halloween cuteness

I kind of hate Halloween.  Sorry, please don't revoke my blogging license.

I am not a fan of costume parties or creepy decorations or horror movies.  As a child I had an intense fear of witches {I blame The Wizard of Oz} and, to top it all off, every other house in my neighborhood is covered in fake cobwebs and gigantic spiders.  

I don't think anything scares me more than the idea of a gigantic spider. I nearly broke out in hives this morning while walking my dogs.  I am getting all itchy and anxious just thinking about it. 

Anyways, enough of my irrational fears!  I might not be a big fan of the creepy Halloween decor but I do love the inevitable cute kid and dog costumes.

My niece and nephew dressed up as Dora and Boots last week for the Halloween party at their daycare.  They are so cute.  

My sweet little monsters, Gordita and Finn, dressed as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.    The dog kennel they stay at when we are out of town {Puptown} does the BEST dog photos.  This is by far my absolute favorite costume Puptown has ever put them in.  I cannot stop looking at Gordita's Princess Leia wig and laughing :).

Whether you are into the creepy or the cute or both ~ have a very fun and safe Halloween!

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread

I don't now about you guys but I go almost all year without eating pumpkin until mid-September hits and I want pumpkin everything.  Cookies, scones, muffins, bread, seeds, lasagna, hummus, even candles.   Pumpkin.Pumpkin.Pumpkin.

I go through crazy amounts of pumpkin for two months and then December hits and I stop.  I guess I get my fill throughout October and November :).

I whipped this bread up last week and it's so good.  Not too sugary and dense enough to fill you up but still really moist.  And who doesn't love a cinnamon swirl?

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread {makes one loaf of bread}
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin 

large eggs
1/2 cup low fat sour cream

1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1/4 cup honey 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Swirl 
2 tablespoons brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon

1. Set your oven at 350 degrees to pre-heat.
2. In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients {flour through nutmeg} and whisk together. 
3. In a different bowl, mix together the wet ingredients {pumpkin through vanilla}.
4. Add the wet to the dry and fold together until just combined.
5. Spray a standard sized loaf pan with non-stick spray and spoon in half the batter.  Top that half with the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Spoon the rest of the batter on top of the cinnamon and brown sugar.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  

weekend snaps - chicago

This weekend I was in Chicago babysitting my niece and nephew.  It was fun and I am grateful for the time I got to spend with them. 

I am also pretty freakin' tired.  The little guy had a cough and woke up Friday and Saturday nights.  That was not so much fun.  I don't know how you parents deal with this interrupted sleep thing.  I have gained lots of respect for you.

We did normal kid stuff all weekend - walked to the park, ate pizza, danced {these guys love The Black Keys and FUN}, colored, read books, played in the leaves, and watched Sesame Street.  My favorite time of the day was morning.  The kids were well rested and in happy moods.  And I had consumed a lot of coffee to counteract the lack of sleep.

The best part is....we all survived :).  I didn't really doubt myself, but you know....caring for two little kids is some work.

Now back to San Diego for a crazy seven solid weeks of holiday shows, orders, and just life in general.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

linking up with five30three for weekend update

Happy Friday

I am spending this weekend in Chicago babysitting my niece and nephew. They are both so cute.  When I arrived it was a gorgeous 75 degrees but that temperature dropped last night.  I am happy I packed a jacket and boots. I get cold so easily!  This weekend will be full of Halloween costume parties and who knows what else.

Friday links.....

Did you see my Caramel Apple Milkshake recipe on Julie Ann Art?  It is so delicious ~ you will definitely want to make one.

I was so happy to see one of my pieces included in this week's Etsy Weddings email.

This diy shelving unit post on A Beautiful Mess is pretty awesome and probably something I could make.

I also really like this upcycled frame project on The Blue Eyed Owl.  So simple and sweet.

I know Halloween is right around the corner...but I am not a big fan.  I am more a Christmas person and am already thinking of a few holiday projects.  I love these handmade trees.  So festive.

I came across the blog Feathers & Freckles this week and love it.  Such lovely and obtainable outfit photos.

That's all I got today! 

Enjoy your weekend ~ xo, Gina.

The room for living...needs a change

If you walked into my living room right now, you would see lots of neutral colors.  I love neutral but I am slowly adding pops of color to this room.  It needs some color.

The living room mini re-design I am working on looks a little like this....

Medallions painted yellow ~ I saw this photo on Apartment Therapy over a year ago and fell in love with the ceiling medallions painted yellow and mounted on the wall.  I think it would add such nice texture and color to the room.  Plus it's a really inexpensive diy wall art.

Sleek floor lamp ~ This is a little bit of a need.  My husband recently broke our floor lamp while watching the Ryder Cup.  The European team won, he jumped up, shot his arms into the air, hit the lamp and broke it.  It was a $5 lamp from the Salvation Army, but wow.  Men and their...golf tournaments.  Who knew?  

Neutral Couch ~ We currently own the Karlstad from Ikea.  I love it. It's simple and clean lined and comfortable.  But the color is so plain, it needs some pop.  So, I bought several new throw pillow covers.  The yellow one is from here and the gray and doily print one {which I bought in gold} are from here.  I LOVE them.  Such an inexpensive and simple way to add newness and color to a space.

Striped throw ~ I have absolutely NO need for a new throw blanket.  I live in a warm climate and already own FIVE of them.  But....I really love this simple striped one from West Elm.

Glass Lamp & Neutral Shade ~ A few months ago I thrifted a really pretty vintage glass lamp for $10.  I love it and have been meaning to buy a shade for it.  I think I will go with something super simple and neutral.  {pictured lamp is from Pottery Barn and shade is from Target.}

My goal is to have this all done before the holidays.  The only "project" is the medallions, but that seems easy.  I think I can get it all done :).

