Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Recap {Gather Boutique}

Hi everyone,

A warning to start with, this post is very photo heavy. I'm busily getting ready for the August Gathering already {mark your calendars now - August 11, 10am-5pm} and completing a bunch of Etsy orders in the meantime. I'm a few days behind, but I wanted to show you some pictures I took at Gather in July with Instagram. You can see these in real time by following me on Instagram at gatherboutique or by "liking" our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/gatherboutique.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gather Boutique Preview

Um, wow...15 days?? I can't believe I went so long without blogging. I was determined to be better this month, and now I've not said anything for half of it. Super.

I'm just popping in quickly to share a preview of what you'll see at Gather if you stop by tomorrow! We're open from 10-5, and there are a ton of new goodies as well as some that didn't get snapped up from last month. I only have a few pictures, but if you follow Gather on Facebook, you'll see previews as they happen today {and, you'll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate!}

Prints on dictionary paper, featuring a ton of vintage images.

Our new gift display. This features Wik candles in two sizes, and Meadow Fresh Soaps - hand soaps in 8 scents, and homemade laundry detergent without all the chemical additives.

A luggage display, perfect for your upcoming summer travels.

Pages from a 1940's song book. Most of the songs are from the 1890's and early 1900's. This would be great for crafters, scrapbookers and other paper artists.

This isn't a photo taken in Gather {I'm not cool enough to have a camo truck in my shop}, but it is a preview of the really cool new display piece we have in the shop.

Like I said, just a few, but I'll be updating the Facebook page as we finalize displays tonight. And if this month is like last month at all, I'm sure there won't be time for me to photograph everything, so you'll be in for a surprise if you visit us tomorrow!

We'll have yummy s'mores treats from Drizzles Olde Town Bakery to go with our featured camping theme, so if for no other reason, come out and get some free sweets! Hope to see you there!

If you can't make it tomorrow, we'll be open again on August 11 from 10-5, or you're always welcome to schedule an appointment!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Barbeque Recipe Recap

Hi all,

I hope you had a happy and safe 4th of July! We had a really great day, filled with family and friends, fun memories, and lots of great food!

Here's just a few of the photos I took yesterday on Instagram {you can follow me @gatherboutique}.

So, for the celebration at my brother's house, I offered to cook the majority of the meal since he and his girlfriend were letting us use their house. I shared with you some of the recipes I wanted to use/try on my Tuesday post of last-minute ideas. A lot of these recipes were new to me or things I had been wanting to try, so I thought I'd share a review with you here, in case you'd like to try them yourself!

Bacon cheddar burger sliders
Swiss mushroom burger sliders with balsamic & cracked pepper mayo
Buffalo chicken sliders with bleu cheese & green onion sauce
Baja chicken sliders with pepper & onion slaw and cilantro lime sauce
Grilled sweet corn on the cob with garlic butter
Fresh fruit, pasta salad, and chips & dip
Strawberry & blueberry shortcake
Watermelon martinis

The two burger sliders I don't have recipes to share. These are things I've created on my own over time that just sort of work for us. They're pretty simple to do.

For the bacon cheddar sliders, I seasoned my ground beef {from the cows we butcher ourselves, so it's pretty lean} with Weber's Chicago Steak grill seasoning {yeah, it's not steak, but it's soo good in burgers} and a little Worcestershire sauce. We cooked about 4 slices of bacon, chopped it up, and mixed it in with the burgers. Grilled the patties, put cheddar slices on at the end, and toasted some small buns. Pretty simple. We had all the fixings too...tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, mustard.

For the Swiss mushroom sliders, I used the same seasoning & Worcestershire and grilled them up. While they were grilling, I made a foil packet to hold some sliced mushrooms and onions and a little butter. We flipped the packet when we flipped the burgers and it turned out really well. As the burgers were almost done, we put the Swiss slices on. I don't really have a recipe for the mayo, except that I put some mayo in a bowl, drizzle in some balsamic, and sprinkle it with some freshly ground black pepper. This can be made to taste - I love balsamic and black pepper both, so I'm pretty heavy on both. Adjust to your liking if you want to replicate the recipe.

