Sunday, January 31, 2010

Barefoot Sunday: Blunders

Dear Friends, 
I am here to tell you that surely Ina's parmesan croutons are delicious when made appropriately. I am also here to tell you that if you turn your back on them, even for just a second to switch over the laundry, even if that second is within the given window of time in the recipe, they will burn: 
The scent of burn will also permeate through your kitchen, prompting those passing through the room to wonder, "is something burning?" Oh, well. 
In lieu of being upset, I ate chips and salsa and played play-doh with Amelia: 
Have a lovely evening everyone! ;0)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Items New, Old

I am excited to show you pretty items today! First, my friend Lisa surprised me with a spool holder for the studio. I love the look of all the colors in neat little rows, each spool the same, yet different. I am quite aware that I am one spool short of a full holder (ha, ha) and will remedy that soon enough my friends...
While I sorted through the lovely yellow sewing case that was my mother-in-law's and is now a treasure of mine, I stumbled upon these two vintage seam rippers: 
I just love their color! Together with the yellow case you can so clearly envision the heyday of their brand-new-ness way back when...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Weekending The Home

It's Friday evening and evidence of the week's hustle and bustle has been tucked out of view. The house isn't neat or clean by any means, but Amelia's backpack, lunch bags, work coats and the like have been moved out of sight so that the weekend can be enjoyed in full. We call this little but important family ritual "weekending," as in "to prepare for the weekend." 
Happy "weekending" and weekend to you! 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Have A Cupcake

We made some spontaneous cupcakes yesterday. Here's why:
  • For a large portion of the day I thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday (bummer). 
  • After a few days of not cooking due to excessive tiredness from work, I found that I really wanted to bake something due to excessive tiredness from work ;)
  • Likewise, it had been a few too many days since the black chair had been dragged into the kitchen.
  • And...wait, what am I even saying? Who needs a reason to make cupcakes?! Not us : ) 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pinkie: The Handmade Owl Puppet

Here was our little pink afternoon project. It was a true collaboration between the two of us in terms of design, with a little serendipity mixed in:
First, I sewed the button eyes and beak to the felt scrap. Then, I cut out the owl shape around it. I pinned it upside down to the wrong side of the pink floral fabric scrap and stitched around the sides and top. When I was turning it right-side out (with my hand inside to poke out the ears) Amelia said, "Yay! A Puppet!" My original plan was to make it a stuffed animal, but this was more fun and easier too!
The extra flap of floral fabric that was supposed to be the base of the stuffed animal became the tail end after I used pinking shears to create the right shape. Since I had time to spare now, with no stuffing to attend to, I stitched on some wings. And that was that! Fun, easy, no shopping needed and ready to play with in just under an hour (even faster if you know how to use your sewing machine ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Because We Need A Little Pink Around Here

There has been an awful lot of blue-colored crafting around these parts of late. Amelia and I decided  that we needed to do a fun, pink project:
We are impatient little crafters, the two of us.  So we began the project right away, using only the supplies we had laying around the house. We had no plan, pattern, nor directions. Stop by tomorrow to see what came of all this pink!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Snack-Time Reversal of Roles

We were having a little after-school snack today, Amelia's favorite white cheddar popcorn:

She sat there eating peacefully while I grabbed a few handfuls (seemingly unnoticed) as I puttered quickly around, emptying lunch boxes and sifting through the mail and such. She then took a pensive breath, stared at me with a mixture of concern and sternness and said, "You know, Mom, you really shouldn't eat handfuls of popcorn like that. You could choke."

