Thursday, July 31, 2008

It Had To Be You...

Happy 15th Anniversary
My Love

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Up On The Fridgetop Dominoes...

So like I mentioned, I've been moving things around in the house lately. Forget doing necessary things like cooking dinner or washing clothes. Nope, I have had more important tasks on my agenda, like giving the top of the refrigerator a makeover. I only wasted about an hour arranging and rearranging these six little items. I think I earned that hour though. After all, I did put in two minutes of strenuous Windexing at the onset.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shaken not Stirred

When I was around two years old, we took a family vacation to Disneyland. Part of the trip included stopping to see an elderly aunt and uncle who lived in San Diego. They had never had children of their own, so I think the invasion of four nephews and nieces who ranged in age from two to seventeen took them by surprise. And as much as I hate to admit it, I was probably the most guilty of upsetting the apple cart at their house. You see, my aunt had a song bird that lived in an intriguing cage at the top of a very tall stand. At her command the feathered fellow would whistle and warble and be a regular show off. When not prompted to perform the tiny bird would hop about his cage in silence. I guess this silence disturbed my two year old sensibilities, so I took it upon my self to make the bird sing on my own. I accomplished this by grabbing the stand and giving the bird cage quite a shake. I don't think my aunt or that bird was ever quite the same again. Add a mark in the tally book next to my name for one of those events that lives on in family infamy.

So last year for my birthday my mother gave me this vintage bird cage, in part because I wanted one and partially because she wanted to tell this story again for an audience. Gotta love it right? Well, I've been moving things around a little bit here and there in my house these last couple of days and I decided I needed to revamp the little vignettes I had going on because you know, Easter is over with. Anyhoo, the bird cage was one of the items I relocated. I not only moved it, but I emptied out the mishmash of things I had on display inside it. The poor thing was standing around looking rather forlorn with not even a parakeet with a bad case of vertigo to call it home. That was until the mail arrived and I received this fabulous package from my amazingly talented friend Natalea.
My birthday is next month, but Miss Natalea is so on the ball with her generosity that she sent the package early for added enjoyment and to insure timely delivery. In addition to the darling cards, Natalea took the time to make me a gorgeous bird shaped flip book. Each page is wonderfully unique. Even the backside of each bird is beautifully embellished. Thank you so much Natalea! I love everything! After opening this wonderful present, I knew I had to think of a way to really showcase each individual bird. And what better place could there be for a bevy of beautiful birds than my bird cage?
I love the result. I think the whole vignette really sings now, and I didn't even have to shake it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Can you keep a secret?

I'm having a love affair with my new purse. We meet accidentally at a thrift store over the weekend and we've been inseparable ever since. I know my other handbags are getting a little suspicious, wondering why I'm not spending time with them anymore. It's just that this new one and I have so much more in common. Everything had just become so routine with the others that being with this one is a breath of fresh air. I'm sure I won't be able to keep our relationship under wraps for much longer, but I wanted to let you know myself in case you see the two of us out together in public.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Christmas in July Continued...

Many years back Victoria magazine had a beautiful December issue that featured the most gorgeous Christmas tree on the cover. The tree was laden with lovely lights and ribbon but most notably, numerous framed vintage snap shots scattered amongst the branches. The image of that tree has lingered in my brain ever since as something I would like to try and recreate for my own home.

With that in mind I began to collect little frames that would be the correct scale to use on my dining room Christmas tree. I also wanted to incorporate family photos into the mix to give the decorations meaning. The three frames shown above are my first attempts. I hot glued bows on to some of the frames to start with and even jazzed up one by attaching a chandelier crystal. This is such an easy project with endless possibilities. The only real challenge is finding the perfect picture to go in each petite frame.

I can't wait to make some more of these now that I have gotten started. I'll show you how it all comes together, but not until December. Happy Day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Stamp Act of 1978

When I was growing up grocery stores were still giving out Gold Bond stamps to shoppers. The number of stamps you received was equal to the amount of groceries you purchased. My mother kept these stamps loose in a milk glass basket on the top of our hutch. Periodically she would take the basket down from its perch and have me organize the tangled mass of stamps that had accumulated. I would then set to work wetting the stamp backs and sticking them in their little books. My mom made this part easy for me by placing a wet washcloth in a saucer for me to run the stamps across. This setup always made me feel like a very sophisticated secretary and I took my job very seriously.

The coolest part about saving stamps was that once you had a substantial amount of books filled, you could redeem them for items from the Gold Bond store. Normally my mom would let me have the stamps all to myself because I would use them to "buy" Christmas gifts. For example, one year I saved enough books to get my grandmother a set of decorative brass bowls. Another year my mother scored one of those tension rod towel holders that ran from floor to ceiling. Exciting gift huh? Regardless of how mundane some of the things I bought were, I loved the whole concept.

While I mostly used the stamps to get gifts for others, there was one item that I longed for...a tether ball set. I wanted that set so badly but it was valued at over forty books. That was well over a year's worth of saving. In other words, impossible. Or so I thought. Miraculously we had a friend who gave us all of her stamps and suddenly my beloved tether ball set seemed like it might be within reach. Within reach until my mother fell in love with this lamp which was valued at around the same amount. Maybe if I had bought my mom the aluminum cookie press with interchangeable disks for making spritz cookies instead of that towel rack we would be looking at a retro shot of me with my tether ball set. But it didn't quite work out that way. She did promise to buy me a set eventually if I let her get the lamp with my stockpile of stamps. Okay Mom, that was thirty years ago and I'm still waiting...

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Finished Project

I know you were on pins and needles trying to figure out what that fabric was going to become.The wait is over.Meet the chunky new pin cushion on the block.
I have been dying to make one of these ever since I saw the tutorial offered by the tremendously talented Bari J. The hardest part of the whole process was selecting the fabrics to use. Where were Tammy and Jennifer when I needed them? I was going for the funky fun look, and overall I like the way it turned out. Not all the seams are quite perfect, but there was minimal swearing involved while making it. That's always an upside for me when I'm sewing. And besides, I need to reserve my annual allotment of profanity for October when I make Halloween costumes. Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Sewing Bug

Today was the day I was going to share Christmas in July Part II with you, but that's not happening just yet. No, I did not scrap the whole idea like I mentioned I might, but rather I am jumping over to do a little side project that I have been dying to try. Yep, I'm just like a spastic poodle when it comes to hopping around from task to task, sans the piddling on the carpet of course. The project involves the use of the fabric above, and tomorrow you get to see it all made up! Until then I hope you all have a craftastic day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just My Type

Allow me to introduce you to my my new typewriter. Isn't she the cutest thing? She is such a joy to be around I might even be inspired to write "the great American novel." You know, Jack Kerouac style. Here's what I have so far... Okay, maybe I'll just drink my icy lemonade and admire the typewriter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Recap and Rellenos

Well kids it's Monday, I'm back, and I survived my reunion. The weekend passed without any Carrie-esque blood spillage or any emergency calls to a psychiatrist. The people I have liked since junior high and even elementary school were their same sweet selves. All is right with the world.

We have had rain here almost everyday this week. A couple of mornings even felt like autumn. Fall weather always puts me in the mood to craft and cook, so on Sunday night I decided to make chili rellenos. Since I was doing this at a reasonable hour instead of during my usual after midnight time frame, my Sweetie agreed to take some pics of the whole process so I could share them with you.
First find some nice green chilies. Around here the peak season for them is late September, but they are still available at the market. Long straight chilies are optimal for relleno making because they they are easier to work with and provide better presentation. Sometimes it's difficult to find ones like this though, hence the curly ones in the pan.
I started by roasting the chilies in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. They could have probably stayed a little longer, but I jumped the gun. The smell of roasted chili is amazing.
You want the chilies to be under the heat long enough for the skin to blister. During the 45 minutes, I turned them at least twice.
After removing the pan from the oven, cover the chilies with a few moist paper towels. This will help create some steam in the chili and allow for easier removal of the skin.
Taking off the skin can be a pain because often times you accidentally remove some of the fleshy part of the chili as well. You want to get off as much of the roasted layer of skin as possible, because while it is edible, it is very stalky in texture.
Try and slip the tip of a small paring knife into an area of the skin that is blistered. This will help give you a good starting point and hopefully the skin can then be removed in large sections.
It's not difficult to remove the skin, you just have to be patient. The taste is worth the effort.
After removing the skin, the seeds are next. These are attached to a membrane at the base of the stem on the inside of the chili. You need to make a slit in the backside of the chili to be able to remove the seeds. Detach the membrane from the stem, and the majority of the seeds should come out all together.
If you have stubborn seeds place the chili under a slow trickle of water and this will help to wash them out. The seeds pack a lot of pepper heat in them so try to remove them all.
When your chilies have all been cleaned, they are ready to be dredged in flour. I usually salt and pepper the four. I used 1 cup of flour with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper mixed into it. I only made six rellenos in this batch so a had quite a bit of flour left over.
I know it might sound weird to dip them in the flour before the egg mixture, but that's how it's done.
Next you are going to beat up some egg whites. You need 1 egg for every 2 rellenos you wish to make. When you are separating your eggs, save the yolks because those get folded back into the egg white mixture.
Give the egg yolks that you have set aside a little whisk, and then you will be ready to fold them in.
The egg whites should be beaten until soft peaks form. When they are ready pour in the beaten egg yolks.
Combine gently with a spoon.
Now a relleno just wouldn't be a relleno without cheese. I use mild cheddar and cut generous slices that will be slipped into the back of the chili pepper.
Your chilies should already have slits in them from when you cleaned out the seeds. Slip the cheese into the chili.
In order to keep the cheese from escaping while being fried, join the two side of the chili together with toothpicks.
After loading the chilies up with cheese, it's now time to dunk them in the egg mixture.
You will submerge each chili completely in the egg mixture before placing it in the frying pan.
When the chilies are pulled out of the egg mixture they will have a wonderful frothy coating.
Before you begin dipping you should have a skillet heating with 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in it. You want the burner to be at least on medium high and the oil should be hot and ready for frying before placing the chilies in the pan. You will want to dip as you go with the chilies. In other words, dip it in the egg and then place it immediately in the hot skillet. Dipping them all first does not work.
Fry on each side until golden brown. You will probably flip each one more than once while they are cooking, because after all that work you definitely don't want to burn them.
When rellenos reach that golden brown shade, remove them from the skillet and place on paper towels for draining. These are great by themselves or with beans and rice. Hope you enjoy them.
I'm off to craft now.
If this overcast weather persists who knows what I might get accomplished!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Reunion Weekend