These Baja Chicken Sliders were a new recipe for me {you can click on the pin to get to the recipe}. I just changed a couple of things on this - I added some fresh cilantro to the sauce mixture. I love cilantro, had extra, threw it in. Also, instead of grilling chicken breasts, I used about 1/2 a shredded rotisserie chicken and heated it up on the stove top with the seasonings that were called for in the recipe. The only reason I did this is because the other recipe I was using for chicken called for rotisserie chicken, and I didn't want to mess with grilling breasts and shredding chicken. Plus, my brother's grill was full of burgers, slider buns, and garlic bread.

Overall, I loved this recipe! I'd definitely make it again {I'll probably try grilling the chicken breasts next time}. The only thing I'd really do differently is mix the slaw topping with the sauce. The recipe called for them to be separate, but I thought the slaw was just a little dry.

Source: bakedbree.com via Jen on Pinterest

Up next is the Buffalo Chicken Sliders recipe. This is another new one for me, but my brother specifically requested buffalo chicken when I asked what kind of sliders he'd want. I love anything with bleu cheese, so I was game. I didn't change anything about this recipe, and I absolutely loved it! Seriously, it was the best thing I made yesterday {in my opinion anyway}.

In the recipe, the author mentions cutting the hot sauce with some honey, which I did. I still think it had a pretty good kick to it. If you'd prefer something more mild, go ahead and add more honey. The bleu cheese sauce also helps to tame it, and if you don't like bleu cheese, ranch dressing would work equally well. I will definitely be making this again!

For the corn on the cob, we simply brush garlic butter on cleaned ears of sweet corn, wrap them in foil, and put them on the top rack of the grill. We turn them every 5 minutes or so to make sure they're cooked evenly, and take them off when they're done {normally 20-30 minutes, depending on how hot the grill is}. Mike & I make corn like this all through the summer...sweet corn is the best part of Nebraska summers, in my opinion!

Everyone pitched in with the sides, but the fruit was a hit. It was so hot last night, having something healthy to cool us down was really refreshing.

The shortcakes are a recipe of my own too, not that they're terribly hard. I know by the time dessert rolls around, I'm going to be sick of cooking and just wanting to be outside watching fireworks and hanging out. I don't bother with my own shortcake or pound cake, I buy the pre-packaged ones in the bakery section at that grocery store. I macerated some strawberries and blueberries {for the blueberries, cook them in sugar on low heat until they start to bubble, then mash them with a potato masher to release their juices. It takes about 10 minutes from start to finish}. People could pick which fruit to top their shortcake with, and then pile on the whipped cream. It was so simple, and the fruit was yummy {and, the strawberries & blueberries were very patriotic!}

Let's talk about this martini. It was probably the most anticipated part of the meal...I was craving watermelon, my brother's girlfriend and her best friend thought it sounded yummy, and we couldn't wait to try it. With that kind of build-up, I should have been prepared to be disappointed.

I don't know if it's the recipe or the way I made it or what, but the drink was really disgusting. I know the watermelon was sweet enough because I tried a piece before I started making the drink. But by the time we got to drinking it, it was really just gross...watery and tart and not cold enough. I had to dump mine out. I wasted perfectly good vodka. That's a huge no-no in my world. Either way, I think I'll be passing on making this one again.

We also had the stuff to make s'mores {cinnamon grahams, marshmallows, nutella & chocolate - the nutella tip is one I heard on Pioneer Woman}, but we were all too full to eat them. Another time, for sure.

The 3 recipes that are pictured are all pinned to my Food! board on Pinterest. If you've been reading my 112 in 2012 posts, you know I'm trying to make a master recipe listing on that board...some things I've tried, some things I'm wanting to try.

Anyway...I'm back at work today {stupidly, I should have taken the day off}, but I hope you're resting from your celebrations yesterday or at least getting through the day today. God bless America!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Last Minute Ideas for a Patriotic Celebration {4th of July Party Ideas}

Hi all,

Tomorrow is one of my very favorite holidays {I've got 3...the 4th of July, Halloween, and Christmas...all for different reasons}. With it being the middle of the week, and a very hot week at that, I haven't thought too much about the party...until a couple of days ago. Now, I'm not one for planning too far in advance on many things, but I normally don't wait til the last minute to even figure out where the party will be held {yup, I did that...thank goodness for flexible family members}.

