28 December, 2011


Ohhh my poor blog. I have neglected it so over the last month.

I have been busy with food preparations, party planning, time with friends, and business old and new. My thoughts have wandered to this space more times than I can count, and I just haven't made the time to sit down and post lately... something I hope to remedy in the new year.

V has his vacation time right now, until the first week in January, so we've also been spending loads of time together. It's been really bittersweet to be disconnected, but around this time of the year, it becomes necessary. Time to think, plan, and recharge, ready to face the new year head on!

For now, I think I will continue to relish the quiet times spent near my husband playing board games, reading so many books, and making plans for 2012! Happy New Year, friends and I'll see you again in a few days!

12 December, 2011

Wax & Pine Cone Firestarters: A Tutorial

Last winter, we lived in a cold, cold little cottage. We bought a wood stove and things were much better after that. It's a wonderful thing, a good wood burning stove, but sometimes getting it started can be a pain. As with any fire, you have to start small.
Unfortunately for us, winter was a surprisingly humid season so all of our kindling and yes, even the matches had a hint of dampness that made our fire starting especially difficult. Balls of paper would merely smolder and blacken the tiny bits of sawdust and kindling above it and often, I found myself fiddling with the fire for up to twenty minutes using scads and scads of matches.
Occasionally, we had some leftover wax from tea lights which was helpful in producing a flame that lasted more than 10 seconds before being snuffed out. The thing was, if something could just burn for more than a few seconds at a time, our fire making would have gone a lot smoother.
How I wish that Winter 2011 Shannon knew Winter 2010 Shannon. Some things have changed for us, and A.) this winter so far isn't nearly as biting cold as the last, and B.) we (sadly) no longer have a wood stove but that doesn't stop me from making these cool things anyway!

These fire starters would have saved me hours spent kneeling on the floor with a face full of smoke last winter. They're so easy to make, albeit a bit time-consuming waiting for the wax to melt... but the time spent in the kitchen making these will save you lots of time in front of your wood stove. Also, they're great to give to a friend who has a wood stove! Hooray for easy hand made Christmas gifts!

10 December, 2011

Getting into the Christmas Spirit: Part Two

This post is a continuation of my previous one, "Getting into the Christmas Spirit: Part One".

My contribution to our new traditions has certainly been more about decorations than anything else.
Aside from the village, a decoration that has been with me for ages is this sweet little ceramic angel.

09 December, 2011

Getting into the Christmas Spirit: Part One

I will be the first to admit that up until December first, I am a Scrooge. Christmas decor in the grocery stores in October is ridiculous to me, Christmas music on November the 10th sends me into a fit of inner frustration, and don't even get me started on Christmas trees up before Thanksgiving.

My opinion is - that in the last three months of the year, there are three very fun holidays, each designated with its very own special month. What's better is that each holiday is at the end of each month. Halloween, October 31st. Thanksgiving, the last Thursday of November. Christmas, December 25th. We get an entire month to enjoy each holiday on it's own, but it seems to me that Christmas - or should I say "End-Of-December-Consumerism" is bursting at the seams wanting to be noticed now, Now, NOW!!!

*steps off of soapbox I didn't even realize I stood up on* "How did I get up here?"

But enough about that. This post isn't on Scrooge (me) before the holidays. This post is about Debbie Downer (also me) getting into the Christmas Spirit!

02 December, 2011

Freebie Fridays

Giving Thanks

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned been away. It has been nearly two weeks since my last post... my goodness! Has it really been that long?!

Things in the Spirited household have been neither terribly busy, nor stagnant, but just enough, if you know what I mean. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast-cum-game night with a few friends. It was my first time in several years making pumpkin pie, and my first ever time making it from absolute scratch - including roasting a pumpkin.

my pies before going in the oven

19 November, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

For the past three trips to the grocery store, I have forgotten to put mayonnaise on my list. It's not that I use it all that often - it's just that it's one of those things I like to always have.
Need to make a small batch of ranch-style dressing? No problem. Devilled Eggs? No problem!

16 November, 2011

100 Buzz!

I was thinking about my blog last night, and came to the conclusion that without you, my readers, I wouldn't be all that motivated to write as often. Sure, I go through dry spells - we all do - but on a whole, you keep me going! Thank you for that! I really appreciate all the comments I get and input from readers... some of whom I know, and many I do not! I love you guys!

I know that several of you follow my blog here via Google Reader or Bloglovin - but man! My Facebook page is lonely... so I have a little "game" to play. I will BUZZ my hair off if we reach 100 fans on my Facebook page before the end of November.

