Thursday, December 27, 2007

Craft Hiatus

The Christmas to New Year's week is always busy, especially with trips to Arkansas and New York City thrown in with my dad's 55th birthday!
I'm on break from my crafts right now, but I have some really exciting things planned for January, including my long-awaited dining room makeover. The indecision has come to an end, now it's time to get this room assembled! And I'm making coral reef out of household objects. Have you noticed how trendy coral reef is? Not that it's a new trend, but it seems to be sticking around, so I'm joining the coral reef fan club. Through my seasonal work for Lilly Pulitzer, I've gotten a chance to really study the new coral reef that has become a hallmark of Lilly Signature Stores and I've devised a way to make my own (as the dining room centerpiece, naturally) out of sticks, salt, hot glue and spray paint. Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Be Merry.

Around my rockin' pad, it's another Stick-Tree Christmas. Meaning, I didn't shell out for a real, live, chopped-down tree. I opted instead for a glass vase full of lights and painted twigs to serve as my Christmas tree. I'm sort of a proponent of stick trees or other uses of twigs in design, because they have such a lovely texture, make interesting shapes and are completely organic and natural.

But the true point of my post today is thus -- Merry Christmas. I'm off to Arkansas to celebrate with my father's side of the family... And while it certainly will have many of the same Southern fried favorites as pictured below, my dad will celebrate his 55th birthday this Christmas, instead of his third, as he was gathered with his mother's side of the family, in 1955 (the chubby kid next to the boy in the cub scout uniform).

Geez! Leave Me A Gnome!

People who know me know I love me some gnomes. And I got a new gnome! There's a beautiful German woman who works at my office with me and, in keeping with her German heritage, she finds my gnome fascination really humorous. So she got me this gnome for Christmas. When I unwrapped the package from her, I was bouncing off the walls of my cube. It's a great gnome. Ursula (my lovely German friend and coworker) and I agreed that it has the best qualities of a gnome, with oversized ears that aren't too pointy, a sufficiently aged face, a full and lush white beard, suggesting his wisdom. So I'm sharing my gnome with my blog audience because its such a great gnome and it makes me really, really happy.

Also, I kinda wanted to have a label "gnomes" after I saw that Katie has one over at Subtropical Paradise...

And lest you worry, this gnome is NOT lonely. He's in great gnome company in my cube... The "gnome on the range" cowboy western postcard is on one wall, and then there's the gnome lamp that really sets my cube apart from other people's. That's one of those things I bought at Urban Outfitters in my teenage days, thinking it was about as cool as cool gets. And yeah... it's still a light up gnome lamp... At least I'm not still a teenager. But it's a perfect cube accessory, because the entire concept of spending 9 hours a day in a little box is every bit as ridiculous as the gnome collection! Note that between the two gnomes is as award from the Maine Press Association. I like to mix my credentials with whimsical fictional woodland creatures.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Baked Cuteness

So last night found me on my big baking blitz of the holly jolly season. And it was much more tame than in years past... Only three cookie types, just two dirty bowls, one messy counter and a 30-minute cleanup session make this a record for small-scale baking blitzes, but that's OK with me. I did get to spend lots of time making sure that the presentation of the cookies was dazzling. This year, the baking part was just to get me to the cookie-plate making part. Above you'll see the finished project. Actually, you see an artsy-design-bloggish view of the cookie platter. I'm kinda proud of the platter part of the deal -- I took a piece of cardboard, wrapped it in fancy paper from my FAVORITE paper store in Dallas, Paper and Chocolate. Then I artfully arranged the cookies, wrapped the whole bundle in shrink-wrap paper and tied a green and red bow to the whole thing, with a nice little happy santa face ornament tucked in for flare. I've done this flat cardboard cookie tray thing before and here are my little tips in case anyone actually reads this wanting to know about crafts...

  • Use paper that's got a waxy sheen to it. Using a matted paper is really leaving yourself open to unsightly greasy spots. No one likes those. It just reminds you that cookies are fattening and when indulging in a cookie, it's nice to also indulge in the fantasy that it's calorie-free.
  • Use spray glue from the spray-paint-style can to attach the paper to the cardboard. It looks so much flatter and prettier that way.
  • Recognize that because you used shiny, slippery paper, the cookies are going to move around on the plate when you drive or walk to deliver the cookie plate. So plan on doing some gentle nudging of the cookies between your arrival time at your friend's house and the actual doorbell ringing moment.

