Friday, December 30, 2011

The Holidays

This year Matt and I had a very different, and yet wonderful Christmas season. Being a nurse, I had to work on Christmas day. So, we packed up and headed home to West Virginia the weekend before Christmas to have a pre-Christmas weekend with our families.

My brothers and my parents. Miss them all so much!
My nieces are so adorable! Kadence is the oldest and Ava is the youngest. My entire family did a fun new thing this year,  we took my nieces to "Breakfast with Santa" at this really nice hotel. We ate a lovely breakfast buffet that was delicious and my nieces got to meet Santa. We also got this awesome family picture with Santa.  

Matt and I spent the first 2 days of the weekend with my family. Saturday we had our "Christmas" with my family. We woke up and opened gifts and hung out with my family.

Kadence loves BINGO. She has a wildlife bingo that she loves to play and learn about the animals. This year she got OCEAN BINGO, naturally we all had to play. It was a blast. My family was never really into games. Christmas was pretty much one of the only times we ever played board games. This was so fun for all of us.  

We spent the next 2 days with his family. I apparently didn't take any pictures at their place. We got a flip video camera and all I did was take video with them. I will spare you those treasures.

It was a very wonderful time at home. I miss our families a lot.

I worked Christmas day from 3pm-11pm. Matt and I had planned on waking up on Christmas morning and opening our gifts before I went to work. On Christmas eve, however, we put all of our gifts out underneath the tree. We were like 2 little kids. We honestly could not wait to give each other our presents. So, we decided we would just open our presents Christmas eve. It was a lovely time. We made coffee, we ate cookies, we listened to Christmas records and opened our gifts. Such a good time.

Matt got me an Anthropologie mug that I have been eyeing for a year now that I would never spend the $6.00 for (I have no clue why?! it was $6.00 for goodness sakes!) He also got me a necklace from this lovely etsy shop, The Civil Wars record on vinyl, a dress from H&M I wanted, a shirt from Anthropologie, new boots, and tons of other goodies!

And Matt got:

  a banjo!!! He loves it! He has this dream of owning tons of stringed musical instruments. So far we have a ukulele, a banjo, and 2 guitars. We're on our way to a lovely music room filled with stringed instruments and my piano.

Christmas was quite lovely this year. We had a wonderful time. Now, here we are in 2012 and I am just updating this blog from Christmas time. I have been MIA. You see, we got an IPad for Christmas. I have been staying up to date on all of your blogs and reading them everyday. I just have not had the motivation to blog lately. I have been thinking about the direction I want to take this blog in for 2012 and honestly for about the millionth time have thought about giving it up completely. I am reevaluating what I want from this even though I so desperately want it to be something that it probably never will be. I read all of your blogs and follow your beautiful lives and I just don't know that I can live up to the expectations I have for myself. I have messaged some of you with advice and appreciate it all, but I think this blog will probably stay the same with it's grainy point and shoot photos and meandering words. I think I am okay with that. I know not many people read this blog, but I am okay with doing this for me. It's a way to capture my life and this next year is going to be a big one. Lots is going to happen. So, for now, I will continue to do what I do and we will see what 2012 brings for The Lovely Purl.

Happy New Year blog world. (a couple weeks late).

Monday, December 5, 2011


Does anyone else feel extremely nostalgic this time of year? I mean, to the point where you find yourself wishing you didn't grow up?! Okay, maybe not that much, but I find myself thinking of years past a lot more often around the holidays. The things I think of most are baking with my grandma, waking up to snow and being unbelievably excited about it, decorating with my parents, looking through all my parents decorations and thinking about what they all mean to me, my Pap and his complete and utter joy about Christmas, my family, and so many more. The memories will come to me in a moment least expected and I will stop what I am doing and just think of that moment in time. 

Today, I baked cookies that are so dear to me. When I think of these cookies it reminds me so much of my mamaw and Pap. My mamaw and I made these together so many times. They are a rather difficult and time consuming cookie to make and today was my first time attempting them on my own. I was so excited to attempt to make them. The entire time I was in the process I was thinking of years past. Through all the nostalgia, they turned out great! 

This evening I sat down to catch up on all my favorite blogs. I read back on years past (I can't believe I have been blogging for 5 years now). I read this post and let Matt read it when I was done. His exact words were "you have not changed a bit". 

