• Rainbow Salad

    Over the past year, my husband and I have been working on loosing weight and being more healthy. Some of it we've been great at sticking to, like eating healthy through out the week, and some of it we haven't been so great about, like running.

    As part of this, I've started bringing salads to work. My favorite has been my version of a southwest salad. I make my salads in mason jars because it makes them more portable and it controls the portion size.

    The trick with mason jar salads is to layer everything appropriately so that it'll keep and the greens won't get slimey. Here's what I do:

    - 2tbsp of Newman's Own Lite Lime Vinaigrette

    - 4-5 cherry tomatos

    - 1/4 of a cucumber 

    - 4 tbsp of black bean and corn salsa

    - 1/8 cup of pepper jack cheese (cubed)

    - 1/4 of a container of orgainic baby greens (make sure not to pack these too tight or you'll have problems dumping out the salad)

    When you are ready to eat it, just dump it in a bowl and enjoy!

    Do you have a favorite on-the-go lunch? I'm always looking to expand my options.

  • Doctor Who Tins

    I drink a lot of tea. Recently I purchased a Doctor Who fandom pack from Adagio to drink at work. Each of the ten teas comes in a really neat tin (these were designed by Cara M.). 

    I'm about halfway through my pack and I cannot figure out what to do with the tins.

    I was thinking about making them into sewing kits and listing them in my shop, but I'm not sure they would sell. Or maybe miniature watercolor kits.

    I guess I need to start looking at ideas on Pinterest.

    Do you have ideas? Please send them to me!

  • Giving Back

    Picture is from The Water Project of one of their completed projects in Uganda

    A couple of years ago I became very angry about finding out that some company that I loved was donating money to projects and charities that went against what I believe in. And while I believe that everyone (companies included) have the right to spend their money however they wish, I also have the right to not support them. So I quit giving that company my business. 

    After a long discussion, my husband and I decided that we should start donating money once a month to causes that we wanted to support. Every month we set aside $50 (because it works with our budget) to donate to a cause of our choosing and we alternate who chooses the charity.

    My husband typically chooses more gobal causes like The Water Project whose mission is to build wells in Africa so that more communities can have clean water. They are an absolutely wonderful organization, in my opinion. And they send updates about where and how your money was used (the above picture is from one of the updates we received), which I absolutely love.

    I typically pick more local charities like Hope Place who provide shelter and accomidations to victims of abuse or sexual assualt, which is an issue that is very near and dear to me. 

    And, of course, twice a year we pledge to our local NPR station WLRH. Mainly because their fund-raising pitches finally wore me down. I listen to NPR most days while I'm at work so it seems justified to donate to them.

    Do you donate to charities? Which ones? 

  • New House

    When I moved out of my mother's house at 20, I lived in an apartment for about 6 months and then I moved in with my boyfriend to an adorable craftsman style house in Huntsville's 5 Points district.

    It was love at first sight for me. The craftsman style aesthetic is my jam.

    Since then, I've lived in and owned a few 60s ranchers. And while I liked them, I never loved them. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were day dreaming and searching the local real estate site and we stumbled upon this lovely home. 

    So we bought it.

    And I couldn't be happier. It was built around 1929 and has all the lovely craftsman features that I love. I've already been busy plotting and planning (with the help of Pinterest, of course) on all the things I want to do and I'll be blogging about them as I go.

    Do you have a favorite style of architecture? Do you have any decorating ideas you'd like to share? 

  • Sketching

    As I mentioned last week in this post, I've been sketching everyday for 10 minutes. Since college I have kept a sketchbook in my purse and in the past 6 years I've filled 2.5 of these lovely Moleskines. Some days, I just doodle but lately, I've been working on sketching from life.

    A big part of my inspiration for this has been the handful of "urban sketcher" accounts that I follow. From that, I stumbled upon "The Urban Sketcher: Techniques for Seeing and Drawing on Location" by Marco Taro Holmes.

    This book has been extremely helpful in reminding me of all of the basic skills I learned in high school and college but have forgotten now. Simple things like measuring with a pencil and checking angles.

    I have run into a very similar problem as I did with my 4pm Project photos. Since I typically draw during the last part of my lunch break, I'm starting to run out of things that are interesting to draw. Once the weather cools down (the heat index is 109°F today!) I'll venture outside to sketch.

    Until then, I'll be posting some of my sketches on Instagram. I look forward to seeing how I've improved over the next few months.

  • Fresh Blueberry Muffins

    Its no secret that I love to bake. Especially since I've been experiencing "creative block." It gives me a sense of accomplishment when someone enjoys whatever it is that I've baked. And I enjoy knowing that my food isn't full of preservatives, artifical colors, or extra sugar. So its a win-win!

    Last week, a coworker of mine gave me a gallon jug of fresh blueberries that he had picked at his neighbor's house. So I decided to make muffins. After scouring Pinterest, I finally settled upon FiveHeartHome's Classic Blueberry Muffin recipe.

