more lamp wednesday

First I made about a billion star-shaped shortbread cookies, which I then poured chocolate ganache over them, and let me tell you the star was not a good shape to make shortbread cookies in, as shortbread cookies at their finest should be buttery and crumbly and all those little edges just caused them to fall apart that much easier. Now I know why most people use biscuit cutters instead of pretty shaped cookie cutters. Still they tasted good. So good in fact that they were consumed before I could photograph their chocolate-draped goodness.

I also wore this awesome skirt I found at goodwill (I know, I was just going to drop stuff off that my roommate was getting rid of but when I see 1/2 off everything spring sale my powers of resistance quaver a bit) and it is particularly glorious due to the spacious pockets it's got. My biggest complaint as a regular skirt-wearer is the lack of pockets, and therefore places to put ones stuff, cause that's what pockets are for but here's a skirt with pockets, so bonus! Problem solved.

Oh and finally, I made another lampshade, this one much smaller but with larger petal shapes, for which I used felt (made them less transparent and a bit more dimensional)and again with the looking cool all glow-y side effects.


weekend breakfasts....

Interestingly enough, I didn't anything really this weekend but enjoy the sun a lot. Oh and get CPR certified (yes I am able to save lives now if the situation were to arise)but I did seem to have a lot of breakfasts for one weekend. And at interestingly non-traditionally breakfast-y times of the day.

Like a batch of ricotta walnut pancakes as a late night dinner. Served with bananas and strawberry sauce I might add.

And some perfectly crisp and seasoned potatoes, with eggs and toast and orange juice. Eaten in the afternoon (though in all fairness it was the first meal of my day, so therefore, if could be argued, was still breakfast).

Next thing you know I will be having pasta or salad for breakfast. Though in many cultures morning foods don't differ as much from dinner as in America. The sweet-in-the-morning thing is just so difficult to let go of though. I mean, what would the world be like, without waffles??!!


wednesday good things

Was very tired from work this evening, and it wasn't easy to, but still, I put on my apron (after taking off my shoes at least) and made dinner for the roommate, spaghetti and meatballs as per her request.
First, sauce, which as you may be able to see here, made quite a mess burbling and splattering all over the place, but was super yummy with peppers and roasted garlic, though maybe a bit thin?

Next up were some (experimental) meatballs I'd taken from a recipe on the food network website for baked meatballs. Figured they couldn't b all bad what with them having spinach, garlic and Parmesan cheese mixed in. I was a little bit dubious about the technique however.

As you can see, the directions called for them to be formed, rolled around in breadcrumbs until fully coated, then placed in baking cups and put into a very hot oven for a short amount of time. Odd but it seemed to work. Sure it was different from how I usually make them but one doesn't wish to fall into a rut now does one?
And finally, my evening ended with some of this:

Imagine that. Starting with just one paper globe lampshade and an $8 pendant light kit from Ikea, I was able to turn several hundred, possibly thousands, of circles of yellow drafting paper, and a hot glue gun and just a few hours (well several) I was able to make this......monstrosity (I say that with affection). Which double bonus points both makes a really good light to work under (roommate) and is diffused and not super bright (me). Oh and it looks super cool. Particularly when it is lit up and all glow-y.

One project start to finish, about a billion more to go. But who's counting.


weekend recap

It was such a lovely sunny warm weekend I was unable to drag myself off the porch/out of the sun/from under the plum tree and various other summery locations, to sit and write about what a nice weekend it was. But playing catch-up is at least possible.
I visited the Laney College Flea Market for the first time since last summer and was a bit disappointed by the majority of the vendors who seemed to be selling toiletries and socks which had 'fallen off the back of a truck' and not many of the 'piles of junk' variety which I so like to dig through (and then some liberal use of hand sanitizer- and possibly tetanus shots -post dig)though I did manage to luck out, and wander across 'the bag lady' and find this lovely collection of leather belts. AND my fellow flea-marketer Brandon, bartered like the pro he is and got the price way down on the group of them.

I have too many belts but that's besides the point. Maybe I should start learning how to tool leather....hmmm...
Anyway, say hello to the most awesome rhinestoned owl buddy ever. Picked him out of a pile for peanuts cause a few of his rhinestones are missing. No problem-o as he still surely is shiny enough for me.

