Tuesday, 30 April 2013

250 words

And so begins day one of the Blog Every Day in May challenge. Today's topic is "the story of your life in 250 words or less" (a very brief auto-biography, if you will), and as I sit down to write this, I think to myself, "self, what were you thinking on that one?! This is quite hard!" But here goes. My life story, the condensed version...

using a jumprope as my microphone. therein I began my budding career as a singer... not

I was born in Montclair, New Jersey on December 5th, 1986, and my left eye was always crying until I had surgery on my tear duct when I was a year old. To this day, I can't fake cry out of that eye. We moved six times before I was ten, and this lack of real roots is a part of who I am. I embrace change. I lived in Germany for three years and have traveled to many different countries, though now I've lived in Texas most my life. I hated Texas for approximately the first 13 years I lived here, but finally I broke down and started to love it. I was homeschooled until 7th grade and was that stereotypical awkward homeschooled kid for longer than I care to admit. I worked at the same little restaurant from age 15 until I graduated college and married my husband, and the things I learned and the people I met there taught me many of the most basic things I know about life. Now we live in Austin, TX with our two dogs (which we are obsessed with), and writing and photography and beautiful things and people I've lost and people I love define my life. I don't claim to have a lot of answers about life or love or God or any of that big stuff, but I do try my best to live authentically and humbly and with an open mind and heart. My life is good. BOOM.

Word count that ish. It's 250 on the MONEY. 

Leave your links below, and don't forget to stop by some of the other blogs participating! :)

***In the "Name" box of the linkup you have 50 characters, and I encourage you to write the name of your post, your blog, or something extra instead of just your actual name - that will make things more interesting on this list! :)

breville all in one...I think its purring

Meeting other bloggers is always fun, meeting them for a great cooking demo followed by delicious morning tea is even better.  This is exactly what Appliances Online organised last Monday when they hosted a morning tea for bloggers with a fabulous cooking demo by the lovely ladies of the Monday Morning Cooking Club (MMCC).  I met some lively bloggers like Caro of Caro & Co, had an eye opening discussion with a blogger who has been a dominatrix (I am not telling who, those who were there will have to guess), ate more chiffon cake than was strictly good for me, and generally had a very good time indeed.  

The ladies from the MMCC put on a fabulous spread with no less than three different chiffon cakes (the orange wins for me), salmon and bagels and other freshly baked goodies from the Appliances Online kitchen.  I will tell you more of the MMCC story another day, community memory and story gathering through food, fascinating and moving.  I would love to cook with them myself some time.

During the demo the MMCC used the Breville All In One.  I was impressed.  The double bladed mixer easily ground fresh almonds into almond meal and made several beautiful looking doughs.  I have an elderly Magi Mix given to me by my granny when I left home.  It is showing it's age (unlike me I hope), it works perfectly but the plastic has become brittle and is cracking in less and less avoidable places.  I also have a drawer full of mandolin and stick mixer bits that I can never find quickly enough.  This gadget made me take notice, it obviously worked well in the demo, does everything my Magi Mix, mandolin and stick mixer can, and afterwards it stacked neatly into the storage stand.  Impressive.  So imagine my delight when we were presented with a All In One to test in our own kitchens, with a copy of the MMCC book to give us inspiration.  If only all Mondays were more like this.

I raced home and spent a happy afternoon musing over recipes and mixer attachments, I had to test it that very day.  Now I know you are expecting some gourmand recipe, but really what I made was mashed potatoes.  I wanted to test the mashing attachment, something I hadn't seen before, and (drum roll) result was mashed potatoes in minutes.  Yummy, creamy, easy!  Next I am planning pesto, I have a giant basil bush in the garden.  Or I might make my granny's pecan nut biscuits, very similar to the kifli the MMCC made for us, I will let you know how it goes.