14 November, 2011

Not Lucky but Winning Anyway

I'll be honest with you here - I am not a lucky person.

Blame it on all the years of walking under ladders, opening umbrellas indoors, breaking mirrors, and being a magnet for black cats. My best childhood friend's dog Pixie ate my blue rabbit's foot when we were kids. Then there was the gigantic amount of salt I recently spilled in the kitchen when I dropped a glass jar full of it onto the tile floor.

Monday Randomness

I have a few things to blog about, but as I was thinking about it - it's just a bunch of little things not worthy (in my opinion) of an entire blog post to themselves... so I present to you, a random babbling post.

- I love/hate waiting for things to come in the post. I ordered a few things recently from Amazon for an upcoming soapmaking adventure. Not all my bits and bobs were shipped together, so I'm stuck waiting for a bunch of different packages to come at varying times.

- I am listening to Yo-yo Ma's most recent collaborative album entitled The Goat Rodeo Sessions. As you may have guessed, it's instrumental and along the same lines as a previous collaboration entitled Appalachian Waltz and I'm loving it.

- I drop my new iPhone far more than I care to admit. I am seriously considering investing in a military grade case for it... after all, we do have tile floors, and I'm sure that this phone will only be able to take so much.

- Apps are my new favorite thing.

- I missed an appointment I had today by about half an hour. I didn't know what hours they were open - so it wasn't really an "appointment" per se - but the place I needed to go to is only open for three hours ONCE a week. Blah.

- Other than my missed appointment, I feel like I've really gotten a lot done today! I did all the dishes (there were a lot because we had a guest over for dinner) and some laundry, plus I went and ran some errands in town.

- I got a new outfit for my husband in the second hand shop! A brand new Polo shirt and a very nice pair of jeans for less than five bucks. I win.

- I failed at dinner last night. I wanted to make my own recipe of potato patties - but completely spaced out about the potatoes and boiled them into oblivion. Instead of just scrapping it, I thought I could save them - and it ended up just being a gloppy, gooey mess.

- Our tile floors are surprisingly freaking cold. All the time. I always have to wear slippers and/or socks around the house. Brr!!

- Under the hardwood floors (upstairs) there are often little warm spots where I imagine an invisible cat has just been sleeping. At first I suspected that our real-life cat had been laying in these places, but he obviously can't be more than one place at one time and there are usually about 5 spots at a time.

- I love having a yard. I can't wait until we're someplace more settled and I can do some of the fun things I see all the time on Pinterest.

- The leftover Chinese Takeout in the fridge (after my dinner failure) is calling my name. Time for lunch!

09 November, 2011

Back on Track!

I have a confession to make. I fell off the wagon. 

But only for two weeks, and! I didn't gain any weight back. Even though I wasn't watching my calories and exercising, I managed not to overeat and put back on those 6 pounds I had lost. I'm quite proud of that. 

As of yesterday though, I am back on the weight-loss track and more focused than ever thanks to three things. My husband, my dad, and MyFitnessPal.

05 November, 2011

Corn Dog Muffins: a Recipe

So, perhaps I had you drooling over last night's dinner deliciousness... That's why I'm here today to share with you the recipe!

04 November, 2011

Great is His Faithfulness - Freebie Friday

Hello friends! Welcome to another Freebie Friday. 

This week for me has been full of blessings and wonderful things. Sure, there have been rough patches because hey! It's life! But overall, I feel like God really has had His hand on my shoulder and maybe has been paying a little extra attention to this child of His lately.
That is why I made this!

Of course, during the good times (like this week, for me) it's easy to forget - because things are going well. I made this to print out and hang somewhere every day where I'll see it and remember that He is there with me on my bad days too. Ever faithful to me in my times of need and ever faithful to you too!

To download this free printable and to see others that are available to print, visit the "Freebie Fridays" tab at the top of the page, or click here.

03 November, 2011

Dinner Time Deliciousness

Corn Dog Muffins!

image taken with Instagram on my cool new iPhone 4s... I'm in love.

Click the button below to follow my photo stream!

And don't forget to check back tomorrow for my recipe for Corn Dog Muffins!

31 October, 2011

Happy Halloween!

A simple snap out of the window of my brother-in-law's guest room, where we stayed over the weekend in Poznań, Poland. It's not "Halloweeny" per se, but this holiday in Poland is called 
"Dzień Wszystkich Świȩtych" or "All Saints Day" and celebrated as a day of reflection - remembering friends and loved ones who have passed on. Sure, there are still the occasional Jack-o-Lanterns and fancy dress parties, but as far as I understand, children don't walk around the neighborhood collecting candy. Instead, they visit the graveyards and light candles for those who have gone before.
A lovely thought.

