DIY: time zone clocks

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not everyone is lucky enough to be as jetset as we are. with Spy’s work trips taking him across the globe for sometimes weeks at a time, it’s tough enough to keep up with where he is, much less whether it’s a good time to call. so when our kitchen clock died recently, i had the brilliant idea of replacing it with 3 new clocks that will tell me the time in the places he visits most. plus, i thought it would be a fun way to help Miss Girl learn to tell time. the only problem was that (of course) i couldn’t find any that i liked. so i made them myself! such a super easy, fun and inexpensive (under $50) project, and i absolutely love how they turned out.

i found this simple clock at Target for just $14.99.

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i bought 3 and honestly had no idea how i was going to get the city names for my 3 time zones (Hong Kong, Paris and Atlanta) on them. the original plan was to get some letter stickers in a font i liked and put them on the outside of the glass. but there was the little problem of the logo on the clock face. seemed like it was going to look messy with that up top and a city name on the bottom. if only there were a way to cover it up . . .

luckily, when i turned the clocks over, i found that the backs come off! no idea why, but they do. that meant i could open up each clock and put a label over the logo. my plan started coming together.

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after some trial and error with sizing and color, i was able to match the off ecru clock face background and cover the logo without making it look too crazy. i would definitely recommend printing these on sticker paper, but of course i didn’t have any.

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thank god for a glue stick. with some careful cutting and gluing, i was able to get it just right. 3 times.

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probably the hardest part of the whole thing was getting them hung in a straight line and evenly spaced. oh, and getting the second hand exaaaaaactly the same on each one. whew.

oops. looks like my next project needs to be a more proper spot to hang all the art that gets created around here! in the meantime, i’m loving that we can easily see the time at home, in Europe and in China in a quick glance (and can’t wait for Spy to go on his next trip!).

turkeys and pumpkins and printables, oh my!

i LOVE Thanksgiving. the minute Halloween was done last weekend, i tore down all the spiderwebs and creepy stuff and started getting psyched about having a homeful of people i love in a few weeks. my mom, father-in-law and sister-in-law will all be visiting with us for the holiday. it’s the first time we’ve ever done Thanksgiving with more than one guest (usually my mom). i love cooking all the fabulous dishes we usually only get once a year and always make too much food. so i’m happy that this year, i have a better chance of not having leftovers until April!

this year, we also have new-to-us family china that we inherited several months ago, when my father-in-law moved into a smaller place. the gold trim was hand painted on by Spy’s great aunts, so it is special and i wanted to create a great table to show it off for the first time in our home.

after a few hours of online searching and buying, my chargers, runner, napkins and napkin rings were all delivered over the course of this week. i dreaded going to Michael’s today to hunt down leaves and other baubles to fill in around my standard candles. probably the only worse fate on a Saturday in Atlanta is Ikea, which i did anyway. tackling both excursions would have sent me into the bottom of a bottle of bourbon that i’m not sure i could swim out of. so, i was really lucky to find enough sparkly things at Target that are technically Christmas, but still read fall and woodsy  . . . and Thanksgiving. score!

i did a trial run today (sans silver and glassware), pulling 2 white pumpkins off the front porch (that still probably need to be washed), dismantling an old wreath and adding a few mason jars with tealights to my standard orange pillars. i think the end result is a nice mix of dressy and casual with burlap contrasting sparkles and gold, real pumpkins contrasting glitter-covered pine cones and mason jars contrasting fancy china and white linens. y’all, i have literally never even attempted to put together a table like this, but i am positively in love with how it turned out and can’t wait to sit down to it in a few Thursdays!

to complete the look in the dining room, i loved the idea of doing some printables in a space where we usually rock this nice quote about home — also something i have never really done before. here’s a dirty little secret about what goes on around here: i create all my images in Keynote and save them out to jpegs. it’s a process, but it has worked thus far. it’s a fine solution for web images, but they’re not hi-res enough for great printing. and i cannot even think about doing the math to create files large enough to get converted to hi-res and not be the size of a postage stamp. i couldn’t find anything anyone else had created that i loved that was also downloadable at a decent size i could print at home and frame in a standard frame.

