• It’s a sickness of sorts


    I missed you all last week, but I had to take a week off. I was just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and so many things in my life are changing. I’m sure there will be a post on that later! For today though, I need to talk about another sickness I have…


    Crafting ADD

    Now, crafting itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s quite lovely actually and I recommend everyone to explore and discover what kind of creativity suits them. Unfortunately for me, most everything suits me – at first.

    I wish I was one of those talented people who did one thing and did it superbly. My mom is one of those people, she does woodworking – she has many other talents and can pretty much do anything well (crochet, knit, painting, sewing, gardening, designing) but where she excels is at woodworking. She creates her own patterns, uses every kind of saw imaginable and then sands, paints, etc. until she has a project of excellence. She enjoys doing it and so it isn’t a chore, but a labor of love. If she could, she’d probably spend most days in her shop and covered in sawdust.

    A commissioned teacher gift my mom made – a birdhouse and planter!

    I inherited part of that. I’m also a jack-of-all-trades kinda gal. I can see something and usually figure out how to do it, not as good as the original – but close enough for me. Unfortunately, I have to try everything!! I see something and think, “hmmm – wonder how they did that, looks like fun”. So I give it a shot. Not just a little shot though, nope, I go all-in.


    Trying Everything

    I decided to try knitting and crocheting when I was younger, instead of getting one pattern and one set of needles and the yarn for the project. I got the sets. Sets of knitting needles, a full set of crochet hooks, skeins and skeins of yarn, printed up oodles of patterns…. you get the idea.  Then found I don’t really have the attention span or the attention to detail required. A scarf or a hat is about as long as I last before I’m done counting stitches or rows.

    Once I thought to try cross-stitch. Did I get a pre-assembled kit? Nope. I got a kit, plus blank canvas and the books and sets of needles and 1 skein of every color of embroidery floss (there are A LOT of colors!). Do I like to cross-stitch? Not at all. I’m good at it, I just don’t have the patience for anything larger than the size of a 50 cent piece! My Godmother received several tea towels one year with cute little designs cross-stitched onto them. That was the entirety of my career.

    When we lived in Spokane, WA I decided cake decorating would be my new thing. I had fun and bought all the stuff – and learned why cakes cost so much for just basic ingredients. It’s not the baking and decorating as much as the stressful transportation you’re paying for. I still pick it up from time-to-time, but nothing that causes that kind of stress!

    Transformer Cake


    Pirate Cake

    While we lived in Iceland there was a quilting class offered. Of course, I took it and purchased way too many supplies. I found out that the only part of quilting I’m really any good at is hand-quilting the top. There are a whole lot of steps before that, and after, that I really am not that fond of.


    Too many things to try and not enough time…

    And on and on it goes. I’ve got the stuff for polymer clay, friendly plastic (do you remember that stuff?), quilting, sewing, silk ribbon embroidery, tole painting, jewelry making, general crafting, felt crafts, beaded ornaments, art journals, altered books, scrapbooking, card making, cake decorating, mosaics, stamp carving, rubber stamping, paper making, altered art, fabric painting, knitting, crocheting, and cross stitch. Yep, I have it all.

    I look around my overly stuffed craft room and I know I need to downsize it and get rid of the things I haven’t touched in years. But there always seems to be a good reason to hang onto stuff. Pinterest is one of the best and worst things that I’ve discovered. I see something on Pinterest and want to give it a go. Hopefully, I already have the materials needed, but if not, I live within 5 miles of 3 major craft stores.

    Often one of my friends has a wonderful idea and I love to help out! I’m sure I have the supplies around here somewhere. Then there are times I just want to try my hand at something I tried once years ago and had forgotten how much I liked.

    a friend’s idea for classroom gifts


    another friend’s idea for a project


    Pinterest candle project

    I’ve taught jewelry making, beading, card making/rubber stamping, carving, art journaling, scrapbooking and silk ribbon embroidery in the past. Those seem to be the things that I keep going back to over and over again – but for limited amounts of time before once again, I move on. Having students, friends over, or a deadline looming keeps things fresh and exciting and always reminds me of why I love crafting so very much.


    handmade art journal from a composition book and paper bag


    tooth fairy bracelet with charms for each lost tooth


    hand carved rubber stamp

    Anyone want to learn silk ribbon embroidery?? I have all the stuff…..

