Friday, September 28, 2012

friday fixations: youtube edition

{the muppet movie} I'm angry it took me so long to see this movie, but, at the same time, I feel like it was totally worth the wait. I've been singing this song around the house all week. (Now you wanna download it, don't you?)

{the jaw} In case you don't follow me on twitter, I mentioned Peter Hurley's video a week or so ago, and I thought I should repost it here now because EVERYONE should know this information (especially anyone in the biz). I watched this (long) informative video a while ago but hadn't really had the chance to put it into action until I got some new passport photos. I can't even believe the difference this trick made! In comparison to my old passport photo, the new one looks like I dropped 50 pounds and had a face lift! It was a pretty spectacular difference. I'm so glad I remembered to do it about half a second before taking the photo! Next time you're renewing your driver's license, say yes to a new photo JUST to do this trick!

{rayman jungle run} This touch game has all the cuteness and fun we experienced when we played Rayman for the Xbox, except now it's in portable form! I'm trying to save the game for a trip we're going on in November, but I'm having a really hard time doing that. (And I know I usually only like the free games, but this was impossible to pass up. Besides, what really great thing can you get for $3 these days, anyway?)

{lego stop-motion video} A 17-year-old (prodigy) made this amazing video! (Plus another great song for the weekend!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DIY: cloud pendant

These days, I really love clouds! I saw this pin and wanted some clouds of my own and since I'm kind of fixated on long, over-the-head length pendant necklaces right now, I thought why not throw those two together?!

This is such an easy DIY, I didn't even bother to photograph step-by-step.
  1. Get yourself some air dry clay. I used this (and there's so much of it in one tub, I figure you'll be set for life after this one-time purchase).
  2. Draw a cloud onto stiff paper and cut it out.
  3. Roll out a piece of clay to an even thickness. Then use your paper cloud as a template on the clay and gently cut around the cloud shape.  Don't forget to poke two holes or one hole (whatever suits you) in the cloud so you can eventually attach it to your necklace! (tip: I always make at least two just in case I happen to break one of them!)
  4. Allow it to dry.
  5. Use a damp sponge as a sander to smooth the edges and clean up the surface (I love this part!)
  6. Allow to dry again.
  7. Attach it to a necklace. You can either buy some jump rings and attach the cloud to a chain, or do what I did and use some thin fishing line (I think it's best cuz it's cheaper than beading filament, just as thin, plus has a weighted test to it) and beads to make the necklace strand. (I got the silver seed beads at Walmart of all places!).
You could stop there or you could glaze it, keep it plain, or add some colour to it.

I use this swirly technique. I love it because I never quite know what I'm going to get (except I know it's going to be beautiful), it's easy, it dries quickly, and it's a good way to use up old nail polish. So whenever I make anything out of clay, I eventually gravitate towards this method of colouring it. 

You've most likely seen the DIYs for swirly fingernails, where you give your nails a marbleized look by taking some room temperature water, plopping some fingernail polish on the surface, swirling it, and dipping your fingernails in? That's exactly what I'm doing here! There's no special technique to it. I do it pretty much exactly as it's done on the nail tutorial (minus the petroleum jelly, of course). 

I'm going to be leaving my cloud as is (it's so easy to make that if it should happen to break or get damaged, I'll just make another), but since I really don't know how they'd handle the stresses of every day life (if you get it wet accidentally, etc.), you could also put a coat of glaze over the top for protection once they've been swirled.

Of course, if you don't like clouds as much as I do, you can draw out any image to use as a template on clay and attach it to a necklace (or glue it to a brooch pin -- hint hint) using the same method.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

creme brulee

I'm pretty sure I've never had crème brûlée up to this point, but, as most of my projects in food, this was a request from Idle Husband.

A few months back, he proclaimed his sweet love for creme brulee. I looked at him in disgust and cursed the restaurant that had this on its menu. He just had to go ordering the most finicky thing and then he just had to go loving it. How the heck would I pull something like that off? I'm going to have to get a torch? That's too much trouble, so just remember that dessert fondly cuz it's not coming out of this kitchen any time soon.

But before I knew it, I found myself trying to come up with birthday ideas and decided this had to be it. He'd forgotten all about creme brulee by that time and had stopped bringing it up at every meal. This would be the perfect surprise! And, yes, despite my annoyance, I'd track down a torch (they aren't too expensive at Home Sense and I printed a 10% off coupon. Just be sure to get butane and test it as they aren't prefilled) and even some real vanilla beans (another luxury I've refused myself to have. Too fancy! Too expensive! Too finicky!). This was a birthday treat, after all.

I assembled my ingredients and read through my recipe again, separated my eggs, measured out the cream and sugar, and... is that it? That's all? I didn't even have to lug out the KitchenAid? The entire project was too easy. Easier than a cake, actually. Maybe it's this recipe in particular, but I couldn't believe that by the time the cream had boiled, I was pretty well done.

