Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happy Things Thursday Round-Up

On Thursdays, I like to focus on the little things that inspire me or make me happy!

It's my way of getting a final burst of energy towards the weekend... we're on the home stretch!

So, while spending my QT with Google Reader and coffee this morning, I came across these three particular posts that, well, made me happy! Enjoy!

Over at Keeping It Stepford, Maria described how she was looking for a way to organize her scrap-booking materials. All the specialty stuff was crazy expensive, but a short trip to an office supply store provided her with a solution for way less! 10 Frugal Points for Maria!

Elena at 'A Casarella made these white elephant present toppers that I thought were just adorable. Just a clothes pin and a small figurine can turn into so much! My brain almost exploded with ideas for other variations...

And for the big finale, Christine at The Crafty Woman has a Pinterest board that absolutely changed how I look at Easter decor. Normally, I can't stand when Easter comes around. Nothing against the holiday! But all the pastels and subdued designs... yucky. I'm too bold a personality for stuff like that. Christine's board brings out a whole different, more confident design scheme with nods to Victorian styling that I am absolutely in love with. Now I must go shopping!!!

So these ladies are what's inspiring me this week, what do you guys think? Head over to their blogs, they've got tons of fun ideas and projects going on!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1,000 Pageviews!

So to most bloggers out there who already have loyal followings, 1,000 page views might not seem like much...

But for someone who's only been at it two months, it feels pretty amazing!

Thank you to everyone who has been reading, commenting, offering suggestions, and supporting me in creating The Frugal Freshman Homemaker. I'm having a blast and I can't wait to see where this new adventure takes me!


Bach & Scotland

So here's something we haven't touched on yet; I'm a cellist.

I'm a lazy cellist.

But! I've been pretty good in the new year about turning around my practicing habits. As in, having any practicing habits to speak of.

I'm going through a very scary period of time where my muscles cannot keep up with the music I need to be able to play. I've been hired here and there and asked to play at functions, but I've allowed my muscles and tendons to deteriorate to the point at which they can't keep up with the repertoire I'm used to playing.

This is directly due to the fact that by the time I graduated with my degree in Cello Performance, I was so sick of playing the cello, I just didn't play it anymore. Now my fingers, wrists, arms, and back are all very, very angry with me. Who can blame them?

The good news is, little by little, I've been getting it back. Cello muscles are like any other muscles in the body. They must be routinely exercised and challenged to extend their limits.

Today I chose to do some Bach run-throughs and then start some new fiddle material. I need an hour and a half of comfortable repertoire by April 11th, which actually is looking pretty doable, but will take work. It will be background music at a cocktail hour at the resort I live near.

It's actually a gorgeous resort called Mohonk Mountain House. You should check it out.

Anyway, back to the rep (short for repertoire, meaning catalog of music to be performed)

For those of you who don't know, cellists basically have Bach to thank for their existence as any type of featured, soloistic, melodic instrument. His Six Suites for the Solo Cello are basically a cellist's bible. If you've ever listen to a movie score or a commercial on TV that has cello in it, chances are you were listening to one of Bach's compositions for the cello.

To be way briefer than I'd like to be as to why this is a big deal, the bottom line is the cello wouldn't have ordinarily been featured as a soloist before these pieces came out. So not only are they one of the first nods to the cello's ability to carry a piece on its own, but these pieces laid a foundational set of music for all cellists to come to interpret. Every serious cellist ever, literally, has taken their shot at what they think these pieces should sound like. And the possibilities are endless.

It made sense that of all places for me to start getting myself back into a relationship with Cocoa (my cello, she has a name) the beginning made the most sense.

To reach into much more recent music, I am also bringing out my old fiddle books (especially Crossing to Scotland, by Abbey Newton) to mix up my styles a little bit. Bach may be like taking cello vitamins, but fiddle music is like running cello marathons.

Originally developed on (you guessed it!) fiddles, this music is always challenging, especially for my bow arm. For private events like this cocktail hour I'm doing, fiddle music is an easy fix. It's happy, fun to play, makes people smile, and you can repeat it.