    Silk ribbon letter B


    I may need a pill or a 12 step program sigh ~ Nickalli


    Updated since its original post in 2011


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  • Make a Thing a Day Update

    I joined a challenge for February where you Make a Thing a Day. Anything. Anything creative. There really were no rules so of course, I gave myself one. No food. It would be too easy to post dinner and say “Ta-Da”. Other people doing the challenge certainly are using the meals they make and that’s great. I cook almost every night though and it would just feel like cheating.

    I’ve been posting in the Facebook Group and on my Instagram account almost daily. This will give me a better overview though, and a chance to catch up on a few days I missed posting. I have 7 more days to go to call it a successful challenge!!

    Day 1 – Mail Art. There is nothing in the envelope, the challenge was just to make a decorative envelope and send it.

    Day 2 – Index Card A Day. I usually make two, one to send for the challenge and one to keep for myself. I love doing more than needed for smaller projects. It gives me a chance to try out different things and if it doesn’t work out – well, I guess that one is mine.

    Day 3 – More mail art, this time using stamps I had carved myself.

    Day 4 – This was a fun color combination to do for a 5×7 journal page. I also made the bookmarker so I could keep a record of what I did since the page was going in the mail.

    Day 5 – A couple of fun postcards using book pages and stencils. Ready to mail.

    Day 6 – This is the front page to an envelope flip book, you can see the whole thing here on my Instagram page. It consisted of three envelopes filled with goodies, a tag, and a shaker tag filled with sparkles.

    Day 7 – Another Index Card A Day challenge.

    Day 8 – 10 I did a series of tags using up scraps of paper. Each featured a different color.

    Day 11 & 12 Two pigs carved for a “Year of The Pig” challenge. We needed to only do one, but I couldn’t decide so ended up doing both. The first one doesn’t have eyes so that I can draw them in, looking any which way I’d like.

    Day 13 – Some more mail art going out. I’m trying to use up old scrapbooking papers by turning them into fun envelopes.

    Day 14 – Another hand carved stamp. This challenge was to read our partner’s profile and pick out something about them and carve a stamp they would like. My partner is from SF.

    Day 15 – 19 A series of watercolor paintings I did for a class I am taking with Joanne Sharpe. Everything was done in stages and I worked in my “real” book as well as in a practice book. So much fun, I love this class!

    Day 20 – another index card, I did two but mailed the other out before getting a pic.

    Day 21 – Paper clips. You can’t see the paper clip as it is on the back, but these can be used and bookmarks or in planners or journals. The pocket holds two little slips of paper.

    That’s it. All caught up for now – it’s been fun, but getting something made every day has definitely been a challenge. I think for my next one, I just might allow new recipes. Not sure what my challenge is for March, I’m thinking it may be concentrating on my diet and reducing my sugar and carbs. That sounds like no fun at all. Ugh
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend! We are expecting snow?! ~ Nickalli

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  • Pickles and Mayo


    A pickle bouquet? Where has this been all my life? This is genius! It’s not that I don’t like flowers, I just don’t like the money that flowers usually cost. Crazy spending so much on something that’s gonna die. But pickles, that’s a bouquet that will definitely be put to good use… in my belly.

    Pickles seem to have become so popular lately. I am on board for all of it! The dill pickle soup, delicious. Dill pickle cheeseball, delicious – and our new favorite cheeseball recipe. I’m still trying to find those dill pickle candy canes though (hook a girl up if you’ve seen them). The dill pickle bun hit my Facebook page this morning although it’s been around for 10 years or more.



    I may like dill pickles more than most … I also think I may like Mayo more than most “normal” people. It’s an unhealthy relationship, but I’m okay with that.

    First, it’s not just any mayo – it’s gotta be Best Food’s (or Hellman’s if you’re east of the Rocky Mountains, or in Latin America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Canada, or South Africa ) Real Mayonnaise. I’ve tried other brands, and I’ve tried light, olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil – nope, gotta have the real stuff!! And if you mention Miracle Whip, you are dead to me. (except for my best friend, she’s weird and allowed). It’s not a substitute for mayo, it’s nothing like mayo, and it’s disgusting.

    I began to realize my mayo relationship wasn’t normal when I got married. That first time I made dinner for my hubby and served it with a slice of bread smothered with mayo. The look on his face clued me in that this was something he had never been exposed to before.  He was expecting something like bread with butter on it. I rarely have these anymore, although there are certain dishes (mostly tomato based) where I just need to have my bread and mayo.