Thank you again to Appliances Online, they are a great resource for the time poor who know what they want and just want it delivered to their door.
And a reminder to my readers that all opinions are truly my own.  I love testing products but rest assured feed back will always be genuine.

Stay drunk, my friends

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Ray Bradbury said that, and I have to agree with him. There's almost nothing more intoxicating for a writer than to sit down with purpose and just write. Personally, being able to share my life in this space has been exactly the coping mechanism I've needed to help me handle things that've happened in my life the last few years...  blogging has been my message in a bottle, the note I've scribbled out on parchment and released to the world to take it as you may... and in doing so, it's helped me tremendously to purge sadness and negativity from my life and just be happy. Blogging is fun and therapeutic and fulfilling, and I can't tell you how glad it makes me to see people getting so excited for the Blog Every Day In May challenge, starting tomorrow. I really hope that you will all carve out a lovely little space for yourselves each day, where you can sit down and truly enjoy the process of the writing - whether that's in a sunny corner of your home with a glass of iced tea (or wine) and a lit candle, a crowded coffee shop to feed off the energy of its patrons (and its caffeine), or any other cozy spot that lends itself to your creativity. I know that's not always practical - some of us (myself included!) will have to schedule posts sometimes, but that's okay. It's all okay! :) See you tomorrow for the challenge. I cannot wait to read what you all have to say.

*above photo in my new little workspace at my mom's... I don't hate it here. :)

Hazel & Olive giveaway

It's actually not all that often that I get really excited about a new online shop... we bloggers have seen it all, you know? BUT. This one! Hazel & Olive! When I first heard from the shop owner Taylor, and when I first browsed the virtual aisles of her store, I think my jaw dropped to the floor and I squealed something along the lines of "soooo freakin cuuuuuteee!!"  Hehe. I prepared just a little tiny sampling of what Hazel & Olive offers there in the collage above, but you simply must go browse to see the rest. Remember this post? Hazel & Olive! Love that cute thing.

We're giving away a $30 shop credit today, so, lucky you. Enter for your chance to win in the Rafflecopter below. GOOD LUCK!

*PS - Are you joining in tomorrow for Day 1 of #BlogEveryDayInMay?! It's gonna be a party! :)

Mother's Day Printable

Today I am excited to share this Mother's Day printable that Diana has come up with! I love her reasoning for picking this quote and I'm sure all our Mothers could use this reminder that they are doing a good job! 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I've been thinking a lot about Motherhood and what it means to me exactly especially since Mother's Day is just in 2 weeks.  I think moms all around the world set expectations for themselves that are just too hard to meet and we beat ourselves down.  The best days for me as a mother, are when I become more involved in my kids lives rather than trying hard to get everything done.  I heard this quote a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me ever since.  I feel like we are amazing mothers and there are SO many ways to be one.  This print is downloadable in an 8x10 size and would make a great gift for any mother in your life because we all feel this sense of overwhelming task we have to complete in order to be the best mom! Happy Mother's Day and enjoy this free downloadable print!

Diana is a graphic designer running her own shop called Livy Love Designs.  She loves using fresh color schemes and bright patterns.  She enjoys drawing, sewing, and learning new recipes.  She is married and has two little kids who she attributes where most of her inspiration comes from.  Aside from her shop, she has recently started working with Modern Yardage and is a fabric designer for them, which has been a dream of hers ever since she started graphic design.  You can follow along with her blog at Livy Love.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Salt Dough: A Whole New World

Update: Make sure to check out Part 2 to this story here.

A while ago, I began brainstorming ideas of what to fill this empty wall space above the TV in our new bedroom...

I wanted to start introducing a few nautical touches—without going overboard—simple and classic.

An anchor was the first thing that popped into my head. But where would I get one? What would it be made out of? What would it cost?

The answer came to me from Pinterest (of course). I stumbled upon a salt dough ornament and a light bulb went off. Why not make a large-scale salt dough sculpture?

