Sunday, March 31, 2013

This is ME Self Portrait: March Submission

This month's theme was "looking down"

I assume there will be a lot of shoe pictures this month.

And mine is no exception! I chose this photo because I love seeing all my pet birdies' little footprints in the snow when I bring their feeders out. Luckily for us, the snow is long gone here, but when I took this picture earlier in the month I looked forward to seeing all the footprints in the morning. Putting the bird feeders out in the crisp morning air is how I start every day! I enjoy this little ritual very much, and thought this picture a good way to share it.

Of course, linking up at Amy's!

While Wearing Heels

Please stop back this week to see posts about my birthday party, which was very successful :-)



Wednesday, March 27, 2013


For those of you who read regularly; first of all, you rock.

Secondly, I will not be posting this week due to preparations for my birthday party this Friday.

I can't wait to share with you my event planning process, recipes, hosting tips and tricks (from someone who works full time!), and craft tutorials.

I'll be taking photos CONSTANTLY for the next few days, as you can imagine, and hope to have postings ready next week.

Until then, stay crafty my friends...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Magic Gift Wrap Combo

Gift wrapping takes a role reversal...

Wrapping presents. It's an OCD nightmare.

I tend to obsess over tucking every corner and folding every edge, it's true, but choosing what materials to wrap a gift in is a sigh of relief from the logistics of actually shaping said materials around a non-cubic object.

So, when I had a couple going away gifts to make presentable, I preoccupied my brain with what wrapping paper and ribbon I should use and tried not to worry about the rest. I have to say, the end result made me very happy.

And no one noticed I completely wrecked the bottom corners. Sweet.

I've noticed that an overwhelming majority of gift wrapping (yes, I notice these things) is a solid paper with a patterned bow. I decided it was time to turn that trend upside down:

I had also noticed burlap wired ribbon popping up here and there online.
THEN I noticed burlap wired ribbon in the outdoor bins at Micheal's.
THEN I noticed the $.99 price tag on each spool.

I had learned how to make handmade bows this past Christmas by watching some youtube videos and put my new skills to work.

Youtube is, by the way, the fastest way to learn new craft skills, I find. Just search the technique you're looking for, pick a video, and start practicing.

The gingham wrapping paper was also a sale item from the bins at Marhsall's, so this operation ended up costing me next to nothing. It took me a few minutes to get the bows right, but the ribbon was perfect for what I was trying to do.

Moral to the story? I wanted to wrap something nicely and with a unique style. I took a trend I had seen and simply reversed it.

I think this could be a new creative approach to many other crafts as well, don't you think?

Happy Monday! Check my link parties page to see where I'm linking up and see some other really cool blogs...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bad Blogger: Liebster Award

Very very bad blogger...

I've had 3 wonderful bloggers nominate me for a Liebster Award and have yet to complete the tasks. The biggest problem? Finding other blogs that are as "noob" as I am! Finding 11 blogs with less than 200 followers is hard!

Anyway, I am honored to be recognized and am very enthused by these nominations to keep blogging. So thank you VERY much to my three nominators:

Maria at Keeping It Stepford
Jenni at Jenni's Ferris Wheel of Food
Luisa at Living and Learning With Luisa

So here's how it works:
  1. I answer 11 questions from the bloggers that nominated me (totaling 33 questions now, haha)
  2. I write 11 random facts about myself
  3. I nominate 11 other bloggers (less than 200 followers each)
  4. I give them all 11 questions to answer
Okie doke? Here we go...

Maria Asked Me:
1.  Do you have any pets? Yes! One princess kitty witty: Nova. And hopefully a puppy on the way???
2.  What is your favorite restaurant? The Mountain Brauhaus in Gardiner, NY mmmmm German food...
3.  Looking back, when you were growing up did you think you would be in the place you are now? Yeah pretty much.
4.  Has anyone ever said you look like someone famous? Drew Barrymore
5.  What is one goal you would like to achieve within the next 3 years? A successful annual vegetable garden
6.  What is your favorite holiday? Samhain (Halloween)
7.  If you could hang out with any celebrity who would it be? Tom Waits
8.  Snow Bunny or Sun Worshipper? BRING ON THE SUN!!!!
9.  What is your favorite band or singer? The Rolling Stones
10.  If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? I would have six arms so I can multitask better
11.  What is a book you recommend?  Anything you can learn something from.