    When I was young I discovered I like ranch dressing on my french fries… although mayo works great as well. I got lots of strange looks until I went overseas and discovered that I am not the only one. Lots of people eat their french fries with mayo! And on hot dogs as well – so there!!! Not as weird as I was once told.

    When I make breakfast burritos and put mayo on the tortilla, eggs and mayo go so good together. Mayo is the best thing to use when making grilled cheese. It makes the bread so crispy.  Fruit salad made with mayo as the dressing. Yes, mayo and bananas work well together, you’ll have to trust me. Peanut butter and mayo on bread or crackers makes it so the PB doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth.

    In our house we don’t use cheese to make veggies more palatable – I make a mayo/mustard/garlic salt dip for them just like my mom did. It is especially good for artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, mixed frozen veggies, squash… okay, just about everything! Fish is especially yummy when baked under a layer of mayo. Coating sticks to chicken much better with mayo instead of an egg wash.

    Every time I see pictures of Jell-O, it’s always topped with cool whip. Blech. Doesn’t anyone else eat their Jell-O desserts with mayonnaise? Orange Jell-O loaded with shredded carrots a few raisins and a dollop of mayo on top, mmmm. 

    In Japan, they like their margarita glasses rimmed with mayo instead of salt. Anyone up to trying a Mayogaria with me? Or how about a Sufferin’ Bastard – a tequila shot followed by a shot of pickle juice. I’m down for either one.

    I hope this didn’t make you too nauseous and that you may have even nodded your head a few times. What other ways should I be eating pickles and mayo? Let me know! And make it a great week! ~ Nickalli

    (Updated since the original post in 2011)

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  • Sous Vide Cooking or the anti-Instant Pot

    I love my brother. He’s a great guy and a wonderful cook. He’s definitely a gadget kind of guy and likes to do things the right way. Last year for Christmas my family all got on board the Instant Pot craze. We got each other the pots, accessories, cookbooks, etc. They’ve been going strong for over a year now!

    This past Christmas my family all pitched in and I received a Sous Vide Machine with the needed accessories. I’m fairly certain he was the instigator of this. I think he felt I needed a new challenge, both in the cooking arena as well as with storage issues.

    Well, I finally took it out of the box and fixed our first meal. If you’re not familiar with sous vide (I first learned about it watching Chopped on the Food Network) here is a basic explanation:

    Sous Vide

    Sous Vide, which is French for “under vacuum” and pronounced sue-veed, is a cooking technique where you submerge food in a sealed bag into a temperature controlled bath. The benefit to cooking this way is that it is gentle, even heat surrounding the food and therefore cooks evenly all the way around. Basically bringing the food slowly up to the temperature of the water bath. For tougher pieces of meat, this means that they become tender. Food marinated in the bag means the marinade penetrates all the way through.

    This is NOT a quick process. A steak or a chicken breast can take a couple of hours, salmon 45 minutes, bacon 8 hours (not kidding!). See…the anti-Instant Pot. There is nothing instant about it. Even after you are done sous viding (?), the meat still needs a little TLC – a quick sear in a hot pan, flash under a broiler or on a grill. I guess you can skip this if you don’t mind a gray piece of meat and won’t miss that yummy caramelized texture.

    Out of the Box

    So, while this is a superior way of cooking – you really need to plan ahead. I decided to tackle salmon for my first attempt. Getting the water to the correct temperature took about 20 minutes. Then the cooking process took another 45 minutes. I had mistakenly set the timer for 45 hours initially – whoops.

    While the water was warming up I mixed up a little Asian flair to brush onto the salmon.

    • 4 T. oyster sauce
    • 1 T. rice wine
    • 1 T. finely minced garlic
    • 1 T. finely grated ginger

    Brush on both sides of salmon without skin, or on the flesh side of a piece with skin (mine didn’t have skin). Place into a bag and remove as much air as possible.  I then cooked it at 120°F (49°C) for 45 mins – if your salmon is more than an inch thick you may want to go for an hour.

    Once it was done…. well, it was hard to tell if it was done. It looked the same all the way around, kind of a pinkish-gray color. I heated up a bit of oil in a skillet and seared both sides. Until it looked like what I would want to eat. It was definitely moist and yummy!

