19 December 2007

A new little bug

Yesterday, our newest little friend, Margot was born at 10am. We are so excited to meet you, Margot! Congrats Nici and Andy!

10 December 2007

holiday crafts... finally

This weekend, I finally found the time, energy, and health to do a little crafting and decorating. I actually got really sad when I realized that I only had 2 weeks left to make any of the fabulous gifts I had planned for this year. I think that my friends and family will be receiving "New Year's gifts" or maybe even "Valentine's gifts", but probably not Christmas gifts. I was so excited about finally being able to craft and decorate, even though it was simple, and I had to take pictures and post.

First, I put together my holiday wreath for the front door. I have a simple twig wreath that is usually on the front of the house year-round. I took that and spiffed it up a little for the holidays. I found this wonderful green ribbon and some gold and silver "berries". The finishing touch was the little "hope" star ornament. I chose the hope one because that is really what this season represents to me, the hope of changes in the new year, time to spend good time with friends and family and fun goodies to give and receive.

Next, I hung my wonderful new jingle bells on the front door. I found them at the World Market over Thanksgiving and I couldn't resist. The dog likes to lick them as she walks past, making them jingle and they ring merrily every time the door is opened and closed.

Finally, we had a lazy Sunday morning, perfect for decorating the tree. Every year we go to the forest service office and get a tree permit. Then we head out to the forest to "hunt" for a tree. We were lucky this year to go out last week, the day before all of the snow melted. We traipsed through a foot and half of soft beautiful powder, sizing up trees, throwing snow on the dog and having a great time. We finally found the perfect one, cutting it down with our shiny red saw and dragging it out to strap it to the roof of the car. One of my favorite traditions.

Sunday, we pulled all of our supplies up from the basement and decorated. We pulled out our enormous lights that we purchased for our first Christmas. They are 2in, brightly colored balls that make it so fun. Then we added our mishmash of vintage balls and random nostalgic ornaments.

The sock monkey...the heart that my grandma made for our first Christmas...the ice skating couple from my family tree...and of course, the Chicago Cubs bulb. Very ecclectic, not very "stylish", but it makes me so happy. The final touch was the handmade, quilted tree skirt that my other grandma made us. Holiday perfection.

07 December 2007

Let it snow...

We lost our wonderful snow to a bunch of yucky rain this week. So, for myself and anyone else missing the white stuff right now, here is some inspiration to get you in the holiday mood. Happy Friday!

(All photos from my flickr favorites)

06 December 2007

small (fun)

Long before I thought seriously about being a mom, I was continually smitten with well-made children's clothes, toys, furniture. Some of my favorite toys from childhood were basic, well-made fuel for my imagination: tinker toys, lincoln logs, lite-brite, wooden blocks, one small doll with handmade clothes and a doll chair made by my grandpa. I can still spend hours in the children's section at the book store and I love to play with the best of them. So, of course when I came across Small Magazine, I signed up right away. Small is "the first and only online magazine of independent design for kids". You can subscribe to get the quarterly email catalog. You can even submit some of your own hand-made wonderfulness for upcoming issues. And, they are big etsy.com cheerleaders.

I just found their Winter issue in my inbox this morning. My favorite pieces in this issue include the Moon Rocket Playhouse (which I can't seem to find for sale anywhere) and the living stones from Smarin Design. Talk about an imagination boost!

30 November 2007

Still alive...

I received a concerned comment from Erinn over at the happy living blog today, wondering if I was okay. This coupled with the pleas from my friends and family to "please blog, we miss you", has given me the kick I needed to get going again. Those of you who are not in the same area code and haven't seen me several times over the last month might appreciate some explanation. So, I will give you some, but first I would like to thank the dozen or so tireless fans who continue to check back every few days to see if there is anything new. I am sorry I have been so absent. Now, on to excuses and explanations.