We had a wonderful, albeit short, time with my husband's brother and his fiance. Lots and lots of delicious food and a bit of shopping... not to mention getting our teeth fixed at the Dentist - but more on that later.
As much as I like handing out candy, I have no self control when it comes to the leftovers... tonight, we have decided to go on a date to the cinema to see Drive. I'm glad to have the option to purchase tickets online as I believe the cinema will be packed on this bank holiday Monday. 

How was your weekend? 

26 October, 2011


A few years ago, as I was browsing the wide world of Flickr, I happened upon this image.

Sock Drawer
(click image for source)

I fell in love. 

22 October, 2011

21 October, 2011

Just a Bad Day. Not a Bad Life. - Freebie Fridays

Welcome to another Freebie Friday!

This week, I've got a free 8x10" download for you. 

This week's freebie is inspired by my moodiness. I have days when just EVERY single thing goes wrong and I start to doubt myself, my life, and my priorities. Fortunately those days are not terribly often, but they do still happen on occasion. It's on those days, when I head up to my craft room to find some serenity (and inevitably trip while getting there, as well as break a nail and stub my toe) that I could use this reminder.

I'm so incredibly grateful for the things I have, the opportunities that are open to me, and the people who love me and surround me. I have a good life, but sometimes I forget.

To download this free printable and to see others that are available to print, visit the "Freebie Fridays" tab at the top of the page, or click here.

19 October, 2011

Some Zenfolio Love...

When I first started my photography as a business, I realized that I wanted to have a place to upload my clients' photos so that they could view them online, and send the link to their families. A friend of mine mentioned a few options, including Zenfolio.

(a screen shot of my Zenfolio "client viewing" page)

18 October, 2011

Ten Things I Love Tuesday

Welcome to 10TILT! This is a weekly post about things I've found around the internet that are, in my opinion, pretty darn cool. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's Ten!

17 October, 2011

A Blustery Day

It is a grey Autumnal day here in Clondulane. The winds are racing and the rain is coming down seemingly sideways. The wind is whistling through the vents in our home and making our curtains wiggle and doors creak open and closed as if they were alive... or haunted. It might be appropriate for this time of year, anyways with Halloween approaching. 


After watching the The Velveteen Rabbit videos that I posted in my recent blog post I started thinking about other cartoons that I really enjoyed as a child. Of course, there were things like Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, Tale Spin, The X Men, Muppet Babies, and about 100 others (I am a little ashamed to admit that I watched a lot of TV as a kid - but since I don't watch much, if any TV now so I figure it evens out somehow, haha). The real favorites though, were the pre-1960's Disney and Buena Vista cartoons.

16 October, 2011

Sunday Adventures

 Something about the sunshine in Autumn in Ireland... just brings out all the people. We're like flowers here. Fine with rain, but when the sun comes out, we all turn our faces up and just soak it in!

15 October, 2011

How to Make Medium Boiled Eggs

14 October, 2011

The Velveteen Rabbit

One of my all time favorite stories as a child was The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It was simple yet poignant and as a youngster, made me feel an extreme adoration for all my toys.
I suspect that it is because of The Velveteen Rabbit that when Toy Story came out, it was instantly one of my favorite films. 
The Velveteen Rabbit
(click image for source)

12 October, 2011

The Elusive Spaghetti Squash

I can't tell you how many times I've looked up the calories in a dish I want to make - only to freak out when I find that it's a million calories because of the PASTA that's in it or the BREAD. I never thought I'd be one of those girls who shuns pasta and bread!

07 October, 2011

Meal Planner - Freebie Friday!

Hello friends!

It's the end of the week, and you know what that means! It's Freebie Friday!

This week, I'm sharing a Meal Planner!
I started creating a weekly meal plan about a year ago and it has been such a help to our finances, and definitely a help to our waistlines. No more aimless wandering through aisles picking up what looks good, and coming home with a bunch of junk and no idea what to do with it!

Here's how I usually fill it out:

(We don't actually have friends named Tom or Sue... haha)

It's a 5x7" print, so you can fit two on a standard 8x10 (in the states) or A4 (over here) sheet. I made it 5x7" so you can bring it with you to shop without feeling like you've got a huge piece of paper taking over your life... I don't know about you guys, but I usually write my lists on 4x6 scraps. I can't imagine whipping out my A4 sheet (which is 8x12") and walking around Tesco with it. I might as well be carrying a news paper! Ha! 
To download this free printable and to see others that are available to print, visit the "Freebie Fridays" tab at the top of the page, or click here.

