Mental Dumbbells – October 2012

It has been a busy month over here. The Etsy shop opened (THANK YOU for all your kind words on the store), I finished a half marathon with my mom in San Francisco, the Fruit Butter eBook I wrote is launching on November 1st (YAY!), I’ve started a few house projects that will be posted next month, and I read 8 books!

The last few months have been slow in the reading department so I was determined to step it up this month. I cut out a lot of TV watching to make more time for reading and it was well worth it. I haven’t missed a single second of housewife drama or SVU reruns. I’ve even considering cancelling my cable again. When I was living in the apartment I had cut out cable for several years to save money, and found that I didn’t really miss it. I used Netflix and Hulu to watch all my favorites. However, when I moved into my new home, I got a great deal on a cable package, so I splurged and signed up. Now that the deal is over, I may give it up, it’s just so expensive.

Then I’d have more time to read…there were lots of good ones this month.

 

The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis

I scored this book for free through the kindle store and was pleasantly surprised. It was the story of a young girl’s summer vacation in 1957. Throughout the summer she learns to swim in an effort to gain her fathers attention/approval; but ends up finding a friend and her own inner strength, as well as the secret of where her mother disappeared to. I liked the story and it wasn’t a difficult read, though it didn’t suck me in the way others did this month. Each time I put it down, it took me a few pages to get back into the story.

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Wild (From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail)

I can’t remember where or when I purchased this book, but I had seen several articles with Cheryl and was intrigued. I have a a soft spot for biographies, so it’s probably not a surprise that I really liked this book. I enjoyed her writing style; she seems like a fun person to sit and chat with. I can also, somewhat, relate to her search for something more in her life. I thought the story was inspiring as I’ve often dreamed of taking off on an adventure at various points in my life. Who knows, maybe I will one day. Although it won’t be the PCT…I’m not that badass.

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A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy

I read Elie Wiesel’s book a few years back and was very moved by it. So much so, that it still sits on my shelf. Thomas wrote a great book and I would recommend it to everyone. It’s such an amazing personal account from a man who lived through the Holocaust and not only survived, but went on to do some incredible things with his life. It doesn’t just focus on his childhood experiences in Auschwitz, but also what came immediately after and later in life as he grew up. Very inspiring.

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Shut Out

Cheesy clearance book I bought for $1 at the library bookstore. I needed something light after the last few books. This book is about a group of high school students, dating the school Jocks. To stop a rivalry between the Soccer and Football team, the girls decide to go on a sex strike. There is a sweet love story that hides in the book…but I was more bothered that I was reading about high school age girls going on a  sex strike. I think I would have liked the story a little more if the setting had been college or twenty-something’s.

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The Total Money Makeover Workbook

As a single gal, I think it’s a very important for me to have solid finances. This concern multiplied when I bought a house. I don’t have a second income to rely on if I lose my job, and I can’t settle with living paycheck to paycheck anymore. I need an emergency fund to cover things like my broken AC, the washer I had to replace, or the garbage disposal that randomly died earlier this month. It’s not just me that I have to think about too, I have my pup. I watched my parents pay a lot of money for unexpected surgeries for their dogs, and that scared me. The way things were, I couldn’t afford to do the same for my pup if it became necessary. It would break my heart if I couldn’t help him, simply because I didn’t have the money.  Since I’ve recently opened the shop, I also needed to start getting my business finances in order. So I picked up two ‘money’ books this month. My favorite financial author is David Bach, I’ve actually read all his books so I have a good background on the topic. However, I think you can always learn something more, so I picked up the Dave Ramsey workbook.

I wanted to buy the Total Money Makeover book, but it was out of stock at BN which is why I bought the workbook. First let me say that I did learn quite a bit from the workbook. I now have a detailed budget set up, have a new debt plan in place, and I’m even following some of his budget tips. However, I wish I had waited and bought the book as opposed to the workbook. There were lots of little quizzes and word play activities that felt childish. I get what he was doing, trying to switch on the light bulb over people’s head, but I think I would have personally benefited more from the book. 