Jenni Asked Me:
1) Why did you start blogging? To journal the adventure of me and Tim's first house
2) First or last to leave the party? Last
3) White or red wine? White in Summer, Red every time else
4) What is the one thing you love most about yourself. I'm a good communicator
5) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Here.
6) Do you prefer to use an electronic or regular paper calendar? Google Calendar on my tablet!
7) What is your favorite type of food? Hot and lots of it
8) Do you love of loathe your birthday? LOVE. My birthday lasts about a week and a half, usually...
9) Where do you most like to take your vacations? Krumville, NY
10) What was your favorite cartoon growing up? I don't remember... Wile E. Coyote, perhaps? Maybe Sponge Bob, though...
11) Do you prefer cats or dogs? Both. And as many of them as I can get my hands on!

Luisa Asked Me:
1.  What is your favorite Pinterest board? All of the outdoor decor boards. Gets my brain going!
2.  How much time would you estimate you spend on your blog daily? 1-2 hours, but never on weekends. Tim and I ditch the electronics on weekends as much as we can.
3.  Who is your inspiration/favorite blogger? Definitely Amy at While Wearing Heels, she answers all my silly questions
4.  Where is your favorite place to shop for home decor? I enjoy Antique shops, but I'm typically more successful at big box stores like Michael's and Home Goods
5.  Where is your favorite place to vacation? Krumville, NY
6.  What is your favorite crockpot dish?  Feel free to share recipe ;-) Shredded chicken for enchiladas, but I won't share my recipe because it hasn't come out quite perfect yet...
7.  Do you have hoarding tendencies? I can't throw out pretty bottles or jars. It's impossible. Luckily, I've found uses for them.
8.  What do you change out the most in home decor? The table settings, definitely
9.  Do you feel like you are living the life you want to live or is there something else that you want to do or wish you were doing differently? I'm very happy right now, but I want to eventually own my own business I think.
10.  If so, what’s keeping you from doing it?  If not, good for you! Experience and $$, but both of those will come with time...
11.  If you had no electronics whatsoever, what would you be doing right now? Crafting probably haha

OK! That answers that.  As if you haven't learned enough about me at this point, here's 11 random facts about me:
  1. I'm part Mexican and part Norwegian (among other things), but you can only see the Norwegian
  2. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Cello Performance from Syracuse University
  3. I've been to Brazil
  4. I (for the most part) can't STAND pastels
  5. I've played my cello in arenas packed with more than 25,000 people
  6. I've been a professional musician since I was in 9th grade
  7. I'm on an album with Art Garfunkel and John Sebastian
  8. I grew up in a town named Krumville (yes, it actually exists)
  9. I'm an amateur mixologist
  10. I try to eat a mostly Paleo diet
  11. I just learned how to split wood a couple weeks ago
There you have it! All the silly information about me you never knew you wanted to know! 

And now, may I present the nominees:

Disclaimer: At this point, some of these blogs may or may not have more than 200 followers. I did the best I could...

Mellywood's Mansion 
Simplistically Sassy 
Prairie Girl to Southern Bell
Rustic Farmhouse
Crafty Biggers 
Heart Made
Mish Mashed Mama
Watch Out, Martha!
The Crafty Woman
The Pin Junkie
Whistle and Ivy

Here are your 11 questions, nominees:
  1. What is the purpose of blogging, to you?
  2. Satin or Lace?
  3. Twine or Leather?
  4. Sequins or Pearls?
  5. What has been your hardest learned lesson in Blogland?
  6. What's one suggestion you have for new bloggers?
  7. Situation: The house is a disaster, you walk in the door and your phone goes off. Company will arrive in 15 minutes... what do you do?
  8. What's your favorite thing to put on the table when company comes over?
  9. Do you enjoy being a guest or being a host more?
  10. If you could grow any plant in any quantity, what would it be?
  11. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
Please comment below with a link to your post if you choose to participate. I'm really interested to see what you all have to say! Thanks again to my nominators and thanks in advance to all my nominees for playing along!


