Friday, November 30, 2007

Paper Ornaments

A few days ago, Design*Sponge posted a simple but pretty DIY paper ornament craft. I used fewer paper strips (than her example) on my first three, but they're perfect for the space above our tree. Simply cut (with scissors, a trimmer, an Exacto knife, or your teeth) various colored paper into 1" wide pairs of paper strips at various lengths (outside pair 11" long, middle pair 9", center 7") (or 9", 7", 5" or any other variation you might want to try). Line up the ends of the strips at one end, staple them together, then force the strips to stack at the other end, staple, and you're finished. I didn't have glitter paper to use on the middle/inside strips, so I covered a few strips with glitter glue. Then Willow flipped her tail on to the strips and spread the glue all over the couch. Just keep the paper away from your pet as the glue dries.  Skip the glitter for a quicker version. Variations on the shapes are easy to make as well--just eye-ball it. (Third pic: improvised from leftover paper).  Let me know if you try it!
Our front window (above) where we've set up the tree,
and (below) my variation on the ornament shape.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Providence in Color, Part 1 (of 3)

Even at the end of November, Providence is full of color. I took a walk around our neighborhood today and snapped these pics. 11/29/07. (Blogger's limited options for photo layouts = grrr.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sharing Good News

In high school, my best friends were Karsee Taylor, Beth Cizek, and Laura Heintz.  We called ourselves the 4-some. We were obsessed.  And obnoxious.  4-some forever!  Anyway, they each have kids now, and we're all over the place (our last hoorah was at the 10th year reunion, in '03! pic: me-blond, Laura, Kars, Beth, & Laura's daughter Sophia). 
Laura and I reconnected in nyc a few years ago and I've been able to keep up with her through her husband's blog. Laura (who is fabulous, by the way) has two children, the youngest (Ira) who was born without a diaphragm. I'll probably botch this, but here's my understanding of what has happened.  Without a diaphragm, Ira's lungs didn't develop fully (due to organs gettin' up in the lung-spot) and Ira had to be put on a respirator at birth. He spent the first year of his life in the ICU and a machine was breathing for him. Eventually he moved to a vent and just recently has been weaned off the vent (great news!). He is primarily fed through a tube in his stomach (because of problems swallowing) and has a trach. Today Laura and her husband Joe shared a video of Ira learning to talk with the trach. 

He's doing really well and I am so happy for them. The video was great to watch so I'm passing it along. Here's the link to the video of Laura and Ira (give it time to load). Enjoy!

Holiday Shopping Ideas

I'm still planning to do as much handmade giving/purchasing for the holidays as possible. Craftland should help me out. But may be a terrible shopper. So I will help you out.

For your stocking-stuffing needs:
Talking Japanese Watch $20

Take the pressure off your friends and stop yapping their ears off. Ask them to buy you a talking Japanese watch. It'll keep you company and you'll learn to shout out the time in Japanese.

3-D Doodle Kit $9

Because Beowulf in 3-D was so unimpressive, you, by default, will make cool stuff with your 3-D kit. Doodle doodle doodle. Then send it to me and I'll put it on my fridge.

Pinhole Camera $28

No glue, no scissors. A put-it-together-yourself paper camera that works with 35mm film. So fun. For the camera people. I'd buy this myself, but I'm eyeing the Holga at my local camera shop.

In case you have no stocking to's a stocking for ya, from Crafty Robot ($50). We've officially entered the holiday season. Be nice.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Huggable, Loveable, but not fully dressed

Thanksgiving Business

Our Thanksgivings (Thursday in Queens & Saturday in Ashaway, RI) were wonderfully warm. It was so nice to see friends and family, but sad to have to leave them. I've been rather mopey about it lately. For now, I'm focusing on the fact that we're celebrating Christmas at our house this year. There'll be eight of us, which means that our house needs to be Christmasized. First step: Find a very huggable, taller-than-Chris tree. Cut it down, bring it home, cover it with stuff.

Henry's Christmas tree farm gave us our first Christmas gift of 2007--the chance to cut down our own tree. A first, for me! The trees went on for rows and rows and rows...weirdly, lots of the trees were tagged by people who reserved them on previous weekends (wha?). Theresa & Jason joined us and picked up a live tree (roots attached).

Chris gets the 'final' crack with the saw.

What we left behind.

The tree fit into our Yaris!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pumpkin Bread Stuffing

I know that our trip to nyc for Thanksgiving is going to involve massive piles of food and overeating. My goal this year is to eat stuffing (and not bread), sweet potatoes (and not mashed), salad (not green bean casserole)--one of a kind, no doubling up. We'll see how that goes. Anyway, when I get back, I'm going to give this recipe a try. The pumpkin bread caught my eye....

Pumpkin Bread Stuffing Recipe

1 cup margarine, plus 1 teaspoon
4 stalks celery, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 cups pumpkin bread, cubed
approx 1/3 cup vegetable broth
Allow pumpkin bread to dry overnight, or toast in oven at 250 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease a large baking dish with 1 teaspoon of margarine.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the 1 cup of margarine. Add the celery and onions and sautee for 8-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes until mushrooms are soft.
Turn off heat and add spices, stirring well to combine. Add bread cubes. Add vegetable broth a few tablespoons at a time just until stuffing is moistened.
Transfer mixture to greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes, or until done.

