Friday, September 30, 2011

friday fixations

{tattly} I'll be totally honest. I'm really not into tattoos. It's not that I don't like them. I think they're fine. But I'm just such a terrible flip-flopper that I could never commit to something as permanent as a real tattoo. I'd love it the first year, but by year two, I'd definitely regret my decision and wish I had picked something different. So I really quite like these tattoos from Tattly. They're cute and stylish and different and temporary.

{sleeping beauty's paris apartment} I wish I could find larger, hi-res photos of this amazing treasure chest -- and more of them, actually. The story goes that a woman left her apartment in Paris before WWII, and never returned but dutifully paid the rent over all of these years. She recently died (at 91!) and hence her secret apartment was found. The story mostly revolves around a famous artist's painting BUT I'm more interested in viewing the apartment's decor and her other 'regular' things. Anyone who owns a stuffed ostrich has GOT to have far more amazing things than just one singular painting.

{amy poehleroids} Oh Amy, you're the best.

{vintage jewelry boxes} We stayed at mom's house for a good chunk of our vacation and she had the most amazing jewelry box in the guest room. Some vintage red and gold find she picked up for pennies at a thrift store in town. I remember her getting it and I remember I kinda liked it okay, but I left it with her since I don't have a dresser or anything on which to put a jewelry box. If I'm being totally honest, it was more in my 'meh' feelings category. But once I saw it filled, it totally flipped a switch in my brain and now all I can think about is going to thrift stores and looking for boxes. (I have to vent about this suede travelling jewelry box I found on vacation. It didn't have a price on it and once I got to the counter, I found out that the store's new policy was to send everything back to get repriced and then put on display to be resold another day. I am so mad about that. SO. MAD. It was AMAZING. It had spots for everything from necklaces to rings and it had a little snap clasp so you could just grab it and throw it in a bag for vacationing and all it needed was a little cleaning. That's about THE worst sin a thrift store can commit. Taking a find away from you. I'm also rather mad I didn't demand to speak to the manager.)

{food photography} I guess it's no surprise that I love this subject, but I extra love it when it's done a little differently like these fab photos (the mushroom and radish photos and all of the little food vignettes are my faves). I wish I were more of an artist...

{tulips} Finally the bulbs are out! We got a boat load of frilly pastel peony tulips and some manly black Queen of the Night tulips. As a tip, it's much easier to plant them if you dig a large enough trench for all of them at once. It seems like more work, but it helps a lot in spacing and arranging (also fingers crossed our annoying mystery digging animal doesn't root them up). If bulbs are still available when things go on sale, I might get some alliums and galanthus, too (although I have no idea where I'd put them!).

{plant paintings} Wow. That's so neat! Isn't that neat?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DIY: wrapped feather gel pens

I got this idea from Design Sponge's feature on making your own old fashioned feather pen. I really did intend to do it completely the way indicated, but then I found myself in the dollar store face to face with a bag of multi-coloured feathers for a buck. It kind of excited me because if I bought them, I wouldn't have to go about dying my own feather AND they were only a buck. For a whole bag!

Then I scrounged around for pen refills. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any (you'd think a dollar store would have that), but I did find cute miniature gel pens for a buck. I thought my feather pen idea would be so much cuter if I used pens to match the feather and oh, the rainbow-y coloured cuteness that would ensue!

Until I got home, cut into my first feather, unscrewed my first gel pen and realized the feather was too small and the gel pen too thick. The pen wouldn't go into the feather as instructed in the original DIY. Bummer.

At first, I was going to drive all over town looking for feathers to fit the gel pens and if I'd have to, I guess I could buy some proper pen refills. Until I had a little brain storm/dream revelation that night about wrapping them with some thread to keep the pen on. And hence was born the wrapped feather gel pen!

There are a lot of feathers to choose from, so try to pick one with the thickest and longest quill (that's the long non-feathery part). Cut the tip off, then use a sharp blade to cut half of the quill away. Basically, you want to cut enough out so the pen fits as flat to the feather as possible.

It doesn't take very much force to cut it, but it's best to work at it incrementally. It'll hold up to some pretty good jabs, but it's still delicate.

Keep referencing your pen to make sure you've cut enough. I also cut the end off my gel pens just above where the air bubble was to make them a little shorter.

I used a binder clip to hold the two together while preparing and starting the string.

