Sunday, October 17

boo take two

I had such a fun time making my Halloween wreath (below), which I wrote about here, that when the Man's Sister requested one I gladly jumped in to another project.
She wanted hers to be a little different from mine and I was curious and excited to see how her idea would look. Instead of using printed fabric, the Sister decided she wanted black and purple tulle.  We bought a few rolls of sparkly black and purple and supplemented it with black felt, and matching solid tulle.

A word to the wise, beware of the sparkly tulle in rolls at Hobby Lobby.  That glitter is serious business.  Both the Man and I have been sparkling for a few weeks now. It looks like we've been to one too many of the clubs over in Columbus (you locals know what I'm talking about.)
The process was pretty much the same-- wrap wreath in felt
 cut fabric into strips and tie onto wreath.
This one was much fuller than my last.  I can only imagine this in pink for a little ballerina or princess themed room, or even in white for a pretty "snowy" effect.
Apparently. I wasn't the only one who loved the fluffiness of it all:
The final step was adding in some fun orange sparkles the Sister found in the floral section at Hobby Lobby.  It really made the whole thing pop and I lurve the way it turned out!
I think the Sister was pretty happy too.. but because I like her, I won't post the picture I made her take with her wreath as she was leaving for class.  (Sister, you're welcome! Don't hate me!) On another note, I have a few more projects in the works-- Mother Dear and I are planning a Halloween craft day and I can't wait to try out some of our ideas we've found out in blogland. Hopefully they'll be spooktacular.

Yes, I know. It was terrible.  But you smiled.... right?  Riiiiight?

Saturday, October 16

pickin' cotton

Hi friend,
It's been a while.
Sorry about the break--the Man and I have been really caught up in trying to get a few projects finished before the Holiday season sets in. (Yes, I realize it's October, but for our family, the Holiday craziness starts right after Halloween.)  We really want to have the kitchen and greatroom finished in time to have a mini-open house for our family and a few family friends before Thanksgiving festivities begin.  Add in the fact that almost every single weekend in October was booked plus we've both been knocking out a little overtime at work and you have two very busy nerdy birds.

Speaking of booked weekends in October, it's been craft festival season around here.  The 2nd of this month I had my first introduction to the amazingness that is the Cotton Pickin' Fair over in Gay, GA.  I wasn't really sure what to expect and suffice it to say: my mind was officially blown.  I went with the Man's mom and his sister and we had a blast. It was a gorgeous day that started off pretty chilly (which is rare around here) but soon the sun was out in full force and it was lovely. I think they grew a little tired of me constantly taking pictures of everything but there were so many inspiring ideas!  Prepare for lots of oohs and ahhs and saying "so pretty!"

The Fair is on an open field with lots of neat buildings throughout. 
 On one of the porches we saw some really fabulous repurposed furniture ideas. 
Planters out of old shutters
Headboard benches
A cute curio from an old windowframe-- it took all the willpower in the world to not break the Man's "no-more-furniture" rule. It was the perfect size for a nook in our new kitchen and I can always use more storage.  But I behaved, it was little pricey and I had to resist (see honey, I can be good.)
Shelves from ladderback chairs.  Overall, the prices were pretty decent ranging from about $30 and up-- not quite thrift store cheap, but if you aren't planning on DIY it's not bad at all.
Another booth had some really fun signs.  I think the vendor made them from 1/2 inch  plywood and vinyl/paint.  I loved the cheeky humor of these and the style and colors are right on trend.
Loved these large-scale frames
I actually laughed out loud at the brown-chicka-brown-cow one. 
And yes, the vendor did look at me funny.
I oohed and ahhed excessively when I rounded the corner and saw this booth.  Beadboard, fresh fun colors and mirrors. I heart mirrors. It was a little embarrassing how much I loved this stuff.  It's a little too cottagy for our home, but I think Layla at TLC might have done a happy dance.
The scale of this mirror was amazing-- I'd say it was about 3x3 if not more.
I've seen this idea in stores, but this is much better than the big box version & such fun colors!
another lovely shabby mirror with amazing details and distressing...
This vendor had a ton of antiques (which based on his prices, he wasn't trying to sell them.) but I loved the worn look of these repurposed candleholders
The buildings there had such character.  The worn metal siding made me think of our neighbors who have been using a lot of rustic materials in their renovations.
Inside another building, it was like a furniture showroom exploded.  I had to be kinda sneaky to take some of these, so pardon the poor lighting.
One of the final stops was this seller who makes custom cabinets-- we're talking dovetail construction here, but he had the prices to match.  Still--fun eye candy!
I had an awesome time and am looking forward to next year.  I picked up a few things, but I was trying to be fairly frugal because of all the other fun things going on in October for this nerdy bird (like an upcoming IKEA trip, Christmas in the South --another awesome craft festival, and the never-ending renovations!)  It was a great chance to get some Christmas shopping done and I can never turn down farm-fresh tomatoes. It did not disappoint and I had such a great time with the family.
 The Cotton Pickin' Fair is bi-annual and happens the first weekend in October and May.  However, I don't like to sweat-- and I'm sure in May it's going to be pretty hot.  I'll keep it as an October treat!