    I was a little concerned at first because the batter was super thick, but they are absolutely delightful! The cake is dense, but not too dense, and slightly sweet. To me, they are the perfect breakfast food. I do think that next I make them I will add some lemon zest.

    I had forgotten how wonderful blueberries were to snack on too. I've got to make time to go to a "you pick" farm and stock up them!

  • Inspiration

    As part of me trying to get motivated to create again, I've been searching the internet for inspiration. I've slowly been filling my social media feeds on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter with accounts that I find inspiring. Here are a few of my favorites:

    • The Jealous Curator - This is by far my favorite thing ever. I've fallen in love with just about everything she's posted. Among my favorites are the airy abstract paintings of Lisa Madigan; the slightly out of focus photo-realistic paintings of Judith Eisler; the gorgeous contour drawings of Ashleigh Ninos; the colorful embroidery "paintings" of Stephanie K Clark; the blurry vintage-y photo paintings of Lisa Golightly; the chunky simplistic paintings of Laura Jones; and the wonderful line drawings of the 52 Week Deck collection by Kimberly Hall.

    • the gorgeous warm landscape photography of Sandra Lundin (@myatilio on Instagram). Not only is she in beautiful Sweden but she uses her phone exclusively.

    • the quirky and colorful illustrations of Jeff & Kit Turley (the Illustratus). They are a fairly recent discovery for me. I love they way they use textures and large blocks of color to convey the emotions of the piece.

    • the photography of Kevin Russ. To me, its the epitome of snapshot photography. He perfectly captures a moment in time with amazing composition and simplicity.

    • the design and illustrations in the game Two Dots. This game is not only highly addictive but its so gorgeous that you just want to stare at it.

    I could continue to go on and on. I've found so many awe-inspiring works of art that I could easily write a book. Which social media accounts do you find inspiring? I'm always in search of more ways to get inspired, so please send me link, ideas, whatever. Please, also, give me a follow if any of that meets your fancy.

  • Lately

    Things have been super quit around here for the past few months. In all honesty, I've had a hard time getting motivated and inspired. 

    My stepmom passed in a canoeing accident in April and its hit me a lot harder than I expected it to. Everything and nothing changed all at the same time. Through the depression, stress, and new responsiblities, I have lost my motivation to create. 

    But not my desire to be creative. I've found myself reverting back to creative exercises that I did in college. Like sketching everyday for at least 10 minutes. Or searching for new and different places to take my 4pm photo (instead of just shooting my desk). And I have a ton  of new project ideas that I want to try when I find the motivation.

    So, please, be patient. I'll be back soon. I just need a little time.

  • Mesh Stitch Washcloth

    I knit fairly often. My mission for the past year is to find the perfect washcloth pattern. After a lot of experimentation, I think I've finally found it. With a lot of the patterns that I tried, the end product was too dense for me. So I started looking at more "lacey" patterns.

    I found this mesh stitch pattern in a scarf that I knit my husband a few years ago and decided to try it as a washcloth. Its perfect. The mesh is small enough to hold to the soap but not so dense that it feels like it weighs 100lbs when wet.

    I use Sugar 'N Cream cotton yarn and size 7 (US) needles. If you use a yarn with color, wash in cold water before using. I've found that some of the colors run.

    *all rows start and end with Knit 4* {this creates a garter stitch border}
    Cast on 40 sts.

    Knit 4 rows

    Row 1: *YO, K2TOG* rep across row

    Row 2: Purl

    Row 3: *SKP, YO* rep across row

    Row 4: Purl

    Rep Rows 1-4 for 6" {or more depending on the size of cloth you want}

    Knit 4 Rows

    Bind off and weave in ends.

    I'd love to see any washcloths that you make with the pattern. Please send me a picture or tag them with #happycactusknits.

  • Custom Orders and Craft Shows

    This year is shaping up to be a tough year for handmakers. First, there was the closing of The Switch House and Studio 116 (the brick-and-morter stores that sold my wares), and then last week I found out that the only craft show I was planning on attending this year, The Sidewalk Art Stroll, has been cancelled. 

    So, I've been focusing on custom orders and testing some new patterns. 

    My cousin Stephanie recently gave birth to her 2nd daughter, Isla. I made her a green snail, reversable (and machine-washable) bib.

    My lovely friend Debra's birthday was in February, but due to a plumbing mishap and my heater deciding to quit working during a snow storm, I've been unable to get in my studio to make her present until last week. Since I haven't given her her present, I can only show a sneak peak. 

    I am in need of new potholders, expecially with all the baking that I do. I've been playing around with some new patterns and, so far, this one is my favorite. Its a log-cabin-y hexagon! The ones in the picture were a birthday gift for another lovely friend, Kristi.

    My most recent custom project was a Dr.Who themed diaper bag! I hope they enjoy it as much as I did making it. The exterior bottle pockets and interior are a light gray fabric with small concentric circles that reminded me of the inside of the TARDIS.

    Want a custom item? Email me! 

    Follow me on Instagram to see my next projects and on Pinterest to see what inspires me!