baking: truffles

With the holidays fast approaching it's time to really get down to business and start churning out gifts and general holiday cheer. One gift that always seems well received is baked goods and candy. So what about truffles?

I made these to test out some recipes I had been saving and it turns out that, SURPRISE! making truffles is simple and fun. And it's so easy to mix up new and different flavors just by adding a few things.

For these three variations I added orange zest and extract, coconut flakes, and peanut butter. They were all super tasty and different. I also made, SURPRISE! bacon truffles, which were aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing (not a surprise at all)! So in conclusion, yeah I will be making more truffles in the coming weeks.


cook, wear, create

And another week wraps up (pun not intended) and there are some great ideas out there that could be used to fill my time. For instance:
So these look amazing. I mean, pumpkin marshmallow biscuits?!?! yes please

This picture reminded me that I need to be wearing (and adding to my collection of) classic full skirted dresses. And we are approaching the holiday season after all, which means that it is easy to make the case for new party dresses!

These lockets are such a nice idea. I like the hexagon shape and the subtle image inside. What a good idea.

Making: a paint pallet repair

I have been using the same travel watercolor pallet for more than ten years now. It has these small rectangular pans that you are able to pop out which (hypothetically) makes it easy to get replacements when you run out of a color. However it turns out it's not that easy to find the new pans, and after several stops at several different stores I came up dry. Literally. I mean I was completely out of blue and needed to paint me some water scenes so that was just not going to fly. And while several places had suggested I look at ordering online, and I was able to find some refills that would ship, that wasn't gonna do me much good as I had procrastinated and needed blue now!!

So what's a last minute gall to do? Figure out a way to make my own of course! So after minimal experimenting I discovered that I can buy a tube of watercolor paint on the right color, fill the empty pan, smooth it out with a small flat brush and wait approximately 24 hours for it to dry. Turns out this totally works (thank goodness) and I was able to save my own bacon.
So today's lesson I'd, first; don't wait too long to get important supplies, and second; it is possible to figure out a creative way around your supply shortage. In some instances. But don't hold your breath. Next time I may not be as lucky.


baking: chocolate creme pie with meringues

Okay, I'm a terrible person for dropping of the face of the proverbial earth so to speak, but I was working terribly hard on a lot of terribly important and time sensitive projects so I apologize profusely but some things had to drop by the wayside and this was one of them. Just one week until the sale, and therefore all projects must be finalized by then, thus the working very hard. However, in the meantime, I made a dessert that resulted in a pile of dishes something like this:

Impressive no?
I have been wanting to make one of the chocolate pies from this AAAAAAAAAAAAMAZING vintage Hershey's cookbook for a long time. They just look so retro. So this was the event. Especially because my friend who was curating the Thanksgiving menu made a point of mentioning none too subtly that she loved chocolate creme pie.

There was a crumbly crust and a gooey chocolate filling.

And after all that deliciousness was completed (which involved a lot of constant-stirring and waiting-to-thicken)I got to try my hand at making meringue.

I've got one thing to say: beat egg white and cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks.

It took a long time. And even so I wasn't sure it worked ok, because you know, you just don't know, until you cut into it. Don't know if the filling set, don't know if the meringues hardened. Just don't know..... But when the beautiful monstrosity was pulled out of it's final visit to the oven it was wonderfully browned and smelled so good. Fingers crossed right?

And pretty soon after it was cut into, this is what it looked like. So I'd put the check in the success column for this, right? Defiantly.


making: a sneak peak

So it's been a busy week in Max-land, what with trying to simultaneously cross about a hundred things of my list and all. But in the midst of all my chaos, I have gotten a fair amount of stuff done. nothing worth showing right now, or rather nothing that's complete. But I can give you a sneak peek!

As you can see above, my days have been filled with adding color to a series of illustrations I finished the week before. Color which was done almost entirely with a teeny tiny brush. Not kidding, this brush might just have all of eight hairs in it!

However I am yet again becoming sidetracked discussing the smallness of my current color-making implements. But I felt like sharing a small snippet of these images I've been hinting over for days on end. In case you cannot tell they are all various dwelling, most of a somewhat fairytale nature, and while they have been endlessly fun to create I do very much look forward to seeing them in their completed state soon.

And of course to then be able to cross that off my list!


making: t-shirt pillow

A recent purge of my closet resulted in a reasonable pile of t-shirts in the discard pile. However nonsensical it is (considering that if I ever wear a t-shirt it is going to be plain rather than printed) I tend to pick up a fair amount of patterned or printed t-shirts. There are quite a few I have, um, acquired from various travels and while I never wear them I do like the images/patterns and it sort of irked me that I needed to discard them just because I wasn't wearing them. Couldn't I used them for something else?
Then I came up with (or perhaps it was suggested by a wise and crafty person, I don't remember) an idea. Make them into pillows. It is really easy to make a simple slip on pillowcase, no need for zippers or buttons even.

