Archive | August, 2012

DIY canisters

27 Aug
These jars are incredibly easy to make!  I used old pickle and olive jars.  I painted the lids and a matching cowboy/indian in the same color.  I adhered the action figure to the top of the lid with heavy duty glue(e6000).

Crazy about summer camp

23 Aug
My husband and I took the kids this summer to YMCA camp in Missouri, along with close friends and their family.  I thought we would find it kitschy, sit by a campfire and later laugh about our odd vacation spot. 
Needless to say I LOVED camp and would venture to say it was one of the most memorable times I have had to date.  There were countless activities to fill the balmy days for kids and adults.  Some of the activities included zip lining, paddle boating, alpine swing, under water basket weaving and my personal favorite paddle boarding!  I relished the fact I could easily zip across the lake on the board and my ever competitive husband could not stand erect!  Check out photo below as proof of my awesome ability and then imagine my 6 foot four-inch husband clutching the board while horizontal in water-really.
Summer camp reminds me of some of my best childhood memories at Camp Lutherhaven.  I remember the way the rustic cabin envelopes you at the end of a long day as camp winds down.  I love jumping into a cool lake early in the day as the sun dances on the water.  I even enjoy the camaraderie of eating in a mess hall, planning the days activities.  All events free of the mental exhaustion that typically accompanies life’s banal day-to-day.  Although I am not a dedicated Lutheran to date I still adore camping in a cabin and singing songs fireside.  Huge props to YMCA family camp in the Ozarks! 
Recently a girlfriend directed me to this arty website regarding cool, adventure seeking family camp!  Look how incredible this place in Wisconsin looks!  Fun to be had in the great outdoors!

Midwest Lake Vacation Spots: Wandawega Lake Resort

Posted Chicago magazine

A summer-camp–like stomping ground just two hours from Chicago

By Jan Parr

Rope swings at Lake Wandawega



If your idea of a lake getaway involves cabins, beers resting in an ice-filled cooler, and a rope swing, Wandawega Lake Resort in Walworth County is your summer camp away from home. Minutes from the shopping and dining options of Lake Geneva and the hiking and biking trails of Kettle Moraine State Forest, Wandawega has a colorful history. The site served for decades as a retreat for Latvian priests, until two creative directors at Ogilvy in Chicago bought it in 2004. Tereasa Surratt, one of the owners, has described the resort’s carefully cultivated vibe as “cottage chic at its best. In fact, camping indoors is a nice way to think about it.”

Actually, calling Wandawega a resort may be a tad grandiose, considering that Surratt warns visitors they may encounter ladybugs or caterpillars on their pillows or small critters in the shower. During my stay there one hot summer weekend, I encountered no such pests. In fact, my husband and I spent a long afternoon in the lake and on the dock, serenely unbothered by intruders. When evening came, we bought a pizza (although secluded on 25 wooded acres with a private beach, the resort is still close to civilization) and enjoyed it on our cabin’s deck. The cottage itself was utterly charming, as if Martha Stewart had redecorated an authentically rustic campsite with cheery linens, blankets, books, photos, and quirky ephemera. An air conditioner stood at the ready, but we never turned it on. It is possible to rough it even more by renting the vintage Boy Scout tents, which are canvas cabins on wood platforms, outfitted with beds and chairs.

Perhaps dangling your feet in the lake over the edge of an inner tube doesn’t provide enough stimulation. There’s also basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball, tennis, bonfires, fishing (for panfish, largemouth bass, and northern pike), horseshoes, rowing, and hiking. When Surratt and her husband, David Hernandez, are around, which is most weekends, guests may visit the main lodge and partake of its amenities—billiards, darts, and movies. Here’s a fun idea: Get a crew together and rent the whole place for a weekend. We’ll join you.