Out of the mouths of babes. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Barefoot Sunday: Cream Cheese Icing and Shortbread Cookies

The baby shower was a delightful success! Lisa and her new baby-to-be have been properly showered with gifts of necessity as well as gifts of fun. Now, onto the food!
The cupcakes were frosted with Ina Garten's cream cheese icing. This recipe is so very simple and straight forward and yet a sure crowd pleaser every time. I will leave it at that. The shortbread cookies? They require a little storytelling...
I tweaked the recipe just a tad, subtracting the pecan (the original recipe is for pecan shortbread cookies), and instead drop the dough shapes into a mixture of raw sugar and cinnamon:
I use a small cookie cutter (about 1.5") and the resulting cookie is a sweet, delectable morsel of just the right size and flavor. Would you like to hear my special secret of how the cookies maintain their cutter shape? Once the cookies are baked and nearly cool, I cookie cut them again:
It sounds like an awful lot of work, and it can be if you are making a large quantity. I typically reserve this added step for when the cookie presentation is important (vs. just cookie eating, in which case who cares what shape they are!). The cookie packaging for the baby shower was yet another gem of an idea from the Inchmark blog--love it!
And, yes, if you noticed...these are indeed the cookies from my header picture. Well, half anyway. Maybe someday soon I'll tell you about the other half ;)
PS: Both the cream cheese icing and the shortbread cookie recipe come from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Monogrammed Argyle Hoop

Here is the nursery decoration for Lisa's baby boy! I am so excited to show you but I am even more excited to give it to her tomorrow: 
Now, for the details...the argyle hoop idea came from this christmas ornament tutorial at the So September blog. I love the idea of argyle for a little one, so I adapted it to the nursery colors of blue, green, and white. To personalize, I added his first initial monogram using a darker felt. 
Since this was a gift,  I wanted the back of the hoop to have a clean, finished look. I traced the inside of the interior embroidery hoop onto a piece of coordinating felt. I pinked and glued the fabric to the hoop as usual, but then used a curved needle to secure the felt backing to the fabric and tied the ends together: 
Much better. Now I am off to begin some baking fun for the baby shower...Barefoot Sunday will be dessert-based, decadent, and delicious tomorrow everyone!
PS: When I put the fabric into the hoop after ironing on the argyle shapes they spread apart about 1/4th of an inch. I used white thread to cover this little hiccup. You may find that if you use a sturdier fabric than I did (cotton) this won't be an issue. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

We Love to Read

I come from a long line of voracious readers. When I was little our home was full of books, magazines, catalogs, comics,--anything and everything you could get your hands on and read. I hoped for that same love of reading, or at least the easy opportunity for reading, to be available to Amelia. I think I bought books for her before I bought any actual baby gear and supplies!
Anyway, this all came together yesterday. She received her first magazine in the mail (High Five...sort of like Highlights Jr.) with sheer excitement and demanded that we drop everything and read it cover to cover right then (which we did). Then she went through it a second time narrating the pictures...something I love to hear her do; it's so cute. Since she was happily occupied I went to her room to grab her sheets for the laundry and this is what I found: 
Twenty-five books! I promise it didn't look like that many when they were still among the sheets and blankets.  I cringe at the thought of her sleeping with her face smashed against a book binding or two...or twelve. Still, I am so smitten with the idea that the love of reading continues along on the family line. Yay. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pretty Fruit & Progress

So if you remember, last week I posted that I was going to share about some fruit I found at the local market. I was on the hunt for those teeny crab apples...they were all out of those (bummer) but they did have "Pink Lady" apples: 
This picture doesn't do justice to how pink this thing was. And how cute is that name? I feel like it should be dating a Red Delicious with a leather jacket on ;)
What else did they have? Something called a "red lime," which bizarrely enough is not red at all. It is, in fact, bright orange: 
I must say that if you eat something that looks just like an orange but tastes like a lime it messes with your head a little.
And my progress on the baby shower gift? It's nearly done. Here's another sneak peek: 
Be well, friends!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Work In Progress

This is a sneak peek at a project I started for the baby shower I am hosting on Sunday (Lisa, stop reading!).  I did purchase a few things (some registered for and some not ;), but I just couldn't stop myself from making a little something for the nursery...stay tuned...
I must say, too, that the craft-blog world is an inspiring and amazing resource. If you are planning any kind of party, check out the Inchmark blog...look under categories and then parties--wow (Um, Lisa, don't look at that either....hee hee). 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Little Housekeeping

Hello friends! As you might have noticed, there has been a bit of an update around here : ) Back in the fall I was excited to be the winning bid on a silent auction for the Claire and Benson Project The item was a blog re-design by a company called Smitten. Over the last few weeks, two very nice and patient ladies named Heather and Kate have helped me turn my vision into reality and I thank them very much!
In other housekeeping news, I have been doing a good bit of spring cleaning around here. The editor of Real Simple magazine, Kristin Van Ogtrop, once blogged that the way to get things done around the house is to throw a party (thus giving yourself a cleaning deadline). Over time I have found that to be quite true. So, the baby shower I am throwing for my friend Lisa on Sunday has given me just the little push I need to do yucky, annoying deeds like vacuum the blinds and dust the china cabinet. Ew. But then it will be time to decorate for Lisa and her baby boy and I will feel so much better!