First, cut your t-shirt apart along the seams so you have two pieces of fabric. If the t-shirt is too small for a back and front there are several options. You can create a border with additional fabric, or use the t-shirt only for the front and a different material entirely for the back of the pillow. Whatever works for you.
When you have your fabrics, measure the pillow you will be covering and add one inch to height and width for seam allowances.

You will need to cut one piece for the front, and two for the back. So if your pillow is 15" square, you will need to cut one 16" square for the front and two 15"x10" pieces for the back. Then you will pin one edge of each back piece under and sew it down. This will make the back nice and clean.

Lastly you need to pin the front and two back pieces to each other right sides together. Place the two back pieces with the sewn edges overlapping in the middle by approximately an inch. Pin around the edge and sew.

Then turn the cover right side out and put it over your pillow and you're done.

This should take about fifteen minutes, as there are no buttonholes and no hand sewing, or maybe longer if you have to piece together a front and back. However, it is a quick and easy way to use t-shirts that would otherwise be tossed out. They are still around so you can enjoy the images that drew you to them in the first place, and as they are t-shirts, they are (most likely) soft and very comfortable pillows.



Oh my goodness what a terrible person I am! I've had pictures from Halloween sitting around for nearly two weeks now and after all of that talk about me making all of the components for this silly nurse costume I never actually showed any pictures of what it looked like finished... shame on me. Well I would like to remedy that now and say sorry for having a brain that is so similar to a sieve, so full of holes that something simple like this could slip through. Now if you asked me to name all of Brad and Angelina's children in order and which country they originated from, I could probably do that. I seem to have an unnecessary talent for retaining useless information. But I digress, here is nurse Max:

Oh and I had to include this one as well. We did not find another nurse all night, nor any doctors with whom I could take my photo, however we did spot this super adorable sailor who enthusiastically agreed to take a photo with me.


baking: butternut squash soup

On cold days soup is my favorite thing to eat, and it is actually quite satisfying to make as well. You see soup is a triple threat: soups is a house perfumer, it fills ones tummy with warmth, and when you lean over it to stir the steam gives you a brief facial! I would say that's a win win win. I made a simple butternut squash soup the other day for a friend, to whom I have a rather steep debt of dinners owed (she likes to cook for me) and it was the perfect drizzly day for a belly warming soup. So I made this up as I went along, adding coconut milk and a bit of curry paste to add a bit of a Thai flavor (cause I knew she was a fan).

I also made cheese biscuits which were fabulous, but unfortunately I have no photographic evidence of said baked delights, as they were scarfed down with such speed that not even a crumb remained. And everyone knows biscuits are best fresh out of the oven, particularly if they are of the cheese-y variety.
If you were interested in making this soup yourself here is the (approximate) recipe:
1 medium onion, chopped
olive oil
a few carrots, chopped
1 carton of stock (chicken or vegetable as is your preference)
1 med/large butternut squash, peeled, cored and cubed
a few russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can coconut milk
curry paste
In a large pot saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add carrots, potato and squash and stock. Cover and let cook on medium heat for 20-30 min or until the vegetables are soft. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until it is an even consistency. In a small bowl mix a half cup of coconut milk with 1tsp-1tbsp of curry paste (depending on how spicy you like your food) then mix in the rest of the coconut milk and pour it into the blended soup. Mix and serve warm.
This recipe could of course be done without the coconut milk and curry (just sub cream or if you really must, milk, though it will not be as thick and delicious) and it takes less than an hour. I think next time I might even have to make a double batch cause the leftovers are so nice to have around. And that next time is going to be pretty soon. Maybe I'll even manage to snag a photo of the biscuits...


cook, wear, create

Oh look it's the end of yet another week, and while I was so excited to start cooking and dressing for fall last week, now the weather has turned on it's head a few more times and guess what, yesterday I was wearing shorts again! And drinking homemade lemonade! In November. Which is totally bonkers, but I digress.
I think that despite whatever shenanigans the weather is getting up to it is undeniably fall, per the calendar anyway, and therefor that means seasonal foods! These pumpkin pancakes caught my eye, as they would be delightfully warm and cozy making regardless of what the temperature was like outside.

Now I know this is sort of a wear and a create, as technically it is a diy, but I have been looking for a cozy cut-out-necked sweatshirt for a bit now, and this diy made it look so much less slovenly, and yet just as comfy as I was imagining, so now I have another project to add to my uber long to do list. Not to self: pull out your lace collection!