Kettle Moraine State Forest’s Northern Unit (262-626-2116) offers tons of hiking and biking trails through the glacier-formed hills of Wisconsin; the Ice Age Visitor Center (920-533-8322) explains it all. If you’re craving classic tourist stuff—fudge shops, adorable boutiques, great restaurants—Lake Geneva is close by; don’t miss a boat tour of the mansions on the lake (800-558-5911, Many of the fab vintage items adorning the Wandawega cabins come from the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market (Walworth County Fairgrounds, 411 E. Court St.; 414-525-0820)—Surratt’s favorite. Catch it if you happen to be around on June 26th, August 14th, or September 25th. Elegant Farmer (1545 Main St., Mukwonago; 262-363-6771, is a local grocery that’s been lauded by The New York Times and Gourmet for its homemade apple pies baked in paper bags.


W5453 Lake View Dr., Elkhorn;
Rates are $200 to $300 per cabin per night (two-night minimum), with discounts for multiple rooms or by the week. Also available are Boy Scout canvas cabins: $100 per tent, must rent all three tents for two-night minimum.

Tick Tock

15 Aug

When my daughter was two and a half and just learning to articulate herself she would ask anyone “you healthy and happy?”  My parents thought it so adorable she seemed concerned with the welfare of others at such a young age.  One Christmas she went around the table and asked everyone in attendance if they were healthy and happy.  She waited for each response before continuing to the next guest.  Children are like mina birds at that age, repeating well used phrases they hear.  For our children Mike and I did and do wish good health and an abundance of happiness that will shield them from the other ebb and flow that is the natural rhythm of life.  I know they will experience their fair share of hurt and loss.  Perhaps it’s natural parental ignorance to think  a strong immune system and a goofy smile will shield them from the messiness and chaos of life.

I registered my oldest daughter for school the other day and could not believe the summer is almost over and another season will be upon us.  I feel anticipation permeate my bones the way cold weather affects an arthritic body.  Hope is my mantra at the beginning of this school year.  The laundry list grows long as I reiterate to Anni what a great year she will have.  I wish for her kindness that is reciprocal, a love for learning and retaining knowledge, friendship and giggles that comfort, the experience of failing and trying harder until you achieve.

The pressure to excel and perform is much greater than when I was young.  Today school shootings are rampant in the media.  Our youth have to discriminate moral consequences when they are least prepared to understand the ramifications.  Kids are texting nude pictures of themselves and facebooking about one another without comprehending how fragile the child ego can be.  Children are asked to complete achievement standards to advance a grade.  Academic testing is administered as early as kindergarten. 

I want Anni to be socially aware without robbing her of the innocence that should be a rite of passage as a little girl.  I want Anni to work diligently without concern for measuring up to her peers.  Are these expectations too grand or unrealistic I wonder.  As I watched Anni this morning wiggling her first loose tooth in the mirror I silently hoped she would be engaged with the pleasures of childhood for a long time.  She turned to me and smiled a big goofy grin and exclaimed “the tooth fairy is magic, right mom?”   

After taking Anni home from the hospital as a newborn I was overcome with the nervous feeling of loving her so much I felt fearful.  I wanted to protect her from the hurts I experienced and knew it would prove an impossible task.  I can now articulate what I wanted for my daughter was trite, simple and pure.  I wanted her to be happy and healthy.  School is another imposing fear, we have to take our children from their protected environment and let other people stongly influence her.  I hope she is surrounded by teachers and peers who believe in magic as my little Anni so honestly believes.

DIY chic bracelets

14 Aug
Ta da-easy bracelets!  Very simple and also chic!  Tutorial found all over internet and here’s my favorite blog spot

For single, adjustable gold tube bracelets, you’ll need:

Start by cutting the knotting cord into 2 12 inch pieces. Thread a gold noodle tube bead through one of the strands and cross the ends.

And now, all that’s left is the sliding closure! Similar to our macrame bracelet, fold the 2nd strand over the overlapping ends and start tying square knots. Fold the top cord over the bottom cord . . .

. . . and bring the top cord under both the bottom and middle overlapping strands through the loop, into a knot.

Repeat the same step on the right side.

Continue to make 5-6 more knots.

To finish the knots, thread one of the cords onto a needle and sew up the center of 2-3 knots along the backside. Pliers will help pull the needle through the tight knots.

Trim away any excess cord.

Thread two gold spacer beads onto each cord and tie the tips into a knot. Trim.

