Wednesday, February 28, 2007

how about some earth tones for baby?

I'm pretty sleepy today - my eyes have that heavy, burning, feels-like-it's-3am feeling. (You know how it is with a baby) I thought it'd be nice to do a photo-heavy post on color. But after walking around the house trying to catch some of my favorite examples of color, I am left with dark photographs - it's not your typical sunny SoCal day I'm afraid. So instead, I have one photo from the house and a couple photos of booties. And the whole thought on color really started with the booties anyway. I'm coming up with some color standards for my booties and these photos give you the general idea of where that inspiration is headed. I realize they're actually very un-baby. But I don't think that necessarily makes them wrong for baby. I'm working under the assumption that there are other mothers out there like me who feel suffocated in the saturation of pastels being pushe don us in all the infant merchandise out there. Why does it only have to be baby blue, pink, mint green and yellow? In fact, for a long time I didn't even use pink felt. But after many requests I added it to my rotation. But, as you'll see, I always try to make it pink with a twist. Love those twists. Orange with green, pink with red, blue with rust and green with purple. Well, baby calls - off for another feeding or diaper attention or blanket tucking or simply some good old fashion cuddle time.

Monday, February 26, 2007

meal worthy of the red carpet

While in New York, we caught the exhibit of the Oscar statues in Times Square. Yes, I'm one of the goofy tourists who jumped at the opportunity to stand behind the podium, accept my Oscar and have my picture taken. Mostly, though, it's because I wanted to see just how heavy these bad boys are - recipients at the Academy Awards always say, "It's so heavy!" And yes, they are.

I thought Ellen did a great job. It was funny seeing her do her Ellen thing. I wish the hosts had more of a chance to do their thing though - but, I perhaps it's not about the host, afterall. I just don't find the scripted jokes dryly read from the teleprompter to be very amusing. The Al Gore/Leo Decaprio bit was funny, but the rest I can do without. I almost think I'd rather just see the host giving away all the awards. But, whatever.

So, for our red carpet meal, I made mini hamburgers and mini hot dogs (or, pigs in a blanket). For the hamburgers I actually used a hot dog bun cut into three mini square buns. (I'm very proud of this ingenious discovery, personally) And for the pigs in a blanket, used croissant dough and lil' smokies. I have no idea how this relates to anything particularly Oscar, but it's different and fun and that's just where the inspiration led me while I was wandering the aisles at the grocery store, hungry - never go to the store hungry.

For desert, I did go with special popcorn as mentioned in the previous post. I used a recipe that I've been using practically my entire life from my very first cookbook - Better Homes & Gardens, "New Junior Cookbook." (it's so seventies - check out the groovy paper cup next to the bowl of carmel corn!) Between my sister and I, I think we had something like six copies because my sweet grandma gave one to us nearly every single Christmas. Oh my sweet, precious grandma. (miss her So much!) The very last recipe in the book is for caramel corn. So that's what I made. Mmmmmmm! Here's the recipe for those not priveledged enough to own a copy of this inspirational cookbook:

Caramel Corn

8 c popped popcorn
3/4 c packed brown sugar
6 T butter
3 T light corn syrup
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t vanilla

1- Put popcorn onto a baking pan. Remove unpopped kernels.
2- Mix brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stirl until butter melts. Continue cooking until mixture starts to boil. When mixture starts to boil, stop stirring. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn off burner and remove from heat.
3- Stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour mixture over popcorn and gently stir the popcorn until it is completely coated.
4- Put pan into a 300 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and stir. Put pan back in oven and bake 5-10 minutes longer. Remove popcorn from pan and let cool in a large bowl.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