If you look at my last post, I mentioned feeling a little under the weather on the eve of my parent's visit. Well that progressed quickly into a month of, at times intolerable, morning sickness. Yes, we are expecting our first hip little munchkin. Yea! But, it has made mama sick, sick, sick. I have not really cooked, definitely not crafted and there have been no house projects of any capacity in this house for just over a month. I had taken only 3 photos since the project weekend. The best laid holiday gift plans have fallen to the wayside. The lounge at work sits sadly without chairs because they are all in my living room waiting to be recovered. I know, you think, "how can that be?". I have made it to work each day, but by the end of the day, I can't be more than a bump on the couch, watching movies, whining and trying to eat more then toast. Blech! For those of you who only know me through this blog, you will have to understand that I don't really like to slow down, let alone stop all together. And I always have about a half dozen plates spinning at once, so this has definitely put a little cramp in my style.

But today I decided enough is enough (And I felt quite a bit better than I had all week.), so pulled out my laptop, took some snowy pictures in the yard and got to posting. I love to blog and I am sorry I have been gone so long. It actually feels really good to be back at the key board. So, I hope you will continue to read along and share your comments with me. Thanks for hangin' in there!

26 October 2007

And its Friday...

It has been a slow posting week, as I have been a little under the weather, but that should change after this weekend. My parents are coming to town to help us with a bunch of little house projects that are a little over our heads. Next week, I will be blogging about the outcomes. Until then, enjoy the weekend!

22 October 2007

A weekend of good food

When the weather starts to get cold, damp and blustery, I love to hole up in the kitchen and cook good, hearty food. This weekend was definitely one of those weekends. The first endeavor was one I had meant to do earlier in the week, but hadn't found the time to get to the store. Erinn over at the happy living blog had posted a recipe for Cauliflower Gorgonzola Bisque and I really wanted to try it. I changed a few things around and altered the ingredients list to not be Wegmen's-specific.

I gotta' say that it is wonderful...creamy, flavorful and really healthy. Here is the recipe that I used.

Roasted Cauliflower Gorgonzola Soup

Makes: 13 cups Active Time: 20 min Total Time: 50 min

1 head (about 2 lbs) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
3 Tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 cups of chopped carrots, celery and onions
Salt and pepper to taste
64 oz of vegi broth
1 container (8 oz) Creme Fraiche or sour cream
1 cup (4 oz) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled, divided

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tsp walnut oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  1. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, garlic, and vegies; season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet.
  2. Roast on center rack of oven about 15 min. While cauliflower roasts, bring vegetable stock to boil in large stockpot on HIGH.
  3. Add roasted cauliflower and vegies to stockpot; reduce heat to LOW. Simmer 15-20 min until vegetables are knife-tender.
  4. Puree a portion of the mixture with hand-held stick blender or food processor until smooth. Do the amount that you prefer. I like more chunks in my soup so I only did about half. Mix it all back together in the pot. Wisk in sour cream; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove from heat; gently stir in 3/4 cup cheese. Garnish with remaining cheese and chopped walnuts; drizzle with walnut oil. Refrigerate leftovers , stirring well before reheating.

So, that was my first kitchen triumph of the weekend. I also made a slow-cooked roast for dinner last night that was the perfect meal for a wet, dreary Sunday evening. I picked up a beef roast from the store and I had all of the vegies on hand. I roasted the meat in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour and then transfered it to the crock pot which I had filled with chunks of potato, carrot, onion and cabbage. I poured a few cups of broth over the top of everything and let it cook on high for about 4 hours until everything was done just perfectly. Yummmm!

It was definitely a good food weekend!

19 October 2007

Beautiful Bird Houses

I went in for a haircut yesterday and while I was waiting I started to flip through the September issue of Town & Country magazine.

In the front pages, I came across this kate spade ad and was instantly mesmerized by the wonderful bird houses.

I went to kate's site, did a google search and nothing... I just want to know where I can find one. If anyone knows, drop me a line.

18 October 2007

Nice does matter...

It's funny how, as a newer blogger, I get excited about hitting different little milestones: comments posted by strangers, check; daily readership is more then just my parents, check; tagged for a blogger award of some variation...CHECK! It is very exciting to be recognized by others out in the blogosphere. Diana, aka Ruby Re-Usable, has tagged me for the Nice Matters Award. This award was started by Bella-Enchanted to recognize "those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world."

Thanks Ruby!

