14.10.14

Me, Myself and My Blog. Oh Sister, Where Art Thou...?



where art thou, indeed. if i think about that too much i'll be infused with more self-inflicted guilt than i already have over the fact that i haven't posted anything since last may. stupid. feeling guilty about my lack of blogging presence. but...there it is. a little inside about me.

moving on.

hello, christmas right around the corner!!! can you believe it?!? we just put up halloween decorations and my kids are still trying to decide what they want to dress up as but, yesterday, i watched a christmas movie on netflix. can't help it - love 'em! i have a friend who's probably already done with her christmas shopping (you know who you are, lady) and diy's are already popping up all over pinterest.

i've been in somewhat of a funk the last several months and so haven't been as productive as i would have liked. still, not a total loss creatively speaking. i did manage to play around here and there...









now i'm in the process of making clay oil lamps which i chose as the take-away favor for our church's women's christmas dinner, coming up with new fragrances for the skin-care products that i sell in my etsy shop - honey grapefruit...yum! - figuring out what will be my homemade gift to my kids this year, and wondering if i'll have enough juice time to make all of the things i want to make between now and thanksgiving. an occasional coffee or lunch date with friend so that i don't isolate (easy for me to do), dealing with menopause (which completely SUCKS!), knowing that the 13th anniversary of my first husband passing away is next month which always makes me somewhat wonky starting about now and which feels doubly so this time because i'm in the same time frame in this marriage as i was in my first in which he died - 10 years. not an easy place to be and i can see that i'm making myself extra busy right now instead of sitting in it. i've tried to work on this and it isn't always easy. thankfully, there's grace. from my friends who know me, from my husband who loves me, and from God who knew this was all coming down the line.

baby steps.




16.5.14

Flourless Carrot Cake with Goat Cream Cheese Frosting and A First Apartment







one of my closest friends just got her first apartment. this is huge. the kind of huge that's scary and exhilarating in the same breath. and it's not like she did this right from leaving home or just graduating from college like so many. she's done it for the first time since leaving home, getting married, having children, dealing with loss, going through a divorce, moving back home... huge, right? brave. making every decision on her own and not having to check with anyone about paint colors or furniture placement or which way the toilet paper should come off the roll. freaking out about bills. eating cereal for dinner at 10 o'clock.

this is huge-ness that deserves an equally huge dessert and when i came across this recipe, i knew it would be perfect to bring to her house last night when several of her friends and i got together to help unpack and set up her kitchen. she doesn't eat gluten or dairy though is able to tolerate goat milk products (hence the replacements for the frosting).




Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Goat Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from a Donna Hay Recipe

the what...
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3½ cups almond meal 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 - one pound bag of carrots, peeled and grated 
  • ½ cup minced fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • ½ cup currants
goat cream cheese icing
  • 6.25 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 5 ounces goat butter (meyenberg from whole foods)
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioner's/icing) sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • note: my changes to the original recipe don't yield an icing that holds it's shape well. rather, this icing is like an extra thick cream.

13.5.14

Triple Layer Chocolate Raspberry Rose Cake with Sweetened Cream







sometimes, you just have to splurge. a new baby, a promotion, first apartment...you know, something BIG! for me, it was my niece's 13th birthday which was a big deal because, 1) hello! it's 13 and 2) this was the first time she was at my house since i'd met my brother for the first time last summer. BIG! HUGE! also, it was mother's day so i wanted to make something special to honor all of the mom's who happened to be celebrating with us. enter this (not so) little lovely cake.

i had two inspirations going in. first, the look of this beauty from twig studios and the taste of this chocolate cake from my baking addiction, both of which i found on pinterest.

fit for a queen victoria sponge cake



 
the best chocolate cake

can you imagine the marriage? it's quite perfect, actually. and when they say "the best chocolate cake", they mean it! i've made this recipe twice now and it's divine. the recipe uses simple ingredients and is really straight forward. for this cake, i doubled it and used three 8-inch cake pans (be sure to butter and flour your pans and line the bottoms with buttered parchment).









3 cups of heavy cream whipped to a gorgeous cloud, sweetened with 1 cup of powdered sugar and flavored with a teaspoon of almond extract (vanilla is fine or none at all). actually, i would have loved to add some rose water to the cream too. yum! then just start layering: cake, raspberry jam, cream, fresh raspberries. rinse. repeat.




don't get caught up in having it look perfect. let the jam and the cream ooze and drip from between the layers. i did insert five wooden skewers to keep it stable and kept it in the fridge until about 15 minutes before we were ready to eat it. sooooo good! be sure to add candied rose petals to the top to make it extra special.




i know it might look complicated or like a lot of work but it really isn't. and who wouldn't love this cake? not only was it delicious, it was total eye candy as well! and if chocolate isn't your thing, you could make any cake flavor and still stack it up this way. lemon cake and blackberries with blackberry jam, vanilla cake with orange marmalade and mandarin oranges. get crazy and get baking!   