then, late one night, i remembered the Canva account i recently signed up for. life changing, y’all! seriously. super simple way to create print documents that look great without having to buy and learn any expensive software. there are templates for a bunch of different types of images/documents from Facebook headers to posters and business cards, with some ability to manipulate designs and create your own from scratch.  some matte photo paper and a couple  Ikea frames later and i have a fun display that included zero drama to create. you’re welcome to download them here.

i’m thankful that my holiday look has come together . . . now to start working on what we’ll eat and how we’ll spend our time together while everyone’s here! what are you doing to get ready for Thanksgiving?

stealing from myself: a poetweetagram

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by Kristin

Is about to be 1 badass scramble.
And realize the sunroof is open.
That this should be on my table
Epically bad is about to happen

In treasonous twitter rant
I should probably pray more often.
Jeans I just bought suddenly giant!
Insane people who don’t listen.

More fun Friday nights to come.
Trip! welcome to South Carolina!
Weekday mug. it’s good to be home.
Empanada. Bone Garden Cantina
Suite life! Georgia Dome

not caught up, but at least on the right day, today! the Writing 101: Day 17 assignment asked us to create a post using material we’ve drafted or posted previously elsewhere. you think i jumped on one of the easy-way-out suggestions? oh, hell yes, i did. y’all know me too well.

Poetweet is a totally fun little poetry generator that scours your Twitter feed for material and magically turns it into verse. mine is posted — unedited — above. funny how even in the mishmash of half thoughts mixed together here, i can still pick out phrases and remember the exact moment i was posting about — my thoughts on Mother’s Day, breakfast for dinner, coffee at home after a long trip, a birthday empanada, a road trip to Richmond, a Falcons game . . . and since most of what i tweet is just links to Instagram or this blog, it was pretty easy to find some images related to those words and thoughts.

boom. let’s call it a post and move on!

happy blogiversary: 1 year, 10 lessons

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i can’t believe it’s been an entire year since, following much deliberation and obsessing, finessing and freaking the fuck out, i quietly and haltingly, over several glasses of wine, took the password protection off this bad boy and unleashed it on the world. i was so nervous, y’all. what would anyone think? maybe no one would ever read it and that would probably be way better for everyone involved.

i was utterly shocked the next morning when i woke to find Continue reading

navigating digital dependence: lost without my GPS

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[tap, tap, tap] huh. what the . . . ?  [shake, shake] what’s wrong with this thing? hmpf. is it broken?  [holds map to ear, then looks at it again in disbelief.] i don’t get it. why isn’t the lady telling me where to turn?

it’s been a long short week, y’all. that’s all i got.

Writing 101: Day 4 — use one of 4 images provided as a creative spark for today’s post.

the truth about cakepops aka Satancakes

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yeah, sure. they look sweet, don’t they. all beautifully nestled there just waiting for you to take a taste. a shimmer of glistening colored sugar taunting you, while those little sprinkles tease you with the promise of a crunch of chocolate shell and soft, gooey cake just beneath. so innocent, yet so seductive. so pretty, you could just eat them up, now, couldn’t you?

well don’t be fooled, my friends. go buy cakepops anywhere and everywhere you possibly can. give and eat them to your heart’s content this Valentine’s Day. but don’t — i repeat, do not — get sucked into thinking this is a cute little project for a rainy Sunday afternoon. don’t let your almost 5 year old convince you it will be a fun mommy/daughter thing to do. in short, don’t try this at home. let my story be a tale of caution, y’all. friends, don’t let friends make cakepops.

like i said, it all started innocently enough. that Pinterest board. that trip to Michael’s. wait, there weren’t even cakepops on that stupid board — they were Oreos. fuck. you come home and make a kick-ass wreath and are feeling all Martha Stewart-y and begin to have visions of yourself as an amazing DIY blogger. you cross that line of creating projects to do just so you can blog about them, because what the hell else are you gonna do to fill all the time while you’re a single mommy for the next 2 weeks? it seems fine. productive, even.

then, after a 658-step process, an entire roll of paper towels and over a day of your valuable time, you are glad that case of wine got delivered and overjoyed that your housekeepers are coming in the morning. you know how when you go to the beach and you just feel like you can never get the sand off of you until like a week after you’re back? yeah. i feel like i will be finding chocolate and sprinkles in random crevices of my kitchen and my person for at least another week. i hate every single thing about this stupid project.