Now that I have been tagged, I get to pass it on to seven of my fellow bloggers. So, here are my tags in no particular order:

dig this chick

Found, now home

the happy living blog

Posie Gets Cosy

Angry Chicken

Two Straight Lines


Thanks for all of the inspiration, ladies!

17 October 2007

It's about time...

I remember seeing a Swedish Mora clock in a copy of my Victoria magazine way back in the early 90s, falling instantly in love with it. Now, you can see them in home and decorating magazines all the time and I even know a little bit more about them...

Built in the late 18th and 19th centuries, they were a staple in Scandinavian homes. They were often painted white or cream, but you can find them with just a wood finish, ornately painted, or even in a variety of beautiful colors.

They are pricey and harder to find here in the US, but someday when I am independently wealthy, I will have one sitting quietly in the corner of my house.

Photos from Gustavian, Swede Home Antiques, & It's About Time

16 October 2007

A homegrown feast from Sunset magazine

I used to think that Sunset magazine was for "old" ladies, boring, stuffy, etc. But after a makeover in the past 3 or 4 years, it has become one of my all-time favorite magazines. Their gardening articles and recipes are some of the best I've found, especially for a more regional focus. I have also started to think more about the ideas of local food and sustainable living in the last few years, as has just about everyone. I get daily inspiration from my friend Nici and her fabulous blog and my friend Becky, who strives to live an all-around contentious life. I am hoping to do my first real vegi garden next year and these girls will probably get some serious Q& A sessions from me.

So, as I was poking around the Sunset mag site the other night, I came across a fun project that is really inspiring. They are using their "office" site, which is actually kind of a little homestead, to create all of the ingredients for a fabulous feast. And they are documenting it with a blog called the one-block diet. Some of the pieces are a bit scarce, but the garden and the chicken teams have done a great job with updates and inspiration. (Chickens are another fascination of mine that I hope to have in the next few years. Check out the amazing and super cute chicken coup that they scored!) So check out their progress and get inspired!

Both photos from the Sunset blog, the one-block diet

12 October 2007

Fence buildin'

This is an old project that we have been working on over the last year as we have time and money, but I have gotten a few compliments on it lately so I thought I would share it here. Our house is on a small corner lot in a neighborhood that only has about half of the sidewalks it should. When we moved in, the back half of the yard was fenced in with a 4 foot chainlink fence. I am not a big fan of chainlink anyway and there was also the fact that only the small back yard was fenced. And random dogs and people would cut through the corner of the yard when they were walking by. So, we decided to build a new fence...how hard could it be? Silly new homeowners...

We started it on labor day weekend in 2006. In a part of the world where it can start to get cold and snowy by Halloween, we probably should have started sooner. But, with the help of James grandparents, and some fabulous friends, we finished 3 of the 4 sides before it got to cold. Then, this spring, we set to work and finished the final side. Well, mostly finished...

Of course we had to do this "special" kind of fence that needs twice as many cross pieces and more finishing touches then a regular wood fence. And, we had no idea what we were doing and learned a lot as we went along. So, now its done (well, mostly done) and it looks good and we did it all by ourselves...

11 October 2007

What a great idea!

One of my favorite bloggers, angry chicken, posted a really wonderful idea on her blog yesterday. She created a one-page PDF of her favorite, use-the-all-the-time baking recipes to laminate and post on her fridge. Now, she doesn't have to sort through the crumpled, stained sticky notes to find her favorite shortbread recipe. It is right where she needs it to be. Plus, it is super cute! Thanks for the practical and inspiring idea!

10 October 2007

A little quiz

This came through my inbox while I was in Oregon and I thought it would make a fun post for the old blog. My friend Autumn that I went to high school with got sick of lame email surveys and decided to make her own. Here are my answers. Feel free to pass it on or to answer it yourself in the comments.


1.) List your full name. (Even if it isn't your legal one!)

Amy Marie Corbin (Esp)

2.) Do you have a nickname? (Whether you like it or not!)

Not really. It is hard to shorten Amy.

3.) What would you name your first born child? ( Or your next child if you already have children, even if you're not having any more! It's a game, people!)

