Wednesday, August 31, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge

I've seen a million 30 day photography challenges...Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter...if you are on any sort of social networking site I am sure you have seen them too. For my big 3-5 on Monday, Mr. T surprised me...I mean REALLY surprised me, with a new camera. I have been using a point and shoot for the last few years, and he upgraded it for me :) I know nothing about cameras, photography, or anything of the sort, so I figured what better way to explore this new adventure than to get it out everyday and take a picture of something new. Here's the list:

Day 1: Self-Portrait
Day 2: What You Wore Today
Day 3: Clouds
Day 4: Something green
Day 5: From a high angle
Day 6: From a low angle
Day 7: Fruit
Day 8: A bad habit
Day 9: Someone you love
Day 10: Childhood memory
Day 11: Something blue
Day 12: Sunset
Day 13: Yourself with 13 things
Day 14: Eyes
Day 15: Silhouette
Day 16: Long Exposure
Day 17: Technology
Day 18: Your shoes
Day 19: Something orange
Day 20: Bokeh
Day 21: Faceless self-portrait
Day 22: Hands
Day 23: Sunflare
Day 24: Animal
Day 25: Something pink
Day 26: Close-up
Day 27: From a distance
Day 28: Flowers
Day 29: Black and White
Day 30: Self-Portrait

It works out great...there are 30 challenges and 30 days in September. I am hoping to incorporate my pictures with projects, and other "stuff" from around the house. My goal is to learn something new about my camera everyday...feel free to join in on the fun. See you tomorrow...

Rachel :)

...because I never want to borrow someone else's idea without giving them credit, my list came from White Peach Photography.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I have a new addiction...I know it's completely random, but it incorporates my love of history and things that are cool. I've decided to start a collection, which is a pretty big step for me because I'm not a collection having kind of girl. Unless you count Cabbage Patch Kids (elementary school), converse (middle school), stamps (dare I say high school...yeah, I was cool),  and snow globes (what was I thinking?!?)

So back to it, my new addiction, obsession, infatuation, and hopefully collection are Japanese Glass Fishing Floats. When it comes to things like this I am generally a day late and a dollar short. I am so unlike Marlene who wears clothes a good year or two before they are trendy. I'm definitely a late bloomer, so if you know all about them then you can just stop reading here.

If not...

Japanese Glass Fishing Floats were once used by fishermen in many parts of the world to keep their nets afloat. Large groups of fishnets strung together, sometimes 50 miles (80 km) long, were set adrift in the ocean and supported near the surface by hollow glass balls or cylinders containing air to give them buoyancy. These glass floats are no longer being used by fishermen, but many of them are still afloat in the world's oceans, primarily the Pacific. The earliest floats, including most Japanese glass fishing floats, were hand made by a glassblower. Recycled glass, especially old sake bottles, was typically used and air bubbles in the glass are a result of the rapid recycling process. After being blown, floats were removed from the blowpipe and sealed with a 'button' of melted glass before being placed in a cooling oven. (This sealing button is sometimes mistakenly identified as a pontil mark. However, no pontil (or punty) was used in the process of blowing glass floats.) While floats were still hot and soft, marks were often embossed on or near the sealing button to identify the float for trademark.

Today most of the glass floats remaining in the ocean are stuck in a circular pattern of ocean currents in the North Pacific. Although the number of glass floats is decreasing steadily, many floats are still drifting on these ocean currents. Occasionally storms or certain tidal conditions will break some floats from this circular pattern and bring them ashore. They most often end up on the beaches of Alaska, Washington or Oregon in the United States, Taiwan or Canada. It is estimated that floats must be a minimum of 7–10 years old before washing up on beaches in Alaska. Most floats that wash up, however, would have been afloat for 10 years. Once a float lands on a beach, it may roll in the surf and become "etched" by sand. Many glass floats show distinctive wear patterns from the corrosive forces of sand, sun, and salt water. When old netting breaks off of a float, its pattern often remains on the surface of the glass where the glass was protected under the netting. Other floats have small amounts of water trapped inside of them. This water apparently enters the floats through microscopic imperfections in the glass while the floats are suspended in Arctic ice or held under water by netting. To accommodate different fishing styles and nets, the Japanese experimented with many different sizes and shapes of floats, ranging from 2 to 20 inches (510 mm) in diameter. Most were rough spheres, but some were cylindrical or “rolling pin” shaped. Most floats are shades of green because that is the color of glass from recycled sake bottles (especially after long exposure to sunlight). However, clear, amber, aquamarine, amethyst, blue and other colors were also produced. The most prized and rare color is a red or cranberry hue. These were expensive to make because gold was used to produce the color. Other brilliant tones such as emerald green, cobalt blue, purple, yellow and orange were primarily made in the 1920s and 30s.

no...I'm not that smart, information was copied and pasted from Wikipedia

Marlene is going to make so much fun of me for this very nerdy post, but before you jump to any conclusions, check out these awesome pictures...

all images via For the Love of a House
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Apparently these are pretty rare, although fakes (good ones and bad ones) are fairly easy to find. Is a good fake as good as an original? Would you know the difference? Would your friends? Does it matter...?

