Thursday, March 29, 2012

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final installment of J.K. Rowling’s series, Harry, Ron and Hermione set out upon a dangerous task. Voldemort now in full power and all wizards scared out of their knickers, the trio must continue what Dumbledore began so long ago. Along the way, many trials and tribulations befall them but theirs is an important duty. They must bring down Voldemort so the wizarding world can thrive again. Will all survive? What will become of Hogwarts? Only these pages will tell……
Well, it’s finally over. I’ve made my way through seven books I swore I would never read. I loved them all. It’s true I was the staunchest of non-believers and went so far as to poke fun at the world of Harry lovers defending their wizard stories. Now I know that although this series was intended for children, it speaks to readers of all ages. It’s purely and simply a good story. I am sad it’s over and fear HP-withdrawal. I do still have 2 movies to watch so I suppose that’s something.

Please, if you would never have considered starting this series in the past, give the first book a chance. If you don’t want to continue beyond that, so be it. But, like me, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I'm so glad I met Harry and his friends.

Rating: * * * *

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I finished sewing a new dress this weekend and had every intention of showing it off to you fine people. Unfortunately, I have two zits the size of Los Angeles on my chin and my hair has ends of the most split nature and roots to beat the band. Really, I’m doing you all a favor because I look so rough. Certainly in no shape to be photographed. This is a shame because the dress turned out great, and just in time for these unseasonable temperatures we’ve been having to take a nose dive. Oh well, it will warm up again soon. After I tend to my hair this weekend and these unsightly blemishes find their way off my face, I promise to show you what it looks like on. Until then, here it is on the hanger. I know, it doesn't look like much now. Just be patient.

I’m also working on a maxi skirt. I’m going to wear it with the TOMS I got as an early birthday present. John harangued me on the hippie-like qualities of both maxi skirts and TOMS but I don’t care. Sure as shootin’ , I know more about fashion than he does. Just waiting for my elastic thread and new double needle that I ordered to arrive on my doorstep. I heart Amazon. Where else can you order K-cups AND sewing accoutrement in one fell swoop?

In other news, we John replaced all the mini blinds on the 2nd floor this past weekend with 2” wood blinds. What a difference! We’ve had the larger slatted blinds on the first floor since we moved in but never got around to the upstairs. Now we don’t have to be embarrassed by the broken ones facing our backyard neighbors. We went faux because honestly, who cares if that wood is real? You can’t tell from the street anyway and our curtains upstairs stay mostly drawn.

Party on, party people!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Apothic White

Did you give up wine for Lent? Sucker. You'll just have to wait until after Easter to try this.

Apothic Red (although not my favorite) is a very popular wine these days. I didn't realize until I was shopping on Friday that they have just released Apothic White. It was on sale for $11.99 down from $22 so I snapped it up. A little searching online shows me they really jacked up that price to make it seem like a bargain. You should be able to find this around the $10-$12 price range in most places.

If you are into semi-sweet whites, then this wine is for you. Very easy drinking, going to be great outside  this summer. It's a white blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Moscato. The bottle says it has hints of honey and vanilla and boy does it ever! Hunt this one down and pour yourself a glass, or three.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Recipe Reblog #10

I don't typically make sweets of this nature but I knew we were going to see family and I could pawn some of them off on them, plus we are having people over and I am going to serve these then too.

S'mores Truffles: I love a good s'more. I wanted a fire pit in my backyard solely for s'more purposes. I bought sticks and everything. I can't wait to pull it out again this summer. Wanting to capture that summery flavor a tad early, I decided to make these truffles. They contain my new favorite liquor, marshmallow vodka. Yes, it's optional but why opt not to put it in when it's so delicious? It's only 3 tablespoons. Man up!

I substituted fat free half and half for the heavy cream by accident but it turned out fine. They were very tasty and rich. Note to reader: it helps to have an extra set of hands nearby for the truffle rolling step. It would have been tough alone. These bites are tasty and I didn't even use expensive chocolate. Try them to be fancy when you want to impress!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I cannot stop obsessing over these things.

1) White Chocolate M&M's (I can't find a good picture)

Oh my stars! I blame my in-laws for introducing these delicious bites of heaven to me because now they're all I can think about. If you are a white chocolate lover, you NEED to try these. Bear in mind......if you're not interested in polishing off the entire bag in one sitting, have someone hide them after you've counted out your serving. But, make sure you peak when said person his hiding them from you so you know where they are and can unearth them in a moment of weakness, which is certain to come. PLEASE try these.