And finally I have this OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS AMAZING whoops I was so excited I slipped into all caps. Apologies. These pieces by Francisca Prieto are actually old books which she has done magical things to. Things which involved folding and layering I am sure, but I have my suspicions that a fair amount of fairy dusk was employed as well cause these are just fabulous! More than fabulous, I don't even have an adequate word. All I know is that my fingers already itch and I am worried that the novel I am currently reading might be ripped to shreds and folded into crazy geometric shapes any minute if I am not able to control myself. I think it is the way she so carefully chose which pages to use where, and integrated the images, and text that were already on them into an image of her own that is so fascinating to me. I do have a thing for people who take old books and turn them into a form so far removed from what they originally were.

And now that I am so very inspired I am going to get right back to work. I'm currently buried under a pile of projects to complete in a short time, so amid copious cups of peppermint tea and not a lot of sleep I am slowly and steadily crossing them off one by one. Hopefully I will have something to show for all these sleepless nights soon and I promise I will share as soon as it amounts to anything worth showing. Fingers crossed....


making: lamp before/after

I am smack dab in the middle of finishing up the color on an illustration project on which I have an impending (though I supposed self imposed) deadline but I figured I could show this Lamp redo that I did a while ago.
I had this very old wooden lamp base that was a nice shape but having been with me through several moves and several houses/apartments (and it was secondhand when I got it as well) it was starting to look downright battered. Covered in various nicks and scratches, with the finish worn off in places, it was looking scraggly and it's lampshade acquired a hole and overall it was just needing a lot of love.

So I spray painted the whole thing (after of course covering up the cord and other electrical components) with several coats of goes-with-everything white. Then I snagged an basic lampshade at Ikea for $3.

Knowing that I wanted some sort of texture and pattern on the lampshade as the base was so simple, I went with a stack of old geological maps I had lying about as my crafty material of choice. And after cutting them into similarly sized strips I folded them into box pleats and sewed them down to make a ruffled paper ribbon of sorts.

Then all that was left to do was glue the ruffles down in a continuous spiral around the lampshade using hot glue (which does tend to be my adhesive material of choice). I started at the bottom with a bit of an overhang so that the lower edge of the lampshade would not show. When I got to the top I used a white twisted rope trim to cover the top edge of the ruffles and make everything look a bit more finished.
The end result looked both clean and much nicer than it's old bedraggled previous life.

I think this would be fun to do at a larger scale, and also perhaps in a really bright color. And I think that it looks particularly cozy at night.


baking: whopper brownies

So one thing I learned from this last Halloween? Children don't like Whoppers. Which is such a bummer cause they are delicious. In my humble opinion. So I decided to do something about it. SO I cut them up and added the delicious mess to a batch of brownies.

And they were delicious! Actually not as malt-y as I would have thought they would taste, they sort of melted in the oven and lent just a subtle malty flavor. But still yummy.


making: pleather purse

So I figured since last week I showed you the appliques I was doing for vinyl zippered bags, I should actually show you one of the bags that I made, and how I made it.
It is one of the simplest processes I have ever encountered, honestly, to the point where I just want to make them all the time.
All it takes is two pieces of outside material, two for lining and a zipper. And done. I have been using vinyl, as a similar weight to leather, but much less expensive, and also awesome for it's ability to be cleaned up easily. And here is a bag coming together in slow motion....

So just a few quick steps and there is a super easy bag! I found that it was awesome to carry around as a purse because it fit everything but it doesn't allow me to add all sorts of extra stuff. Which tends to be a problem with me, and results in purses that are packed full of unnecessary things, which leads to a very heavy purse.

You can also check out this tutorial from Design Sponge for a full how to. And think of all the uses for a bag like this, so easy to organize everything! And you know I'm a fan of organizing.


making: nike marathon shirts

I know it is rather late in showing up here, but I just wanted to pop in real quick to show some puff paint work that I did for my friends in Team in Training. Last month was the Nike Women's marathon, and as a supporter of Team in Training, and all of my friends who are running to raise money for cancer research, I like to lend a hand wherever I can. And as a generally crafty person I have become the official run shirt decorator (along with my head cheerleader duties) aka queen of puffy paint.
This season my skills were used as a fundraiser which was even more awesome. I tried to stick to the team theme of rock stars as well as I could.

But I also took requests, like someone who wanted dragonflies on the front of her shirt.

And a friend who wanted Charlie the unicorn from the uber amusing Internet cartoon, so I just had to oblige such a creative request.


cook, wear, create

It has just now started to feel like fall. Well it began yesterday to be fair, with a little bit of rain (sprinkling mostly) and a lot of wind which caused a whole lot of leaves to cover the ground. And I am thinking about warm and comforting baking a lot. So these cranberry scones are definitely on the list.

So I am starting to think seriously about warmer and cozier clothes, now that the weather is finally starting to look like fall. And an over sized fur collar (faux of course) like this one would cozy me up right away.

And finally, as it is nearing the end of the year, it is time to think about calendars. I need to make one, and I like this really sweet and simple letter pressed version. Time to get to work!