Friday, December 29, 2006

resolutions, part I

New Year's Resolutions


Cook more + eat take-out less.

Tonight's meal: Classic Risotto Milanese. And at this point, every meal I cook I need to double so we can start stocking up on dinners in the freezer for those nights when this baby in my belly finally pops. (I remember a whole lot of take-out when we came home with our first) I used to cook all the time. But over the past year or so I've really fallen behind on trying new recipes, using fresh ingredients and serving up well-rounded meals. So this I resolve: I'll dust off those cookbooks, bookmark those websites and organize my recipe book. It's time to get this kitchen cooking once again.

Speaking of baby in the belly, we're getting close now. My poor tummy is streched and soaking up every drop of the Sexy Belly lotion I just ordered from Carol's Daughter. And speaking of Carol's Daugher, have I mentioned the autobiography by Lisa Price, founder of Carol's Daughter skin care products? Great read. Come to think of it, I think I must have mentioned it before. But, speaking of good reads, just finished Little Children. Loved it! Enjoyed all the characters, appreciated the ending and was sincerely touched by this story of thirty-something parents.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Of course there was more baking to be done - all in all I think I baked for nearly five days straight before christmas day - baked to the point of exhaustion. Presents to wrap, a trip to see Santa and family gatherings to attend. Now that it's all over I'm left wondering how I had the energy to do any of it at all. Day after christmas was a complete loss. Woke up late, then took a snooze on the couch after breakfast. Once the house was empty, I took another nap (this one a long one). These kind of afternoon naps always hit me hard with the strangest dreams - similar to a fever-induced sleep. I kept dreaming that I woke up and was going about my regular routine - or not, as one dream where I couldn't open my eyes or speak had it. In another, I was driving, only I knew I couldn't really be awake so I was swerving on purpose and trying to crash as if to prove this were all only a dream. Needless to say, it was a strange, sleepy day for me. I think the dreams during that nap only exhausted me more! It honestly took me 24 hours to recover from the week leading up to christmas eve and day. Yesterday I was slightly more enthusiastic to be alive and today it's even better. Let's just say I've learned my lesson. Next year I'm picking ONE cookie recipe and ONE cookie recipe only. My ambitious cookie baking scheme was, admittedly, too much. But the cookie boxes came together nicely and while I wasn't able to mail one to each and every long distance friend and relative, those I did give them to seemed very pleased. Wish I had a couple clones so I could have baked up boxes for every one of you out there. (I'd need them to be clones because no one else is insane enough to dedicate this much time to cookie baking) I don't know, maybe all this busy work leading up to christmas was a good thing because I'm not left sitting here feeling sad and depressed that another holiday season has come and gone - a feeling I usually spend the next week sulking over. I am thrilled to know it's over. Happy that I nearly accomplished everything I set out to do, pleased that I'm not sitting here guilt-stricken for having forgotten somebody and ready to move on to the new year. I'm anxious to start a new calendar . . . a clean slate. Ready to list my resolutions and start 2007 with a positive outlook. Looking forward to cleaning out the clutter, organizing, new projects and a fresh new batch of creativity. Hope everybody else out there had a wonderful christmas and is recovering (finally!) like I am. The new year is only a couple days away! Double aught seven, here we come!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

a lot of crazies out there

(First thing this picture makes me think is - YIKES! I need to repaint our mailbox!)

Christmas cards have all been sent, hurray!

I'm starting to lose steam. I'm ready to just snuggle up on the couch and watch old christmas movies all day and into the night. Had to make one last run to Target and Toys-R-Us yesterday and this desperate woman stole a parking spot from us. Um, hello? Last night a young police officer from a neighboring city was shot and killed by a 17-year old with a rifle. He leaves a 3-month old baby. What's going on in the world? For about 3 hours yesterday we thought my father-in-law (and subsequently all of us potentially) had tuberculosis. But thankfully it turned out only to be an incoherent nurse and a huge misunderstanding. What else are they going to diagnose this poor man with? And after more stressful conversations about coordinating family obligations I am more ready than ever to just haul ourselves up to the mountains on christmas eve and spend a week huddled in a cabin watching our son play with all his new toys. I'm sure Santa could find us up there.