Rachel :) Pin It

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Shout-Outs

Many thanks this weekend to the bloggers who featured us last week...

Katie from Sew Woodsy is becoming a great blogger friend! This is the second time she has featured one of our projects! I follow Katie on Pinterest and Twitter and she is full of fabulous ideas! Check her out at Sew Woodsy!

And on Friday, Michelle, from Faith, Trust, and a Little Pixie Dust featured our Lemonade Stand in her Fab Briday Favorites. Thanks Michelle!!!

Rachel :) Pin It

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday's Find

A few months ago I ran across this picture from Pinterest:

For the Love of a House
First, I love, love, love this kitchen. Completely my style. 110%. If you do one thing today, CLICK on the link. You will heart it too. Second, I really heart the glass canisters under the cabinet. I heart them so much that when I ran across them at WalMart (yes, I really said WalMart) I bought three. Here they are:

The great thing about these...they are $6.97...super affordable! The bad thing...there is no seal. Fine for dog treats and popcorn. You probably wouldn't want to fill them with baking ingredients. Have a super great Friday!

Rachel :) Pin It

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Frozen Chicken

A few weeks ago, Jen from i heart organizing, wrote a great post about organizing her kitchen. While my entire kitchen needs an organization overhaul, I figured I could start small with the freezer. Every time I open my freezer frozen chicken falls out and lands on my foot...ouch! Jen bought containers at The Container Store, but I went to the local Kmart to see what they had instead. $11 and 15 minutes later, I was on my way home with three ice cube bucket storage thingies...




The bins worked great. One has Gogurt for the Smurfs to put in their lunch boxes. The middle one has veggies in it, and the last one holds our meats. I don't buy or freeze too terribly much, so the small containers work for us. I put the boxed goods and ice packs under the shelf, and the larger packages in the door. Easy peasy!!

Rachel :) Pin It

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yummy, Yummy

Every now and then I like to share a recipe that the family loves. Well, we LOVE this dinner. The Smurfs request it every week and it has become a fast family favorite...

Spinach Lasagna Rolls from
Gina's Skinny Recipes

Servings: 9 Serving Size: 1 roll Old Points: 4 pts Points+: 6 ww pts
Calories: 224.9 • Fat: 5.1 g Fiber: 3.4 g Protein: 13.0 g Carbs: 31.5

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 32 oz tomato sauce
  • 9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

If you are paying attention then you have already realized that the recipe calls for 9 noodles and there are 12 in my's my adaptation of the original recipe:

in bowl number 1 I mix:

1/2 pound browned ground beef
1/2 container 15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded parm cheese
1 egg
salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste

in bowl number 2 I mix:
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 container 15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded parm cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

From here I follow the rest of the recipe. Each bowl makes 6 lasagna rolls. 12 fit into a 9x13 pan easily and are super yummy! My picture is a little janky, so click the link above to check out Gina's awesome pictures!

Make, eat, and enjoy!

Rachel :)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Like a Virgin

Today is the first day of the Virgo! Since I'm a Virgo, I thought I'd test my astrological sign information just to see if I'm compatible with myself...

Virgo's Birthday:
"Intelligent and analytical, Virgos have an affinity for learning new things, and excellent memories for retaining the information. They also get a kick out of sharing their knowledge." hmmmmmm...did you know the RI State House has the 4th largest self-supported dome in the world...

Virgo's Style:
"Virgos are meticulous about their appearance, and err on the practical side of fashion. Leave the fuss and frills out this fall and go for a more classic look with knee-length pencil skirts and tailored jackets. If you’re feeling the need to embellish, then opt for colorful accessories."

do protective eye glasses count as an accessory?
Virgo's Colors:
"As an earth sign, Virgo’s colors are beiges, tans, browns and greens, which are very soothing to the sign’s anxious temperament. Surround yourself with earthy hues."

does a big purple chalkboard count as soothing?
Virgo's Mood:
"Virgos have very overactive minds, which can cause a lot of angst. Combat the ailing effects of stress with a weekly restorative yoga class."

me, do yoga?...never!