2) Runaway Baby - Bruno Mars

Did you guys see him perform this on the Grammy's? That was the first time I heard this song and I can't get it out of my head, in a good way. No surprise, it's featured on my current running playlist. I like when he rhymes "carrot" and "share it". I'm strange. But, it's got an awesome driving beat and is super motivating on the treadmill.

3) Mad Men IS BACK!


I have been dying for the new season of Mad Men to start and this premiere is this Sunday! It's been far too long since  I've had my Don Draper fix. Pour your Manhattan and settle in for a classy night.

4) Hunger Games movie opens tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


OMG! I've been not so patiently waiting for this but I have to wait even longer despite its opening tomorrow. John and I are seeing this next weekend for my birthday observed. Can.not.WAIT!

What are you obsessed with lately?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 6th book in the J.K. Rowling series. Harry is back at Hogwart's for his 6th year. Because everyone now knows and believes Lord Voldemort is back in action, there are extra security measures placed around both Harry and Hogwart's. Dumbledore has been taking extended, unexplained absences from the school in between giving special lessons to Harry about his fate. Everyone is on edge while they try to focus on studies and learn to apparate. Harry also has a new love interest but has been noticing Draco Malfoy is up to no good and is bound and determined to catch him. What will unfold at Hogwart's this year?

AHHH! So good. I know I've said before that I had heard the series would get better and better and it's completely true. I didn't want this to end, mostly because I only have one book left. Sad. I can't give away any more than that on the plot. Please give this series a shot if you've previously shied away. You won't be sorry!

Rating: * * * *

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cowl in the Round

It's suppose to hit 70 this week in Ohio and I'm knitting cowls. What is wrong with me? Because I loved my seed stitch cowl so much, I decided to move onto a cowl of a different color. I'm still using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn. It's washable and dryable and like its name, it knits up thick and quick.

I've tried knitting in the round before. It didn't go so well. I like to think I've expanded my knitting knowledge over the years so I wanted to give it another try. This was an experiment so I didn't use a pattern. It's a little longer than I wanted. I was looking for more of a funnel-neck cowl that you wouldn't be able to double.

Here's what I did:

Using 13mm circular needles, cast on 73 stitches
Knit a row and the k2tog to join the round
Then I just continued knitting in the round until I reached my desired width. It's about 23 rows, or 8 inches
Then I bound off.

I was hoping it wouldn't roll like it is in this picture. I don't know how to block my knitting so maybe that would help? I should probably do some research on that.

I think next time I won't cast on as many stitches. 6 fewer stitches should make it 2-3 inches smaller. Perfect. Knitting in the round went much better for me this time. The only probably is my needles were twisting in the beginning. Luckily, I caught it in time and was able to flip the project at a spot where you don't even see it.

Love these early springs temps but hoping I can wear this cowl at least one time before I pack it away until fall..........

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recipe Reblog #9

Did you all have an Irish-y day yesterday? I have Scottish roots and am not Catholic so St. Patrick's day for me is no great shakes. If I don't decorate for it, it's a non-holiday. The best part of the 17th for me is the Guinness. Corned beef and cabbage? SO not my jam.

Baked French Toast: Guys. I don't even like French toast but when I saw this recipe on Annie's Eats it spoke to me. What is that about? Call it broadening my breakfast horizons. Maybe it stems from the fact that for the first three quarters (or more) of my life, I did not like breakfast. Didn't like it, wouldn't eat it. The fanciest I got was cereal. And that was only to stop my stomach from growling during 3rd period French in high school. (What I wouldn't give to take French again).

I cut this in half because only 2 people (me and my lover.....just and John) were eating it. I also had to use my Christmas mini loaf pans to bake it. I could really use some proper ramekins. It's made the night before in just a few minutes and results in a fancy Saturday morning breakfast. This meant that after I let Sadie out at 6:30 am and went back to bed, John could pop it in the oven at 7:30 when he declares he's awake for the day.

So, how was it? For me, it was just all right. John loved it. I guess I'm still not a French toast person. It had good flavor but I just don't like soggy bread. I gave it a sleeve in my recipe binder anyway because he liked it so much though. I also think it would be good to serve to our next B&B guests........not that we have any on the books.

P.S. I have since learned the error of my breakfast-hatin' ways. While French toast isn't high on the list, waffles, pancakes, scones, doughnuts, muffins, crepes, egg sammiches and pretty much everything else is A-OK!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


In this new running life of mine, I find myself drawn to stories of elite runners. Call it learning the tricks of a trade I will probably never master. I never thought I would find this topic so fascinating. And please? Do you see the quad muscles on that cover?? Those come from running, y'all.