    I’m not sure if I’m brave enough yet to try a piece of steak. Maybe a batch of chicken breasts for salads or chili may be next. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it and eventually love it, right now I just need to find a place to store it!

    If you’ve ever sous vide something – let me know! I’d love to have a few tried and true recipes. Thanks and hope you have an amazing week! ~ Nickalli



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  • Challenge Updates

    January is almost over and so I’m gearing up for a new challenge starting Friday ( February 1st already??!!?). I’m also updating a few of the ones I attempted this past month and about how I did.

    The 30 Day Clutter Challenge

    Overall – not bad. The 30-day clutter challenge stalled out around day 10 for me, but then I picked it up again and I ended up with a carload of stuff to donate. I like having these challenges as long as I don’t feel like I have to stick to them or fail. I got to “de-clutter 5 pieces of chipped or cracked items in your kitchen” and bailed. I knew I had already dealt with those. So after skipping it, I found another challenge that recommended small appliances and went with that instead. I am donating a bread machine, donut maker, waffle iron, Forman grill, and Kitchenaid mixer. I’d already gone through our sheets before Christmas, so that day I de-cluttered my magazine pile. You’ll be happy to know I am letting the subscriptions run out and not renewing them. At one point I had over 17 subscriptions being delivered, I think I’m now down to 3.

    The 24in48 Reading Challenge

    I also joined a reading challenge this past month. The challenge was to read 24 hours in a 48-hour time frame. I was successful and actually ended up reading 25 hours (had to finish the book before bed!) but it did not go the way I had anticipated. I started with a simple schedule, three 4-hour blocks of reading time each day. Saturday my alarm was set to go off at 4 am where I would read until 8 am and break for breakfast. Back at it at 9 am, another break at 1 pm for lunch and then 2 pm – 6 pm where I would be done for the day and have enough time to get ready for our night out. It looked do-able. Here is what really happened. Wake up and can’t get back to sleep, read from 2 am – 6 am Break for necessities (bathroom and coffee) read 6:30 am – 7:30 am Breakfast and family time then read from 9 am – 11 am Lunch break, read Noon – 2 pm break for bleeding eyes, read 3 pm – 5 pm Chinese food out and Gaslight Theater break, read 11:30 pm – Midnight Sunday was even worse. The morning started of pretty solid, but by the afternoon it started to feel like a chore rather than a pleasure. I think the book I was reading had a lot to do with it a well. By then I was trying to finish up The Handmaid’s Tale, and really didn’t care about the characters as they were all pretty horrid. So in between reading spurts there was lots of naps and whining for coffee. My guys were very patient with me and once I got onto the last book I was back in the groove again. I guess for people who like to read, we really don’t realize how much we do read. Most of the time it didn’t seem like it was different from most weekends except that I was keeping track of stop and start times. Read, eat, fold laundry, read, cook, read, clean up a mess, read. And the down times I gave myself from the reading challenge – I ended up reading. Facebook, blog posts, my emails, a magazine. It was nice having the excuse to read for hours at a time though and not feel like I was ignoring my family. If you are interested there is another challenge set to kick off in July. I will probably join. My eyes should be back to normal by then and my family will have forgotten about my whining…

    February Make-a-Thing-a-Day

    Now onto my new challenge. This is a Facebook Group thing and essentially you are to make a thing each day in February. It’s very open to interpretation and pretty much anything goes. You can do as little or as much as you’d like each day. A larger project can also be broken down into smaller segments, like writing one page a day of a novel. Writing, crafting, painting, cooking, blogging, it all can count towards your one thing for that day. You really are only answering to yourself, but it is always fun to see what others are up to. I made out a list of things to get my creative juices going. Some are things I know I need to make, so why not add them. Others are quick things I can do in case I get stuck or lack the energy for something bigger. I cook (a lot) but do not plan on making that one of my things unless I am desperate. These are in no particular order, just a random list of ideas of things I might like to attempt. You can also see my Pinterest inspiration board.
    • Valentine’s birthday
    • card
    • clay charm
    • boho beads
    • painted rock
    • ATCs/Rolos/ICADs
    • altered paper clips
    • watercolor painting
    • metal washer pendant
    • handmade journal
    • scrap paper tags
    • monoprints – Gelli plate
    • carve a stamp – year of the pig, quail
    • Art journal pages (quiet, paint #12)
    • Arty mail art envelope
    • Postcards (celebrate theme)
    • Bookmarks
    • Earrings
    • Bracelet
    • Zine
    • wire wrapped rock
    • collage
    • blackout poetry
    • calligraphy
    • handmade washi tape
    I’ll be adding pictures to the Facebook Group as I go and update how it went at the end of the month. Of course, I still have more de-cluttering to do and my list of 20 before 2020, I’ll be trying to keep up with those as well. Let me know if you have read any great books lately or have ideas to add to my February make challenge! Hope you have a wonderful week! ~ Nickalli
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  • My Art Abandonment

