Saturday, December 31, 2011

Projects I never posted in 2011

I have been noticing that all my favorite craft blogs have been posting year end reflections on their favorite projects of the year.  I suppose if I want to claim my rightful place in the craft-blog-dom I should do the same. Since I have only really been posting consistently for half of 2011, I thought I would take a different route.

Projects I didn't post.

There are various reasons I didn't post things, but the main reason is that I haven't gotten into the habit of taking photographs along the way.  Here are some photos I took of projects I finished, but didn't do step by step process photos of to do a tutorial (like my tutorials are any good anyway!)

The cuddly quilt

 I bought this quilt set to make a quilt for my cousin's baby. A year later I decided that now that I was FINALLY getting around to making the quilt, I should do a product review. Well... these are the pictures I took..... yeah, totally review worthy. What I can tell you is that my ability to guess how large something is when the size is written in centimeters is really poor, this was way smaller then I expected. Also I don't know why they used this plush fabric that you can't iron in a quilt. especially when the directions specifically say to iron all the seams. I singed the plush, then got a facing cloth to use. Did the directions say to use a facing cloth? Maybe, who can remember, but why even include fabric that can't be ironed?
Singed cloth
Oops, apparently I took less photos then I realized.... as this is the only project I can find where I took any!

Crafting related New years resolutions.

1. Remember to take photos of projects. (I've gotten better in the past weeks)
2. Update you on wedding crafts.
3. learn an easy way to watermark photos, since I should be doing that I hear.
4. Create a sign off name, because I love it when the rebel crafter signs her posts. I feel like i was just smacked in the face with a project. 
5. Update more frequently.

Have a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wedding Stress Resolved(ish)

Remember that time when I said I got engaged? You know how I promised to share wedding stuff?
Yeah, sorry about that.

Since getting engaged I relized something about myself.......   Planning weddings is not my thing. 

I don't think it's my fault. I am just not a details person. I can throw a kick ass party, but things like decorations? Come on, I'm surprised I remember that I have things like serving dishes to put food out on. There is also the fact that my mom is not that kind of person either. You know how much planning she put into her own wedding? She went with her mom to the bridal salon to pick the dress out.  And by pick the dress out I mean she was the body it was on. (Okay, exaggeration? Maybe, but my point is its not her thing either.)

Now, this lack of caring about details would not be that big of a deal if I had people around me that were willing to help in a way that was actually helpful.  Or if I wasn't getting conflicting stuff from both sides about my levels of enthusiasm.

Examples? Okay:

My family knows this isn't my thing, so the way they deal with it is by asking me NOTING for months, then jumping down my throat when I don't know about something I should have planned months ago. Oh, was that important for me to do by now? Maybe you should have said something. All the wedding guides say send save the dates at 6 months, but 2 months in I was getting emails wondering if I was EVER planning on letting anyone know when the wedding was going to happen. Shesh. OK sorry I am delaying your planning of your trip to Cabo in 14 months.

M's family, sweet and interested as they are are constantly asking me how things are going with the planning, and then are disappointed that I have no updates, because I... you know.... still have a non-wedding life that I deal with most days, and don't wedding it up every day. They then precede to tell me about their wedding, or so and so's wedding and how beautiful the monogrammed napkins were.... wait, I have to monogram napkins? huh? and I leave feeling very flustered about what it is I need to be doing.

Also, what is the deal about keeping every detail a secret? I have never tried on wedding dresses before, so needing help knowing what looked good on me I posted a picture of a wedding dress on facebook to get an opinion. Within an hour I get a phone call from my grandmother who doesn't even have facebook saying that the family is in an uproar that I am ruining all the surprises. I asked who it was, and it was all people who I don't know well enough to put on the guest list. And I wasn't even considering buying that dress. 

How do you balance that with people wanting to know every last detail of how I decided on which color was my accent color?

I was starting to feel like I must be the only person who feels this way, especially after reading blog posts about what exactly you should do with yourself now that you no longer have a wedding to plan. (sleep? catch up on paperwork from your job?)

