Sunday, April 29, 2012

My place or yours?

It's amazing to me how much I don't know about myself even at this stage in life. Luckily, self-awareness is a life-long process and I'm determined to keep chipping away at the seemly underbelly of my own psyche regardless of how dirty my hands get in the process.

But one thing I kinda knew all along--the minute I started tagging along with my bf to estate sales and garage sales every weekend, I would begin to accumulate yet another pile of unfinished projects.

So here's what I've found in the last month or so . . .

I picked this piece up on the last day of a tag sale where everything was 50% off. I paid $5 for it.

It was originally built for record storage. The finish is terribly worn and probably wasn't high quality to begin with. But it's solid wood, it has lovely cut out detail on each side, and the front corners are fluted.

I'm thinking this will get upcycled into a lovely side table for your favorite reading nook. The slots will store books and magazines as easily as they once stored old vinyl.

I found this reproduction wash table at a garage sale. The young lady had put masking tape across the top of it and had scribbled "Antique Wash Stand $30" on the top of it. I explained to her that although it was probably mid-20th century, it was a reproduction, and not an antique. It had a really lousy stain and finish on it that had now been ruined with gum from the masking tape. But again, it is solid wood, including the drawer, and it could be upcycled into a lovely side table or small entryway table.

So I offered her $10 and she took it.

Then, I was walking my dog in the neighborhood and noticed this piece in an alley with a bunch of other crap all around it. Two men were cleaning out an apartment. It's solid maple, probably had a hutch attached to the top of it. It was missing one drawer handle.

I've already started working on it. I sanded the top down and a little bit on the front of the cabinet doors because they had scratches and I was afraid the paint wouldn't cover the scratches. Then I used a dark stain on the top and I'm going to try making my own chalk paint, so I'll keep you posted as this project progresses. It will make a great buffet once it's all painted, distressed, and waxed.

The big question is this, will I finish each piece and love it so much I have to make room for it in my own house? Or will I spend time lovingly refurbishing each piece so that I can give it away to someone I love and care about? Or, will I do the work and then sell it to somebody on Craigslist who might love it as much as I do?

We'll see . . .

I'm linking up to some pretty groovy parties:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Camera-buying for dummies?!

Given that in the blogosphere more than anywhere, a picture is worth a thousand words; and

Given that the point of this whole blogging thing is to get traffic on my blog so I can launch into doing some of these crafts as a business; and

Given that Pinterest has become basically a study in who takes the best pics; and

Given that the whole point of Pinterest is, again, to promote whatever creative venue I pursue as a means of generating income; and

Given that I'm half afraid to even take pics since all I have is the camera on my phone;

Thus, I have concluded that . . .


With the limited research I've done so far I'm thinking of the following criteria:

  • Point and shoot model! -- cuz I'm not a professional photographer so I want it to be easy to operate, and small cuz I wanna tote it around to tag sales, garage sales, thrift stores, craft shows, etc.
  • At least 12 Megapixels, right?
  • 5x zoom at least, maybe more if I can get it?
  • budget = $200
Is there anything I'm missing? I think most of the ones I've listed below fit the criteria above, although some are only 10 MPs.

You know I'm always looking for a bargain so I'm gonna check Craigslist and eBay first. Here's what I've found so far:

Fujifilm Finepix XP20 Digital Camera, 14-Megapixel Resolution, 2.7 inch Anti-Reflective, High-Contrast LCD, 5x Zoom Lens, Orange; $60

Canon Power Shot SD 1200 IS Digital ELPH, 10-Megapixel, $170

Kodak Easyshare Digital Camera: •10.2 MP Digital Camera - $60.00
•3x Optical Zoom
•2.4" LCD

Fujifilm finePix JV100 12-megapix digital camera, $60

Nikon COOLPIX S4100 14.0 MP Digital Camera - Purple, $105

Nikon COOLPIX L24 14.0 MP Digital Camera - Red, $79.80

Nikon COOLPIX S3100 14MP Silver Digital Camera with 6x Zoom + 4GB Bundle , $99.95

I'm researching these cameras and combing blogs for advice.

I'd love it if some of my fellow bloggers would weigh in and tell me what you are using or give me feedback about the types of cameras I'm looking at.

Hoping for some comments!!!!!!!

I'm linking up at the following to see if I can get help from some experts!

Shabby Creek Cottage Transformation Thursday
The Vintage Farmhouse Creative Things Thursday
Savvy Southern Style Wow Us Wednesdasy

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Beatles got it right!

My friend Jesse advises me to focus on letting the creative process happen. I think part of what she means by that is not being too tied to the outcome or to whatever "plan" you have, but letting the process unfold from within unhindered by expectations of how things will turn out. It's that spark of the divine that we're trying to express, right?

All by way of saying basically . . . the Beatles got it right: just "let it be!"

If you've been reading along, you know I had two shelf units I was turning into sheet music storage with new paint and pieces of old sheet music. That original post about the two scavenged pieces is here.

I was going to refurbish both by painting and then decoupaging the backs with old sheet music. Then I'd decide which one I liked better and probably sell the other one or give it away.

I finished the first one, and I completely love it. See it here.

So it was time finally to start on the second one. It was white to start, but it was yellowed and all beat up.

I gave it a fresh coat of spray primer and white spray paint.

The cardboard back had been destroyed. So I cut a new back out of masonite, much like I did for the first one. But when I put the old yellowed sheet music up against the new bright white, it made the whole thing look yucky.