most important meal of the day

Steamed up a little milk, brewed some espresso, whipped up these delicious macadamia nut pancakes and we had ourselves a breakfast worthy of Sunday morning. I love the graphics on the pancake package. Our friend, the Lost Hawaiian, gave this to us, but if I'd seen it at the store I'm sure it would have been one of those things I'd buy just for the packaging. And this is one of those rare cases where the product lives up to the flashy packaging - Yum Me. (I almost wrote "Yummo" but that's just a little too Rachel Ray for me) The last time an eye-catching label made a sucker of me I found myself acting like an idiot at the register as I went through sticker shock. "Are you sure that's the right price?" I originally picked it up thinking, I don't care how much it costs because it is just too cute! Boy was I in for a surprise. I bought it anyway because I didn't want the clerk to think I was poor - which I am - and intended to take it back - which I never did - and ended up giving it away as a gift - after promising myself I wouldn't spend anymore money - which, of course, I have. Speaking of extravagant purchases, if I ever had money to blow I'd love to have THIS espresso machine sitting on the counter in my kitchen. The Krupps machine we have is perfectly sufficient, but wouldn't you think that a lime green or orange espresso machine would just make your cappuccino taste even better? I know, I know ...form follows function. Sometimes I just get so blinded. There have been some very pleasant surprises in the past when I've put aside my opinions on form in favor of function. Best example, our car - a Honda Element. I DID NOT like the way these looked when my husband first suggested checking them out. The only way he got me down to the lot was by telling me about all the innovative and functional features: hard surface floors instead of carpet (just hose it down when there's a spill), seats that fold down into a bed (perfect for camping), spacious interior without the nuisance of an exaggerated SUV-like exterior, plastic panelling that protects against dings and scratches - to name a few. I was sold, and now I even dig the way it looks. AND, it's holding up very well what with all the spilled milk, muddy dog paws and sandy feet it's had to endure. Any other car would be trashed by now. Okay, now how did this end up sounding like an episode of Car Talk when I started out wanting to share my Sunday breakfast? I write much the way I proceed with getting things done - set out to do one thing and find myself sidetracked with several other things before finally getting to the thing I meant to do in the first place (if I even get to it at all!). So please forgive the attention deficiencies of my writing style. Back to breakfast ...the skillet was a little too hot so the cakes don't have that nice golden crust (if only all our flapjacks could end up looking like Pancake Meow's), but they still tasted great. (Again, don't judge a book by it's cover!) We'll just say they were rustic pancakes. I didn't hear anyone complaining. Since we are now back on the topic of food ...I want to make something fun for dinner since it is Oscar night. Something in line with what I did a couple years ago - Oscar themed dinner. Or maybe we'll have something simple for dinner followed by some creative popcorn options. Well, we'll see. Check back tomorrow to see how we celebrated Oscar.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

nifty stuff

I want to share a nifty new product that I discovered about a month ago. I mentioned it very briefly to my dear friend, Martha, but thought I'd take a moment to mention it here - because I know at least one or two of you will REALLY appreciate this. This is something you use to pre-treat fabric that you will be printing on with your inkjet printer. And how do I print on fabric with my inkjet printer, you may ask? Well, either tune in to Martha on April 5th or check-out this tutorial HERE. The biggest drawback I've found with printing on fabric is that you either have to cleverly protect this printed fabric (hence, the iron-on vinyl I demo with Ms. Martha) OR you have to invest a small fortune in water resistant inkjet cartridges (as if they didn't cost enough as it is). The solution? Bubble Jet Set 2000! By pre-soaking your fabric in Bubble Jet, you are helping your fabric to absorb the ink and prevent bleeding when exposed to water. It's so much fun to be able to print on fabric. Okay, this is starting to sound like some middle of the night infomercial. But I swear, it’s not. I’m just another fellow crafter sharing a special little secret with you. So try it out. Oh, and I promise I'll stop dropping the "M" word. (martha martha martha!)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

things about to get crazy

My husband goes back to work today. Eeeegawd I going to survive being a mama of two? I know I know, I should consider myself very lucky to have myself a man who works for a company progressive enough to offer their male employees paternity leave. Other new mamas should be so lucky. But I'm spoiled - haven't yet had the pleasure of an entire day caring for the new one while the toddler runs circles around me. And, to top it off, we have rain again. (maybe it's all my complaining about never getting rain - because now we're actually getting rain) So that means a day stuck inside. But we have a couple new friends might have heard of them. They go by the names "Dora" and "Diego". Coincidently, I sat next to a chatty twelve year old girl on the flight home from NYC who does a lot of the voice-overs for both Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go. Funny thing is, my husband and I had just had a conversation about whether or not the voices were adults or actually kids. I think we had concluded that they must be adults because kids' voices would eventually change. But we were wrong. It's a small world, isn't it? My son just started watching Dora and Diego and then it just so happens that I sit next to this girl.