Virgo's Personality:
"Constantly analyzing and critiquing everything, Virgos can be quite hard on themselves and are easily disappointed." everything I do is quite lovely, thank you

Virgo's Day of the Week:
"Hardworking and dutiful, it seems fitting that Virgo's lucky day lands in the middle of the workweek, on Wednesday. Happy hump day to you!" no way...I think the last day I took off was a Saturday...

Virgo's Home:
"Virgos can often spend so much time trying to organize their thoughts that they forget about their homes. But a cluttered space is a cluttered mind, and Virgos are very sensitive to their surroundings. You'll be happiest when things are in their right places, so get yourself some space savers to bring some harmony into your home." my house is never cluttered...

Virgo Workout:
"Exercise is a crucial part of a Virgo's healthy lifestyle, and chances are that you're already committed to a routine. However, the body becomes complacent when it does the same workout week in and week out. Try some new moves that will force your muscles to respond."

Meredith_Miller_claimed_her_very_first_national_title_in_the_elite_women_s_road_race_after_eleven_years_of_racing.sized it's not me, but I was hoping if I
made it small enough you might think it was...
Virgo Creative Outlet:
"Virgos' manifestation skills are unmatched by the other signs in the Zodiac, and they have the power to create their own realities with their minds." did you hear that people!!! i have the ability to create my own little world!

Virgo Hobby:
"As the universe's planners, Virgos love a good project. Start a garden: Your earthy nature will thrive in the dirt, and your methodic disposition will enjoy the whole process from beginning to end. Plus, gardening is also another great way to get you to relax a bit." I pots...

Virgo Money:
"Perhaps it's their sensibility or dislike for the spontaneous, but Virgos are known to be prudent—dare I say tight—with their money." me...tight...never! I only shop at the BEST thrift stores...

Virgo BFF:
"True Virgos are somewhat reserved and don't allow themselves to enter new relationships easily, making the few friends they do have extremely valuable. Independent and fairly unemotional, you probably don't do well with overly needy girlfriends who take your matter-of-factness personally. You would most likely find a good balance with a BFF of the same sign."  I guess I'll keep Marlene for now...I might kill a BFF with the same sign. Plus if would take me forever to find a new one...

Rachel :)
all information from here
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Customer Service...Or Bad?

If you've been reading for a while, you'll remember my breakfast nook. You know...the one that used to look like this:

that now looks like this:

It's super great, but I've been struggling with what to put in there for a table and chairs. The farmhouse table I built for my mom looked GREAT...oh yeah, it was for my mom.

Now that it is gone, I have our round pedestal table in there. I bought it three years ago at a Wood You store and stained it dark...really dark.

I'm committed to keeping the table (for a little while at least) because 1. it's not in the budget for a new one and 2. it's not in the budget for a new one. So this leads me to chairs for the awesome breakfast nook and super dark table. Here are some that I like:

White French Bistro Side Chair, Set of 2 | World Market
French Bistro Side Chair
Elana Banana Leaf Chair Set
Banana Leaf Chair

Here is what I HEART but my checkbook does not:

Jackson Metal Tub Chair | World Market
Jackson Metal Tub Chair

I bought these at Ballards Outlet but the were too big and too white (I'm starting to sound like Goldilocks):

Set of 2 Provence Dining Chairs
Provence Dining Chair
I was disappointed when I got home with them and realized they were not great, but Smurfette needed a desk chair in her room, so now they live (and look fab) in there. I then ordered these from

Ok...let me back up. I ordered the chairs from Target before I bought the chairs from Ballards. I love ordering from Target because the selection on the website is much better than in stores and you can return it to their store without having to ship it back. Plus I got free shipping. Super! I was waiting for the chairs to arrive when Sarah and I made an impromptu trip to the Ballard Outlet. The plan was if the Ballard chairs worked, I would return the Target chairs. The Ballard chairs didn't work (can't return those), so I waited for the Target chairs. And waited. And waited. I finally received an email from Target that said the order was taking longer that usual to process and I could cancel if needed because it had been so long. Two days later, guess what? The chairs arrived!! We unboxed them, put them together, and...I'm not in love. I'm not really in like either. They are great, don't get me wrong, but the backs are a little high and they over power the area. Ok, I figured I'd return them to the store. The next day I get another email from Target...they are sorry, they have canceled my order because they are unable to fill it...hmmmmmmm...but I received my order!?! I checked my account online and sure enough my order has been canceled. No trace. No order number. Nothing. I check my credit card. No charge. Nothing. I call Target because I have no receipt and can't return the chairs I don't heart without a receipt. The nice man at the other end of this phone call had this to say...

nice man, "I'm sorry but there is no record of this order number."

me, "But I ordered these chairs and now they are here and I don't like them and I want to return them."

nice man, "I'm sorry but you can't return them."

me, "But I want too..."

nice man,  "Nope. Sorry."

me, "But Target made a mistake and it's not my fault and I'd like to return them."

nice man, "Well, just consider it your lucky day."