If you're like me and need some last minute ideas for your party, read on - I'll be sharing some yummy food ideas, tasty drinks {both alcoholic and non} and some small things you can do to set the mood for your patriotic bash.


Food is the most important thing in any of my gatherings. You can have all the pretty decorations in the world...if your guests are starving, they're going to be too angry to notice your adorable water bottle labels.

I try to go simple on the 4th with food. Standard BBQ fare seems to be a hit, plus we can all gather around the grill with a beverage and chat while we cook. Here's a few of my go-to ideas for BBQ food {all of which could be prepared without much notice}:

Sliders are great to give a lot of variety, without a ton of work or cost. I think this is the route we're going this year, and I'm excited to see what we come up with. Plus, they'll be really quick to cook!

Source: re-nest.com via Jen on Pinterest

Skewers are also great for variety and satisfying everyone's particular tastes. You can get them put together before everyone arrives, or just leave the ingredients in bowls and let people make their own. This is a great option if you have some vegetarians in your group.

Classic barbecue fare is a favorite of mine, but does take a little more preparation. Ribs, brisket, pulled pork...all yummy options that scream "summer" and "America" to me. If you're feeling really ambitious, you could make your own barbeque sauce for the meat, and give your guests some to take home as a favor. {My hat is off to you if you're feeling that ambitious this close to the 4th!}

There are hundreds of different side dish options out there, from corn on the cob to potato salad to chips and dip. I love grilled corn on the cob because I can throw it on with my meat and not have to worry about preparing it in the house while trying to grill outside.

Source: blogchef.net via Jen on Pinterest

Ask your guests to help out with this part of the meal. I don't know about your friends and family, but mine are always asking what they can bring to a party. Ask them to bring their favorite side dish!

And finally, dessert. My favorite. This is where people tend to bring in the red, white and blue theme of the day. I'm sure you've seen those Jell-o poke cakes with the strawberry stripes and blueberry stars. But, how about some other RW&B desserts to wow your guests?

That shortcake really makes me want to change up my dessert plan for tomorrow! If you're not too concerned about food bearing the colors of the flag, here are a couple of other yummy and easy to prepare dessert options.

Source: bhg.com via Jen on Pinterest

Watermelon sorbet - light and cold...a perfect combination for a party in the heat of July.

Peach cobbler {this is on my menu}...I think of cobbler as a summer staple.

Easy lemon bars - any recipe that has 2 ingredients is a great choice for last minute party planning.

It's hot. That shouldn't be a shock to any of you who are reading in the US. I think most of us are experiencing the same heat wave this year. You'll want to make sure your guests stay hydrated and cool throughout your celebration.

Lemonade is a classic summer staple, and this lemonade punch kicks it up a notch {without a lot of extra work}.

Water is a great alternative as well, especially when you use fruits and veggies to boost the flavor.

For those of us who prefer drinks with booze, there are lots of summer cocktails out there to quench your thirst. Here are my picks for this year:

Watermelon martini - I love the sugared rim and the little slice of watermelon balancing on the side. Plus, who doesn't love watermelon {in whatever form} for a summer barbecue?

Mango margarita. Yay for mangos, yay for margaritas. A match made in Heaven.


Chances are, you've got some red, white & blue in your house already. Group these things together as a centerpiece...even if they have nothing to do with the 4th. Fruit would also be a cute {and edible!} centerpiece...think blueberries, cherries & strawberries layered in a bowl, or in their own individual glasses grouped at the center of the table. You could do the same thing with M&M's or other colored candies.

If you're looking for something more obviously patriotic, small flags tucked into floral arrangements or even an empty vase would be inexpensive and cute.

This simple star garland would be easy to make while you're watching your favorite show, or something your kids could help put together as an afternoon craft.

There are plenty of printables out there for free or very little money. Google and Pinterest are awesome resources for these.

