Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cool Christmas Ornaments Round Up

I think I might have come down with a slight case of Christmas Fever. Someone put a poinsettia on my desk at work, and I don't even know why. Christmas is stalking me. Christmas and I should get a room.

Whatever, I'm embracing it. I've told you about my mission to craft the perfect homemade ornaments. But what would the holidays be without a healthy dose of consumerism? So I compiled this list of ornaments worth spending cash on. Happy decorating!

Natural Woodland

Let's start with this one from Natural Woodland. The deer is super sweet and all, but I especially love it because I've never seen square glass ornaments before. My tree has round balls and flatter circles, but no squares. The bar for shapes has been raised, my friends.

via Vintage Trailer Supply

I am in love with those little trailers that sit on Christmas tree lots. I don't know what it is about them, the cool vintage designs maybe? Whatever it is, my tree needs one. This little red and white guy is pretty cute, but they have others. And right now it looks like they're 10% off.

via Fancy Tiger Crafts

I adore this owl ornament, and Fancy Tiger Crafts also has kits for other animals as well. Plus since it is a kit and not an ornament you can still technically tell people you made it. Win/win.

via Glak Love at Scoutmob Shoppe

These super cool ornaments by Glak Love are made from old film negatives and are currently on sale at Scoutmob Shoppe. The only bad thing about these is that the T-Rex one is already sold out. Grumble.

via Neighborwoods

These map ornaments by Neighborwoods are kind of a must have. They're rustic and blend typography with local pride. There are lots of other places to choose from too, so pick your favorite.

via Old World Primitives

I have to be honest. At first I thought these cats from Old World Primitives were weird. Then I thought maybe they were awesome. Then I searched online some more, saw a place selling a Happy Fetus ornament, and my parameters for weird were completely redefined. What I'm saying is, these might just be genius. And if you put them on your tree, I will totally respect you.

Monday, November 26, 2012

DIY: Washi Tape Ornaments

Washi Ornament

Hey, did everyone have a great Thanksgiving? Here, I made you this pie:

Thanks Pie
Try not to lick the screen.
I hope your Thanksgiving was lots of fun, however you chose to spend it. Eating, napping, bare knuckle boxing for a big screen tv. Whatever. As for me and mine, we had a movie marathon, enjoyed video games and knitting, and decked the halls so hard they are probably still shaking. We put up the tree and I continued my quest to replace all of my original store bought ornaments with cool homemade ones. So, on Sunday I bought a few porcelain balls from the craft store and used my trusty washi tape to make some new ones.

Washi Ornament

Washi Ornament Pattern

I don't really have a tutorial for this project. The basic steps are have ball, apply tape, but here are a few tips.
  • Choose the right tape for your design. The neon ones were okay, but I really liked the graphic quality of the stripes. Polka dots might be cool.
  • Some washi tape is transparent, so plan your design accordingly. Where my stripes crossed I got a cool grid effect.
  • Depending on the size of your ball, the tape may be too wide to lay nicely. I cut my strips in half lengthwise and that worked well.
  • Washi tape is easily removed and repositioned, so don't be afraid to try out different patterns. You can always scrap it if you don't like it.

I made one with stripes, a cool graphic snowflake (there is a black snowflake on the reverse side) and some inverted zig zags. Honestly I kind of love them, and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for interesting tape designs to make more. I'd love to see any you create!

P.S. While you're at it, check out last year's felt roll up ornaments.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Parmesean Truffle Popcorn

Thursday may be Thanksgiving, but yesterday was Friendsgiving. The time to cram way too many people into my one bedroom apartment, indulge in food and drinks, and reflect on the general awesomeness of the people I am lucky enough to have fill my life. It was great!

When we were planning the menu, we wanted to go non-traditional, but one tradition we definitely wanted to incorporate was popcorn. (Inspired by A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving where snoopy serves a feast of popcorn, jelly beans, and toast.) If you've ever been to any of Graham Elliot's restaurants you know, the man serves a killer truffle popcorn. The plan was to experiment and recreate it, but we didn't even have to, because he already shared the recipe on In Style. So yeah, thanks google, that was easy.

Truffle Popcorn (adapted from Graham Elliot)

  • 1 bag of plain microwaved popcorn (save the butter lovers explosion for another time)
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon of white truffle oil
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • salt to taste
Place all ingredients in popped bag of popcorn and shake like crazy.

Two things, we adapted the recipe, and cut the chives and parsley, plus we reduced the salt. And, since you make this popcorn with a plain old microwave bag, Sam taught me the secret to perfect popping. Before you put the bag in, preheat the microwave by cooking a bowl of water for a minute or so. Hardly any unpopped kernels left!