So the sheet music idea was not going to work. And that realization confirmed that I was keeping the one I had already made and I would find a good home for the second one. So much for being tied to plans and outcomes. It was time to switch gears and come up with some other treatment for the back of the shelf unit, something that would appeal to a broader audience, perhaps not as niche-specific as old worn sheet music.

 I needed something to jazz up the back of the shelf unit and put my "stamp" on it, but still make it something that someone else would want in their home.

Then I remembered I have a boatload of unused wallpaper in my basement left here by my ex who was a wallpaper hanger. I rooted around in the pile til I found a role of the French toile I had used for my mother's ottoman tray a few years back.

I pulled it out and held it up to the bright white piece. Perfect!

I used Mod Podge to glue it down to the Masonite, then used spray polyurethane over top of it to seal it instead of Mod Podge.

I bought a new handle for the drawer, a rustic hanging wrought iron number in keeping with the French country flair of the toile wallpaper.

Don't you think this will work nicely in someone's bathroom, craft room or home office?

I'm linking up to party at:

Monday, April 9, 2012

This is not your father's campfire food

I could do a whole blog about camping food. I love pushing the boundaries of what can be cooked either over an open fire or on a grill. The list might surprise some who are not campers or grillers by nature. But armed with the right implements and creative ingredients, you'd be amazed at what culinary delights we've come up with in the past. Things like blueberry coffeecake over an open fire in a cast-iron skillet, black-eyed peas with real country ham cooked slow over the campfire, or whole beef brisket with a dry rub cooked all day on a gas grill.

This past weekend marked my first camping trip of the season. I have a little pop-up camper and one of my sisters has a big fifth wheel. I met her down at the campground where she keeps her rig seasonally.

Yep, it's a little earlier than usual, but because of the mild winter, every thing's a little early this season. The small teacup tulips are already spent, the hybrid tulips are on their way out, as are the daffodils already.

And morel mushroom season in Ohio is already underway! Hunting for morel mushrooms on the floor of a deciduous forest is not for the faint of heart. It's tough to spot these little morsels even if you know what you're looking for. You have to have the climate conditions figured out just right so you know when to start looking and understand exactly where these woodsy little delicacies might pop up.

I have not participated in a morel mushroom forage yet, but this weekend, I reaped the benefits of it nonetheless. Our camp neighbor, Mark, had already been out gathering a bunch of them, and he offered to make his infamous morel mushroom and chicken white pizza for us on Saturday night.

When it came time to cook the pizza, Mark fired up the grill and used a gas grill-safe large griddle to make the pizza on.

This is Mark's simple but unbelievably delicious recipe. Don't be fooled by the simple list of ingredients. Those little morel mushrooms make this the most incredible tasting pizza ever.

Morel Mushroom and Chicken Pizza
Pillsbury pop 'n fresh pizza dough
Cooked chicken
fresh baby spinach leaves
shredded mozzarella cheese
Creamy garlic ranch dressing
Morel mushrooms

First, my sister and her mate grilled up a bunch of chicken legs and deboned them.

Then Mark put a small pot of salted water on to boil, dumped the morel mushrooms in it and cooked them for about 5 minutes. You have to cook the mushrooms before putting them on the pizza because the pizza will not be on the heat long enough to cook them. And the morel mushrooms need to be cooked before you can eat them. They are not like button mushrooms. You can not eat them raw (not something I knew before).

Since most of the ingredients were cooked before assembling the pizza, Mark rolled the Pillsbury pizza dough out onto the hot griddle and partially cook it before adding ingredients.

Then he spread some of the garlic ranch dressing over the pizza dough (not too much though) and added the shredded chicken, spinach leaves, morels and cheese and put that sucka' back onto the gas grill just long enough to melt all the cheese and finish cooking the dough.

What followed when he took it off the griddle and we cut it up were moans and groans of culinary ecstasy. Unlike a store-bought button mushroom, portabello mushroom, or even re-constituted shitake mushroom, these little morel mushrooms pack enormous woodsy yet delicate flavor. Without them, it would have been a pretty ordinary white chicken pizza. With them, it was an unbelievably delectable gourmet pizza. The first pizza disappeared in about ten minutes, all while people were exclaiming how it was the best pizza they'd ever tasted.

Thankfully, he made a second one.

I'm linking this to some incredible blogs:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hard-boiled and colorful

I'm going camping this weekend which means that I need to get my Easter baskets delivered today cuz I won't be around on Sunday morning.

Alisa Burke decorated eggs with a Sharpie. She has some lovely designs on her blog using nothing but a fine point black Sharpie. Beautifully done, but way too one-color for a crazy crafter like me.

So I headed out to the store to buy some extra fine point permanent markers and boiled up a few eggs.

I'm doing four baskets. One for my mom, a couple for neighbors who have helped me with some things lately, and of course, one for my niece. So these eggs will help decorate the small baskets I'm preparing for each of them.

If you don't have a lot of time, I understand why dying eggs in the traditional way is a good option. These eggs definitely took me longer than dying would have. But it was fun and, heck, it keeps me off the streets, right.

The rest of the Easter basket is made up of a handful of dark chocolate eggs, some jelly beans, and some homemade blackberry muffins (recipe link here). Blackberries were on sale at the grocery and these muffins are YUMMY! Oh yes, I tried one myself after they cooled. Go to my Strawberry Oatmeal Muffin post for hints about making fabulous muffins.

Happy Easter!
Happy Passover!
Happy Spring Equinox! (whichever floats your boat)

I'm linking up to the following fabulous sites: