Friday, November 26, 2010

Postcards From Home #18 Fierce Mally

Thanks to Mallory Larson from Fierce Mally for this week's postcards. She was very prompt in sending them to me and describing everything wonderfully. I, unfortunately, had a "senior moment" and totally got sidetracked by the holiday. So, I totally forgot to post them on Wednesday!! Please accept my apologies and enjoy them today. Leave comments and let Mallory know what you think of her charming neighborhood!

I moved to Brooklyn, New York about 6 years ago from Fargo, North Dakota. It was quite a change, but the Park Slope neighborhood where we live is a little like a small town (but just a little).

The street I live on is 1 big hill and can be a workout to climb with an armload of groceries.

Just outside my “office” is our tiny kitchen. This is where I find a lot of my inspiration and often grab things out of the drawer to draw. It’s of course also the source of that wonderful life giving fuel, coffee.

This is our little kitchen garden. We don’t have a backyard so this is the bit of nature we have to tend. The plant on the far right is a relatively new addition and it’s a Peruvian Purple Pepper plant (hot hot!).

A couple of blocks from my apartment is beautiful Prospect Park. This is my favorite bench to sit on and people watch.

Just at the edge of the park, is a street lined with beautiful old homes. This little cluster is one of my favorites. I love the old iron entries on the 2 little brick houses in the middle!

Also in the neighborhood (I don’t get out much) is the paper shop where I work as the buyer, window decorator and invitation designer.

At home, this is my workspace. (Note the “storage room” under the desk. )

Finally, here I am along with Melvin the turkey in Times Square. I bought Melvin during an afternoon out, so lucky for him he got to tag along to dinner and a show that night near Times Square. Melvin and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tea Time: Cinnamon Rolls

Christina and her husband are off celebrating with their family for the day (it's Thanksgiving in the United States). She and I were thinking we'd skip "Tea Time" this week, but I made cinnamon rolls this morning, so I thought I'd share the recipe. Enjoy!--Janyce

Cinnamon Rolls (from the Betty Crocker Cookbook)


1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour


2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, then stir in the milk, sugar butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Stir until smooth, then mix in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until double (about an hour or so). Punch down dough and roll out onto a lightly floured surface (roughly 12x18 inch rectangle). Mix sugar and cinnamon together. Spread dough with butter, then sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly across surface. Starting with the long end, roll the dough tightly. Pinch edges of dough to seal well. Slice the roll into 18 one inch slices and place in greased muffin tins, cookie sheet, or cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. I like these plain, hot out of the oven, but you can glaze the rolls when they're cool using a mixture of 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a tablespoon of milk.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Favorite Tool/Creative Process - Karl of Half Pint Salvage

This week’s Favorite Tool/Creative Process comes from Karl of Half Pint Salvage who creates uniquely-original, eco-friendly and household items using vintage, salvaged and recycled materials. I asked a few questions and Karl gives us a bit of insight into his work. 
How did you start your craft?
I always envisioned my space looking a certain way, but could never really find creative household items that matched my design aesthetic. So out of necessity, I started creating those items myself. One fateful morning, while shopping at the local Goodwill, one of my first creative breakthroughs took place. Instead of seeing solely discarded possessions, I began to envision these items as materials, ideas and projects. Suddenly a whole new world took shape. I painted old picture frames, upcycled wooden furniture and used vintage finds to fulfill my storage needs. But the seedling (of what has become Half Pint Salvage) really sprouted when I found a vintage 80's television, still encased in its original wooden cabinet. I gutted the tube and it's attachments, painted the exterior, added a few internal shelves, attached a vintage window and presto--it became my new (and current) television stand.

More and more crafty projects would follow. And what at first was a part-time hobby, slowly became a full-time passion.

Half Pint Salvage studio space

Retro Eights-inspired Mini Chalkboard

Favorite tool/process? Why?

My favorite tool is simple: my paint brush. A paint brush is a magic wand for the upcyclers and recyclers of the world. You can take the nastiest, gnarliest piece of wooden furniture and instantly transform it in to a living room masterpiece. Plus, painting is such a visually rewarding process. And the routine of painting can be so relaxing; somewhat meditative too. Even better still, gratification through painting, is a fairly quick process. Typically, I round up 7 - 10 items that I want to paint, pick a couple stylish colors to use, lay on some paint layers and within 48 hours, my projects are on their way to hopefully being the new conversational piece in someone's home.

key racks in the process of being painted

Bicycle Themed Key Rack

 To see more of Karl's unique and wonderful work, visit his shop at Half Pint Salvage. Thanks Karl!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Soups

Here in the states, we celebrate Thanksgiving this coming Thursday. Menus are tweaked, turkeys are thawed, and the table extension comes out. This is a time of sharing with loved ones and creating a monstrous feast for an army of at least 40.

