poor, neglected blog

Dear Blog,

I am sorry for neglecting you… isn’t it ironic that sometimes we get too busy living life to write about it? Well… hopefully I’ll still have time to blog about all of the fun holiday projects I’ve been working on!

In the mean time… I made a turkey:

Doesn’t it look delish? Well… it wasn’t cooked inside. But that’s ok, because we had turkey for dessert. Our first Friendsgiving was still a success.

At least the table looked cute!


I also took some more engagement pictures of Nate and Erin! Here are a few of my faves…

Well that’s it for now… hope all is well!

the wizarding world of harry potter

Well, as promised, I am today sharing about my experience at Harry Potter land.

Since I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone somewhere in early middle school, I entered a world of magic, mystery, heartache and heroes. In Harry Potter, good triumphs evil, even when evil seems unstoppable. In Harry Potter, friendship and love trump everything else. People can do the impossible and there magic surrounds it all. Harry Potter’s world is a world in which a seemingly ordinary boy can be extraordinary. It is also I will always dream of living in. (And also there are owls everywhere… which is awesome!)

I finally had the opportunity to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. This is something I’ve dreamed of for some time. Every Harry Potter fan fanatic I know has had rave reviews. So, during our vacation to Sarasota, I knew that we had to make the trek over to Orland to see it.

It was worth it. It was so.worth.it. I felt like magic was happening right before my eyes. They really do an amazing job there of creating the experience.

So here are a few pictures we took along the way:

Hogsmeade village was really incredible. It was really more of a mix between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, with all of the shops. We decided to enter to long line for Ollivander’s wand shop, which was totally worth it! The presentation they do inside was very cool, but I was obviously very jealous of the kid who got to do it… Anyway, the amount of detail around the village was really incredible, including cool stuff like the screaming poster of Sirius Black and bludgers that tried to escape their chains in the quidditch supplies box.

This is my first butterbeer experience. It was delicious! Creamy, frothy and smooth. Kevin tried the Hogshead brew of real beer instead. Butterbeer tastes like ultra-rich cream soda with a hint of butterscotch. I wish there was a recipe somewhere…

The ride inside of Hogwarts castle was definitely the most amazing part of the experience. Through the use of a 4D that spins and turns, they created an atmosphere that I was truly lost in. With floating dementors and spitting spiders, we wove our way on broomstick behind Harry. We were nearly knocked off our “brooms” by the Whomping Willow! Through screens, hollograms and 3D props and characters, that ride was really very awesome. Even the walk to the ride was cool although we got bumped to the front of the line for some reason, so we didn’t really get to soak it all in.

Anyway, that was my experience at Harry Potter world. I highly recommend it for any other enthusiasts (read obsessed nerds) out there as it truly brings some of the magic to life.

e & n

Well after a long vacation to sunny FL in which I went to Harry Potter World for the first time  (more on that later) I am back in the saddle of life and blogging. I’ve been a bit absent lately, finding that it has been extra challenging to balance 3 jobs, my class and the rest of life at once, but a refreshing vacay was just what I needed.

When I arrived back, I was able to do a mini e-session with my friends Nate and Erin. First of all- daylight savings is the worst. Seriously- what is the point of this antiquated tradition except to mess everything up? Sure, it’s nice for the one night that you get an extra hour but after that, it just starts screwing with everything.

Long story short, I had hardly any soon when we started as I did not account for the time change. So this the first session, with a second to come on Saturday.

Here they are on their way to meet me. See how excited they are? Woo!

Nate and Erin are a great balance of obviously in love but not disgustingly so. They are funny and flirty and it makes for some great pictures. So without further ado…

So there you have it. In the photography world, I learned my lesson about daylight savings and the perfect sun hours. I was able to shoot a bit with my 50mm prime lens, which has been sadly underused due to my lack of confidence.

Some of the other poses were cute but the shadows were everywhere, so I’ll have to try them again with better light.

Anyway, I guess I should walk to the pool house and elect some leaders. Rock the vote?

carp hunters… or why my brother is cooler than yours

Well… in this modern day and age… a lot of people find themselves in the spotlight for a brief moment: their 15 minutes of fame. Well my brother’s 15 minutes is probably way cooler than most others.

All of our lives, we have been water sports enthusiasts in my family. Tubing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding and water-skiing were popular Hoffman family pastimes. Carp hunting was created by my brother and his friend Nate, when the Asian Carp, which is an invasive species of fish, starting filling up the Illinois River. It wasn’t safe to do watersports anymore without getting nailed by these huge, ugly, jumping fish. So, they started wearing armor. Then using weapons. And the whole thing evolved into this madness.

Their youtube videos (which you can watch here and here) capapulted them into semi-fame in the cyber world, which led to phone calls and offers. Last night, it came to a culmination when they were featured on this show:

Zac has always been pretty extreme/crazy/ridiculous. And now he’s finally getting a small payoff for an extreme lack of fear.

Zac suiting up for battle

This was on my favorite scenes from the episode:

All in all, this has been a hilarious experience for my family. To us, this is just Zac being Zac. He’s always made up ridiculous games and lived a generally dangerous lifestyle. It’s fun to watch others get to see this crazy side and of course, it was fun to watch my dad hoot and holler so loudly that no one else could hear the tv.

I don’t know how long they keep the episodes up for, but as of now, you can watch the full episode here. (The part with the carp hunters doesn’t start until about 10 minutes in…)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…


I am not a morning person. But I like morning. Quite a bit, actually.

What I mean is… I do not jump out of bed at 6:30 with enthusiasm and zeal for the day. In fact, I very frequently sort of roll/fall out of bed once Kev is leaving for work and I know my alarm clock is out the door.