But enough of the downer talk. This is the happiest time of the year afterall, correct?

Maybe I won't mail out cookies. I think I want to stop baking and start sewing again. I thought it would be really fun to make a stuffed monster for my son for christmas. He'd probably appreciate that more than a quilt. I can save the quilt for when he goes off to college.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

christmas chaos

Is it because most of the horizontal suraces in my kitchen look like this? Or is it because I was slightly still asleep this morning after being up until 2am baking? Either way, the day started off with an avalanche of flour container, cookie cutters, baking soda and coffee pot all crashing to the floor. No coffee today. No coffee tomorrow. This cheapskate will only fork out the dough for 2-day shipping on a replacement carafe a week before christmas.

Ordered the sucker online because there is no way I am heading out there unless I absolutely, positively have to. It is getting really insane out there folks. Every single car out there seems to be scrambling around - clogging up the streets and cutting me off. Oh? Didn't see my signal blinking there didja? Yeah, I was going to merge before you dashed over into that lane at the very last minute with no signal and no regard for the rest of us out here. That's alright, I didn't really want to take the most direct way home anyway. I really like going the backway after you made me miss my turn. I really hope I don't have to back out there.

The Giant Ginger Cookie recipe is a good one. I love gingerbread that has all those strong spices in them. And the technique of sprinkling a good layer of suger on top before baking creates such a nice white crackling effect. I picked up these snowflake cookie cutters at Target last week. They work pretty good, although a lot of the detail gets lost once the cookie bakes up. Oh well - that's what the icing is for, right? And, as I suspected, the packaged sugar cookie mix doesn't quite hold it's shape as well as making sugar cookies from scratch. These photos are all of cookies cut from a dough made from scratch. But I'll continue cutting cookies from the packaged stuff. They taste great and I suspect I'm the only one who is critical of imperfect lines.

Next up . . . ice box cookies. Think I'll mix up several batches of dough this morning, throw it in the fridge and then work on organizing this kitchen before slicing and baking this afternoon. After this morning's coffee pot disaster I am acutely aware of the baking clutter chaos I've managed to create in 2 days of baking. Sending my husband off to work with a shopping bag filled with these cookie bowls feels like a major accomplishment. One phase down, two to go. I have a feeling that the cookies I'll be mailing out will be New Year's cookies because I'm quickly running out of shipping days. And, as I mentioned above, I'm a cheapskate when it comes to postage.

Can't believe christmas is less than a week away! Most of my packages are wrapped but need ribbon. Thinking of clearing off the top of our china cabinet for stacking all the wrapped packages. Pretty wrapped presents + 3 year old = unwrapped presents & a very frustrated mommy.

(Which reminds me - in a not so subtle transition - I just started reading Little Children by Tom Perrotta. The title of the first chapter, "Bad Mommy," alone makes me think this could be a book I never put down if I didn't have a million other things to do this week. My husband breezed through it in a couple days and was laughing out loud on several occasions. I love the idea of a book about the desperation of new parents like myself. Makes me not feel so guilty for not being perfect, calm, understanding mommy 100% of the time.)

Felt trees, christmas cards to finish folding & mail, more cookies, ribbons on packages, clutter clean-up and brainstorming a special handmade gift for my little munchkin. Another busy day!

Monday, December 18, 2006

bazbiz recap + recovery

As promised, here's one shot of the holiday decor around the house. Still want to make those felt christmas trees before I photograph the whole village. And yes, yes, yes, the holiday baking has begun! I've got a very ambitious list of cookies to bake this week. I'm assembling cookie bowls for my husband to give to his co-workers, cookie boxes to send out to some friends and family and cookie boxes we'll give to the extended family on Christmas eve. The official list is as follows:

Sunday was very relaxing. It was a nice feeling to have BazBiz behind me. Saturday was very successful - lots of crowds, lots of sales. Mostly though, I really enjoyed just being there around people who like to do what I do and people who appreciate people who do what I do. Good vibes all around. It's a shame that I haven't found a venue like that down here in San Diego. There just doesn't seem to be the same kind of appreciation for the crafting movement. I think most people around here think of "arts and crafts" as some little hobbie and look at arts and crafts fairs as a way to get screaming deals on handmade items. And that's a shame. (I recognize that it's wrong of me to make such a blanket statement on all of San Diego - I know there are pockets where creativity is truly recognized and appreciated. I just have yet to find them!)