Measure out a lot of embroidery thread. Maybe more than you think you need (it's better to have too much than too little). Tie a knot at the top of the pen and start knotting around the pen and feather with a basic friendship knot.

This took me forever to photograph and then I realized it would be better with a video. Therefore, the knots on the blue pen aren't as tight as they should be, and you can't really see the swirl. But if you're not doing it in front of a camera very awkwardly (it's so hard to do something like that while looking through a camera screen, and if I didn't look in the screen, I'd end up moving the whole project off camera), the swirl will come pretty easily. Just let the string move around the pen as you're knotting it and keep pushing it together tightly.

If all goes accordingly, it should look like this.

If you want fancy black tips, just grab a felt marker and put them on however you'd like. Just make sure to wipe off any excess and allow to dry before using.

Finally, I capped the ends with a removed quill tip to keep the ink from getting all over everything (just find one out of your feathers that will stay on firmly. It doesn't have to be from the feather you used). Gel ink comes out onto everything really easily, trust me and my rainbow hands.

That's it! It took me about 15 minutes to do one, so it's a really fast project and a nice little gift for yourself or someone else. I still prefer the sophisticated Design Sponge feather, but these have a fun playfulness that I really love, too, and they're a lot smaller so they'll fit perfectly into an envelope (which is exactly where mine are going).

Monday, September 26, 2011

abraham lake

I could have stayed much longer here, but I'm glad to be back.

Friday, September 9, 2011

friday fixations

Source: via Tahnee on Pinterest
{ombre and glitter nail polish} I haven't done this yet, I just love the hell out of it. I have done this with the only bit of glitter I have in my collection. I especially loved it, so I'd like to find more glitter polish for this and this. Especially that newer chunkier glitter. I really must have that.

{pride and prejudice} Unfortunately, I had never read this book, I'd only seen the movie. So since classics are free on Kindle, I started reading it on my ipod at night if I woke up and could not get back to sleep. Fast forward to today, and I'm halfway through and almost waking up in the middle of the night just to continue reading it. Not to mention that now I have to go back and rewrite paragraphs and letters and notes because I'm using extremely proper english punctuated with lots of semi-colons. Reading always influences my writing.

{chicken stock} After hoarding away chicken bones and scraps of vegetables for far too long, I'm finally getting around to making stock. I've been working on it for two days now! Actually, my crock pot has been working at it. I've just been doing the straining and cooling and skimming and packaging and freezing. It's good to do a major purge from the freezer before winter, right? Now (instead of bags and bags of bones) we'll have lots of delicious stock to use for soups and risottos and sauces! Perfect fall foods.

Source: via Idle on Pinterest
{mustard} I know it wasn't very long ago that I was singing the praises of other, cooler, colours, but I had to mention mustard because it's kind of an unexpected and surprising colour choice for me. Yeah. I surprised myself by suddenly thinking that this (the dusk colorway) or that would look really cute in the house. On a pillow or a headboard or a chair... or a wall. And look at how great it is with pink! Is it because it's fall and mustard just seems like the right thing to do right now? (for your amusement, my current desktop theme is rotating between four different mustardy-coloured photos.)

{vacation time} It feels like it's been so long since I've been away from the blog. I really enjoy writing here and coming up with posts and reading happy little comments. But I'm starting to feel very uninspired and tired of trying to come up with stuff, so I think I need to take a blog break. Recharge, refocus, refresh. Therefore, the next two weeks will be blog post free. I have some new ideas and designs and thoughts kicking around, so I think our time apart will be beneficial for both of us (plus I'll have loads of pictures to share when I get back -- we're going on an Alberta tour!). I miss you already!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

two-bite nutella brownies

You know what made me choose this recipe?

  • Four ingredients (that I could shorten to three); and
  • 88 calories per brownie.

My criteria for baking these days mostly boils down to the latter, but the shortened ingredient list helped a lot, too.

I'm really surprised at how well these turned out for only three ingredients!

Actually, no. What I'm really surprised about is that I own a mini cupcake pan. Seriously, who knew? When did I get that? Wait. Mom probably gave it to me, so where did she get it? Strange. I miss a knife I haven't seen in 10 years, but I have no idea where a whole muffin tin came from. Brains work mysteriously.

I do not own any miniature cupcake liners, though, so I buttered and floured the hell out of that pan. Now that's the Idle Wife I know and love.