RUN! is by Dean Karnazes. If you're not familiar with that name, you probably aren't following the running world very closely. Karnazes is a highly decorated elite ultra-marathoner. He regularly runs 100+ mile races. In RUN!, he offers 26.2 (you know, like the marathon?) short stories of his running history, others he's inspired and those who have inspired him. He talks about running overnight, running across famous deserts, Antarctica, for 48 hours on a treadmill and much more. These easy to swallow and often funny snippets just leave you wanting more. If you like running, that is.

I really enjoyed this one, and it was a fast read...... no pun intended. I want to go back and read his first book, Ultramarathon Man. He also has another memoir about running 50 marathons in 50 states on 50 consecutive days. I mean, really? How much more beast can one guy get? Anyway, if you're a runner or an athlete of any kind, you'll appreciate his dedication to his sport. If you have zero interest in running, you'll probably think these feats unbelievable. I am a runner and I even think they're unbelievable.

Rating: * * * 1/2

P.S. Happy Birthday to my Grandma today! She's not reading this but I want you to know she is one fabulous 93 year old lady.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Things You'll Never Hear Me Say:

-These diamonds are just too big for my style.

-No thanks, I'm off carbs.

-Wine isn't my thing.

-Reading is so boring.

This is my new spring polish. I love it but it's very polarizing. The guy at the oil change place said, "That is some wild nail polish" and not in a good way. A friend of mine said all the kids where she teaches are wearing it. Does that mean I'm too old to pull it off? Say it ain't so!

It's Mint Sorbet by Sally Hansen, Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear. All of the expensive brands have their own version of mint green this season but I liked the size of this bottle for $3.19 at CVS. For as much as I'll probably wear it, do I really need to spend $8.50? I don't think so. Also, I don't care what anyone says. Sally often stays on better than a lot of those expensive brands, coughOPIcough.

Also from this past weekend, a tasty looking tray of craft beer. We met our friends at a local winery, Valley Vineyards, that has just started brewing their own beer. There were two that stood out for me over all others: Orange VV, which is an American Wheat with a similarity to Blue Moon and the Port Barrel Ale, which they brew/store in leftover barrels that their port wine ages in. YUM!

Hope you had a great, sunny weekend too!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I read that title somewhere and thought, "OK, I'll bite." Get it? I'll BITE! Never mind. I picked up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith from the library recently. I was actually pretty surprised it was available to check out because the movie version of it is soon to be released. Because they've already made it in to a movie, usually that makes it more popular. Once again, I am ahead of the curve.

In AL:VH, a young Abraham Lincoln learns his mother was killed by a vampire and vows to avenge her death for the rest of his life. He meets a vampire, Henry, who wants to help him off his own kind. Throughout his young adult-hood, Henry sends the name of a vampire to Lincoln periodically and then he goes off to hunt them. He learns many tricks and gains some hunting friends over the years to defeat these vampires. By the time his political aspirations come into view, Lincoln has all but given up the vampire hunting. Unfortunately, they seem to keep finding him in the worst possible ways. Will Lincoln kill them all, or will he succumb to their vampy wiles?

This one was just okay for me. I thought it was a tad slow throughout but it was an interesting take on historical fiction. I'm currently reading Grahame-Smith's well known, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so watch out for the review on that. This one is probably a skip unless you're super into Abraham Lincoln. Even if you're really into vampire-related fiction, I don't think this will do it for you. Cool cover though, eh?

Rating: * * 1/2

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recipe Reblog #8

Soup's On! And also chicken tenders.

Skinny Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup: I eat soup for lunch every day at work. You want to save money and calories? Eat soup for lunch. Economical and healthy. This one is especially healthy. You just need a bag of baby carrots and a few other ingredients you likely have on hand. A few changes I made......I didn't have fresh ginger. I used 1 tsp of ground and it was the perfect amount. Additionally, I do not own an immersion blender. I blended mine in two separate batches in my regular old blender. Put the lid on but leave the center cap off. You need to let that steam loose. P.S. This delicious, easy soup only has a little over 100 calories per serving. If you're a soup lover, this one is right up your alley. Great flavor combo and surprisingly filling.

Maple Mustard Buttermilk Crusted Chicken Tenders: I don't know if it's an eat-with-your-hands thing or what but I LOVE chicken tenders. I would never turn one down. Don't offer one to me if you don't really want to give it up because I will eat it out of your grubby mitts. These chicken tenders though? They're so fancy! I had all the ingredients on hand, which I love. I let them marinate overnight and the seeped in buttermilk made them super juicy. Crusted in panko and cookbaked, get this....on a cooling rack on top of your baking sheet! This lets the heat get all around those bad boys and results in crispity goodness. What? Crispity is to a word. Don't question the English major. Note: You do not need 2 full cups of Panko when breading these. I used 1/2 cups and had plenty left over. MAKE THESE! And then eat them. Better yet. Make them and invite me over to eat them.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No Sweat Sweater Re-fashion Week: Boot Socks

I love my Hunter Wellies. I got them on ebay so I didn't pay the ridiculous $125 price tag that comes attached to them. Everyone should have a good pair of rain boots. You have no idea how often they've come in handy. Just tuck your pants into them and head out in the rain. They're equally as useful in snow. Especially slushy, wet snow which my Uggs really don't care for. I'm a bit of a boot monger. The only problem wearing Hunters in snow is that they have no insulation.