Step one in the mornings is, of course, coffee. I prefer iced coffee, even in the winter. P.s. International Delight (and no… I have no affiliation with them whatsoever) recently created this iced coffee in a carton concept and it is awesome. I can just pour a cup right out of the fridge! It pretty much tastes like a bottled frap. Very tasty.

Step two then becomes drink the coffee in a relaxing location. Sometimes I like to sit on the couch, fire up my mac and check the news, favorite blogs or pinterest. Sometimes I like to sit outside on the porch and soak in the fresh air.

This weekend plans to be pretty hectic. Fun, but hectic! What better way to recharge than lounging around for about an hour this morning, blogging and catching up on the world.

Have a fun weekend, everyone!

my ugly feet... relaxing


Well guys. I got trendy and made a yarn wreath. I’ve been seeing them all over for a while now and decided to take a stab at it myself. My former wreath was… a bit of an embarrassment. It was nice when I first purchased it… sort of woven together with vines and tiny autumnal flower accents. However, every time someone walked through the door, it would fall off. The tiny flowers soon became no more. It became far more of a nuisance than anything. So I had to set my sights on something different.

I admit… I resisted the yarn wreath because of the trendiness factor. What can I say? I can be too cool for school sometimes. But I sorted out my priorities and realized how much more important it is to have a wreath that welcomes people, rather than sticks to their purses or sweaters and falls off the door every time.

So here is my new wreath:

Here is the bow at the top:

And here it is hanging on my janky apartment door:

Excuse the ugly flash but the janky apartment hallway also has janky apartment lighting…

Anyway. That is my new wreath. I hope that it helps people to feel welcome. And happy. And greeted. Come visit me and test it out!


be still my heart- fall fashion part 1

It’s that time of year: the time of year in which I do silly things like wear corduroys to work in August. (That was yesterday’s mistake, although in my defense I rolled them up and paired with leather ballet flats?) I begin to light Apple Cider and Pumpkin Spice scented candles. I start dreaming of slow-cooked pork in the crock pot. I even start listening to my Autumn-themed mix cd a friend made a few years back.

My name is Gretchen and I am addicted to all things autumnal.

I just love fall. I love the colors turning. I love the smells, the activities and the crunching leaves. I love pressing leaves in old, heavy books, cuddling up with a scarf. But most of all… I love fall fashion.

I do not love summer fashion. I feel it leaves room for very little creativity. Fall is this open, gorgeous forest, and like Frost’s yellow wood, I want to pick the road with no leaves yet trodden black! Which leads me to a few fall outfits I feel I must have…

Chambray Polka-Dot Shirt: Old Navy
Mustard Slim-Slouch Chinos: Land’s End Canvas
Pop-color Oxfords (I wonder if I can paint the soles of mine…): GoJane
Accessories (including awesome mustache necklace): Forever21

V-neck Boyfriend Sweater: J Crew Factory
Burgundy Knit Jeggings: American Eagle
Dessert Wedge Booties: Toms
Chunky Knit Scarf: Forever21
Braided Belt: H&M
Gold Knuckle Ring: Forever21 

Twill Blazer: Gap
Chambray Shirt: J Crew Factory
Mustard Striped T: J Crew Factory (no longer in stock but I’m sure we’ll see more mustard stripes as we get closer to fall!)
Jeggings: American Eagle
Riding Boots: DSW
Gold Bangles: Forever 21
Gold Watch: Zappos (I’m sure there are cheaper gold watches at Charming Charlie… but they don’t have an online site)


Anyway… those are just a few of my favorite fall things. I shall put on my shorts today with an expectant and excited sense of longing for what the crisp weather will bring!

Start fresh, like a baby in the sink.

My relationship with blogging has an unstable one. I started this blog with the intention of posting 2 to 3 crafty tutorials a week. After a few posts… I realized how unrealistic that was. I simply can’t finish 2 or 3 projects a week, balancing three part-time jobs, time with Kev and everything else. (Also… it can start to get expensive!)

So when, a few months ago, my very supportive Kev informed me that he bought me a web domain… I was a little uneasy, but there was still that part of me that wanted to keep doing this. So. I carry on.

Welcome to the new and improved Splendid Things by GG. Here you will find tutorials and also a large mishegash that I feel like posting. As you will come to find, if you feel like reading this blog, I have quite varied interests, so here is the place to talk about them all!

I hope you like the new blog, but if you don’t that’s ok too. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Summary of my summer:

Going to weddings! It has sort of been the office joke that I go to a wedding every weekend. Between showers and bachelorette parties, that’s not entirely inaccurate. This summer we were able to attend the weddings of John & Erin, Zac (my brother) & Melinda, Jimmy & Amanda, Trey & Nikki and most recently, B Head and Feick. It’s been a whirlwind but so, so lovely.

Eating at Bien Trucha! Someday, I will write an entire post dedicated to the amazing experience that is Bien Trucha. Until then, rest assured that it is the swankiest and most delicious restaurant in the greater Chicago area, and happens to be located 3 mins from our home!

Watching Dawson’s Creek! As a child, I was not allowed to watch Dawson’s Creek. Something about too much sex, I think. It is funny to me considering the crap teens watch today, but thats a whole different can of worms. I am discovering Dawson’s in adulthood, and loving it. Also, Kev and I are watching Friday Night Lights together, which is also so great and something fun for us to watch today. Dawson’s Creek is all my own.

Hanging out with Tuck! He is our adorable, loving and increasingly bratty little dog. Come fall, we will seek a dog whisperer or some sort of super trainer, because if he keeps biting me at 7:30am because I won’t get out of bed… we’re gonna have some issues. But look at that face… he’s pretty cute.

Anyway, that about sums it up. I also went to Ecuador in June, but that deserves its own post I think. So check out the new blog design (the artwork is by me and it magically all works thanks to Dave) and let me know what you think!