Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And She's Arsty-Fartsy!

One of the things I started doing in my bloggy absence was painting. I've always been kind of artsy-fartsy. I had never put paint to canvas, though, not even in high school Art class a jillion years ago. Last Fall, as a way to help cope with stress and to try and force myself to be more creative, I bought a nice set of acrylic paints, some canvases and jumped right in.

And I fell in love.

This was my first acrylic painting.
Pam's Flamingo
I think I've improved since that first painting, but I still don't know exactly what I'm doing a lot of the time and I'm still coming into my own style wise.  For the most part, I just try to relax and enjoy myself and the process. I've been fortunate that friends and family have enjoyed my paintings and I've actually sold a few and done some commission work.

Last week I was at my local Fine Arts Center buying tickets for Lyle Lovett & His Large Band tickets(if he ever comes to your town GO, trust me on this) when I came across a flyer for a Juried Art Exhibit. I decided to do something really scary and enter a couple of paintings. It's one thing sharing pictures of my paintings on Facebook with friends and family, but having experts scrutinize my artwork...terrifying!

This morning at exactly 9am(I knew I'd back out if I didn't do it right away) I headed into the Fine Arts Center to leave my paintings. I was a nervous wreck walking in with them, and nearly chickened out when I saw the other entries that were being lined up along the walls. I mean, these people are real artists, I still see myself mostly as an artist at heart. I realized I was out of my league was when I saw the prices of the other works for sale compared to mine. I'm like the Dollar General Store of the Art Exhibit. Sigh.

But I kept my nerve up and left my paintings to be judged anyway. I've sold what I think are better paintings, but these two are the most "me" of anything I've done.
Mama and Owlets
Fox's Forest
I don't expect to win an award, but I am extremely proud of of myself for working up the courage to enter them in the exhibit. I'm  also pretty excited that my paintings will be hanging in an actual gallery!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Seriously Simple Chicken Caesar Wraps

In addition to rebooting this blog, I've also recently begun to reboot my own health. Attempting to steer clear of fast food when I needed a quick meal recently, I thought back to my very first go on Weight Watchers and remembered making chicken caesar wraps fairly often.

This is as close to actual cooking as I have been in quite some time. I'm slightly embarrassed by the simplicity of it, but hey, at least it's a move in the right direction! Here's what I did...

Grilled up some chicken tenders on the stovetop and assembled a Caesar Salad using:
Dole's Classic Romaine Mix
Ken's Creamy Caesar dressing (I've since realized they make a light version which is just as delicious).
Italian blend cheese
Bacon bits


Plopped everything onto an Italian Flat Out

And rolled.

Quick, Easy, and Tasty! I had forgotten how good these are...especially when that warm chicken is combined with the cold salad. Mmmm Mmm!  In case you're wondering, the seven chicken tenders and bag of salad made 3 nice sized wraps and one smaller wrap on a tortilla.

And BAM...just like that, I'm cooking again(sorta)! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Don't Call It a Comeback, I Been Here for Years

...but most folks wouldn't suspect it

because I haven't made a post

in over a year.

Cue crickets chirping...

I miss blogging!  I started this blog several years ago as a way to document the recipes I tried when I was attempting to learn to cook like a grown-up(I still can't, by the way). It was never really about getting readers so much as it was a way for me to document that process, and later, my sewing attempts. Yeah, I lost some focus from where I started with the cooking, but that was part of the fun of it, trying new things and seeing what I could do.

My life has changed since I quit the blog. Things have happened that I have no control over and some of those things have saddened and changed me in ways I didn't think possible. But I am going to try my best to accept the things that I cannot change, make my own happy, and get the hell on with a fulfilling life. I've allowed myself to turn into one of the sitting dead in front of a screen viewing television, playing stupid online games and watching everyone else's life roll by on social media while pretending that my own is hunky dory, when really, it's not. It's made me grumpy and pessimistic. OK, I've always been slightly grumpy and pessimistic, I admit it. However, it is time I get over myself and make my own happy. I don't pretend to be a great artist, a great quilter, or a great cook by any stretch of the imagination, but doing these things make me happy.  For some strange reason, documenting them in this forum also gives me a little jolt.

I miss the reflection that naturally comes from sitting down to write a blog post about a particular project or experience. It sounds corny, but I think I was more in tune with myself when I was blogging regularly.