Above all else, make sure that you get some time to enjoy the celebration and relax with your guests. The perfect 4th of July party is one where you celebrate together, no matter what food & drinks you serve, or how awesome your centerpiece looks.

All of the ideas I've shared today can be found on my Pinterest boards, especially the Food! and 4th of July Party boards.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Monday, July 02, 2012

112 in 2012: Halfway Done!

Hi all!

Since it's the first weekday in July, and I haven't done a post like this in awhile, I thought I'd let you know how I'm doing with my 112 goals for 2012. This will be a lengthy post, so I wouldn't blame you if you skipped over it. I'm mostly writing to keep myself accountable, and to remind myself {once again} that even if I fail miserably at some of these things, I'm still improving my life. And, the year isn't over yet, there's time for me to turn things around!

Here's a cheat sheet for you:
Normal text - haven't started
Italics - making progress
Strikethrough - failed miserably
Bold - completed

1. Pack or eat a healthy breakfast on days I have to work {don’t stop for fast food or skip it} {I was doing really well on this for awhile...and still am for the most part...but I've had a few slip-ups, especially lately}
2. Pack or eat a healthy lunch on days I have to work {don’t stop for fast food or skip it} {Same story as above...when Gather was getting ready to open, we didn't grocery shop for about 6 weeks. We lived off what we had in our cupboards or stored away, but there were days when we really depended on eating out}
3. Plan dinners the night before so we can stop for necessary ingredients or take things out of the freezer to thaw {See above}
4. Move closer to Elmwood {I'm not sure when, or if, this will happen in 2012. Believe me, if it was up to me, it would have already happened.}
5. Donate at least 20 boxes of things to the thrift store before moving
6. Sort and organize all holiday decorations so they are easily accessible
7. Donate holiday decorations that won’t be used prior to the next holiday
8. Start a family {I doubt this will be happening...although, one never knows what surprises are in store for us! As much as we want to be parents, there is too much up in the air in our life right now.}
9. Complete 2011 Project Life Album
10. Start & complete 2012 Project Life Album {I'm so behind...turns out, participating in the monthly blog hops were keeping me on track! Some new page protectors that will hold Instagram photos should be for sale soon, and I hope I'll be able to catch up this summer. I have continued to take photos, mainly with my Instagram.}
11. Complete at least one additional Project Life Album from a previous year
12. Print pictures at least once a month from the previous month   {I was doing great at this, and this is one of those things where the year isn't over yet, so I'm hoping to remove that strike-through soon!}
13. Work with nieces on Project Life albums, including printing pictures for them monthly {This failure makes me really sad...as much as I'd love to do this all the time, my schedule and their schedules haven't allowed it yet. It will happen before the year is over though!}
14. Grow my business {I'm calling this one completed for now...Gather opened in June, my Etsy business is growing, and I see a lot of room for growth through the rest of 2012 and beyond!}
15. Blog at least 3 times per week {Nope. Some weeks yes. Lately, I'm lucky to get one post per week, as you know. I hope to settle into a routine soon!}
16. Engage in at least one activity per month to promote my business
17. Take at least 1 picture per day {I figured out this doesn't really work for me...I've been doing weekly PL layouts, which is much more attainable}
18. Take pictures during important events/gatherings {There haven't been a lot of gatherings lately, and I've found that my pictures are less of the "here's the whole group" type, and more of the "here's a cute detail to remind me of this day" type.}
19. Plan 1 date night per month with Mike {We only missed one month, May, which is pretty good for us}
20. Complete 1 project per month from inspiration found on Pinterest {Lots of recipes}
21. Start an idea binder to keep inspiration from magazines, etc. {I'm calling this in progress because I started a notes section on my iPad for things like this}
22. Visit grandparents at least 1 time a month {Miserable fail.}
23. Plan and work on 1 craft project per month with nieces and nephews {Still sucking as an Auntie.}
24. Take at least 1 vacation out of state {Not sure that this is going to happen in 2012, but there's a possibility for the fall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.}
25. Take at least 1 vacation in state {No plans for this at the moment}