    A few weeks ago I published a post about my goals for 2019  which included a list of “20 before 2020”. One of my items on this list was to abandon 20 pieces of art. I’ve had a few questions – so wanted to explain the idea around art abandonment and how you can participate as well.

    I found out about The Art Abandonment Group on Facebook years ago. It’s a group of people (45K+ worldwide) who create art and place it somewhere public for others to find. The group was started in 2012 by an artist named Michael deMeng and is open to both artist and the finders to document the experience. It’s Art and a Random Act of Kindness all wrapped up together.

    The artwork that is released into the world is just amazing. Scrolling through the pictures on the group page is inspirational. I have never found one myself. However, I have released many, and even though I haven’t ever heard back from the receivers – it makes my heart happy to know they are out there somewhere.

    There is also another Facebook group I belong to that is all about painting rocks and hiding them.  These groups have sprung up everywhere, so if that is something more up your alley, search for one near you.

    What to abandon?

    It’s been a few years since I’ve participated with the group. So this year I made it a goal to be intentional about abandoning some art, at least 20 items. The art can be anything.

    I started small at first and just left fun bookmarkers in random books when I was at the library. Then I had created a bunch of flat marble magnets and didn’t know what to do with them. Those ended up attached to random metal poles, especially near bus stops. The largest thing I abandoned was a handmade blank journal. It was not my style, but I had taken a class to learn the process of making one.

    A few things to consider when abandoning art.

    The first is how to let people know they are free to take the item they just found. On the Facebook group there are ready to print tags and in my free resource library, you can find the one that I have used. Just insert your own email so they have a way to contact you. If you prefer, you can leave it blank or direct them to the Facebook group. A handwritten note is just fine as well, just something to say “Hey, I’m free and I’m yours!”.

    Another consideration is where you are abandoning. Please be considerate of businesses. You don’t want to abandon something that raises any concerns over shoplifting. I tend to avoid retail places altogether. Dentist offices, doctor offices, and hospitals are good places to brighten someone’s day – but get permission from the staff and let them in on the fun.

    Parks, the library, bus stops are all excellent places to abandon as long as you also consider what you are abandoning. Keep it classy. If you are leaving something not suitable for children, leave it somewhere a child won’t have access to it. I like to abandon jewelry with small beads, those I leave higher up so a small child won’t be able to reach it.

    Here are my first four items to abandon:

    A handmade bowl from rocks collected in Northern CA
    A pair of beaded earring
    A pair of beaded earrings on a small tag
    A paper tassel with bead and ballerina charm

    After I have them packaged and the tags attached, they will be sent out into the wild. I’ll then take a picture of it and post it onto the Facebook group. I may never hear back about who found it, and that’s okay.

    You can do this without the group, without the pictures, without much planning. Just make something, a small tag to say it’s free art and place it somewhere someone who needs a smile can find it. Random Acts of Kindness are always a good thing.

    Hope you have an amazing week! ~ Nickalli


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  • No Konmari Method for me

    If you are into decluttering and organizing you know what the Konmari method is all about because right now – it is everywhere. The tidy-up guru Marie Kondo has taken over Netflix after having her wildly popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011) hit the US in 2014.

    Everyone is talking about it. A quick google search will give you articles, blog posts, tweets, etc. I posted on one of my decluttering facebook groups that I wanted to throat-punch the woman and hated both the book and the show…

    Not a popular opinion.

    I’ve listened to the arguments on Facebook. Read a few opinion pieces online. I do try to keep an open mind about most things. However, I still really don’t get the hype.

    Her method, she named KonMari after herself, consists of gathering together all of your belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that “spark joy”.

    The Categories

    There is a specific order of categories she has you tackle; clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and then sentimental things last.

