Friday, December 28, 2012

caught in freeze-frame

I have almost twenty days off from work and already it feels as if the time is half-way gone. As always there are plans but my brain seems to prefer to huddle under thrifted blankets on the sofa. We've had rain off and on and so the light is waning and with it goes my productivity.

It hasn't been all lazy-laziness. I have vacuumed up more ants than you would want to see in one place. I also took the holiday decorations down and hit the post office to mail some etsy sales. In regards to those darn ants it seems they are a bit booze happy as I just discovered a new party of them hanging out with the creme de cacao. Oy!

I have now since lost the thought I was going to write about so I leave you with some happy mossy bark because that is how I roll....

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

boxing day shop update

Why oh why does it take so long to add items to an online shop? I have much planned but managed to add a happy handful of new vintage items to the scrumdillydilly shop. Take a gander, won't you please? Happy boxing day! 

the day after christmas

I had tremendously unpleasant dreams last night. All. night. long. Dreams where I needed to hide myself or hide a son I did not have from a very bad bad person who came to kill on Tuesday evenings. In the dream it was a given that could not be thwarted and so I tried to create an illusion of no child being in the room with no actual place for hiding. It was a horrid, horrid, dream and almost impossible to wake up from. How odd on the eve of Boxing Day to carry such tremendous woe.

I don't know what was up. Christmas day spent with family was joyful and quiet with a lot less fanfare than usual (in a good sense). Perhaps we were all still reeling from the various sick that seemed to wallop us all but our day was spent in good company with more cheese, more noshing, more sweets than we took notice of. There were many rounds of exquisite corpse, this time with both words and drawings, there was hot apple cider and vernor's and foam darts flying overhead and underfeet and much, much, laughter with maybe a grump tossed in to keep it real.

My nose, thanks to another round of meds, was in tip-top working order and so I was able to smell the piney pretty of the Christmas tree, the spicy happy of the nutmeg in my egg nog (which was then added to my coffee), the richness of the breakfast quiche and the crispness of the cold air outside with a highnote of log fire. The nephew a-go-go was a hoot with his excitement in the odd bits and pieces that were gifted to him and everyone spilled over with giggles and sighs. I laughed many times and yet I felt overwhelmingly sad and I do not know why. I can speculate, sure but it was odd and disconcerting to feel my eyes well up suddenly and for no reason and to catch my breath and shake it off. So, so, disconcerting and odd. I spoke out about it and the mama a-go-go said she felt melancholy as well and then the sister a-go-go said Christmas makes her fel blue too and we sat there all quietly, a little confused, a little humbled, a little closer to ech other than before.

And then we went back to our exquisite corpses full of funny drawings and flying donuts and the nephew's propensity for turning our silly sentences into a scene with an alien or robot in it.

The evening ended with a rainstorm and yet another round of cleaning up the ants that have invaded the tiny casa.

The rain has retreated a bit and another round of ants has been dealt with and I am huddled in the chilly casa under a thrited quilt waiting for some sun, warmth or light to filter in so I can clean up the messy mess. Happy boxing day!

Monday, December 24, 2012

diy cupcake liner tree

This nifty tree can me whpped up in time. Make a whole forrest of pretty! Details over at the 'do!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

last minute cookie gifts

So, you made three dozen of your famous holiday cookies and want to gift them to friends and family but want to shy away from the classic tin or gift box. Jar them up! If you are a canner, crater, hoarder or hipster, you are sure to have a jar or two flaoting around. Bell jars are awesome but I prefer to reuse the mister's almond butter jars as they are slightly wider in diameter and have a larger opening for cookie cramming. I find that cookies made with a small cookie scoop are a perfect fit for the jars.
Pile your cookies int oyour jar, add the lid then top with a gold foil doily tied with a legth of vintage trim and you are good to go! 

Happy Holidays! 

sugar and spice: holiday oatmeal cookies

aka How NOT to make spicy chocolate covered pomegranate oatmeal cookies with white chocolate chips
I wanted to share with you a most awesome cookie recipe but sadly my cookies, while amazingly gooey and sweet while hot; fizzled in texture once they cooled down. The texture dealio can be resolved with a few seconds in a microwave but who wants a cookie that is only good right after it is baked? 
I think I need to add another egg to my batter. I only used one and I think two would jazz up the overall cookie more than one could. I also perhaps should have added some baking powder. Jsut a smidge...or maybe I should use a certified recipe? But look at them..they were soooo gooey and pretty...sigh.
I also thought that these cookies would rock the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds I found at Trader Joe's back in November. They no longer have them and I think I know why. As mister puts it..."They're SEEDS! Who wants hard seeds in their cookies?" And so, the next time I make these, I will use chocolated covered cranberries. A little tart, a little sweet, a whole lot of goodness in a cookie.
That said, try these (but not as I made them)! Gather up the ingredients for your favorite oatmeal cookies and then add a happy dose of white chocolate chips and another does of chocolate covered cranberries. Up the ante even more by adding a double does of cinnamon and ginger and then...then add a teaspoon of black pepper. Yes, I wrote pepper! 
Oh but I did discover one thing from this cookie adventure...if your cookies don't flatten out while baking, underbake a smidge so that they are gooey and then SMASH 'em down with a fork...sooooo good! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