So my 20 year reunion is this weekend. I wonder if the cast of characters from High School Drama 1988 has changed much?
I'm looking forward to chatting with the protagonists.
I'm hoping the villains on the other hand just stay home.

I guess you can't have a story without both though. I'll see you on Monday if I survive.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Christmas in July

I'm getting a jump on my Christmas crafting. Okay, okay, I am sensing a collective eye roll out there but give me a chance to explain. Every year during the holidays I get so frustrated because I want to put everything on hold and just make things. Pretty things. Decorative things. Things just for me. With all of the activities that go along with the season, it's next to impossible to find the time to make this happen. All of that's changing this month though because I am having Christmas in July. No, we're not going caroling or putting lights on the house just yet, but I am going to make one Christmas related project each week for the remainder of the month. If they turn out good then I'll share them with you. If I get lazy and abandon the whole idea altogether I'll pretend like I don't know what you are talking about if you bring it up. Deal?

The first project up is "Oh Christmas Tree." While at the craft store recently, I discovered a wonderful package of small scale Christmas trees. There were three in a pack and each measured about six inches tall. I decided they needed a vintage overhaul. This is how I went about it.

I started with one tree. It came with some accent snow already on it. The first thing I did was cover the tree's little gold base so as not to get other paint on it. I did this with tape.
Next I pulled out some spray paint I had. The colors are Blue Ocean Breeze, White and Simply Pink.
I gave the little tree quite a shower with a base coat of white paint.
After the white was completely dry, I switched out the drop paper. Next time around I will probably add a small piece of wax paper between the tree and the newspaper to prevent any sticking.
Next came a pink shower for the little guy. You can do as many coats as you like to get the color intensity you prefer. I did a couple of coats very close to the tree so that I could get as far into the bristles as possible for maximum coverage.
After the pink dried, I used a paintbrush to work in small amounts of glue to the tree.
After coating a small area with the glue, I would then pour glitter over the over that area. I worked in small areas mainly because I didn't know how the glitter was going to look. You can adjust the amount of glue you apply in order to vary the concentration of glitter. You can work the glue deep into the tree with your brush or simply add small amounts to the tips of the bristles.
I was heavy handed with my glue application on this tree, so the iridescent glitter I used went on heavy and created a flocked look.
After waiting for the glitter glue to dry, I then dipped pastel colored beads in glue and pushed them into the tree bristles for decorations.
The end result is the tree on the left in the first picture of this post. The other two trees were created using different paint and glitter combinations. There are so many ways to make this project your own through your choice of materials.
I'm excited by the way these turned out! Now if I can just remember were I end up storing them when December rolls around I'll be in good shape. Merry Christmas!