Monday, May 30, 2011

recent finds

a} A signed and numbered blue jay print: I thought this was supposed to be for mom (as we were shopping together), but she left it at my house so it's mine now. I know; I have a lot of bird stuff. But blue jays are rare in art form, aren't they?
b} An 'A' pin.
c} A container of various sized crochet hooks: I don't crochet in the traditional sense. I've been trying to put together this idea for a while now and I thought what was holding me back was my poor choice of crochet hook. I had hoped to find something at the thrift store, and I did find something larger and I wanted to get just that. But mom convinced me to take the whole lot up to the cashier to ask how much they'd be and she gave us all of them for 99 cents. (If you need one, email me!)
d} A calligraphy pen: I'm pretty excited about this one. It comes with a bunch of tip sizes, all I have to do is find some ink.
e} Ticket stamps: They've never been used and they're so cute. One has an owl on it, so naturally I had to have it. And despite them being tickets, I don't feel like you always have to use every part of a stamp. Colour in the owl alone and you've got something completely different, right?
f} Rolls of ribbon: I've been looking for pink and since it came in a bag, I had to buy the whole thing. But that's cool. One can never have enough ribbons and the rest were pretty great colours, too.
g} Number stamps: I don't know where the little figure on the top is from, but I really liked the font of the number. I'm going to use them for addressing envelopes.

h} An amazing metal outdoor chair: it's uber comfortable and it just happens to match our house pretty damn well. I may or may not spray paint the metal black. Maybe.
i} A little wicker basket: it's for balls of yarn, is it not? I liked it cuz it's sculptural. I really want to paint it teal blue.
J} A side table: because you need somewhere to put your drinks. And it's wicker. And I know it's a hideous shade of brown right now, but that's where some black paint comes in. In the soonish future.
k} I'm only mentioning the second chair because I got this one for free! It was totally by mistake, and I definitely would have mentioned it had I noticed it at the store. But I didn't notice until the next day when I was reviewing the bill and wondering why everything came up so cheap.

Our front porch is starting to take shape, right? I'm also pondering this little storage bench I spotted at IKEA last week (the one at the store was black). I think it would fit perfectly by our door and look a bazillionty times better than the garbage can that's there right now.

Friday, May 27, 2011

happy walking music

I have to mention these songs for nostalgia:

If you've got any good suggestions for music, please tell me. I'm getting into a bit of a music slump now that I'm listening more often.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DIY project: planter barrels

This is kind of an obvious and easy DIY. It's just a project that's been on my list for almost three years now. Crazy. I am a crazy procrastinator.

Mom gave me these barrels three years ago. I have no idea where she got them, but since she did, they were probably quite a steal (because she never buys anything unless it's on clearance).

I've been intending to make planters out of them since I got them, but I couldn't decide where to put them. And that is the one and only reason they've been on my procrastination list. I thought it would be smarter to figure out where I wanted them before planting them since they'd be heavier when full of dirt. And moving them seemed like work compounded since I'd definitely have to empty them in order to do it.

So what have I been doing with them so far? I've been keeping crap lawn junk inside them as storage. As soon as we got some rain and both barrels filled with water and all of my lawn junk became sunken treasure, I used them as make-shift tables for tomato plants by turning them upside-down. As soon as some wasps thought the inside of them would be the most perfect place to build a nest, I nervously fumigated them and turned them on their side in a corner.

After the wave of mosquitos this spring, I finally decided not to convert one of the barrels into a small water feature (another reason for my procrastination), got out the drill and made some holes. For drainage. Cuz like I mentioned earlier, these don't look like they'd hold an ounce of water, but they totally do. So if you find yourself with some half wine barrels and want to make them into planters, you're going to have to drill holes.

I don't know what size my drill bit was either, I just chose the largest we had. The reason I drilled so many holes is because I felt that the largest we had wasn't large enough.