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The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke

This is the second ‘money’ book I picked up this month. I bought this book primarily because it offered something different. A lot of the advice in this book would counter what you find in other financial books, but she wrote this for a specific demographic and I appreciate that. While I’m not broke, I am young…and sometimes rather fabulous. I’m also trying to change my career which was discussed at length in regards to finances, as was buying a car (which I’ll need to do in the next year or so). It did touch on retirement but not as much as other books. It was written in a question/answer format which was very easy to read and reference.

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Cleopatra’s Daughter: A Novel

LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. It’s fairly long, around 430 pages and I read it in one afternoon, it was that good. I could not put it down. I read while cooking, eating, walking, when I should have been working, etc. It’s a historical fiction novel that chronicles the life of Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s children, particularly their twins, Selene and Alexander. The author does take some liberties with the story for the benefit of the reader, which she explain at length in the end. However, it was mostly factual and beautifully written. I have been a fan of Greek Mythology and Roman History since I was in high school, but I think the way it was written would be entertaining to those that are just looking for a good story. Did I tell you that I LOVED this book? Yeah.

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The Well and the Mine

I bought this book at Costco thinking that it was a mystery book. In part it was, but there was so much more to the story that I didn’t expect. It follows a family living in a coal mining town in the 1930s. The story is written chronologically, but told through the eyes of each character. For example the little girl, Tess, tells you about what they were doing at school, then her sister picks up the story from her viewpoint as they make their way back home. I’m probably not explaining that well, but it was a very interesting way to tell each characters personal story while progressing through the bigger family story. This was another book that I really enjoyed, because it was fascinating to hear about a world that I know so little about.

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*The book links in the post are affiliate, but I was not provided with any of these books to review. All the opinions are mine and I paid for each book out of my own pocket.

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

A friend was recently raving to me about a stuffed acorn squash recipe. It made me think of how to create something for my favorite type of squash, Spaghetti.

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

I LOVED this recipe. Not only is it delicious, but it made for a great presentation. It was also really simple, has only 4 ingredients, and is done in less than 30 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Serves: 2

1 small spaghetti squash

1 Cup Marinara Sauce

1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

8 Turkey Meatballs (I use the frozen type from Trader Joes)

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Cut the squash open and remove the seeds.

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Fill a large microwaveable dish with about 1/2 inch of water. Place the squash in the dish, cut side down. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and cut several holes to vent.

Microwave for 6-9 minutes (depending on size). I only made one half since this was lunch for me, but I can typically fit both halves in a large dish and microwave the squash for 10 minutes total. The squash is done when a knife inserted into the rind slides out easily.

Once the squash is done, cook the meatballs per package directions. They only take a few minutes in the microwave, so you’re almost done.

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

While the meatballs warm, use a fork to shred the squash, but leave the strands in the shell.

Chopped the warmed meatballs into quarters (or leave them whole, your choice).

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Mix the marinara sauce and and meatballs, pour the mixture into the squash shells.

Top each shell with cheese and broil until the cheese melts. You could sprinkle a little panko on top to give it a nice crunch as well.

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

DELICIOUS!

Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Rock & Roll Arizona Training Plan

I had no overarching goals for my last half marathon, other than to enjoy the experience of finishing the race with my mom. The simple of joy of doing the run with her was enough for me. Everything else was just a bonus.

Now I find myself 13 weeks out from my next half marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona. I have my hotel reserved, my flight booked, and my cousin on notice that I’ll be visiting so I can see her and her two beautiful children (can’t wait!).

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This time around, to push myself a little harder, I’m setting a goal. I would like to finish in under 3 hours. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m not a fast runner. I don’t ever expect to be. In all honesty I enjoy walking more, but for my health right now, I’d like to push myself a little harder this year. Finishing this half marathon in under 3 hours would be a PR for me and a huge accomplishment for me.

I’m using the same training plan that I used last time with the addition of an extra week up front. I’ll be using a Galloway inspired method that involves both jogging and walking throughout. I’ll also be adding a strength schedule in as well and using biking & dancing on my cross training days.

 

 

This will be my first Rock ‘n’ Roll race. I was suppose to run RNR San Diego Marathon a few years back, but injured myself in a training run before the race. Any tips from those that have done this race before?

EvoLovely Designs – Etsy Store Now Open!

Do you ever dream about what life would be like if you were to win the lottery? Would you retire to a tropical island or keep working? In my dream world, I own my own businesses, ideally a ‘home decor’ shop (a la West Elm) and a dance/yoga studio. Not together, mind you, though that would be interesting. I have no desire to just stop working if I were to come into some money. Though there would be a glorious vacation around Europe…and a new car (my 14 year old civic is on it’s last leg).

I obviously haven’t won the lottery lately, and I can’t invest in a brick & mortar store right now. However, I have the next best thing and I am ridiculously thrilled about it. Welcome to my little launch party!

EvoLovely Designs Etsy Shop

I’ve opened my own Etsy store!

EvoLovely Designs has technically been open for about a month so I could work out the kinks and learn my around this new world. I came up with the idea of opening my own Etsy store a few years back, but I kept putting it off, for various reasons. I finally decided to just do it, even if it wasn’t perfect. I kept wanting to have all the answers, but that’s not possible so I’m going to just enjoy the journey. I came up with the name because I kept describing my dream store as a lovely evolution of simple things, handmade designs, and vintage finds. My hope is that even if people don’t buy anything, that they can find something beautiful every time they stop by.

Below are the different sections of the shop, though I’m always coming up with new items to add. Aside from the vintage finds, all items are handmade by me.

BONUS: You guys have always been such an amazing support system for me while I’m on this change of destiny/career journey. If anyone would like to purchase an item in the shop, please use CMD2012 to save 10%. This coupon code will be active through the rest of 2012, use as often as you like. If you like anything, but want different colors, styles, volume…let me know, I’m happy to work with you on a custom order [contact me through Etsy or via email: evolovelydesigns@gmail.com]

String Art Designs

My favorite type of art to make would be string art designs. I find it cathartic to come up with new styles that haven’t been seen yet, and figure out a technique to layer colors and incorporate mixed media. I have so many different ideas bouncing around my head all the time, so they were the obvious item to put in the shop. I have a few new styles going up soon for the holidays as well as fun designs for year round. As with all the items in the shop, new items will be added all the time.

String Art - Birds

Sugar Skull String Art - Day of the Dead String Art - JOY Honeycomb Gold

Jewelry/Hair

I’ve actually been making jewelry since I was little. I was the little girl that made thread bracelets and walked door to door in my neighborhood selling them for a quarter or a dime. It was my ‘lemonade stand’. I’ve evolved a bit since then, but have continued to make jewelry over the years, selling them in various venues.

Multi Crystal Gold Thread Earrings Sparrow Peach Teardrop Earrings

Blackberry White Doily Dahlia Hoop Earring

Vintage Dahlia Lace Bobby Pins

Body Scrubs

One part of this process I’ve really enjoyed is finding creative packaging options. This is my favorite. Each body scrub comes in a 8oz Square Mason Jar with a Daisy Cut lid. So when you’re done with the scrub, you can use the jar as a drinking glass. Just wash, pop a straw through the daily lid, and off you go!

Current Fragrances (more coming soon):

French Vanilla Mint

Lime Coconut

Cranberry Clove

Green Tea & Aloe

Tropical Pina Colada

Butt Naked (yes, that’s the fragrance and it’s amazing!)

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

 Body Scrub Mason Jar Daisy Lid Mason Jar Daisy Lid

Home Decor

I’m currently working on a few more items for the home decor section of the shop, including some more office supplies, ombre dish towels, and soy candles.

Magnets

Sherbert Dahlia Magnets

Vintage Finds

This section will be changing all the time as I find new, fun antiques and vintage items. Right now I have an amazing fabric stamp, but I’m constantly on the look out for new old items.

