Random Round Up: Christmas

My favorite holiday! This one was chock full of coziness, family and friends, and relaxation. Dreamy.
Made in Seattle, made of deliciousness: The divinity that is Theo Chocolate.
Our family tradition: Walking the surrounding neighborhood to see the lights!
Hubs for the win: My monogrammed gift. LOVE.
Quick felt craft for a collection of winter-themed brews for my dad.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...
Hope yours was just as wonderful - Here's lookin' at you, 2014!


Remembering 2014

Nope, that title isn't a typo.

Do you remember what happened in March of 2013? How about February? May? If you can't pinpoint any memories like that, this project may be for you.

In my childhood, I was a voracious journal-er (journalist? journalizer? anyway...). As the years passed, I became less and less regular about it, only keeping a journal during especially important or focused times, such as my semester abroad in college. And you know what? I can't even count the number of times I've gone back to that notebook to relive some of those traveling memories. So why not start it up again?
2014: The year of the journal. And since it's your memories, let's personalize it, shall we?

This entire project cost me under $5 for the notebook and the washi tape.
The paper cutter pictured above certainly is not a must-have. It's a scrabooking tool I've had for years and would highly recommend to anyone who does anything with paper, but scissors will do just as well for this project. A straight edge like a ruler would be helpful too if you're going the scissor-only route. The tape squares could be easily replaced with a standard glue stick or other glue medium appropriate for paper - Use what you've got!
First step? I covered the front and back of the notebook with plain colored paper. I wanted the binding of the composition book to remain flexible, so opted not to adhere anything to the black spine. A few double-stick tape squares and the paper was stuck. A quick trim around the edges with my scissors and the paper was perfectly sized to fit my covers.
Trim all paper and photos into triangles. Perfection is NOT a must!
Play with the loose triangles until you like the layout.
Now it's time for tape. My washi tape* was wide (about masking tape width), and since I wanted to include more images, I decided to make it a little smaller. All it took was a slice down the middle and I had thin strips perfect for my creation. Then it's just a matter of taping down the edges of every triangle.
I taped all the triangles, then ran one single strip down the middle and along the binding edge to cover all the torn tape ends and make my journal look a little more 'finished'. Then I used the full width of the tape to go around each outer edge of my journal, wrapping the excess around the cover's edge and adhering it to the inside of the cover (see below).
The finished front and back covers are seen above and below. For good measure, I gave mine a spray of clear coat meant for paper machĂ© (not pictured, but grab it here or at your local paint supply store.   You could also brush on ModPodge instead if you don't want to mess with a spray paint.) The clear coat spray only takes a few hours to dry and off-gass, and voila! A moisture-safe, handmade journal, personalized just for you.
What an easy gift for next holiday too, right? The one pictured here I created for my Oregon-dwelling uncle who loves to write, and all images were found by typing things like "Oregon wilderness" or "Oregon scenery" into Google images. 

Under an hour of time and under $5... Can't beat it! I'd love to see what you create if you try - Post a link to your work in the comments!

*My washi tape is Scotch brand, found at Target. Search "washi tape" on Amazon or Etsy.com for THOUSANDS of options.
--> Get a paper cutter similar to my ancient one here.

Last but not least, my triangle design inspiration is via the amazing and creative sisters behind A Beautiful Mess. Check 'em out!


Random Round Up: Snug

Happy Christmas Eve eve!
Morning on-vacation snuggles from my favorite pooch.
My UW girls made it to the NCAA Final Four! Fell to Penn State, but a great ride.
Love these cozy Christmas moments.
Morning after hosting our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party with dear friends.
Some last-minute crafting - Results to come!
Siri: Always informative. (Get the joke here)
And on that note, I'll let you get back to your wrapping (and humming of the fox song - You're welcome). Have a wonderful week of Christmas!


Strange New World

It's a weird day.

My last at my current job. The job I joined the company with and pretty much immediately realized it wasn't for me. I've been working on shifting positions within the company for nearly two years, and now that it's here....

It's a weird day.

Cheers to bigger and better, and what's looking to be a very happy new year.


Hot Cocoa With A Twist

Have I got a cookie recipe for YOU.

Fair warning: Don't read this if you don't need a new addiction.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. Know what that means? Chocolate, cinnamon, more chocolate, and yes, marshmallows. I tested 'em this past weekend and they received rave reviews both at home and at work, making them a shoo-in for our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party this weekend.
My cookies, ready to go in! Make sure they're COLD.
Shout out to the Frugal Foodie Mama for this recipe - Here you go!
Ingredients (32 cookies)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows, frozen
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and regular sugar until creamy.
Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy.
Then beat in the vanilla.

Slowly add in the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix until just combined.
Stir in chocolate chips and frozen marshmallows.
Refrigerate the cookie dough for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet(s) with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.

Drop tablespoon size balls onto the prepared baking sheet spaced about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
(In Knots note: The cookies will come out looking MUCH better if they're as cold as the fridge when they go in the oven. Don't pre-prep your cookie sheets with dough unless you're keeping them in a cold place!)
Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 min then finish cooling on a wire rack.

*Frugal Foodie Mama notes the original recipe can be found here

Enjoy, everyone! Happy holiday baking.