make a denim stocking

If you have a pair of jeans lying around waiting for a new life you have one or two holiday stockings n the naking. The size of your stocking is determined by the width of your pants leg. If the pair of jeans you have are skinny jeans then I guess you stocking-to-be might be quite wee. This project is best suited for a straight , wide or boot cut. 

*1 pair of denim jeans
*large sheet of scratch paper
*sewing machine
*small to medium fabric doily
*tacky or fabric glue
Begin by liberating one of your pants legs from the rest of the jeans with a pair of scissors. Simply cut, cut, cut across the width until you have a free pant leg. Set aside. Draw a stocking shape of choice, eyeballing the size as indicated by your pants leg, onto your scratch paper and cut out with scissors. Position atop your pants leg so that the top of the stocking is at the very edge of the bottom hem. If your pattern is too large, trim until it fits. If you prefer to not have to trim you can measure your pant leg and go from their. I suppose I should do more measuring but the pisces in me just goes for it. 
Turn the pants leg inside out and pin your pattern in place making sure the top is once again lined up with the bottom hem of the leg. Bring to your sewing machine and stitch all the way around leaving the hemmed part (the top of the stocking) open.
Use a pair of scissors to trim around the pattern leaving about a quarter inch of fabric outside the stitches and add a few vertical snips at the curves. Turn the whole shebang rigth-side out. Ta-da! You now have a stocking.
From the remaining part of the leg, cut the double stitched ridge that runs up and down the entire leg if their is one. You will want a length of six to eight inches. This will be the loop that hans your stocking. Stitch to your stocking using your sewing machine. Go slow and be careful of placement so that you do not break a needle.
Next up, grab a small or medium sized doily and place wherever you fancy atop your stocking. Use fabric or tacky glue to affix the doily to the stocking and use a handful of clothespins to hold it all in place.
When dry, stuff with all sorts of goodies and gift ot a friend. Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

diy holiday flair

Mister and I had a holiday party to attend last week that requested festive attire. Not feeling festive enough with the dress and other bits we assembled I whipped up these wee corsages of sorts to adorn our jackets.
In all honesty, the wee red picks came assembled from Michael's, I added the white flower centers (scrounged from the wedding aisle) and a bit of tulle to mine and then wrapped 'em up with some washi tape.
After a dose of hot glue they were ready to pin. I wish I had a photo of our festive selves but it was dark and so we heeaded out. Here is a wonky photo of me in my wee corsage. Seriously, these took me all of fifteen minutes to put together. 

Happy Holidays! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

sometimetimes you just need to carry a gnome

Mister and I went to his work party last week which was a White Elephant. It was quite late in the evening before that part of the party began and it became a smidge chaotic. The very first person opened up his gift and it was a bottle of Bailey's and a pound of SLO Roasted Coffee which coincidentally I had on my list. BOTH items. I made Jeff steal it which worked out dandy as the guy ended up with Jeff's gift of some techie gadgets. The fourth person opened up the gnome and I think I bawked. My neighbor on my right who is slow becoming a friend of sorts said she brought the gnome. I really wanted the gnome. I then was handed my package which I could tell was a book, and the gnome guy had stood up to do something and so with an actual shove from the mister I stole the gnome. I could tell it was an okay thing to do since he reads the author of the book he got. His neighbor however who was not participating i n the swap was miffed I took the gnome.

She ended up being gifted one of the gifts I brought which I think is a pretty good stand in for a gnome...a ceramic bunny head.

I don't think the guy who got our finger paints appreciated them. Ah...the spirit of the white elephant. I think the young adults out there could use a little tutorial and how to gift a white elephant.

The gnome is authentically vintage and from Europe. I forgot to photograph the stamp on the bottom. It needed to be in a garden and well, we don't have one at the tiny casa and so on Sunday I put on my raincoat and walking boots, grabbed the gnome and hiked on over to the homestead where it could hang out with the pink flamingos. Yup that was me. A girl traipsing about the neighborhood with a gnome under her arm.