Monday, January 18, 2010

His Scarf is Done! In Time For Sun?

That's right. Just as soon I attached the last tassel and proudly presented Jason with his very own hand-knit scarf the weather became unseasonably warm. He nicely modeled for pictures anyway...after the four of us went on a lovely short-sleeved-shirt-wearing walk around the neighborhood:
Where we saw plentiful sunshine and some animal friends soaking it up: 
And during which I pretended springtime was just around the corner...nice :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Barefoot Sunday: Of Marriage and Mac 'n Cheese

Creamy or baked and crunchy? Cheddar, velveeta, or a gourmet mixture of cheeses? What will it be? The way you prepare macaroni and cheese seems, to me, to be one of those pivotal decisions when you are first married; akin to those like: will we open one present on Christmas eve or are we a dog family or a cat family?
Jason comes from a very creamy mac 'n cheese household, whereas mine was cheddar-baked and crunchy. I decided to combine the two, with a little help from Ina Garten's Grown Up Mac and Cheese recipe. I used only cheddar and omitted the basil. The result was a very yummy bacon-topped casserole with just enough crunch for me on the surface and just enough creaminess in the center for Jason.
Now we know what Amelia's macaroni and cheese is ; ) 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

One Small Change Update: Slowing Our Roll

I thought it appropriate to give a little update on our One Small Change progress, since we are at the mid-point for January. I am proud to show you this next picture: 
This paper towel roll is the very same roll we opened at the beginning of the project. That's right--two weeks in and we're still on the very same roll. Don't get me wrong, other people may see this and be less than impressed. For our family? This is huge. 
A few ideas helped this process along. For one thing, I put a bunch of dish towels in an empty clementine box right next to the paper towels. That way I could catch myself as I reached, on auto-pilot, for a sheet. Another? I took the select-a-size idea to a whole new level by ripping up the small sheets into even smaller sheets:
If you would like more information on One Small Change, just click the button on the right. It's never too late to start!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jason's Scarf: Frozen Deadline

The deadline for me to complete Jason's scarf is, essentially, as soon as I can get it off the needles because this boy needs a scarf--it's cold out there! 
Before I head off into the evening, yarn in hand, I wanted to show some pictures of just how cold it is...even in Florida. 
Outdoor Table Ice:
Grill Cover Ice: 
PS: I love how the ice on the black grill cover looks like outer space! And the tiny rips look like shooting stars. So pretty!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Studio Bits: Sentimental Fabric Hoop Display

I have seen on various craft blogs the use of embroidery hoops as fabric displays (so pretty). I especially love when there are all different sizes of hoops hung together, displaying coordinating, special, or favorite selections. 
I really like the idea of incorporating bits of my personal history and treasures into my creative maternal grandmother's porcelain flowers, my mother-in-law's sewing case, etc. I meshed those two thoughts together with a few hoops. One displays a pretty scrap of a nightgown that my paternal grandmother (my Italian Nonna) made for me when I was about eleven. The other (shown below) is a cutting from the pajamas my mom gave me to wear in the hospital after giving birth to Amelia: 
I fitted the fabric into the hoop drum-tight, used pinking shears to trim it down, and then put a little craft glue on the inner hoop to secure the fabric inward (this method was adapted from Melissa Crowe's blog Checkout Girl).  Here's a picture of the finished it was being "staged" for photography by Amelia: 
Coming up soon in The Makings of Every Day? A Jason's Scarf update, some frozen pictures and exotic fruit pictures, a little cooking, AND a status-check on my One Small Change paper towel use. Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Studio Bits: Wrapping Paper Book Covers