    Really? Miscellaneous? That is 80% of the house in one category. Children’s toys, craft items, sporting equipment, the entire kitchen, storage areas, garages, tools, the office, bathrooms, linen closets, decor, etc. etc. etc. In ONE category??

    Plus, how many clothes, books, papers and misc. things in your house are sentimental? This does not seem to be addressed at all!

    Working one category at a time seems ridiculous.  I understand how piling all your clothes into one big pile can help someone see how out of control the situation has become. However, to sleep at night in your own bed means you need to now tackle that huge pile.

    I couldn’t have done it years ago, I had way too much. I knew I had too much because I didn’t have to do laundry but once every two to three weeks. (If you are not doing laundry every week & keeping up with it, you probably have an issue. Just sayin’). But piling it all on the bed and then going through it piece by piece and keeping only what “sparks joy” is crazy. It doesn’t address space issues or what’s a reasonable amount of joyful items.

    What if all of my evening dresses “spark joy”, and I have 10 of them, but none of my jeans do? Do I now keep only my evening gowns and wear them to the grocery store?

    Not to mention, by the time I am getting to the bottom of that pile I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, which means my ability to make decisions has abandoned me.  Everything left will either be tossed because my joy is gone, or I’ll become afraid to discard anything and it will all “spark joy”.

    The second thing she suggests going through is books. I can’t even go there. Someone else has already written what I consider an excellent opinion if you are interested check it out: What We Gain From Keeping Books – and Why it Doesn’t Need To Be ‘Joy’ by Anakana Schofield.

    The paper category is one that she never goes into detail on. She has only three divisions: pending, important, and miscellaneous.

    Really? Miscellaneous?? Isn’t that about 80% of my paper pile? And what about the sentimental papers? Ugh.

    Incomplete ideas

    So, say I’ve gone through her method and my clothing has been reduced to only things that “spark joy”. I now have 30 pairs of underwear, 1 bra, 2 pairs of socks, 3 blouses, 18 leggins which I never wear out of the house, 15 T-shirts, 1 pair of jeans (because I do need to run to the grocery store eventually) and 10 evening gowns. Ha!

    My paperwork is now in three piles. One is 2 foot deep of pending, the important is in a fireproof safe, and the miscellaneous pile is all thrown into the file cabinet. I can’t find anything, but at least I know which location to begin the search.

    I still don’t know how to determine what “sparks joy” out of the yard equipment category. My electronic clutter hasn’t been addressed at all. My craft room is still a mess because everything “sparks joy” in there, but she doesn’t address how to really deal with that. I can’t neatly fold everything into a basket, box or drawer.

    Too Fru-Fru

    I’m a practical person and not much into new age ideas. So speaking to the house, thanking my items before getting rid of them, waking up a book by touching it, all of it really put me off.

    The book is even worse. She writes about how at the end of the day she thanks her coat for keeping her warm and unloading her purse at night so it can rest to be ready for the next day. Yeah, no.

    She’s definitely cute. Watching her interact with the homeowners is certainly more fun than reading her book. Unfortunately, Netflix made the horrible decision to put the subtitles in white when most of the show’s backgrounds are pastel colors. They don’t translate everything she says either, through subtitles or through her translator, which is annoying.

    Marie gives the homeowners the basic info, leaves and they have to do homework. The show doesn’t really go into the work. The thought process of what to keep, what to get rid of, and how to store what’s left (other than EVERYthing goes into a box of some sort). Each of the 8 episodes focuses too much time on the homeowners fawning over Mrs. Kondo and her “introducing herself” to the home.

    What works

    So, I needed to find a takeaway. There had to be something that I could learn and use in my life. There is always a way to find something positive, right?

    So after watching the show, I decided that her drawers definitely look better than mine do. I went in and pulled out my underwear, sock, and tank-top drawers. I got rid of a paper grocery bag full of stuff and folded everything her way. And you know what – it looks much better than when they were all just thrown in the drawer.

    So, have you read the book or seen the show? Have you tried her method of tidying up? Are you going to try or if you did, did you have success?

    Thanks for letting me rant a bit. I’m off to see if any of my screwdrivers, hammers or wrenches “spark joy” and thank my old water bottles for working so hard before I toss them out. LOL, not really ~ Nickalli

  • A Sweet Start


    A sweet surprise arrived last month. Last year I had applied with Clabber Girl to be one of the first to try a new product, Bailey’s Irish Cream Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. I’d forgotten about it until the package showed up. Along with a lovely card from their marketing director I received two bags of chips and a recipe book.

