Thursday, February 25, 2010

Baking Challenge - Feb '10

The recipe for this month is Pear-Raspberry Heart Pies.

Sometimes I like to cheat the recipe by buying my dough.  This time I cheated with the fruit - canned pears and frozen raspberries - they were organic!

The recipe called for a 4-inch cookie cutter to yield 10 pies.  I guess mine was a little bigger because I only got 6.

And I was a little sloppy filling them :)

I was not loving these like I normally love pie - maybe because I cheated on the fruit? or maybe because I don't really love pears.

They still look cute:

So, in the battle between January and February, January's Lemon Souffles win.

I'm reading my march issue now and next month will be a kosher for passover, really?, apple-pecan torte. 


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


If you live anywhere near the Kingstowne, VA Walmart and you want a Cricut - RUN!!
I just got back and there was a black expression on clearance for $250.  It comes with the Plantin and Serenade Cartridges - Serenade is very rare.  I seriously thought about buying it even though I already have one.  It is at the back of the party supply aisle.

Right next to it were some crop-a-dile sets with a bonus case and 240 eyelets for $20.  I don't know much about this tool -  just that it seems very popular and useful.  And I need a hole punch so I got myself the pink one :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Winner and A Makeover!!

First,the very important announcement of the scentsy give-away winner:
Anne, please email me at with your address so I can get your package out to you!

Now the crafty business.
My knife block broke.  Somehow the glue failed and the two pieces separated.  Since I had to do a re-hab, I figured I might as well do a re-fab too.

So I glued those two back together with E-6000.  Still stinky, still goopy, but it holds, so ok.
Doesn't he looks so regal?

something about this seems male to me

I mixed up some antique white with a splash of burnt umber again, gave it two coats, and made another faux glaze.  This time I used charcoal paint in the water. Unfortunately, there were no lovely crevices for the glaze to settle into :(

And then, because I love them so much, I stenciled on a FLeur de Lis using my cricut and some contact paper.  I used the same charcoal as I did with the glaze and then added some champagne metallic paint to add a border.  Topped it with some varnish and he is now back in the kitchen, ready to help me make dinner and residing right next to my life-force, a.k.a. the coffee pot.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Cross Stitching Series - The Stitches

Welcome to Part 3 of the cross stitching series. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, click below.

3) The Stitches and following a pattern
6) Finishing and Framing

So your kit is all prepped and you are ready to start, but where?  Take a look at your pattern - the design is in a grid and each square has a symbol.  Each square on the grid is one stitch. You will also see a color chart on your pattern.  This lists all your colors and what symbol they are represented by.  It will also say in parentheses how many strands to use and let you know if they are cross-stitches, half-stitches, back-stitches and french knots (or other additional stitches your kit may include).

Decide where you are going to start your pattern.  For my towel, I am starting with the turtle, then the stars, then the bubbles and details.  On the seaside cottage kit I've shown, I started with the houses, then the sea, beach, trees, and sky.

Start by placing your fabric in the hoop.  Loosen the screw and separate the two pieces.  Place the smaller hoop under the fabric on a flat surface and place the large hoop on top, over the area you are working.  Push them together and pull the fabric taut while you tighten the screw.

Find your first square and determine which color it is.  Most of your stitches will be 2 strands.  Each length of floss has 6 strands in it.  Pull out one strand, fold it in half and thread the loose ends throw the eye of the needle.

Working from the back, insert the needle into the bottom left hole of your starting square, bring it through and insert it into the top right hole to make a diagonal stitch.  Flip your fabric over and thread the needle through the loop of thread, pull tight, this will secure the thread and do it very neatly!

Keep stitching from left to right, bottom to top until you have completed the row as shown on your pattern.  This is a half-stitch.  If your pattern calls for this stitch, you can continue the next row by working right to left, the third row from left to right and so on.

To complete the cross stitch, insert the needle into the bottom right corner and cross over to the top left, working from right to left.  Then do the next row from left to right, then right to left.



The back of the fabric will stay very neat by working this way.  Here is what it should look like:

When you do not have enough thread to keep working, finish it by threading through the straight stitches on the back, 5 or 6 should be good, and cut the excess.

Sometimes you will realize you have made a mistake.  Un-thread your needle and use it to pick out the incorrect stitches.  Re-thread the needle and start working again.

You may also get knots while you work.  To prevent them, let go of your needle every so often and let it unwind itself.  If you do get a knot, insert the needle into the loop and tug, it should come right out.  Some knots are tougher and may need more tinkering, but I have gotten 99% of my knots out.

One more thing, while 2 strands is the most common, sometimes your pattern will call for 1, 3, or tweeding, which is one strand of two different colors stitched together.  When you are working like this you can't secure your first stitch with the loop.  Leave a bit of a tail and work your first few stitches so that they cover the tail.  This is pretty much the opposite of how you secure the end.

You can always email me or leave comments with questions.  I'm happy to help.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two Cleaning Mistakes

Oh boy, I had two oopsies happen while cleaning this week.

