Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Anyhow...Ava will be three in a few months and moved out of a crib and into a “big girl” bed this summer. So it was the perfect time to switch rooms and redecorate. Ooh, redecorate! Ava told me that she wanted a princess room. Pretty typical for a two year old. But I just can’t stand the thought of too many frills and Disney princesses. Since I have an obsession with fabric, I figured I could satisfy her taste for girly while keeping it sophisticated for my taste. And since she’s not really old enough to object to my ideas...I win!
I decided that pink walls were OK. Not too pink though. I chose a Benjamin Moore Natura paint (No VOCs) in super light pink (forgive me, I forgot the exact color name). It’s light enough that it almost looks white in bright sunlight which I find to be very nice.
My hubby and I have always like to collect original artwork so when it came to art for the kids’ rooms, I had some great pieces to choose from. I really like the idea of instilling appreciation for art into the kids from an early age.
Side note: I took the kids to the the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts this past summer and was so thrilled when Emerson, who is 6, decided he wanted to spend some of his money on art for his bedroom. Granted, he only had about $15, but he looked around and chose some cards and postcards to buy from artists that he liked. I let him make all the decisions and pay the artists. It was neat to see what art struck him.
So in Ava’s room, I decided to hang a painting we bought back in 1999 in Minneapolis. I think it was at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design student art sale at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It was a long time ago. But we loved a piece called “oh poo poo” by Kurt Halsey. Who can resist a flying bunny pooing? Again, the bunnies - I just love them! It’s such a great painting. Whenever we show it to someone new, they don’t even notice the trail of rabbit poo until we tell them the painting name. The artist now lives in Portland, Oregon, I just learned. He’s showing some of his work at a place in Portland called Sweetpea Baking Co. - I’m going to have to go check it out.
Another piece I have in Ava’s room is a hand-embroidered wall hanging by a woman I met at the Craft-In in Newberg, Oregon, this past August. She and I were vendor neighbors. Her company is called bo betsy and she makes the cutest hand embroidered art. I was thrilled to get a wall hanging from her, and it looks great in Ava’s room now.
I’ve also tried to put some special knickknacks in her room to counter the plethora of plastic toys and general junk kids accumulate. On the dress, she’s got a wooden Pinocchio we bought in Italy in 2000, an antique book my mom gave her, a pair of wooden Dutch shoes from my great uncle, and a milk glass chicken from my grandmother. And though, the lamp isn’t a family heirloom, my husband picked it up in an antique store many years ago and it definitely goes with the aesthetic I’m going for.
The room’s not quite done yet. I’m waiting for Ava to finish potty training so I can get the huge changing table out and move in a toy chest I got for a steal at a garage sale this past summer (the hubby is anxiously waiting getting the “prime real estate” in the garage back).
I hope you enjoyed my little tour. Have a great weekend!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Years ago when I lived in Minneapolis, my husband and I would go to this eclectic little restaurant and bar called the Loring Cafe (it unfortunately closed a while back). It was one of those bars where they had live music and comfy sofas and chairs to sit on - of course thinking back you probably wouldn’t want to see those comfy sofas and chairs during the day when their Goodwill-ishness would rear its ugly head. Things like that seem to take on a hip quality in the darkened, mood lighting and after a few drinks. But I digress...
The restaurant though was delicious. And the best thing on the menu in my opinion was the artichoke dip. Good artichoke dip is hard to find. Often it’s too creamy (too much mayo) or too oily. Or people throw in spinach. I like spinach but not in my artichoke dip.
So one time, we asked what was in the dip. The waitress was very cordial and started telling us the ingredients, but with the caveat that they make it in huge vats so the portions she knew wouldn’t make much sense if you wanted to make it at home. She obviously didn’t know how much I loved artichoke dip.
After that, my husband and I made it our mission to recreate the Loring Cafe artichoke dip. It took years, literally, of trial and error, but we finally perfected it. Now I feel that I owe it to the world to share what I feel is the best recipe for artichoke dip.
1/2 cup real mayo
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Use the best quality you can. Sometimes the really inexpensive brands can get a bit oily.)
1 8-oz package of frozen artichokes, thawed and roughly chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons diced green chiles
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Don’t bake for much longer than that or the mayo starts to break down and get oily. Twenty five minutes has been deemed the optimal time. :^)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I’m a sucker for cute bunnies. When I was just a wee lass, I started a rabbit collection. My sister collected mice (not real ones, of course) so as a little sister, I had to have a collection too. I don’t really know why I chose rabbits, but I’m still a sucker for cute bunnies. Though I have scaled back my collection considerably as to not be considered a wacky adult woman with rooms full of collectibles - and I try to find more artsy renditions.