Your adjustable & colorful bracelets are done!

DIY leather earrings

12 Aug

Needed a quick DIY to focus on something other than marathon training and general malaise over kids going back to school.  Tutorial was found on

DIY Fringe Earrings

DIY Fringe Earrings1

What you need:

(2) 2″ x 3/4″ strips of faux-suede

(2) hook earwires

(2) ribbon end clamps

1 pair jewelry pliers

1 pair scissors

DIY Fringe Earrings2

Use the pliers to put ribbon clamps on the ends of both suede pieces

DIY Fringe Earrings3

Cut the bottom of each suede piece to a point

DIY Fringe Earrings4

Mark back of each suede piece at every 1/8″

DIY Fringe Earrings5

Cut strips at each 1/8″ mark to create fringe

DIY Fringe Earrings6

DIY Fringe Earrings7

Hook earwires to ribbon clamps and close with pliers to secure

DIY Fringe Earrings8

DIY horse shirt

9 Aug
I made this t-shirt to go with a pinstripe skirt for my daughter’s back to school wardrobe.  Found the tutorial on one of my absolute favorite blogs,  It’s wicked clever and pays homage to well designed vintage.

Hand Stamped D.I.Y. Pony Print Dress

Pony stamp dressHi there! I made a hand stamped pony print dress this week. It was so much fun and something that you can do on any skill level! The best part is that the end result is a custom dress that’s one of a kind! 

Pony stamp how-toTo stamp my dress I used this method. If you’ve never made a foam stamp read this how-to. My pony stamp was pretty large (about 4 inches long) which made the spacing a little bit more tricky. Smaller stamps are definitely easier to work with, plus my dress had pockets to work around! When searching for a dress to stamp, look for something in a solid color that flatters your body. You will want to avoid a lot of ruffles or ruching. Cotton is an easy fabric choice. I picked my dress up at Target! 1. Create your own stamp. You can print out an image from the internet and trace it if you need help illustrating your object. I chose a pony because it reminds me of my grandmother, Corina. 2. Cut your stamp out and mount it if you like. I chose not to mount mine because it was so large, it was easier for me to place it unmounted. 3. Use tape to mark the spacing on your dress where you will be stamping. This will help to make the spacing consistent. 4. Stamp your object using fabric paint. I would brush paint on my stamp before each application. Since my stamp was larger the impression was less perfect so I used a small paint brush to do touch ups along the way! Be sure to let each section dry completely before moving to the next section. Practice makes perfect!  
Pony stamp dress 2Pony stamp dress 3I’m super happy with the end result. I want to make another one soon with a dachshund and a pug! What kind of stamp do you want to make? XOXO. elsie 


DIY pretty petal shirt

7 Aug
Megan and I made these t-shirts for back to school wardrobe additions!  We followed the easy instructions on
Petal Tees Tutorial!
I love the colorful, unique look of this shirt, and it can be made in only four steps!
Hooray quick and easy refashions!
  • First cut “petal” shapes out of knit scraps in two different sizes. Cut enough to go around your neckline overlapping half of each other. I used 22 each of the large and medium size for my large scoop neck.
  • Lay the larger ones across your neckline, overlapping by half. (don’t skimp on the overlap, you don’t want to see through when it stretches!
  • Then lay one smaller petal where the larger petals overlap each other. Pin well.
  • And sew on with a narrow zigzag stitch. You’re done!
For a little more elegant look, I used the same technique to refashion a sunny yellow tank that Paige had in her closet, using three different shades of yellow nylon Chiffon.

World’s best chicken recipe

6 Aug
The weekend was crazy busy again with running, kids birthday parties and my husband getting ready to travel again for work.  Saturday’s dinner was thrown together last-minute after I googled ‘quick and easy chicken recipe’ and this caught my attention.  Even my little food critic Rosie thought this was a winner, winner chicken dinner.  I discovered this awesome diddy on  You should check out her site because it’s cute and user-friendly.  I included a picture of Rosie post dinner who had just told me she made up a song called ‘hey, hey, hey, I like chicken a lot and Anni a little.’