The conversation went on for 20 more minutes, but I'm sure you get the picture. I am now the lucky owner of some chairs I don't heart. He assured me I would never be charged and to consider this a gift from Target. So I really can't justify going out and spending money on my dream chairs when I have free chairs...

Rachel :(
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday's Find

I can't go longer than a week ago without venturing into some sort of antique, thrift, junk, salvage store. Call them what you want...I HEART them. Because of this, and because of all the cool things I find, I am going to start a weekly series called "Friday's Find" to share my rummaging experiences with you. Sometimes I buy. Sometimes I don't. I have a board on Pinterest called "Things to Hunt For" if you ever want to see what I'm looking for. It's the stuff I'm not looking for that gets me.

I've wanted a runner for our kitchen for some time. For a while I had my heart set on the Farrah Rug from Ballard Designs. I waited and waited for it to go on sale. I waited so long they discontinued it. I even stalked Dana over at House Tweaking to see if she would keep an eye out for one at the Ballard Outlet near her house (I'm pretty sure I now can't go within 1000 feet of her house...) Unfortunately, she doesn't want to be my personal shopper or my best friend, so I'm still stuck with Marlene (who wouldn't even call the Ballard Outlet near her house). Turns out the Farrah Rug is back in. I'm keeping it on the back burner...because here's what I found yesterday...

It's a 9 foot, large weave, sisal rug from The Company Store. I got so excited and called Marlene who said, "The Company Store has rugs?" Whatever. It's still a little janky from being rolled up, but it is beeeeeuuuuutiful and in great condition. I HEART my favorite thrift store!

Rachel :) Pin It

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hello Providence!

Have I ever mentioned that I love trains? I mean LOVE trains! I'm not really sure are fine. I hate flying. I absolutely love train travel. Last summer the Smurfs and I took Amtrak from NYC to Boston and it was the best 4 hour ride ever! So, imagine how thrilled I was when Sarah and I decided to take a train Sunday from Boston down to Providence, RI. Beyond excited!! I had been through Providence before...the Amtrak ride from NYC to Boston went through there and it is so beautiful! Exploring Providence on foot was the perfect way to spend my last day in the northeast. We toured Brown University, the College Hill Neighborhood, Providence Place, Downtown, the Financial District, and the State House. Wonderful day! Wonderful architecture! Wonderful friends!

on the train to Providence

First Baptist Church in America circa 1638

John Brown House

Brown University
College Hill Neighborhood

Row Houses in College Hill

Providence Place

CIty Hall

Downtown Providence

Rhode Island State House

If you look really close at the last picture you can see Sarah's husband J at the podium in the center. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if he runs for president one day. I told him I'd be his campaign manager so I figured I'd go ahead and get a jump on the competition...

J for President

I thought this would make a great picture for the side of his campaign bus. Especially with the Independent Man on top of the dome...Here's a bit of my nerdy trivia for you: The Rhode Island State House has the 4th largest self-supported marble dome in the world. It is in good company with the Vatican, Taj Mahal, and the Minnesota State House as the top three. Impressive...

Rachel :) Pin It

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh Boston...

I just returned from a super great four filled days in Boston. My dear friend Sarah...aka...the Hostess with the Mostess...moved there a few months ago and we've been planning this weekend ever since. It was a true girls weekend...lots of walking, shopping, art, history, and fun...

morning walk over the Charles River

who doesn't love a good skyline?

hello, you wonderful city

where everybody knows your name...

Beacon Hill

twin french blue doors

more blue doors...i'm in love...
great entrances

shopping on Newbury Street
Harvard, you had me at hello...

Harvard's Weld Boathouse


Harvard's Baker Library

Harvard Business School Dean's House
Harvard Bell Tower
me and the Hostess with the Mostess
I still can't believe what a wonderful trip it was...looking back at all the pictures has me itching to go again. It was such a different trip from traveling with kids. Last summer the Smurfs and I spent five days in Boston. While we had a great time then, this time I was really able to relax and absorb all the city has to offer. More to come tomorrow...

Rachel :)
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