We baked up cookies and did some decorating and then watched a really sweet movie. Such a lovely rainy day it was.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

do you ever wonder why?

Do you ever wonder why you do the things you do? Why you like the things you like? Why you own the things you own? I think about things such as these all the time. Perpetually. I'm always analyzing the whys of me. And I have come to figure out that I am a creature of comfort. Perhaps we all are really.

I look to my Pinterest boards often when I feel like I am in flux and when it comes down to it, I'm the me I have always been. Backtracking a smidge for ya, I keep thinking how when I moved into the new tiny casa, I wanted to embrace the white walls and clean things up a bit and I tried, I really did but as I have written before it all went to pieces when I reached for the froot-loopy colored towels eschewing the whites and greys. I wanted to have a grown-up looking apartment, after all I...we a-go-gos are officially IN our forties (gasp!) and I kept feeling the pull of the internet and its treasure chest of trends. Many of those trendy trends are quite pretty and while I still look for and collect ideas, I find that the clothing, styles, home items and such that I do like, are not liked because they are trendy but because they have meaning to me.

For example, wooden fruit crates and pallety bits of goodness. Sure they are trendy but I also grew up in a home full of beat up wood and the like. My mother stored her teacups in vintage pepsi and coke crates. That mix of pretty floral china with the splintery honey colored wood had IMPACT. My mother also had the greenest thumb east of the Tujunga wash. Our living room was a jungle of plant cuttings curling out of anything and everything from classic macrame plant hangers to vintage cookie jars to antique porcelain doll bodies. My favorite table full of plants was actually an enormous wooden spool much like this. So I think it is safe to say I come by it honestly though the mister often shakes his head when I come home with yet another beat up wooden box of sorts.

My favorite drinking vessels are jars. Jars are super trendy right now but I think they have good reason to be. I use jars because they remind me of home (we drank from peanut butter jars back then) and because the last of my favorite goldfish glasses is precariously on the edge of extinction. Jars are great...they have lids. I use them to drink out of, to store things and as the occasional cocktail shaker. Lest you think I am a jar snob, I'll have you know my favorites come from mr. a-go-go's almond butter. They are so much easier to clean and they are recycled!

What's with the return of the vinyl album? Don't get me wrong, I'm a girl who loves her vinyl but Im noticing more and more there appears ot be a new wave of vinyl hitting the homes of those much, much younger than I. Here in the tiny casa we have a wonky school-bus-yellow record rack that was picked up at a favorite thrift for two smackeroos! While most of our records are still in boxes (with a good many simply gone...donated? warped? sold?) we stuffed the bottom of the rack with a few favorites (more Queen and Sparks than I know what to do with) and topped the top with a school issued player that was gifted to us by the dapper boy a-go-go who is now a certified city boy ( living up in the bay area (I feel old). There is something that takes me back to my kooky highschool bedroom whenever I hear the scritchy-scratchy quality of a vinyl record rotating under the needle (cds were just making their debut when I was graduating highschool and man, I fought it, heels dug in and all).

I have to admit thay I am pleased with the popularity of decorating with vintage cameras. I have a hankering for those objects of art and can't seem to not pick them up when I come across them. While I do love a square format brownie or duaflex, my heart really sings when I find a chunky instamatic or the like from the 1970s. To me, that basic no nonsense camera shape is what a camera should look like. I was obsessed with our family camera as a kiddo and my mother had to hide it from me otherwise I would snap picture after picture of nothing more than my cat Popper in a doll's dress in my toy highchair. We also had a large Polaroid Land Camera that was used as a bookend for my mother's Reader's Digest Condensed Book collection. I loved opening it up to reveal the accordion action of the lens blooming outward. We never had film for it and I had no idea wjat is was at the time but I loved it, I did. I did not love picking up the rainbow of Reader's Digest Condensed Books as they toppled over everywhich way; me having absconded with their anchor.

Speaking of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, I love the look of old books, anything with printed patterns spread across the cover. I blame my mother's books, I do. Decorating with old books, whether or not I have read or plan to read the pages inside is another trend that I inherited from my mother. Even as a young girl, I would sneak away any pretty book to create a stack or display or perhaps staircase for my slinky to walk down.