The day went by really fast. That shows you what kind of crowds the event drew. Most times there are huge lulls in the crowd throughout the day - but not on Saturday. And the rain even held back till Saturday night. It was actually very beautiful leaving L.A. While we complained that most freeway entrances in L.A. are located off side streets that aren't well marked, we enjoyed our round-about-way through downtown of getting back on the I-5. Wet streets reflecting the lights and a crisp, clean look to the city. Everything looks so pretty after a good rain, doesn't it? I was so happy to get a real good rain Sunday morning. Real rain! Turn-your-sprinklers-off kind of rain. Bring-the-dog-in kind of rain. It cleared up pretty fast by mid-morning, but that just made for the kind of after-rain beauty I'm talking about. Clouds parted, sun came out and everything just glistened. But, like I said, it was such a huge relief to have a day without anything to do - so I think my outlook on everything was just a little bit brighter than in the previous few weeks where I've been walking around mumbling to myself, "Got to do this, got to do that, OH, and can't forget this!"

It's another beautiful day today. Baking shall continue. My biggest problem right now is that cookies keep disappearing. Hmmm...weren't there 6 cookies cooling on that rack? Wait a minute - what is this stepstool doing here? Take a peak in the living room, and sure enough am met with a guilty giggle. I'm running out of high places to put all these cookies! Need to run out for more molasses (Giant Ginger Cookies). Can't believe I've gone through an entire bottle of molasses!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Not Yer Granny's Craft Fair!

Booties waiting for their bottoms, paintings ready for one final coat, mobiles in need of new string, t-shirt transfers ansy to be ironed. It's going to be a busy day around here. Rest assured, I'm still remarkably calm and collected. It's very very foggy out there today. I love it when I can't see beyond our fence through thick fog. Makes me feel like our little house exists in its own little universe - that nothingness lies beyond the thick mist.

I'm looking forward to moving onto holiday activities following tomorrow's BazBiz. Sunday? Baking day! I need to come up with my holiday cookie list. Next week I'll post festive photos of the decorations, of the goodies and the christmas crafts. I'm really anxious to make some little felt pine trees for my christmas village. And, it'd be nice to finish painting another addition to the village. I've got a collection of about 5 more ceramic buildings to paint. I believe I started City Hall last year and never finished. To think there was actually a time where I spent months before the holidays meticulously painting these things. Check in again with me next week for some pictures.

One of the projects that I've been meaning to do for months now is silkscreening this tablecloth shown below. LOVE it when I finally finish something I've wanted to do for such a long time.

Have a fantastic weekend -
AND, if you're in Los Angeles, come on down to the BazBiz!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

works s-l-o-w-l-y in progress

As I mentioned previously, I'm putting the finishing touches on a handfull of projects this week in lieu of Saturday's Bazaar Bizarre in L.A. Above are a couple completed paintings.

In between shows, I hang all my paintings in our bedroom. I like seeing them all together, and that's just about the only room left in this house with wall space. A few weeks ago I sat and actually looked at them (you know, instead of glancing in that general direction when I see the cat out of the corner of my eye or staring at the wall thinking about the day before rolling out of bed - actually and truly looked at them) and discovered that most of what I have up there are all paintings with cats ...which means, I'm not selling the cats. The giraffes, always sell. Everyone comments on the elephants. Pigs are popular because of the whole "when pigs fly" thang. But rabbits and cats? Not so much. Think I'll stop painting cats and rabbits for awhile.