The Best Homemade Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati style chili is a weird phenomenon.  It is one of those dishes that I never thought I would like and never really ate...until I left Cincinnati.   I think it goes with that "you want what you can't have" rule and since I cannot go to any number of fast food chili places at any hour of the day, I crave it.

I know I can buy cans of Skyline Chili on Amazon, but it just isn't the same thing.   To me, the next best thing to fresh and greasy and covered in cheese {SO much cheese} is a good homemade version.

The best recipe I have ever tried is one my sister gave me.  I am not sure where the recipe originated but man, oh man, it is the best homemade Cincinnati Chili you will ever eat.

Homemade Cincinnati Chili {serves about 10...cut in half or double if need be}
-2 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil
-2 cups of diced onion {about two medium onions}
-3 cloves of garlic
-2 pounds of ground beef {I use extra lean, but fattier will probably taste even better :)}
-2 tablespoons chili powder
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1 teaspoon cumin seed
-1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-2 teaspoon salt
-12 ounces of tomato paste {two 6oz cans}
-1 cup of water

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onions for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and the ground beef and cook for another minute.  
2. Add the spices and the tomato paste to the pot and mix all together.  
3. Stir in the cup of water, turn the heat to low and simmer covered for four hours.  Check here and there and stir.  If the heat is too high, you might need to add a little bit of water.

If you want to eat it the "authentic" way, serve over spaghetti or a hotdog and top with a ton of shredded cheddar cheese.  I usually skip the spaghetti but I have a hard time passing up a hotdog....enjoy!

You've come a long way...

Almost three years ago I started this blog and handmade business.  It's crazy to think about how far it has come and it makes me a little...ummm, I guess sentimental?  

At times I get annoyed with how slowly my business is growing.  I think my daydreaming self thought by now I would be overwhelmingly successful.  I would love for this business of mine to skyrocket, but slow growth can be good.  As long as it's growing, I feel like I am doing something right.

To say that {Acute Designs} has come a long way is a huge understatement.  I had no idea what I was doing for the first several month and it showed.  I will admit that at times I still have no idea what I am doing....but don't tell anyone.

My first customers and blog readers were friends and family.  Their support helped get me off my feet and gave me the confidence to keep plugging away.    

This business has come a long way but there is still so much farther to go.  

I am not sure when I will feel like "ok, that's enough. I have achieved enough."   Maybe that's a good thing, or maybe it just shows that I'm a little crazy ;).

Thanks for sticking around, reading this blog and supporting my business.  It means more than I can put into words and I have loved "meeting" so many of you {online or in person}.  

The past three years have been really fun and a little scary and whole lot frustrating...but mostly an amazing time.  

Yesterday someone asked me "what do you think of Mondays?"  And I responded, "When I sat in a cubicle, I hated them.  But now I love them."  

You know you're doing something right when you love Mondays :).

Sorry, this post isn't making much sense - but wow, three years.  I know I say this way too much...but time flies by so.freaking.fast.  


Weekend Snaps

We had a rare rainy weekend and it was so nice.  The rain is pretty great sometimes.

Saturday I vended at a small show in Pacific Beach.  It was slow and not exactly my ideal clientele but that's ok. It happens.  On the way home we stopped for tacos and beers ~ it was the best part of the day :).

Neil - looking bored....

Sunday was another rainy day....perfect for watching tv {Bruno Mars on SNL - I am strangely obsessed with him} in bed and cuddling my two crazy dogs.

Dogs for Obama...in a clean kitchen :)

We finally got up, cleaned the house, and had a very late lunch at Burger Lounge (always SO delicious).   I spent the rest of the evening completing orders and watching Boardwalk Empire.  I love Owen so, so much.  Margaret Schroeder Thompson needs to run away with him. 

Do you guys watch?  Do you love it too? 

So, that was my weekend.  Pretty uneventful but nice and relaxing.   

How was your weekend?

Friday Links

I hope you guys had a great week! 

**This styling and shooting post on Censational Girl provides a few helpful tips on photo styling.  I am constantly trying to improve my photography and feel like I can never learn enough on this topic.

**A few amazing Fall recipes on Julie Ann Art {including my homemade coffee creamer}.  Yum!

**I launched my new Gatsby Collection this week.  It all came together so well and I am really proud of it.

**I have been craving cookies all week.  I hope to find time to make these this weekend.

**I am in the process of giving my living/dining room a little makeover.  So far I have bought this pillow and I love it.  I need more yellow in my house.  It is addicting.

**Call the Midwife on PBS is my latest obsession.  You can catch up on the first three episodes online.  You will love it!

This weekend I will be selling {Acute} at an Oktoberfest event, working on orders, cleaning my house, and *hopefully* heading out for dinner and a few drinks with my husband.  

What are your plans?

Happy things.

The weather has been SO amazing the past few days and it is continuing into the weekend. This makes me so happy.  

I have been cooking and eating {too much} and loving every second of it.  I really, really love food.   I also really, really, really love my pups.  I will never tire of their cuteness, nor of  posting photos of them :).

I hope you guys are having a good Friday.


Gatsby, what Gatsby?

About four months ago, I decided to create a Gatsby/1920s inspired collection for the 2012-2013 holiday and winter season.  I enlisted the help of Amanda from Thorne Artistry to do hair, makeup, and styling and Emily of MLE Photographs to take the pictures.  These talented ladies took my initial concept and made it far more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.  

The only credit I take for this shoot is the ten new designs I created.  The rest of the time I just stood there.

Overall, this collection is really glam compared to my previous work.  There are layers of texture and detail that are new to {Acute} and I think they make the entire collection really special.  

Thanks for taking a peek at my new Gatbsy Collection.....I am pretty happy with it :).


All items will be for sale in the {Acute} etsy shop and online shop later this week.

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