And repeat it and repeat it and repeat it.

You can play the same darn song the whole night if you'd like. If it's a good tune, no one will care. I don't intend on playing one song for the whole hour and a half, but it doesn't hurt to have some filler music in your back pocket for when you're out of ideas.

So that's what's going on in The Woodshed today. We named our music studio The Woodshed after the saying "I've got some serious woodshedding to do," which is what musicians we know say when they need to practice. Hopefully I can get enough rep together in time for April!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Handmade Hair Barrettes

It's Monday again! Here's a tutorial for a really fun and easy gift I made this weekend.

See, Tim and I have two couples in our life, each of which have two beautiful little girls. So adorable, affordable, and easy to make little-girl-gifts is kinda becoming my specialty.

Usually, I just go for something edible, but this time a birthday present was in order and so I was compelled to make something they could keep...

I've been seeing a lot of people dress up bobby pins by hot gluing ribbons or pearls to them. I only had very small colored pearls, so I decided to go with what I had. The result, I must say, turned out very pretty. And the princesses loved them!

Disclaimer 1: Took these pictures around 9 am with lots of coffee in me. Blurriness abounds...
Disclaimer 2: I am a total noob at wire wrapping, please experiment and let me know if you have any suggestions! 

All you need is jewelry wire (pretty light gauge, as it will have to make tight bends), some small beads, and bobby pins.

I also had an assortment of jewelry making tools on hand, but as long as you have some way to cut and bend wire, you can make it work.

I started by putting a kink in the bottom of the wire so the beads wouldn't slide off the other end. Then I lined up 10 beads of my chosen color (you could do a pattern too!) on the wire.

Then I held the beads so the kinked part of the wire was pointing away from me. Leaving a little extra room at the top, I put a 90 degree angle bend to the right in my wire. This is where I'm going to make my first attachment to the bobby pin. It reminds me of how I wrap earring hooks a little...

Next I slide the bobby pin onto the wire where I just made the newest 90 degree angle. I put the bumpy part of the bobby pin towards me (facing the opposite direction of our first bend). This makes it so the beads end up on the straight part of the bobby pin.

Just as I would attach an earring hoop, I hold the bobby pin upright and with my hands bend the right angled wire down and twist it around where we left room above the beads. Now we have both spare wire sections pointing the same way. Go ahead and trim the extra wire up top by the bobby pin once you've made a nice tight twist.

Bend the beads over the straight part of the bobby pin, towards the opening. Pull the remaining extra wire from back to front through the pin itself.

Bend the wire up, back over the pin, and through under the beads and pull tight. If you can, wrap it like this a second time. Otherwise, trim the extra away and fold the end underneath. You're done!

Here's some of the variations I did. You could get really creative with it, though! I was really pleased with these little gifts and I intend on making more of them for friends and family in the future!

I would have tried to snap a shot of the girls wearing them, but they were on birthday cake overdrive, it just wasn't a possibility. Maybe later I'll catch 'em!

P.S. Linking up at a couple creative parties here!

Watch Out Martha

Friday, February 22, 2013

This is ME Self Portrait Journey: February Submission

It's the last Friday of the month, again! Holy cow...

As you may know, I participate in a monthly photo link party over at While Wearing Heels. Amy has arranged a really cool series where we all post self portraits in accordance with a theme on the last Friday of the month. February's theme was Reflections.

While Wearing Heels

So, being the music nerd I am, I immediately saw an opportunity it the face of my Dobro, which is a lap-steel style bluegrass instrument. She's a beauty and I'm really glad I managed to make my self portrait idea work out!

It took me a few tries, but voila! There it is! If you're looking for a fun way to keep yourself in the habit of taking creative photographs (while also boosting some self esteem, I might add!) head on over to Amy's link party and start posting your photos!

I'm also linking up at these Friday Blog Hops... I love finding new interesting blogs every week!