Now that we are all safe and sound back home, I'll mention one of the superstions that haunted me during our stay in New York. First, our room number
at the hotel? 911. Second, our seats at the theater (we saw Wicked)? 9, 11 and 13. Both of these freaked me out - but I sort of pushed them aside. Now that I'm home, I'm glad it was just freaky and not telling. Yeah, I've got to push this superstitious nonsense aside.

The drawings are images I've recently created for my bibs. Oh, and you'll see them on Martha. Oh yeah, you'll see 'em on Martha.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

a stitch in time

I think one of the things I love most about crafting (and any sort of creative project, really) is having something to do at all times. Love having a little something tucked away in my purse for stitching when I happen to get stuck standing in line somewhere. Love my little sketchbook - perfect for afternoons sitting at the park while my son burns all that excess energy. Love painting while catching up on all the shows Tivo has been saving for us. As opposed to some of the other things I enjoy - like baking, cooking, gardening, woodworking - crafting is something you can do anywhere at anytime. In the days before restrictive carry-on luggage, I'd have an entire bag dedicated to projects. All kinds of crafts to fit all kinds of inflight moods. Great activities for passing the time. Post 9/11, I even took up needlepoint because it was the only thing I could think of that didn't require scissors - which couldn't be taken on a plane. I had a pair of plastic safety scissors confiscated in London - but that was just weeks after 9/11. I wonder if they allow those now? Anyway, the blanket stitches on my baby booties is the perfect craft for passing time. This afternoon I flew through many stitches while sitting on the beach and then again as my son had his own creative hour with several tubs of playdoh. Which leads me to another topic …growing up I remember spending excessive amounts of time being sure to keep my playdoh colors separate. In fact, I couldn't understand some of these sets that inevitably ended up mixing colors together. (the head that grew playdoh hair or the mold that made mini playdoh hot dogs and hamburgers) I would often wonder what color you'd end up with should all the tubs wind up smooshed into one big ball - but I never had the desire to test it. My son, on the other hand - though he has his mamma's eye for detail he is only three, afterall - takes no time trying to separate the colors. And at the end of the day, I don't have the patience for sorting playdoh - I am thirty three afterall and have other things I'd rather be doing. But I am happy to discover the answer to my adolescent question. You end up with, much to my surprise, a brownish purplish sort of color. I would have imagined that you'd find yourself with black or an ugly brown. Nope. It's actually, in my opinion, a really nice color. And good thing too because we've got plenty of it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

thinking about the weather

The day before I was scheduled to fly out to New York the Martha people called to see if I could take an earlier flight because a snowstorm was scheduled to hit the city right when my flight was due. So the necessary adjustments were made and our plane touched ground before the first snowflakes did. Once in the city, all the buzz was about this snowstorm - apparently the first of the season. It was so strange to see all this activity being generated by the weather. And sure enough, we woke the next morning to a white city with all its snarled traffic, packed subways and cancelled flights.

I'm just so used to weather reports that come off the way Steve Martin's weatherman reports in
L.A. Story did. "Last night's temperatures dipped down to FIFTY EIGHT degrees!"
Our weathermen, or meteorologists (to be P.C.), often spend days talking about the "big" storm moving in. "Storm Watch 2007!" And then when it finally hits, it's, like, twenty minutes of drizzle and a little breeze just barely strong enough to make the windchimes dance. It's usually when there is no mention whatsoever of weather that we actually get a decent amount of precipitation. I always hear stories about the skies just opening up and dumping rain/snow/hail/sleet upon the sleepy town below, but here in So. Cal. we just aren't subjected to the ways of Mother Nature the way most of you are. I remember a spectacular rainstorm in Washington D.C. years ago where we first caught sight of the dark clouds, which were followed by the telltale rumble of thunder and then a downpour of rain. I'd never experienced rain in that way before. I knew it always happened that way in the movies (thunder then rain), but I guess I began to think that was just an exaggerated indication of rain - much the way they throw the sound of crickets in there when they want you to notice the silence.