Then something magical happened. I got an email from amazon thanking me for my order. I didn't remember that I ordered anything, so I logged on, to see what it was, and sure enough, A Practical Wedding the book, which I had pre-orderd for my Kindle came out, and downloaded to my e-reader.

This book is EXACTLY what I needed. I am not even half way through it, and I feel like I have already reached my wedding zen. None of it matters. With this new found OK-ness about my non wedding minded-ness I can now sit down and look at the wedding things that I have frantically shoved in the corners of my life.  I have booked everything I needed to book, because I had to, but now I can sit down and really think about how it all works together. Now that I know that I wont remember the details so it is -dare I say it- OK that I am not obsessed with them I can look at table cloths and centerpiece vases without that impending sense of doom that I had which said "this will not be perfect and everyone will think you failed as a bride."

So now I am going to go into my back room, and see if I can get all my info in one place, so I can start telling you what I am doing, even though planning a wedding is so not my thing. And now I know that is OK.

Until next time.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Yellow rose of Texas

So, this weekend (Nov. 4)  I went to the Settlement house garage sale at the event center. Yes, today is Christmas. I know that. I am writing this post on the 7th and scheduling it, because of the sensitive nature of my purchase. 

 Why is this so sensitive you might be wondering? You buy china all the time you might be thinking. Well, these are special because my soon to be sister-in-law saw these at the garage sale, went gaga over them, and then walked off. Naturally I had to buy them.

OK, let me explain.

My family is not very into the whole "Christmas presents are a surprise" thing. In fact, we basically just tell each other what we want. I have even gone so far as to go into my Dad's amazon account and order my gift for myself (with permission, and now I have a kindle.) Why did my parents instill this in me? NO IDEA! I really have no issue with the status-quot in my family. We always get what we want, and we always know the other person will like what we bought them.

Last year I tried getting my dad a totally thoughtful gift, that he didn't ask for. I identified a need (he didn't know how to get back to the TV when my brother left his Xbox on.)  Researched products and found a solution in the form of the Logitic Harmony remote. I even read reviews to pick the model that he would like best. It took THREE weeks for him to bother figuring out how to set it up, and then it still took him TWO months to admit he liked it and it improved his life. Why? He didn't ask for it.

M's family thinks the whole point of Christmas is the excitement of picking out a gift and not knowing if the person will like it. Or even want it. I guess they keep track of receipts.  Not only is that so NOT how I operate but even after all this time, I still don't know some of them very well. I'm basically just guessing here. I know his sister pretty well, but when she said OOOOH look, I had to pounce. I created a huge diversion, then told her that the contents of my brown bag was the decanter M had been eying, and not to tell him (you would have bought that too.) I think she even went back for it, a little after we first saw it she said she thought she might go buy it.  It was gone.

I wanted to get some info for you about this set, but I really could find nothing! Here is the back stamp......

As you can see this set is really funny, with different sized cups, saucers, and even a handle-less cup. This is all the info I could find online:

Windsor was produced by the Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd Crown Windsor Pottery, Longton.  Staffordshire Potteries with different printed marks from 1946 to early 1960's. They also produced Clarence bone china.

Have a swell Solstice! 

Afew days before christmas we found this:

A buffet? Who cares?
This is the thing Max's sister wanted more then anything! we found it for $50.00. Need more hints?

OH, a Hi Fi!
Yes, we found a beautiful functioning stereo Hi Fi at an estate sale the weekend before christmas for $50.00 and it even had the original warranty in it. So we loaded it up with christmas records and gave the best gift ever. Now we need to find one of our own.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Build Your Own Adventure Chili

Better Homes and Gardens put out a magazine all about soup recently. I told M that I would really love to only eat soup from here until New Years Eve. It probably won't ever happen, but I started today.

One of the first recipes is called Make-it-mine Chili. Basically it tells you how to build a bowl of chili, telling you where you can customize the recipe. I like it, because it reminds me of those make your own adventure books, and I am always doing this anyway for M.  Another cool thing is they give you suggestions about what to fill in. I can't tell if they are just suggestions to get your mind working, or combinations that are well known.

Here is my take on the recipe.