11.2.14

Big Sequin Love Sign






this coming friday, i'll be rockin' my 3rd annual valentine's day party and preparations have been in motion for the past couple of months; mainly....which appetizers and treats i'll serve, color scheme (pink and gold), and stocking up on bottles of pink champagne and dry rose wine. i've been pinning ideas to my "be mine" board for the past year and which made planning pretty smooth.


brownie and raspberry trifle


homemade mints


"get in here"


gumball necklace


d.i.y. kiss artwork


gold raspberry cream puffs

the lipstick picture was super fun to do and you should try it, if only for the conversational aspect of it. since i already had everything on hand, this was cost me zero dollars (always a plus, right?!?). i've got my gold luster dust all ready for the little raspberry cream puffs and i'm going to use strawberries for the brownie trifles. i found pink and shimmery gold gumballs on line here for the necklaces (how cute are they?). going to spray paint a wood pallet that i have in gold and then paint on a big pink heart and write "get in here" in gold and my mom is making the mints. fun!!!

but this big sequin love sign? hello!!! i have it already made and displayed and it's SO cute! found the idea on pinterest from these clever ladies at popcosmo and new it would be perfect for my party especially since it was GOLD!!!

really, you could do this with any letters you'd like and it would look great. click on the link for the deets which are crazy simple.  a couple things, though:

  • i used gold acrylic paint instead of spray paint
  • ordered my sequins from hobby lobby but was unsure as to how many packages to get (instructions didn't say how many they used). they were packaged by weight, not pieces. turns out there are 51 sequins in a package. i'd ordered 9 and used 4 with some left over. 
  • i pushed the thumbtacks in with my thumb (huh?) just so they'd hold then, in the memorable words from the movie, signs, just use a hammer and "swing away" to secure them. f.y.i....the pad of my thumb is still numb and it's been 2 days.










this sign has me so excited for my party! i'm really looking forward to having friends and family over to love on and celebrate the day with. now, if i could just figure out what i'm going to wear....






8.2.14

Me, Myself and My Blog. Day 6...Respecting The No






i've come to believe that, in many ways, "no" can be a much kinder and more loving word than "yes". in the moment, saying it can be really really difficult and can bring up a lot of emotional junk. i've consistently struggled with this throughout my life because i've always tried to be good and somewhere along the way my belief became good=yes=wanted/loved; especially in relationships when, in actuality, good=yes=used

so, here you go when it comes to "no"...

respect it.  
there's usually a reason the person you're hearing it from is saying it. pushing them into saying yes is about you.

accept it.  
this doesn't mean that you won't get what you want; just not when you want it.

say it.    
doing so doesn't mean you're selfish or unloving; that you don't understand or don't want the other person to be happy. it means you're defining who you are and who you are not.

thoughts?



7.2.14

Me, Myself and My Blog. Day 5...A New Dawn




yesterday, i  was privileged to witness something truly amazing. i wasn't at a particular event. i didn't stumble upon migrating ladybugs (actually, that did happen once and it was pretty amazing but that's not it). i was at home in my pajamas, no makeup, fingers sticky with drying mod podge when my stepdaugther comes home, all but prances towards the computer and says to me, "stepmother! you HAVE to see this!!!"...





from the moment this young girl opened her mouth, i was transfixed. my heart swelled up and my eyes filled with tears formed from a mixture of awe and wonder and disbelief and longing. music can do this to me, certainly, but it was so much more than that. the best way i can describe it is to say that it was  the... the...beauty i was seeing.

back in 1979, i remember being at the drive-in with my mom and watching the black stallion and just sobbing at the end when the black's hooves are hitting the track with the sound of a freight train and he and alec are winning the big race. the scene changes to the time when the horse and the boy were stranded on a deserted island, having no one but each other and forging a deep and unbreakable bond. my mom turned to me and asked, "why are you crying? it isn't sad...nobody died," and i distinctly remember saying to her, "it's just so beautiful!"

i don't watch the x-factor. i've never heard of this young girl and i don't know what she's been doing, musically speaking, since this performance. i hope and hope and hope that she knows what an amazing gift she has. not just a wide musical range, a round sound and an amazingly soulful voice that smacks of such greats as etta james, billie holiday or dinah washington. this gift, in my humble opinion, is that ~ with just the first few notes ~ she can bring tears to the eyes of her listeners. every note swirling together and felt deep in your chest, every moment of love and pain and joy; awe, excitement, disappointment, loss, beauty, grace, holiness...everything you've ever felt reverberating in your soul.