Have you thought about a first course yet? This soup would fit the bill perfectly. Rich flavor and oh so creamy.... only a small portion needed to start the meal off right. A perfect pairing for turkey, squash, and cranberry indeed!

Baked Onion and Garlic Cream Soup

6 large onions, cut 1/2 inch slices
2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth/stock
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
4 TB unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 TB chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place onion and garlic in a roasting pan, add 3 cups of the broth. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Dot with the butter.
3. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Stir a few times while baking.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and puree the onions and garlic with the liquid in a blender. Pour the mixture into a soup pot. With the blender on, gradually add the remaining stock and cream and add that mixture to the puree soup.
5. Adjust the seasoning and heat slowly through, but do not boil.
6. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
6-8 portions

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tea Time

This week's recipe is from Black Dinah Chocolatiers a lovely cafe and chocolate shop on Isle au Haut- There is no way we could improve on these delicious doughnuts.

Cafe Cider Doughnuts

Ingredients for batter:

* 2 eggs
* 1 c. sugar
* 1 t. baking soda dissolved in 1 c. fresh apple cider
* 3 T. melted butter
* 1 T. vanilla extract
* 1 t. baking powder
* 4 c. flour
* 1/4 t. cinnamon
* 1/4 t. nutmeg
* Roughly 6 c. vegetable oil or crisco for frying

Ingredients for glaze:

* 2 c. confectioner’s sugar
* 1/4 c. cider
* 1/2 t. vanilla

Beat together eggs and sugar until light. Beat in the cider/soda, butter and vanilla. Add baking powder, flour and spices all at once. Place this loose batter in the refrigerator (or freezer if you’re in a hurry), bowl and all, until it firms up a bit.

Meanwhile, heat your oil in a deep cast iron pan.
Heating your oil slowly will keep it from getting too hot. You want the temperature to be at 375 degrees or if you are like Jan and me and can't find your candy thermometer at 4:30 in the morning you can test the oil by placing a small square of bread into the oil. The bread should float to the top and slowly brown.

Roll out your dough to about 1/2 an inch and using a doughnut cutter (or a cookie cutter and a small bottle top for the center) cut as many as you can then bring the dough back together and roll out again and cut the remaining doughnuts. You should get between 18-20 doughnuts.

Fry in oil for 2-3 minutes per side, making sure the oil is hot again between batches.

While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze by stirring together all ingredients in a medium size bowl until completely smooth.

When doughnuts are cool enough to handle, dip one side into the bowl of glaze, and allow them to crystallize on a cooling rack. Serve warm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Postcards From Home - Searching the Web...

I didn't get any submissions for this feature for this week, so I decided to do a google search of the words "Postcards from Home". One thing lead to another (as web searches often do) and I ended up on Youtube. I found this video and I am IN LOVE with this song! There is a video by a band called Beirut that is mostly sweet, nostalgic images with a few weird images. The sound on their version is a cool, original mix of ukelele, eastern European, and new folk music. I had never heard of this band - Beirut - but I am going to try to find more from them. This is a cover of that song by Florence and the Machine who I like very much. So, check it out, and go to youtube or itunes to check out both of these bands!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Trend is Our Friend Friday

In our last trend poll, we voted we were more likely to incorporate the butterfly trend into our work than the snake trend.

(I should note my dream dictionary lists both as symbols of transformation)

Big Picture Trend 2011 - Rationaissance - rationalism marries renaissance (coined by David Report)

For this big picture trend think stylish, iconic and functional; think of the things that last - the things that will represent our current times far into the future and maybe even still be around.

Think timeless, streamlined and subtle for this one.

Small Picture Trends 2011 (from TrendStop) - Paint by Number and Rope PatternsThe paint by number trend is all about empty places - this could be missing puzzle pieces, negative space, etc mixed with a little nostalgia.

The rope pattern trend could be a bit western or a bit nautical or a bit something else but still needs to be presented in fresh ways that we haven't seen before; macrame from the 70's probably won't cut it.

paint by number - somethingshidinghere, cocoperez, norajane, numbers iconic toilet paper rope - tutublu, anthropologie, pottery barn, threadbareapparel top picture - tickledpinkknits

Don't forget to take this week's poll and let us know which small picture trend you might be more likely to incorporate into your own work.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paging Through Our Sketchbooks: Missouri Bend Studio

This week's sketchbook features the works of Patti from Missouri Bend Studio Mixed Media on Paper and the progression of her most recent piece "Page from the Book of Loose Associations."