You can pay $40 for these fleece socks at Nordstrom.........


or you can make your own! I'm sure you saw that coming. I didn't make full socks so they're really leg warmers but that also means they're more versatile! The leg warmers don't need the wellies to be worn. You can wear them on their own too.

Remember the pink, cotton cable knit sweater from earlier this week?

And I told you to hang onto those sleeves? I hope you did.

Slide the sleeve on your calf to check the fit. Pin excess sweater on the back seem to desired snugness.

You should still have the ribbed bottom band from the sweater left over. Cut along side seams so you have two pieces of equal length.

With wrongsides together, sew the ribbed band forming a tube so you have a joined circle.

Now, turn your leg warmer rightside out and flip the band over the top of the warmer. Slide those suckers on your legs and marvel at how warm your calves are.

Hi Sadie

Do you feel like a ballerina yet? You know, because dancers wear leg warmers....never mind. Of course you don't have to wear them down around your heel. If you push up the bottoms they'll be a lot slouchier.

In my boots!

Trying to avoid stepping in Sadie piles

Please note that the jeans add another rather bulky layer as these aren't my skinniest pair. Over leggings/jeggings, you won't get the bunching you see here.

Now, isn't free better than $40? It is in my book. Go make your own!

~I might link up this week to Tatertots & Jello, Six Sisters' Stuff, Sisters of the Wild West, and more!~

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No Sweat Sweater Re-Fashion Week: Husband Cardigan

I'm a tall girl. 5'9" to be exact. This can sometimes present a sleeve-length issue when shopping for sweaters. Nothing worse than a too short sleeve, am I right? Take note: if your sleeve does not at least come past your wrist bone, it's too short. Don't try to force it. Just move on. I may be a tall girl but luckily, I married a tall man. John is 6'3" (6'4" if you ask him). He too has long arms but he also has a long torso. This oftentimes results in sweaters that eventually become too short for him.

John has owned this Gap sweater for many years. I rescued it from the Goodwill pile for myself. I love a longer, cozy cardigan and I knew this could turn out to be just such an item. This is really a "boyfriend" sweater but I don't have a boyfriend. I had to change the name since John is my husband. Maybe if I had made this before we were married, then it could be a boyfriend sweater. You can name this cardigan anything you like depending upon the relation of the donor.

If your pockets are deeper than the ocean, you can buy this cashmere version instead for just under $1,800!


Pretty, but I'm sure you'll agree, not a practical expenditure. Let's work on the one that will cost me about $5.00, shall we? First, a little altering as I don't wear a Mens' XL. I put the sweater on myself inside out. Then, with a little help, I pinned the side seams and sleeves in to fit.

I sewed up the sides and down the sleeves with a pretty generous seam allowance. I still need to cut the center for the cardigan and allow for making a placket and finishing the edges.Once sewn, I trimmed the excess sweater from the seams. Hang onto those parts! They'll come in handy depending on your cardigan collar.

If you want to alter a large sweater into a plain crew or v-neck, you can stop here! You've got a brand
new-to-you sweater that fits perfectly. But, since we want a cardigan, let's press on.

Measure the width of the sweater to find your center. You want to measure a couple spots and mark with tailor's chalk or pins so that you're sure to have a straight cut line.

Now it's time to cut! Don't be nervous, just take your time. I also cut off the ribbed crewneck collar and added a slight V-neck to it. I will end up with a shawl collar. Once you've cut, turn the edges in, wrongsides together and sew. This will give you a nice finished edge.

Here we are with my center cuts and button placement. I searched high and low for toggle buttons. OK, I went to two stores. I didn't find what I wanted and I didn't feel like waiting for them to be shipped if I ordered online. Instead, I chose these chunky leather buttons. To make things a bit easier on myself, I skipped the buttonholes. How will you keep your cardigan closed? You ask. Just wait!

These are hair rubberbands! I bought a multicolored pack of them from Target. I don't need 20 rubberbands so I thought I'd take the best coordinated color and use them here. No buttonholes and a fun way to keep the cardigan together.

