I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

For the Love of Homemade

Hello, sweet friends. How’s your Thanksgiving week been so far? Are you preparing your home for family and friends? Or are you getting dishes ready to bring to a loved one’s house? Or are you simply relaxing and enjoying the rush of the season? However you’re spending your week, I hope you’re able to smile through it all. :)

I turned to Paul the other night and said, “I love how early the night comes. I feel like I have more time in the day.” Seems like I just contradicted myself, doesn’t it? But hear me out! Always in the summer when the sun begins to go down, I find myself getting antsy because soon after the sun goes down it’s time for bed. And always when the sun is out, I feel the guilt of needing to be outside doing something productive (although I will admit I don’t usually get anything productive done :)) and I always feel the rush, rush, rush of the summer days. However, when autumn comes and winter slowly creeps in and the days get shorter, I feel the world telling me to just hush. Sit down. Cozy up. Be a little longer. Spend time in the home. Indulge a bit.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying doing things more organically (I don’t like how that word is over-used but I can’t think of another word right now so bear with me). Before the first frost came, I went through our little garden and harvested as much as I could. I took stalks of lavender, stems of basil and roses, and bowls of raspberries into the house and took some time to use my hands and actually be useful with them. No mindless scrolling on my phone or searching for things with my laptop. I used my hands to pick the leaves off the lavender, to tie up the basil and roses to hang and dry, to wash the raspberries, and then chopped already-dried basil that had been hanging in the pantry. I let the lavender dry on a white dish towel and put the chopped basil in little glass spice jars. When the roses dried, I stuck them in an old jelly jar and put them on display in the corner cabinet. Just a little time spent in the garden and I already felt like the day was a winner of a day.

With the cold wind seeping through our house’s old cracks, I noticed our candle supply was running low. So on a sunny afternoon, with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow playing in the background, I pulled the steel kettle, bag of soy wax, oils, wax color shavings, wicks, wick holders, and glass jars from the top cupboard and began making candles. I have the most fun mixing different colors and creating delicious scents, although most of the oils don’t need mixing (Harvest Spice, Cinnamon, and Coffee Cake is divine). We had a variety of small salsa jars and tall mason jars, short and tall, skinny and wide. In just a couple of hours, I had made 8 candles and the house smelled like a hot cup of cider. It’s something so simple but seems so complicated — it’s not! Maybe I’ll have to write another post about making candles. They’re perfect Christmas gifts, especially if you can get a little creative and make cute sticker labels. :)

Then a few weeks ago, my girlfriend (MaryRose) and I went to my cousin’s/great-aunt and great-uncle’s house and learned how to make homemade pasta. I’ve gone to their house in the past for a “Pasta-Making Party” with other relatives, but I never really paid attention to how the pasta was actually made. I just drank wine with my aunts and mom and enjoyed a big pasta lunch. :) But this time, I truly wanted to learn. So, MaryRose and I drove to their cute home with lots of built-ins and old photos of my family and learned from my cousin and Auntie how to make cavatelli and fettuccine. Some things are life-changing — not all life-changing things need to be big, either — and this was one of those things. We had such a wonderful time learning from them and getting our hands full of flour, sticky dough, and meatball mix (we also made meatballs). I sipped coffee with my aunt when it was Mary’s turn to mix the dough, and Mary rested (because she’s pregnant!! :) :)) while I pushed the dough through the cavatelli maker. We took turns doing each task and when it was time to put the dough through the fettuccine maker it was all hands on deck, and we each got three pounds of fettuccine and three pounds of cavatelli to take home. After all the work was done and most of the kitchen was cleaned up, we feasted on cavatelli, meatballs, and garlic bread. Everything was delicious and time with my family was much needed and appreciated. I was so happy to finally introduce Mary to some of my family — we’ve been friends for nearly 11 years and she has only somewhat met a few members of my family at our wedding!

MaryRose and I, circa 2010. :)

After having such a successful day of pasta-making, I did some research on purchasing my own tools to do the same. We used the big KitchenAid Mixer and the added pasta/fettuccine attachments, and the crank-style cavatelli maker. Although I loved making it, I really didn’t want to have to buy the huge mixer when I never wanted/needed one thus far. So, I found an alternative way while searching online: use a large food processor ($45) to make the dough, the old-fashioned pasta and fettuccine maker ($30) to make the fettuccine, and then the crank-style cavatelli maker ($40) for cavatelli (same as Chris’s). I quickly bought them online (an early Christmas gift, we said) and as soon as they came in the mail I extended my dining room table for ample room, put an old sheet on top that would soon be full of flour and dough, and got to work on my first batch of pasta. Friends, I had the most fun. As soon as I made my first pound, I loved it so much that I went to work on the second one. And after the second one, what do you think I did? I made a third pound. And then since Paul was running a little late to come home, I put the first three pounds in the freezer, waited, and then made another pound and we enjoyed our first completely homemade pasta meal. The pasta literally came right out of the fettuccine maker and went straight into the boiling water. It doesn’t get much more organic than that, does it? At least not in my house. :) I’ve already given out multiple pounds of pasta to friends and family. It is so much fun, I think I could make pasta all day.

And then when I feel like sitting down and watching a good movie, I pull out my paints and keep working on my personal project. (When more of it’s done, I’ll share it with you in more detail. :)) I’ll light the candles, smell the sweet cinnamon, swish the brush in water, and add color to a blank page. Bliss.

I’ll be having a big sale in my online shop starting on Friday morning and going until Monday night: 25% off your entire order! If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a calendar or other art print for gifts, now is the most perfect time! I won’t be having another sale this year so I thought I would give you a good heads up now. :) (Those of you on my email list will receive a coupon code in your email on Friday morning. To sign up for my emails just go to the bottom of the page.)

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week, especially your Thanksgiving Day. I hope you spend it with good people, good food, and good napping. :) Warm thoughts and happy smiles sent your way, friends! Xoxoxo

  1. Andy says:

    Love reading your stuff Nikki. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and give my best to everyone. See you soon I’m sure.