I am learning that I am not good with change. My neighbor here at Trinity is one of my closest friends. She made my move here so easy and lovely. Unfortunately she and her husband moved out this week. They moved only about 10 miles away and I must admit, I cried when I found out. Things change in life. We grow up, our friends move away, we move away from our families, we have to work on Christmas day, and as hard as it can be at times, life is wonderful and great things happen every single day. I am thankful for great memories and a wonderful life that I can think about and cherish forever. 

What are your favorite Christmas memories? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Wreath

I have loved this yarn wrapped wreath craze for awhile now but have not had the motivation to make one. The other day I saw this tutorial. 
 I had to make my own! 
I made all the flowers (and burnt blisters onto my fingers from the glue gun). The flowers were a lot easier to make than I expected! 

I absolutely love it! 
I love the holidays and the warm and fuzzy feeling in my apartment right now with all the twinkling lights and the popping and crinkle noise of our fake Wii fireplace on our TV. hehe! 

I am so excited for all the next month has in store! 

What crafts are you making?! Leave a link in my comments! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Decking the Halls

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. 

Matt and I had a cozy little Thanksgiving dinner/lunch before I headed to work on Thursday. I made a turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. I have this dream of someday making this huge elaborate Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family. This year, it was turkey breast, stove top and canned corn. Not exciting. Thankfully I have a loving husband that completely loved and enjoyed what we had. He is so easy to please. Not picky at all and totally okay with what we have. I am so thankful for him. *cheesY*

We did some Black Friday shopping yesterday with my aunt, uncle and all my cousins. It was a lot of fun! I am very excited for all the Christmas gifts we've bought so far! We're almost done shopping!

Anyways, this morning I woke up and had some coffee and made Matt some breakfast (and got a little mad that all of my vanilla yogurt is gone when I had an entire unopened box of my favorite granola, but that's besides the point). Matt is taking the GRE again today. poor guy. He has had a busy break. He will probably celebrate being done with the GRE tonight with reading or writing a paper. 

After we watched an episode of bones and at our breakfast, we headed out to the storage and got out the tree and the one box of decorations we have. At home, getting out the Christmas decorations was always so exciting and an all day event. My dad goes to the attic and gets out all 20 some boxes of decorations my mom has and we sift through and look for what we want to get out. So for Matt and I's one box of decorations that fills our 1 bedroom apartment it definitely does not take all day. 

We put up the tree and I put up my nativity. I need to get a few more decorations. I think I will stop at Target and Joann tomorrow for a tree topper, tree skirt and some stocking hangers and some lighted garland! Then it will all be perfect! 

Matt and I have a fantastically awesome idea for our Christmas card this year! I am super excited about it! 

Also, we're having an epic Christmas party this year that I truly cannot wait for!! 

The tree is up and I'm enjoying a cup of coffee and Christmas music on the couch before I head to work today. 

Hope you're enjoying the Holiday spirit! I love this time of year! I am ready for all the baking that's about to happen this next month!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Margarita Cupcakes

WARNING: These cupcake should not be consumed by children. ;-) 

I made these cupcakes for a friend for her birthday. They are so delicious! I had a family give me the recipe at work, but it looks like it's from the BrownEyed Baker blog. (give credit where credit is due here on the blog). 
Holy moly! If you like Tequila and lime you will love these! 

The Goods: 

The Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose floud
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temp.
Zest and juice of 1 1/2 limes
2 tablespoons TEQUILA 
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

1-2 Tbsp tequila to brush tops of cupcakes with

For the Tequila Lime Frosting: 
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp tequila
Pinch of coarse salt

The Directions: 

Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Line your cupcake pan with liners

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. set aside.

In an electric mixer, on med-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)

Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. 

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla and tequila. (The mixture will start to look curdled at this point, but it will all come together!) 

Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand. 

Divide the batter between the cupcake cups. Bake for about 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean. 

Allow cupcakes to cool 5-10 min. and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the tequila. Set them aside to cool completely. 

whip the butter on med-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 min. Reduce the speed to med-lw and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lime juice, tequila and salt and mix on med-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears too soft, add some additional powdered sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. 

Frost the cupcakes and garnish as desired.

 For the appetizer, I made some bread with olive oil, garlic salt and then put some pepperoni on some and some tomatoes on the other half and then Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and popped them under the broiler. DELICIOUS and easy snack with what I had around the apartment. haha!

Enjoy! I'm off to work after a nice weekend off with my husband! ;-)

So excited for the week ahead! Breaking dawn, Thanksgiving, black friday shopping and Decorating our apartment for Christmas! ;-) Great week ahead! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipe Exchange

It's time! I have been planning this recipe exchange for some time! I love to cook and love new recipes. I am still debating on what to make for Matt and I's Thanksgiving Brunch. So, it's time to share your favorite recipes. No limitations, it can be any course. Appetizer, entree, drinks, dessert. Share your favorite recipe! 