I've never actually worked with salt dough (deprived as a child, apparently) so I googled around for the most perfect, long lasting recipe that wouldn't break as soon as it came out of the oven.

I ended up using this one—although they are all pretty much the same—water, salt, flour. I doubled mine to make sure I had enough.

I also added a bit of vegetable oil which is supposed to make it a little more pliable.

After thoroughly stirring, I had myself a big hunk of dough.

But back to the sculpture. Aside from the anchor, I wanted to add one more item to balance things out.

I decided on this simple quote, which would be carved into a round plaque:

Once my templates were designed and printed, I cut them out with my Xacto knife:

I figured I'd mold my base and then cut my shapes out again with the Xacto knife.

First up—the anchor.

The goal here was to make this look handmade and somewhat abstract—because let's face it, I'd never get this thing perfectly chiseled by hand.

I built up a mound in the general shape of the anchor and laid my template over it:

Then I cut around the outside...

I wanted it to look more organic and less rigid, so I smoothed around the edges.

This stuff isn't the easiest thing to work with in large chunks. You can't really add pieces on and smooth it out without stretching or squishing something else. It took me a solid hour or so to make it look like the photo above.

When I determined it was as good as it was going to get, I moved onto my next sculpture.

I used the leftover dough from my anchor and rolled it down so it was around a half inch thick or so.

Then I placed my template over it and began to carve. But it didn't work out so well... I think the dough is a too flimsy for small details.

After the first word fail, I started experimenting with polka dots using a skewer stick.

Once I decided that would be a better option, I rolled it back up and started over.

This time I cut out my round shape first, using the lip of a bowl:

Then I placed my template over it and started pokin' holes.

For a little more interest, I gave it some texture around the edges with my skewer sticks...


I carefully transported the plaque over to the oven to join the anchor.

But I still had a little dough leftover.

Not wanting to waste it, I walked around the house trying to find something else to sculpt. And I found the perfect thing: a starfish!

I grabbed it off the mantel so I could recreate it as closely as possible.

This was 100x easier than the anchor and plaque. The skewer sticks were perfect hole makers again.

I threw the starfish in the oven and let them bake... for days. At 200' it's supposed to take several hours, but my sculptures were so thick that even after a couple days, they were still a little soft on the back.

I finally got tired of waiting and brought them into the garage to get ready for paint.

The anchor had some rough flaky edges, so I very carefully took some sandpaper to it (60 grit)

It smoothed out pretty nicely.

Once dry, it was time for paint!

I pulled out some leftover gray I had from our sunroom mirror and applied a thick coat.

But once I brought it into our room and held it up against the gray walls, I realized the grays clashed and had to formulate a Plan B.

Plan B was custom navy blue paint, made from some acrylic blue and black I had lying around.

A couple thick coats did the job.

Next up was the plaque.

I opted for a soft white with navy blue inside the letters so they'd be visible from across the room.

Word to the wise—salt dough doesn't really get along with paint. If the surface isn't completely dry when you try to apply a second coat, the paint will come right off.

The paint also filled my dots, boo. Nothing I could do about that because the paint would pull off when I tried to re-dot them. Oh well.

The starfish would also be painted a soft white. I went to pick it up, and this happened...

Yikes... more fragile than I thought!

And then I accidentally set the plaque on it and this happened:

I realized there were some cracks that had baked into it, weakening some areas. Maybe my fault. I was just about to trash it when I brought out the hot glue gun in a last ditch attempt...

Totally worked. Stronger than before.

Can't even tell from the front.

I ended up giving the starfish to a friend, and here's how my new wall decor turned out:

Only thing left to do was hang them! I threaded some twine through the holes I had made in the top before baking, tied them around some special drywall screws, and here they are now:

We relocated the cable box to the side of the TV... much better!

What do you think? Not bad for materials I had lying around the house, right? I love the extra touch the bows add.

Salt dough has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. I find myself looking around wondering what else I can just make myself instead of having to hunt down and purchase in the perfect size/shape/color. How have I lived without it this long?! There will definitely be more of this in my future.