(I took this from the Vegan site. There's another recipe that I have my eye on: a Pumpkin Mushroom Stuffing from All Mmmmm mushrooms.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Best of Sears

Hello Sears photo shoot.  My Canon came back from the camera hospital yesterday and today I picked up the last roll from the old Hasselblad.  I'm batting 1000 today.  Above photo: backyard, taken by Jason or Theresa, below: philosopher's softball game.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Scrapbook Weekend

First off, I finished another entry to a Category Stories Challenge (assignment: to scrap "Absolutely Fabulous" in your layout). I decided to do a collage of photos LO for a 2001 book I'm trying to finish.  Here are the results:
This past weekend, I spent two days in the Missour-ah woods, being crafty. My mother's CM consultant had a weekend get-away where we stay in cabins and scrap in the main hall for as many hours as we like. I didn't last as long as I thought I would, but completed a number of layouts & started a few others. Oh, and I made a few cards as well. More results:

RAK from The Dozens

A new kit club, called The Dozens, had a giveaway for people who introduced themselves on their blog during their site's opening.  I won the first give-away or RAK (which I recently figured out was 'random act of kindness,' or at least I think that's what it is) and received everything in the picture above by mail.  Such cute and crazy stuff to spice up a layout. The November kit is also adorable -- loaded with bright colors.

And update from last week:  We took Willow to an AWESOME feline-only vet (City Kitty). She hissed up a storm but received the prognosis of "very healthy" and I received a very reasonable bill. My bill for Monday's new hair cut and color was really affordable as well. So far, Providence has been an ease on the pocket book.  After the vet visit, I came home to I find that my "I'm afraid of Mice" layout was drawn as the winner for the Category Stories October challenge (a non-judged drawing from the entries). How cool is that?  At this rate, I need to play the lotto!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Missing my Camera

I'm back from St. Louis. Had a nice weekend with my parents -- helping mom fix up her craft room and scrapping with some ladies out in the woods! Pics to come.

No new photos for now, since my camera is in the shop. On Halloween I broke both my camera and my laptop. Arggh. I'm such a klutz. I sent the camera off to the Canon hospital and they've fixed it and it's on its way home. Finally. Mini laptop is in St. Louis with my dad, who is trying to get it fixed and will hopefully be bringing it to Providence for Xmas. Until then, I'm playing with a mac laptop (generously lent to me by my landlords). Starting to love it...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Beyond Sweetness: Khloe

( pics are low quality, cause I stole 'em from kodak & don't have original files)
Today, while in St. Louis visiting my parents, I was able to visit with this little light-of-my-life. The first baby among my cousins, she is absolutely the cutest things I've ever seen. And I'm not exaggerating. She's in the pete n' repeat stage and it's absolutely adorable. While this doesn't mean I want to pop one out, it does mean that I am thinking of kidnapping her and taking her home to providence with me. Her mommy & daddy are awesome as well. I wouldn't mind taking them to Providence (for good!) either. The videos are short, but priceless.

Khloe Videos

Photobucket Album

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Confession about Giada

(pic from MSNBC)
I've never been a huge fan of Giada De Laurentiis, a young woman who has an Italian cooking show on the Food Network channel.  Sandra Lee is hysterical with her tie-died cupcakes, pre-shredded carrots, cocktail time, and matching tablescapes. Rachel Ray has really easy recipes & her man-hands don't bug me like they used to. We've even used recipes from Alton Brown's show, the Contessa, and Bobby Flay's grillin' show. Our last guest-in-town show-off meal was Amy Finley's Goat Cheese & Mushroom stuffed Chicken Breasts with fingerling potatoes -- her winning recipe for the Next Food Network Star. ...This summer, we watched a lot of food network. 

Back to Giada. One of the most striking things about Giada's shows is the amount of camera time spent on her cleavage (yes, the link takes you to cleav-shots).  Don't get me wrong. Giada is a nice looking young woman.  She could use a sandwich, but she's nice looking. Everyone who's ever chatted with me about Giada brings up her cleavage and it's almost impossible to miss. I realize that food network shows are often shot in such a way as to 'seduce' the viewer with the food (think: food porn), but the cleav-shots seem like such a silly way to make her show unique.

This past Sunday, friends of ours invited us down to Newport for dinner. Rosie generously cooked up a huge 3-dish gourmet vegetarian (thank you!) meal. Rosie's food was incredibly good and I know that at least one of the recipes came from Giada. [[update: all of the recipes were Giada's--veggie meatloaf (with checca sauce!), penne with roasted veggies, & the portobello parmesan]].  Unlike many of the other chefs on the network, Giada's love affair with pancetta typically prevents her from cooking vegetarian meals, but every once in a while, even pancetta-lovers remember veggies like me. 

Here's my confession: While there are limitations when you only cook italian food, and typically meat-centered food, Giada is a great cook. I have probably (and it kills me to say this), but I have probably learned more from Giada's shows & eaten more meals from her recipes than any other chef/cook/cookbook author. I will still insist on the similarity between her & the older Steve Madden ads, but I am publicly giving in to the hype. She's great in the kitchen.

p.s. Nigella Lawson doesn't need cleav-shots to be super sexy.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Pirate vs. Rockstar, Halloween Smackdown

Last week we had a small, last minute Halloween get-together. A few came in full costume awesomeness, while "the costume box" from my closet was forced on those who came naked. Chris was a perfect Captn. Jack, Jason came as a rock-star, literally, and Theresa, a New England equestrian WASP. rider from Connecticut. Theresa's sister Marie was Donna Summers? and Doug's was either Moses, Jesus, Cesar, or (what I thought) King Triton from the Little Mermaid. My costume morphed from a renaissance roller-girl to a sheep wearing Buffy the Vampire Slayer's jacket. Don't ask. Sad news: I dropped my camera 15 min. into the party. It's currently in IL getting fixed. And no photoshop access to brighten up the pics (another tragic story). Most of the pics here are from Jason's camera.