Anyway back to the brownies. They're sweet and fudgy with crispy edges and a crinkly top. Everything I look for in a brownie.

But, truthfully, my entire plan from the moment I saw that I owned a mini cupcake pan was this:

Yeah. That's a mini Drumstick (they make them!) squished on top of a mini brownie.

And this is what happened moments later:

It was delicious but you're not surprised at that, are you?

slightly adapted from Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Just Four Ingredients by Abby Dodge via Savory Sweet Life
makes 12 mini brownies

1/2 cup Nutella
1 egg
5 tablespoons flour

Find a mini muffin or cupcake tin. Line it with mini cupcake liners OR do what I did and butter and flour the hell out of each cup.

Mix all of the ingredients together. You don't have to get fancy. I just put them all together and blended with a spatula (you don't even have to get your mixer out for this one!).

Spoon the batter equally into the prepared mini muffin cups.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (or until they look just done).

{note} You can make these with nuts and stuff, but personally, I don't like nuts and stuff in brownies.

{notes} I've since made these again, but we didn't have quite enough Nutella (I'm looking at you, Idle Husband); therefore, I didn't use a full measured 1/2 cup. I think because of that, the brownies turned out puffy and cake-like without as many brownie characteristics. They were still SUPER delish (maybe even more so). Go with it if you find yourself in a similar spot.

{noting} Don't be me and think, "Hey! What if I used peanut butter instead of Nutella and made peanut butter brownies!!" Cuz it won't work and it'll taste bland and even less peanut buttery than you could ever have imagined. You have to add sugar and they'll be more like cookies. I tried it. Trust me. We saved it by smearing -- you guessed it -- Nutella all over them.

{noted} Aren't the little cats cute?! My cousin sent them to me all the way from Australia, so unfortunately, I can't tell you where to get them. But I can tell you that they're super amazing little post-it cats -- post-it long cats! I didn't really know what they were at first, but when I figured it out, I decided they HAD to go on toothpicks. If you find yourself with something cute, don't forget it's SUPER easy to tape just about anything onto a toothpick to use as quick and easy cupcake decoration!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DIY: printed gift bag

I had a request from a friend to "send her budgie stuff." I don't really have any 'budgie stuff', so I had to make it myself. I sure wish I could find some cute budgie stuff, though

I have these fabric crayons. Basically, all you have to do is draw on some paper and instantly, you've got yourself an iron-on transfer. Pretty nifty, hey? But I wouldn't use them on anything that regularly goes in the wash. I mean, I wouldn't use them AGAIN on anything that goes in the wash. The transfer fades (or at least mine did), so it's best to use them for something that probably won't be washed (much).

I headed to the trusty internet in search of a cute budgie picture and once I found it, I simply traced it out using a fabric crayon. I like to go back over the lines a second time just to make sure they're dark enough.

I had some leftover scraps of white fabric, so I simply turned the crayon side down onto the fabric, and ironed away (don't forget that the image will reverse so if your image needs to be a certain way or has words, be sure to flip it).

That's it! It's important to spend a lot of time pressing and holding the iron on the paper. Even though the instructions say the transfer occurs once you can see the image clearly through the paper, it often needs a little longer than that. This is my second budgie print, and you can see that I didn't hold the iron over his nose area long enough. But that's ok. I kinda like the rough nature of it. Especially all the little loose crayon bits I purposely ironed on as well.

For the bag, I simply sewed two open channels at the top hem, then I put the two right sides together, sewed a straight line down each side and turned it right side out again. This was my second attempt at the bag as I hadn't really thought about the channel spacing in my bird placement for the first one. Sometimes I think that sewing's so easy and then I start doing it and I'll be halfway through and think, "Ohhhhhh... THAT'S how I should have done it." Then just thread a ribbon or string through the top channel and you get a little pull closure.

It's super cute. The pictures don't do it any justice.
can you spot the next DIY?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

august recap

Here are some photos from Millcreek Nursery, a garden center we visited this month. I can't believe we took so long to go there. Especially when one or both of us drove past it almost every week. It's so close to us, I could walk there! (Maybe next year I'll see if I can get a part-time job and maybe there'll be some discounts in it!)

Finally, there are some hazy fuzzy dreamy wallpapers for you over at flickr, if you care: 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 1680x1050 iPad iPod