My kitchen wasn't a disaster. I had used one bowl and a pot. The only issue I had was the bain marie but that was on account of having a too-small tea kettle, and I worried tremendously as I removed them from the oven as they seemed more wobbly than trembling in the centre as called for in the recipe.

Since creme brulee can sit in the fridge for up to three days, I made these a day in advance (without the sugar crust), and hid them in the bottom portion of the fridge (I can hide things practically in plain sight around here). They set up during this resting period, so I was no longer concerned about the wobble.

The torching is easy. Don't even worry about overdoing it. The burnt bits add a really nice caramel flavour. Just be sure to add a thin layer of sugar. I found that a thicker sugar top ruined my enjoyment of the custard (which reminds me of a very delicate vanilla pudding) since I had to crunch my way through each spoonful. A thin delicate layer gives just enough sugary crispness for texture. Also, save the vanilla bean and stick it in the sugar you're going to use to top the creme brulee. It's so delicious! I'm so sad this recipe made an uneven five ramekins for us. I want one last whole one for myself! But we shared it, even though I know we both felt the same way.

recipe from Alton Brown

Friday, September 14, 2012

my meh projects

Just to prove that I haven't been doing absolutely nothing in the DIY and food department, I thought I'd share a few projects that I originally did up for the blog. The problem was that once I started going through the pictures and thinking more about how to write them up, I decided to scrap them. They're still in my house and I still love them, I just couldn't come up with enough stuff to say in order to write a whole post on them. And I'm still struggling. Nice.

{spray painted fridge magnets} I've been trying to grow up my style in the house lately so one of my first projects towards that goal was spray painting our alphabet magnets. See, it would be really easy to get rid of them, yes, but I still love them and half of them are Greek letters from a set I found on our first trip to Greece together. So I can't really just toss them aside carelessly, and yet, their rainbow colours were really annoying me. A quick spray with some silver spray paint and now they fit right in with our stainless appliances. That's the whole DIY. If you can't stand the rainbow effect your magnets are giving you, spray paint them. They'll look better, I promise.

{muted artwork} In the process of putting our basement back together (after the flooding), I needed a large piece of art for the wall that's opposite the staircase. I got a large canvas at the thrift store with someone's terrible painting on it (again, should've taken a picture of that), then simply painted right over it with regular wall paint I had sitting around. Do you know how much large canvases are to buy new? It's crazy! But do you know how much a crappy piece of art painted on a large piece of canvas is at the thrift store? Like, $5.99! So if you need some cheap art, get a used canvas, paint it white, then paint it however the heck you like!

{no bake cheesecake} I'm torn on this one cuz if you made it, you'd be like, this isn't cheesecake. Well, you're right there. It isn't proper cheesecake. But if you're trying to cut down on sugar AND have your cake, too, this might be straight up your alley. See, the main problem with this picture is that I didn't like it paired with the crust. The crust absolutely ruined it for me. Normally when I make cheesecake, I make the filling and pour it into individual ramikins and eat it without a crust. Don't get me wrong, I am all about pie crust. Most of the time, I could really care less about the filling (unless it's pumpkin), but for cheesecakes, all I want is the cream cheese. This crusted one made me so angry over the waste of cream cheese. I thought to make it again without a crust for your viewing pleasure, but I just haven't had the desire to make it again and I probably won't until Thanksgiving. And the pictures from this pie were so pretty! See? Torn! I'd also really like to give you the recipe now, but it's been so long since I made this that I can't remember if I used one block of cream cheese or two. I'm officially the world's worst blogger.

I have a few projects on the go now. Let's hope I get them right!

Friday, September 7, 2012

friday fixations

{cup stacking otter} This is the best thing!

{wedge boots} Mysteriously, I keep looking at these Toms and even these trainers... I gotta figure out something that's warm that I can wear with a skirt in the winter (that's going to be here before I know it).

{furoshiki} The art of gift wrapping using fabric instead of paper. Someone's got a birthday coming up, so I really want to wrap a gift using this technique (plus Christmas idea!).

{drawer knobs} I have a little night stand that is in desperate need for some pulls, but I can't decide what to do! Leather, rope, fancy and expensive (I only need 2... so I guess it's a possibility), thrifted (if I can find something I like), or some other homemade option?

{baker's feed and seed} I went here this week to see if they had anything different for our little bird, and what I found was not so much a store as a boarding place for A LOT of different birds. I can't even remember if anything was for sale. There were just so many birds and they all had signs on them that said they weren't for sale or they were being boarded. So. That's not really the interesting part. I wanted to tell you this. When I was in there, I went around and talked to all of them (as one does when faced with birds), and there was one little parrot -- I don't know what kind he was. He had a black head and multi-coloured body -- who was in his cage, at the bottom, on his head. So I asked him, "what are you doing?" And he righted himself, looked at me, and said, "Lemme outta here."