Anyone else inspired to make something? Try it—it's fun!

Be back next time with another office update...

Linking up with Suburbs Mama and DIY Showoff!


I don't even know where to begin. It feels so strange to say this, but as of this morning, we are officially homeless. Signed over our beautiful home to a new family. Left all of the blood, sweat, and tears in the past behind us. Closed a chapter. Wiped the slate clean.

Or more accurately, we have officially sold our home and moved in with my poor mother. ;) Even though this process has consumed my life for the last month, I haven't written about it here for safety and privacy reasons, but now that the home is in the new buyer's posession, I'm free as a bird to lay down this burden of information. Do you know what it's like to have a blog called "Story of My Life" and not be able to share this massive thing going on behind the scenes?! Ha! It feels weird, that's how it feels. I'm not very good at keeping secrets... we're talking sweaty palms and nervous trembling here. I would never pass a lie detector test. Any time I try to be sneaky, I get caught. So it's been weird keeping this from my blog. 

Truth be told, I am beyond exhausted. Too tired to feel very much emotion. Matthew and I did the work of five burly men and a team of housekeepers in one four day weekend by ourselves. Every night we fell into bed, bruised, sometimes bleeding, feet and back and hips and shoulders so sore we could barely walk, and then we started over again the next day. I feel like a 70 year old woman, and if I feel that way, I can't even imagine how Matthew feels. That man never ceases to amaze me. He did all the hardest work for us, and now he has finals to take the next two weeks. Major props to that guy. We are both going to be super pleased when this whole "law school" thing is over. ;)

But yes, our home... our beautiful, beautiful home that we poured ourselves into and completely transformed the last three years... it's now a memory. And I'm OK with that, I think. I haven't shed a single tear (yet). It just wasn't right for us anymore. We were living beyond our means while Matthew is in school, and piling on so much more stress than necessary, so we're downsizing to something smaller and more affordable but lovely just the same. The new home won't be built until early fall (FINGERS CROSSED), so until that time, we are living with my mom and Norman (the basset-weinie), and we are so, sooooo grateful to be here. There will be lots of adjusting and tweaking to do (most notably with Gracie and Cooper, who want to slap Norman on a bun with a little ketchup, mustard, and relish and eat him for dinner), but we will manage and I think we might even have FUN. Thank God for family, especially when you even really like each other.

So that, my friends, is my confession. The little secret I've been keeping. Feels good to get it off my chest! I can't wait to continue sharing this crazy, beautiful life with all of you... there's so much more good to come.

Here's a few phone photos I snapped of the house when we finally got every last bit of our stuff out... it looked so pretty, and of course I felt a twinge of sadness... but then I remembered what a bitch it was to keep clean, and didn't feel so sad anymore. ;)

Goodbye, house. It's been real. 

If you're new around these parts, check out some house tour posts from the past! Or take a little trip down memory lane with me....

Master bedroom *you better believe we're redoing that gallery wall in the new house!

Last Week's Links

If you follow me on instagram (@kirstenkrason) you know that we spent most of last week in St. George, Utah. It was delightful. We spent our time hiking, swimming and hitting up cool vintage shops! I did manage to pin some fun stuff and browse my favorite blogs while we were gone. Here are the links I was loving last week. 

1 | I am in love with this image from the latest Country Living Magazine
2 | I'm craving a cool wedge like this for summer.
3 | Last week I rounded up some of my favorite children's products over at A Lovely Lark.
4 | This DIY art project will blow your mind.
5 | Love this beautiful little bath hook project.
6 | These are the perfect "everyday" earrings.
7 | This fantasticly cute roll up chalkboard makes me smile.
8 | Great roundup of the Top Ikea Hacks from 2012.
9 | This is my new motto.
10 | This is the coolest/comfiest skirt. I can't get enough of black and white lately!