Obviously, if you can, try to put the barrels where you want them before filling. These two aren't going to be on our deck forever, but it's fine for this summer. They're out of the way but close enough for easy watering and I like that we can see them out the window. I know this goes against my idea of placing them in their permanent home before filling them, but I won't have a better idea of where to put them permanently until they put the grass in and we get a fence up.

I've finally decided that I'm ok with moving them later. It'll be a drag, but I shouldn't be so lazy as to limit myself on plants this year because of it. Honestly, if it weren't for these barrels, I'd have absolutely no where to plant and barely any greenery this year at all. I HAD to plant them for my mental well-being.

Next, I filled half of each barrel with perlite. Do you have to? No; So why did I? Long answer: Because mom gave me a humongous body-pillow sized bag of it when she gave me the barrels and then some stupid little creature felt it necessary to chew a hole in the bag and then water got into the bag and then the bag weighed more than a small truck. So I've been tripping over, stepping around, and getting strong men to move this bag for long enough. I can't tell you how satisfying it was as I slowly emptied it by the scoop-full into buckets and hauled them from the garage until the bag was light enough for me to carry. Short answer: I didn't know how else to dispose of it and I just wanted to get it out of my life forever.

There are so many different types of dirt to choose from these days! Geeze! I was overwhelmed and I didn't know which would be best so I thought back to my life on a cattle ranch. Composted steer manure was the only dirt we ever used, and everything we ever planted grew amazingly with no help from fertilizers. So that's why I chose it. It's probably not the best dirt for seeds, I realize now, because it's a little clumpy. But they won't be seeds for long and I don't plan on using seeds every year so whatever. My philosophy when it comes to planting things is that if they are determined to grow, they will. I'm not worried.

Now all that's left is the fun part of planting. My future plans for the barrels will involve moving them to the front yard and planting them with cactus and succulents. I'll probably paint the outsides to match the house a little better, too. Until then, they're going to act as a garden, so in one I've put all of my herbs (purple and sweet basil, oregano, parsley, and mint) and the other I have vegetables (spinach, lettuce, carrots, and radish). I was going to plant my tomatoes in them, too, but I didn't think there was enough room (since I almost always buy way too many each year). They'll be going into individual pots as usual.

I'll keep you updated on everything's progress!

if you need more diys to ponder, the list is here

Monday, May 23, 2011

warmed cinnabun and cherries

I snuck out for groceries this morning and came back with cinnamon buns.

The perfect end to a rainy May long weekend, wouldn't you say?

I hope you're having a delicious long weekend, too!

Friday, May 20, 2011

spring rotation

I was gifted some new, springy clothes last week and my first thought was that I'd have to buy more hangers, but then I realized the overwhelming amount of clothing hanging in my closet that just screamed winter at me. So I had my moment of clarity and went through the entire lot, folding up and packing away anything that felt snowy. I must have been invigorated by the process cuz I soon got down to the business of changing around tchotchkes in the house. You know, getting rid of that easter bunny that's been lying on the floor since March etc.

And then I thought to bring up all my flower vases so I could switch them out with the tins. It was the perfect time to wash them, too. I think a lot of those vases had never been washed before. There were still some thrift store tags on the bottoms! But now that they're clean, the difference is amazing. The crystal crystals!

I've been thinking about doing that for some time now, I'm just a terrible procrastinator (and sometimes, it feels as though the stars have to align just so for me to get something finished). The vase situation was starting to become dismal since I've been getting more flowers lately and was having to resort to using the same vase over and over again whether it fit the flowers or not. Which then becomes especially annoying when you know you have two boxes of paper wrapped vases in the basement.

Doing this couldn't have come at a better time as I found some cheapy bunches of gerbera daisies today that I just couldn't pass up!

And in case you were wondering what was holding the straws, it was a vase. They're proving to be useful for more than just flowers!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

homemade bubble tea

I made bubble tea! And it's so easy, I'm telling you!

All you have to do is buy some tapioca pearls (available at your nearest asian grocery), some straws (I found mine at Bed Bath & Beyond), some tea (available everywhere; in every flavour imaginable), some milk and sweetener and ta da! A treat beverage! A 'bevreat' as I like to call it (cuz I'm always ridiculously combining words. I'm weird like that).