Quick and Easy Candle Craft!

Here's an easy and fun project suggested to me by my mom, who is a professional candlemaker.

She bought me these floating candle wicks and explained that you can get creative by using food dye to color the water they float in and choosing pretty glass containers.

Pretty glass containers, you say? To the mason jars!!!

I grabbed the floating wicks, the food coloring, and a couple of my smaller jars.

First, I filled the jar with warm water, then I added green and blue dye until I got the deep teal I was looking for.

Then I used a teaspoon to add a bit of canola oil as a top layer.

Drop the floating wick on top and there you go!

I think it came out really nicely! The cool thing about this project is that there are lots of variables to play with. You can choose any type of glass container, mix any colors you want, do singular candles or a set of them, decorate the glass container, and the ideas go on and on...

The floating wicks can be ordered online, though I'm not sure where these ones specifically came from, and are not expensive. The food dye is also very reasonable and something that can be used for other projects.

Cheap supplies? Recycled materials?
Sounds like a Frugal Freshman craft to me!

Happy weekend everybody!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Things Thursday: 3/21/13

I can't believe it's Thursday already!

On Tuesday I posted about my little dining room re-do, which I am presently enjoying very much! Turns out I'm not the only one embracing the recent season change. There are so many beautiful spring decor ideas floating around!

I've come across a couple particularly special posts I'd like to share with you guys today... enjoy, and be inspired!

Diane at An Extraordinary Day changed up her dining room as well, but she really went all out with the decor! I thought this setting was just beautiful and, again, features a color scheme that is bold AND springy. The blue tinted glass brings it all together perfectly!

The other spring decor project I'd like to feature this week is this handmade figurine... Amy at While Wearing Heels touched my rabbit nerve with this creation. I'm a total sucker for anything rabbit themed, and a rustic rabbit made of barn-wood? Almost too much for me to handle. I love how earthy it is, while also representing a clear image of springtime. Amazing!

These two ladies have some seriously good taste. I can't wait to see what else they come up with!

Almost to the weekend! Look for another craft tutorial from me in tomorrow morning's post :-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Frugal Spring Dining Room Makeover

Sorry I've been a little M.I.A. the last couple days, this Freshman Homemaker was busy, well, homemaking!

My normal Musical Tuesday post will have to wait for next week. I've given the dining room a decor makeover that I can't wait to share with you!

Last week, for Happy Things Thursday, I featured Living and Learning with Luisa with her up-cycled flower vase centerpiece project.

It was such an adorable homemade centerpiece that I had to try it for myself!

Luisa chose a very light palette, but I am incapable of doing so. I took the route of a much bolder color scheme. To each their own, right?

Here's my dining room as of earlier last week...

I've gotten to associating the blue with the winter months because it was our most used tablecloth this season, and I had no centerpiece (or any decor, really) to speak of.

Off to Michael's and Marhsall's I went for a bargain shopping trip. I got a new tablecloth, a new set of place-mats, and the supplies I needed to create my centerpiece.

I have been trying my best not to buy these little guys for weeks. Not because I didn't like them, I LOVE them, but because I couldn't justify the expense for a couple little figurines. Lo and behold, this time they were on sale for less than a dollar each! That pushed me over the edge and in the basket they went!

Self adhesive ribbon tape in 24 beautiful vibrant colors!? Yes, yes, and yes.

This gift wrap was on sale by the registers at Marshall's for 50% off. With it's cute vintage newspaper print, how could I resist?

The pedestal was on sale for next to nothing because of an imperfection in the glass. Can you see it? Neither can I. In the cart it goes...

The mason jars are from my collection, of course. Which, by the way, is getting low! I'll have to keep my eye out for them next time Tim and I hit the antique stores.

To make my new centerpiece, I started by cutting a square out of the wrapping paper just a bit larger than the surface of the pedestal.

Then I traced the outline onto the back of the paper.

