Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: Clearance Calendars

I'm thrilled to announce the first of many Tidbit Tuesdays! Here begins my soundboard for all those little details in my life; things in my apartment that I love, tips that I've picked up, or secrets around town that I think everyone should know about. It is just something little, fun, cute, easy and/or feel-good!

Favorite images above my desk in my bedroom.

Today I want to post about the images that are currently in my bedroom. They are one of my favorite things on my walls because they were simple, cheap, and I love them more and more every time I look at them! Best part? They probably ran me about $50! The source? Borders and Ikea.

Borders? (I'm verklempt…) I'm still mourning the loss of the Borders bookstores. Many an afternoon have I spent time flipping through design books while sipping on a coffee and working on a design project on my laptop. One of my favorite parts of Borders was their calendar collection. They were pretty pricey, but not the day after New Years!

Every new year, I made the treck to check out the Borders clearance calendars. I believe I got this one for about $4, 8 years ago. It featured amazing replica lithographs from France and Italy on high-quality, textured cover-stock - such a deal! I know it's not always good pickings after the beginning of the year, but Borders used to have quite a selection - even for their clearance (tear!)

These frames rock - matte was included!

I use these calendars for the year, of course, but then store them in my collection. Through the years I have accumulated amazing images for projects, inspiration, and filling frames. 

Being in Madison, Ikea isn't easily available so when I DO get near one - I have a field day! Their frames department is one of my favorites - I love the quality they provide for such a reasonable price! I think I paid $15 for each frame? Score!

So, here are my favorites. I love the vibrant colors and get inspired by their simplicity. These weren't created on a computer (at least the originals!) I love anything that shows a piece of history with printing and design! Don't even get me started with typography... that's for another Tidbit Tuesday :)

Scooters, Umbrellas, and Beer - fun! Things in multiples of 3 are my fav.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Simplicity is Underrated

This last week was one for the books! Literally! I haven't read this much since I was a lifeguard in the summers. Reading was the only thing that gave me an escape from the hours of screaming kiddos, so I read at work whenever I had a break! These days reading takes a back burner to design and projects, but there's one hide-away that Chad and I have come to totally escape from technology, TV, and to-do lists!

So where is this magical place? My grandparents old house near Portage, WI; the place I've (ironically) been physically trekking "over the river, and through the woods" to since I was in middle school. It now belongs to my Aunt and Uncle who generously lets Chad and I escape to whenever we get the chance! It's away from things like town, TV, internet, and it barely gets cell reception. It does have luxuries like washer/dryer, dishwasher, and my favorite - a wood-burning fireplace!

Building a fire is our first priority when we get to the house, along with filling the bird feeder so we can watch them when we wake up. It's usually dark out when we get there on Friday night, so we quick unload, get the fire blazing (Chad is the rightly-named, fire-master!), and get dinner cooking while cracking one of our our well-deserved, favorite beverages!

Stepping back a few steps, our trip actually starts with planning a menu. We go there to get away, so we try to make sure we have everything we need to be locked in for the weekend. Favorite meals are the simplest we can find, or something that doesn't take a lot of maintenance. Great beer or cocktails are always a ritualistic splurge.

This particular trip our poisons of choice were 2 beers. The first was Lake Louie, Arena Premium, a great Wisconsin brew that is one of our favorites right now. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give this beer a solid 4 stars. Its neither light nor heavy, but smooth and satisfying bodied beer that goes well with the pizza and nachos we had for dinner.

For desert we indulged in Chad and my favorite, La Peche! I don't know another beer like this one. We found this amazing Belgian beer on tap at one of our local favorite eateries, but this is our first bottle - here's to celebrating getting away! It is best described as a peach beer/wine/ champagne because it has the best qualities of each. It's not so sweet as champagne, but bubbles. It is dry like a good wine but has a tart bite after-taste that keeps you wanting more. It's a little heavier build like a beer which makes it great for sipping. We drank while we played kicked Chad's butt at rummy-500 and enjoyed the fire.

Beautiful Sunrise over the marsh and lake
Found my Aunt and Uncle's money jars from their games. I think it's pretty clear who is the winner.
My Aunt's jar is on the left :)
View of Marsh and golf course. See any deer?
Coziest living room, ever!
 Fridays in Portage are always my favorite way to decompress after the long week. There's nothing better than having a whole weekend ahead of you to do whatever you want! That is until you get to Saturday mornings - Chad and I woke about 7:30am feeling extremely rested. I guess we are definitely evolving into morning people. Chad even said he enjoys waking up because you have the whole day to do whatever and get a nap in if you want (yay! I love waking up earlier so you can later be spoiled with a nap!)
Our stash and remnants from dinner.
This morning was especially beautiful with the sun shining. There's not much snow for this time of year, but enough that we get the fire going right away to start the day. Yay! The birds have found us so Chad gets the coffee going and while I start breakfast - Monkey Bread! One of my favorites and SO EASY! I, of course also make eggs (gotta have protein or I'll be hungry in about an hour) and bacon - another splurge for this trip! :)

Time to get breakfast going.
Chad is rocking the coffee beans!
We actually sit at the table and enjoy our meal, and then retire to the couches where we read for the entire day! The kindle I received for Christmas is getting lots of use! I finished what turned out to be a great read, John Grisham's', "The Litigators". If you like John Grisham, I recommend this one. It's a lot more witty than his typical works, but a quicker read (this coming from a slower reader.)

I forgot my slippers, so I'm sporting the next best thing - My awesome boots!

