around these parts

First of all, thank you for all the extremely kind words about the Feeling Stitchy post! I loved writing it—such a treat six months into our married life. Especially since things are much less glamorous around here…

photoNot pictured: dozens of bags to be sent to goodwill or the trash, dirty dishes (since our dishwasher decided to stop working yesterday!!) and so much stuff that still needs to be packed up.

I know we’ll get it done, but moving is hard. Especially when the weather is so nice and Bernie’s giving us his puppy eyes, reminding us that relaxing is way more fun than packing.

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The actual tasks of moving are just a big pain. And the most difficult part—saying goodbye to our friends—is still yet to come. We’re so excited to be in Boston, but it’s still hard right now.

Luckily, we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and will soon be relaxing in Minnesota with our families before our cross-country haul.

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Patchwork for Baby & a Super Fun Weekend

I’ve been a little MIA lately… It’s been so busy lately organizing for the big move (in a few weeks! ah!) and having lots of visitors. Andy and I just love having friends over and were super lucky to have four great friends from med school spend the weekend with us. One couple’s expecting a baby this summer and I really wanted to make something for the kiddo.

Did you know how many crazy cute sewing patterns are out there for kids? Of course you do, but I did not. I decided to make a little patchwork soccer ball—from Anna Maria Horner’s Seams to Me book—and I’m so happy I did! I found a charm pack of flannel in this super cute animal/ alphabet print, and paired it with some blue cotton from my stash.

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Once all the pieces are cut out, it’s super simple to sew up. The most difficult part is just sewing up the opening after filling the ball with stuffing.  And there you have it! A snuggly toy that will hopefully bring a lot of smiles to the little one.

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During the weekend, we got to soak in lots of Chicago fun-ness: a (super cold) Cubs game and gorgeous Argentinian restaurant.

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Seriously, it was cold.

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The happy couple (and bun in the oven)!

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Our crazy hat hair.

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Brothers!

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Cheers! To Minnesota friends!

photo-1And when we came home, we got to watch our two puppies play and snuggle with one another. It never gets old.

Red Beret

Last year, I knitted myself a beret from a Purl Bee pattern. It was my first venture into knitting with double pointed needles (daunting!), but I was so happy with how it turned out. But… it was a bit too big and it felt like it was always slipping off my head. It fit my mom perfectly, so I generously begrudgingly gave it to her.

Last week, I went on vacation with two of my sisters and decided that was the perfect time to make a new one with a smaller brim. Hilton Head was absolutely gorgeous: warm, ocean air and lots of sister time.

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I knitted a bit every day—usually while zoning out to the Kardashians. When I got home, I finished it up and wove in the ends. Presto! A nice little beret that fits much better and matches my Spring coat.

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To make the brim smaller, I casted on 100 stitches instead of 128, then just followed the instructions the exact same way from there on out.

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There you have it! Super simple and very fun—I’m already thinking up my next beret, maybe a slouchier one in black or grey. I still have two skeins of this nice red yarn left, so I might attempt a matching lace shawl. Even thought winter’s almost over here…

Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Bernie the Basset turns 1!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that Bernie’s birthday was a few weeks ago. We officially celebrated last night with dinner, a doggy cake and his new best friend, Dolly. I never thought I’d throw my dog a birthday party, but it was the perfect excuse to have friends over!

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It’s gone by so fast. Seriously, I feel like I was just emailing breeders. Our little 45-lb snuggle bug can definitely be a handful, but has brought Andy and I so much laughter and love. Pretty much everything he does is pure comedy, so you can count on at least one big belly laugh every day you have him around.

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Andy made him and Dolly a cake (using this recipe), which was a big hit. We know this since it was inhaled in a few seconds. We also made a human cake, chocolate with chocolate frosting, for us to enjoy. I quickly sewed up some bunting for the cake using ribbon, fabric scraps and bamboo skewers.

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Cue the instagram-ing (courtesy of Elise & Andy):
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Valentine’s Day Mules Frites

We celebrated Valentine’s day yesterday since I had a class Thursday evening. Making mussels is our little tradition, so we had a full-fledged Belgian feast with (oven baked) fries, mussels in a Leffe beer sauce, bread and beer! We also had brownies for desert, which is not Belgian at all, but were super yummy.

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Here’s Andy scrubbing the mussels. Bernie just wants to know what all the fuss is about…

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Here are the little babies right before we put the lid on. The sauce was super simple—just a few shallots, garlic, rosemary and about a cup of beer.

photo (30)And here’s the meal in all it’s glory. Unfortunately, the mussels ended up being super tiny and thin. We have no idea why (not that we know very much about mussels)—maybe a weird batch?

The good news its that they were still delicious and we feel fine today 🙂 The better news is that the sauce was perfect for dipping the fries and bread.

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What do you like to cook for a celebration? For some reason, we’re all about the seafood.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Christmas Recap

Christmas 2012 was a blast. I’m very sad it’s over, which is why it’s taken me so long to write up this post!

My family and Andy’s family traveled to Chicago to celebrate all together. So all 10 people of two clans spent the days eating and lounging in our apartment. It was so much fun, even though our place isn’t huge. Our families were such good sports and helped us so much with the food and gifts.
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When Andy’s parents arrived, him and his mom were wearing (almost) the same sweater! Ha. It was a great way to start off the weekend.