step 1: gather your shit and bake a cake

 

this is when it all seems fun and simple. you take your cute product shots because this is gonna be the most epic blog post ever, and then have munchkins bake a cake from a box mix (like with mashed potatoes, if you need my instructions on this, you’ve failed before you’ve started). my munchkin chose strawberry everything, which well, whatever. this was her gig.

step 2: mix it if ya got it

munchkins love this part. take that cake outta the pan and tear it up into a bowl. at some point you’ll want to shred the cake even further. it should be like sand, basically, from what i read (no wonder i feel like i can’t get this stuff offa me.). enter your Cuisinart hand blender. in a moment, you’ll be wondering whether you need to stop the whole operation and actually drive to the ER for stitches because you’ve somehow been dumb enough to try and clean the cake goo out of the blades’ path while simultaneously accidentally hitting the “on” switch. at this point, you are already at least 2 hours into this mess and you’re realizing it’s going to be a long evening. you hate cakepops already. self administer first aid, then get back to it, trooper! you spoon about half your tub of frosting (don’t even think about looking at what’s in that stuff) into the cake crumbs and mush it all together. people with bleeding, half-attached appendages probably shouldn’t partake in this part.

step 3: know when to roll ’em, know when to fold ’em

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duh. so you basically never fold ’em. it just made a good header. sorry. don’t these kind of look like meatballs? yeah, strawberry was wrong for so many reasons . . . but anyway, this was actually kind of a fun part. scoop out the dough with an ice cream scooper (just to ensure the size is pretty much the same), then roll them up like Play-Doh balls and stick them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. yeah, everyone fancy says to use parchment, but that’s so not how we roll around here and the point is just to make sure they don’t stick. because after this, they’re going in the freezer. i didn’t really get this part when i read about it, but totally makes sense. they’re pretty mushy at this point. spoiler alert: you’re about to dip them in hot, melted chocolate that you hope will harden one day soon. so starting with a cold, hard base is actually really key.

step 4: melt with you

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i mean. i just can’t with these headers. too many opps. anyhoo, while you’re freezing your balls for like 15 minutes (ha!), it’s time to get your chocolate ready. if your balls aren’t perfect, it’s okay. nobody’s balls are perfect. you get 2 layers of chocolate to smooth things over. the chocolate part was supposed to be easy. but no, of all the kitchen accessories i own, a double boiler isn’t one of them. because i would use it like twice in 20 years. so i did the little pot in big pot thing. water got in the chocolate. chocolate got too hot. i don’t know. i ended up with a grainy mess that was definitely not worthy of my gorgeous frozen balls. that shit would not pour smooth to save its life. even after i added the prescribed Crisco. lawd. timestamp: at least 9:30. 4 hours in.

step 5: back it up

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so this is the time to just admit failure. dough balls go in the freezer and you’re done for the evening. after a lot of explaining about how Mommy messed up the chocolate, that is. thankfully, Miss Girl seemed fairly unfazed. life seemed to return to normal for a blissful rest of the evening. i actually even almost forgot about the whole ordeal for the entire following workday. would Miss Girl possibly forget we were supposed to finish them? not a chance in hell.

step 6: call in the reinforcements

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24 hours after this whole thing started, you’ll find yourself at the store getting like $100 worth of more chocolate and praying that everything you Googled today about melting chocolate was true because you have memories of childhood chocolate-melting escapades where plain old chocolate chips turned spotty white after re-hardening, not even remotely making for a photo finish. this dipping chocolate also seemed like a good plan. they were on the top shelf and the 3 were all i could reach. it would have to do, with regular old chocolate chips as back-up.

step 7: melt. stick. dip. twirl. lick. repeat.

omg. as if this whole thing isn’t already tedious enough in the first place, now comes the really annoying part. melt chocolate (30 seconds at a time in microwave, so as not to end up like last night). dip your stick in the chocolate, then stick it in a cake ball. dip the ball in the chocolate, twirl to coat and let the excess drip off. you will definitely never get a smooth complete coat on each one. and you’ll most certainly lose a couple balls in the process because somehow, the weight of the whole thing sends it sliding down the stick rather than staying perched neatly on top. you won’t give a damn. you are 28 hours in and you just want this to be over. let the munchkin lick the spoon whenever because she is completely bored and over Satancakes cakepops at this point. everyone will be covered in chocolate pretty much as soon as you begin this part of the process, so just get over yourself and your pretty, white, clean kitchen and the work clothes you stupidly didn’t change out of beforehand. do have the forethought to get the styrofoam block everyone raves over to stand these things up in. i had to settle for a leftover Mark & Graham Christmas box. the good news was that stabbing holes in it with a shish-kabob skewer was super cathartic. these things get 2 coats of chocolate, i was told, so just when you think it’s over, you get to do it all again. yay!

step 8: make ’em pretty

so now you kind of finally get to the fun part — disguised as a messy, sticky annoying chore. after the second coat of chocolate, cover these bitches in sprinkles and sugar glitter, then stick them back in their stand to harden. munchkins will want to eat one immediately. let them. that gives you some breathing room to just get this shit done quickly and call it a day. this project has now consumed about 30 hours of your life that you will never get back. you’re bitter. and boy, does that second third glass of Chardonnay taste really good right about now. the cakepops? god, they’re disgusting. only an almost 5 year old would eat strawberry cake covered in chocolate. you know immediately that you’ll take this shit to the office tomorrow and unload it on your co-workers, who will think you are super cute for trying, but will also think your Satancakes are disgusting.

step 9: go insane documenting your ordeal

you survived. now take a thousand pictures to prove it. find a perfect leftover vase and make an arrangement. holyshit. you are Martha Stewart. it’s cool. you’ll know you’re crazy while you’re tying that bow (it’s okay that you were out of satin ribbon, what you found works just great) and shifting everything in your kitchen so you can catch just the perfect lighting. but in this moment, the past 30 hours will be almost kind of worth it. almost. write about it all. warn your friends. vow to stick to store-bought everything for the rest of the Valentine season. then sneak just one more quick peek at Pinterest to see if there is maybe like a 2-step project with your name on it. i mean, what could possibly be the harm?

February first: XO!

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whoa. what a thing today. for real. Spy is gone, so there is all kinds of crazy single mommy/girl time goin’ on around here, plus it is rainy and grey. i used it all as an excuse for 2 things. first, we are seriously knocking out some of the Valentine’s projects from that Pinterest board i mentioned last time. second, i wanted to try something new. literally. on the first of every month, i’m planning on doing something i’ve never done before. and of course posting about it. it’s probably not ever going to be like sky diving or even at all bucket list worthy, but i figure it’s a fun way to stay out of a rut and get a few new experiences under my belt, even if they’re small. so from here on out, you can look forward to a monthly first on the first day of every month. you’re welcome. 

so my February first is making a Valentine’s Day wreath (and also, unofficially, making cakepops, which are in progress as i write . . . stay tuned for more on that upcoming disaster). while i keep a wreath on the door all year round and change them up frequently, i’ve never actually made a Valentine’s Day themed one. now i can officially add crazy wreath lady to my list of eccentricities . . .

8f02253de813ab79ef59b6cb47db1e4aone of my very favorite things from my V-Day Pinterest board was this gorgeous XO wreath. truth be told, i should have just shelled out the $90 to buy it, but 1) i wasn’t thinking that far ahead and 2) what in the hell kind of fun would that have been for you guys?! so that’s the inspiration for this afternoon’s crafting shenannigans.

it all went down something like this: around $80 in florals and ribbon from Michael’s (at 40% off, even! yes, when they ask why we can’t afford to send Miss Girl to college, i will point to this damn wreath.); a tantrum because somebody didn’t get her 3,789th stuffed animal from Michael’s; Wendy’s on the way home because i felt like i was a mean mom all the way through Michael’s between the no stuffed animals mandate and several terse words over the cakepop options (at this point, Mommy really wanted lunch at someplace with actual servers and a deep wine list, but sucked it up); however long Tangled is worth of crafting; and final photos, clean up and here we are. whew. my end result isn’t nearly as gorgeous as this. remind me sometime to tell you about me and quiches. they all end up more like rustic country pies instead of elegant tarts. welcome to my rustic country pie version of the XO wreath.