By cutting just an inch or so inside the outline, I created a nice cover that (sort of) matches the contours of the pedestal.

It didn't turn out perfect because my scissors are AWFUL. Note to self, buy real (sharp!) scissors for my next project.

The print on the paper is fun with all the advertisements. I saw this complimenting flowers well, for some reason. Not sure why, but we're rolling with it.

I'm sure there was a better way to do this, but I wanted to be able to remove the paper if I wanted to so I chose ye ol' scotch tape to hold the paper down.

Again, not perfect, but still better than just using the flat white. Boring! Not to mention my bird figurines would have disappeared against another white porcelain surface... unacceptable.

I spread all the adhesive ribbons out on the table and picked four pairs of colors that struck me. These were to be my decorations for the mason jars.

The ribbon worked wonderfully and stuck right to he glass! All I had to do was measure the length and press it down with my fingers. Bonus: It comes off easily too, in case I change colors for the summer.

These are my flower vases for the centerpiece!

Slight hang-up: trying to put all four of them, with flowers, on the pedestal was just too much. You couldn't see the ribbons! So, I spread them about the house...

One goes above the sink in the kitchen... 

One goes on the coffee table in the living room (please excuse the flash, light was NOT cooperating)...

And the other two make my centerpiece...

 Much better! Now my dining room feels a little more in season.

I'm so much happier with my coffee/blogging space!

Here's the official before and after:

Now if only the WEATHER would catch a hint! Bring on the sunshine!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Creative Leftovers

Tim has a knack for mix-and-matching leftovers into really yummy meals.

So many times, a meal starts with me saying "there's nothing in the fridge." Tim opens the fridge, stares at the contents in silence for a few moments, and then eventually pipes up with "How about we take the leftover _________, mix it with the __________ from yesterday and put it on top of the ______________ we bought?"

Or we just throw everything in a burrito and call it a day.

The combinations, though, are a true skill. Somehow I'm just never feeling that creative once I'm hungry.

This weekend we had two excellent creative leftover meals...

This was a breakfast creation that turned out to not only be very satisfying and nutritional, but can also be gluten and dairy free, depending on the sauce you use. Bonus!

The meat is leftover shredded chicken breast from a slow cooker recipe we had made. We had originally bought the portabello caps for grilling, but ended up steaming them in a fry pan for this recipe. All we did was heat everything up, stack it, and add hot sauce! Easy breakfast noms.

Then we needed a light lunch before a gig Saturday night and we came up with this little display...

Left over smoked salmon from making lunches, cream cheese, and grilled asparagus. We had to use the asparagus pronto, as it doesn't keep, so Tim whipped these up while I finished some house cleaning.

They turned out great! Definitely a light meal, but oh so yummy...

So next time you THINK you have nothing to cook at home, open the fridge and just stare at what's in there for a few minutes... at least it works for Tim.

Any other creative leftover chefs out there???

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Things Thursday: Part Deux!

Spring seems to have everyone bursting at the seams with creative ideas!

I know I'm going BONKERS waiting for the weather to warm up and planting season to begin.

In the mean time, I've been researching ways to "spring up" the house, per se, without just plastering pastel bunnies and eggs everywhere...spring decorating can easily turn into a wishy-washy mess of undecided colors, in my opinion. GOD FORBID I DECORATE IN ANYTHING BUT BOLD STYLISTIC CHOICES.

Did I say that out loud?

Since I found so many inspiring posts in my research, and Thursday was just around the corner, I felt it was a good time to have another Happy Things Thursday and feature some of the bloggers who's posts were particularly impressive!

This teacup garden from The Inspired Room seemed like an easy way to get more plants in the house, without adding too much upkeep. Most of them are small succulents and grasses, so the plants themselves look beautiful, but are not very demanding I would imagine. It would make a fun outing during yard sale season to go out in search for the right teacups to use!

Over at Rooted in Thyme, Jody put together this display at the potting table in her garden. I just love the combination of tarnished metals with the twine, clay and wispy herbs (lavender, I'm assuming). Not to mention it's an area you can continue to add to as you find more pieces at antique shops and garage sales! I'm thinking I'll use some themes from this for the shed, inside OR out!