Friday, September 24

crowning glory, or royal pain?

We are nearing the tail end of our kitchen project-- we still have quite a few more things to do, but we're a little closer than we were when this picture was taken back in March/April of this year.

I've been trying to eliminate a few unecessary mini-projects from our kitchen to do list if we are to have any hope of a put together house by the Holidays.  I'm getting better about letting some of the details go, but this project I just couldn't shake. 

I wanted our cabinets to have crown moulding.  I just knew that crown moulding would distract from any painting snafus, cheesy countertops, or uneven walls.  It was such a huge part of my inspiration for this project and would make all the it had to be done.

Oh if only I knew... maybe we were making this harder than it had to be, but keep in mind that the Man and I are completely green when it comes to home improvement projects or building anything from scratch really...

My first thought was that we would just use liquid nails to attach a piece of regular crown trim and be done with it, but after a few consultations with the Dad-- it was clear that our plan just wouldn't do.  So what did we end up with?

Well, after two crazy long brainstorming sessions in Lowe's and Home Depot, the Dad and I had thought we had our plans figured out.  Let me warn you, the Dad and I are known a little for our "great ideas" and sometimes for thinking up projects that are neverending.  The Man will testify to that.

 Mix our little habit of "great ideas" in with a little extra dash of Type A and you have our trim.
We  built the trim from a 1x2, 1x4, crown, bed, and screen door moulding (not shown here). 
Lots of nail-gunning, liquid nailing, and hole-filling ensued.
Followed by 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of Black Suede and 2 coats of Polycrilic and you see our current product:
It still needs to be mounted, have holes filled again, and painted again.

I am learning so much from this.   So Very Much.

But it is going to look awesome
.... eventually
After I paint and patch for the umpteenth time...
 (if you were looking for the royal pain part of the title, whoomp there it is.)

Whatever, I love it and it WILL be awesome.  It looks awesome in our garage right now.  If nothing else, I can now say I know the joys of a pneumatic nail gun.  Oh, the joy!

Friday, September 17

a little craving

Tonight, I'm craving these:
Maybe because last game day weekend I made a few:
and by a few, I mean about 70 or so.

But no baking for me this weekend.. I still have a few projects to finish.  Like these:
And a little trim work:
And I am also gladly going to be on the Man's arm at a co-worker's wedding, do some laundry, clean the house, try out a new recipe, and maybe work in a little chill time.
At least the cats have their priorities straight
 (see Inari in the background, along with some of my paint sampling, and our ratty hand me down couch that is hanging in there until I find our perfect couch at the perfect price.)

Happy weekend!

Monday, September 13

fabric, sparkles, and an early boo

I was clicking around through a few different blogs last week (hurrah for days off work!) and ran across an idea that I couldn't pass up.  Linda over at Burlap&Blue had created a pretty beachy chic wreath out of linen and drop cloth scraps. 
I had been trying to dream up a cute Halloween wreath that would show up against our already dark door without being too cutesy and this seemed like the perfect fit.  A quick trip to the Dollar Tree landed me a wreath base and sparkly "Trick or Treat" which inspired a lot of the color choices for my fabrics. The only supplies I needed were the wreath, my "Trick or Treat" sparkle, a pair of scissors and fabric.

I felt bad for anyone behind me at the Hobby Lobby fabric table as I gathered the remnants I could find and had a ton of .25 yards cut.  I was lucky enough to find a remnant of black felt for $2 and clearance metallic tulle for $2 a yard.   Overall my Hobby Lobby trip was around twenty bucks but I picked up some scrapbooking supplies as well.  Back to the project at hand... my fabric:

I picked out a few fun patterns that were bold and a little cheeky, plus the black sparkly tulle and 2 yards of purple tulle (which is a little difficult to see but was only about $2 a yard.)

I started by wrapping the wreath in felt by cutting long strips and weaving it between the grapevines.  I used smaller strips of felt to help secure it around the wreath without having to use hot glue or any other adhesives.
I used the leftover black felt to set starting points for my other scraps. Cut everything into one inch strips and started tying.  It might have been cuter with pinking shears but mine have been MIA for years, so straight-ish cuts would do since I wanted it to look kind of haphazard and messy anyway.
I watched cheesy television (on a well-needed day off work and while waiting for paint to dry- literally) while I tied all the scraps on the wreath, filling bare spots and fluffing as I went.  Overall, I would estimate about 2-3 hours of trash television with lots of interruptions to get to this point:
I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out and I'm excited to try a few more variations on it eventually.  I'm going to make a point to keep my eyes on the scrap/ remnant bins for future projects.
I think it's boo-tiful!

I couldn't resist. :)

Sunday, September 12

rollo delicioso

Okay, first off-- pardon my brutalization of the Italian language, but imagine this said with a mix of a Southern twang and near Mama Mia accent.  Funny, right?  I'm still giggling saying it out loud.  Rollo Delicioso!! Bringa mea mora!  I adora!

