Friday, 14 June 2013

Make This House a Home

Happy Saturday, Friends!
I've got another craft for you today.  During my daily Pinterest/Stumbleupon/blog browsing, I came across this adorable little house over at City Girl Gone Costal.

It reminded me of a similar little house frame my mom & I picked up on one of our antique/flea market trips.  She's a bit of a collector and thought it would be perfect for display.  The only thing was pretty ugly.  I told her I'd fix it up for her, and had planned on just spray painting it white.  Alas, it sat under her bed for many months, forgotten, nearly consumed by dust bunnies, until I came across her post and knew exactly how I was going to fix it up.

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  It wasn't particularly difficult, but I would have done a few things differently a second time around.

Materials I Used
  • House frame
  • White acrylic paint
  • White spray paint
  • Primer (okay, I didn't actually use primer, but in hindsight I totally should have)
  • Sealant
  • Various scrapbook paper
  • Glossy Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Medium paintbrush
  • E6000 Craft Adhesive
  1. Spray the house with primer; let dry (this is what I didn't do but should have)
  2. Start with a base coat of white acrylic paint - be sure to get into the slots.  It doesn't have to be fully covered, just a nice prime.  (I had just assumed I could paint over the red background...this was my second mistake.  I should have pried it off beforehand and probably taken it to the hardware store to get the same size piece cut out of plywood.  But I was lazy and decided to pry it off and work with what I had.  It got kind of destroyed but I would be damned if I didn't make it work somehow!)
  3. At this point, I decided the back needed to be taken off.  There were actually handy outlines of the slots from the priming, so I measured the size of the slots and cut out the corresponding size in various patterns of scrapbook paper.  
  4. Spray paint the frame with white indoor spray paint; let dry.  Go over it again if there are any uneven spots.  Once it's fully covered, spray with sealant and let dry completely.
  5. Once you have all your rectangles cut out, lay them out and make sure the house will cover the background nicely with no blank spots.  Mod podge the paper onto the background, being sure to coat the paper with mod podge once it's dry.  For the thinner pieces, you might need to cut out a piece of thick cardstock and glue the paper over it.
  6. Use a strong adhesive to affix the frame to the background; make sure it's lined up as close as you can get it, because it won't be coming off again.  I'm a big fan of E6000, it smells terrible and I always use it outside because I'm convinced the fumes will poison my cats, but it's one of the strongest adhesives I know of.  It also has to dry a full 24 hours.
  7. Add picture hooks to the back and hang.  Display your favourite goodies and enjoy!

Happy weekend, my lovelies!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Have You Completely Given Up On Me Yet?

Because I totally wouldn't blame you if you had. It's been a crazy couple of months, and starting a new job hasn't been kind to my free time. But I'm still here, I promise!

One of the things that kept me pretty busy was last month, I went with my mom to a meeting in Kyoto. To clarify, I didn't actually go to any meetings, I just freeloaded. But I want to share with you some of my favourite pictures:
Oh yes, I went to a cat cafe
Fushimi Inari-taisha

The Kit Kat flavours are either out of this world or realllllly weird.

Oodles of buddhas at Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple.

Togetsukyo Bridge.
Just a monkey chillaxin'

Cherry blossom season.  Simply gorgeous.

I don't even remember which temple
this was.  I had "temple fatigue" by the
time I got here, I think it was the 3rd temple
I had seen that day...but it didn't disappoint.
I'd say the food was 50% delicious and 50%
bizarre.  Guess which category this fell into.

Golden Pavillion - look at that reflection!

Anyway, Japan was a crafter's paradise!  If you ever find yourself there, I highly suggest going to Tokyo Hands, a multi-level store with an emphasis on DIY and craft supplies.  LOFT is a similar store, but Tokyu Hands has my heart. And if you're into fabric crafts, you simply must visit Nippori Textile Town in Tokyo.  By far the best store it has to offer is Tomato, a multi-level fabric store with every conceivable pattern and material imaginable.  I was running out of room in my suitcase by day 2, so I only got scraps.  Here's my haul:
I could have spent all day at that store, but we were in a hurry to catch our train to Kyoto.  I think I did pretty well for a blitz trip, though.  Keep an eye out for some of these fabric appearances in future posts...

