Sunday, August 29, 2010

Daily Craft - All about the right tools

I'm in the process of making my first patchwork "quilt type thing" using some fabulous retro Winnie The Pooh fabric.  I had a great idea to go get a rotary cutter and self-healing mat at the Joann sale last week and now I'm wondering why it took me so damn long to buy them!  The preparation of neatly pressing and cutting everything was always the most frustrating part of the sewing process for me, seeing as it would always take 3 times as long to cut things as it did for me to sew them together. (That's the impatient, looking for instant gratification, little kid whining "but I want to make it NOW", part of me coming through).

I know I can't use this for everything but I'm loving the time saving aspect so far and Deuce seems to find enjoyment in assisting me by holding the end of the cutting ruler for me.  The dangerous part of all this of course is that I'm having far too much fun making the patchwork top for the quilt.  As if I need another hobby to occupy myself with...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Daily Ramblings - Time After Time

Last night, husband and I went downtown to visit with his dad and step-mom who were in town for a conference.  They had invited us to attend the closing party, with special guest Cyndi Lauper.  It was suggested that we were too young to remember her in her prime, but absolutely not!  I most definitely have memories of dancing around to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" - translating into a karaoke favorite as I got older.  :)

The open air venue was gorgeous and, with husband and I being the foodies that we are, we made it a mission to find all of the available food stations before settling in to check out the show.  I didn't realize that Cyndi Lauper is now singing the blues, and rather well.  However, we were all waiting for her to sing the classics and she didn't disappoint.  "Time After Time" has to be one of my favorite songs and I'm really happy I got to see her perform that, finishing off the evening with "True Colors".  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Daily Dish - The great Santa Barbara pizza experiment

As I mentioned, husband and I drove up to Santa Barbara yesterday to visit my younger brother.  After the last week at work, this was a welcome break and I'm now feeling 10x more relaxed than I did when I left.  Santa Barbara is possibly one of the most quiet and relaxing places I've been.  Everything up there is so pretty - after all, it's not often that I'm sitting in the car waiting for somebody to grab cash at an ATM and inspired to take a picture of the bank (no, I wasn't casing the joint)!
My brother is the head food and beverages guy at the Harbor View Inn, which is a great location right across from the water.  Last night we had a chance to chow down and try some of his new cocktails at the restaurant there, plus an excellent meal finished off with a delicious Creme Brulee that had berries both on top and underneath!  If anything is going to send you over the edge and into a food coma, that might do it.

This morning, my brother popped some pizza dough in his bread maker, and then we headed out to the local Farmer's Market and the grocery store to get toppings.

For toppings, we had decided on the following:
- Onion (sauteed)
- Red and yellow bell pepper (sauteed)
- Jalapeno
- Mushroom
- Fresh tomato
- Sausage
- LOTS of cheese

First we rolled out the dough, into rather "unconventional" shapes that I called deformed, but my brother called "rustic".  We brushed each with olive oil then popped them into the oven for 3 or 4 minutes to crisp up a little bit.
Next step was to brush on marinara sauce that he made using tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil and oregano.  I figured the cheese would go on next, but he told me that without a pizza oven or pizza stone, the pizza can often get soggy in the middle.  So, we threw on all the toppings (except the cheese and tomato) and baked the pizzas for about 10 minutes.  The final step was to pull out the pizzas one last time, throw on the cheese, fresh tomato, and a little chopped garlic, then pop it back in the oven for 10 minutes more to finish them off.  They were delicious!  I'm not always a huge pizza person and often won't eat the crusts, but I can tell you that we pigged out on the three pizzas we made and there was nothing left on my plate when I was done!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daily Chuckles - He just needs a top hat

Sorry I've been so absent this week.  It's been a lot of work, work, work.  If any of you are Linkin Park or Seal fans, think of me when their new albums come out next month.  They are the reason I've been so quiet on the blog front!  I'm excited to take a break tomorrow though as husband and I will be traveling up to Santa Barbara to visit my brother.  Considering he's only 90 minutes away, I do not see him often enough so it'll be nice to get away and relax with him for a day.

In the meantime, as you may have noticed I'm a total sucker for silly animal pictures and videos.  When my co-worker sent me this penguin video though, I was shocked, amazed, and then immediately very jealous that I don't have my own.  If I did though, he really would have a top hat.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Daily Art - Picture of a picture

Last night, husband and I went to the monthly downtown L.A. Artwalk again.  I was hoping to take more pictures to share with you all, so grabbed my camera bag on the way out the door.  Of course, when we got down there and I opened up the bag to get the camera and switch lenses, I realized that I'd actually left the camera body at home.  Typical me!