This is a great appetizer. And we're planning a big movie marathon on Thanksgiving night (Hitchcock, Skyfall and finally Argo), so any leftovers are getting stuffed into a giant purse and being sneaked inside....but perhaps I've said too much....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DIY: Gold Nugget Earrings and Accidental Blasphemy

Fools Gold Earrings

Check it out, a project that combines two of my favorite things: spray paint and finding things on the ground. I'm not a big jewelry person, but I think these DIY gold nugget earrings are witty, subtle and pretty cheap. To make you will need: gold spray paint, smallish rocks with at least one flat side, glue and earring posts. 


First find some rocks and spray them with gold paint. Try to also paint your foot, as I found this step essential to the whole artistic process.

Once they are dry, glue the earring backs onto your nuggets. I tried to find pebbles that were interesting on the front but had a nice flat back to for sturdy gluing. I used hot glue because it was all I had in the house but honestly that is too brittle and I'm sure they won't last long that way. I'm going to re-glue them just as soon as I can get to the store and pick up some E6000.

DIY Fool's Gold Earrings
In action.
Ta-da and done. Little gold nuggets. I really like them, and you could make them in other colors too. Oh, P.S. if you live in Chicago or any other place where you can't buy spray paint, and you don't mule it back from the suburbs like I do (seriously, I'm basically a felon at this point), I think you could easily make these with liquid leaf or gold leaf foil. If you do, let me know how it goes.

Also, after I was done painting my rocks I had a ton of paint left over and decided to give a makeover to one of the random plastic animals I got in the clearance bin. So, I painted my cow gold. Yep. A golden calf. It dawned on me as I arranged it on my coffee table. We haven't prayed to it or anything, but still, I probably should have gone with the elephant instead. Oh well.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stole It From a Blog: Hot Water Bottle Cozy

Everybody knows all the best/smartest/coolest ideas come from bloggers. When I come across something I love I'll share it here on Stole It From a Blog:

Today it officially got cold, and if you live in a drafty building (or are just too cheap to turn your heat up) this tip is for you: hot water bottle. Laugh if you will, I know it might make you think of your grandma, but hot water bottles are amazing. Put one in your bed before you go brush your teeth and when you come back it will be all cozy and warm. Plus the bottle will cool down throughout the night so you won't wake up overheated. Perfect.

When someone gave me mine as a gift last Christmas I was so excited. Especially since it came with an adorable sleepy owl cover. Actually, maybe a little too adorable. My HWB and I snuggle all night and was worried taking constant feet to the face might not be that good for Sleepy Owl, so I set out in search of a more utilitarian cover.

That is when I found this pattern from Coco Knits. It is a free download and comes in full and mini sizes. I modified mine a little, for size and ended up seaming it instead of doing it in the round. Also I did a little color blocking and made my cross a bit skinnier. But all in all it was a great (free!) pattern. Warm and cozy, perfect for a winter's night sleep.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My So-Called Sweater Project: Week 2

Hey, so this week I started knitting and so far so good. The pattern we wrote started from the bottom and is working up to the neck, then we'll add the sleeves, so far I'm just knitting a flat square, kind of like a scarf. One thing I'm kind of shocked by: I've never used this much yarn for a project before. I just bought the yarn for the body and I'm already about 5 skeins and $45 bucks into this thing. Worth it, but still, it makes you think if it costs this much to make a sweater, how is Walmart selling them for $10? (yes, obviously buying materials wholesale is cheaper, but I don't think that makes up for the entire difference) Also, I'm realizing if you put this much time and resources into an article of clothing, you kind of value it more. I like the idea of having a sweater that I made that means something to me more than having 5 sweaters that are just fast cheap and pointless. It makes you consider your clothing, what do you really need and what does it mean to you? If your clothes have real value to you, will you be happier to get dressed in the morning? Something to think about.

Not a scarf, I swear.
Progress: 7 inches

In addition to knitting the sweater I wanted to re-watch the series. I'll be recapping here each week, and you can follow along on Netflix streaming or for free on Hulu.

Oh, hey Jordan.
Episode 2: Dancing in the Dark 

Angela is daydreaming about her checkered kissing history, which includes such moments as “camp counselor who already had girlfriend”, “groomsman who lost a bet” and “cpr.” All the classics, really. What it all boils down to is that now that they’ve spoken, she wants some kisses from Jordan. And in the words of Rayanne “People throwing themselves at people is like the basis of civilization.” Which is actually kind of true. So to facilitate the throwing process, Rayanne arranges for Jordan to get Angela a fake ID. 