Here is my entry--

My Grandma's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cooke Recipe

The Goods:

1 1/2 cup Butter (softened)
2 Cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 can solid pack pumpkin
1 egg
1 tspn vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

The Cooking part: 

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars
Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla
Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
Gradually add to creamed mixture
Stir in chocolate chips
Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
 Remove to wire racks to cool.

Here's how it works. First, write a blog post about your favorite recipe. Make sure to put a link on your page back to here so others can join in the fun. 
Then link up here at the bottom of this blog page.

Unfortunately, this blog has no sponsors and makes no money, so there is no prize this year. It's all just for fun and to share in the holiday season together. 

So, link up and let's get cookin'!!!! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Update and Things I Love Saturday

Yesterday was a lovely day off. Matt and I slept in, went to the coffee shop for several hours, I did some grocery shopping, then in the evening we headed to Evanston to get some dinner and continue our cupcake tour. We ate at Joy Yees and got some AMAZING tofu and vegetable pad thai and some orange chicken. It was delicious!

Then we headed to TinyDog Cupcakes and I got a Spiced Chai cupcake and Matt got an Apple-issimo cupcake made from Apple Cider and apples. delicious! 
 Red Velvet cupcake from TinyDog. 

Afterwards we went to see this movie 

Matt and I both loved it. It was so good. ;-) Matt is not a "chick flick" kind of guy, but he loved this movie. 

It was such a lovely date day together. 
Onto some things I am loving these days:

 Starbucks has RED CUPS again! I have already indulged in a Peppermint Mocha latte. MMM MMM!!! As much as I get annoyed that we forget about Thanksgiving, I do love the holidays and I am super excited to decorate our apartment again this year! I am also excited for Matt and I's epic Christmas party we're planning!

This lovely necklace is on my Christmas list from my husband. It's perfect name called to me because I am a coal miner's daughter! hehe!

Matt and I saw The Civil Wars this past week in Milwaukee. It was such an amazing show! So, I am loving their album even more now. 

THIS GIRLS blog has been one of my favorite reads lately. Her little family is so adorable. 

These are all some of the things I have been loving lately. 

What have you been loving?! 

Also, I'm gearing up for the holiday recipe exchange I want to start here on my little blog. Stay tuned! Can't wait to see what everyone is cooking up!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Toy Story Cake

A couple months ago, I took my first decorated cake to work for our manager's going away party. My friend Megan saw it and we were talking about cakes. I told her I was taking a cake decorating class in October. I have always taken my baked goods to work so they have all tasted what I've made and always ask for me to bring more. 

Anyways, Megan asked me to make her son's 2nd Birthday cake. She wanted a Toy Story cake made to look like the scene from the movie when all the characters are on Andy's bed. 

I decided to make a sheet cake that looked like Andy's bed and put all the characters on top and put HAPPY BIRTHDAY COOPER in the same font as the logo for Toy Story 2.  
Megan wanted Marble cake. So that was my first experience. I had never made marble cake. I found the recipe I wanted to use (my grandma told me to use a box mix and I refused! I can't do it. They just don't taste as good!!!) 
So, I had to make a big cake because there was going to be 50 people at the party. So, I borrowed a big pan from a coworker and yesterday I baked the cake parts. I was only going to do 1 sheet cake. When I went to take the cake out of the pan it completely stuck around the edges. I was so frustrated! So, I got over it and started mixing up another batch of batter. I greased that pan and floured it like nobody's business the second time around! I went to take it out of the pan and it came out just fine. So, What to do with the half of the first cake I had?! I came up with the idea to cut the part I could use and put it on top to make the bed part and use the bigger sheet cake as the floor. I made chocolate buttercream icing for the floor part. I used vanilla buttercream for the rest. It turned out so good! There were several other crises along the way, but it turned out great! 
I took it to Megan's house and she and her husband LOVED it! ;-) I was so happy with the end result.  

With the holiday's approaching I think I am going to slow down with the baking for a bit before I get tired of it before the holiday baking season begins! 

I want to do a holiday recipe series this upcoming season. Any interest?!?! Maybe swap some recipes?!??! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October is over, let's review!

 I didn't do so hot at blogging this past month. It was kind of a crazy month. I promise to try to be better! 