Of course, I'll still be indulging in delicious Dream Tea House mixes when I'm in WEM (my favourite is barley germ). But, believe it or not, there are days when I actually don't want to drive 30 minutes to get a drink. Mind blowing, I know. Now when I'm craving a chewy addition to my usual beverage, I'm going to make it myself. Because I can... and you can, too.

Cooking the tapioca is easy and doesn't take very long, so I suggest it be the last ingredient you prepare. It is gross the day after cooking. It goes mealy and loses all of its jelly je ne sais quois. You can add a little boiling water (which works great) or zap them in the microwave for a few seconds to rejuvenate them, but it's easier to cook only as much as you need.

my favourite way to do it
based on these sources then refined so there's not as much damn work involved for one drink

{cold brew tea}
any flavour is good; I prefer black

You can read my post on how I make this right here or you can brew up some tea regular style and allow it to chill.

I don't fuss around with simple syrups and sweetened condensed milk. I just sweeten the entire jug of tea as if I were going to drink it without milk and tapioca. I was fair about it, though. I tried both and while both are delicious (you know, cuz they're sugar), I eventually decided I just didn't want to bother with them. They added pressure to my life by sitting there in the fridge, half used, screaming at me to have one bubble tea drink a day to use them up. And I don't like it when sweeteners yell at me. So naturally, you know what I'm going to say here: use what you like and sweeten it to your tastes. That's really all that matters.

{tapioca balls}
follow the directions on the package you use. The above brand specifies 1 cup of pearls and 10 cups of water for 4-6 servings
I did the math for you so you can make enough for 1-2 servings (depending on glass size)

2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup tapioca pearls

Bring the water to a boil. Add the tapioca and gently stir until they soften and start to float. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and let cook for 5 minutes. Drain the water and allow to cool slightly.


Place the cooked tapioca pearls in the bottom of a glass (the pearls should take up about a quarter of the cup). Add your tea and top it off with milk. A good place to start is a 1:1 ratio tea to milk, but I've come to prefer about half that amount of milk.

Monday, May 16, 2011

DIY project: "quick" and easy t-shirt bag

I have a lot of reusable shopping bags, but I don't have enough cool, interesting, unique ones, so in comes the t-shirt shopping bag!

I spotted this video eons ago and since then, I've seen many other t-shirt bag tutorials pop up, but the video continues to be my favourite example. It seems to be the simplest and most straight forward to follow.

I used my super old Beastie Boys shirt I found at the thrift store years ago. So it was already used when I got it, then I wore it for a couple years, then I retired it to pajama status, and then, when it developed crazy armpit holes (like, how does that even happen?), it got scrunched in a bag with other scraps of fabric.

I totally forgot I even had it and found it in that scrap bag completely by accident while looking for other scraps (for another project, of course). I thought now would be the perfect time to scratch the t-shirt bag off my list since I finally had the perfect t-shirt for the job. How's that for a great recycling story?

And when I remembered that the Beastie Boys had just released a new album, it was almost as if finding the t-shirt again was meant to be. So turn on some Beastie Boys and get to work!

Fold the t-shirt in half, making sure to align the sleeves.

With some sharp scissors, cut off the sleeves and the neck to form the handles. I had to cut my sleeves off a little lower due to the holes in the armpits, but it would have been much better to aim for cutting only the sleeve portion off with as little of the body fabric as possible. Look at it this way, the less fabric you cut off the sleeves, the larger your bag will be and the more in proportion your handles.

You have to use your judgement for where to cut off the neck portion. If you don't mind cutting through whatever print is on the shirt (if yours has one), then go right ahead. Or you can cut it just above the print like I did.

Next, turn the t-shirt inside out and do a straight stitch along the bottom to close it. Then stick your hand in one of the corners and form a triangle and sew that. Do this on both corners.