Aloha Friday Blog Hop  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Back On Track

OK! Let's try this again. Last week was a BIT on the hectic side.

As far as I can tell, I've put my life back where it was before the whole "lose my entire life by dropping my purse" incident I spoke about last week. Moving along...

This weekend was a beauty. Not only did Tim and I manage to get the house back in order (to Martha standards even, I dare say), but we also fit in lots of fun, some visiting with friends, dinner with family, AND a band practice. We've got some gigs coming up in a few weeks so we better get crankin'!

Oooh there's a thought... a post about band practice. I'll file that idea for later.

Watch Out MarthaLast Friday I posted about how desperately I wanted to organize and clean the house. As usual, this morning I'm linking up with Watch Out, Martha! for their Monday link party for all things DIY, recipes, and homemaking. So I thought, why don't I link up regarding the Martha inspired house "re-set" Tim and I performed?

Whenever I take in a big piece of reference material (like a book or article) I usually take some things and throw others out the window. I'm sure it's the same with you too! You can't just do everything a resource suggests, verbatim.

From Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, one of my favorite takeaways was the idea of the Housecleaning Caddy.

I know, simple, and probably something I eventually would have come up with myself, but I honestly hadn't thought of it. By having a fully packed, ready to go container of all your basic cleaning needs, it's easy to just grab the basket and go. Rather than spending time rounding up your arsenal.

Notice the basket? Eh?

Now, of course, you can't fit EVERYTHING you need to scrub the house down in there, but for what I'm trying to do, I find I can get everything that's not specialized to a room in one, easy access place.

Dusting cloth, Iron Out (we have hard water), disinfecting wipes, glass cleaner, antibacterial surface cleaner, gloves, a sponge, and paper towels.

In addition to being able to carry around these all-purpose tools, I make sure that each specialized area (bathrooms, for example, which have many specialized cleaners) has it's own kit in a discreet place. My goal is to avoid having to actually transfer tools from one room to the next... OR waste time looking for cleaning tools I've misplaced.

So there you have it! Tim kept calling me Martha while we were cleaning. As long as he's contributing, right?

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day! Tim and I stayed in a cooked a delicious steak dinner. He got a pretty unique Valentine's Day gift too...

You should have seen the looks I got in the parking lot, trying to fit this thing into the back seat of my Jetta! Anyway, he said he wanted big plants for the house, so there. Mission accomplished. Happy V-Day, honey! He laughed really hard when he saw it come through the front door wrapped in plastic with a red bow on it...

As for today; as usual, I'm participating in the Aloha Friday Blog Hop over at A Cat-Like Curiosity. Lots of really cool people over there and I'm looking forward to meeting more!

Aloha Friday Blog Hop

This particular Friday, the only thing on my mind is getting the work week done so I can rip the house apart this weekend.

And when I say rip apart, I mean clean. Clean, tidy, organize, whatever. After losing my purse last weekend, my normally productive mornings were completely eaten up by trips to the DMV and phone calls to credit card companies. Tim and I both agree that this weekend will be dedicated to getting back on track. Of course, I will be referencing my favorite source (to the right, ahem) to plan my approach.

I find if I just go at it without planning, I end up getting distracted, causing more work for myself, and sometimes even completely undoing the cleaning/organizing I just did! I also find that things just plain get done faster when I'm burning through a list, rather than trying to think through each step.

I personally truly enjoy a weekend spent on my home, what about you? Chores to get through or an enjoyable activity?

As a side note, stay tuned for a series I'll be starting soon called Take Your Blog to Work Day... for those of us who have secret identities outside of our blogs!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Craft Area Inspirations

Looking around online, I've found lots of images of how to create maximum storage that also looks nice. Unfortunately, many of the photos are missing links, but the couple photos I did find the sources for are linked to their original page...

What do you think of these?

 This type of block shelving seems to be an agreed upon storage method by most crafters. It was also the type of shelving immediately suggested by my architect friend, so I'll probably go with it!