Not sure what it is - got to be something to do with being pregnant (I love being able to explain everything away with the pregnancy) - but I'm totally not stressed about Saturday's event. Sure there are still a million things I'd like to get done for the show, but I know and accept that some of them will have to be thrown out the window - either that or come Saturday, once the day is nearly over, I'll think to myself, "Oh yeah, I totally wanted to make (fill in the blank)." It's awesome how even keel I am. Every other time in my life, before an event, I have a list a mile long, I'm up till 2am every night the entire week before and I'm desperately trying to carve out more time during the day. This week, though, I just wander through my projects, enjoying each step, humming as I move along. So if you see me on Saturday and my table isn't quite as full as everyone elses, well, that's why. Guess my body's slightly consumed with growing a baby and artsy craftsy comes second.

card chaos

These are the holiday cards I'm in the process of putting together. I really like the concept of the "all-in-one" cards over at Kodak Gallery, so I bought some pretty paper, printed up some inserts and started folding. I am about half way through, though I promised myself I'd mail last week. Always behind schedule! And with this week dedicated to preparing for BazBiz, I suspect the rest won't get finished till next week. Anyhow ...for those insane enough like me to hand-make 40+ holiday cards, here's my tutorial:

Wouldn't you love to get one of these flashy envelopes in the mail?

I bought a "Christmas Stack" in the scrapbook section filled with different holiday-themed prints.

Find the center of your piece of paper and line it up with the center of your insert. Next mark the corners of your insert onto the piece of paper (use a scrap piece, or one of the more undesirable patterns because this is going to be your template).

Draw perpendicular lines from your marks to the edges of the paper. You'll end up with four squares at each of the four corners. Cut these squares out.

Use this template to cut the corners off all your sheets of paper. You don't even need to trace the lines - simply hold the template onto your sheet of paper and cut. It's okay if it's not perfect because you'll be folding these in and you won't even see curvy cuts.

Glue your insert into the center of your cut sheet of paper. Next, begin to fold the corners in as shown. Use a bone folder to make your folds crisp.

I glued my folds, but I suppose it's not really necessary. You do what feels right to you.

Fold the edges around your insert and use a sticker to close the back. Then print up some mailing labels and affix that to the front.

Friday, December 08, 2006

a perfect treat

One of my favorite sweets in the whole entire world is the black and white cookie from New York City. I'm the luckiest girl alive because last night my husband brought back a bag of them after a day of meetings in the city. (and we live in CA, so a day of meetings in NYC is no small task) I was dozing away on the couch when my son decided it was time for us to have our cookies. He pushed a chair up to the refrigerator, placed a box on top of the chair and climbed up to reach the cookies I'd put up high to keep out of his reach. (!) He woke me from my slumber with a huge grin upon his face, "One for me and one for you!"

I think he loves these cookies as much as I do. The past two years we've made the trip back east with my husband - but this trip was last minute and only for a day so we didn't get to go this time round. But last year, my son and I ate several of these monster cookies during our jaunts about the city. I even attempted to make them shortly after our last visit. They were good, but not spectacular. I'm not sure which side I like better. The white glazing goes so good with the hint of lemon in the cookie while the black side tastes so much like a chocolaty glazed donut. I suppose you don't have to pick a favorite. That's why they're both there afterall together in harmony ...meeting in the middle ...yin and yang. I think the biggest problem is that it's very hard for me to finish one in a single sitting. Always have a small morsel left over for later. But I guess that's not really a problem now, is it? Now that my son is running around the kitchen doing his happy cookie dance, I suppose it's time to go outside and let him burn some of this energy.

in memory

The past couple days have been difficult for me following the news about James Kim. In fact, after hearing the news I had to close my internet browser, avoid channel surfing and any news reports - a fast from the hourly updates I've been seeking for the past couple weeks since first hearing the story of the Kim family. Of course, the story isn't nearly as devastating as it would be if the entire family had been lost. It is so heartwarming to learn all that Kati and James did for their two daughers. Parents of the year award?

Here is a very nice tribute to James Kim.

The Kim family has a website where you can offer support if you're able to.