  1 1/2 lbs of meat                    3 cups chopped vegetables               4 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil.                        2 15oz cans of beans rinsed and drained
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes drained                                                  1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 cup liquid                              2 Tbs Chili powder                           1tsp dried herb
1/2 tsp black pepper                 desired topping

Options that can be played with. My choices are red.
Meat                       Beans                   Liquid                 Dried Herbs                Vegetables
Boneless                 Black                   Beer                     Thyme                         Onion         Potatoes
   beef chuck           Pinto                    Water                    Oregano                      Green Peas     Corn
Beef stew meat      Garbanzo              Beef Broth           Italian seasoning      Small Broccoli Tomatoes
Ground beef           Cannellini             Apple Juice         Basil                            Celery        Zucchini
Ground Pork          Kidney                  Chicken Broth                                         Carrots  Sweet Peppers
                                                                                                                              Green Beans
In a large dutch oven brown veggies and meat. Drain fat. I like to make sure the veggies are well on their way before I add the meat. 
Like that camp oven? Yeah, me neither. I can't wait for someone to get me an enameled Le Cruset so I only have to deal with cleaning this thing at the beach.

Then I add the meat.
Notice how the meat is all broken up here and not just thrown in in one hunk? I'm not trying to be insulting when I say this. Break the meat up before you put it in. Just trust me. I speak from years of experience, it cooks faster.  Just do it.

Then add beans, (I only used one can) tomatoes, (I used waaay less tomatoes then this) tomato sauce, liquid, herbs and chili powder, and pepper.
It's gonna start smelling really good if you used beer like I did.  Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20min.
I like to eat chili with Fritos and cheese. I could have added diced onions, but I didn't. You can top this any way you want.  M loved it, but didn't like that there was tomato.

Happy eating!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Product Review- Can Opener

 My local grocery HEB Sells this little number for $3.00

It's a pretty good deal when you think about the fact that you don't have to do more then put it on your shopping list. The problem is that this thing doesn't work AT ALL after the first time.

I mean is it too hard to ask for something to start cutting open a can even a little bit after the third or 4th time you latch it on? I really don't think so. Also the arms come off. Yeah. They come off. Right at that little seam. I thought that my first one was messed up by Max putting it in the dish washer, but now that this one is completely messed up I know that there is no reason to buy this piece of junk.  I should have taken my $6.00 added a few more, and gotten a good can opener somewhere else.

Don't buy this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Apartment Redo

(minus before pictures.)

So the condo is the biggest fix up project that I have ever done in my life. The problem is that I didn't take any pictures before we started. There are a few reasons for this; the biggest of which is that I was technically not living in the condo when the "remodel" began. This meant that I often showed up and... surprise! No carpet.

So humor me and when you are looking at these pictures imagine what it looked like with off white walls. You know, the kind that were once white. And on those walls imagine there is the ghost outline of pictures that were once hanging on the walls for 10+ years. Add to that mauve carpet with strange stains, and what I like to call anti-stains: white spots where the wrong cleaner was used.

Now we moved into the condo after M's grandmother moved out, and I never saw what it looked like when she lived in it. I met M right as she was moving out. By all accounts it was probably very nice, but when we got there it just was not working.

Living room, view by the door.
 When we first moved in my friends commented that all the furniture we had was mine, and did max own ANYTHING before we met? Truth is, looking at this picture the only thing I brought in were the mirror and book cases.  The couch is from the Cindy Crawford collection and is microfiber. DO NOT GET MICROFIBER!!! Yeah, it cleans easy enough, but it holds onto dirt and animal hair like nobody's business. The chairs are from a college friend that moved to china and had to sell everything she owned. Coffee table is from an estate sale, and has wings that expand! Notice that brown wall? I added that to create the illusion of depth, and hide a big crack in the wall.

View by the closet.
 Ottoman is from Before I discovered the estate sale. I still like, it, and it stores extra throw pillows and blankets. This is super useful when you live someplace small.  That white bar above the window will be a valance someday.  Brown, to play off the wall.

Dining room.
Check out that wood floor! Installed ourselves.  This room is kind of strange. We have no place to store that bike ever since the complex sent us a nasty note about having it on the porch. The table belonged to Max's grandma, but she took most the chairs. That china cabinet (which I have mentioned before) is huge, but we like it, and that printer is because we don't like to be trapped in the back room to do work.