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Yeah, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel..
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me


p.s. don't you just LOVE the look on simon's face when he first hears her?!?



6.2.14

Me, Myself and My Blog. Day 4...A Badass BLT






unless it's because of a special diet or religious observance, i've never met anyone who doesn't like bacon.  i happen to love it. like, i want to marry it love it. for me it's one of those things that as soon as i smell it cooking i want to eat it; even if i've already eaten and am quite full...like when you smell bbq or chocolate chip cookies or fresh bread. you get the idea.

yesterday was a day that called for a blt. and not just any 'ole blt...a BADASS BLT!!! crispy baguette slathered with garlic herb mayo and piled high with crunchy lettuce, sweet tomatoes and lots and lots of thick smokey bacon. you know that moment when you know exactly what you want to eat and set about making it happen. that was me. first up, the mayo. no real recipe here, just took a cup of prepared mayonnaise and added about two generous tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme. it's what i had on hand ~ use whatever you happen to have), five cloves of finely minced garlic (i went a bit overboard here cuz that's how i do it. adjust to your taste), about a teaspoon of lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. mix it up and use it generously. there will be left overs ~ yeah!!! ~ so just put it in a jar and keep it in the fridge. it'd be great on fish, chicken, steak, steamed veggies...get crazy!










isn't it pretty? and sooooo good! i'm thinking about whether or not i have enough left over to make another one for lunch today. m hm, i'm pretty sure i do! if you love bacon like i do, you should make this for yourself sometime; or, at least, something else with bacon that's equally as BADASS. you deserve it!

be sure to let me know what you end up with. inquiring minds and all... 


5.2.14

Me, Myself and My Blog. Day 3...Loss


photo credit


loss is an interesting thing. other-worldly...like being underwater where every sound is muffled and you can only tell what someone is saying to you because you're watching their lips move; a crushing tightness in your chest from being unable to draw breath without drowning. in the beginning, you move through days in a blur trying to make decisions, forgoing showers for sleep, trying to remember to eat and feeling like you have to take care of others around you, easing their sadness when you can barely contain your own.

the passing of time certainly helps. at least it has for me. there are days and weeks which go by where i don't think at all about my first husband, filled instead with my life as it is now. sometimes though, it hits me...a smell, a sound, a song, a movie, a taste, a place, a situation, and a deep sadness courses through me and, quite literally, takes my breath. for many years, my m.o. at these times was to 'get busy' and push those emotions down, down, down. i instantly owned scarlet o'hara's immortal words, "i can't think about that today....i'll just think about that tomorrow." it's taken me about 10 years to stop doing this. 10 years to allow myself to feel the sadness when it comes up instead of trying to ignore it. 

about four years ago, i met a woman who'd also been through a loss just two months after my own. we didn't meet because of it. weren't introduced because we had something in common. well, we did...but we weren't aware (at the time) that the deepest commonality would be this. instead, it was something discovered later; a discovery that was a huge turning point for me. our losses were both different yet similar and for the first time i was able to talk with someone who got it. who got me. who i could talk to without guarding my words.

today is the 12th anniversary of the loss of her son. i've marked this day with her before as she has with me on the anniversary of jeff's passing. we've talked, we've helped, discovered and let go. because of this relationship, i've been able to grieve now in ways that i never did nor felt like i could when the loss was newer. 

if you've suffered a loss of any kind ~ old or new ~ i have no advice to give you; no words of wisdom or book recommendations. i feel you, though. i grieve with you, remember with you and rise up with you...



4.2.14

Me, Myself and My Blog. Day 2...A Couch



i want a new couch. 

i need a new couch. 

no. wait. i seriously need a new couch. the one i have ~ pictured above ~ is 12-years-old. perhaps not old as some couches go and by this what i really mean is some couches that are rarely sat upon and reside in homes with adult children or no children at all. 

after my first husband passed away, i moved from the san fernando valley back to my home town of long beach. i bought my first house and gutted and painted and sanded it into a sweet little home for me and my two boys. i bought new everything from the skin out, one of which was said couch: custom, slip-covered, down. truly, the most comfortable couch i had ever sat upon. it has moved with me three times. it has been slept on, spilled on, colored on. i've shared glasses of wine with friends on this couch. i've nursed my youngest child on it, cried on it, convalesced on it, opened christmas presents on it. i've fought with my husband on it, made major decisions from it, made love on it, watched favorite movies from it's deep cushions. amazingly, it is the only place where i can actually nap.

it's time, however, is coming to a close. irreparable wear and tear have moved beyond having a new slip cover made or updating the pillows and as much as i long for a new couch, letting this one go feels like the end of an era. the end of 12 years of my life during which A LOT has happened. i'll keep it a few more months while i search for a suitable replacement. for now, an occasional touch on the arm, an indulgent glance at the feathers which constantly litter the floor around it, the daily plumping of slouching cushions keep me in mind of the life that's been lived on my stoutharted companion.

thank you, old friend...