We walked around for a while, grabbed some food at one of the food trucks - an Asian fusion burrito with spicy pork for me - then started checking out some of the vendors.  We found a photographer selling canvas prints of photos that he's taken of various pieces done by the infamous Banksy.  For those of you not familiar with Banksy, he's a British graffiti artist who has made a name for himself over the past couple of decades with his political and humorous graffiti art.  Of course, there's the contingent that believe his graffiti is no different from any other graffiti and should be considered vandalism.  Then again, there's also those who really do see his work as art, including some celebrities who have bought various pieces for high dollar amounts.  The most intriguing part of all this for me is that his true identity has never been formally revealed and, while there's been speculation, nobody really knows for sure.  What I do know is that I'm attracted to various pieces he's done because they're so wonderfully British, and I enjoy the satirical humor.

There was no particular intention to purchase art last night, but these prints were very reasonably priced and yesterday was pay-day, which made this a good impulse buy!  At first, we figured it would be a good bathroom piece - (a Queen's guard peeing on a wall seems like it should be right?), but doesn't go with the planned color schemes for any of the bathrooms in the house, so it's now found it's home on the wall right outside our downstairs bathroom.  Certainly nothing wrong with having art in the house that makes you giggle!  Check out the flickr group for more pictures of Banksy's work.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Daily Ramblings - So, what's new?

This week has been a busy one at work for me.  As you may know, I work at a major record label and September is a big month for album releases this year, which means right now I'm burying myself under gigantic wads of paper.  I'm one of those people who makes piles of folders on the floor of my office, which helps me sort out what needs to be done and how to prioritize those things.  I know it's getting out of hand though when those piles are gravitating toward the door, creating a barrier preventing my escape.  Even worse is when my boss appears in my doorway to tell me something but her train of thought is repeatedly interrupted because her eyes are drawn to the perceived mess strewn about the place.  She doesn't have to say anything about it, the look is everything.

In the meantime, I'm participating in a Dexter themed craft swap on Craftster while oh so patiently waiting for Season 5 to start on Showtime next month.  It's been really fun making things for my partner that are inspired by blood spatter and dismemberment.  Of course I'll be sharing my creations soon, but can't just yet lest my partner happen across it!  If you haven't seen this show, I highly recommend it.  I didn't think I was going to like it at first, but by the 3rd episode of Season 1, I was completely hooked.  It's smart, funny, deliciously dark, and Michael C Hall isn't too bad to look at either. 

Speaking of being on a creative kick, I've finally come up with the new name for my handmade business.  Several years ago, I joined the Etsy bandwagon, originally focusing on photography, then branching out to handspun yarns and various knit or crocheted accessories.  It has to be said, I never found my groove on that site and as a result spent a lot of time worrying about it, but without much to show.  About 6 months ago, I decided to take a hiatus and take my time deciding how I wanted to move forward.  Just in the same way as I felt trapped into a concept with my old blog, I felt trapped by my Etsy shop.  I realized that I needed a brand new outlet where I could be free to be inspired by creating new things.  I spent a lot of time thinking about a name for my business that represents what I'll be offering - which is a little bit of everything really, seeing as I'm not a monogamous crafter and love dabbling in all sorts of things.  It took a while because it's hard to come up with a truly original domain name that hasn't already been snagged (or even worse, sounds like a site of the "mature" persuasion).  After a LOT of thought, I came up with Crave Creation - after all, I do!  This week, I bought the domain and got the website template started.  I'm going to be making inventory and I foresee many hours of product photography in my future.  The beautiful thing though is that it no longer feels like a chore.  I'm actually excited and inspired, which is what creativity is supposed to be about! 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Daily Craft - Got my mojo back

I can't tell you how excited I am that I managed to fix my sewing machine and didn't have to take it in for servicing (which was totally against my budget anyway).  Not sure exactly what I did, but husband is taking the credit on the grounds that he was standing there when it started working again.  I suppose this is not dissimilar from calling IT at work because your computer has frozen, but when they arrive it starts working perfectly.

Seeing as the machine is functioning, I was really excited to get back to business and finish off the project that was stalled.  A while back I had made some cushions for my friend Paige's baby's room.  I had some smallish strips of fabric left that were too big to throw out, but too small to make much with.  This set of 3 soft blocks take 18 x 5" squares, which I gathered out of 4 different coordinating fabrics.  Overall, they were pretty quick to make seeing as you can cut and press all the squares at once, then lay them out and get to sewing.  It would have been even quicker if I'd had a rotary cutter, which I am now putting on my wishlist of things to get.  The second I was finished making them, husband grabbed one, realized it was squishy, and threw it at me.  So, while they may be intended for babies and toddlers, they are also big kid approved!