And as that last tip went far beyond the realm of common sense, I'll stop there! I'm sharing a few more pictures of the baking process, mostly because I'm really thrilled that I got to wear my awesome apron that I bought in Los Angeles a month ago.

There's a shot of one of my peanut butter kisses cookies. Truth be told on this cookie -- it is messed up because it sadly took a tumble to the kitchen floor. It was thrown away and the night's only cookie casualty. I took the picture because I'm trying to learn how to take good close up shots of my little items. It's harder than it looks for me. For my years of working at newspapers around professional photographers (Andy Molloy comes to mind here), I didn't realize how hard it was to take good, interesting still life photos. Alas, this blog is giving me even more respect for how hard those photogs work!

I am thrilled anytime I get to dive into my bin full of baking supplies. The most popular cookie that I make, according to my cookie eaters, is one of the easiest cookies in the world to make. You can see it in this entry's top picture, the raspberry sugar cookie. Here's what you do... make sugar cookie mix or even use a tube of sugar cookie dough. Roll it out all flat on a counter or surface with a light dusting of flour on both sides of the cookie. Use a biscuit ring (a round cookie cutter) to make a bunch of circles -- make sure you do this in pairs. For every pair of rings, one should be a plain ring, and the other needs a cutout. I use hearts, stars, Christmas trees and angels as my cutouts of choice. Bake them according to instructions and as soon as they come out of the oven, spread jam over the flat cookies. Then put the cutout cookie on top, and people will rave about them tasting good, being pretty -- all that jazz, which is music to a cook/crafter's ears.

And, finally, I will mention a few notes of praise for the apron. I read the city guide for LA on the best design blog ever, Design Sponge, and attempted to lead myself on a walking tour of LA's hottest shops for design and all things cute. Well, apparently no one in LA walks anywhere. People stared at me as though I was from Mars, walking the streets of LA. It was a Saturday morning and apparently the cool LA design shops are intermixed with lots of Jewish Temples, so I wasn't alone in walking the streets, I was just the only person not wearing a yarmulke. Anyways, after walking all over, I found a heavenly store for Francophiles... It's called Maison Midi, and it's a section of the larger American Rag Company, on South La Brea Avenue. I wish I'd bought everything I saw, because it was all so wonderful. They even have a french cafe inside the boutique. Well, the one thing I did get was this apron, which is made out of an "antique" French tablecloth. I instantly feel the old world charm when I tie it on!

Sticker Chicks Reunited

My office bff Stepheny and I collect fruit stickers. It's to the the point that we both admit we've bought fruits we don't even like very much so that we can get a cool sticker. The cantaloupe sticker really sticks out the most and that's all Stepheny. Actually, almost all of the stickers are Stepheny.
And I've posted this because today we were reunited with our sticker sheet. It had been lost for weeks and the office wasn't as fun without it, quite honestly. Well, it returned. Miss Stepheny found it in her cube and we are rejoicing. It's back on the wall and eagerly awaiting new fruit stickers. Too bad I didn't bring an apple to work!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eyes Wide Open

OK, so I started my blog yesterday. And I feel tremendous pressure to take stock of all the creative things I've got going on and present them in an organized way. To borrow a fav copy editing verb, I'll be mulling things over for a bit. (Mull is a wonderful headline verb, since it basically means "think" or "ponder" but takes up half the space of those. That's a little lesson in headline writing from someone who quit that industry after a measily two years. Note, however, that one's coworkers on the copy desk will make fun of each and every use of the word "mull" because it's so lame/lazy.)
Until I decide how to introduce all my creative little projects, I thought I'd throw up this picture of plastic snowflakes (yep, Target sells them 20 for 2 dollars or something terribly cheap like that) that hang from the ceiling all over my kitchen. They are so cheap and plastic, but for one or two months a year (I pull the Thanksgiving-to-Epiphany Christmas season) they make me happy with their bright colors and shiny ways.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brand Spankin' New

I'm always striving to live a creative life. I'd describe my style as "over the top even though I'm consistently striving for minimalism." You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take the big hair out of the girl... I guess. And I'm back in Texas now anyway, so I guess there's no hope for me. I am doomed to a life of projects that involve glitter, beads, fancy buttons, bright colors, wild textures. I'm OK with that, because my projects make me one happy camper.
The above picture is from a fairly random pdf I made of objects from around my desk at work. It just goes to show you the kind of stuff I like to work with... Colors, textures, anything that makes the drab walls of my cube nice and bright.