I'm a big fan of the trend of mixing slightly industrial accents with rustic or country styles. Most of the house, as we slowly settle in, is taking on a classic country home kind of feel. Muted patterns, earth tones, and traditional furnishings... Metallic accents like these buckets and a couple light fixtures we've chosen will highlight this contrast, I'm thinking.

I just have to include some bead storage! Duh! Maybe a couple blocks of the shelving will be dedicated to these types of trays...

Drawers are a big thing for me. If you're going to have LOTS of stuff on shelves, I want drawers for two reasons: 1. They make dusting way way easier. 2. Rather than having just a pile of stuff on the shelves, drawers neaten everything up...

...OR they make it so you can't see the contents at all! (This can be good and bad, methinks)

Matching binders and boxes would be O.C.D. heaven for me. Especially if they're all labeled correctly. It's almost too much to think about!!!

This idea with the mason jars (you know how I feel about mason jars) was just too cute not to include.

I'm thinking one of those hanging shoe storage units for the closet to store my yarn, there's just too much to leave out...


Little craft storage solutions like this just add a cute factor to the whole deal.

Got any other ideas on how to store ALL the little things that go along with crafting? 

Of course all this daydreaming is nice, but the office itself has to be redone first. And when I say redone, I mean ripped apart, re-floored, painted, baseboards scrubbed, etc. THEN I can build my craft area... but a girl can dream, right?

Virgin Blender Drinks: For the party Mommas to be!

Sorry I've been MIA most of the week. I was dealing with the loss of my purse, which of course had my life in it. It's all good now, though, phone is replaced, cards are canceled, etc.

Just trying to get things back in order and get myself back on track!

Oh right, Happy Valentine's Day!

My boss is letting me out early tonight so Tim and I can cook dinner together. Tonight's menu: steaks with sides of sauteed broccoli and roasted beets. Mmm mmm mmmmm...

But enough about me, what are you guys all up to for your special evening?

I know  a lot of you have families, so are the kids part of the plan or is a baby sitter in order? Speaking of motherhood, back to what this post was originally about... I'm a little distract-able today, can you tell?

So I hear this whole kid thing comes as a result of something called "pregnancy" during which one cannot drink alcohol for a nine month period. A friend of the family who is currently experiencing "pregnancy" visited my parents for dinner last night with her spouse and my mom wanted a few non-alcoholic, frozen drink ideas so that she could make a special treat for the Momma-to-be. Below are my suggestions...

Virgin Mudslide:
Basically, this is a chocolate milkshake, with coffee and hazelnut syrup added for depth of flavor. Mudslides are fun to decorate because they're usually topped with whipped cream so you can add sprinkles, cocoa shavings, cinnamon, you name it.

Virgin Daiquiri:
Pineapple Juice + Frozen Pineapple Chunks + Frozen Strawberries + Lime Juice = Yum

Then this next idea I've never seen a recipe for, but perhaps other people have thought of it too... I wonder if they tried it!

Virgin Frozen Mojito
Fresh Mint
Lime Juice

I don't know yet which drinks they tried and which they didn't, but I'm excited to find out! If I don't get pictures from the dinner party, I'll just have to try them out myself and take some pictures to post! Visuals coming soon!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Martha Mondays Link Party

A Take it to work! Recipe to share...

I'm pulling out my Kale Salad recipe and linking up over at Watch Out, Martha! for their Martha Mondays. Check out the linked blogs over there and WOM itself. LOTS of cool information!

Check out my recipe here!

Watch Out Martha

Friday, February 8, 2013

Craft Area Draft

A friend of mine turns out to be an architect.

Who knew!

Earlier this week I posted the dimensions of where my craft bench was going to be once Tim and I started redoing the office. Within a few hours, I received a message from my friend over at Matthew Ellish Designs.

Turns out, Matt felt like having some fun with my craft area idea and sketched up a quick drawing of what he thought would make good use of the space. It's pretty neat!

He says there's a better sketch on the way (since giving him more dimensions), but I think this one's really cool, regardless! Go check out his site!