Pour mustard mixture over chicken. No need to marinate. I love that because I hate marinating/often forget to until it’s too late.



Bake for 40 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Season with rosemary. Prepare for people to ask you to make it again!



Cuban pork sandwich recipe

3 Aug

This was on the menu tonight and it was amazing.  I adjusted the recipe a bit; mainly added the dry rub the prior evening and then threw pork into crock pot with marinade.  Lastly, added coleslaw to homemade buns.  This is my daughter performing after dinner dance show.  Impromptu dance numbers are really adorable although a tad lengthy would be my critique. 


7 lbs pork shoulder
1 cup dried ancho chile (powder)
13 cup paprika
3 tbsps oregano (ground)
3 tbsps ground coriander
3 tbsps dry mustard
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper (fresh ground)
2 tsps chiles (arbol)
6 lbs pork shoulder
black pepper
14 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsps dijon mustard
2 tsps honey
12 tsp peppercorn (black)
12 canola oil
1 cup green onion
14 cup red wine vinegar
2 serrano chilies
2 tbsps mayonnaise
black pepper
12 cup pure olive oil
1 head cabbage (purple, finely shredded)
1 red onion (halved and thinly sliced)
14 cup cilantro
1 tsp honey


1 Pork shoulder dry rub.
2 Add, ancho chili powder, paprika, ground dried oregano, ground coriander, dry mustard, ground cumin, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, chile de arbol, Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3 combine all these dry ingredients and rub the pork shoulder with it. I let it sit in the fridge for about 24 hours but you can use immediately if you like. If you do refrigerate it, make sure one you remove it from the refrigerator you let it come to room temperature before you start cooking it.
4 soak your wood chips in water for about half an hour before use.
5 Smoke it for about 5 or 6 hours at about 225 degrees.
6 Add fresh wood chips every 45 minutes or so.
7 Cook until internal temperature reads about 155 or 160.
8 let it sit for about half an hour before pulling the meat.
9 Black pepper vinegar sauce.
10 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar.
11 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard.
12 2 teaspoons honey.
13 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns.
14 Salt.
15 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola/olive oil blend Water, if needed.
16 Add Rice wine Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, honey, peppercorns and salt in a blender and drizzle the oil until a good consistency is reached. if its too thick add some water.
17 Slaw.
18 Cut all vegetables and put in large bowl.
19 combine vinegar, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and honey in a blender. while blending the dressing, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify.
20 Toss vegetation with the dressing and it should be ready to go.
21 maybe add salt and pepper to taste but that should be a good amount.
22 Pull the pork and put it on buns of your choice. Add the Black pepper vinegar sauce on the meat and then finish with a heap of the slaw.

Chicken roll recipe

3 Aug

I need to preface these instructions by first telling you my six-year-old took one look at this dinner and exclaimed “chicken and broccoli, nothing could be grosser!”  Yep, not a kid’s favorite, although my husband and I loved it.  My three-year old followed suit with Anni and also claimed “it’s isgusting!”  This is Rosie talk for disgusting.  Give this website try though because it is filled with tasty and healthy meals

Stuffed Chicken Rolls

Stuffed Chicken RollsMakes 4 servings
4 5-oz boneless chicken breasts, no skin
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup frozen chopped spinach or broccoli
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 beaten egg white
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper
Here’s a favorite “good enough for company” chicken dish. An added bonus is the nutritional punch of spinach. Cube leftovers to top garden salads for work lunches, too!
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a shallow baking pan with cooking spray or use a nonstick Silpat liner.
Pound the chicken breasts 1/4″ thick. Sprinkle on both sides with salt, pepper and onion powder.  In a medium bowl mix together the mozzarella, Parmesan, egg white and garlic powder.  Stir in the spinach or broccoli, set aside.
Place 1/4 of the cheese mixture at one end of each chicken breast and roll up burrito style, tucking in the sides.  Place seam side down on baking sheet treated with cooking spray or . Spray tops of chicken with nonstick spray or a money saving Misto oil sprayer.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden and cheese begins to ooze. Remove from heat, let sit for 5 minutes and serve!