Wednesday, October 6, 2010

That's a Wrap

What a year it has been! In some ways it seems like just yesterday I was figuring out how to work Blogger and start my own little chunk of web space. In other ways it seems so far behind me, as I have learned so many things big and small.
- I have learned to knit over the past twelve months and in the last twelve days have come to realize that to experience true joy in knitting I need to choose quick and easy projects made with yarn that I fall in love with, no matter how impractical it is.
- I have learned that I love to cook and view it as an expression of love. I know now that scary recipes aren't so scary after all, that even simple recipes get messed up, and that you can always heat up a frozen pizza if that happens. I learned that there is a time to bake and a time to cook. If you figure out when to do what thing you will be in kitchen bliss (especially if you have help with the clean up).
- I have learned how to build a studio out of a guest bedroom closet, start a small business, and create an etsy shop. I have learned how to set up a trunk show. I have learned the definition of trunk show.  
- I have learned that my taste in books is never-changing: Maine + Romance = Awesome. 
Thanks to Jason, I have learned that Maine is as awesome as I imagined it for all these years.
- I have learned that my amazing little girl thinks that I can make anything. I think that is so cool. More so, I think she is so cool. 
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I hope that if this little corner of the web has found you, that it has inspired you to be brave, be silly, try new things, and above all never stop learning. 
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And now, my friends, after a year of blogging I am choosing to step away from this space. This will be the last post of The Makings of Everyday blog so that I may continue to be a life-long learner and pursue new things, balance among them. 
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Thank you for coming along for the ride! I have truly appreciated every comment and email and have loved making far-away friends whom I would never have had the chance to know otherwise. Many blessings to you all :)


Sincerely, 
Danielle

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Little Bits and Big

I meant to show you this long ago, my little bowl of collected sea glass brought home from Maine--now proudly displayed in the living room. This picture reminds me of a lesson I teach the students in my class...
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I take two equal-sized containers and fill them with the exact same number each of large bouncy balls, medium-sized bouncy balls, and small beads. The difference between the two containers is that the first one is filled with the small beads first, followed by the larger items--the lid simply will not fit on this way. For the second container, I prioritize: putting in the larger items first and then letting the tiny beads pour around and fill in the cracks. The lid fits snuggly on with nothing left out. It's a lesson in prioritizing, of determining what is the most important and making room for that first. In teaching this to my charges, I get to learn it all over again. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Blossomy Tree for Ava Grace

A.k.a. the "Big One"--a 16 x 20 inch mixed media. Yowza! I just was in the midst of finishing up a few little details this morning, which hampered my photography a little bit. So, here's your view of it in the early morning light--surrounded by the materials for making such an item. 
 I love to infuse little details into my work: this one has a little birdie on the branch and a teeny tiny butterfly flitting off to the right :). 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Barefoot Sunday Yearly Review

Wednesday will mark my official blog-versary, marking one calendar year of blogging in this space. This means nearly 40 new Barefoot Contessa recipes this year, with more if you count making the favorites again and again. We just love Ina
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Our family favorites?
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Recipes that I was most proud of: 
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What a year! So many delicious foods...so many steps and leaps forward into culinary competency. I hope that through this process of sharing both the successes and the blunders that I have inspired you to be brave and try something new in the kitchen :).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Alphabet Blocks for Ava Grace

For a soon-to-be-born beautiful baby, custom alphabet block initials that match her shabby-chic nursery :0). 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Badge for Woody

Amelia's school is having a scarecrow decorating contest as part of the annual Fall Festival. Amelia's kindergarten class has decided to decorate their scarecrow in the likes of Woody from Toy Story. Everyone signed up to make/provide a different bit of the costume. We got the badge--Awesome!
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Serendipitously, Michael's craft store had a paintable wooden sheriff's star. Alas, it was a bit too dinky for a costume scarecrow. So, we grabbed it and the larger regular star to glue it onto and were off to create! We painted the sheriff's star yellow and, once it was dry, tacky-glued it onto the big star. Then with a little Sharpie love and some iridescent glitter we were set! How to affix? Quite honestly I am going to use a strip of duct tape to attach a large-size safety pin to the back. Is it bizarre that I don't own a hot glue gun?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The House on Oyster Creek

If you have been reading this blog for some time now, you'll know that I chose this book (purchased pre-Kindle;) because of the beautiful cover. Set in Cape Cod, it's the story of a woman who moves to the Cape with her much older husband and young daughter. It's her story, their story, and the story of the people who live there. Full of rich language describing the not-so-charming facets of living and working in a fishing community, this book grew on me page after page. It is not chick-lit nor a "summer read" by any means. I wanted to bop the main character on the head sometimes and her stodgy husband almost always, but ultimately I ended up caring about everyone in the book and wanted to see it through. 