So, after that prologue, bring on the DIY! I give you one of my proudest crafts yet...Anthropologie-inspired kitchen canisters.  

Here's my inspiration:
From Redbook
And here's my take:
Happy little family all in a row.

A little story behind this: my mom and I love to cruise antique and flea markets.  I'm moving into my own place in August and can't wait to start decorating my own space.  I came across these cute little wooden canisters and thought they would be perfect for kitchen canisters to hold flour, sugar, and other foodstuffs.  I snapped them up and couldn't wait to get home to work on them.  I spent most of Monday (it was a long weekend here) working on them, and then I realized that I forgot to take a before picture!  I am kicking myself! The closest I could find to a before was an ebay listing, so just try to imagine them all plain and wooden.  They had a ton of potential, especially with those raised parts that were just begging to be painted with chalkboard paint!  I am so happy with how they turned out.

Materials I used:
  • Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Paint in Surf, Habanero, and Meadowlark (the green was a cheapie dollar store purchase) 
  • Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Chalkboard Acrylic Paint in Black
  • Paintbrushes
  • Zinsser Aerosol Clear Shellac
That's it! And the steps:
  • Prime everything with a couple of layers of white paint to cover up the wood.  Wait for it to dry completely.
  • Unscrew the knobs.  Paint tops and knobs in colour of choice with several layers.  Wait to dry completely between layers.
  • Paint primed area with chalkboard paint (I did 3 layers).  Wait at least an hour between each coat.
  • Coat with sealant except on chalkboard surface
I dulled the red, yellow, and green with some white acrylic paint so they would come out a bit softer.  I ended up going with a rose colour (at my mom's suggestion - thanks, Mom!) and I think it goes really well with the other colours.  You might have noticed there is a lot of drying - that was the most time-consuming.  Everything else was just paint, which I find super therapeutic.  Art therapy and cute kitchen accessories - what more could I ask for?

Verdict: A great success!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

One Dish Dinners

Hi Friends,
I've finally got a few things for you today!

So it's no secret that I love Buzzfeed.  It's a huge time waster.  A total time vampire.  Consider yourself warned.  Anyway, every once in awhile they'll post some drool-worthy food lists.  This one's a few months old, but I tagged a couple of recipes that I needed to try sometime in the future.  Well friends, the future is here!  Today I give you:

Baked Tomato, Squash, and Potatoes
This one is so easy it almost hurts - 3 veggies and some seasoning and you're done.  If you follow this blog, you might know that I am on a quest to eat healthier, but this one is almost too healthy for me.  Unless you add the parmesan.  And I don't mean that nasty shaker stuff that doesn't need to be refridgerated - I mean the real, buy-by-the-block-and-freshly-shave stuff.  When the veggies get all toasty and brown and the cheese is all melty -- oh man oh man, it's perfect.  I had every intention of making this as a side dish one night but I ate the whole casserole dish instead.
The second time I made this, the grocery was all out
of summer squash, but zucchini works just as well.

Martha's Salmon, Red Cabbage, and New Potatoes
Dish number two.

Martha, I wish I had a rustic barn wood table
and primitive dishcloth like you.
This might be one of my favourite salmon dishes I've made in awhile.  I don't think I've had red cabbage in any real capacity before - maybe a few bits in a salad, but this is the first time I really cooked with it.  Before, I was kind of indifferent about cabbage.  I've had it in some good recipes, but I never craved it or anything.  That was before this recipe.  The recipe calls for tossing the cabbage in olive oil and seasoning it with salt and pepper, and then roasting it.  I tasted a piece when it came out the oven and it was so good.  I don't know how with just those 4 things, it's a mystery of life, don't question it.  But now sometimes I just roast up some cabbage for a snack because its so good on its own.  Weird, I know.  Anyway, this dish was a total hit (for my mom and I).  Will be making again.

Did I mention the grainy mustard & horseradish topping?
 It's a great combo of flavours with the potatoes & cabbage.

I'm loving the simplicity of these one dish dinners.  They're almost as fun as the crockpot.

Til next time!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Mexicamese Food

Hi Friends!
Sorry it's been awhile, I've been waiting for some supplies to get in (curse international shipping!)  So while we wait for some craft posts, I'm going to tell you about 2 awesome recipes I made this week, one Vietnamese and one Mexican...hence, Mexicamese food!  See what I did there?