Vintage Fabric Textile Stamp

Who else has an Etsy store? Please feel free to link up in the comments to share your shops with the group!

Spiced Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Note: The CrockPot Fruit Butter eBook is NOW AVAILABLE! Click here for more details.

 

FINALLY!

The temperatures have finally started to cool down, the next week should be in the 70’s with possible rain. It’s starting to feel like fall around here. Autumn is by far my favorite season. I love the cooler temps and windy/rainy weather more than I love the 90 degree temps (or more often 105+ in my area).

Also something to be excited about…sugar pumpkins are out!

I may be the last person to realize, but you don’t eat those big pumpkins. I always assumed that you could either carve them or use them for pies. Turns out they are grown specifically for carving and not meant to be eaten (the seeds are the exception). You actually want to purchase Sugar Pumpkins or Pie Pumpkins for baking and pumpkin goodies. They are the smaller pumpkins that typically run about 1-2 lbs.

This year I bought two for the best treat of all…Pumpkin Butter! (Finally, right?! I’ve only been promising you this recipe for a year).

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

I’ve recently made pumpkin butter out of canned puree and fresh pumpkins. The texture is the same, so you can actually use either type of pumpkin you prefer. I can usually find pumpkin puree year round in the grocery store, so I’d go with the novelty of the Sugar/Pie Pumpkin if they are in season.

In this recipe I chose not to use the standard Pumpkin Pie spice, and measured out separate spices which led to a ‘spicier’ flavor profile, mostly due to the ginger. You can cut back on the ginger if you prefer a less spicy butter. Or add 1/2 up front, then add the rest later on if you’d like.

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

To add extra flavor, in place of water, I used apple juice. I also threw a few cinnamon sticks into the crock pot while the butter cooked down. I later added a little more cinnamon for taste.

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves…Smelled like Thanksgiving!

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

To my knowledge, there is no super easy way to cut up a pumpkin. This is the best way I know how and it works pretty well. It will still be a bit messy, but it’s rather quick. I use the same technique for melons and pineapple.

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Cut off the top and bottom of the pumpkin using a sharp knife [insert knife safety discussion here, I don’t want anyone losing a finger!].

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Set the gourd on it’s end and start cutting down the side to remove the rind. This takes a little concentration since the pumpkin will start to fold on itself a bit.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL. 

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Once you have all the outside cut off, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Then chop the meat into chunks.

Toss the pumpkin with the sugar and spices.

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Don’t throw out those seeds! I was surprised, there were a ton of seeds in those little pumpkins. These would make a great snack when roasted and seasoned!

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Spiced Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Makes: About 2 pints

 

  • Meat of 2 Sugar/Pie Pumpkins
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (I used light brown)
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks, plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

 

1. Remove the rind of the pumpkin, and scoop out the seeds. Chop the meat of the pumpkin into 1 inch chunks.

2. Toss the sugar and ground spices with the chopped pumpkin.

3. Add the pumpkin mixture to the Crockpot. Add the apple juice and cinnamon sticks. Set the Crockpot on low and close the lid.

4. Let the pumpkin cook overnight or while your at work (about 8 hours). When soft enough, remove the cinnamon sticks, and use an immersion blender to mash the pumpkin into a puree. You can also use a blender, food process, or even a potato masher for this step. Add the 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and stir to combine.

5. Change the Crockpot temperature to high and vent or remove the lid. Let the mixture cook down until very thick, there should be no visibly liquid/water left. I cooked it on high for about 3 hours, but this step can vary per batch. Your batch may need more or less than 3 hours.

6. Once it’s done, let it cool. Depending on your preference you may want to blend it for a smoother consistency. I used a magic bullet to blend the mixture. I will warn you, since the finished product is so thick (you’ve cooked most of the water out at this point), you may need to add a bit of water to the blender. Add a tablespoon as a time if necessary to help the mixture blend more easily.

 

Test it out right away and spread it on a piece of bread/toast. Absolutely delicious!