One of my favorite lines:  
Charlotte was made of empathy; she would accidentally glimpse the hopes and fears of the stranger behind her in a supermarket line.  Her heart went out to people and she could never get it back.


Would anyone like to read this book? Let me know and I will get it to you, whether I pass it over the fence or head to the post office!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Beginnings of Fall

We're celebrating the beginnings of fall around here...in baking (naturally) and with decorating too. Since it's still in the very early stages I didn't want to be overzealous with the "autumness," if you will. I thought this little centerpiece was a nice bridge between summer and fall...or maybe I just wanted an excuse to buy one of each color pumpkin at the grocery store ;). 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Primer Layer

My first layer on a large-sized canvas is a white "primer" layer. It's regular acrylic paint, but I use it as a primer. It allows the next layers of paint a smooth and more evenly-pigmented surface instead of the dull grayish-white of the canvas. Also, it lets you feel as though you have started in on a project even when you have a little bit of artist's block ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge

Above is the (slightly blurry) representation of my most recent challenge: chocolate chip cookies from scratch.  I was really happy with these highly-rated cookies from allrecipes.com. It was a very simple process and the cookies turned out really well. I know--it's Sunday--what about a Barefoot Contessa recipe? I tried but Ina doesn't have a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, though she does sell her own mix. Hmmm.....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Handmade Kindle Cover

Happy Friday everyone! My kindle cover is all finished. I chose to do a smooth fabric lining and a knitted outer layer for maximum protection from both scratches and smushes. I'm really loving the color combination of dusty teal combined with raspberry. I kind of winged it as I went along, but if you are interested there are tons of tutorials for "zipper bags" and such online. The trickiest part for me was correctly positioning the fabric and zipper so that everything was facing the right way (I wanted the inside of the bag to be the pretty side of the fabric since the outside wouldn't be showing). The best part was that it was barely a two-day project since I used such chunky yarn: For non-knitters: think of how much faster you could paint a room with a 4-foot paint roller :).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Relaxing

Even though I have become quite inept at relaxing lately, I am going to give it a try this evening. Until tomorrow, friends!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sweater Progress

Progress! The body of the sweater is complete and I have put one of the sleeves back on the needles for finishing. I made a relatively big mistake figuring out how to knit a sleeve. Rather than risk an even bigger error or worse, I decided to just make it work (and will do the other sleeve accordingly incorrect so that they match). This weekend I took Amelia to the fabric store to choose her own buttons. I think she did a lovely job of choosing! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Paradigm Shift

A paradigm shift is required of me, friends! Jason sweetly presented me (the voracious reader) with a Kindle for my birthday. No pages to turn nor dog-ear, no covers to feel and admire. Hmm..It has its own perks though, ones that I am already falling in love with...book shopping at my fingertips, the ability to hold many books physically and electronically, etc. 
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For fun and in celebration of this paradigm shift I have decided to make, rather than purchase, a cover for it. A knitted/fabric combo that allowed me a brief respite from working on Amelia's sweater:
                                  
PS: Sweater update tomorrow! I'm pretty excited as it actually resembles a sweater!

Monday, September 20, 2010

For Julie

Remember the blogpost For Kelsey, Definitely Maybe? Well, that precious baby girl was born this weekend and her name is Julie Ann :)) I set straight to work on a new mixed media--this one even bigger at 11 x 14 inch:
What came of the original art piece? Well, I decided to cover up the letters with scrapbook paper cutouts from the new artwork and made it into a companion piece. Now they have two :) 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Barefoot Sunday: Shortbread Cookies

It's true--I have made these shortbread cookies many times. Partly because they are so delicious and partly because as long as I haven't been totally remiss in upkeeping my pantry, I always have the short list of supplies on hand. Today we topped most them with our favorite: raw sugar and cinnamon. Then we tried something new on a few: chopped Nestle crunch. Not bad. The skill lesson for today was teaching Amelia how to level off a measuring cup:
The recipe is Ina Garten's Pecan Shortbread Cookies minus the pecans. Her regular shortbread recipe doesn't include the vanilla/almond extracts, which I think are the most important parts!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Makings of a Saturday

Today I made: 
  - Coffee
  - Breakfast
  - A trip to the store
  - A little girl happy with a new doll 
  - Art
  - More art
  - Knitting progress
  - A mess  
  - Salsa
  - Myself a little tired...okay, a lot tired :)


What did you make today?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Proposal