While I was cleaning the bathrooms, I decided it would be good to throw the bath mats into the wash.  Mine is light pink, hubby's is hunter green.  Cut to me taking them out of the dryer....I now have a lovely sage green bath mat.  At least it was an even dye job.

Then I gave the flooring by the front door a good scrub.  The vinyl tiling is old and has lost it's protective coat, so the dirt gets in there fast and good.  I guess I used a little too much elbow grease because my right shoulder and elbow were KILLING me for two days after.  It took me quite a while to even realize why I was hurting so bad.

Live and learn, right?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

50 Follower Give-away!!

You did it!! You got me to 50 followers and I promised a give-away for helping me reach this goal!  There is no sponsor for this give-away, it is my way of saying Thank You.

One lucky reader will win a Scentsy Starter Set.  This includes the Plantation warmer and three scent bars:
This one is my absolute favorite!!
Mochadoodle Scentsy Bar - Delicious roasted coffee beans and cocoa balanced with sugar, caramel and heavy cream. 

Rustic Lodge Scentsy Bar - Warm fragrance of cedar, oak and musk with traces of wood smoke and fallen leaves.

Toasted Caramel Sugar Scentsy Bar - Warm milk with caramelized sugar and toffee, swirled with the scent of sweet vanilla musk. 

The warmers have a little light bulb inside that melts the wax.  You can leave it on all day with no worries unlike a candle.  The three scents included are yummy winter scents that will hopefully make these bleak last days of winter a bit more enjoyable.

My friend Jessica introduced me to Scentsy and you can go to her website - click here -  to find out more about this unique brand.  Scentsy is offering a 10% discount through the month of February, too.

Leave a comment and you are entered! I'll announce the winner on Tuesday.

Lavender Sachets

I found these cute baby girl mittens around Christmas at where else? the Target $ spot.  I love anything pink and green so I had to have them.

I also bought this bag of dried lavender after reading the memoir The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston.  I fell so in love with her farm while reading the book - I had to have a piece of it.

The two together make the perfect pair. I filled up the mittens with the lavender to make sachets, sewed the tops shut and added some floral embellishments.  Now my drawers are smelling lovely.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Face Is On!

I have a confession:  I used to be a beauty addict.  The evidence:  you may have seen another blog on my profile - champagne and lipgloss.  A few years ago I was writing about make-up everyday.  And yes, that means I was buying new stuff almost as often.

I am so much better now, but when I saw that Beth at Stories of A to Z was having a Get Your Face On Party I was in!!

Here is all my make-up.  I used to have at least double this.

And here I am with nothing on my face.

E-gad - break-outs and all.  I made it through my teens with fairly clear skin and then found myself battling the breakouts in my 20s - what gives? I swear I look better in person.  I go out a lot with no make-up.  Grocery shopping, other errands.  Sometimes I could care less.  Or sometimes I care enough to put on mascara.
One thing I noticed while taking this picture was that my eyebrows were more jacked up than I realized.  So before I did my make-up, I tweezed and trimmed my eyebrows.  Yes trimmed - I was born with the most luscious, full unibrow you could imagine.  My mom started tweezing the middle when I was 7.  I had some pretty enlightening school photos.  So there isn't much still growing between them, but they are very long and curly and I have to trim them.

And here I am with my normal make-up.  Yes, I wear a lot.  I know for a lot of you this probably looks like night make-up, but this is day for me.  For night I would just darken up my eyes more.  My look is always a darker eye and lighter glossy lip.

Here is what I used:
foundation primer
under-eye concealer
blemish/redness concealer
eye-shadow primer
eye-liner (inside upper and lower rims)  doing this really makes your lashes look fuller as it fills in all the gaps
vanilla eye shadow
light brown eyeshadow
sparkly wine eyeshadow
two coats mascara

So there you have it, or me I guess.

A lot of people have been commenting on my smoky eye and eye-liner - it is so easy, you can do it too!
I like to line my eyes first.  This is the most intense and dramatic of the liner, shadow, mascara trifecta.  By doing the liner first I can better judge the intensity of the final result.  If I did my shadow first I might go too heavy and then adding the liner would be too much.
I start by pulling down my lower lid so I can see the rim inside my lashes.  Use a mechanical or pencil liner and color that line in.  Fool-proof - you don't make the line, your eye does it for you.  Then place the liner in the corner of the rim, close your eyes a bit and run it along the top.  Doing the bottom is pretty easy, your eyes may water the first time though.  Doing the top is Bizarre.  This will take a lot more practice and getting used to.  For a long time I was able to only do the outer corner.  I could not get the pencil to deposit color on the inner corner, but it still looked good.  Just take it as far as you can.  Any color helps intensify your lashes.  The liner is going to boost your mascara by filling in your lash line.  This will help make you lashes look lush and full. I use Chanel Style Yeux in Ebene, yes it is expensive but I love it.

You need three eyeshadows, a light, medium and dark.  I used Brule, Cork and Trax - all MAC.  I also used the sephora professional #10 brush "fluffy eyeshadow" and MAC 219 "pencil brush".
I used the fluffy brush to blend the light color all over my lids up to my brows.  My blending motion are small moving circles.  Then I do the same thing with the medium color just on the lids, from the outside and stop where the white of my eye starts again.  This keeps that inner corner light. I also blend it from the outer corner up on the diagonal to the edge of my brow.  Start with a little bit of color on your brush.  You can always add more, but if you do too much you may need to start over.  You can smudge out mistakes by blending a lighter color over the mistake area.
Then use the pointy pencil brush to dot the dark color onto/into your crease.  This just depends how deepset your eyes are.  Mine are pretty deep.  Then use your fluffy brush to blend the dark color in.  No color on the fluffy brush this time.  Apply with the pointy and blend with the fluffy.

Right now I am loving MAC Studio Fix Lash. Place the brush at the base of your lashes and wiggle it while slowly moving it up.  Then do a couple swipes.  I use a metal comb to separate my lashes after.

Some times it is easier to watch when you are trying to learn make-up application, and since I am an ex-addict and not an artist, you should check out Kandee Johnson on youtube.  She is a pro make-up artist and I love her videos.  She does the same eyeliner that I do and she does  lots of smoky eyes, too.  Dig around all her videos, some of the ones from last spring are the best.  I love her Carrie Underwood and Megan Fox looks.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Family, Couple? Sign

My nuclear family is just my husband and me.  When I refer to my family, I'm talking about my parents and siblings.  Ronnie and I are just a couple; just the two of us.  I feel weird calling us a family since we don't have kids yet.  Hence the title of this post.

On to the crafting!!  I had all these leftover sticks from my christmas ornaments and I knew that I wanted to make a fence out of them after the holidays.

I hot glued them all together...

And started to paint.  I mixed antique white acrylic paint with a drop of burnt umber to get a nice cafe au lait color.

I don't have any ralph lauren glaze, sniff sniff, so I mixed more of the burnt umber into water to make my own.  I wanted this little sign to look like a weathered old fence.  I was so happy with the results, I had to restrain myself from glazing my entire apt.!!

I used the cricut and contact paper to make stencils - last name, year we got married*, cute bird on a branch.

I needed to get some blue/turquoise paint.  Since these paints are on sale for 25cents each this week at Micheal's, I stocked up :)

And here is my new little beauty.  I used burnt umber and laguna blue (top row, fourth from left) paints and added a key embellishment and some ribbon.

I used that E-6000 glue to attach the key and some wooden triangles on the back so it would stand up.  Boy is that stuff stinky!!  It was also globbing up and not very fun to work with.  I have seen so many crafty bloggers raving about this - any tips for me on how to love this, too?


*yes we are going on 7 years and have no kids. why? we were both 19 when we got married. he is we are close to ready but not quite there.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cross Stitching Series - Prepping Your Kit

Welcome to Part 2 of the cross stitching series.  If you missed Part 1, click below.

1) Selecting a Kit
2) Prepping your Kit
6) Finishing and Framing

Now that you have your kit, there are a few things we need to do before we start stitching.
I am going to be working on a child's hooded towel kit as we go through the process. It is a terry cloth towel with aida fabric in the hood. 
Let's open it up and make sure that everything is included.  Most kits will contain Aida fabric, colored thread, needle(s) and instructions.  Some will also have a thread palette and accessories for the finished design.

Grab a gallon or freezer size plastic zip bag to keep all of the contents of your kit in one place.  This is will also keep everything clean and protected when you are not working.  You should also place your hoop and embroidery scissors inside {if you don't have embroidery scissors, any small pointy scissors will work, even manicure scissors).

There are two more things to do before we are ready to start - sort colors and prep the fabric.

If your kit included a thread palette, lucky you.  If not, they are so easy to make!  Just take an index card or a piece of card stock and punch a hole for each of your colors {if you have more than 6 lengths of any color, give it two holes}.  Your pattern will have a key for the colors - it will tell you the colors, how many lengths of each are included, and the symbols used for each color.  Sort the colors by the order they are listed on your chart and label each color.  DO NOT CUT THE THREAD.

Now the fabric for the kit I am starting is already a finished part of the towel, so I can skip this step, you can too if yours is finished or you have a plastic canvas.  Otherwise, the edges of the fabric need to be protected from fraying.  Use some of your own thread for a blanket stitch around the perimeter.  If you have a different stitch you prefer, use it, as long as it will prevent fraying.

Next, fold your cloth in half width-wise and length-wise.  This will mark your center point.  Most kits will tell you to start working here.  That drives me nuts!!  I need to start my pattern from the top and work down, so here is my special tip for the day.  All patterns are marked with darker lines that separate the pattern into 10x10 squares.  I use black thread and insert my needle into the center from the back.  Count up 10 squares and go back in.  My pattern has 34 lines above center, so I have 2 black lines showing, and I have taken the thread back through to the front 4 squares later.  I then do the same running stitch working towards the left corner, then go back to the middle and work towards the right corner.  I now have a T shaped grid that corresponds to the grid on my pattern.

Take your time doing your prep work, this will make the whole process much easier.  Please comment with any questions - I'm here to help!  It's also a good idea to read all the information in your kit.
Next week we will go over how to read your pattern and how to make the stitches.
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