Fresh Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Of course you could also spread it on pancakes or waffles, mix into yogurt or pudding, or use it in place of jelly in a PB & J…the possibilities are endless.

My favorite way is to mix it in with some Greek yogurt and walnuts.

Mixed into Greek Yogurt_1 

You can ‘Can’ this recipe and save for a future date, or pour into clean canning jars and keep in your fridge. Fruit butters typically keep for about  a month if closed tightly and kept in the fridge [I bet you eat it long before that!].

Hope you enjoy as much I do.

San Francisco – Nike Women’s Half Marathon 2012

What’s the one thing that a blogger should NEVER forget when travelling? Well, it’s the one, and ONLY thing I left at home on accident. My Aircard, meaning I had no internet in the hotel while I was in San Francisco this past weekend. Yes, I could have paid the ridiculously high fee to get internet, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So let’s recap a great long weekend, shall we? I took Friday through Tuesday off of work to travel to San Francisco with my mom for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. On Friday I caught up on errands around the house, packed, and the headed to my parents house for dinner and to spend the night. We got up bright and early on Saturday for our flight which was relatively painless. We arrived in San Francisco around 1pm and took a shuttle to the hotel which was near Union Square. Yes, it’s far more expensive to stay in that area, but we wanted to be near the start of the race on Sunday morning.

We immediately headed to pick up our race packets, hoping it would be a quick process. So WRONG. The line looped around union square twice and took almost 2 hours. When I did this race in 2009, we picked up our packets on Friday, it took only minutes. If I have the chance to do this race again in the future, I’m coming in on Friday just to beat the last minute crowds.

After picking up the packets, we went straight to dinner, which also took a few hours. Obviously this was to be expected since there were 25,000 runners in town that night. We ate at Cheesecake Factory and it was delicious, well worth the wait.

After dinner we decided to wander around town a bit, it was  gorgeous evening.

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The weather was fantastic over the weekend, perfect for the race. In fact, I was bummed to go home since our weather is still in the 90’s. I wish the fall weather would get here already.

We called it an early night and headed back to the hotel fairly early. Turns out we were also in for a show. When we got back to the hotel, I noticed they were setting up some sort of stage on the street outside our hotel window. I thought it might be for the race, but turns out they were hosting a free street dance show.

San Francisco_NWM2012_9

The show featured all types of dancers and a live band. It was really fun to watch from the comfort of our room and went on for about 3 hours.

On Sunday morning we woke up about 5:15 am after getting pretty much NO sleep. I’m not sure if it was the nerves/excitement about the race, or the caffeinated tea we drank late that night (we thought it was decaf), but we had trouble getting much sleep. I think in all, we probably got about 3-4 broken hours.

It didn’t matter much, the excitement woke me up, and we made our way to the starting line. Whereas the packet pick up was a mess (Nike – please mail them next year!), the starting line was great. Crowded, yes…but organized and easy to navigate.

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I love the feeling at the start of this race. There’s something really cool about dancing and cheering with 25,000 other women while we all warm up to run together. Lots of fun.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures during the race it’s self since I only had my phone. The weather was PERFECT, cool and even misty at times.

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Mile 6 – (not the only) but the longest gradual uphill of the race.

My mom rocked the race and I am so incredibly proud of her. It was such an honor to be part of her first half marathon experience.

We finished around 3:30 and collected our Tiffany necklaces from the hot firemen. Which, let’s be honest, is why we do this race (oh yes, and raising money for an amazing cause). We wandered the finish line expo a bit but quickly made our way to the bus line to get back to the hotel. The bus line wait was LONG, and it felt longer because standing in line after going 13 miles is the last thing you want to do. Probably the most painful part of the journey is standing in that damn line. I found it funny that they had three food stands set up along the line which might give you an idea of how long it actually was.

We finally made our way back to the hotel and showered/ice bathed and decided a celebratory dinner was in order. (DUH!) I used Google walking directions to my favorite SF restaurant, Bistro Boudin Cafe, and we set off. I wish I had take a picture of the route I directed us to. I’m certain I found the tallest/steepest hill to walk up in San Francisco. Seriously, people were actually giving us words of encouragement as we climbed that sucker. It was worse than the race. I will NEVER live that down with my mom, I should never be allowed to direct us again after that one.