You'll want to sew over the rubberbands after you've twisted them into a figure 8. I backstitched a couple times as well to really anchor them down.

If you want to make things easier on yourself, you can sew on each button now and be done! I got it in my head that I wanted a shawl collar on my cardigan so again, we'll press on.

Please note, this shawl collar was formed through trial and error. I didn't have a store-made version to look at while I was finagling this one into place. That would have been super helpful. I took the excess fabric from the original alterations and fashioned a tube. The length should run from the top of the V, around the neck and down the other side. The ends will stop just above the first button.

I'm sorry I don't have any pictures of this step. Once I got the collar twisted correctly so it would lay how I wanted, I sewed it onto the sweater.

This is the collar (over the arm of my couch) I just wanted to show a close-up.

Then you need to find the proper placement of your buttons and sew them on. I did this by hand because the buttons were shanked (not flat on the bottom).

Button is a bit heavy but you get the idea -- Fastened with the hair tie

Rough angle - my photographer had the flu

Ignore that gap at the top, please!

Long sleeves, long length, WAY less than $1,800. Winner winner chicken dinner!

The thing to remember when re-purposing sweaters is that sometimes you have to go through a few rough steps to reach your end result. Keep at it. If you have to abandon your original plan to make it work (Tim Gunn!) then that's okay. No one will know any different.

Now, go raid your significant other's closet!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

No Sweat Sweater Re-fashion Week: Dog Sweater

I wore the heck out of this sweater. It was a rather inexpensive purchase from the Gap outlet to begin with so I definitely got my money's worth. Unfortunately, I sweated in it one too many times (if you catch my drift). Chopping it up would solve that problem and the problem of Sadie only owning one sweater, of the Christmas variety.....

Let's get started!

If you don't dress your dogs and are shaking your head at me, too bad. We are having rather seasonable temps now but Sadie is often chilled by winter winds. Her Christmas sweater is somewhat ill-fitting and I don't think she's very comfortable in it. Because she can't talk, I can't be sure on that fact. Additionally, I'm sure she doesn't like wearing it out of season. (who would? dog or human!)

I used said Christmas sweater as a guideline for her new threads. It's essentially two rectangles, one of which is angled at the top. I hope your dog model is more cooperative than mine. I wasn't able to get accurate measurements at all. She kept running away once she caught on that my Milkbone bribery = prodding.

The nice thing about using a ready-made sweater for a project is that the edges won't unravel and are all finished. I kept the ribbing at the bottom of this sweater to add a nice finish on Sadie's sweater.

Since dogs come in all sizes, I can't really give you measurements here. You should have two rectangles to start, one larger and one smaller. The corners then get trimmed off the larger one. This will help the sweater angle around your pup's neck.

I used the ribbing from the v-neck on the sweater as the collar for Sadie's sweater. Additionally, the bottom of the stomach panel will come up higher than the bottom of the top panel. You can see that better below.

Put it on your dog, if she's not acting like a diva, and admire your handiwork!

 Now Sadie is more styling than ever!

I hope you make one for your puppy too. It's snowing as I write this so I guess she'll get to use it this season after all. Sometimes she likes wearing it, sometimes not so much. What an enigma.

Happy sewing!

Monday, March 5, 2012

No Sweat Sweater Re-fashion Week: Cable Knit Pillow

Welcome to No Sweat Sweater Re-fashion Week at
Ashley See, Ashley Does!

If you're like me, you probably have a bunch of sweaters that are just one wear away from the Goodwill pile. Let's do something about that, shall we? This series is designed to help you repurpose those sweaters so that you don't have to give them up completely. The fixes are low to no cost and easy to do! Cheap and easy, sign me up!

Let's get started!

I was really sad to cut up this sweater. I love a good cable knit. It was still in good shape but unfortunately, it accidentally met the dryer one too many times and was far too short for my torso.

Sweater covered pillows are everywhere these days. Observe......

The Company Store

 They always seem so cozy! While magenta isn't really a color that fits into my home decor in a more prominent room, it does happen to be an accent color in my craft room. I purchased a pillow form for $6.00 (half off!) at Joann's. I wanted a small lumbar pillow to lean against while I sew. It was something like 9"x14". I'm hoping it will help me remember to sit back instead of hunch over when stitching.

Save those sleeves for later, people. You'll see them again!

Shove your pillow form through the opening you left on the top seam.

Don't know how to do a blind (slip) stitch? This is a good picture tutorial.
And........Ta da!

Don't have a sewing machine? Get out your needle and thread and do it by hand. It will take a little longer than the 30 minutes (max) it took me but it's only two seams. Get stitching!

Come back tomorrow for a refashion of the canine persuasion.