It never ceases to amaze me how much the little things make me the happiest of all. I feel so fortunate to have a place like this to escape to where I can forget about daily stresses and just enjoy sitting next to my honey and looking at a fire. We used to have cable at Portage, but I have to say I appreciate it so much more not having that distraction. It's amazing how much time slows when you can flee technologies (with exception of my kindle) and take the time to watch the birdies!

Cmon, birdies! Don't you know breakfast is ready?
Here is my easy recipe for Monkey Bread. Warning, this is not a diet food:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 sticks of butter
3 cans of Buttermilk Biscuits (non-flaky) (these are the small cans that come in a set of 4 cans to a pack)

Pretty much all it takes! Oh, and lots of butter!
Since I like to take as few ingredients to portage as possible, I take a gallon zip-lock and throw in the brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. Easy!

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut up each biscuit into 4 pieces.
Throw 4-8 chunks in bag at a time and shake to coat with sugar mix.
The goal is to get the pieces covered so they stay separated. Oh, and don't
do like me - make sure the bag is totally closed.
Melt butter in bowl in microwave. I do in 30 second increments until melted.
Add sugar balls to bundt pan and drizzle butter over top.

Bake for 30-40 min, until golden brown.

Gotta love a large breakfast!
aahhhhhhhh! This recipe is so amazing with a fresh cup of coffee,
it just makes you want to sing! 
If  you don't have time to sit down for a meal, then you're
taking too much time doing things that don't really matter!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Morning Surprise

One of Madison's favorite places!
Chad is a particular guy. He likes his sleep! Typically I'm the one tip-toeing around while he snoozes in the mornings. This particular Saturday was quite a bit unique. The rooster must have crowed at 5:50 am  because Chad was up-and-at-em before the sun even said good morning! Plus, he was ambitious and chipper - something he doesn't usually achieve until about 10am.

What to do at 6 in the morning? He recommended going to Barns and Noble. "Do you know what actually is open at 6am on a Saturday?" I chuckle. "So, want to work out?" he says. We don't belong to the same gym unfortunately, so this isn't something we can do until the weather gets a bit warmer. How about breakfast?

I'm someone who wakes up and says, "what are we going to eat?" Chad is the opposite - he needs time to gather an appetite. I just can't relate. This morning is weird, though. Did we switch appetites? He was actually hungry while I was still up for snoozing a bit, but for me an adventure always trumps sleep!

Off we go to join the local early birds! There's something special about being up before everyone else. Everything is so still. It feels like you've won some special surprise when you can witness the sun rise. This particular morning is especially great given our weather - it has been amazingly mild for a February in Wisconsin! Plus, we've been spoiled by all the Sun we've had.

If you've never been to Mickies Dairy Bar, I definitely recommend it! The decor is old-school, greasy-spoon but the atmosphere is just special. Typically, it's jam packed and you have to finagle their "first-come-first-grab-a-seat" policy. Game days are especially crazy but definitely worth it. Why? The food is excessive and amazing. It's all badger with red molding and antique signage. Where else can you see a female Bucky with some cleave!

Check out that Bucky :)
We walked in and the place was emptier than we've ever seen it. We could pick out a booth with ease when usually we are crammed in the middle of a table with the other hungry locals. I got my typical scrambler with sausage (I'm in love with eggs, which I'm sure I'll describe in detail at a later date) while Chad got his favorite: chili-cheese omelet. Coffee's all around! The food was especially fast and didn't disappoint in quality or size. We barely made a dent so we'll be set for breakfasts for a few days.
I've never seen this place this empty.

Chili-Cheese Omelet
Chad looking pretty good for 6:30am
I look a bit more rough. Ok, a LOT more rough.

It's gems like this that make me appreciate living in a cool place like Madison. As we left, I gazed right to see the sun rising on Camp Randall - Badger mecca. It's so strange to see it standing proud but serene and quiet. Definitely going to work out today! And get lots done - it's the benefit of getting up so early (probably will squeeze in a nap as well). This will go down in history as a pretty good memory with my honey.

And We're Off....!

Yes, this isn't officially my first blog post. You got me! Last year I was going to start this blog so I got it all set up, posted 3 workouts, and changed my mind. I'm a woman - like I told my boyfriend Chad, "we do those things."

So, the first of a few posts, this has been an evolution! What to call my blog? I started with c.jane.blog... and actually bought the domain. Turns out I liked the blogger interface better than the wordpress I had started with. Mainly because of the price - it was costing a bit more to create a custom blog, which I eventually would like to be able to do without having to pay for it. I couldn't figure out how to transfer the domain, so let's pick a different name, shall we! It's not really about the blogging anyways, it's about what I'm going to be doing, right?

So evolved c.jane.create - great name right? TAKEN! By another very talented chica. I feel I should have a right to the name since my name is actually Jane ;) Oh well - I'm not JUST going to be creating anyways so back to the drawing board.

So, here we are! c.jane.do. No, not doh, as Chad commented... I knew he wouldn't be thrilled by it - but it's true! This is going to be a log of everything I'm doing! Yay - I'm so excited to share what I'm working on and where I'm going and what I'm DOING. Hopefully my passions and experiences will be infectious and inspire you to do the same!

As a fellow 'do-er' I have to warn you, I'm not perfect. Many of my projects end in defeat, but here's to pillaging forward and learning anyways! So, I won't sugarcoat the failures - hopefully have a good laugh. Cheers!
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