We finally made it to the restaurant and ate the BEST dinner EVER while overlooking the harbor.

We shared a shrimp cocktail (their cocktail sauce is made with horseradish and absolutely delicious) and sourdough bread. Then we split a crab Mac & Cheese, and an amazing Cobb salad.

San Francisco_NWM2012_18

And because we could no longer walk any further due to that blasted hill on the way to dinner, we took the trolley home.

San Francisco_NWM2012_17

There was a quick stop for a sweet treat on the way home, and an early evening to catch up on the sleep we missed the night before.

Monday was our last day in San Francisco and it started out with a text from Southwest telling me our flight was delayed a few hours. They later changed our flight time 4 more times, but at least we had more time to explore the city. So we took the 1 mile walk down to the wharf to check out the Ferry Building.

San Francisco_NWM2012_10

I’ve always wanted to go to the Ferry Building, but never had a chance until this trip.

 San Francisco_NWM2012_11

I loved every gourmet second. We got there just as they were opening so it wasn’t too busy. I picked up some of the coolest snacks; including Coconut Jam(!), Dark Chocolate Sauce, a Coconut Chocolate Bar, and finally had a chance to try the famed Blue Bottle Coffee.

 San Francisco_NWM2012_12

Cafe Mocha – delicious.

I also picked up some sweets to eat back at the hotel after lunch. Lunch was a chili sourdough bowl at Boudins, then we tried French macaroons that I bought that morning.

San Francisco_NWM2012_13

Oh, yeah, and a Gingerbread Cupcake. Absolutely scrumptious.

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Shortly after we headed to the airport, while standing in another long line (a theme for the weekend) at the check in counter, Southwest moved our flight an hour earlier. They had to move us to the front of the line and push us through security just so we could make it to our gate in time to…you guessed it…stand in another line since the plane hadn’t actually boarded.

Overall it was a GREAT weekend with my mom and I can’t wait to do it all again. In fact, if we don’t get into the Nike race next October, we’re planning a girls weekend to Santa Barbara. I’m counting the days.

…and for those keeping score, this means I can cross off two items from my 30 in 30 list. I’ve done 1 of 3 half marathons (I have another schedule in January and the 3rd in April),and spent a girls weekend with my mom in San Francisco.

 

If you made it all the way to the end you get a gold star…this was a long one. Thanks!

Etsy Finds Friday – Rugged

I’m running so late today that my Etsy Find Friday is going to show up on Saturday, sorry about that. I’m actually on my way up to San Francisco this weekend to do the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with my mom so Friday was a lot of packing, running errands, cleaning, and a last minute foodie photo shoot for the eBook. I’m ridiculously excited about our girls weekend, and half marathon, that I can’t stand it. Lots of fun! I’ll have some posts up during the weekend about our trip, and my Mom’s first half marathon. She’s already a total ROCKSTAR in my book, but I can’t wait to cross that finish line on Sunday with her.

This weeks favorite things were feeling a little rustic and rugged. I was going to create a favorite finds list for men, but aside from the first shop, these aren’t actually targeted toward men. However, they all have that rugged/rustic style that I like in my men (weird transition…let’s move on, shall we?). As usual, these shop owners do not know me and have not paid for this feature. I just have a love for small business and want to share some of the awesome shops I find while shopping for myself.

 

Sam’s Naturals

I was initially drawn to this shop by their graphic labeling and candle packaging. Then I saw a listing for Pumpkin Castille soap. I know this company is targeted toward men, but I want Pumpkin castile soap too! Or the Autumn scented candle…or the Aloe Deodorant. I mean, not all ladies want their armpits to smell like a ‘spring shower’, am I right? I’m impressed by their selection and am considering one of their gift sets for me someone special on my Christmas list this year.