26. Visit 1 place I’ve never been before
27. Pay off at least 1 credit card {Sooo close!}
28. Use at least 1 coupon with every grocery purchase {We were doing really well for awhile, and then we've only stopped at the grocery store for eggs for a long time...we love our eggs...and didn't get to use coupons. Couponing for us, which I haven't talked about much on here but will at some point, is a huge commitment, and we're still figuring out how to balance our time throughout the week.}
29. Try one new recipe per month {I've been so-so at this. It hasn't happened in awhile, just because my sweet husband has been cooking for us while I work on things for Gather or Etsy...but, I have quite a few new recipes I plan to try for the 4th}
30. Learn to sew
31. Donate items from couponing to an organization in need
32. Take a photography class
33. Make our new house feel like our home
34. Purchase/borrow bikes and go riding on the trail this summer {I don't see this happening...I expected a much more leisurely summer when I wrote this. This summer has been anything but leisurely!}
35. Plan an outing/visit with friends at least once a month {We're horrible at this, but we're trying.}
36. Take pictures for my blog posts {Thank goodness for Instagram}
37. Create a video to post on my blog {Project Life Blog Hop, woohoo!}
38. Send birthday cards on time to important people when we can’t celebrate in person
39. Create a stash of cards for multiple occasions to have on hand
40. Frame pictures for our home and display them {I wanted to wait til we were moved to do this, so it hasn't happened. I do have some ideas for making canvases that I want to try...and don't have to wait to try}
41. Create a gallery wall in our new house of important/sentimental pictures {see above}
42. Work on creating Christmas decorations throughout the year {Ha!}
43. Relax and enjoy December and Christmas preparations {I pray for this every time I think about Christmas. I so need a relaxing, enjoyable Christmas}
44. Finish all holiday shopping by December 1
45. Wrap and label Christmas gifts so they are under the tree by the end of the first week in December
46. Use my iPhone calendar to help keep me organized {sorta}
47. Build a stockpile and only shop for perishable items as needed - otherwise, use the stockpile {This comes and goes, it seems}
48. Plant a garden or work with family to have a garden {Nope. And I'm okay with that given how miserably hot it's been and how sick I get when I'm in the heat for too long. I'll be visiting farmer's markets when it's time to can/freeze produce. Can't wait.}
49. Freeze or can fresh produce to use throughout the following year
50. Take a family picture to display in our home, including both puppies
51. Attend 1 Christmas event in the community {tree lighting, Santa visit, etc.}
52. Visit the local library
53. Become a member of Mike’s church
54. Take all my nieces and nephews to the zoo for the day {I don't see this happening, unfortunately}
55. Go to the Farmer’s Market at least once a month during June/July/August {So far, a fail. Saturday mornings are normally spent at auctions, so this goal is a little more challenging than I initially thought it would be. We'll see how July & August go.}
56. Make homemade rolls for a holiday dinner {Garlic knots to go with my corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick's day...amazing, and not too hard. I'll never buy rolls again}
57. Drink at least 3 big glasses of water daily
58. Find at least 1 new blog per month to follow {This is happening. I'd love to list them for you, but it would take me all day to list all the new blogs I've been following. Perhaps in a later post.}
59. Comment on at least 1 blog post per week {Surprisingly, I'm still doing pretty well at this}
60. Host 1 holiday celebration at my house {I don't see this happening, either}
61. Have a family dinner for no special reason at least every other month {This will probably be marked a fail by the next update...if we could count dinners outside our house, we might be okay}
62. Identify a space in our new home for books and make use of it
63. Visit a large flea market/antique show {Oh gravy, this has been so much fun. We went to Walnut Antique Walk and JunkStock in June, and Junk Jubilee in April. I can think of at least 2 more we plan to attend this year, yay!}
64. File important paperwork so it’s easily accessible
65. Organize my spice cupboard so it’s not overly full and difficult to find what I’m looking for
66. Utilize my closet
67. Make a plan to complete chores/housekeeping responsibilities on a routine basis
68. Purchase a new vacuum cleaner and use it!
69. Begin filling my home with meaningful decorations that make us happy