But alas, I just can’t help myself sometimes. I was browsing Etsy not long ago and came across an artist named Jamie Fales who draws the cutest bunnies EVER. She has such great talent and imagination and puts clever twists on animals and sweet-looking little children. How can you resist a Zombie Bunny or a Boston Terrier Mummy? Or one that I bought - a bunny sitting in a bucket - “i prefer to travel by bucket”. How cute is that?!
So cute, I had to get two!
Monday, October 19, 2009
My son just joined Cub Scouts. It seems like such a wholesome, Americana thing to do. My husband calls it paramilitary with the salutes and handshakes and pledges and all, but my son just thinks it's cool because he'll get to shoot bows and arrows and bb guns - such a boy thing.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I confess. I’m a home decorating magazine and TV show junkie. Most of the time I see wonderful projects that would look great in my home, but often my actions stop there. I wish I had the time to pull off even a quarter of the projects I see on TV or rip out of magazines. (You should see the “idea files” I have. Think heaping file folders overflowing with inspiration. Sad, really, that they hardly ever get to fulfill their creative destiny!)
Though, if I think about it, I am a bit crafty, at least with simple projects. I think it was in a magazine like Domino or Blueprint (two of my favs that went under) that I came across the idea of creating a “family tree” with small blank canvases, printouts of old
family photos and decoupage.
It’s very minimalist, but I think it’s a great way of highlighting the photos rather than their frames. It’s also minimalist in execution - print photo, glue onto canvas, let dry, and glue over the top.
It really is that simple.
Here’s what you need:
* Blank artist canvases (I use 8” X 10” ones.)
* Decoupage glue (I use Mod Podge but plain white glue works too.)
* Paint brush (I use a small foam brush.)
* Photos (Don’t use originals.)
First, use your computer’s photo editing program to crop and enhance your photos to your liking. I used the “sepia” coloring effect on all my photos for consistency. Some of my originals were black and white and some were color, so using the sepia color made them all look like they came from the same era.
Print out the photos in various shapes and sizes. I made some of the photos square, some horizontal rectangle, some vertical rectangle. Making them each a bit different in size and shape adds interest. Be sure to let the photos dry before cutting them out or handling them, as printer ink has a tendency to smudge onto the canvas if it’s not dry when you glue them on (I learned this the hard way).
Next, paint the decoupage glue onto the entire back of the photo and press photo onto the canvas. I place a paper towel on top of the photo while pressing down so that my fingers do not get glue and printer ink on them and smudge the canvas. If you do get a little ink smudge on the canvas, just use a damp paper towel and wipe it away gently.
Let the photo dry on the canvas before preceding. After the photo is dry, use the foam brush and carefully paint the glue over the top of the photo and onto the entire canvas front and sides. The photo will have a milky look, but once dry, the entire canvas will have a glossy sheen. You’ll see the brush strokes a bit when dry, but I think that adds to the character of the pieces.
Tip: Paint the glue sparingly, but entirely, over the photo. The more brush strokes on the photo, the more likely the ink is to smear.
If you like, once the entire canvas is dry, you can put on another coat of decoupage glue. This will add to the glossiness.
After everything is dry, hang the canvases up. Voila! You have a one-of-a-kind family tree.
Easy peasy. Now go be crafty!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I love autumn...the leaves start to change into brilliant shades of yellow, red and orange, skies are bright blue but there is a chill in the air, and you can start to eat yummy soups and chili for dinner again.
Luckily, my kids (6 and 2) are pretty agreeable to eating chunky soups - at least most of the time. We’ve conditioned them to like all kinds of beans, so when we throw in beans and sometimes small pastas, they never seem to notice the sneaky vegetables hiding in the soup. Hee hee. I’ve done a lot of experimenting to see what I can get the kids to eat without fussing.
Here is one of the recipes for kid-friendly pasta fagioli that I’ve come up with. The original recipe is from a Rachael Ray, but I’ve tweaked it a bit.
4-5 slices of bacon, chopped
1 small (or 1/2 large) yellow onion
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped (chop same size as carrot and onion)
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic (optional)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of water
1 can (15 oz) of cannellini beans (or white beans or black-eye peas, whatever you have on hand)
1 cup small pasta (like orzo or small salad pasta, again whatever you have on hand)
Heat a large saucepot (I use a dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add bacon to the pan and cook until crispy. Add the bay leaf, garlic, onion, celery and carrot to the pan and cook until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stir into mixture and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, water and beans to the pot and bring liquids up to bubble. Cook for about 10 minutes and then bring up to a boil. Add pasta to the liquid and cook until tender (cook time according to package directions).
Once pasta is done, serve.
I sometimes make crunchy croutons to put on top. If I don’t have the time or inclination to make croutons then I serve it with bread for dipping in soup. Hope you like it as much as we do!