    Since my Christmas baking was a little excessive I decided to wait until after the new year to try these lovelies. The recipe book is fantastic and every recipe and picture looks delicious, but I needed to decide and pick just two for now.

    The First Recipe

    I hadn’t made fudge for Christmas and it seemed like a nice New Year treat, so that was the first recipe.

    Fudge is so easy to make but I tend to let others make it for me. I love coming upon little shops when traveling that have a fudge counter – especially if there were SAMPLES! Trying untraditional flavors is my favorite part.

    The last place I discovered was in Tombstone, AZ next to the famous Bird Cage Hotel. The name has changed three times in the last 10 years (Reed’s, Grandma’s Frontier Fudge, Fallen Angel) I’m not sure what’s the current name. I tried some amazing concoctions there including Pistachio, Orange Creme, Butter Rum, and even Carrot Cake. Check it out if you make the trip!

    These chips are delicious!! I’m almost sad to bake with them, I want to sit here and just eat them right out of the bag… okay, but only a few…

    So how does one measure mini marshmallows? Are they to be compacted into the cup, like brown sugar? Or do you gently spoon them in like flour and level it off? I think measuring by weight would be the most accurate. Usually, about 2 ounces of mini marshmallows would be in a cup. I just guestimated, I filled up the cup until slightly heaping and the pushed them down to make sure they filled the space but not in a solid mass. Most recipes calling for marshmallows to be melted down are pretty forgiving.

    I didn’t have Bailey’s Irish Cream and the recipe called for 1 tsp. My options were adding Bailey’s Vanilla Cinnamon that my husband has been loving, but I didn’t want to mix flavors. I also could have just added vanilla extract instead. However, I didn’t want to dilute the Irish Cream flavor so decided to not add in anything which was probably the right choice.

    As soon as I melted the chips into the mixture it immediately started to set and look glossy! Success!!

    The Second Recipe

    The second recipe I picked out was for my son. I haven’t done chocolate chip cookies for a while and this bar recipe looked like something he would love. I thought one pan would be much quicker than multiple sheets of cookies, so went that route (there were recipes in the book for either).

    The majority of the Cookie Bars went to work with my husband and got rave reviews. We all liked them as well, and I’m sure they would have frozen beautifully, but sharing is always good!

    In conclusion, these baking chips are wonderful. The chocolate is almost dark rather than semi-sweet and they are not chalky at all. The chocolate flavor is super rich and the Irish Creme flavor is evident, but not overpowering. They made the most beautiful smooth and creamy fudge. The Irish Creme flavor in the Cookie Bars was much more subtle than in the fudge, but the chocolate flavor was amazing. If you are looking for something a little bit different, give Bailey’s Irish Cream Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips a try! ~ Nickalli


  • New Year New Challenges

    Saying Goodbye to 2018 and Setting Up 2019


    Is your new year is off to a fantastic start?! I spent yesterday setting up my new Artfully Inspired Life book, 365 DeCluttering Calendar, Happy Planner/Bujo and Art Journal for the coming year.

    I also spent a bit of time looking back at 2018. Some of my goals I did fairly well and some exceedingly well, others I dropped the ball almost immediately. I used that information as a way to plan out this next year. In 2018

    • I read over 18 million words (and that did not include all of my audiobooks).
    • Mailed off over 160 art swaps to people all over the world and received that many in return.
    • Joined a writing group called IUOMA and sent several letters and plan to do more.
    • No idea how many stamps I carved last year, something I want to do more of this year and keep better track!
    • Completed my Artfully Inspire Life course book as well as two other online painting classes.
    • Began a writing course and will continue with it into this year.
    • And my blog is off to a good start!

    Starting 2019

    In addition to the 365 decluttering calendar I’m jump starting by also doing a 30-day challenge, both together may get a little time consuming but I need to start strong while I have some momentum. Play along if you’d like, let me know – I’d love the company!

    Day 1 Decluttering
    Day 2 Decluttering

    I’ll be starting on our computer room this week, getting my son to help. He’s great at keeping me on task and making me get rid of stuff. He has no emotional attachment to my stuff so asks hard questions like  “what is it for?”, “do you need it?”, and “when did you last use it?”. Sheesh.