Let's see...what else makes my heart sing and can be considered trendy? about my slip collection? I use vintage slips as curtains in the dining area. They are pretty when the light filters in through the lacey-ness and are happy on display. I began wearing slips as outer clothing my senior year in high school. I never wore them as dresses, at least not then but I did wear them as skirts paired with funky patterned tights and combat boots, topped off with my favorite army sweater pilfered from my friend Heather who pilfered it from her dad. I had a sweet collection in all sorts of colors and at some point I stopped wearing them and then gave some away. I still have a few from back then and have been slowly adding more vintage finds to the mix. I may not be donning them with funky patterned tights and combat boots anymore (which reminds me, I think I need to find a pair of combat boots) but who knows, maybe someday I will and until then, they will hang in the windows as pretty pieces of lace and memories of my past.

Lastly, I think I make up the bed so much because lets face it, vintage linens are happy. I also tend to lean towards schlumping about in pajama bottoms and t-shirts so making the bed pretty has taken the place of making myself pretty. That's not to say I have given up all hope when it comes to myself but I do have to say I threw in the towel a few pounds ago and until I find a way to afford made-for-me basics I will play with pillowcases and hand-stitched duvet covers as I listen to my old lady eighties tunes and watch my favorite Doris Day flicks.

In your home, what are your favorite trends?

on boys and love and the power of ourselves

Back in my other life I worked as a children's bookseller. I was good. Very good. I knew my books and loved being around them. In the young adult section we had quite a few books for girls that dealt with feelings and emotions. Actually, we carried a lot of titles published to ideally 'help' girls and young women muddle through the muck that is junior high, high school, body image, and bullying. We had one title for boys. One.

I remember thinking that if only we raised our boys to be comfortable with their emotions, to be comfortable enough to be sad or to cry or to simply be sensitive or even themselves we might not need all the books we had for girls. I was in my mid-twenties and boy, was I naive.


I  do believe that if we could redefine what true masculinity is to allow our boys and young men to be firmly safe in their skin, to know without a doubt that they are boy enough, man enough no matter how "sensitive" they may be they would be stronger. We would all be stronger. Humans tend to be afraid of what they do not know or what they perceive goes against what is socially acceptable as defined by their peers and family; as influenced by television and films, and now our vast network of social media sites. All those influences tell us that a masculine man is strong, physically strong...ripped is the word we use today, handsome in a Hollywood way, a vocal and loyal sports fan...he sets cars on fire, chest bumps other fans, destroys property and picks fights with whomever is in their way all in the name of sports. Speaking of fights, a true man is an ass kicker, has a hot wife and drives an expensive car. A true man does not garden or use a crockpot, does not enjoy grocery shopping or brewing the perfect cup of tea. No, a true man only cooks exotic foods in his sparse and steel kitchen and drinks alcohol. A lot of alcohol.

Television, film and more importantly video games portray masculinity as aggressive. Aggressive, masculine men are powerful. Powerful men have the world at their fingertips. Powerful men are revered. Powerful men are not bullied. Powerful men do the bullying. And hey, it's okay because that is how it works...according to our media.

But this is wrong. So very wrong.

The most wonderful and astounding thing about people is that we are so very different in our abilities. We learn from each other, we lean on each other, we help, we buoy, and we make the world stronger. We also refuse to learn, we stand alone, we scoff, we bully,  and we make the world a sadder place. The power we have within ourselves to hurt frightens me.  The power within ourselves to help and heal is astounding. So astounding. A person who feels alone might carry a smile from a stranger for days and feel less so.  We are all on this planet together. We all have hearts that beat. We are humankind. It shouldn't be difficult to care. It shouldn't be difficult to love. Yet for some reason it is.

To cast judgment, to scoff, to ridicule a person because of who they are is a manifestation of  self-loathing or fear. I'm not speaking of dislike. Dislike happens and if all you do is think you would rather not associate with that person than you are not doing anything wrong. But, if you choose to entangle yourself in a hate-mongering campaign simply because said person drives a car you don't like, is not as tall as you or maybe taller, grows their own food, reads the bible, doesn't read the bible, makes minimum wage, has a stock portfolio or some other thing that you deem unacceptable then you need some reflection, you need to figure out how to like yourself, you need to be called out, you need to be stopped, you need to be loved.

Life is hard. Really hard. Life is especially difficult for our young men working on their ideal self on who they are. How can anyone be their true selves when their talents or desires are ridiculed? Life is also hard for our young women trying to make their way as well. I know I am leaning to the love, love, love mantra and I know that all of our children are important (girls as well as boys) but I want to really focus and put out there that our boys need our love and support no matter where their interests lie. Boys need to learn that to be manly, to be truly masculine is to be yourself. To have confidence in your abilities, to be proud of your quirks or your intellect. Stand up for yourself, stand up for others.