Pumpkin Castile Liquid Soap Castille Liquid Hand Soap Vegan and Gentle

Aloe Natural Deodorant for Men Gifts for Men Made in America Mens Vegan Deodorant Natural Ingredient Deodorant Stick for a Man Autumn Ironwood Soy Candle in Jelly Jar - AUTUMN Scent - Housewarming Gift, Soy, Candle

 

Urban Wood Goods

LOVE this style in this shop, seriously smitten. They create industrial modern furniture using reclaimed wood and it’s absolutely beautiful. I’m seriously enamored with the wine bar and the fact that they use ‘old wood’ which is 100-200 years old. Each piece looks like it has a story which is exactly the the style I adore. Industrial Reclaimed Wine Bar and Rack (150 year plus "old growth" wood) free shipping 48"  l x 11.5" w x 35" tall

Industrial Reclaimed wood media/tv stand (150 year plus "old growth" wood)  48"  l x 14" deep  w x 20" tall Reclaimed Wood and steel industrial shop Stool. made in chicago 25" counter height

 

Copper River Bag Co

I found something unique when I stumbled across Copper River Bags, and it wasn’t just that they sell attractive handcrafted leather camera bags. They have a 100 year warranty. Yes, you read that write. They promote the high quality of their bags by offering a 100 year warranty. I’m fairly certain I won’t live another 100 years, so I picture these rugged leather bags being lovingly passed down in a family. Stock isn’t limited to camera bags, they also have impressive messenger bags and other handcrafted goods.

Safari Camera Bag - Black - Thick Full Grain Leather - Padded Camera Insert Divider - Padded Bottom - Made in the U.S.A. - Water Resistant

 Camera Safari Bag - Serengeti - Full Grain Leather - Medium Padded Camera Insert - Hand Crafted - Made in the U.S.A. - Water Resistant 14" Manhattan Camera Bag - Desert Sand -Full Grain Leather - Large Padded Camera Insert Divider with Padded Bottom - Made in the U.S.A.

The $6 Tile Project

One thing I’ve noticed about being a homeowner is that you must have a little savings set aside, because when you least expect it, something will break. I miss having a landlord sometimes. Case in point, my garbage disposal died last week. Granted, I don’t expect my appliances to give me two weeks notice (wouldn’t that be nice), but this is getting a little out of hand. In the two years I’ve lived in this home, my washing machine has burned out, my AC has stopped working, the oven heats up hotter than the sun, and now my garbage disposal died. I should also mention it all happened right after my home warranty expired. 

This is where a contingency fund, and a DIY attitude comes in handy. Of all the appliances that could break, the disposal is fairly inexpensive, so I’ll count myself lucky for now. Since I was clearing out the kitchen cabinet to replace the disposal, I also decided now would be the perfect time to cross another little ‘to do’ off the list.

This is the cabinet below the sink. This picture is about 2 yeas old, but it generally looks this bad. The pipes create a bit of an organizational challenge. I’ve also found that the inexpensive cabinetry bubbles badly if it gets wet. I needed a fix for that STAT. 

 

First step was to fix the garbage disposal, so everything had to come out. I ordered the replacement disposal through Amazon since it was cheaper than the model at Lowes, and it had great reviews. At Lowe’s it would have cost me about $240, but through Amazon I scored the disposal and necessary electrical plug for about $150. I did have to go to Lowes for a small container of Plumbers Putty, but overall Amazon offered the best deal.

Installation was fairly easy and took a little over an hour. I did have some help, but it could be done by one person if necessary. The hardest part was lifting the heavy unit up to attach it to the sink. We ended up propping it up with an upside down bucket which helped keep it level while we attached it.

Under Sink Tiling_1

It’s amazingly quiet, I never realized how loud my old model was before this was installed.

Now for the fun (& surprisingly easy) part!

To keep the bottom of the cabinet from getting destroyed by any leaks or spills, I decided to add tile. I picked up 6 vinyl tiles from Lowes for less than $1 each. Vinyl tile gets a bad rap for being dated (hey I know, I grew up with it too), but it’s come a long way. I was really impressed with the styles they now have available, they are a great knock off for stone if you’re looking to do an inexpensive update.

