I love the look of vintage mid century paper houses.  They're so quirky and fragile with their cardboard roofs and chunky glitter snow.  I got overly ambitious and decided to make a miniature of our house, which is a complicated Victorian and I would not recommend it unless you have a lot of time on your hands or are really, very bored. 
Luckily, I had both of those while I was stuck at a dead-end desk job where I had a lovely view of a wall all day and sometimes didn't see another human for a week at a time and had unlimited office supplies on hand.  Anyhow, I've made some simpler patterns for you to download here.  If you're feeling ambitious and want to make your own house I can tell you how below. 


Let me start this post by saying, less is more in the kitchen.  You know how they say that you should take off one accessory before you leave the house?  Well, I need to take that advice when it comes to my recipe inventions.  I just get crazy and start adding all sorts of things and before I know it, I've got some whackadoodle concoction that my poor husband has to bravely eat his way through.  He may actually be pawning it off on the poor dog, but at least I'm oblivious to it.

I had it in my head all day that I wanted to make a pot pie for supper.  It's cold and both the Man and I are in sweaters all the time, so what's a little bit off extra puff around our middles going to hurt?  Bring on the comfort carbs!

I was so proud of myself because I was going to use up a store-bought pie crust that had been lurking in the freezer, just waiting for me to forget about it for a year or three. I tried to thaw the pie crust in the microwave, which resulted in a molten blob of crust wrapped tidily in a plastic tube.  The dog was happy with that at least.  Off to make a real crust.  In retrospect, I should have known it was an "off" cooking day for me and I should have just made spaghetti, but I was determined.

Crust was made successfully at least.  I happily started to throw the sauce together just as the Man came home.

"I feel like Julie in that movie about Julia Child.  You know, working all day and dreaming about making food at home"  I yammered on to the Man about this, blissfully unaware that the sauce was adhering itself to the pan with a nice, black char.

A quick transfer to a bowl and the sauce was saved.  Into the crust it went and everything looked splendid.  It baked to a nice golden brown and filled the house with that Sunday-dinner-at-your-grandma's kind of smell.

I cut into it and it was neon yellow.  Whoah.

Once you've turned a sauce neon yellow, you can't go back.

"It tastes really good, love, but the sauce...why is it yellow?"

"Umm, I think I should not have put Turmeric in it"

"It's good...but I don't know if people in a restaurant would...order it"  That's my man, trying so hard to be nice.  He's the best.  He's also probably remembering the time I overreacted just a bit to his negative comment on my Thanksgiving meal gravy. I responded by throwing the whole meal in the garbage, turkey and all, and crying for about an hour.  Not proud of that one, although I'm sure we'll get some good laughs about it when we're more gray up top.

We both ate it, I ate it for lunch for the whole week.  The Man politely declined my offer to pack him some.  He had two helpings at home, but I'm guessing he didn't want to field questions about what the heck kind of a neon pie he was eating for lunch at work.

After a conversation with my amazing sister who can take a plain potato and make it taste fabulous with a pinch of salt and whatever magic she has that makes everything taste good, I realized I may have over seasoned a bit.

"What spices did you use in the pie?"

"Ohh, some of this, some of that.  Salt, pepper, turmeric-"

"Oh my, why?"

"I also put in sage, rosemary-"

"Amber!  That's too much with ham!  Maybe just a little thyme next time"

"Oh, I put that in, too"

She may have smacked her hand to her head while shaking it in disbelief, but I was laughing so hard I couldn't tell.

I think I need to call her for an intervention before I put any more spices into any recipe.

Well, since I've pre-screwed up this recipe for you, have no fear now, as I'll spend some more time tweaking it and post a really tried and true pot pie recipe soon.  In the meantime, remember, less is more.


It's hard to find good DIY gift ideas for guys that aren't froufy or feminine.  Aside from the occasional manly DIY I find, they are usually something that my man would feel really silly using or wearing. Here, I've rounded up some of my favorite non-froufy DIY projects that I think the manly man in your life will probably appreciate.

1. infused vodkas + free labels
2. the greatest fire starters
3. cork or wood sunglasses
4. ranch dressing seasoning mix
5. manly leather wallet + easy pattern instructions
6. diy whiskey making kit
7. tiny desk desert
8. sweet & spicy pickled onions
9. garlic soy pickled green beans
10.homemade bitters + free printable labels oak cutting board

If you're looking for more ideas, you should check out The Art of Manliness blog.  It's one of my favorites and is always full of manly man ideas for the modern gentleman.


sketch line drawing free printable craft images graphics
click on the image to download
*Update to post:
Well, my garlic grew just fine.  And so did some garlic that I planted in the Spring! Who knew?  Well, I'm sure some experienced gardeners did.  Anyhow, don't feel down if you didn't get your garlic in the ground in the Fall; go ahead and plant some bulbs as soon as you can work the ground in the Spring.  Good luck!

If I could have only one condiment/spice/flavoring for the rest of my life it would be garlic.  I put it in everything and have more than once been told to tone it down a bit (my brother was once eating some shrimp scampi that I'd made and had to put his foot down about my allium love when he brought a scoop of scampi to his mouth that was 90% minced garlic).

The problem is, I just can't seem to get it to grow.  Well, that's not totally true- one year I planted it too early and it sprouted, but then it died after the first frost.  Another year I planted it too late and we also had a harsh winter and none of those sprouted.  This is my last-ditch effort to grow garlic this year and I'm determined to get it right.

No sources that I could find could give me anything more specific for Iowa garlic planting than "___ weeks before first frost".  I don't know if those people have ever been to Iowa, but "first frost" could happen any time from late September to November and even then it could get warm again or freeze earlier than that or later- who knows.  In fact, just last week I was outside working in a t-shirt on Sunday and it was 20'F and snowing on Monday; we haven't even gotten to the craziest weather of the season.


The Windfall is named for the apples gathered from the ground- the best of which are destined for apple cider and apple wine- two of my favorite beverages.

There's a chill in the air here that signals Fall and Winter's encroach, but for now, let's settle into Fall. Cozying up to a smoky wood fire surrounded by the rich jewel tones of the changing scenery, apple orchards, family gatherings, sweater season- could there be a better time of year?  Well, Christmas, but that can wait.  For now, Fall, you've got the stage.

This cocktail is slightly bitter.  So, if you're tired of sicky-sweet cocktails hailing from the heyday of the Appletini, you'll find this drink to be a refreshing change.  Campari lends it's herbaceous red tinge to this Apple Cider and vodka cocktail.  Lemon, spices, and dash of bitters finishes it off.


Thank you to all the veterans out there who have served our country in both peace and war time. 

I've made a simple little Kilroy Veteran's Day Card for you, in case you couldn't find a card at the store or you'd rather just print one yourself.  Click on the photo above to download the PDF file.  You can either print it or send it as an email attachment if you aren't able to mail it.



Vintage books
Cost: $0.75 cents each

Oh, what a glorious find these were.  Usually the old books get pretty picked over at thrift stores, but these were just sitting on a shelf in a happy little gilded group waiting to come home with me.  I couldn't split them up, of course, so I bought them all.  A 1926 copy of Pilgrim's Progress is my favorite, but the others added up to quite a good classic books catch: Othello, War and Peace, Oliver Twist, Robinson Crusoe, and Stevenson's children's poems.  And also a 1910 classroom book on hygeine- I love to learn about how people lived at the turn of the century.  I have a book on health and fitness from the 1890's that says that it's acceptable to call a rotund individual "fat man" instead of their name- oh how far we've come, huh?