James and Kati have been strong supporters of the indie craft movement through their two stores in San Francisco, Doe and Church Street Apothecary. It's only appropriate that efforts to provide some support and affection for Kati should come from folks like these:

A Bird in the Hand is organizing an Art + Craft Fundraiser
Susie at Boygirlparty is gathering items for a Handmade Gift Basket

I know that everyday there are terrible things that happen out there in this big bad world. Why this one little story touched so many is hard to say. All I know is this - I'm hugging my husband extra tight, I have more patience for my son's trouble-making and I'm appreciating the little things more than I have in a really long time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Oh Joy!
Kati, Penelope + Sabine are safe.
Contiue to hold hope for James.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"C" is for cookie

I'm gearing up for some major holiday cookie baking. I had so much fun decorating the banana sugar cookies for my son's birthday party that I thought I'd decorate Christmas cookies this year. And then I came across this huge box of sugar cookie mix (just add water!) at Cost Co. Thought I'd give it a try - and prove to my son that "YES" I do have to bake the cookies first ...I'm not holding out on you ...there are no cookies ready-to-eat inside this box. So I baked up this simple batch and the results? YUM! These taste better than the sugar cookie recipe I've been making from scratch! Hmmm I even want to know what they're puting in this mix? Nah - it's that time of year - who cares what artificial flavorings I'm consuming. I'll go organic, GMO-free, non-processed come January. For now, let's eat some cookies! The real test will be to see how the dough holds up for cutouts.

Most years, I like to put together care packages to send to friends and family who don't live nearby. A few cookies, a loaf of homemade bread, etc. This year I found some pretty boxes at Target which would be perfect for holding a bunch of colorful holiday cookies. So I'd better get baking! It might be nice to have a few late nights of decorating cookies while watching some of the old holiday classics on DVD. What's your favorite? I'm a sucker for anything technicolor, so I love "White Christmas". And I love "Miracle on 34th Street" - the original and the re-make with that cute little kid with the lisp. And what would the holiday season be without Charlie Brown? Gotta love "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I keep checking Google news for updates and continue to be completely haunted by the story of this missing family. I heard about it through several of the crafters on Livejournal who know Kati Kim through her shop Doe. My husband was aware of the story because his work often crosses over with the work of James Kim at CNET. So there are those degrees of separation ...but I think I am especially heartbroken because they were travelling with their two young daughters. Such a young family, two successful individuals, two beautiful children. Just got to hold on to hope.

Friday, December 01, 2006

christmas on my mind

Here are a couple of the mini pillows I mentioned working on. They're about 9" x 9". I think they're cute, but let's see how they do - let them have their day in them up the flagpole see if anyone salutes...

I was delighted to have a morning of rain on Monday. Then it cleared up and the air is pretty dry once again. The temperature has stayed down though - we even turn on the heater at night! (I'd never survive in Fargo or Buffalo or Detroit) It would be nice to have a little more weather though. It's December afterall. I know I can't have a white Christmas, but how 'bout a misty one? Just a little moisture in the air to make my skin stop itching. I think the decorations definitely have to come out this weekend. I'll wait one more weekend for the tree (this dry air would certainly turn those needles brown before Christmas day), but the remaining decorations can come down from their dusty spot in the garage rafters. I'm inspired to set up my little Christmas village by yet another magnificent post by Posie. Question is...where to put it where 3-year-old hands won't disturb it. I'm starting to get flashbacks of last year...after a week I believe I started packing up all the decorations...2-year-old hands were into everything...I was so depressed! Maybe this year will be different? Well, I'll give it a good Christmas try.

I must admit, I've been lingering around the fake Christmas trees I see in the stores. They look so real these days! I like the idea of not sacrificing a poor little tree every year, but what keeps me from getting a fake tree is depriving my son of the memory of that fresh Christmas tree smell. I wish they had something like a pole with holes that fills with water so you could stick branches here and there - making your own tree from all those leftover pieces. It'd probably be tough to make it look decent though. Are you picturing a Charlie Brown Christmas tree? Yeah, so am I. Maybe I'll wait till the kids are 12 before getting a fake tree. Let that smell permeate their little memories.