I’ve Moved!

The New Blog Launch Date is tomorrow. Make sure to head over to my new blog, http://www.thefreckledblog.com.

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The Changes They are A-Comin’ {New Blog Launch Date!}

As my regular readers may remember, I announced several weeks ago that there would be changes to this blog. Among other things, I said I’d be blogging with greater frequency. The weeks have passed and this is my first post since.

I’m here to announce that I didn’t lie. Making certain changes has taken longer than expected. I’ll be launching my new blog in just over a week on Monday, February 3rd! I’ll be coming back full force with lots of fun tutorials, pictures, recipes, philosophizing, and more.

Closer to that date, I’ll post a link to my new blog here. Until then, enjoy some of my favorite reads right now.

2013: Thankfulness in Review

I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions. I figure, if you can’t resolve to do something any other day of the year, what difference does January 1 make? That said, this year, the New Year has coincided with some changes I’d like to make in my life. Before writing those resolutions, though, I thought I’d stop and reflect on 10 things I’m thankful for in 2013. Some are profound. Some are a bit silly. So without further ado, here they are (in no particular order).

1) My new boots. I live in a snowy, cold city with lots of walking required. Boots are a must. This December, my husband was able to score 3 pairs of LL Bean boots for $21. Yup. My feet are very warm and blessed.

ll bean boots

2) My new nephew. Normally, my nephew would rank higher than shoes, but, as I said, this is in no particular order!

The little guy loves my hair!

3) My Apartment. Beautiful old brick building. Beautiful arched windows. A handsome husband to share it with. Need I say more?

home

4) My cat. Until this June, I’d been catless since college. As a lifelong cat owner, this was torture.

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gigi on windown

5) Happy Best Friends. In September, one of my best friends got married. The other one got engaged on Christmas Eve. She’s marrying one of my brother’s closest friends.

friends

6) The view from my living room window. It’s the little things, right?

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7) The view from my bedroom window after a fresh snow. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of this, but I love looking over snow covered roofs toward that little hint of restless blue which is the Back Bay.

8) My dear, sweet, handsome husband. It would take more space than I have to even try to encompass how thankful I am for this man. Instead of boring you with sappiness, though, I’ll just leave it at that.

engagement picture

9) My family. I’m thankful that the hubby and I both have close, loyal, and ever-growing families.

10) My faith. I serve a risen Savior. For that, I am most thankful.

What about you? What have you learned to be more thankful for in 2013?

Holiday Prettiness and Birthday Celebrations

This week was all about getting ready for Christmas and celebrating my little bro’s 24th.

Tuesday, we took a trip out to a local Christmas Tree Farm. Many pics were snapped but, due to my cheapskate nature, no trees were purchased. I opted to wait and cut our tree in my parents’ woods this Saturday. Somehow, I ended up with two trees Saturday, but that’s another story for another time (when I have pictures). For now, enjoy our trip to the tree farm!

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As usual, the hubby pointed his camera at me. Somehow, we have way more picture of me than him . . . .

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After our unsuccessful Christmas tree jaunt, I was awfully bummed (even though I was the one who couldn’t stomach a $35 tree), so the hubby graciously agreed that we could pick up some white pine garlands from Trader Jo’s. Kitty joined in and we had a lovely time decking the windows.

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Finally, I ended the week with a belated birthday party for my brother. We had tacos (made by my mum) and a Blueberry Pancake Cake (made by yours truly), recipe courtesy of Your Cup of Cake. I have some blackmail photos from the evening, but for the sake of my little bro and his friends, we’ll stick with pictures of the cake.

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Yes. I did color code the candles. Who wouldn't?

Yes. I did color code the candles. Who wouldn’t?

What about you? What did you do last week?

An Almost Birthday Cake (or Wild Blueberry Cake)

Today was my brother’s birthday. To celebrate, I made him a blueberry cake. He’s very passionate about his food and LOVES Wild Maine Blueberries. Thankfully, I still had a gallon frozen in the fridge.

Through a series of unfortunate events, however, he was unable to make it to my house. So what did I do? Ate it myself, of course! Don’t worry, I have plans for another cake in the very near future.

The recipe was a bit of an experimentation. It’s not your typical birthday cake but instead has a sort of deep, chewy flavor punctured by bursts of bright blueberry.

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Blueberry Cake

ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (plus a little extra for later)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups blueberries (wild Maine blueberries (such as Wyman’s), if possible.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • powdered sugar

directions

1) Preheat oven to 350. Light butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

2) Combine 1 cup flour with the baking powder and salt. Whisk together.

3) Beat the yogurt and brown sugar together by hand or in a mixer. Beat until the brown sugar is completely mixed in. Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Slowly add in the flour, beating until smooth.

4) Pour batter into prepared cake pan.

5) Mix the berries with a teaspoon of flour and the lemon juice. Scatter blueberries over the top of the cake.

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6) Bake cake for one hour or until middle is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes. Then carefully remove it from the pan. Let finish cooling on a platter, berry side up.

7) Using a fine mesh sieve, dust the cake with the powdered sugar.