Under Sink Tiling_2

The tiles are self adhesive so all I had to do was cut them down to size using a box cutter. The project took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. The hardest part of installing the tiles was that the cabinet isn’t square, so some edges were difficult to meet, but it worked out.

Under Sink Tiling_3

Not bad for a $6 makeover. Pretty and functional.

Etsy Find Friday – Random

I love ‘Favorite Find’ posts, and I don’t do them nearly enough. Since I love ETSY and shopping through small businesses, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite Etsy finds each week. The owners of these shops do not know me and I’m not in any way being compensated for posting about them. I simply find these as I shop for myself, and love their designs enough to share them with you.

 

Vintage and Handmae by The Cupcake Kid

The Cupcake Kid has quite a few items in their shop that are really lovely, but they made this weeks favorite list for the letterpress type wood block. I love that instead of selling them piece by piece, they are listed as full word sets. I’m coveting all of these at the moment, especially the DREAM set. Wouldn’t that look great set out on a bookcase or desk!?

Boo Halloween decoration wood blocks vintage letterpress letter block set HOORAY word letterpress type metal blocks - romantic happy vintage typography weddin party home decor

DREAM romantic inspirational letterpress type wood metal blocks

 

Amelia Bath and Body by Janet Amelia

I was immediately drawn to Janet’s creations when I saw Coconut Vanilla Bean Vegan Soap. Then I saw the variety of other things offered, like Strawberry Champagne Sugar Scrub and Organic Chocolate Clay Face Mask. They all sound so naturally decadent.

Strawberry and Champagne Sugar Scrub Sophisticated Fragrance  - Phthalate Free Paraben Free Face Mask Organic Chocolate Face Masque Natural Facial Certified Organic Chocolate Kaolin Clay - Organic Dark Chocolate Face Mask

Coconut Vanilla Bean Soap - Vegan Phthalate Free Soap

 

Amaya Handmade by Jen

This is a shop that I’ve actually purchased from. I can vouch for the high quality of her work and the designs are stunning. She uses vintage and repurposed fabrics to make the most amazing items. Below are the two items I purchased recently. One was suppose to be a gift, but I’m…ummm…keeping it for myself. I just can’t give it up.

Fold over clutch, linen and vintage brown leather, vintage doily

Fold over clutch, clutch purse, silk, vintage leather and lace

 

Any other Etsy shoppers out there? I always love new shop recommendations.

Mental Dumbbells – September 2012

This was another month light on pleasure reading. Like last month, I’ve been scouring small business and web design books and I think it will be better to create a separate post in the future of all those books. When I pull those from the list, I finished 2 books this past month.

I’ve missed reading random fiction lately, so I hope to pick that back up in October.

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Sometimes when I’m wandering aimlessly around Barnes & Nobel, I find myself in the high school reading list aisle. I keep wanting to read more of the classics and inexpensive copies are usually set out right around the start of the school year. I’m not sure if this specific book is considered a classic, but I was surprised that it was originally published in 1999 and I had NEVER heard of it.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s the life story of a boy transitioning into high school as told in a series of letters from the boy to an unnamed person. He’s unedited, funny, and genuine. I found him endearing and in his own way, an enlightened old soul.

I believe this book just came out as a movie this past month. I’m not sure how they would do that given the writing style, so I may have to check it out.

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Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community

As a long time fan of the blog, Oh Joy, as well as Joy’s design work, this was a no brainer. I snapped it up as soon as it was available. There is a TON of information in this book. I’ve been managing various blogs for the past 4 years so I’ve read a lot of blogging books. This book contained much of the traditional info, but I still found plenty of new to me stuff making it well worth it. I loved reading the interviews the most since there’s always something new to learn from other successful bloggers and business owners.

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What have you been reading lately?

 

 

*Book links are affiliate, but I was not provided with these books or paid to share my opinion.