My friend Elyse has a very cool 14-year-old stepdaughter whose room needs a little re-do. Elyse wants to somewhat surprise her with new art for above the bed and invited me to do it (way cool). Not one to mess with the strong opinions of teenagers, I decided to start with a proposal and go from there. 
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I was given her likes: red, black, giraffe print, Audrey Hepburn. This is my proposal: 
She has a queen-sized bed with a black headboard, so I wanted black to be the accent and not the dominant color on the art piece(s). To have the art be in scale with the bed, I envisioned three 11 by 14 inch pieces. As you can see, I have given her a starting point for options so that she can either agree or disagree and not try to pull ideas out of the sky (that's my job!). I am anxious to see if she likes any of the above! In the mean time, I am getting ready to begin on an autumn-colored mixed media for an adorable baby named Mason and a blossom-covered tree for soon-to-be-born Ava Grace. 
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This is so much fun!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pretty Picture Post

I am currently between art projects, so I don't have much to show you studio-wise today. However I do have my most favorite photographs from this weekend:
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This one is for my mom, the ladybug lover: 
And I love these flouncy flowers--they remind me of ballerinas in their tutu's: 
This one nearly got us caught in a rainstorm, but I couldn't resist those bright white birds again the dark and stormy sky: 
PS: Blogger is being a little fussy today, so please excuse any large spaces or gigantic font!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Confection Collection

Introducing The Confection Collection! Of course, it all began with Cupcake Chic. My friend Beth purchased it for her adorable little girl Leah. Then the sneakies began! Beth's sister Rebecca commissioned me to make two companion pieces for the cupcake as a surprise. Due to the secretive nature (both ladies are blog readers;), I haven't been able to share the confection-making process in this space. Finally, the secret is out and I can show you what in the world I have been up to in the studio lately: 

Each of these is a 5 x 4 inch mixed media art piece AND each has my confection signature, a "sugary" framing :)
Thanks to Beth and Rebecca!!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Robot for Daniel

Here he is!  A robot for a very cool kid named Daniel. I was given lots of creative license on this piece--which was both fun and kinda hard. I knew that his new "big boy" room had lime green walls, so I chose a cherry red framing as a complement and went from there. Most of what you see is scrapbook paper that I deconstructed and then reconstructed in different areas and various layerings to make robot parts.
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His boots are my favorite!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sold!

I am ecstatic to report that both The Hummingbird and Just Plane Fun have sold! Yay! Even more exciting is that they sold to two different people, one of whom I don't even know--just a fabulously wonderful Etsy customer. 
In other shop news, I have just yesterday put the finishing touches on THREE custom orders--two companions for Cupcake Chic and a super-awesome Robot for a super-awesome little boy named Daniel. I can't wait to show you!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Barefoot Sunday: Proven├žal Potato Salad

I have been waiting for what seems like forever to have the time/patience to make this very beautiful salad (it's so pretty that it graces the cover of the official Barefoot Contessa cookbook). I finally made it on Monday after making its first ingredient (the French potato salad) the day before. I couldn't wait to try it! I even made it ahead and let it sit like you're supposed to. 
It was good. No more, no less. But please don't judge Ina--it is perhaps that our tastes are just not very French and just very much Italian. Despite being the one who prepared the salad, all through eating it I kept expecting the white bits to be mozzarella when instead they were boiled egg. In hindsight I should have taken it as a sign when the recipe said the eggs, alongside the anchovies, were "optional." Hmn...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weekend

I wish everyone a lovely weekend--either delightfully productive or restoratively unproductive! This everyday snapshot kind of image was inspired by the cool ladies at 3191 blog. The breakfast itself was inspired by my friend Amy (of course, I changed it a little ;). 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cardboard Barn


I found this really cute tutorial for a cardboard barn at RealSimple.com. Amelia had been talking about wanting a farm and the different animals she would have, so this fit the bill. Of course, we modified it a little to suit our personalities (and available supplies!). The most fun resource was a cork square (extra from a bulletin board). We used it for the roofing and then cut the extra pieces up and stacked them to make hay bales. Fun! After painting and drawing some details (painting, me; drawing, her) I let her cut up some string and glue it down for straw. Truth be told, I think I am more smitten with it than she is! 
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PS: If a barn isn't what you are after check out this cool cardboard theater from MyCakies!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Birthday

Today is my birthday and I was blessed with this sweet little cake from Jason and a present from Amelia that she decided on and picked out all on her own (a framed picture of herself for my desk at work). So precious! She also picked out the wrapping paper and plates/napkins for my "party" and they were so...well, me. How cute is that?! 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Selfish Baking

I did a little selfish baking this weekend. Why selfish, you ask? Well, I made what I felt like making and what I felt like eating, without asking the others what they'd like. I also made it in half-secret, not feeling quite up to the task of receiving "help" from my little one. In another selfish move, I ate almost all of them myself ;). 
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They were Soulemama's Coffee Crisps, only I added a generous dash of cinnamon. Delicious!!
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PS: If you live in a hot and humid climate, you will need to refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes before rolling it out. Otherwise you are left with a hot mess...literally. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