And one more very inspiring post I found this week was an up-cycling project I came across...

Luisa at Living and Learning With Luisa made these vases out of decorated tin cans. Each can on it's own is pretty, but group a bunch together and add some simple spring flowers and you've got quite the display! I just thought this was adorable and am thinking about doing something similar with all those jars I keep in the closet... hmmmmm

Check out all three of these blogs, they are packed with fun ideas!

Almost to the weekend :-) Hang in there, everyone...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cello is a Percussion Instrument

Rufus Cappadocia

Musical Tuesdays @ The FFH

If you've ever had to take a general music class, you know that instruments are grouped into families...

If you haven't, here's basically how it works:
Musical instruments are categorized by how they produce their sounds. Stringed instruments, obviously, have strings. Those strings are vibrated by some sort of mechanism in order to produce frequencies and their subsequent overtones (aka "notes").

Wind Instruments need air to create vibrations, like flutes and clarinets.

Percussion instruments, well, they are percussive. Something has to hit them.

My instrument, the cello, fits nice and neatly in the category of stringed instruments.

And, as any true artists would have it, the barriers of what cellos are expected to play in this category are being ruthlessly, systematically blown to smithereens.

I've been playing cello professionally for a decade now, and pretty much every gig I've had outside an orchestra was the same type of part writing; long notes, pretty melodies, and maybe some double stops (playing two notes at a time) here and there to make things interesting.

No one was forcing me to play like that, that's just how cello parts were written. I didn't think to play anything else. And for what I was doing, that was working just fine.

But there is something about the size of the cello that makes it very special. It has bulk and power and muscle, yet it is still small enough to exhibit musical finesse and nuance. With these elements combined, an entirely new cellist has evolved.

Did you catch all that? Me neither.

Rufus is one of the first cellists I noticed that was taking percussive cello techniques to an entirely new place. I actually saw him live once, but he was playing with someone else and didn't feature this type of playing a lot. That and I think I was working the venue at the time so I was in and out of the kitchen and couldn't really listen...

Regardless, I stumbled on this video later and realized fully what he was doing. I have no clue HOW he's doing it, but I get what it is he's doing... get it? Got it. Good.

So then my brain got going, especially considering my band Tanager doesn't have a drummer. I play cello and rhythm guitar, so my role has always been to substitute drums. I realized I had already slowly started to do what Rufus has done and had begun to cater to my cello's split personality. I wasn't playing just melodic lines anymore, I had started playing chords and I was playing them in rhythms.

Then I found these guys. The group Crooked Still has rhythm beyond rhythm and not so much as a sign of a drummer. How do they do it? You guessed it. Cello.

Their cellist, Rushad Eggleston, got the rhythmic cello bug too, but has his own take on how to do it. This video doesn't focus entirely on him, but if you find yourself bobbing your head while you listen, you can thank Rushad. That "low part" you're hearing and enjoying is all him and the upright bassist.

This next video is of Sarah Jarosz, a very young (still finishing college) power source for the folk/bluegrass genre. In this video, her cellist is also filling the rhythm role.

Nathaniel Smith is the cellist in this one, and his approach is a bit more subtle than the previous two. The effect, however, is just as poignant. You have another cellist that rhythmically drives the entire ensemble from the bottom end of the chord structure.

I remember even in high school always saying that I enjoyed playing cello as a rhythm instrument, but I didn't realize to what extent other cellists were developing new techniques for it. It's a cool feeling to know that other musicians you listen to have had similar thoughts to your own and acted on them. Makes me feel like I'm part of a movement!

Every instrument is revolutionized periodically. Most of the time I feel like these revolutions are truly realized all too late. We look backwards in time and rever at those who have transformed their medium into something completely different and we say, "Wow, if only something totally new would happen now."

*News Flash* Revolutions are happening. All over the place. You just have to pay attention.

I got lucky, and I happen to be not only alive, but paying attention while my instrument is being transformed.

Pretty cool, right? Now if I could only figure out how to actually PLAY like those guys!

Ha, I'll let you know how that's going next week...