First up, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.  My brother turned me on to banh mi a few years ago when he brought me to this hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Rochester, NY.  I mean, this place is the epitome of not judging a book by its cover because it was kinda icky on the outside but their sandwiches were so darn tasty.  Anyway, I've craved those delicious babies ever since and was so excited to find a healthier recipe online. It actually took me awhile to make these because my mom & I kept buying baguette and then eating it all before I could make them (note: this is not healthy).  Anyway, at the restaurant, they slather it in this creamy sauce that is delicious but I'm sure isn't calorie friendly.  If you mosey on over to Two Healthy Plates, you'll find this fantastic recipe.
Food blogging perfection at Two Healthy Plates

 You know what I've realized? I'm never going to be one of those food bloggers with amazingly perfect food pictures.  Mine always look messy and imperfect because I'm not all that great at photography and I don't know how to set up pics to look that nice.
 Sorry to bring back this meme, but Sweet Brown explains my thoughts on this perfectly:

Next up, oven baked tacos via Mommy I'm Hungry.  That cheese melted to perfection in the picture is what caught my attention and made me want to pull them out of my computer screen and devour them RIGHT THEN AND THERE.  I mean, look at those! Cue celestial music.
Magazine worthy, MIH
 The only thing I changed was using ground turkey instead of beef and going a bit lighter on the cheese.  I figured these were going to be loaded up with toppings (i.e. guac, tomatoes, and lettuce) anyway that I probably wouldn't notice less cheese. I'm a big believer in adding guacamole to any sort of Mexican "pocket" food (tacos, fajitas, burritos, etc.) and this time didn't disappoint.  The meat filling was ingenious - it's quite thick since you add refried beans, diced green chiles, and tomato sauce to the meat - and they were probably the best homemade tacos I've ever had.

Verdicts: Successes!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Fun with Polymer Clay

I think it's about time I posted some crafts! I've had these sitting on my Pinterest board for awhile now, and just got around to doing them (like so many of my pins).

First up, these adorable necklaces from Creative Index.  I mean honestly, how cute are these?
I try not to be too ambitious about some of the craft ideas I find, because sometimes 99% of the time they look so easy to make but then I end up balling up whatever it was in frustration and chucking it away.  But these looked quite doable and would match a sweater I have perfectly, so I decided to give it a go.  I got most of the supplies at Hobby Lobby during a trip to Buffalo - why isn't it in Canada yet?! - for a pretty decent price.  For the various jewelry-making accoutrements (don't you just love that word?), I went to Arton Beads on Queen St. - seriously, if you're into jewelry making and are ever in Toronto, check this place out.  It's easy on the wallet and has a great selection.  But I digress.   These were actually sort-of easy to make.  The clay is pretty hard when you take it out of the package, but once you roll it around in your hands for a bit, it becomes pretty pliable and you can flatten it out.  I used a can, because there's some debate on whether polymer clay might be a wee bit toxic, so I didn't want to use any kitchen utensils I use for food prep.  Then I cut out a triangle shape with an X-acto knife and kind of mushed the colours together (Creative Index explains it much better than I do, I promise).  Don't forget to poke holes in them to attach the jump rings.  Then a  good 30 minutes or so in the oven (instructions on the clay package) and they're done! My first batch came out a bit derpy, but I'm nothing if not a perfectionist so I used a triangle template the second time and they came out with much cleaner and straighter lines.  I'm quite pleased with how these came out!

I know this seems super uncreative, making these in the exact same colour, but I swear they are the best option I've found for matching with this sweater.  I haven't found anything better. See?

Onto the second project.  Right now I'm living back with my mom, but I'll be moving out again in the fall and I'll admit I'm already looking into projects and decor tips for my own place.  I'm past the crummy college years of dealing with ugly paint colours and throwing up posters on the wall - I actually want a cute space to live in now.  One of the things I want is a kitchen herb garden.  Especially for cilantro & parsley - whenever I buy them for a recipe, I never end up using the entire bunch and it almost always has to go into the compost, and I end up feeling terribly wasteful.  So I've decided to plant my own herbs to hopefully stop wasting so much.  Does anyone have one? Do you love it?

So anyway, there are all sorts of cute markers for herbs, but I fell in love with these over at Wit & Whistle.


My reaction upon seeing them:

These were even easier to make than the necklaces, because they are not two-toned.  You pretty much roll them out with your hands (if you ever played with clay as a kid and made worms, it's pretty much the same idea), shape them with a rolling tool (again, I used a can), stamp them, and bake them.  I only made 4 because I don't even have said kitchen herb garden yet and didn't want to be overly ambitious.  But, just so you could get an idea, I stuck them in one of our planters. I underestimated how destructive the leaves were and as I was trying to set up the photo, they knocked over and broke a glass candle and dumped my glass of water all over the floor. But aren't they cute?
Ignore the gnome. My mom like gnomes, okay? Let's not make a big deal out of it.
I know this is a long post.  I'm wrapping it up, I promise.  I just want to show you the awesome dinner I made last night.  Chia soy glazed salmon with a heaping "side" of creamy avocado pasta.  It was amazing.
I thought it was going to be a massive fail because I set fire to the ends of the pasta (it's a long story, let's not get into it), burned myself twice, and set off the smoke detector twice.  But, somehow it turned out okay.  The avocado makes the pasta so creamy without actually needing any cream.  It's kind of like a guacamole pasta and I'm okay with that.

Verdicts: Successes.  Although dinner was looking pretty iffy for awhile there.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Another Belated Christmas Post

In the past, my mom, dad, & brother have usually been the ones to contribute to Christmas dinner.  Well, not this year, folks.  In my quest to learn to cook more and healthier*, I decided to contribute my breads - I made the olive & rosemary again, as well as the lemon cranberry almond one (recipe over at Simply So Good) - and what very well may be God's beverage, mulled wine.  Seriously guys, mulled wine is amazing.  In university I took a semester abroad in Poland, and it was like THE go-to drink at all those delightful Eastern European Christmas markets that I remember so fondly and at which I wasted spent way too much money.

*Mulled wine is not that healthy. There was A LOT of sugar that went into this.  My dad is a health nut and my brother and I decided to keep the sugar content between ourselves.

There were only about a million recipes online, but I decided to go with this one over at Kitchen Confidante.  It did not disappoint.
Sorry for picture quality, this was taken with my iPhone.
It suggests using a Pinot Noir or Cabernet, but knowing nothing about wine, I went to the local LCBO to ask what would be a good choice for mulled wine.  People there didn't really know what mulled wine was.  I felt kind of dumb but then I just pitied them because I would be enjoying this awesome beverage on Christmas and they would not. I ended up going with this bad boy:
Thanks for the image, Wine Alliance Blog!
My family loved it.  Even my mom, who has a lot of stomach problems and usually avoids wine, had it and said the troubles she suffered were totally worth it.

VERDICT: Success. Except that my dad's wooden spoon will be forever stained.

Til next time,

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Crusty Olive & Rosemary Bread

I meant to post this around Christmastime, but I couldn't for the life of me find my camera cord.  I was on the verge of buying a new one when it turned up in my sock drawer a few days ago.  To my friends, this sort of tomfoolery will come as no surprise.

So I got this awesome recipe over at Simply So Good for crusty bread that is actually the easiest recipe ever.  Flour, yeast, salt, water, DONE.  It was awesome. The only part that sucked was the 12-18 hours you have to wait for it to rise.  I just did it overnight and when I woke up, BAM, I was ready to roll (hey-o, unintentional pun).  My first time making bread and it turned out so well (granted, it's kind of hard to mess up with such easy ingredients).  So after my first run, I decided to try it again with some additional ingredients: olives & rosemary.  I had no idea how this was going to turn out, but I love olive bread and decided to give it a try.  Cut up some fresh rosemary, chop up some black olives (I LOVE that olive bars at the grocery are a thing now) and that was it.

After waiting the obligatory day for it to rise, I poured it out and rolled it up into a ball.  I think I over-rolled it because it lost its shape and got really, really sticky even though I really floured that puppy up.  Looks like I might have my first mishap.
One of these things does not look like the other.

Perfection from Simply So Good
But, this story has a happy ending.  I took it out of the oven and LOOK AT THIS:
This beautiful little orb of dough looks so good...and you guys, yum.  This stuff is the bomb diggety.  The true test will be to see if it lasts until tomorrow. (Note: it did not).

VERDICT: Success

Til next time,