So, you see, I am a big fan of the weather. Getting snow while I was in NYC was icing on the cake for me. I know how awful this must sound to people who are held completely hostage by the weather. But it made me absolutely giddy to see those snowflakes falling. And finally a chance to wear my favorite navy pea coat that I bought for $10 in a Santa Cruz thrift store years ago. Never get a chance to wear that warm wooly monster here at home. Once at home, when ten hours earlier I was in my coat with hat and gloves, it was so strang
e to find myself lying in the sunshine with a gentle, warm breeze, while my son danced in and out of his kiddy-pool, which he insisted on setting up.

And, of course, there was absolutely no mention of the rain we were to get later in the weekend.

Monday, February 19, 2007

my little adventure

I'm back from the land of Martha! The not-so-subtle hint from my last post probably suggested what I was up to - and now that it's actually happened I feel confident enough to share. Yes, I was invited to tape a couple segments on the Martha Stewart Show. Won't air until April 5th (that's an eternity!), so there's plenty of time to set the Tivo. I met Martha. Showed Martha how I make bibs and booties. Yes, I (as in me, me ME) stood right next to the Queen of Good Things at HER craft table, in HER studio and demonstrated a few of MY crafty techniques. (Yes yes YES ...those are MY booties set up in the craft room!!!) Isn't that insane?

Now that I'm home, I feel like I did when I was eight - home after a much anticipated day at Disneyland, finding it hard to believe that the whole thing has already come and gone. Though there was less than a week for me to get too worked up, I still felt like a kid in a candy store. In addition to the Martha experience, there was New York City. And as if the city alone weren't enough, it was New York City during a snowstorm! Beautiful. Cold, yes, but beautiful nonetheless. The weather played a big role in the insanity of the trip as well - let's just say it made things interesting. Arrived an hour late to the taping because the roads were an absolute mess. Return flight was late leaving NYC, stranding my mom and I in Phoenix - which is nothing compared to my sister's flight which was cancelled, extending her stay in New York for another two days. (which I wouldn't have minded if I didn't have a hungry baby at home waiting for mommy's milk to ease his formula-fed tummy ache)
So, yeah could say I'm just slightly amped. Amped, but sad that it's over. I can't even remember 75% of what I said during my two segments. Oh, and of course I'm now remembering all the things I'd intended to say, thinking of all these things I should have said and beating myself up for not warming up/loosening up until I only had a minute left. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, right? Despite all that, I think the one thing that will stick in my mind forever is Martha complimenting my work to my face. What else can a girl ask for? And as for the question on everyone's mind, What's Martha REALLY like? Of course she's not going to be anything short of delightful with me, a guest on her show, for the thirty seconds we have to chat between segments. But I can't help but think that the beyond-pleasant nature of everyone I encountered and worked with at Martha must be some indication of how satisfied these folks are with their jobs. Everyone was so nice - not superficially so, genuinely and truly nice. Made me want to work there! I want to sit in this room surrounded by every possible craft material and implement possible and create all day! I want to be around these kind of people all the time!
The timing of it all was completely crazy. Just weeks after having a baby! I couldn't stop the tears in the car on my way to the airport - sad to be leaving my boys (the 3-week old, the 3-year old and the 33-year old). And, of course, there's all that baby weight I had to carry with me on national television - as if the ten pounds television is supposed to add wasn't enough. But it was an experience I'll never forget. I wish there were a way for me to see the footage first. If it's really awful, I could just ignore mention of it and everyone won't have to see what a complete idiot I am next to Ms. S.

Anyway ...there's so much more racing in my mind ...but I think I still need some time to decompress. You'll problably be hearing more from me for months to come.