 We have a tiny kitchen. it used to have horrible linoleum, off white cabinets and gold knobs. I painted the cabinets a new white, and added black knobs. I don't know why, but it reminds me of Betty Boop.  Oh yeah, I also ripped the doors off the top cabinets and tore out the center shelf. Much more useful this way. We also put down some sticky tiles.

 Check out those sweet art deco shakers.

Hallway! The tan keeps everything nice and light so the walls don't close in on us. I would show you more, but our clean bathroom looks dirty the tub is so stained.  Not to mention the other two rooms are horribly messy, and my vacuum broke while cleaning the house today which made me loose steam.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mix Matched China.

 My love of China has reached its natural conclusion (I think.) I have decided that I will be buying any old china I find that I like and creating a set out of that. Eventually.  Martha says it's okay.  I found this piece at an estate sale the other day for $10.  No back stamp, but it is pretty so who cares.

This is not going to be a part of the random mix matched set, but matches my wedding china (that I will have...... in 7 months.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

1940s China

M's Grandmother has been on a getting rid of stuff binge. She got rid of her china cabinet that was in the "fancy" dining room that M was never aloud in as a kid.  

We have it. 
In our tiny condo.
  It is totally awesome.

  Since she is down a china cabinet she is also getting rid of it's contents.  She gave M's parents a set, is keeping two (this is in addition to her everyday set y'all) And had this one set that she was thinking about, all over the dining room table. She told me she was thinking about selling it on ebay, or through an antique dealer, but would need to clean and photograph everything. Pain in the butt right? Word of advice.... don't ever tell me cool old stuff is up for grabs. 

Bam! Hellz to the yeah!

So now I have this awesome vintage set of china.  It was the wedding china of M's great aunt Beck, who like my great aunt Buzzy married late in life and had no kids to take awesome stuff like this off her hands. The insane thing is.... There is more of this stuff. She gave us a set of 8, and had almost another complete set leftover that she is planning on selling. 

Q if you are reading this, I have 2 extra cups and saucers that I need to give back to you.

 Naturally I got interested. There are all kinds of stamps on the back of these, (which I did not photograph) so I looked up the maker and pattern.

That tiny little saucer with a lip up top? A fruit bowel. It goes with the brunch plate.
 These were made by Theodore Haviland, a french company. The interesting thing is that the Haviland China Co. was founded by David Haviland, a New York importer of British china.  He went to France after being asked by a costumer to find a replacement of a french teacup.  He was so impressed by the quality that he decided to begin importing french china. But the styles of the french were not popular in the USA, so he moved to France and started his own company. This was all in 1839.

 My Pattern is called Ganga and I am finding some conflicting info about how old it is. One person selling it says it is from between 1903-1925 Just going by back marks it could either be from 1920-36 or 1925. I know M's aunt got married in the early 40s, so who is to really say.

The cool thing is these are in INSANE good condition. And they have that see-through quality when you hold them up to the light that bone china gets. My research says this is not bone china but a very rare pure white clay called Kaolin that is used in french china.

 Those divots in the platters are for pooling meat juice. I guess that is something that never took off.

<-------Someone online is trying to sell this covered bowel on ebay for $280. Good lord. now I feel bad for accepting these.

Well I hope my excitement has rubbed off on you. I'm glad my china researching skills I acquired while registering for the wedding has been put to good use. Who knew plates could be so cool.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Things That Pour

My mom pointed out to me that I have a problem.

I keep buying things that pour.

I really don't know why. After she pointed it out I caught myself trying to buy another teapot. Maybe it's because the formal china I registered for says it has a tea pot, but I can't FIND IT ANYWHERE to register for it! Anyway. I thought showing off my very small (I swear) collection I might come to terms with it.... or go buy more.

 This was my first set. It started it all. One day when I have a back porch I will serve iced tea out of this to my friends. While I am wearing a floral circle skirt and a button down white cotton blouse. and we are all eating cucumber sandwhat.....? Oh.... Hi.