Okay.. enough of that, and on to the point of this post: I like to consider myself a decent cook and so far my work hasn't sent anyone to the hospital with food poisoning, so that's a good sign.  However, the array of things I can successfully cook is quite limited.  I can make some of the basics, but I've been wanting to expand my skills a bit.  I know I'll never be the type of cook like my grandmother was and I regret not taking advantage of our time together to learn how to make some of her showstoppers.   I loved Sunday dinners with her and even though I didn't always eat my veggies, I know her cooking brought our family closer. She was an amazing cook and made it seem so effortless.

For me, it won't be effortless or without it's share of failures but I am going to issue a challenge to myself (and anyone who wants to join me) to try and make something from scratch at least a few times a month.  I would be more stringent with the requirements, but yeah... life happens and sometimes a little wiggle room can be a good thing.

The Man and I both love Italian food, and I can rock out to some spaghetti and lasagna.. but I wanted to step it up and try a recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (you know, the red checkerboard one.. love it!).

It was for lasagna rolls.  I figured it was worth a try and simple enough I might could handle it on a work night.  The recipe called for ground turkey, but the Man loves his red meat so we substituted ground chuck instead.  Here was my starting point:

Lasagna noodles (I used about 8 so I could choose the pretty ones)
8 ounces ground chuck (browned with olive oil and "Italian seasoning")
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese

I started off by browning the meat with the finely chopped onion and cooking the noodles.  While that was going, I mixed the egg, cheese, milk and some seasonings.  Then I laid out the noodles on wax paper:
Spread the filling out on each one:
Rolled them up into a spiral and held my breath as I transferred it over to a Pam-sprayed 8x8 Pyrex dish:
Cover each with a heavy dose of pasta sauce and sprinkled the tops with Parmesan and some more
of our favorite "Italian seasoning":
And cook for about 30-45 minutes at 375 degrees and voila:
The Man loved it, and we've made it a few times in the past few weeks.
Hooray for another easy, but good dish to add to my limited repertoire.

Friday, September 3

crayfish cupcakes?

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Man's birthday wish list was pretty simple: crayfish & red velvet.  An odd pairing, sure.  But he loves it.  So, it has become a recent tradition to celebrate his day with some of his favorite dishes: a Cajun crayfish boil and red velvet cake.

Now, I'm no fan of crustaceans-- so I typically feast on the amazing seasoned potatoes, corn and whatever chicken concoction we bring for the picky eaters.  However, from what I can gather, the Man's family knows how to throw down when it comes to Cajun style cooking.  This year, they went no holds barred with 20 pounds of Louisiana crayfish and 10 pounds of shrimp that was shipped in a cooler from the great Cajun state. According to the Man, it was amaaazing.

The Man made quick work of his share, and we couldn't resist a birthday picture. 
It cracked us up at the time and I still giggle when I think of the care that was taken to properly place those three birthday candles and capture the moment before it all toppled into a flaming stinky mess.

When it came to the actual cake, I baked a batch of red velvet cupcakes and tried my hand at a little icing art, hence the title of this post.
As an aside, I tried out a new jumbo icing tip for the background frosting and love love love it!

Last year, I attempted to sculpt a crayfish out of fondant for his layer cake, and failed miserably.  This year, I stuck to piping, sugar pearls and sheer luck.
They didn't turn out perfectly but the idea is there.  If nothing else, it amused the Man when he realized he was getting crayfish cupcakes too!

We had a great time and I'm glad the Man had a good birthday.  Now if only I knew what to do with the other 10 pounds of crayfish in my freezer...

Thursday, September 2

a new look

I've been longing for fall weather for a while, and we recieved our first reprieve this week with our first day below 90 in ages.  I don't want to jump the gun because I know in the South we could easily be feeling Summer heat until December.  I'm still going to relish the few almost-coolish breezes and hope for sweater weather. :)

I was also inspired to update my blog a bit and will hopefully post a bit more over the next few weeks.  I have a ton of projects I need to finish and even more pictures I've yet to post.

Sunday, August 29

cabinets: organized!

After a slight delay (something to do with the Man, the lawnmower, and our severe lack of cable connection)
here is where we stand with our kitchen cabinets:
No, I don't have doors.  But I do have a home for most of our kitchen stuff.

We were able to seriously conserve space thanks to some thrift store/yard sale finds.. and LOTS of purging!

Meet our pantry.  It can't compare to some spaces, but it has Milano cookies so I can't complain.
Also note nosey kitten #1 on the far left of the shot.

Not to be outshone, it's hard to miss nosey kitten #2. Loki couldn't let Inari steal the spotlight again. 
This was right before he attempted to squeeze in between the packed shelves.

I still have to find homes throughout the house for all my baking accouterments, cake plates, and serving dishes.  I'd also like to establish a place for stock up foods.. but all will come in time.  I should probably focus on getting those blasted doors finished first.