UPDATE.....................Check out the videos:
Link to the Bib video
Link to the Felt Booties video

Sunday, February 11, 2007

farewell lavender

Here are some booties you'll be seeing more of in the future. For months I've been working on a re-design - making the bodies a little stiffer, adding new stitches and embellishing in new ways. I say you'll be seeing more of these because I am in the process of preparing for a televison appearance where I will be demonstrating how I make these nifty little guys. Perhaps it's my seven years of marriage to my very superstitious husband ...but I hesitate to say too much for fear of bursting this perfectly wonderful little bubble. Anytime I'm within a five foot radius of any spilled salt, over the left should a pinch goes. Never mention how lucky we are to have not hit traffic until we have pulled into our destination and the engine is off. Always follow any mention of good fortune with the words (and corresponding hand motion), "knock on wood." Yeah, so, I don't want to talk too much about my trip next week, about who I'll be showing my things to, about the exposure this could quite possibly create for my crafts. Nah ...we won't talk about that until it is all said and done and 100% sure to air.

So for today, I'll chat about the weather. A drizzly, rainy day ...and if you've read what I've had to say before, you know how I feel about the rain. How else is a parched Californian supposed to feel about the rain? Love it! The yard is going to require some major work this spring - so any little help from nature is greatly appreciated. On a sad note, it appears that it is very possible that my 3-year old is allergic to lavender. He's been breaking out in hives whenever he goes outside, and so far we've only been able to identify the big lavendar bush he brushes past on the way to the sandbox as the most likely culprit. I love lavender, but of course it'll have to go if we decide that it is in fact what's causing his break-outs. Maybe I'll replace it with some sage - similar colors, a little more manic in shape. Oh, my poor lavender!

So, if you don't hear much from me in the next week, just know this ...I am having myself an adventure and I'll be anxious to share it when I get back. No news is not necessarily bad news, it's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

my disorder

Here are a few paintings I did before the holdiays (waaaay back when) and never got around to posting. But you see, I'm not pregnant anymore, so no more excuses for not getting things done! Joking aside, it is nice to have my energy back. Even my creative energy seems to have been sparked lately. Unfortunately, I don't know to which end said creativity can be put to use since it may be a little while before I'm able to pack up and head out to another craft event. I'll sure miss BazBiz San Mateo and the Maker Faire this year. My heart aches, actually. But I don't think a road trip up to the bay area with a 3-month old is such a smart idea. Pick your battles, isn't that what they say? So, maybe I should focus on the website. Focus on wholesale. Focus on the things I can do here from my cozy little home - which I don't seem to leave much these days. Yes, it's true, I am a homebody. You'd think I live back east where weather forces me to stay indoors for days. This beautiful weather is wasted on me. It's been cold here (and "cold" here translates to daring to dip below 60 degrees! - - I know, stupid Californian), so I haven't been motivated to garden - a project that gets me outside. Maybe in another few weeks, this "cold" will disappear and I can go out to repair all the tropicals that have been burned by the frost we had a couple weeks ago. Poor things - all those brown leaves! I have to wonder if they'll come back? I don't think my hearty passion vine has ever lost all its leaves before. The caterpillars love this vine - so I hope it does come back because it's so nice to have brand new butterflies daily. In any case, we'll definitely have to install some color out there. One good thing comes of this - the "cold" has kept the grass from growing. The lawn mower hasn't been fired up in weeks! Well, time for me to get out from behind this computer, stop groovin to Sirius Disorder (my new favorite Sirius station - where else can you hear the Beatles, then some jazz, then Beth Orton and Aimee Mann all back-to-back???) and try to get something accomplished today. And maybe, just maybe, even go outside!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Meet my Finn

I'm back! And, suddenly (or so it seems), NOT pregnant! (it's so strange to not be pregnant anymore) Baby is happy and healthy, as am I. See this little guy? This is Finn. Recognize the shoes?

The cookies I mentioned in the previous post turned out really nice. All the nurses loved them. I was happy that I took the time to put them together. GREAT soft cookie recipe from Martha (who else?) here. I'll be coming up with excuses to package cookies like this all the time now. Especially since I bought a box of 100 envelopes. Yikes! That's a wholotta cookies.

With the newborn and the three-year-old, I can't imagine I'll be up to anything very creative for quite some time. I'll have to squeeze some in, here and there, just to keep me sane. So don't give up on me if I don't post everyday. Creativity will continue to linger...