04 October, 2011

Ten Things I Love Tuesday

Welcome to this week's edition of 10TILT! It's a collection of things (often random, sometimes not) from around the internet that I'm really enjoying this week. Join in the fun, and hopefully you'll find something new to love too!

03 October, 2011

Bringing Autumn in

Autumn has arrived, and what better way to celebrate than bringing it indoors? I purchased three 22" pillows at the second hand shop, with no other idea in mind than to decorate with them, and that's just what I did!

01 October, 2011


Guess who reached her first weight loss goal and got her prize
(and is well on her way to reaching her second goal)?


Down 2.8kg (6.17lbs)
19kg (44lbs) to go!

Also... yesterday was Freebie Friday! 

I totally spaced! Be sure to go "like" Jocelyn's Facebook page, and download the new printable (which is super cute, btw). Have a great weekend!

30 September, 2011


365 Breakfasts-349: Danish & Water

(click photo for source via Flickr)

27 September, 2011

Ten Things I Love Tuesday

Welcome to this week's installment of 10TILT - a collection of things from around the internet that I quite like. Have a look, and maybe you'll find something new to enjoy too!

25 September, 2011

Weekend Update

This and a few rounds of Carcassone, the board game, is primarily what our weekend looked like. Lots of screens, I know... such a first world problem. Please disregard my heinous wallpaper. 

22 September, 2011

Just Say No, it'll be Worth it.

I am not a very motivated person. Not when it comes to losing weight anyway. I get all excited for the first few days, and then two more days in a row come along where either I don't feel like working out, or something prevent me from doing so... and I just forget about it. That's all it takes. Some might say I have a short attention span. I'd say they were right. But this time is different. I feel it in my bones.

(click photo for source via Flickr)

21 September, 2011

Wine Making at Home, Part 2

This is the second part of Winemaking at Home, a guest post by my husband, V about how we did our first batch of homemade wine. To see the first post, please click here.

Welcome back! By now you should know all the basic equipment you need to start making your very own wine. Today we continue with the process all the way to finish!

20 September, 2011

Ten Things I Love Tuesday

Welcome to this weeks edition of 10TILT - a collection of things from around the internet that I find interesting, useful, or love-worthy! To see more 10 Things I Love posts, click here.

19 September, 2011

Freebie Fridays

I am a little late in this post, but better late than never! As you might be aware, my dear friend Jocelyn (of Playing it Cooley) has really had my back when it comes to this blog. I do just ok with HTML and customizations, but she... well, she is much, much better. I'm just a beginner, where she could be labeled as advanced. Anyways, she's great, and wouldn't you know? She's talented too! Jocelyn offers all kinds of neat crafts and tutorials over on her blog

Anyways, she thought of this great idea of us offering up some free printables to the fans of our facebook pages! We are just so excited to share this with you guys!
Every week, we'll be offering you a new downloadable image on our facebook page, and all you have to do is head on over to our pages and click "like".

Tea Time & a Giveaway!

To be honest, I have never really been a big fan of tea. Then again, I did not grow up drinking it - quite the opposite, in fact. I grew up shunning coffee and tea altogether. A shame, I know.

When I had my first cup of tea, I was not impressed. It tasted like herbs in water... essentially, that's all it is, but saying it like that takes all the fun out of it. To me, tea was herbal water and it was no fun.

A friend of mine, Tracy, is a massage therapist. One day, she invited me over for an hour-long massage after I seriously tweaked my back doing some mundane thing. I arrived early and she was just putting her kids down for a nap so she made me a cup of tea while I waited. Knowing my distaste for tea, she just said, "trust me, this is one you'll like."

16 September, 2011


We've were fortunate enough to get some sunny weekends, followed by a full week of sun not long ago. Autumn is full of sunshine in Ireland... and blackberries.

13 September, 2011

Ten Things I Love Tuesday #13

Welcome to this week's edition of 10TILT - a smattering of things I've found around the internet this week that I love! For the first time ever, I'm actually adding a linky party to the end of this post for you to link up your "love" posts - a fun way to connect with other bloggers and find new things.

09 September, 2011

A Present!

Bilbo has been freed from his time in the cone of shame. About time, too - it's only been SIX damn weeks! But his little bum sore is all better and we're all trying to move on in life.