 OK, I take offense to this being a problem. This is that AMAZING Mexican blown glass that you can't get just anywhere! I needed a Margarita set. Don't judge me.

 Isn't this set the most darling thing? And have you noticed I have a hard time always getting things that have a full set of six glasses. Whatever, It's not like I have six friends..... that are all free at the same time.  BUT this is a blue and white Asian pattern. Just like, the same as Similar to my soon to be china pattern. Yeah. Worth it.

Ok, so I bought the amber decanter set one day, love them, think they are the best thing ever. M NEVER wants to use them! So we come across this crystal set for $20 and he just HAS to have it. Never mind that we just registered for 3 different decanters.  I swear, it is not just me. Case in point:

 WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? Again, not my fault! I don't even know what to do with this. I suggested we give it away for Christmas, not that anyone would want it.  He said no.

Shesh. I just realized I missed a few.  There is always another day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Estate Sale Art

Earlier this year M and I discovered a new love while taking a walk in our neighborhood.  Estate Sales!

I have always LOVED old things.  No Joke. I am the person that cannot turn down something that someone offers me.  Unfortunately I don't have any space to re-purpose anything in our current living situation, so estate sales offers the perfect solution. Almost everything at estate sales are still totally nice looking. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of old junk at estate sales that can be messed around with, but for now, nice is better. 

For  my first installment in this series I want to focus on Art.  There is lots of scary, disturbing, expensive, ugly, interesting art to be found at estate sales. From original works priced in the thousands to naked dwarfs.  Here are some pieces we couldn't walk away from.

 This pair was found in a wonderful house/ design studio in the city. It was a cool little narrow building with living quarters on top, and even a little courtyard with a lap pool. There was so much glass art there that I just loved, but alas, it was one of those "they want what for that?" places.

 I have no Idea why M wanted this. I imagine one day it will go in a stuffy man den with leather chairs. For now it is in our bedroom, where the colors match.

 Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE Art Deco? My whole wedding is practically Art Deco themed. I love this little piece, it is a valentine from the late 20s and eludes the the Irish tradition of women proposing to men on leap year! AND it is in an Art Deco frame!

 This was a pendant piece, but we only bought the one. It is way cool.

 This was our first estate sale find ever. It is painted silk, and authentically from Japan (or china?) The people who had it were very widely traveled.

 I love Pirates. M likes silly things. We had to buy these. I don't think these are really paintings.

Greek plates. Total random find. There was literally nothing else at the sale when we got there. got them all for like 20 bucks.

Next time, things that pour.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Its been awhile .....

.... Since I last..... posted to this blog. But I still fully intend to keep my section on the internet alive and running! A whole lot has happened since my last blog post 1 year ago today. Updates anyone?

It is my second year of teaching! woo! Now that I am older and wiser I hope to have more time to write about my creative genius. If this site goes dead again you can always check out what I am up to over at my school website. Which I am updating with renewed vigor now that my city has been named an "Any Given Child" city by the Kennedy Canter. What does this mean for me? My school district has created the Creative Classroom Initiative, which is their section of the Kennedy center program. My school is one of 4 pilot elementary schools that is working to integrate arts into the general classroom. We have all this grant money to do all of this stuff, and it will be great....... but it is slow going. If you want to know about it, I blog in depth about what we are doing on my school webpage.

I also got engaged! I have been trying to plan a wedding the past few months. expect some annoying wedding posts. It seems my life and interests are changing every day, but they are essentially staying the same. I still love all the things I always have, but now they are connected to weddings, and more parts of a house then just the craft room, and other crazy things I never cared about before!

New topics I will probably be exploring:
Estate sale finds (new love)
Re-Decorating and Organizing.
Buying a house?
Wedding Crap.
Art Lesson Plans (wait, is this new? I meant to start this last year... Oops.)
Things I have learned, done, and tips of the trade for other Art teachers (A how to? Maybe only useful for students and other newbies)
Scans of lesson plans form an old (experienced) Teacher (to share, because this job is hard enough without being greedy little hoarders.)

I'll leave you with some cute scans that can be used for free time this Halloween season.