The triangle thing is kind of tricky and I wish I could better describe it now that I've done it. It's best to watch the video a couple times. But don't sweat it too much. Just figure it out best you can. I looked at the bag without the triangles, too, and you could really skip that part if you're a little uncomfortable with it. The bag will still be a bag.

Now's the part where I explain why this was a "quick" project for me. I don't know why, but any time I have to use my sewing machine, I'm almost guaranteed to either have just enough thread on the bobbin to make me think I can get the whole job done or something happens to the bobbin thread which causes it not to be picked up or gets it stuck and knotted so it doesn't want to work. Both happened on this project. So when I was trying to stitch up the last triangle (something that should take about 2 seconds), I had to readjust the bobbin, then readjust again, then take the last little bit of thread off of it and rethread it, and adjust a couple more times before I could run that 2 seconds of stitch along the corner. Sigh.

Now turn the t-shirt right side out, and you've got a really sweet shopping bag! I've been keeping it folded up in my purse for spur-of-the-moment purchases. The last thing I had in it was a couple of 2 L bottles of pop and aside from some stretching (since the fabric is stretchy), it handled the load perfectly.

And while we're also talking about the Beastie Boys, I listened to their new album when it was streaming for free and it sounds a lot like Hello Nasty to me, so I really liked it. Unfortunately it's not streaming anymore, but they do have a really interesting video up now (fyi it's nsfw). I thought it was going to be some kind of documentary type of revist and then suddenly, it turned into one of those "which famous person am I going to see next" kind of games and I couldn't turn it off. I know 29 minutes is long in internet terms, but if you have time, it's fairly amusing. (Will Ferrell -- cow bell. Need I say more?)

the entire diy list is here

Friday, May 13, 2011

friday fixations

{popcorn popping} I'm completely fixated on making popcorn lately, so I guess it makes sense that I'm drawn to this video. It looks as if this popcorn kernel is jumping for joy, doesn't it?

{cinemagraphs} You know how much I love gifs, right? Well, From Me To You has the most amazing gifs ever. Like, better than anything I've ever seen. I keep slowly scrolling through her blog staring at every photo searching for a hint of movement. When I find one, I stare at for far too long. Who would have ever thought that a skirt blowing in the breeze could be so captivating. Here's one of my favourites; although, honestly, I really love them all.

{mystery photographer} These are so inspiring and the black and white is (as usual) perfect.

{lost} Ok so we're a little late to this party, but for those of you who watched it on tv as it happened, HOW THE HELL DID YOU MANAGE?! It would have been agonizing! The commercials, THE WEEK-LONG BREAK BETWEEN SHOWS! I'm SO glad neither of us got into it when it first aired. This is the type of series that's better left to DVDs because you'll blow through a whole disc every. single. day.

{the danny/gwyneth project} This is the same idea as Julie and Julia only far more entertaining and snarky. Danny's cooking his way through Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook, My Father's Daughter and he's not shy when it comes to expressing how he feels about it.

{the future} The strange is always more appealing, isn't it? I would like very much to see this.
"Can I take your coat?"
"It's, um, kinda part of my... outfit..."
Totally been there.

DIY project: pop-up flower card

I stumbled this neat video and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Send this cutesy card to anyone. For any reason. They'll be happy. I promise.

start with a sheet of printer paper

fold in half

take one of the halves

and fold it in half

fold it in half again

fold a triangle at the corner on both sides

do this six more times

Marked petal 1 and 2 get stacked on the first and last petals of the base flower. 3 gets stacked on top of all of those. Then petals 4 and 5 are stacked similarly to the first bunch on top of 3. 6 goes on top of everything to finish
(this part's a little tricky, so refer to the video if you need visual help)

hopefully, you'll end up with something that looks like this

grab another sheet of paper for the card portion

make sure your glue has dried before trying to open it!

{the ever expanding DIY list is here}

Monday, May 9, 2011

fruit salad

I was so excited to try the guava, but unfortunately, it wasn't ripe enough yet.