True men love.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

paperbag art

I just realized I never posted about the art of the month that went with the november bed. I also realized that I did not take pics along the way so I will simply talk you through it.

I used one paper bag from Trader Joe's and cut out the bottom and along one side to open it up. I then cut the large sheet into three pieces of varying widths. 
Next, I used a straight edge to create a series of slits along the length of each strip of paper. Some of the slits traveled the entire length while others did not. I had no specific plan and just cut away.

I keep all my paper scraps in two vintage suitcases and so I dug one of the cases out of the lcoset and rifled through it for some paper scraps in happy colors. Those scraps were cut itno strips about an inch or so wide and piled together into a smile.
I then hunkered down on the living room floor and began weaving my scraps in and out of the slits I cut into the paper bags. Again, with no plan other than to make something. Once I finished, I flipped over each panel and got kooky with the masking tape and taped all my paper strips into place. 

A few loops of tape on the back and a couple of happy washi pieces at the outside corners and ta-da! Easy peasy paperbag art for the november bed

Thursday, December 06, 2012

a wee bit of fancy

I wore a dress today. A dress for errand running and holiday shopping. I may have slipped it on over my head because I wanted to feel a bit fancy but I may have slipped it over my head because all of my jeans have preschool paint on them. I'll let you decide. I also added mascara AND eyeliner and red lipstick (of course).

And yes, I wore leggings with my dress which is not at all fancy but the dress was vintage and the leggings hd owls on them...does that count? 
It's been a busy week at the school and so my works in progress are works in progress-to-be. I have three for the 'do coming up soon (crossing fingers) and if I can find my list I'll try to get a diy up here as well. Until then have a happy happy weekend and slap on a wee bit o' fancy.

Friday, November 30, 2012

diy: lickity split advent

I know, I know you're probably thinking Jessica, you are totally pushing it, December is...afterall...tomorrow but I meant to get this finished sooner and well...I am an ace procrastinator if I do say so myself so this was just finished, as in an hour ago and the light was slip-slipping away and the rain has been coming down for a few days and I was cursing at the yarn that kept falling and the tack that refused to anchor the whole shebang and then I couldn't find the bag of wrapped sweets to add to a few of the pockets so those pockets are empty (shhh, don't tell anyone that part) and there are still massive piles of stuffity spilling and all topsy-turvy around the tiny casa but I did it. I finished it and the photos are servicable and now I am typing this all while enjoying a happy jar of eggnog that I can actually taste (yay sniffer!) and so I do hope you enjoy it...the calendar that is, eggng is not so easy to share over the internet.

coffee filter advent calendar
*25 cone coffee filters
*white paper
*colored scrap paper
*glue stick
*scallop punch
*wooden spoon
*tiny trinkets and sweets

Type in advent calendar into any search engne and you will certainly see dozens and dozens of brillianttly pretty ideas. From envelopes to matchboxes to tiny wrappd packages there is no shortage of ways to display a happy bit of advent for the holiday season. This calendar came about when  I wanted to create one using items I had on hand. The coffee filters are perfectly shaped for a unique spin and the natural unbleached color is pleasing to the eye. The yarn, a small ball of varigated yarn that I had picked up at the Goodwill outlet for a dime was already out on the table and well, I seem to have more wooden spoons that any households need.  
Gather up your supplies and punch out 25 scallops using a decorative punch. You can use stickers or write up the numbers using a marker or two. 
 Glue your numbered circles to strips of colored paper for a pop of color and glue those happy bits to your coffee filter. Punch holes through the top of each filter and fill with tiny treasures and trinkets.

Cut out thirteen lengths of yarn in a variety of lengths and knot all but one, twice; once at the end and again about six inches or so above it (if your yarn is skinny, you might need to double or triple knot each knotty knot).  Knot the remaining bit of yarn once at the end and thread filter number 25 onto it. Double up the other 24 filters until all the yarn is cozy cozy with the filters. 
Wrap your wooden spoon with yarn or give it a hapy coat of paint. I used the tried and true friendship knot on my spoon. It seems there is very little I will not wrap with yarn. Give your wooden spoon a hanger of yarn by looping a bit over each end and hanging it on your door or wall.
 Tie all the happy trinket filled filters to your spoon so that you have a happy party going on and get to counting down! 

Tis the season! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

a little filler

 ...while I scramble to get my act together and get some crafting accomplished! Here are some goodies I picked up on our summer road trip. The awesome quilt and pom-pom trimmed bedspread were gifts from Tara, the brown gingham mugs are from my sister and the rest was thrifted in either Arizona or Oklahoma...wheeeeee!