35:55

35 minutes and 55 seconds--my personal best time! Thanks to all of you for your support (especially those shout outs via blog comment!). It was a happy birthday present to myself. Yay :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Barefoot Sunday: French Potato Salad

"There are no good substitutions for dill," the knowledgeable and apologetic produce man said to me as I stared down the empty row where fresh dill should be. "You just gotta leave it out."  "Thanks," I said brightly. Brightly because it's not really his fault that my grocery store is sub-par. Oh well. I followed his sage advice and omitted the two tablespoons of dill. 
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Turns out that I love parsley and basil so much that I didn't know what I was missing. This potato salad was full bodied and delicious. Unlike American potato salad, and much like the Italian potato salad that I will share here another time, this recipe called for no mayonnaise. Don't worry--the olive oil vinaigrette does just fine. 
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I must confess...I made this only as a vehicle for an altogether different Barefoot Sunday recipe that uses this particular potato salad as a base. I am very excited to make it, as it's one of the "biggies" that I have always wanted to make. Soon, friends! 
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PS: Here is the recipe :). 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Just Because

The other day I found the softest, palest, prettiest carnations that I have ever seen. I bought the tiny bouquet for a just a tad bit more than I usually spend and put them in a teeny crystal bud vase by my bedside. Just because. It's the weekend--do something nice for yourself too, just because. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - Soulemama

Thursday, September 2, 2010

32, 5k

My 32nd birthday is next Wednesday. As a little gift to myself I have trained for a 5k run on Labor Day. I feel like finally, after years of running off and on, I have reached the point where I understand what in the world runners talk about when they say that running makes them feel better (and not worse). Sure, my legs hurt and my face is tomato red. Jason asked me quite seriously if I was ok last night as I tried to catch my breath and gulp water simultaneously (attractive, no?). 
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However, the turning point was on Sunday. I felt icky and a little fretful about no particular thing. So I ran. And then I felt better. Epiphany! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Takin' It Outside

As the weather becomes more and more bearable (dare I say there was a slight breeze the day before yesterday) we are trying to be outside more. We, and by we I mean Jason, cleaned the play set of cobweb residents and prepared the yard for playing this weekend. And play we did...for about 11 minutes...then it was too hot and we went inside again. Hey--baby steps, right?
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Since I had already met my sweat quota for the day (more on that tomorrow), I sat along the sidelines of an Amelia vs. Jason soccer match and did what I do: make stuff :). 
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PS: See that needle on the dish? Um, I dropped that somewhere between the deck stairs and the back door. Oh, the hazards of crafting...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Now I Get It!

I was quite a sight to see last night...sitting in bed with several knitting books, knitting ephemera, pattern printouts, and the laptop in my lap trying to discern this complicated (to me) paragraph in the sweater pattern. The good news is that once I figured out what the pattern was trying to tell me, the actual knitting was super easy. "Transferring to waste yarn" simply meant slip the stitches from one needle onto an extra piece of yarn instead of the other needle. This will "save your stitch spots" for later when it's time to use smaller needles to add sleeves (duh, makes total sense in hindsight). 
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I hope this inspires you to give something new a try. If I can figure it out you can too--and if you choose knitting and need help from someone just a few steps ahead just send me an email or comment. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yay!!!

Hurray! Word must have gotten out into the bird community about my pouty post from the other day.  We got an adorable family of red-winged black birds (I looked them up) on our feeder this weekend--and they're a family of three to boot! Poetic, no? 
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In knitty news, after some exercise and evening chores (a.k.a., slight avoidance) I am sitting down to tackle the very scary section of Amelia's sweater pattern. For better or worse, I'll show you what comes of it tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wild and Precious

It's all done--my submission to Melissa Crowe's Embroidereading Contest. This took quite a bit of time...true, I did work on it in snippets here and there, but in culmination it feels as thought I have been working on this forever. I am calling it Wild and Precious. 
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I have checked out a few of the other contestants and the competition is stiff! Too bad it's not done by community vote or I would be humbly requesting your participation ;)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekend Agendas: Lesson Learned

We had very high expectations for today: find a cool (and inexpensive) backsplash facade for our too-dark kitchen and maybe hit a few furniture consignment shops. Well, after several fruitless back-and-forth trips between hardware stores, home stores, home, and back out it was 2:00 p.m. and we were all tired, cranky, and coming up empty. 
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In an attempt to preserve the productivity of the day, since the laziness of the day was long over, we did take care of the lawn and wash cars. The house remains a mess but I am too weary from the day to think about it. Lesson learned: our weekends are for relaxing and hanging out--an agenda rife with expectation is sure to backfire!