Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”--Julia Child

I realize my blog is about crafting.  But today’s post is about cooking.  Uh, cooking…crafting…close enough.

I truly believe we’re all good at something.  No, wait.  We’re all GREAT at something.  However, the schedule on which we find the thing we are great at doing isn’t the same for everyone.  Some people show aptitude for their great thing at five years old and others at seventy years old.  As for myself, I am thirty years old…okay, almost thirty-one years old…and desperately trying to find my great thing.  I just hate waiting, ya know.  I’ve recently decided that my great thing isn’t coming as quickly as I would like because I’m a dabbler.  I try new things.  I build a basic knowledge of the new tried thing.  And then I quickly move on to the next new thing without mastering anything at all.  I’ve done this with cooking, jewelry making, sewing, gardening, cooking, guitar lessons, knitting…and, oh, did I mention cooking?

I dream of being a great cook and baker.  For years I’ve gone through spells where I cook or bake like a mad woman.  I gather insane amounts of cookbooks from the library and pour over them like they’re sacred texts.  I choose a few recipes and end up cooking meals and desserts meant to serve ten people for me and my husband.  Then after a failed recipe or kitchen mishap, I become discouraged, quit and return to my usual take-out food routine.  And while I realize that quitters never win, I also know that quitters never burn their houses down because they catch an oven mitt on fire or give food poisoning to their loved ones.So, I say all this to explain that I’m currently going through one of my cooking phases.

This particular phase has been brought about by the most recent edition to my kitchen:  a KitchenAid mixer!

I chose this recipe for Jam Thumbprint Cookies as my first foray into mixing! 

I will take a moment to be a bit smug and say I think my cookies turned out awesome!  The downside, however, is my husband, my official test-taster, was sent on an unexpected business trip to San Francisco this morning.  I guess I’ll just have to eat all thirty-six cookies myself.  Darn the luck.

*Disclaimer: I have never burned down my home or given anyone food poisoning.  However, I’ve caught two oven mitts on fire—one at home and one at work.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."--Plato

I really wanted to buy one of the super cute signs I kept seeing on Etsy that list house rules like “Be Happy” and “Elbows Off the Table”.  I decided it would fix the little kitchen problem I mentioned a few posts ago.  But what kind of crafty girl would I be if I bought off the Internet what I could make myself?  So, I made one.      
First, I got a blank 28x48 canvas.  Okay, what really happened was I bought a canvas but on the way to put it in my car a gust of wind caught it.  It flew out of my hands and across the parking lot almost hitting a parked car.  Thankfully, it instead landed in one of the only empty spaces.  I mean how do you leave a note on someone’s car explaining your canvas went airborne and hit their car?

When I finally got my canvas home, I painted it.  Okay, I painted it three times because I couldn’t get the right shade of purple.  Next, I made a list of my own house rules while waiting for the paint to dry.  I have to say this was the hardest part.  I wanted a nice balance of me and the husband—the things we do, strive to do and remind each other to do.  

Then I traced some letter stencils onto the canvas spelling out the rules.  Afterwards, I traced my tracings with a paint pen.  Lastly, I filled in the tracings with white paint.  It sounds easy, right.  Uh, not so much.  It was crazy time consuming—and totally worth it.  But it’s still not done.  I’m not happy with the unfinished look of the lettering.  I think I might crackle the letters?  Oh, and I’ve chosen to ignore that some of the lines are crooked.   

There’s a reason I call my blog Craftin’ Ain’t Easy, right?   


Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of life." --Rob Sheffield

I think the definition of crafting is boundless.  It doesn’t have to mean gluing things together or slapping paint on a piece of wood.  Personally, crafting is anything you make—anything at all you get creative about—for yourself and especially for someone else.  It’s kind of the core of my crafting belief system.  So, this post is about how I’ve asked some lovely people to craft something for me.  And even though they would never call what they are doing crafting…I do!         