I miss the way being a blogger encouraged me to constantly try something new or at the very least pushed me into doing something...trying new recipes, painting, quilting, crafting, sewing, writing, playing with my camera. I'm still creating, but not regularly and not with the gusto that I once did. Now instead of thinking "I cannot wait to get started on the next project!" it's more of a "I should probably sew/bake/quilt/paint something" mentality.

I want to be that girl who couldn't wait to get up in the morning or get home from work to pursue crafty and creative endeavors. Who spent hours doing instead of sitting. For whatever reason, blogging originally motivated me to begin being creative after a long period of non-creativity and I could use a push in that direction again.

I see no reason why I can't be that creative, motivated, blogger-girl again. It may be sparse, it may be all over the place, and it may take a while for the momentum to build and for me to get back into those routines, but I am going to get back to it. Besides, I have this blog just sitting around taking up interweb space so I should probably put it to use.

**revised an updated version of a post I made the first time I fell off the blog wagon**

Friday, June 28, 2013

hellooooooo....

I have been noticeably absent for quite some time.

But I'm planning a comeback.

Of some sort.

Sometime.

 In the future.

In the meantime, here's a picture of my dog, Mya, hanging out in the library.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Coco-Pineapple Sticks

I'm a fan of both pineapple and coconut, so I couldn't wait to try this simple little snack from the July/August issue of WW Magazine!

As it turns out, it was not only simple but scrumptious in a frosty-frozen-pineapple-y way! And, according to the mag, it'll only cost you 2PointsPlus.



Start with a cored pineapple, coconut, some skewers, a bowl for dipping and a plate or baking sheet for the freezer.


Cut the pineapple into 1"x 3"(ish) chunks and add skewer. Sample some of that fresh, pretty, sweet pineapple. Not because you can't help yourself...just to make sure it tastes OK of course. 


Toast up some coconut, about 1 cup. Try not to eat it all before you dip the pineapple.


Roll the pineapple in the coconut. Or do what I did...smush the pineapple into the coconut because rolling wasn't getting it coconut-y enough! The magazine suggests that you dip the pineapple into pineapple juice before rolling in the coconut. My pineapple was pretty darn juicy to begin with and I didn't have any pineapple juice on hand, so I skipped that step. Don't think it affected the outcome much.


Take a couple of gratuitous pineapple/coconut shots before sticking your plate of goodness into the freezer.




In approximately 2 hours, your coco-pineapple sticks will be frozen to perfection! Enjoy them on their own or with a slab of angel food cake...my preferred way!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fabric Scraps Wrangled. Sewing Closet Situation Averted.

Those among you who sew or quilt will appreciate this. The rest of you may think I have lost my mind for posting about and taking photos of a closet.

I don't know a single person who sews and/or quilts who doesn't have at least a small fabric stash that includes some scraps. My stash, I would guess, is on the smallish side, but I do have a lot of scraps from various projects and they got completely out of hand.

Y'all know how that can get away from you. One minute you have a couple ziplock bags of scraps piled into a tote and the next thing you know it looks like this: 


The Pile...my scrap fabric nightmare.  How in the world do you find something in the midst of that mess? You don't! You dig through The Pile in search of the perfect shade of blue for a project. You know it's there. You put it there yourself. But The Pile has eaten it, never to be seen or heard from again. So you completely give up, frustrated, hot, and grouchy without ever starting on the project at hand. And then you actually consider tossing every single scrap since all they do is make you mad.

At least that's been my experience. 

Not too long after one of my rounds with The Pile, I  came across the book Sunday Morning Quilts by Amada Jean Nybergh and Cheryl Arkison. I quickly snagged a copy!


Finally! A book that shows not only how to use scraps in a quilt, but gives you practical tips on storing and organizing them as well! Cue angels singing. You can currently pick up a copy of Sunday Morning Quilts for a great price at Connectingthreads.com. I love that shop!
                                     
After reading the book and wiping the drool off the photos of these amazingly gorgeous scrappy quilts (seriously, I want to make them all), I got busy. I was inspired not only to make my scrap pile useful, but to organize my sewing closet as well. I don't have photos, but trust me, finding fabric in my stash wasn't much easier than digging through those scraps. 

My budget for organizing my scraps and the sewing closet in general was  about 15 bucks. I'm not kidding. SO I drug home a plastic shelf from my parent's garage, headed to my local Kmart and picked up some clear plastic shoebox sized totes and got busy sorting.

When I was finished, THE PILE had become this...


So. Much. Better.  I was so happy with my little shoeboxes of color that I decided not to shut them up in the closet, but to leave the out in the open on a bookshelf in the sewing/computer room!


Once I had the scraps tackled, I was motivated to finish up the rest of the closet. My mother saw it and said "I don't think you need to buy anymore fabric".   She's right, of course.

I know it's plastic shelving and nothing fancy, but this makes me soo happy. I know I can walk into the closet now and find anything I need within minutes with no cussin' or cryin'! 



Even room for a little art on the walls. And yes, a Kona card qualifies as art! 





FQs, mostly sorted by colors. 


More FQs...my most favorites, so they're out in t he open for me to drool on look at.


...and more fun stuff...






All this organizing and I'm ready to tackle a new project!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cupcakery

A couple of trips to GiGi's Cupcakes absolutely did me in. I mean, I liked cupcakes before, but GiGi's Cupcakes? Lord. Have. Mercy. These are wedding & chocolate varieties. So good.


I don't have a photo of it but the Lemon Poppyseed with Cream Cheese Frosting...Heavenly.

But after plopping down nearly four dollars per cupcake(numerous times) I eventually got to the "I can make an entire batch of cupcakes for four dollars" place.

And so began my cupcake obsession. I picked up the easy-cheesy cupcake decorating kit at Walmart.


My first batch of cupcakes were from scratch. SCRATCH. With buttercream icing.


I realize they aren't that pretty but Holy Moly, these were some dang tasy cakes! The flavor was not unlike that a sugar cookie! Yummy! The recipe for the cake can be found here. The icing was equally delicious and that recipe is right here

Next up, cupcakes for my friends at work. These are mini sized and made from a  box-mix (with some mayo added to make them extra moist) and topped with yummy Oreo Decorator Icing. Oh, they were good and being bite sized was perfect for the amount of sweetness.
 

I joined a local chapter of Free Cakes for Kids and my first assignment was, you guessed it, cupcakes! The little girl I baked for was turning seven and requested white cupcakes with pink icing. My kind of gal! 

Again, just a plain ole' box cake, but the icing makes it sooo good. This was my best attempt at icing yet...I was eating the stuff by the spoonful! I made a decorator icing using 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of Crisco(creamed together). I mixed in a bag of powdered sugar(a little at a time), whole milk, and a teaspoon or so of vanilla. Just kinda kept adding sugar and milk until it tasted right. I haven't made one as tasty since. I got word that the birthday girl was "tickled pink"with her cupcakes!


Speaking of birthday cupcakes, my brother requested chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing for his birthday. I was thrilled to finally get to use the vintage clown pics I snatched at a flea market a while back. Again, I used the mayo + chocolate box cake trick. These have a chocolate buttercream icing. I was not a fan(I prefer white cake, white icing), but my brother and the rest of the family loved them. 

Granted, they aren't GiGi's and yes, I realize all my cupcakes are decorated with that same ole' swirl. I have yet to branch out into flavors like lemon or red velvet, but I'll get there! Also, I've made several more batches that aren't pictured...they were either too ugly for documentation or were eaten before documentation could occur.

Soooo, does anyone else suddenly crave a giant glass of ice cold milk?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vintage Thingie Thursday -- Tablecloth Purse


I love vintage linens. Especially tea towels, sheets, and tablecloths. I have a closet full of all three. I was recently perusing Etsy.com when I came across this lovely little Spring/Summer bag made from a vintage tablecloth.

It was love at first site. I had to have it.

It's one of my favorite vintage-nouveau thingies!

For more Vintage Thingie Fun, Head on over to The Colorodolady!

First Finish of 2012 -- A Process Post

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I realize it is MARCH and I should have already had a finished quilt. But hey, I'm a busy gal!

I'm happy to show off my first finish of the year, though. This quilt is for the soon-to-arrive grandchild of a dear friend. When I asked my friend baby colors, she said "soft pinks and greens". Those aren't colors I typically buy and as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am on a fabric buying diet...trying not to buy any quilting fabric unless it is for backing. I am proud to say that everything in this quilt--except the binding--was from my stash. Hooray!