James and I have a hard time agreeing on names. For a girl, I love the name Lola. Also Charlotte, after my favorite great aunt. For a boy I like Elliott. James is convinced that our first pregnancy will be twin boys and we will name them "The Ultimate Warrior" and "We don't expect much". We will not be putting any children through that torture.

4.) What kind of car would you drive if money was no object?

A 1960s Rolls Royce. Silver Cloud model. Lovely...

5.) Would you rather live in a smaller house, but take a great vacation every year, or live in a larger house with minimal vacations?

I want the smaller house with great vacation option, for sure. Right now I seem to have the small house/minimal vacation option, which I am not too excited about. But that is life at the moment. Hopefully I will be jaunting off to Europe next spring. We'll see...

6.) Bon Jovi or Guns N Roses? (Elvis or Beatles? if you were born before 1965. And if you were born after 1988, then Google them. All four are worth knowing about.)

Bon Jovi of course. Or the Beatles, but I was not born before 1965.

7.) What did you eat for lunch today? (automatically deduct 3 points if you didn't have lunch. I know we're not keeping score, but seriously, don't skip lunch!)

I have not had lunch yet, because it is early morning still. I will have chicken noodle soup that I packed for lunch today. Unless of course someone calls with an irresistible offer to go out for lunch instead...

8.) What is the last movie you saw in a theater? (Even if it was 10 years ago!)

Bourne Ultimatum... love this series.

9.) Do you prefer getting Christmas photo cards or Christmas letters?

I prefer the letters because I love to catch up on what has happened with all of you that I never see. Pictures are great, but I hate when all you get is the picture card with no info or updates.

10.) Name one memorable turning point in your life.

Traveling through Vietnam... amazing experience, fabulous people, totally life-altering.

11.) Name your #1 vice.

Good food in general. I'm an "eater" and if it is good, I have a hard time cutting myself off.

12.) Fight or Flight?

I am totally a fighter. I had a problem with punching people when I was young. They usually deserved it (that means you, Barry Snodgrass), but I usually got in trouble. So, definitely fight, unless it is the giant creepy spiders that live in our basement, then I prefer to run.

13.) When was the last time you went on a date? And what did you do? (A date with your husband counts, but only if you didn't have kids along.)

We went out for pizza last week and watched the baseball playoffs.

14.) What would your therapist say is your most pressing issue? ( If the answer is too personal, type "no comment", but it's something to think about anyway!)

I have really high expectations for myself and I don't deal with failure well...

15.) Do you think schools should teach handwriting or typing?

I think that typing is way more important in the "real world" now days, but sending a personalized note or letter or card is something I personally feel is important. So I think a balance of both is a good idea.

16.) What is your recurring nightmare?

The situation is usually varied, but the plot is always the same. I am trying desperately to get somewhere and things keep going wrong to prevent me from getting there. My luggage gets stolen, I forget my passport, my passport is expired, I get on the wrong plane, etc. I wake up completely panicked and stressed for the rest of the day.

17.) Name the one song whose lyrics really describe who you are. ( or how you feel)

This definitely depends on the day, but one of my current favorites is 32 Flavors, which was originally done by Ani Defranco. I prefer the Alana Davis version. In fact I love her whole "Blame it on me" album.

18.) Name one way you look at the world differently than you did 10-15 years ago.

I used to think that everything in life was black and white, there was no hint of gray and right vs. wrong was an easy distinction to make. Now I am not so certain...

09 October 2007

Projects and Scores!

I feel like I have so many things to blog about and not enough time to get it done. Here are a few quick things from the last week or two.

  • My newest scores: a fabulous vintage Royal typwriter ($5) and a really wonderful pair of handknit mittens ($.50)

Some little projects around the house...

  • Button magnets for the fridge
  • A new bed for the dogger so that she can stop sleeping in ours. However, I think it is a little bit to poofy, so I may have to take out some of the stuffing before she really digs it.

So, that's the latest from our house. Enjoy!

08 October 2007

New pillows at west elm

A while back I posted some decorating inspiration for my friend Jessica. My west elm catalog showed up last Friday and there was a spread of fabulous pillows that would look great in her new (imaginary) apartment. I especially love the one in the middle with the lanterns.

05 October 2007

Face-lift for my windows...