Random Round Up: Wintry Mix

There have been a couple forecasts of "wintry mix" - aka: rain, sleet, maybe snow - but so far: Nada. How 'bout a wintry mix of photos instead?
Time to help out the backyard feathered friends.
Replenished seed = Squirrels = Puggle high alert.
Do you know about this company? THE BEST socks. Locally at Laura Bee or on the web.
"Warm" enough to get a little beach time Sunday morning.
A cramped hand, but holiday greetings are finally getting out the door!
Have a great week! It's a big one for me as not only is it my last week of work before a much-needed holiday break, but - surprise! - I landed a new job (within my same company), and I start the day we reconvene on January 2nd. So that makes this is my week to tie up any and all loose ends at my current position. Lots of holiday goodness and new job nerves comin' down my pipeline... Cheers to that!


Deck The Halls

...With boughs of pine needles. Fa la la la laaa... well, you know the rest.

Picked up these bad boys 60% off at Michael's:
And after following my own rule of snipping any and all fake foliage apart...
Got to Christmas it up by using some here:
Some here:
And some here, too:
Easy, cheap, and usable year after year (with minimal storage space, bonus!). Boughs of holly, eat your heart out.


A Berry Merry Holiday

Believe it or not, I really am not a fan of fake flowers. ...Based on posts like this and this (um...and this and this...), you probably don't buy that. So I guess 'not a fan' might be too strong: I'm just particular.

They have to look great, and they have to be cheap. Sort of a champagne-on-a-beer-budget situation. But impossible? No. One of the easiest things to find looking alive and well is any kind of greenery. This time of year, it's all about the holly and evergreen boughs. Another option that tends to look good on any budget: Berries.

Hot Tip: Always snip apart stems of fake flowers of any kind. Breaking them out of their mass-produced state will make them look a million times more real from the get-go.
All you need: One stem and wire snips.
Check out what I was able to accomplish with a single stem of berries:
A few sprigs in square vases (aka: two of Nate's ski trophies) for the mantel.
A little color for the mantel.
A few trimmed branches & berries to cover an empty front porch container.
A few with some greenery in a julep cup.
And the budget part? Michael's seems to almost always have a 60% off sale on their floral section, and if you subscribe to your favorite craft store's e-flyer, you're going to get at least one coupon a week, usually for 40% off any item. Stock up over time!

I bought two stems of pine boughs at the same time I picked up the berries - Show you what I did with those Friday.


Random Round Up: Cold.

Not only have I been down and out with a cold, but if you haven't heard: It's COLD in this neck of the woods! The coldest temps in fifteen years, to be precise. With the thermometer hovering in the teens and twenties this past week/end, we've tried to get out for short bursts* and get well in the meantime.
Pretty flowers from my parents' Thanksgiving visit.
The pile of sweater I lurked under all weekend.
We did manage to get the house lit - Good work hubs!!
Even the pooch requires a sweater lately.
Seaside park flag at half-staff to honor Nelson Mandela's passing.
Have a great week everyone!

*Yes, Minnesota family, I know you are all having a good old fashioned eye-roll at we shivering Washingtonians. We're not as cold-hearty as you guys!


'Tis The Gifty Season

That pretty much kicks off this post in the right way.

Do you shop online for the holiday season? I do - Pretty much all of my gifts end up arriving at my door (I get to open 'em first, fun!): No crowds, no hassle, and I can get it done whenever I think of doing it with no parking lot spot stalking.

Thought I'd share a couple of my favorite online resources (no perks, I just love 'em) in case you're still on the hunt for a perfect gift. Click on any company name listed to be taken right to the site!

Mom/in-law, Sister, Friend, Any-Woman-In-Your-Life-Of-Any-Age:
Jewelry Galore: Both fashion or made with a special custom photo.
Ready-Made Handbags: From wallets to work totes, each is one-of-a-kind.
Custom Handbags: Grab a gift certificate and gift that special lady with a real treat. She chooses the shape/size she likes, then gets to pick everything that goes into it, from colors to pockets to lining!

The Fashion Hound:
 For $25 or less (for real.), you can get any number of on-trend necklaces, earrings, or bangles. So affordable  you may accidentally play elf for yourself while you're at it (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...).

Group of Gal Pals:
This place puts out a ton of gift packages, chock full of a variety of whatever the product is. Buy one and break them up into individual gifts - Everyone gets the same gift, but still personalized by you choosing who gets what. Paired with a little chocolate, this is pretty much my perfect co-worker gift.

The Ever-Hard-To-Buy-For Guy:
 From t-shirts to beer glasses, anything can be personalized on this site. Bazillions (yes.) of designs already exist, or if you're techie, you can upload your own creation. Search a keyword (Harmonica! Puggle! Bacon!) and be amazed by the options.

The Can't-Be-Pleased:
Amazon/Zappos/Target gift card
Because these guys have everything, that's why. Not to mention Zappos has a 365 day return policy, so your tough cookie can get their mind-changing money's worth.

Hope this helps - Happy shopping, little elves!


Random Round Up: Catching Up

Happy December! Can't believe it's here already... Since Random Round Up has been on hiatus (read about why here), thought I'd toss a few extra photos in here. Ready, set, go:
Love him.
Proofing D.I.Y. family Christmas card photos.
Mending is therapeutic sometimes.
All purple'd up for the Huskies at Oregon State a couple weeks back.
Early to rise means some glorious sunrises from our entryway window.
And of course, the big state of Washington rivalry football game was this past weekend: The Apple Cup (UW Huskies vs WSU Cougars - Cats and dogs never mix well). The Dawgs were victorious, so all is right in my world.
Parking lot, 6a.m., Black Friday: Definitely NOT shopping.
A foggy Husky stadium was filled to the rafters.
Cheers to a good first week of December ahead, everybody.