70. Make time weekly to create for myself {rather than for customers or gifts}  {I'm calling this a fail. I don't really create except for Gather or Etsy, and I see it being that way for awhile at least. The thing is, if I want to make something for me, I make at least 2 so one can be mine and one can be in Gather}
71. Attempt to make contact with the people who received organs from my mom {I'll write a post about this later this month...it's hard. Harder than I thought.}
72. Send Christmas cards
73. Carve a pumpkin
74. Attend a training/seminar to learn a new skill for work
75. Take a picnic {bought a picnic blanket the other day...that's something, right?}
76. Learn how to use Photoshop
77. Take flowers to the graves of loved ones who have passed away
78. Use my time wisely to eliminate stress
79. Check Etsy and local stores first for gift giving options {So far, so good}
80. Plan ahead for gift giving to allow time for shipping or searching for the right gift
81. Complete the Week in the Life project and get photographs into an album or Project Life layout {I bolded part of it. I took photos for the project, I'm just that far behind on PL that they're not in my album yet}
82. Get my house into a state where I would be comfortable with people dropping in
83. Keep my new house in a state where I’m comfortable with people dropping in
84. Change my mindset that people can drop in on a house that is not perfectly spotless
85. Strive to be more patient with people
86. Get up at least 3 times per week after hitting the snooze button only once {set alarm for the time I want to get out of bed instead of 45 minutes early} {I feel physically ill if I don't hit the snooze buttons a couple of times...I tried it, I'd rather just wake up at my own pace}
87. Become more active in an attempt to be healthier {and lose weight in the process}
88. Purchase a pair of dress shoes that are cute and do not hurt my feet
89. Send at least 1 “thinking of you” card to someone for no particular reason
90. Make and display an advent calendar
91. Organize my pantry {Did it last weekend...looks great!}
92. Don’t give up on taking photographs daily if I happen to miss one day {I missed a couple days and came up with a solution that works for me...weekly photo layouts in PL}
93. Don’t complain about anything for a week
94. Watch a movie I’ve always wanted to see but have never made time to watch
95. Make a custom recipe book {or find my favorite online recipes and pin them onto my Food board on Pinterest}
96. Eat 3 things I’ve never tried before
97. Learn to knit or crochet
98. Make Cold Cookies for Grandma {and Mike & me}
99. Make my own cleaning product rather than buying something {laundry detergent & fabric softener, so far...laundry detergent is for sale at Gather, if you're interested}
100. Go to the county fair
101. Go to Groundhog Days {We got snowed in sadly...heard it was a blast. Next year!}
102. Don’t swear for a week
103. Identify 25 things that make me happy and find a way to incorporate those things into Project Life
104. Journal in Project Life as I take pictures - complete journaling for the previous month at the start of a month}
105. Visit at least 1 photo booth
106. Take vitamins daily {I honestly forgot this was on my list...whoops}
107. Organize the photos on my computer
108. Clean out refrigerator weekly {Not happening weekly. Bimonthly, maybe...}
109. Send thank you notes in a timely manner {I'm hit or miss. I don't like that.}
110. Donate expired coupons for military use
111. Create/purchase a family calendar to be used by both Mike & me
112. Say no to things when I don’t have time or am feeling overwhelmed {I'm calling this in progress. When I started Gather, I readjusted my priorities, and made sure I was taking time to make my dream come true. Sometimes, that means saying no to things, even when it's something I want to do. I'm working to feel okay with that, because I'm often disappointed, and even more often, worrying that I'm disappointing someone else. I have to move past that.}

Looking at all that, here's what I see. Not very many things completed. Lots in progress. A lot more that I failed at than I thought I would at the beginning of the year. Lots of things not started that I thought would be. I'm readjusting how I look at this list, every time I think about it. My life looks so much different now than it did when I wrote the list 6 months ago, and I'm okay with that. I didn't know life would take me in this direction, and it has, so I'm embracing some of the changes and dealing with others as best as I can.

Having a list like this, and forcing myself to look at it periodically, is just what I needed. It's giving me some focus and motivation to get some things accomplished. It's helping me see what's really important. That's all for today! Hope you're having a great start to the week!