Isa is home! She's a little worse for the wear (as is our bank account) but she is home and on-the-mend, barking at the neighbors no less : ) Phew! Onto business...
Jason and I went to the same middle school and high school one year apart. This means we have a bizarre assortment of yearbooks from those schools, some duplicates and some not. 
Since many of the items that came out of the original closet had to be put back in for storage purposes I knew I had to figure something out for the unattractive assortment: 
Since these are school books, after all, I thought it appropriate to make paper book covers (learn how here):
Because it was for my creative space, I wanted those book covers to be both pretty and relatively neutral in color. While shopping at Target for the storage containers I came across two pretty, yet similar, rolls of silver paper. Yeah! Now the yearbooks are back in the space, but in a more uniform and pleasant looking (at least to me) manner :)
PS: For this project, I was very careful to only apply tape to the wrapping paper and not to the books to prevent any sort of future damage from the adhesive! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Making It Through

Isa made it through surgery today and is having to spend the night at the vet's office to fully recover and essentially "prove" to the vet that she is healthy enough to go home tomorrow (cross your fingers!). Thanks to all who have been thinking of her/us. 
I want to leave you today with just a few pictures. First up, in response to Nicole's comment the other day, I started to "break in" the studio immediately. This is an early picture. Soon, if all goes as usual, you won't be able to see the table top: 
Second, an outtake from Sunday's post. Man, I love that dog. 
Third, a pretty picture just because: 
Tomorrow I will post about a little book-makeover that I did to pretty up the studio shelves. Until then!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Prayers for Isa, Please

I like to keep this blog a positive space for my own happiness, creating a place where I'd like to "be." But today I need your help, friends, in the form of prayer for my tiny doggie. She will need to have surgery tomorrow to remove an obstruction caused by her mischief in eating various inedible things :(
Jason is picking her up from the vet now, so that she can spend the night at home (at our request) before returning for surgery tomorrow. We are very scared and she is in pain. So, I ask please for your thoughts and prayers as I know many of you are pet lovers and will surely keep you in the loop tomorrow. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Barefoot Sunday: Ina Garten Roast Chicken

My favorite episodes of Barefoot Contessa are the ones taking place on a Friday night: where Ina lovingly makes a roast chicken for her husband Jeffrey, who drives for many hours to get an early start on the weekend with her. They are so sweet to each other...I just love it. You would think that I would make a roast chicken for just Jason and me, given the nature of my favorite episode. Alas, I did not...rather I made it for a small dinner party of close friends--who gave it an amazing review! Here are the tidbits: 
I couldn't find kitchen twine for sale at the grocery store; I found that if you ask nicely, the wonderful people behind the meat counter just give you some. Nice!:
The accompanying ingredients (besides the chicken!) are surprisingly few and not surprisingly flavorful: 
Beware! You will get to know your chicken very well while preparing it for roasting: 
All done! This was the best picture I could get, given that I had some hungry guests wondering why I was taking pictures of the food (ha--welcome to the blogging lifestyle!): 
The prep was simple and the result: juicy, tender, and flavorful. As a side dish I made another roasted vegetable torte, because one was simply not enough! If only there were leftovers this time ;)
PS: Both the Perfect Roast Chicken and the Roasted Vegetable Torte come from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Studio Reveal!

Ta da! Here it is, my guest bedroom closet turned studio. It has been a labor of love and I am so grateful to Jason for supporting the idea and supplying all of the heavy lifting. Would you like a tour?
The closet itself, as well as the studs behind it, are a little off-kilter. So, supreme virgo-style symmetry was unattainable. From up close (where I'll be) you can't really tell : ) 
The doors (touched-up with paint and given new knobs) are able to close, allowing the studio to be out of view as well as giving Amelia [immediate] access to her play kitchen:
Can you believe just a week ago it looked like this? Goodness! I'll do some specific posts next week about the little odds and ends. For now, I will relax and enjoy...oh, and start my search for an awesome studio chair ;)
PS: Tomorrow is Barefoot Sunday as well as my 100th post! Yowza--see you then!