I have recently fallen into a funk—musically speaking.  I’m not enjoying listening to anything.  I find this particularly distressing since I find it impossible to craft in silence.  Even my all-time favorite crafting music seems blah.  The Beatles’ The White Album has been my crafting constant since high school.  Though in the past few years, I’ve begun putting all The Weepies’ albums on shuffle when The Fab Four just won’t do.  And, lately, I’ve found the Stevie Wonder station on Pandora to be quite the inspiration.  But I realized last week that I need new music in my repertoire for the purpose of crafting and, well, just living my every day life.
So, I’ve recruited—okay, maybe coerced—four very different people into taking a blank CD and crafting it into a bit of auditory delight for yours truly.  I’m banking on their song selections having the power to pull me out of my musical funk and to take me out of my usual musical boundaries.  My only guideline is that when they give me the CD filled with their idea of amazing music they will provide me with some information as to why they chose the particular tunes on it.  I mean no mix CD with any integrity is haphazardly put together, right?

I’ve given them no deadline which means the anticipation is killing me…in a good way!  One friend has not only called me about the project but sent me two emails asking for clarification and mentioned it on Twitter…all of which I find quite darling!  And, I have given a final guideline.  The CD crafter must write the date of the day they burned the CD on it.  Not only do I have a crafting belief system, but I also have a CD filing system.          

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."--Marauder's Map, J.K. Rowling*

*The title of this post has nothing to do with my craft project.  I'm just celebrating and grieving the last Harry Potter movie this weekend.

Dates are sort of important to me.  And I don’t mean just birthdays or anniversaries.  I love the dates that can and can’t be found in a public record.  But mostly the ones when I was going about my day and something in my life shifted ever so slightly.  I love the date of a moment with a movement so small I didn’t even notice its importance until later.

August 23, 1999:  I sit down next to a girl I’ve never seen before and start to ramble.  Fast forward almost twelve years through many more rambling conversations to last week, the same girl visits me at work.  I’m greeted by the endearing title of “Auntie Laura” from said girl’s five year old and given an awesome kid hug that mostly takes place around my knees.  My life shifted that day, August 23, 1999.  More people were added to it even though one of them didn’t even exist yet.

January 11, 2000:  I begin sharing a dorm room with a girl with whom I went to high school but had little interaction with prior to standing in a half empty, university owned room.  Fast forward eleven and a half years later, I now call her my family.  We certainly aren’t related by blood or marriage, just a choice made because on January 11, 2000, I found a kindred soul.  

Because of my fondness for dates like the ones above, I instantly loved the concept of the linked craft.  And I commend this blogger for being above-and-beyond crafty.  However, I’m not her level of crafty.  When I made my own I had to modify her process a bit.     

I bought a set of black number stickers and a piece of deep purple cardstock from Michael’s.  I carefully measured out each row of numbers and even taped a ruler to my dining room table to ensure perfect sticker placement.  I mean how hard could it be to stick a few stickers?  I had a couple Lisa Frank sticker books in the third grade.  Surely, that was training enough!  Yet, I have no idea what went wrong.  Everything ended up crooked.  I was pretty disappointed considering I had planned to give my little project to my husband as a gift.  It was one of those crafting failures you can’t even bring yourself to cleanup.  I left it in a pile on the kitchen counter.

However, a few days later my husband noticed it.  He told me he thought it was super neat.  It reminded him of computer programming code.  He asked if he could hang it in his office—which was my original intention.  Crafting triumph!

The picture on the left of the finished craft is terrible.  But it was a terrible craft so you aren't missing much.   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls."--Aesop

My kitchen is probably the most difficult room for me to decorate.  There is a sharp contrast between the soft shabby chic colors of the walls and cabinets, the stainless steel appliances and the bright bold colors of my dishware.  It’s the room I was most regretful about once we were done building our house.  And that was even after we had the first set of cabinets replaced, had three special meetings with the builder about the arched doorway and I sent back the first refrigerator.  I really don’t know what I was thinking on any of it.  So, now, I’m spending way too much time thinking about how to fix it.

I really want to create something crafty to pull the room together.  I want to center it on a word or phrase.  And to get all Eat, Pray, Love on my craft blog, my kitchen’s word is—thankful.  Whenever I’m in my kitchen it’s the word that absolutely surrounds me. 