    I’m probably planning on too much with my online classes, art, budget, etc. but I need to get it set up now while I have the will and just hope that I’ll feel guilted by my earlier self into doing part of what I have envisioned. I’m also posting it here so that you all can keep me accountable as well.

    So here’s what I have planned for 2019

    Wow, it looks like a lot. I guess it is a lot, and it isn’t all by any means, but seeing stuff written down and having goals helps me immensely to not flitter about aimlessly. I tend to work better with deadlines, a leftover from my yearbook days I guess. Otherwise, without it written down, I’ll move stuff around my desk and not really work at much, or declutter some random drawer that no one ever looks into but me.

    365 Declutter Sink area Day 1

    I found that to keep these challenges and calendars working for me I need to have them in plain sight. I keep the challenges in a binder until I add them to my planner. My AIL book is also kept out so that I can work on it as I have time. My Swap-bot, AWAI, IUOMA, etc. are all online, but I keep notes in my BuJo as to deadlines and other information so it’s also a visual reminder.

    Thank you for reading this not very exciting post! Just knowing that you’re reading this and that I have some accountability will help me stay on task. I am looking forward to posting my progress in the future. Maybe a monthly update? If you have something you are working on and need some encouragement or an accountability partner, let me know!

    Well, time to get to work! Make it a great week… and a great year! ~ Nickalli



  • Challenges and Possibilities

    I hope you had a very merry Christmas. This is my most loved and most hated time of year. The days after Christmas until New Year’s Eve.

    The hustle and stress of Christmas “trying to fit everything in” is finally over. Regardless of what I did or didn’t get done, it all turned out okay. Now is the time of possibilities. I have a week of making plans and deciding how to start out the next year.

    I’m crap at resolutions and don’t believe I’ve ever made one that’s lasted past those little pink boxes of conversation hearts. I do like to plan though. Decide on my new schedule. Plan out my new journal and planner. Decide which de-cluttering challenge I’m going to start. Buy the art supplies for the year-long class I just signed up for. Work on my online class and writing. This is the time of possibilities.

    I am starting to look around at all the things I need to purge from my life. I want to go through my spice cabinets and toss out all the old expired things. I want to sift through the paperwork in the office and toss and shred until only the most needed things remain. I want to start a new meal plan and exercise program that will see me in a bikini at the end of the year. (Ha, no worries – NEVER gonna happen!)

    Challenge Accepted

    I also love a challenge. I want to start the 365 daily declutter challenge, the 31-day home detox, the 52-week money challenge, the Goodreads reading challenge, the wardrobe challenge, the 40 bags in 40 days challenge, … I’m kinda into challenges. But which ones will I stick with?  Which would make the biggest impact? I only have a week to decide!!

    I know realistically I could start a new challenge at any time. But the first of the year seems like THE time to start something. Unfortunately, I want to start everything – but know that the fewer things I try to do, the more I’ll actually succeed at.

    This year I’m thinking of trying something new. A 20 before 2020 kind of thing. I like that it is less than once a week, but a bit more than once a month. Leaves a bit of wiggle room to get everything done in one year.

    20 Before 2020

    So here are my 20 before 2020 that I’ll be working on. Of course, doing more is wonderful, but having an achievable goal is important to me.

    1. Carve 20 new handcrafted stamp designs
    2. Send out 20 handwritten letters
    3. Send out 20 postcards
    4. Do 20 pieces of mixed media artwork
    5. Draw or paint 20 items
    6. Read 20 books
    7. Listen to 20 audiobooks
    8. Make 20 deliveries to donate goods
    9. Write 20 articles or blog posts
    10. Cook 20 new recipes
    11. Take 20 pictures with me in them
    12. Make 20 individual lists of 20 *
    13. See 20 new places
    14. Volunteer 20 times
    15. Take 20 drives, just to go drive
    16. Abandon 20 pieces of Art
    17. Eat out and try 20 unique dishes
    18. Make 20 pieces of jewelry
    19. Watch 20 new movies
    20. Perform 20 random acts of kindness

    In my Free Resource Library, I’ve included the 20 lists of 20 I’ll be making. If you’d like to play along, let me know. I’m always more successful when doing challenges with friends. Except exercising- no one needs to witness my uncoordinated attempts to fight gravity. I’ll be updating this periodically to let you know how I’m doing.  Thanks for reading – I hope you have a spectacular New Year! ~ Nickalli