The patchwork blocks are made from two Lilly and Will Moda charm packs that I bought ages ago. I pulled out only the pinks and greens from each stack and "fiddled" with them until I came up with the idea to do four patch blocks and sash them w/a wide border. Please ignore my hideous design wall/cat scratcher.


After digging through my stash, I found an off white print that actually had enough yardage for the sashing AND the backing. Woo Hoo! 

My last attempt at free motion quilting was a pain in the neck, so I opted to do a straight line design following the patchwork blocks. I get a little impatient while quilting and that often results in a few wonky lines and puckers(although I'm not certain puckers come from trying to hurry). This quilt is no exception. but I'm hoping the recipents won't find the mistakes to be  as glaring as I do. If I do say so myself, I did manage to snap an awful purty picture of the quilting in process! 

I went against my new no-fabric-unless-it's-for-backing rule and bought something for  binding. I had nothing in my stash that would work. NOTHING. OK, I did have enough of the off white, but I wanted the binding to stand out a bit. I'm very pleased with how this soft taupey print worked with the other colors. I refuse to speak of the hell that is machine applied binding, but the binding was applied by machine.

It is a noticeable frame for the quilt, but the pink and green patchwork blocks remain the stars of the show. 

So the lighting is horrid in this last shot, but I couldn't wait to photograph it in natural light! Here' the finished product...I'm pretty happy with it!


I'm immediately starting on another baby quilt. I want to take a bit more time with it. I have an idea (thank's to the babe's grandma) and I'm hoping that it will be a hip, funky quilt for a very special little person! Hopefully I'll have pics to post very soon!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Bangles

I have a thing for vintage costume jewelry. I have since high school. I used to go to flea markets and yard sales with my mamaw as a teen, and remember picking up bracelets, necklaces and especially brooches. How I loved a gaudy old brooch back then! I still have one of those brooches that Mamaw bought for me. It has a big ugly lion on it and I thought I was totally rad when I pinned it on my denim jacket with the puffy sleeves and turned up collar.

Mark and I have spent many many hours at flea markets and antique malls(he's definately not an early bird, so we don't usually do yardsales) over the past 24 years. I don't know how much vintage jewelry I picked during that time, only to sell it in a yard sale or send it back to a thrift shop. Sigh.

Not too long ago I was blog hopping when I came across this photo:

Photobucket
Photo Source: http://vixenvintage.blogspot.com/2012/01/bangles-and-bras.html
"GAH!" I thought to myself. "Holy Bakelite Batman! That is one fabulous little collection of bangles! I cannot go on living without my own fabulous little collection of bangles!"

And on a sidenote, if you've never visited Vixen Vintage before...Do It!  I discovered the blog through the bangle photo and became instantly enamored. She posts some of the most beautiful photos and amazing vintage goodies that you are likely to see. It's one of my new favorite blogs!

I immediately went to my jewelry box and started digging. I knew still had at least four bangles because I constantly wear the polka dot, black, gray, and red(not pictured) ones. I managed to dig up several more and WooHoo! I do have a small collection!


Yesterday, Mark and I took off for another round of flea marketing and I picked up a few more pieces to add to my collection. 

None of these was over $2.00! Score! I was so happy to pay .50 each for four of these that I didn't notice the red one was broken until I took the photo this morning. Luckily, I have another red one! This one will be used for a craft project...I'm thinking decoupage.


These were a bit more costly...$3.00 each!! Oh how I love getting stuff for cheap! 
I realize there is not a single piece of vintage Bakelite in the bunch. And a girl can't really have a bangle collection without some Bakelite, can she? For now this girl will...because she is a public school system employee. Furthermore, she already has a serious spending problem with fabric and sewing/quilting items.  So, sadly,  no Bakelite for me until I win the lottery.

Here's my current collection, a few are vintage 60's but most are 70's and 80's bangles. I'm cool with both of those decades! I am looking forward to hunting for a wider variety of eras and lots more colors!  I might have hopped on to etsy.com and ordered a few more just this morning. 
using a sock/underwear drawer organizer for storage. A pretty vintage one is on my "to get" list. 
Despite the Bakelite disparity of my collection, the bangles make me happy! 


For even more Vintage Thingies fun, head on over to The Coloradolady