Now I found this entertaining, so I figured I'd share. I usually go grocery shopping after work. Which means that it is well past when I've had lunch, and inching ever nearer to a dinner-time hour, and I am, there-fore, grocery shopping while hungry. Nay even famished you might say. So I have to work real hard not to purchase every and all foodstuffs in sight. For instance, I use a basket and never a cart, as I know that when it is full, I have enough. Usually. If I got a cart not only would I inevitably get the one with the squeaky wheel that only wants to turn right, but I would fill it up with more food than my roommate and I could possibly consume before it turned and then it would go bad, and that would be tragic. So I limit myself to shopping baskets only, and suffer the resulting elbow-bruises. But this week, don't know if it's a longing for a more definitively spring-like weather or that I am secretly part rabbit, but I thought that I would share what one of my shopping bags looked like:

That's right. It's all vegetables, they are all green, there are even more under the asparagus you can't see in this shot. So, the conclusion I draw is that my grocery store impulse buys, are veggies. Funny.
And lastly, a sneak peak of something I just started and (hopefully-and maybe egged on by this)will have finished soon! (fingers crossed)


wednesdays three good things: girls night edition

Busy early parts of the week, full of errands and far away business meetings with long drives home accompanied by endless episodes of This American Life, I was ready for an evening of doing not much. So here is my glorious Wednesday veg-fest in three parts.
One: thrown together dinner. Five minutes spent making macaroni and cheese with spicy sausage and asparagus. All extraneous bits from the fridge/cupboard.

Two: Painting my toenails. It is (hopefully) getting to be sandal season and therefor toenail painting is important. And I, being quite mad, like to break out a teeny tiny brush for this (seriously this thing has like four bristles) and do silly things. Tonight, multicolor polka dots.

Three: Hair curlers. So retro, makes me feel like I've fallen into little women or something. And soft enough to sleep on. And now, forward troops, there is vegging to be had ahead!


by the way my roomate smells like vanilla

Not actually a very informative title I know but she is sitting right next to me as I write and watch really early episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the fact that she smells like cookies is distracting. Anyway, the rest of the weekend went off about as productively as I had planned, and restful. There was a bit of this:

And also time for this:

And while the soup was making the house smell all cozy and fogging the windows a bit I decided to update my 'dresser' of sorts. I use the quotation marks here because my so-called dresser is actually a wooden cubbies contraption that was made for me when I was in university to store my plentiful sweaters, and also some extranious art supplies, and I have since comandeered it to hold clothes.
However, it is a bit empty so I thought hey, what if it had drawers?

And instead of buying some baskets or something which would have looked perfectly nice and all but cost a bit of ca-ching and I'm currently trying to conserve, so I decided (naturally) I can make that. And so I did. And I covered the fronts in bages from an old book about speech and language.

And I even had enough energy to make some drawers for my bedside tables. Very matchy match but now I have a place to put my socks. So that's nice.

Oh and there was also some pie action. Rainy days are so good for baking. Over all I would say that's a very productive weekend.


spring cleaning and nautical cupcakes!

So, second day of my weekend, lets see how I've done. If you remember how my desk looked, hopefully it will never look that way again. No promises but fingers crossed. I started by taking everything off of it and cleaning the top of the desk (scraping ink and paint off was very fun) then looking at everything that was causing mess before deciding what I would need to help me organize it. My conclusion was that a filing cabinet was no longer something I could do without. So I swung by the ever helpful target and was thrilled to find a small enough two drawer to fit under my desk and it was the last one and it was on sale and light enough for me to carry to the car without foot-crushing incident. win!

Now all of my decorative and colored papers, old prints and photographs and various other ephemera that continuously collected in bins and baskets without reason, can be perfectly organized and located without any problem. This was a major fix for me, to have all of my paper cohesively located, and spurred me on to even greater desk organizing heights. And now, the much neglected just-shove-the-mess-to-the-side-and-keep-working desk, has become this glorious and uber clean masterpiece:

Makes me want to get right to work.
On another note, in addition to cleaning my desk (and the bathroom and kitchen but I won't get into that, because although satisfying now in their post deep-clean state, the tale of how they got to that is one of elbow grease and not much else interesting) I also baked for a friends yacht themed bon voyage/birthday party.