October is literally my favorite month of the year! I love it! I celebrate my birthday in it, the leaves change, pumpkins are everywhere, the cool weather. It's great! Matt and I had a lovely October this year. Here's a review of what we did! (Most pictures are from my phone, please don't judge! I am no photographer.. although maybe if I improved more people would read this blog.) 

 On the 2nd I turned 25 years old. Matt and I began our cupcake tour of Chicago. It's an ongoing tour (how many cupcakes can you really consume in 1 day).

 Phoebe's Cupcakes (pictured left) in Lincoln Park was our #1 pick so far!  The salted caramel was the best cupcake I have ever eaten. Molly's Cupcakes in Lincoln Park was amazing as well! I had the Kahlua cupcake! It was so sweet! So good though! That icing was delicious! 

Matt threw me an awesome Mad Men/60s themed Birthday party! It was great! 

I took a Cake decorating class! ;-)

 I already have my first "cake job" lined up. I am making a friends sons birthday cake! Toy Story! Stay tuned for pictures of that!

We drank a lot of hot apple cider (Trader Joe's Spiced Cider is REALLY GOOD!)

We went to the pumpkin patch with friends and conquered the corn maze! 

We went to a Halloween/Pumpkin Carving party. I dressed up as a nun even though I was only there for a few minutes before my class. 

 I made these Monster Cupcakes for the party! ;-) 

We ended the month on a sad note, both of us have been sick. We're still kind of recovering a little. Our stupid allergies! 
October was a wonderful month! I am excited for November and the Holidays just around the corner! ;-) 

What did you do in October?!?!? 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sick Days

Being sick on your weekend off sucks when you work every other weekend! 

I started feeling sick WEDNESDAY! Thursday morning I lost my voice. I went to a conference in Milwaukee all day Thursday, not feeling well. Then I got home, ate soup, watched some TV and went to bed. I woke up Friday morning and was trying to feel better before I went to work. I ended up calling in sick which I DESPISE doing. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. No point in getting my patients sick. So, I stayed home Friday. I literally only got off the couch to go to the bathroom.
Matt took good care of me. He brought me coffee and tea, made me food, kept his distance. haha! 

So loving don't ya think?! It made me laugh so hard! Just what I needed. You have to understand out sense of humor, maybe, but this was what I needed at the time. haha! ;-) 

Yesterday I did actually venture out with Matt to go sit in Starbucks and watch Netflix on the laptop and sip a pumpkin spice latte. Then I got real brave and ended up going to World Market and Trader Joe's to get some stuff we needed. By time we got home I was done in for the day. I did end up making delicious Broccoli Cheese and Potato soup  and hot apple cider and baguette. Then we watched SCREAM and ate salted caramel chocolate. ;-) It was a perfect fall evening. Even if I wasn't feeling 100%! 

Needless to say, after church today another day on the couch is in my future. Matt and I had big plans to go downtown this weekend. NOPE! Maybe next time?!?! 

Hope you're all having a lovely fall weekend.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Sorry for the lack of bloggin' lately. I've been sort of discouraged and unmotivated over here in this little alcove of web life. 

So here's what's been happening lately. A little life update:

Matt threw me an awesome 25th birthday present. 

He bought me a record player for my birthday and planned this party around that present. If you read this blog at all, you know I love vintage things. Anything 1950's or 1960's. So, for my birthday he bought me some Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Glenn Miller band records. 

We have also been watching Mad Men like crazy lately. We love it. So, my party was a 1960's Mad Men classy party. He went all out! All of our friends dressed up in their duds. 

 My lovely lady friends. ;-)

My neighbor best friend and her husband, Andy lookin' perfect in their get ups. 

 Matt and i. Such handsome husband don't ya think!??! 

 Matt went all out. He got Coke in glass bottles, Chips and dip (from Mad Men when pete says "It's a CHIP AND DIP!" after he gets married). He even got fake cigarettes. We all sat around and played poker, listened to Ella on vinyl and ate chocolate cake. It was a delightful way to bring in the next quarter of a century of my life. ;-)

I also adore Fall weather. This time of year makes me so nostalgic and I love the cool breeze and the pumpkins! 

So, last weekend we went to the Pumpkin Patch with some friends. 
 Indian corn ears!

My pumpkin head husband.

 Neighbor best friends getting ready to start the corn maze!

Corn maze time! 

 WE DID IT!!!!! We made it through the corn maze (after getting lost a few times in one of the smallest corn mazes ever. haha) 

Life has been great lately. I am taking my cake decorating class (post to come on that soon). I have my first paid cake job lined up for Novemeber (my friend's sons 2nd Birthday Toy Story theme cake!) 