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On Christmas Eve, we had a big fondue fest. We had fondue pots of oil and cheese, then another at the very end with chocolate. As you can see, it was hard not leave stuffed!photo-8

The tablecloth is actually just a large piece of $1.99/ yard muslin! Since fondue can be messy and oily, I was afraid to use any of our nice, new tablecloths. One long piece of muslin was perfect–and it was so nice to just throw it away at the end of dinner.

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On Christmas Day, we spent the morning opening gifts and eating a super-relaxed brunch. Then… we settled in for a movie marathon.

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Getting the time to relax together is one of the best parts of Christmas. And Bernie seriously, seriously loved having so many people around. He’s just so social and loves our families, so it just always having someone new to play with or snuggle up with was the best present he could ask for. Of course, he also got several other little gifts.

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For Christmas dinner, my dad and Andy cooked a beef tenderloin perfectly. I pre-made baked artichoke hearts and a roasted butternut squash galette that just needed to be popped in the oven. I also made some fingerling potatoes and carrots, and crescent rolls since no holiday feast is complete without a basket of those!

Andy and I loved hosting our first Christmas together. We are just so lucky to have families that enjoy spending time with each other so much–and were willing to travel to be with us! 

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a fabulous time ringing in 2013! We had a great time celebrating at a friend’s home. photo-1

There’s nothing like dancing in a basement. Especially when there’s a smoke machine. #amiright

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2012 was such an amazing year for Andy and me. Andy graduated medical school and matched into residency programs. We got an amazing puppy and moved to Chicago for his internship. It was certainly hard to leave our families and the Twin Cities, but it’s so much fun being close to college friends and exploring a new town.

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Oh yeah, we also got married! This was certainly the highlight of the year. (Photo by Becca Dilley.)

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All in all, 2012 was one of the best years of our lives! After ringing in the new year, we chatted about if there’s any way 2013 could be as much fun. It won’t be as eventful, but we’re just so excited to move to Boston this summer, set up a home there and see what else is in store for us!

Some Yuletide Swag

Christmas is in full swing here in our little home! We bought our first real tree and spent the day yesterday setting it up and decorating it. After browsing at a small tree yard, we decided to go to Home Depot and grab a cheaper one. Thankfully, it turned out really well!

Andy and I will host Christmas this year, so we want to spruce up the apartment but not break the bank. A little craftiness is just the solution.

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For decorations, we used the felt star and birds that I made a few years ago using PurlBee’s tutorials (with a few adaptations). We also dried orange slices and used some scrap red yarn from my stash to hang them up. Drying oranges makes the apartment smell so good! We also received many beautiful ornaments for wedding presents. Gorgeous ornaments are such a treat!

I think it’s still missing something. Maybe I’ll string cranberries or make some sort of other garland. Not sure.

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I used the bottom row of branches that were trimmed off at Home Depot to make a few more decorations. I cut off lots of needles and small branches to decorate the mantle. Aren’t the stockings cute? Andy’s mom so kindly sewed them up for us.

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I used the rest of the branches and some ribbon from my stash to make a little decoration for the door. It’s certainly not going to last a lifetime, but it’s a fun way to use up extra branches. The red string with a bell on the door is for our puppy to tell us when he needs to go outside, and the red wooden shoe holds our keys. While these are up all year, I think the red color makes the door hanging look even more festive!

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We can’t put any presents under the tree because of that little snuggle muffin. While Bernie is pretty well-behaved for a 9-month old puppy, the wrapping paper and cardboard are just too tempting. So I think the presents will just stay safely in the bedroom or on top of the bookcase.

How are you decorating for the Holidays?

Advent Calendar

I love the tradition of Advent Calendars–they are just so beautiful and make enjoying the anticipation so much fun! I wanted to make one for our home this year, and after paging through the Martha Stewart Living Christmas issue I found the perfect simple calendar to replicate:

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Our apartment has a narrow hallway perfect for this calendar, but since the wall is painted a light sage-y green #gross #renting, I decided to use white envelopes instead of red. I did find a super pretty red and pink padded envelope to use for the trunk.

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I placed rolls of painters tape on the backs of the envelopes and spread them out to form a tree pattern. Once they were all stuck onto the wall, I wrote the dates in the corner of each envelope in red pen.  Sorry about the bad picture–the hallway is very narrow and not well lit.

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Instead of small gifts, Andy and I decided to just write small notes to each other every day. Oh and Bernie is our dog, if you’re wondering! We just write something we’re thankful for, or a little joke, or a reason why we love the other person. It’s been so fun and much more special than a piece of chocolate. Hopefully this will become a new Christmas tradition for us!

Have you made any Christmas decorations or crafts recently? Since the weather is turning colder, I’ve been sewing and quilting much more. Can’t wait to share them with you soon!

Happy Birthday to Andy!

Last month, we celebrated Andy’s birthday! I must admit that I wasn’t up for planning a big event, right after the wedding. So we just invited a bunch of friends over for pizza and beer.

Chocolate and peanut butter is one of his favorite flavor combinations, and a few years ago I found the perfect cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I mean, just look at those photos. It’s like a gourmet reese’s peanut butter cup!

So for the big 2-7 I decided to whip it up again. With the help of his super cute cousin, Annie, it came out pretty well! I’m still not very good at frosting cakes, but the chocolate glaze covers up all the imperfections. The cake is super duper rich. I mean, intense. So you only need a very small sliver. But that didn’t keep me from eating up all the leftovers. Oh well.

Photo courtesy of Elise O’Brien and her talented instagraming! Thanks!