Just basic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. But I decided to color the frosting (cream cheese this time instead of butter-cream) and that was a fun experiment. Never turn a past color theory student loose with food coloring and white frosting. I labored over these blue and green shade for a rather alarming amount of time.

And then of course a little nautical piping. I wore blue and white stripes, a peacoat and anchor earrings and the cupcakes were well liked by all.

And so to the rest of my weekend list. Its still sunday afternoon and there are 24 useable hours in every day and I've already run my errands, before the rain set in heaviest, so it's time for some soup, and apple pie, and listen to This American Life and maybe work on another project. Now, to the craft-mobile!


weekend to do list

Yeah, that's what I call a good old-fashioned mess.
And for someone who professes to be an obsessive neat-freak, well it's far more mess that I am comfortable with, or happy with. It's time to get this under control. It's time for a healthy dose of spring cleaning, with particular focus paid to my work space. Hopefully if the art-making space is clean, the making of art will happen naturally. Fall into place and all that. I need to get some serious stuff done.
Also some general house cleaning is an order. Hopefully the weather remains sunny and warm and I can throw open all the windows tomorrow and air the house out a little. Perhaps 'acquire' some rosemary and jasmine from a neighborhood walk and hang it in bunches around the house for it's aromatic-ness.
Additionally, there are a few projects on which I would like to focus. I need to fix my dresser, or dresser of sorts, and update the lampshade in the living room. With cutouts perhaps? we'll see. And there is an embroidery project on which I would like to reach a more complete place. Or rather, as it's a large group/series finish one or two so that I can see how they look when done.
I wouldn't even be writing of my disorganized shortcomings, however, I feel the need to stimulate my inner martha steward/june cleaver hybrid, and act now. Perhaps I will be more compelled to complete my list of projects if I put it out there, and am therefor motivated to complete tasks out of embarrassment if nothing else. Good idea? or setting myself up for a big fail? Stay tuned to find out and fingers crossed this gamble proves productive......

(a bit late) three good things

I know I know it's super late, this being Friday and not Wednesday, and therefore there is no reason to celebrate getting over the so-called 'hump' referred to in the phrase 'humpday' as it's now into super-fun weekend time, still, I like keeping to a pattern, even if only sort of. So, without further ado, three nice reminders of why it's good to keep on carrying on.
One: it's always great to help a friend with a project. Particularly when they freaking out and exhausted, needing to finish by a certain time due to a deadline. My roommate took on some contract knitting work for a current cca student (a kids poncho, imagine that in these sherbert-y glorious colors) and needed held weaving all the ends back in from the uber-numberous color changes, and attaching the pieces together. It took quite a few old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a mid-work hot cocoa break (the marshmallows were a charming touch) to finish but the work was done. Win. It's comforting to be just the assistant as opposed to the driver of the crazy town train.

Two: I may live in a sort of odd (and loud-my neighbors often communicate in all-caps and use their cars as home stereos) neighborhood, and have a view of the sides of other apartment buidings out of most window, however, the kitchen looks out on some sort of plum tree, which was covered in delightful smelling white blossoms last month, and now is bright with leaves. And a fantastic motivation while doing dishes. Or just sitting on the miniature porch out through the kitchen drinking iced tea. Yum.

Three: seeing in 3D is awesome. I mean, we never really think about it but it's darn cool. And I mean, 3D movies are neat too. but the best part is the goggle-like glasses they supply. I feel I want to wear them all the time. Might come in handy if I ever need to, say, weld anything?


weekend craft-splosion, and awesome comfort foods

And what a gloriously craft-tastic and productive day it has been. Full of mayhem and adventure. Well actually it's not quite so swashbuckling as that would make it out to sound, but I did stab myself real good in the finger with a needle. Does that count?
Anyway, straight into the crafting. Most of my craft projects seem to originate one of two ways. Either there is something I need, and I make up a solution using stuff I have lying around the house, or there is some odd/neat/interesting supply/material I have lying around the house, and I make up a project to use it, usually something at least minimally practical (even if by practical I mean 'looking neat on the wall' but hey). This project would be a need not material led project definatly. Let me show you what my purse looks like generally:

This is on a good day, and still really quite alarming. I love this purse, it is fantastic and the perfect size and shape but it only has ONE pocket on the inside, and it is a huge pocket running the length of one side and with no closure. I carry tons of miscellaneous stuff in bag, from dental floss to safety pins, hair clips, peppermint tea bags, and a variety of gum and mints, and a mini sewing kit, all there just in case I may need it. Perhaps this is a by-product of the long term traveling, the need to pack for the emergency situation (band aids? sunscreen?) but it results in a big pile of stuff loitering around in the pocket of my purse and spilling out into the main compartment, to the point where I have to set my purse down and dig for my keys every time I get to my car, rummage when my phone rings, almost sticking my head all the way into the capacious depths to find anything successfully. It just isn't working for me but I see no reason to ditch the bag just cause it has pocket issues. So I decided to (attempt) to fix my handbags shortcomings myself.
First I took everything out and laid it on my desk, trying to figure out what sort of pockets, how many, what size, I would be needing. Next I measured the width of the purse and then drew a sketch of the pockets I would be making. I rummaged around in my fabric box and picked some heavy black and white fabric for the outside of the pockets and some pink floral for the inside (bright insides of pockets helps you see the contents better) and cut them down to size.

Next I put them front to front and sewed around the edge leaving a small opening at the bottom (remember the placemats, this is exactly the same idea really) and cut off the excess fabric.

Then I flipped them right side out,

and ironed them and pinned and sewed the openings shut.

The next step was to sew it all together into one complete 'pocket insert'

and pin it into the lining of my turned-inside-out purse.

I wonder if it may have been more time savvy to take out the lining, sew the pocket in by machine and then sew the lining back in because what I decided to do (sew around the edge by hand with teeny tiny stitches with a needle- thus the stabbing in the finger with all those layers, and of course followed by the excursion to the store to purchase a much needed thimble) took a very long time and required me to hold my arm at strange angles and was not that easy and was really not fast at all. Easily an hour of hand work. Good movie-watching hand work.

And after that all that was left to do was clip all the treads, and turn it right side out again and fill it with stuff. Yeah organization. You might notice also that I added a key clip that I cut out of a skirt I was getting rid of, since loosing my keys at the bottom (always at the bottom) was one of my biggest issues with the previous set up) I felt a need to add a place of that into the whole configuration. All in all it worked out quite well. A place for everything and everything in it's place. Doesn't look perfect, clearly looks like a do-it-yourself sort of thing but it works for what I want it to work for so that's great. And who doesn't want more pockets!

And now for some food stuff. All that crafting made me hungry, plus the thimble errand (which included picking up lots of other stuff, so it took a lovely long time)and I looked up and it was five and a looooooooooong time since those pancakes. With a distinct chill in the air despite the sun-dappled and inviting looking outside world (deceived I was, a sweater was SO necessary today) and a bit of a case of the sniffles, I was feeling a need for something cozy in my food and so this is what I ended up with:

And there was bacon left from breakfast. And some leftover soup, and I love leftovers, so I heated some soup (corn and pepper it was-yum) and made quick grilled cheese sandwiches, to which I added some roasted red bell peppers and the bacon from breakfast. The cheese (extra sharp Vermont cheddar-i'm a bit of a cheese snob) melted over everything else holding it in place and it was just heavenly. Made me forget the chill entirely. All in all a very productive day. A few more things were done but I'm holding on the them, as I might not complete anything postable tomorrow and this brings it to three posts today what with the catch up from non-internet times, and I wouldn't want to give anyone a false impression as to the typical rate of my writing. Usually three in one day would NOT happen, so I will stop here and leave you with some cheesy goodness. Or a photo, as the sandwiches are gone by now. Eaten. Thoroughly enjoyed. Yum.

Oh and just a quick note about the way I make a killer grilled cheese. Its all about proper prep or pre-grilling assembly. I butter bread that I have lightly toasted (yeah I know it seems redundant but it keeps it from burning and let's use real butter if we can people, it always tastes better) and spread the inside of one piece of bread with mustard. Now this is an issue of contention with my roommate who thinks that this is insane, and that no one else she has ever heard of ever does this. Ever. However she puts mayonnaise on hers, so.....nuff said. And my whole family used mustard on grilled cheese. It's just the way things were done in our house. Maybe it's the quality of our mustard that provoked us to add it to just about everything (and still does) but over all I really don't have an answer, I didn't start doing this out of the blue, it was just how I was taught. t mingles with the cheese flavors so well, amplifying and complimenting each other (and as this time there was also bacon and bell pepper I need not say any more about how fantabulous these sandwiches were, cause I'm kinda drooling on myself here typing and I'm sure it's not good for my computer in the slightest) and just making things better. But I figured I should point out I do this, as it comes up every time grilled cheese is mentioned in this apartment and it seems to be such a hot topic and I just felt like acknowledging that. On that note, I'm signing off and thinking about cookies vs pie for tomorrows bake-splosion. Thoughts?

oh and I almost forgot...

In celebration of my first ever 'real' or 'official' weekend, following my first ever full, official week of 9-5, monday through friday work at my new job, I slept in and then had some gloriously breakfast, of pancakes with strawberry sauce and bacon.


some stuff I've baked and crafted in the last few internet-less weeks

It has been a very interesting span of time for sure. Quite a variety of baked goods came out of the oven, it was coldish and it helped to heat the house, and fill tummies as well.
First there was a large batch of sandwich cookies, using a basic sugar cookie recipe, and both a strawberry jam filling and a chocolate moose filling.

They made quite a mess, flour all over the counters,

and in the end there were about a nice even gross of them (144 that would be, not including broken or burnt ones) and I had trouble finding tuppaware enough to take them into work.

I also made some rice crispy treats, which were very wonderfully retro and impossibly easy to make as well, almost seemed like a trick they were so simple. I liked them so much I decided to top half the batch with chocolate and that was very good as well.

Then, on Sunday, my roommate, exhausted from here successful finish of the Oakland half marathon, and still famished after a substansial lunch of mexican downtown, had some odd food cravings which I indulged, because why not. Dinner consisted of risotto, bacon, asparagus and some cheddar biscuits and while a very strange combination, it was none the less, delectable.

I also did a bit of crafting. I have a collection of colorful necklaces that are always stuck in boxes and I wanted some way of displaying them, and also something to fill an empty and boring looking wall in my room, so I decided to make a bulletin board. To do so I picked up some foam-core at Longs Drugs (there is a really really large one in Rockridge, which oddly enough, often has a better craft selection than Micheals, and better priced too) and cut it down into three tall slender sections
and covered them in some linen that I picked up from my roommates discarded fabric pile (piles) and used some small brads to nail them to the wall in a staggered pattern.
I then took some long twig-like branches I had sitting around (you never know when you might need such a thing) used straight pins to hold them onto onto the foam-core, and some longer brads spaced along the twigs to hang the necklaces up on.

At first it looked pretty bare.

But I kept finding little things to hang up, business cards, my collection of movie ticket stubs, old golden Mary prayer cards and other ephemera I found lying around. Combine that with all those colorful necklaces, and it was rather pretty. I have also found, interestingly enough, that I am more prone to wear my cool baubles now that I see them regularly. And no more empty wall.

There were other things that were baked, cooked, elaboratly crafted as well, some of which I may get to later, but lots of which, without the blog up and running to motivate me I didn't somehow remember to photograph. Also this is getting to be rather long and I feel the need to stop writing and get going with all these projects which have been building up as I've been occupied recently with job training, business travel, and the distracting cold front which has settled in the last few days. Better get doing than just talk about doing.
But I'll leave you with some fantastic mad-scientist lab brownies I concocted this week. I think there was actually some maniacal laughter to be heard wafting from the kitchen as I pulled them out of the oven.
The goal: to create a brownie that maintained it's gooey fresh-out-of-the-oven texture long into the following day (in the event that the brownies even last into the next day)
The method: add extra cream and some strawberry jam to the batter, and a layer chocolate chips in the middle.

The result: Amazing! Victory! sticky and with a hidden crunch in the middle from the chocolate chip layer. And I forcibly kept them from being consumed all at once, so that I could see how they hold up over time, and I can catagorically say, two days after their emergence from the oven that fateful day, they are still gooey as they were in the very beginning. Though perhaps desperately in need of a glass of milk to accompany their alarming richness.
And now to the craftmobile. Or rather my desk. There is much to be done.