Wednesday was his first real unsupervised cone-free day. I let him outside for a couple hours, and when he came home, I closed the windows and doors so he'd stay home for the rest of the evening. Yesterday, when I let him outside, he brought him his first ever gift to me.

A field mouse.

I was both pleased and horrified. Pleased because he's off using his natural instincts - keeping a rodent from deciding to come into my home now that the weather is starting to chillify. Horrified... because he's never brought home a dead ANYTHING before and he had a much better opportunity, I think, at our previous cottage - which was pretty much infested. Rats galore.
Then again, rats are kinda the a-holes of rodent communities... and Bilbo wasn't much bigger then than a rat...

Anyway - I thanked Bilbo for his generous gift before he decided it was time to eat it... at which time I grasped the mouse by its tail and flung it over the fence into the back field. Blech.

They grow up so fast. Seems like only yesterday he looked like this:

08 September, 2011

Ten Things I love Tuesday #12

Welcome to the twelfth (it took me a minute to remember how to spell that correctly... how often do you spell that word??) edition of 10TILT, on its very special day - Thursday... because I missed it on Tuesday. 
I've kept you waiting for two additional days, so without further ado, here are ten things I'm loving this week!

07 September, 2011


Sorry I haven't been posting as much lately. I don't really have an excuse other than I've been feeling a bit "blah" lately. I've been needing a change... it's just that time of year! I usually feel this way during the autumn and spring. Maybe it's natural.

Yesterday was supposed to be 10TILT but I spent the entire day driving around the country and cleaning up the house and getting dinner ready for a guest - who in the end, could not make it. No hard feelings of course, but it was a bit disappointing. When evening fell - I was just plain exhausted and didn't feel up to posting a new 10TILT. I was thinking - how about tomorrow? Ten Things I Love Tuesday - on Thursday! Hooray!

I'm feeling much better now - about the "blah-ness". Why? I got a hair cut! My friend Karina (who is a very, very talented hairdresser) helped me out and chopped off a solid ten inches off my hair (more in some places)!!

What do you think?
See you tomorrow!

03 September, 2011


Maurice, our neighbor cat, was in the yard yesterday. Poor Bilbo couldn't even defend his turf.

31 August, 2011

Wine Making at Home, Part 1

There's nothing more satisfying than enjoying the fruits of your own labor. From spinning wool and sewing clothes to gardens and  home-smoked meats, to beer and wine... eat, drink, and be merry. The best part about these things, I think, is knowing exactly where your food and drink came from and what went into bringing it to the table.

Wine Bottles
(click photo to see more of Wine Traveler's photos on Flickr)

This spring, we decided to make our own wine. My husband, Witold (that's Vee-told, in case you're unfamiliar) is doing a guest post to explain the process. All of our product links go to Homebrew.ie and we couldn't recommend them highly enough. Their customer service is wonderful - and if you happen to be in Ireland, they're the perfect supplier for all your homebrew needs.
Now, without further ado - Here is Witold:

An Open Letter to all Shoe Companies

Dear Shoe Companies,
 As you may already know, there are women out in the world who have larger than average feet. You'd probably be surprised at how many of us there are. Also, for your effort put into finding and making available quality shoes for women with size US11/UK9 feet, I am certain that your profits will increase. 
We're talking comfortable, stylish shoes... and not made out of cardboard and plastic either. Real, quality shoes. 

30 August, 2011

Ten Things I Love Tuesday #11

Today is Tuesday, and that means it's time for another 10TILT!!

Welcome to this, the eleventh edition of 10TILT - a selection of things I've found around the web (and possibly elsewhere) that I really, well, love!

29 August, 2011

Braided Dreams

Finally! I have created a successful braided rag rug!

Over a year ago, I wound strips of torn-up duvet covers and pillowcases into balls of "yarn" with the intention of starting a braided rag rug. I had SO much material, but very few colors (several of which did not look great together), so instead of a braided rug, I crocheted the material into what is now one of my favorite items of decor in our home - a 4" in diameter rug that now sits happily in my kitchen.

After that success, I took a few scraps of what I had left, and crocheted another, smaller rug. It is also a happy addition to our home. 

28 August, 2011

T-Shirt Yarn: A Tutorial

T-Shirt yarn! 

Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, "what??" But let me tell you - T-Shirt yarn is useful crafting material. You can use it to knit, crochet, and all sorts of fun stuff! 
This tutorial will teach you how to make one long piece of t-shirt yarn.


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