I wish I could remember where I saw this idea so that I could give it the proper credit, but I have know idea. All I know is that the idea has been firmly lodged in my brain for quite some time and this weekend, I finally got around to executing it.

They are just a simple shelf made from a 1x6 board and L-brackets. Then I stapled some heavy chocolate brown velvet to the edge of the top. The longer one has a nice pleat in the middle because the fabric wasn't long enough to go the full length. I think it makes things look a lot more tailored and pulled together. Even J liked them, although the dog seems to be a bit nervous about them for some reason. And they keep my plants out of the reach of the dogger's teeth. (she likes to chew on anything green and growing)

So, here are the before shots...

And here are the after...

03 October 2007

This weekend's big score!

It was cold and rainy here in Missoula this weekend, so garage sales were slim. I decided to hit the thrift stores instead. I found some really fabulous things and stayed dry too! Check out the goods...

  • A sweet wicker chair that will one day sit on a sun porch or in my office ($10)
  • A cute mirror bordered with wooden, yellow beads ($1)
  • A finel from an old staircase ($4)
  • 2 glass candle holders that I want to use as paperweights in my office ($1)

On a side note, I did end up stopping by one garage sale where I found a great old type writer and a super cute pair of old yellow and white, hand-knit mittens. I will post those later this week...

02 October 2007

Holiday madness...already

I had a very hip homemaker kind of night last night. I had ordered some ribbon the other day to finish my living room walls, which showed up in the mail yesterday. So, I played around with that a bit (pictures soon). Then, I went to the library and checked out a bunch of Martha holiday craft books so that I can start to plan my gifts and decorations. (I know its early, but if i start now, I might get done on time, plus i can make some fun stuff instead of buying crapola from the box store) Then i went to our fabulous local organic grocery and picked up groceries for the week, then went home and made a fabulous dinner. Hmmmm... I love those kind of days.

So, now that I am starting to look to the holidays, I thought I would share one of the ideas I want to put to use this year. The mantle branch, care of west elm. Enjoy!

01 October 2007

Art for Good-redux

I posted this on Sunday on the other blog I help with, but I realized that some of you may totally dig this as well. So, here we go...

We are engaged citizens and cultural devotees, but with limited budgets, we can find ourselves having to choose between the causes that stir our hearts and the art that moves our souls.

But wait... could there be a happy middle ground? Could we have our cake and eat it too? Yes! Just go to BlueFlip Art and purchase a fab and affordable piece from an up and coming artist. A percentage of your payment will go to a charity of the artists choosing.

Voila, good karma and a good looking apartment. Who knew it could be so easy?

30 September 2007

Portland's Rebuilding Center

As someone deep into some house projects, I appreciate saving a buck where I can and my local building materials re-use center is a great resource. When visiting Portland a few weeks ago, we stopped by the Rebuilding Center to peruse the goods and grab some things for our respective projects. Home Resource is great, but being located in an urban center definitely gave the Rebuilding Center an edge. They had an amazing space made of reused materials, rooms and rooms to everything you might need for your next project and some fabulously crafted re-use art all around the building. Here are some pictures just to get you excited...

The side entrance (notice the wall of reused windows)

The back room is full of old sinks and tubs with great vintage hardware

A bucket of nails

Beautiful custom windows

Awesome cabinetry, full sets or individual pieces

Old radiators stacked up, ready for a new use

Piles of old lumber to be used in your next project

Slabs of granite and marble "scraps"

Rows and row of doors of all shapes and sizes

The beautiful fence made from old tools, parts and pieces

So, the next time you are in Portland, stop by and see all of the fabulous things they have to offer at the Rebuilding Center. Better bring a big car...

29 September 2007

I'm still here...

I have finally returned from my trips, caught up on all of the backlog at work and now I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop trying to catch upon my personal life a little bit. That includes my blog, which has been sorely neglected this month. Despite the fact that I haven't had a lot of time to post, I do have tons and tons of things to post about: Yellowstone with my parents, some great new scores, some more fun stuff from Oregon, more house project magic and fun from the web. I told you there was a lot to say. But I still need to get everything organized. So, expect more in the next few days, but until then. Enjoy the view!