Matt is working on PhD applications and we're enjoying this time as much as we can dreaming about where we will be next year and what kind of place we want to rent and the puppy we want! Can't wait to see where we end up! 

We are loving fall here in the Chicago suburbs!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Fashion

So, I had today off and it has been a DELIGHTFUL day! I slept in, went to the grocery store for the ingredients for my cake! Today was the day I made the cake for my manager who is actually changing jobs. I am so glad I practiced the other day! It helped give me more of an idea of how I wanted it to look and changes I need to make! Here is the final product! It looks so much better than the first and I am so proud of it!

My 25th birthday is coming up this weekend. Originally I was supposed to work all weekend. So, Matt planned my birthday party for Thursday night! He has had this whole thing planned! I am so proud of him and so ecstatic for what he has planned! I had no idea! He told me about it today and gave me my gift early (he couldn't wait any more!) because it goes along with the theme of the party. He got me:  

a Record Player!! I have been wanting a record player for quite some time and I was super pumped when he set it all up and all of a sudden I heard You Make Me feel So Young playing! He got me Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Glenn Miller Band records! 

The theme of my party tomorrow night?! -- You will have to check back later and see! I am SUPER excited about it though! 
By the way-- that is my fall fashion submission photo for today as well! I am always bad at keeping up with this whole thing. I even said I was going to take pictures in advance this year to submit. It never happened. I mean I typically live in scrubs anyways, so let's face it that's not exciting... 
Here's today:

Navy style suit jacket-- Goodwill
Long tunic shirt-- Forever 21
Scarf-- H&M
Jeans-- Forever 21 

I also wore my same boots with this. I wore this out tonight to run to Best Buy with Matt to look for speakers to go with the record player. While there, this guy whose name tag said "THOR" came to help us. I am sorry but I CANNOT keep my emotions to myself. I say everything I think with my facial expressions. I am trying to learn to control this better as sometimes I think it embarrasses Matt because it's sometimes offensive. Well, THOR just came up to us in the speakers section of Best Buy and I am 100% certain he knew exactly how I felt about him. He was THE MOST annoying salesperson I have ever met in my whole life. At one point I literally told him "STOP IT! We just want speakers! The cheapest you have! We don't want a home entertainment system!" I was so fed up with this THOR guy that I literally had to walk away and look at appliances and joke with Matt about him before I lost it. HAHA! We ended up coming home and trying to figure out how to rig it up to the TV for now. Ended up we had just what we needed. Matt's computer blew up this week and we ended up using his computer speakers which work really well with it! 

It was a perfect fall day for me and now it's ending even better. Snuggled up on the couch with pumpkin spice candles glowing, in our pajamas, listening to Glenn Miller on vinyl and sipping juice and ginger ale out of mason jars. ;-) perfect ending to a perfect day! 
Tomorrow morning I have to deliver my cakes! Yes, CAKES! i used the scraps to make this:

can you tell what it is?!?! 

A nurses cap! I tried at least! haha! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My First Decorated Cake

I've done it!

So I've signed up for my cake decorating class in October. I've bought all my utensils and supplies and I could not wait to put them to use! 
I was asked/I volunteered to make a cake for work this week for one of our employees. I decided it'd be PERFECT to make a scrub top cake after doing some research online. It didn't seem that complicated to me and so I thought I'd take on the task! 

I sketched my plan.

 Yes that is the camera cord in the picture cut me some slack. I'll get better. 

The person I am making this for loves carrot cake which I found out through the grapevine. So I used Betty Crocker's recipe. She hasn't failed me yet that Betty!

After I baked it I let it cool completely. Then I started sculpting. This was the part I was pretty nervous about. However, it ended up not going so bad! 

 I cute my scrub top cake then it was on to making the icing! 

I used a typical cream cheese icing recipe. 

2 blocks cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
(add a little more powdered sugar if needed to thicken) 

I then dyed part of the icing seal blue (the color of scrubs we have to wear at work) and left part cream colored. 

I frosted the scrub top parts.

 and had a little taste! (i washed my hands after this!) 

Then I piped the outer design in cream colored icing. 

I then piped the neckline and pockets. Then melted chocolate chips for the stethoscope and used cream colored icing for the ear pieces and stethoscope bell with a chocolate chip in the middle.

This is my practice run! I need to improve on my writing skills that's for sure! But to be 100% honest with you it turned out better than I thought it would! I am making a much bigger version of this later this week but I am so glad it turned out the way it did! This was my first ever decorated cake and I have some improving to do, but at least I know I'm not terrible at it!