I’ve been saving teabags for a couple of years and I’m not sure how I amassed so many since I almost always drink loose tea.  These must come from all those times when I’ve run out!  I keep them in a basket next to the main basket of embroidery thread, which is in a wild abandon of chaos.  I know this would drive most people totally nuts, but I love that mix of color and it’s only when I try to disentangle a particular color that I wonder why I don’t choose a more sane way to keep the thread organized.

Having been a cataloger for much of my working life (now flying solo with my Etsy and blogging life) I am very much drawn to the book page and have been making a lot of them lately, using these teabags mounted on Japanese paper.

The book is a place of magic for me, both as an object and as a vehicle for a journey into the unknown.  As I am so much about the one-of-a-kind and the still image, I realized that for me, making a single open page of a book says what I need to say at any given moment. 

So as far as the making, I found that using gel medium adheres the teabags beautifully to the paper.  I also love the look of  drawing on the teabags in ink and acrylic and then dipping them in beeswax, my other best friend!  I keep the beeswax in an old electric wok, which I turn on to just a little under 200 degrees, so it melts slowly.  I love the richness, texture and color that the beeswax provides.  I’d have to say I’m a mixed media artist, as the work I make combines ink, acrylic, teabags, and hand stitching in these little book pages. 

My process is entirely intuitive, so I don’t actually keep a real sketchbook, but do often jot notes here or there.   I just begin by playing and making random drawings, which may or may not end up in a finished piece. By now I have so many scraps of paper and bits of drawings laying about, that I have an eclectic source of collage material. Unsuccessful drawings may be torn up and used much later somewhere else.

Some of the parts of the finished work were drawings that were dipped in beeswax back in the early summer and only now did they find their way into a final piece. The titles of the works announce themselves as I am making them…I’ve always said I think through my hands, which is why I don’t actually keep a sketchbook….the thinking and making happen in the actual construction of the work.  I guess, you’d say the bits and pieces laying about my desk or in small piles on various shelves are my sketchbook!

You may find out more about Patti and her work through her Etsy Shop, and two blogs: Missouri Bend Studio and Missouri Bend Paperworks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Postcards From Home #17 Emma Lamb

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today we are treated to a magnificent glimpse of Edinburgh (pronounced "Edinburough" in case you didn't know) and the charming studio of Emma Lamb. Thanks Emma and I hope everyone enjoys it!

Hello Everyone, I live in the gorgeous city that is Edinburgh, Scotland. I'm an English girl really but moved to Edinburgh to study, that was fourteen years ago now and I'm still here despite the changeable weather! Really, don't be fooled by these lovely sunny pictures I took this summer of Edinburgh's castle and the nearby Princes street gardens. I'll never forget the first day my parents came to visit me here. We were treated to wind, rain, glorious sunshine that steamed us dry, more rain with a touch of sleet and even more beautiful sunshine. That was all in the space of an hour or two as we did a wee bit of sight seeing! Honestly, as much as I love this city for it's inspiring history, architecture and culture, sometimes I do wonder why I don't move somewhere much warmer... ;)

This is me in my home studio, my wee colourful sanctuary of creativity where I crochet all my lovely ladies... :)

Although there are so many fabulous places to see and things to do in and around Edinburgh, there are two that always top of our favourites. This is mostly because our 'wee man' Spanner (our English Cocker Spaniel dog) can come with us. The first up is Arthur's Seat, a huge volcanic hill right in the centre of the city. Edinburgh is known for having vast green spaces, but the best of them in my mind is definitely Arthur's seat. You only need to climb halfway up before you get some of the most beautiful views of the city and when you do get to the top you get an incredible panoramic view of the city and the surrounding areas. In the late summer we love to go up there for our evening walk and watch the sun as it starts to set (that's assuming we're not having any of that changeable weather I mentioned earlier!). If you ever happen to be visiting this fair city you really must put Arthur's seat on you 'to do' list... :)

The second of our top favourites is to visit the ruined castles that seem to litter the Scottish countryside around Edinburgh. These pictures are from Linlithgow palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The great thing about this and lost of the other castles is that they are in pretty good condition considering their turbulent history. In Linlithgow all of the stonework of the building is still intact, all the timber floors and roof beams are long gone but a lot of the rooms can still be explored. You get a wonderful sense of how daily life might have been for anyone that lived there, albeit from a very nostalgic and rose tinted perspective. Oh, and the really great thing is that a lot of these ruined castles allow canine visitors too!

Well, it seems I have rambled on quite a bit there and I didn't get to mention the Edinburgh festival. Maybe another time... ;)
I do hope you enjoyed a wee peek into my wee world and I hope you all have a fabulous
Emma, x

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Favorite Tool/Creative Proces - Tina of Tinahdee

This week’s Favorite Tool/Creative Process comes from metalsmith and jewelry designer, Tina Gasperson of Etsy’s Tinahdee – beautiful jewelry. Tina answered a few questions to bring us into her world of original and unique work.