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Real Women

Recently, a friend of mine gave voice on his Facebook page to a frustration common to many of us (male and female)–how pop culture and advertising skew our idea of healthy body image.

He finished his comment with this statement:

“Don’t believe that your natural self is shameful, gross, or inappropriate! No man-made product can improve what God gave you! There is no need to hide behind that stuff. Let’s learn to respect what’s natural.”

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Photo courtesy of my wonderful friend, Marybeth Hoover

As someone interested in both history and the history of fashion, I recognize that every time period has had its ideal female body type. In each of those cultures, women with differing body types have had only a few options: rebel, force their bodies into submission through diet and shape wear, or give up.

The rebels of those time periods often give rise to a new ideal. Consider the strict hourglass look of the 50s and 60s and the rebels who broke through. People like Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy brought hope to the hearts of many a straight-figured girl. Sadly, they also unintentionally created a new ideal. Suddenly, shapeliness became fatness.

Today, we have women rebelling against this new ideal. Their maxim? “Real women have curves!”

As a broad shoulder, thin-hipped girl, I can’t help but take some offense at this statement. I’m disgusted as anyone at the emaciated beauty ideal being pushed on us today. However, despite years of wishing, I’ll never have hourglass proportions. (Incidentally, I’ll never have model proportions either) Does this mean I’m not a real woman?

Yes, real women do have curves, but they also have straight figures. Real women have apple figures, pear figures, rectangle figures, and whatever other fruits and shapes have been used to describe a woman’s body. Real women are just that, women. They come in every shape, size, and weight. Being a women doesn’t come from your subscription to or rejection of any culturally ideal look. It’s defined by a set of chromosomes.

I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t care how you look or that you shouldn’t appreciate beauty. Yes, take care of yourself; look your best; stay healthy. What bothers me isn’t a balanced attention to physical appearance but rather how we women judge our worth by that physical appearance. We live in a culture that makes it hard to do anything else.

Recently, while I was crossing the road in the face of oncoming traffic, a man crossing from the other side commented as he went by, “Don’t worry, you’re too pretty to run over.”

I laughed at the comment and didn’t take it too seriously. I live in an eccentric city with a lot of eccentric men who like to give random compliments. But it did start the train of thought that first inspired this essay. Would my death be any less tragic had that man thought me any less pretty?

How often do we ascribe greater worth to prettier people? We gravitate toward them. We even view them as smarter, more talented. We’re more saddened when they, in our view, waste that intelligence and talent. We view attractive people as better people, better leaders, better politicians, better for the community as a whole.

I firmly believe we were each created by a good God for a purpose. That God doesn’t care whether we match our culture’s current beauty ideal. He looks at the heart.

As real women (and real men), isn’t time we started doing the same?

Periwinkle Clovers and a Trip to the City

For Christmas, the hubby bought me the Colette Patterns Clover pattern. I was caught up in some other projects at the time. Last week, though, I was finally able to tackle them. The result? I love this pattern!

We took a recent trip into the city and, despite the snow on the ground from our most recent storm, I couldn’t resist wearing my new pants. Can’t say I regretted the decision, even if it did get a bit nippy. 
Yes, that is an attack lobster on the miniature lighthouse beside me.

I have only a few complaints about these pants. The first comes from my own mistake. I somehow managed to make one pant leg a fraction of an inch longer than the other. Annoyingly, something about the angle in these pictures makes it look like a couple inches difference, instead. In addition, I didn’t like how low the pants sat on the waist, but I fixed that with a slight alteration. I think I’ll make them a little higher-waisted on the next go around. I’m also a little stumped on how to get rid of those wrinkles around the crotch.

Sorry about the closed eyes!

My only other complaint comes more from my own inexperience. I used a fabric without much stretch even though the pattern called for stretch. I wasn’t sure how to compensate for the lack of stretch. Should I add more ease to the pattern? I like pants with stretch fabrics, but I also like fitted tapered pants with more structure.

a snowy downtown
For a final treat, here are a few pictures of downtown post-snowstorm. 

What I’m Loving: The Scalloped Hem

I’m obsessed with circles and curves. I love soft, gentle lines. Peter pan collars, drapey fabrics, gentle gathers, and (of course) scalloped hems.

The Scalloped Hem
Source: hollydollyblog.com

Recently, I tried drafting scallops onto a pair of Clover pants. Sadly, the result was disastrous, and I had to go with a straight hem. Thankfully, however, I came across some scallop inspiration and how-to’s to help me master the scalloped hem the next go around.

What about you? What little design extras are you loving right now?

A Winter Sunday

Last Sunday, we attempted to go to Norlands Living History Center, a local living history museum, for their 19th century Christmas celebration. Sadly, due to freezing rain, the event was postponed. Thankfully, though, the combination of the historic grounds and freezing rain made for some beautiful picture opportunities!

I love this place!

Lonesome tree, bent by the wind.

The Norlands church

The Norlands
We’re looking for a new home, right?

Yet another angle. Sorry! I just love this old house.

This makes me think of four cute little old men lined up on a park bench talking.
I tried to go with a semi old fashioned look, in keeping with a 19th century Christmas.