3.2.14

Me, Myself and My Blog. Day 1...Conversations





sometimes, blogging feels like a chore to me. i hate this. it fills me with guilt and a sense of being overwhelmed with what i think i should be doing rather than a desire to want to do. there are times when i want to write about something that doesn't involve making something but, because i told myself that my blog is specifically for crafting, i stop myself from including anything else. what i'm discovering, though, is that i'm inspired by more than that. more than the sum of those parts. i want to write about life. about being a woman, a wife, a mother, a student, a misfit, a goddess. i want to write about love and loss and sex and food and things that make me feel. and i don't want to let myself get hung up on how long or short the post is or...even...whether or not someone reads it (audible gulp).

i don't want to call this a challenge or a regimen or an overhaul. i want it to be more of a.....a first kiss, a closed-eyed taste, a love affair. with myself, with my blog, with where i am in my life. 

this morning, i had an impromptu coffee date with a woman who's a fellow regular at the coffee house i frequent. she prefers reading british publications of magazines, is saddened by the fact that her friends don't know the difference between a narcissus and a paper white and thinks pinterest is bullshit (audible gasp). it was a lively discussion. and one that made me long for sending and receiving an actual letter, turning the pages of a book, making a call from a phone booth, eating a grilled cheese and chocolate malt at the woolworth's counter.  


24.1.14

Using Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint - Finally!!!







i don't know why it took me so long to try my hand at distressing a piece of furniture using milk paint. most everyone i've come across who live in the world of furniture distressing/refinishing has heard of and used the hugely popular annie sloan chalk paint but milk paint, that red-headed stepchild, not so much; even though it's been around much much longer, like...thousands of years longer. or, maybe, i've just been living under a rock. that said, i finally decided to redo a little antique dresser i recently got a hold of using miss mustard seed's line of milk paint. after much deliberation, i chose the color "dried lavender" and also picked up a jar of her white wax.

here's my piece. from the 1920s and still with the original hardware. score!




i ordered my milk paint online. the directions for mixing or self explanatory. i mixed the entire contents though i could have easily gotten by with just mixing half. if you're a careful painter, you probably don't have to tape off your piece but i did as i tend to get a little over zealous with the brush which, by the way, doesn't have to be fancy but should be decent quality.




be sure to take care of any needed repairs to your piece before you paint such as re-gluing, tightening or filling. like chalk paint, milk paint doesn't require any surface prepping prior to use (which is awesome!) though you might need to do some depending on the look you're going for. oh! disposable piping bags (i got mine from my local cake decorating supply store a while ago) work GREAT for getting wood glue into tiny little spaces!

now you're ready to paint! first coat coverage is pretty decent though two is best, especially if you're going for the "chipped paint" look. and, from what i gathered on the blogoshpere, when you're going for this look: two coats of paint with 24 hours of drying time after the last coat to get the greatest possibility for areas of resisting that will then chip off. the waiting is the hard part but just hang in there. you'll be glad you did.





when i was learning about milk paint, specifically from Miss Mustard Seed's line, i saw that she also offered a white wax that could be used with it to give a particular look, much like the annie sloan dark wax - which i LOVE - can be used to age and define particular parts of a piece. and where the dark wax will deepen (and can completely change) a color when applied, the white wax does much the same, though in reverse. i used it to highlight details of my dresser, especially pushing it into seams and creases and even some areas that i left unfilled with wood filler.


video


video


here i used the wax on the feet, covering them completely and giving extra attention to creases before wiping it off. a little side note, if you use a clear wax first, you won't get the color or adhesion of the white wax so keep this in mind when you start waxing your piece.




love love love how it finally turned out and yes, i will definitely use it again. in fact, i have a large trestle table and chairs that i want to tackle next and i already know what colors i want to use. definitely give milk paint a try sometime, especially if you like the "chipped paint" look.










if you've already used milk paint, i'd love to know about your experience with it so be sure to leave a comment.




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