Cocoa and Crafting, but Mostly Cocoa


Every year I tell myself I’m going to start on holiday preparations earlier than the previous year so as to avoid the last minute frantic feelings I inevitably start having right about now.  I’ve spent the week holed up inside desperately trying to finish (start?) all of my holiday cards and handmade gifts and ornaments. I can’t even begin to think about baking or shopping or parties.

My mother-in-law surprised me at the end of last week with a set of these adorable handmade place mats that she made, adorned with ric rac and dancing penguins! They have brought me so much cheer as I sit in the dining room indulging in hot cocoa, which as of late has been more of a crafting fuel than a caloric luxury.

I have a hilarious (well, hilarious to me) story to share with you tomorrow about poor M getting sent on a mission to the Scrapbooking store to buy double-sided tape refills…



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Six Fifty-Eight

I wait at the door wrapped in a cable-knit throw as the dog sniffs and finds a spot to do his business. I can’t help but wonder what today will bring as I recite: “red in the morning, sailor’s warning; red at night, sailor’s delight.”

There are benefits to being up early, though I have friends who would adamantly argue against the notion.

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Procrastination Pinecones

Over Thanksgiving in between laughing with family and friends, eating turkey and pie, playing games, shooting guns and crossbows, and the annual “critter roast” and Charlie Brown tree decorating at my Godparents’ house, my momma managed to squeeze in some time to teach my future sister-in-law and I how to make these ribbon pinecone ornaments.

They’re super-easy and take exactly one Christmas movie length to complete one ornament. (Rather convenient, if you ask me!)

There are many other things that currently demand my attention: finishing up the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, getting organized for the Happy Housewives winter craftstravaganza on Friday, decorating the tree which sits in the living room illuminated with white lights but no decorations, (And considering it’s a pre-lit tree, that’s not much of an accomplishment.) working on my handmade Christmas cards or holiday ornaments (which are not pinecones, mind you) or really a number of other tasks which need to be completed. But instead I perch cross-legged on the couch watching one of eleven holiday movies currently taking up space on the DVR, cutting and folding ribbon and pinning it to styrofoam egg shapes, happily creating. My only regret is that I didn’t think to mix up something yummy to bake in the oven while I “work.”

One day soon, when the weather is less dreary, (and by less dreary I mean that it’s not dark enough to turn on the outside Christmas lights at 1 pm) I will take the time to take some step-by-step photos and make up a tutorial so that you can learn how to waste time making ribbon pinecones also.

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Happy Halloween!

A couple of weeks ago, M and I decided that we were going to make a scarecrow for the front yard. The flowers in the bed are gone except for some mums flanking the steps and the area was looking a little sparse. So that’s what we did.

And as soon as it was in the ground, Mr. Tucker promptly ran up and bit it. (Of course he would.)

They quickly became friends.

A funny story about Pepe… (That’s what hubby named the scarecrow.) One of the neighbors flagged me down the other day to tell me that he got very nervous when he looked out the window and saw someone standing in the yard with his pants hanging down low, looking like he was up to no good. When he came outside to investigate, he saw the top half of the body and laughed himself silly that he was concerned about a scarecrow. I told him that it has scared me half-to-death at least a dozen times so he shouldn’t feel foolish.

With the heavy winds and rain we got this weekend, Pepe fell over and the color in his face ran a little. (Note to self: Sharpie takes artistic liberty with the term “permanent.”) Anyway, we came home on Saturday to find him passed out on the hay bale with his pants halfway down, looking like a drunk. He’s been quite problematic, this scarecrow.

We’re expecting lots of trick-or-treaters tonight and I’m looking forward to handing out goodies. Mr. Tucker will be dressing up as monster dog again this year. He will be on his best behavior which means he will be locked in the bedroom, howling his beastly face off.

Happy Halloween from our house to yours!

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Mat Kearney at 9:30 Club

On Sunday night, M and I headed into Washington D.C. to enjoy a Mat Kearney show. Last month, I reviewed Mat’s latest album, Young Love, and fell in love with his music. Imagine how excited I was when a One2One Network community manager contacted me and offered me 2 complimentary tickets to Mat’s show! Of course, I said yes!

To say that Mat Kearney put on a great show would be an extreme understatement. The venue sold out and we were packed in like sardines– I even saw a few families with young children who seemed to be having as good of a time as the teens and adults. The show was a great mix of songs from all of his albums and even the slower songs were full of energy. It was impossible not to have a great time and dance along with the music. Mat encouraged the fun and upbeat atmosphere by inviting us to sing along for a number of songs and mingling with the audience, shaking hands, handing out high-fives and even singing on top of the bar for a bit. He cracked jokes throughout the show, made numerous references to Star Trek (seriously!) and during his Washington D.C. freestyle he worked in a joke about seeing Michelle Obama in the audience. Mat’s performance seemed effortless (talk about some performance chops!) and he seems like a down-to-earth, genuinely nice guy. I’d venture to say that he enjoyed performing for us as much as we enjoyed being there to see him.

Towards the end of the show the opening band, Leagues, took the stage with Mat Kearney and company and performed a cover of  Pumped up Kicks. The bands seemed to have a great time with this number and the audience did too. I actually prefer their version of the song over the one played on the radio!

I have to add in the mandatory legal disclaimer and let you know that I received complimentary tickets through One2One network. (A big thank you to them for such a fun opportunity!) The opinions expressed here are my own and, as always, honest. I enjoyed the show so much that after the concert I came home and downloaded his two earlier albums (with my own hard-earned money) and my iPod has been on Mat Kearney mode for the entire week. If that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what will.

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Fancy Fall Candles

I made this candle in 2008 and have been meaning to write up a little tutorial for how to make these lovelies. I haven’t had the time in the 2 weeks since taking these photographs. (I’ve been reallllly busy.)

But really it’s quite simple. You gather various sewing pins, tiny beads, and pretty ribbon scraps.

You place the beads on the pins to decorate the pin heads and then use the fancy pins to attach the fancy ribbon.

See? I said it was easy.

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Mat Kearney: Young Love

I’d never heard of Mat Kearney before being offered the opportunity to review his latest album, Young Love. It’s not something I do often on my blog, so after checking out a few of his songs on iTunes and enjoying what I heard, I decided to go ahead with the project.

Upon first listen, I enjoyed the honesty of Mat’s lyrics and the upbeat cadences that accompany most of his songs. Rock music with a hint of hip-hop, this is a mostly positive, feel-good album. Yet many of the songs also have the underlying grit of someone who has lived life and has experienced the full spectrum of the human condition.

Though a contrast to the rest of the album, I especially loved the candor of the last song, titled Rochester. A folksy, melancholy ballad, It details the life of Mat’s father, Michael P Kearney, a man hardened by the Vietnam war, ongoing abuse and personal struggles with addiction, and the hope that one day he would find the strength to change.

The rest of the album is head-bop worthy and is a lot of fun to listen to. Hey Mama, the first song on the album, had me dancing around the room and wishing that I knew the lyrics so that I could sing along. The lyrical themes hold true to the title of the album (Young Love) and I can’t help but wonder as I listen, who is this quirky girl he writes of? An album I’ll definitely enjoy again and again, it has been added to my iPod playlist and is sure to inspire me while I listen!

To get more info about Mat, you can check out his website, like him on Facebook, or to download his music visit his iTunes page.

(Disclosure: I am a One2One network member and received a complimentary copy of the album to review. The opinions expressed above are my own.)

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