step 1: obligatory beauty shot of all my materials

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14 pussy willow stems. 4 stems of pink buds. 12″ twig wreath form. 6′ roll of cotton chevron ribbon. floral wire. scissors.

step 2: shot of hardcore tools i had to bring in to finish the job

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yeah, so the garden clippers were necessary to clip off the ends of the pussy willows (and it was still hard as hell!). the staple gun was how i attached the whole shebang to the door. read on . . .

step 3: make the O

this part was easy peasy. i just stuck my pink flowers into the wreath form, end to end. then i worked around bending and shaping them so they formed a circle and filled in the entire form. in a few places, i used my floral wire to tether the stems to the form.

step 4: make the X

his one was a little harder, but basically, i gathered 2 sets of 7 stems each and bound them together with floral wire (first step here was bundling them with some washi tape, just to keep the lengths even and have them contained while i worked with the wire)t. you really can’t see it at all and it’s pretty easy to arrange leaves and buds to cover them up on the front. i had to use the garden clippers to chop off the extra length. then i tied them together in a cross with more floral wire in about 4 places. if we get a tornado, this thing’s a goner, but for normal February gusts, i think she’ll be fine.

step 5: attach everything

okay. here’s where things definitely got a little weird. this for sure is not the best constructed wreath and the door attachment situation is just one more way i proved to myself i have no idea what the hell i’m doing. (fooled ya up to here, huh?) truth: i craft like i cook. it’s usually a totally fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants event and while things usually turn out okay in the end, it ain’t pretty getting there. long story short, i should have taken the time to measure, then connected everything on the table, then hang it. instead, i impatiently hung the ribbon (staple-gunned to the top of the door), then went about attaching the wreath parts. a few random knots and a prayer later, it was up. and, while definitely not perfect. i kind of love it.

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happy February, y’all!

it’s a heart-shaped world

i feel like such a season pusher here. it isn’t even February yet and i’m already posting about Valentine’s Day. personally, i think Valentine’s Day is a commercialized load of well crap fraught with unrealistic expectations and inevitable disappointments (thanks Hollywood and Madison Avenue). that said, there are so many completely cute things to make (and eat)!

with Miss Girl, it’s all about the activities. and with Spy gone, we’re definitely going to need to find some ways to keep busy over the next couple weeks. so i’ve been working on getting out ahead of this whole thing and have put together a Pinterest board with all the best Valentine’s Day DIYs i could find (plus some cheap date ideas and other miscellaneous fun). above are just a few of my favorites. we’ll be trying some of them out over the next couple weeks leading up to the big day (and Spy’s arrival back home — yay!). i’ll definitely let you know what kind of disaster ensues here. with pictures. because you know it probably won’t be pretty, but hopefully will at least make for a good story or two. check out the board and let me know what cute and fun V-Day DIY trouble you’re planning on getting into.

photos:
heart animals – Crafty Morning
heart cookies – Michael’s
Oreo pops – Makoodle
ombre cake – Michael’s
wreath – twoinspireyou
mini lanterns – Good Housekeeping

Blogtober14: facts about me

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um, because i had a lot of extra time on my hands today. </sarcasm> this month has changed me, y’all. i felt some pressure to do something cool on the next-to-last day. the hierarchy is all kinds of a mess and these might not be the most interesting facts about me, but this is all quickly what i a) was comfortable putting on the interwebs) and b) thought i could make interesting by fitting them somewhat within the chalkboard template i made for Miss Girl’s facts on her first day of Pre-K a few months ago. takeaways: a) i am kind of getting a weird obsession with making chalkboards. b) my life stats don’t fit in the same boxes as a 4 year old (and that’s probably a good thing)! c) god, i’m fucking boring.

anyway, one more day of Blogtober14, y’all!

The Daily Tay Blogtober14

0-14 in 4 minutes

having just celebrated Miss Girl’s fourth, birthdays and growing older are top of mind around here. watching Lotte grow up in this gorgeous time lapse video by Dutch artist and filmmaker,  Frans Hofmeester,  made me well up a little thinking about my little girl growing up. and at the fact that i’m so totally not proactive or organized enough to ever even think to create something like this. ever. just beautiful.