To make it better, in the interests of really using up every scrap of the material that I could, I finished up with this patch work pin cushion.  I think everything turned out nicely and I've already got other projects laid out and ready to go.  I'm a sewing fiend!  It's proof that when you can't do something, you really want to do it more than anything.  In a way I should thank my sewing machine for the hiatus as it seems to have inspired me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Daily Decor - Housing my literature

Since buying our townhouse nearly 2 years ago, husband and I have come to the conclusion that the work we want to do on it is truly never-ending.  The unfortunate part right now is that while husband is unemployed, he has all the time in the world to work on home improvements, but we don't have the money to fund them - the ultimate catch 22.  In the meantime, we're settling for the little things that are affordable without the financial burden of, say, granite counter tops for the kitchen.

The most recent upgrade was our living room bookshelf.  We previously had an old, totally dilapidated bookshelf gifted to us by husband's step-dad.  I'm thinking this thing might have be older than I am.  Our sizable book collection was wedged onto it, double stacked, with the risk that removal of a book would result in a literary avalanche.  IKEA was nice enough to reduce their pricing on this bookshelf, so last weekend we made the purchase and got handy with the hex-wrench.  We found a nice spot for it, in front of the large wall mirror, and even sorted our book collection into each cube by theme and author (yes, mildly obsessive I know).  It happily swallowed the books, even leaving lots of space for us to put pictures of family and other knick-knacks that haven't yet found a proper home.  We're really happy with how it looks including the cool effect of having the mirror behind it.

It may not be much, but it's amazing how the smallest things can completely change the look of a room.  Now, what to do next on our home improvement journey?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Daily Chuckles - Tigers like catnip too!

Somebody on Ravelry posted this video today showing that even the biggest and most fierce of cats like catnip too.  When we first introduced Deuce to catnip, he sniffed it and walked away.  Figures he'd be in the small percentage of cats that aren't at all interested in the powers of the nip.  So, while it may not protect me from the crazy animal that runs our household, it's good to know that should I ever be in fear of being hunted by a tiger, leopard, or other big cat, a paper bag with catnip should do the trick.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Daily Ramblings - The happiest place on Earth

Warning - picture heavy post ahead!  :)

A couple of friends of ours recently gave us Disneyland passes to use.  It's been at least 3 years since I went, and even longer than that for the husband, so we were excited to grace the gates of the Magic Kingdom.  It's amazing how no matter how long it's been since you went, or how you remember it when you were a kid, Disneyland hasn't really changed over the years.  There's a comfort to knowing that the things you always loved about certain rides are still the same.  Just remember to watch your ankles (on account of the stroller brigade) and wear lots of sunscreen (ask about my funky tan lines)!
The Haunted Mansion - totally could have done without that terrible movie with Eddie Murphy.  Is it bad that you really only go on this ride to see which of the ghosts decides to hitchhike with you at the end? 
Tom Sawyer's Island and the local pirate ship - ahoy matey!
My timing on this photo was pretty spot on.  We tried taking video while on the ride, but discovered that dark tunnels and blurs of movement probably invoke more motion sickness than the ride itself!
Splash Mountain from the top.  I just adore all the little critters that are inside - Brer Rabbit and Fox and Bear....
We headed on over to California Adventure, which I will admit was a bit of a bust seeing as all the lines were super long at that point, and even the Fast Passes were either broken or for really late.  It gave us the opportunity to get in the air-conditioning and see the Muppets in 3D though.
I'd never ridden the California Screamin' roller coaster, so we did manage to sneak that in, as well as the Maliboomer (where do they come up with these names?!)

We finished off the day with a visit to the husband's grandparents for dinner, who live about 10 miles away from the park, then came back to check out the fireworks.  As far as I'm concerned, the fireworks are a must at Disneyland.  I don't know how they do it, but they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside every time!

What's your favorite Disney story?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Daily Gripe - It's all good...when it's working properly!

Friday afternoon, I get out of work early and figure that it's the perfect opportunity to do some sewing.  Using some fabric scraps, I've been working on making baby soft blocks, using this tutorial.  I had one down, stuffed, and ready to go.  The other two had all the squares cut and laid out, just needed sewing up.  Somewhere in the middle of the second block, my sewing machine became possessed and started feeding the fabric in reverse.  I checked the reverse button - not stuck, nothing sounds loose.  I turn the machine off and on again, no go.  I finally take off the plate, make sure there's nothing stuck under the bobbin case or anything like that, but still nothing.  In fact, now I've made it worse because now I can't pull up the bobbin thread without it getting stuck and the upper thread breaking!  Gah! 

Of course, this is to be expected on the afternoon when I finally have some time to dedicate to sewing and I end up spending more time breaking a sweat over why the machine is driving me nuts.  Time to call Brother and see what they can tell me...fingers crossed it's an easy fix.