I really do love every part of the process for designing, making, and marketing my jewelry, and even love the customer service aspect and preparing items for shipping. But I think the most inspiring part for me lies in the hammer. It's special because the hammer gives the ring character - whether I'm using a nylon hammer to give the ring a smooth round finish, or my chasing hammer to give it beautiful reflective facets, or the old dinged up hammer I stole from my husband. Many people might think that old dinged up hammer is good only for banging a nail into a wall, but for me that's definitely not the case.

The flaws and pits on the surface of this special tool give my rings a character all their own, and it is an aesthetic that I find a lot of beauty it. I see so many parallels between life and hammering rings. Life is going to give you some hard knocks all throughout - but if you let it, it can make you stronger and more beautiful. To me, beauty isn't super shiny and perfect - it is seeing things as they really are, but when you look closely you can see yourself reflected in those imperfections, and you love it.

The hammer - borrowed from Tina's husband
Rustic archaic copper and silver men's band ring

 Other than that, I really love my stamps. Again, I stole the first set from my husband, but since then I have begun to slowly amass my own collection of different fonts and designs. As a writer and word lover, there's something really special about putting words on a beautiful piece of jewelry. I especially love the idea of the cooperation that happens between me and my customer - the words can be so extraordinarily meaningful, and I get to put my artistic spin on those words to create a beautiful tangible reminder of a very special thing. It's deeply satisfying.

her burgeoning collection of metal stamps
Rustic sterling wedding rings personalized band set
Renaissance and Solid Gold Nugget Wedding Ring set
Rustic beauty sterling silver band ring

Here are a few more interesting facts about Tina and her work:

I am a self-taught metalsmith. I love to make rings. I remember how I felt the first time I made a ring, and I knew it was something special. There's just something amazing about being able to create a piece of art that you wear on your hand and can see all the time - you carry it around with you everywhere you go.

I started making and selling jewelry on Etsy after I took on the job of making 50 tiaras by hand for a group of women. It was a total unknown for me and completely outside of my comfort zone because I had never made any kind of jewelry and had even commented before that making jewelry was just not my thing - but by the time I was finished I somehow knew that this experience was going to lead to other things. I had that little voice inside that said, "don't stop doing this now." A friend of mine was selling handmade baby bibs and diaper covers at this place called Etsy. (She's now running a successful photography business and doesn't even have a shop on Etsy anymore!) I signed up for Etsy in May 2008, opened my store officially in July 2008, and that was the start of a big wonderful change in my life.

To see more of her beautiful creations visit:  Tinahdee - Beautiful Jewelry

Thank you Tina!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Creative Inspiration: Paper

Look around your work area right now. I'm 99% certain your are sitting next to some sort of paper product. A sketchbook, yesterday's Sunday newspaper, dated magazines, notepad, vintage steno paper, October's calendar, old lists on paper scraps... this is what I'm seeing in my own kitchen office. What I should see is the potential of the old paper... the stuff that is bound for the recycling bin.

Paper tends to be on the disposable side of things. When you are done with it, you toss it in the trash or in with the recycling, right? However, others see the beauty in old paper and give it a second life. Torn, battered edges, old text, crumble textures, yellowed by the years... paper qualities vary greatly beyond the neat, clean, flat sheets we see in reams and publications.

Check out these incredible works utilizing waste paper products:

Get inspired, pull some paper out of the recycling bin, and see what you can create with yesterday's news. You may just surprise yourself.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Soups

It was a cold, rainy few days here. Every inch of the house was damp and raw. So, what better way to chase away the cold by firing up the stove and making a soup?

This recipe has been a family favorite for years. First, it's super (can I say souper?) easy to make. Second, you can use leftover chicken from Sunday's dinner. I love any recipe that will clean out my fridge.

Just a couple of cook's notes:

I really, really dislike cilantro, so I substitute with flat leaf parsley.
Don't have fresh basil? Use dried basil, half as much though.
The water/ bouillon can be substituted with chicken broth.

White Winter Chili

1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 stick butter or margarine
4 c. 1/2 inch cubed cooked chicken
3 c. water
2 TB. cilantro, chopped
1 TB. basil, chopped
3 tsp. chicken bouillon granules or 3 bouillon cubes
2 tsp. ground red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 16oz. cans great northern beans, undrained

Cook onions and garlic in butter or margarine in a 4 qt. soup/stock pot...stir frequently until onion is tender. Add remaining ingredients and heat to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Serve hot with blue corn chips.

Happy Cooking, Everyone!