I’m thankful for the food in my kitchen whether made from scratch on straight out of the takeout box.  I’m thankful for my Fiestaware—it’s the persimmon color that has been discontinued which makes me love it more.  I’m thankful for the red tea kettle given to me by my husband’s Mamaw which has sat on every stovetop I’ve had since college.  I’m thankful for standing barefoot in the kitchen early in the morning and listening to NPR while I wait for the coffee to finish.  I’m thankful for the important conversations I’ve had with my husband while I cooked and he leaned on the counter or while I sat on the counter and he cooked. 

So, what says all of that!?  I’m thinking of using “Be Thankful” or “Be Grateful”—like a reminder.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Links?            

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Do they give a Nobel prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?”--Matt Groening

I'm hoping to get more crafts out this paper.
When I started my blog I promised to report my crafting mistakes.  Ohhhh, but let’s just call them mishaps.  Shall we?  Are there really any mistakes in crafting?  I don’t think so.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty crafty.  I had four thrift store picture frames and some craft paper I bought a few weeks ago on my mind.  I thought I would put a little crackle medium and paint on the frames…cut the craft paper to fit…and, BAM, adorable accents for my amazingly bare kitchen walls.  Easy, right?!  Yeah, I thought so, too. 

When I posted a few months ago about the wonder of crackle medium I gave the instructions off the bottle which explain one should paint a basecoat, apply the crackle medium and then a final topcoat for successful crackling.  However, I must confess, I thought the basecoat was only needed to achieve the color contrast that makes the crackle effect really pop.  My frames already being a dark brown, I decided to skip the basecoat.  I went straight from crackle medium to a cream colored topcoat.  Yeeeaaahhh, that didn’t work.  Clearly, I should have been thinking less about pretty and more about basic chemistry.  The basecoat is needed for the reaction to occur that causes the paint to crack.  Whoopsy!

I then for reasons I don’t understand decided to paint a layer of crackle medium over the cream color that didn’t react followed by a layer of red paint.  The cream would show through the red and be super cute, right?!  Uh, no.  It didn’t even look a little cute.  So, I applied another layer of crackle medium and another layer of cream.

I wish I could end this post by saying my mistake…I mean mishap…turned into something wonderful.  But I can’t.  It’s okay but not good enough for me to show a picture of the finished product.  I did manage to salvage the other frames which look quite perfect.  Yay!

I end by saying slow down.  Read the directions.  Think about it.  
And don't get too big for your crafty britches.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

When I'm home/Everything seems to be right--"A Hard Day's Night" by The Beatles

You can't see from this angle a tiny blue bird being
obscured by the giant purple flower on the right.

So, I was on my way to buy a food processor…and I accidentally crafted this wreath.  I have never been one of those people who hang things on their front door.  I only rented doors until a few years ago, and joked we always found out we were moving the week after I hung anything on the walls, let alone on the door.  It got to the point after about the fifth move that I didn’t put anything up at all.  I always knew we wouldn’t be there long anyway.  When we finally became the proud owners of our own front door, I still felt like I was renting.  It wasn’t until Christmas came, seven months later, that I put up a nice seasonal wreath.  And there it has been living since December 2009. 

Yep.  Those are cobwebs. 
*hangs her head in shame* 
 Then today I was on my way to buy a food processor when I remembered a Michael’s coupon in my purse.  My idea was to briefly stop in the store to purchase a pre-made wreath.  I had big plans to make salsa this afternoon—not craft!  I should have known myself better.  Forty minutes later and two missed calls from my husband on my cell phone, I came out with all of this:

I didn’t end up using all of the items.  Heck, I didn’t even mean to buy the third bird.  I only brought it to the register because the yellow bejeweled bird didn’t have a price tag on it.  However, I became too enthralled in a conversation with the cashier about my next stop to buy a food processor to tell him I didn’t actually want it.  As for the green glitter ribbon…don’t you hate it when your inner five year old makes you buy things?

I wrapped orange yarn around a basic wooden wreath. 
Later, I added a bit of blue yarn for some contrast.

These clip-on felt flowers made it super easy to attach them.

I clipped the birds to the yarn and secured them with a bit of wire.

I made a bow out of the rest of the yarn.

I’m happy with how it turned out.  As I hung it up I started thinking about the flowers I planted a few feet away, the grass in the front yard which my husband pays such careful attention to, the color of the front door that took us two months to pick out—and all I kept thinking was—we’re home.