted to see what I come up with.
Oh, the pressure. 


Oh and by the way, my deadline for Holiday orders is November 22nd. I will announce this often and you will be sick of hearing it, but I hope to avoid those emails on Christmas Eve from husbands hoping that I can overnight a necklace to them for Christmas morning. 
Yeah right, I will still get those emails. What am I thinking?  At least I tried.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Designs!

Please help me welcome a few new designs to my hand stamped personalized collection. 
I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.  
As always, I welcome new ideas and custom requests!

Violet Necklace, Mclaine Necklace and Wesley Necklace
Don't forget that my holiday deadline is November 22nd.  
Think ahead and enjoy this holiday season even more by doing some early shopping!
Visit my website to browse my new designs!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Apple Cheddar Soup

I took a {cooking challenge} hiatus last week due to my trip to Nashville.  It was a nice break to go out most nights in TN for dinner, but I did miss my kitchen. Is that weird? 

This week I made a soup for my MIL's birthday.  
Doesn't that sound just lovely?
Soup season is here, one of my favorite things about Fall.

Perfectly sweet and salty at the same time. Try it, I promise you'll love it.

I paired this soup with bread and a green salad. I tossed the salad with my new favorite vinaigrette. 

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette  
(note: I "threw" together this dresssing, so amounts are approximate)

2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
juice of one lemon
a few tablespoons of water
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt n' peppa


Do you have an EASY but oh so yummy salad vinaigrette that you love?  
Newman's Own ain't cuttin' it anymore.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Howdy ya'll!

i'm back from Nashville TN where my hubby and i visited friends who recently left us here in  CT.
and i quite possibly gained 20 lbs.  
we enjoyed some
pulled pork,
hashbrown casserole...
those are just a few examples of the southern goodies we ate. 

our good friends paul and amity on the right

The picture above is at a mexican restaurant where we saw Ted Danson and his wife. you know, Ted Danson from Cheers!? he was sitting at the table behind us!

we toured downtown nashville one day and got a dose of real TN living.
 cowboy boots/hats, 
blue eye shadow, 
rhinestone belts
aspiring singers.

my husband and i fell back in love with little katherine (our friends 2.5 year old) whom we haven't seen in about a year, so a lot has changed!

our trip was plain ol' awesome! we got re-acquainted with close friends and just picked up where we left off...isn't it great to have friends like this?  i will miss them terribly.

some more pictures ya'll....

now off to catch up on for the end of vacation.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Recipe four: SUPER!

my father in law could not stop raving about this weeks recipe.  i would have to agree with him....this dish was outstanding!  if you love a good stir fry, then you will LOVE this. i promise.

the only adaptions i made:
  • we are huge broccoli fans here, so i added a bunch. i feel like it need a little more somethin' then what the original recipe called for.
  • this is a SPICY dish, so if you like a good burn, then the amount of pepper flakes would be perfect for you.  i may half the amount next time i make it.

(oh and the recipe is the perfect amount for two people. if you are serving four, double the recipe)

this weeks grade:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

learning to slow down.

 it has been one year since my hubby and i took a 2 week vacation to italy with great friends.  the older i get, the more i am trying ('trying' is the key word here people) to     s   l   o   w      down and take life in because it moves by WAY  too quickly.  since then the friends we traveled with have had a baby, my husband has undergone a HUGE career change and i have quit my day job to focus completely on magpie designz. 

in venice, jumping with not a care in the world. 

so this year i am going to {take. it. all. in.}
life is too short and i need to enjoy it more. i have never been great with change.  so when change comes, i am going to embrace it and realize that it belongs to a bigger plan that is not my own.

stuffing our faces with gelato in florence.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recipe three: has potential

i found a wonderful foodie blog that i check every day.  she inspires me to try new recipes and to be brave with new and different ingredients.

This weeks recipe was pork loin chops with roasted garlic cream sauce.  i totally forgot to take pictures of the finished product, so i am borrowing from cassie craves blog.

photo taken by cassie craves
this tasty recipe was easy peasy with basic ingredients. next time i make this i will use a pork tenderloin instead of chops.  I tend to overcook chops which leads to dry and chewy pork.   the cream sauce was delish and was a flavorful topper to some typical mash potatoes.

besides the mash potatoes, i served this recipe, taken from my friend's blog, life in a nutshell.
it was incredibly easy and again, it stretched me beyond the basic veggies that i often grab at the food store.  broccoli rabe may not be my fave veggie (bitter and kinda chewy) but mixing it with some carrots and a pinch of nutmeg saved the day. 

photo taken by meredith from life in a nutshell blog
this weeks grade:


...and until next week. what should i try next?!?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keep Calm....

and carry on.

see this shop for keep calm posters

 Is it just me, or has this saying exploded in the last year?  well, i decided to go with it and put a spin on it.  sooooo... out comes my "keep calm" collection.  instead of the typical {carry on}, i changed it up for those out there that have a passion for a certain hobby, sport, or activity.

visit here to view my collection

so i ask you you have any ideas for my "keep calm" collection? 
if so, i would love to hear them!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

recipe two: success!

i am two weeks into my cooking challenge and feeling very encouraged from last nights dinner.  After recipe one took a back seat in my recipe book, i was determined to find a worthy recipe this week.

this weeks recipe? Butter chicken
how can you go wrong with that title?

it tends to lean towards indian flavors, which we are a fan of in this family.  the one spice that i didn't have and wasn't willing to spend $12 on was cardamom.  i goggled a substitute and  came up with 50% nutmeg and 50% cinnamon.  it worked perfectly in my opinion.

it had the perfect amount of heat too.
the cayenne pepper goes a loooong way.

this weeks grade:


enjoy my friends. please share with me your favorite recipes.
i would love to give it a 'stir'.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

lakehouse retreat.

i am back from a stay at my friends lakehouse in upstate new york.  what an amazing place to forget about life for a bit and soak in the rustic charm of a cozy cabin. 

scenic walking,
jet skiing, 
fire staring, 
smore making
story sharing, 
memory making, 
picture taking
were just a few things we were able to enjoy this weekend.


sometimes its just necessary to take a moment to breathe and bask in God's creation.  have you taken a second to breathe recently? please do share.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

recipe one: bust.

not pleased with this recipe.  what was Emeril thinking?  

OK, so I won't be too harsh BUT i hate it when i spend a good hour preparing for a meal with high hopes and then it turns out to be nothing close to my expectations.

it has tequila. how could it be that bad? 

i came to the solution that maybe if i marinated it more then 45 minutes it would of been delish.  that's what emeril said to do, only 45 minutes. i should of known better.  Marinading it OVERNIGHT would of made a world of difference.  

the chipotle adobe sauce was wonderful.  i put more chipotle peppers in then it called for.  that was the only flavaful part of this meal. unfortunately.

yes i will try it again. maybe for company. and maybe overnight the marinade.  it's a ton of prep work for a meal during the weak, which defeats the purpose of my challenge.

so the hunt continues for a new recipe.

Friday, September 3, 2010

i'm in a rut.

 So my goal this year is to try a new recipe each week.  I will share my thoughts, critiques, praise, tweeks and other useless points about the recipe with my awesome readers.  

Now, I am no chef, but I do enjoy playing in the kitchen. I definitely need to get out of my 5 meal rut and try something new. I know, crazy idea right?!
  I love a good challenge every once and while, so let the cooking begin! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

oh how i love you september

well, it doesn't really feel like fall here in new england.  it's in the 90's and humid. we got a tease with the fall temperatures last week.  so now i am craving every little piece of the harvest season.

there are SO many reasons why fall is my favorite season.  
crisp walks at night with my pup and hubby
apple picking
"fallerizing" the house (more to come on this)
baking this spice cake {thank you Dina for the recipe}
wearing my flats and scarves again
pumpkin pancakes
 skirts and my leather boots
sleeping with the windows open
starbuck's pumpkin spice latte
the smell of fallen leaves
and pumpkin beer. 
I found one that i LOVE...and it's $6 a case from trader joe's.  the reviews are so-so but who cares.  my hubby gagged when he sipped it but he is a beer snob.  i just love the deep pumpkin flavor.  is it 5:00 yet?

bring on the harvest season. 
fall is too short but i will make sure to enjoy it to the fullest. 
oh and i will be drinking lots of beer.  no i am not an alcoholic.


what are you looking forward to this fall?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

be green and rescue.

Many of you know (and may be sick of hearing) about my passion for rescuing animals.   As long as I can remember, I have had this inner ache for all creatures, specifically dogs.  When I was about 10 or so, my parents decided it was time to add to our family.  We took a visit to the local SPCA and found a well tempered dog, named Kita.  She was hours away from being euthanized.  Just to think that this dog, who fetched the newspaper for my mother every morning, would of been killed because her time at the pound was overdue.  We never had a discussion about rescuing dogs, it was just something that we did. This simple trip to the local SPCA turned out to be a valuable lesson to me, which I am sure my parents didn't realize at the time.

As soon as my husband and I lived in a home that was dog-friendly, we were dedicated to adoption.  We visited the local humane society every Saturday morning in search of our next family member.  Today, 6 years ago, we came home with a lab mix that we named Maisey.  She was 1.5 years, abused and very timid.  Since then, she has been the joy of our lives.

Maisey, of course, isn't perfect. Either am I.  Adopting a dog or any other animal comes with baggage.  I wasn't sure we could train her to walk without pulling, or not being timid around men, or not aggressive around her bones or not chasing pizza delivery cars.  Many of those bad habits are still there, but that is her personality and we embrace it.  

Maisey is a family member and is treated like a family member.  Many think I am crazy for taking her for car rides with me every where I go, that she sleeps in our bed, that I brush her teeth, take her to the dog park, feed her yummy scraps of steak.... but I don't care. Whew, I said it. Laugh at me, but my dog is my best friend.

My friends, consider adoption.  It is a rewarding experience that you will never regret. Of course, there are horror stories out there about people who adopt a dog and it ends up being a disaster. It happens, but don't give up. To me, the pros of adoption out weigh the cons.  

Everyone wants to jump on the "green" bandwagon.  Shopping with reusable bags, buying hybrid cars...why not consider adoption as being "green" too? 
Recycle an animal, instead of buying one.

Check out my pet jewelry!  On sale until Saturday at midnight!

Dakota Dog Tag
Rescued Tag