Meanwhile, Angela’s neighbor Brian is totally in love with her. Like cleaning up her dissected pig heart kind of in love with her. Which Sharon pities, because obviously Angela isn’t into him at all. Brian has basically done all the work on their extra credit project, but Angela agrees to help with the final experiment after Rayanne convinces her that his parentless house is the perfect place to make the ID swap/seduction with Jordan.

Patty is having her own problems. She is worried her marriage has gone stale, so she’s considering stealing a page from her daughter’s book and changing her hair, since she thinks men like variety. Considering that last week Angela saw her dad outside talking to another woman, she has no idea just how right she is.
On the night of the big experiment, Angela practices kissing in the mirror and then heads over to Brian’s. But when Jordan shows up, she gets nervous and considers scrapping the whole plan. 

Across town her parents are trying an experiment of their own: ballroom dancing. Patty shows up with a new short haircut and a tight red dress. But the best compliment her husband can muster is “it shows your ears more” which was not her desired result. After a terrible dance lesson the instructor suggests dancing with other people, which Graham is obviously into.  She says dancing is really about timing and that it takes confidence to hear the music. Back at Brian’s, at that same moment, Angela musters up the confidence to walk to Jordan’s car. 

But once she is in the passenger seat, things don’t go quite as she hoped. Instead of a sweet romantic moment, Jordan tries to shove his tongue down her throat every time she speaks. And when she pushes him off of her he basically calls her immature. To her credit, she defends herself, telling him he doesn’t know her well enough to judge her. And I really appreciate how even though she’s like in love with Jordan, she doesn’t take his shit. Not every girl has that presence of mind, especially not at 15. And she’s right too. She’s not immature, he was being a jerk. Well done Angela.

Unfortunately, despite his bad behavior she still totally wants to make out with him. The moment is perfect but instead of kissing her, when he leans over he opens the door for her to leave. Dejected, she goes back inside to Rickie and Rayanne. Their experiment failed.

At home Graham fesses up to his brother about the other woman. Although he hasn’t done anything wrong yet, there are hotel plans for the next day and he asks Neil to talk him out of it. Upstairs he and Patty fight about their relationship, and when she breaks the Cinderella her father gave her, out of frustration, Graham comforts her and they have parental make-up sex. 

Angela comes home, bummed about her night, and her father is there to warm her some spaghetti and offer words of advice on dudes. “Boys your age can sometimes, not know how to be what you want them to be.”(Actually Graham, I don’t think there is a statute of limitations on this) “Sometimes it is really hard to figure out how to be a man.”  And with that, he calls to cancel his hotel tryst. Which Angela overhears, some timing. 

As opposed to incomplete sex?
 Episode 3: Guns and Gossip

Angela is watching President Kennedy speech in her social studies class. She thinks about how she is slightly jealous that adults always know exactly where they were when Kennedy was shot, but she doesn’t have anything like that yet (this was pre 9/11, after all). I understand. It is easy to feel like everything that came before you was so important, because it has the benefit of nostalgia and mythology. It can be hard to see the big moments as they happen right in front of you. Just then two big moments happen: Angela is passed a note with a rumor on it about herself and, oh yeah, a gun goes off in the school. 

Everyone is pretty worked up over the gun, which only harmed a bottle of soda, except for Rayanne who points out that the fact that this is the first gun to ever go off in their public high school actually just proves how safe it is. And Angela is more upset up over the note, which her friends actually have a pretty healthy attitude about: people talk, let them. 

Less amused by the gun are Angela’s parents, specifically her mother who wants her to be able to grow up in a place where she doesn’t have to worry about getting killed. Even though the threat is pretty minor and still relatively abstract, they just want to protect her. But at school Angela is facing a whole barrage of attention, now that the rumor that she puts out has been spread. Girls are talking about her and guys are talking to her. Rayanne actually thinks it is a good thing, rumors make you famous after all, but still she goes to Jordan to let him know he had better not be the one telling lies. 

The principal puts the squeeze on Brian to tell him who he saw in the hallway when the gun went off. He thinks Brian is protecting someone, which he claims he isn’t. But that is a lie, he saw Rickie in the hallway just before the shot, and now he is keeping quiet. 

At a parent meeting about the gun, Patty meets Rayanne’s mother and gets her share of gossip. Rayanne’s mother tells Patty that her daughter adores Angela and thinks she is in “major color,” which makes sense.  She also gushes about Angela having great taste in Jordan and Patty feels majorly out of the loop, worrying she is the last person to know about her daughter’s sex life. She asks about Jordan and hints that she knows they might be getting it on, and Angela gets understandably upset. Forget about being safe at School. She isn’t even safe from the rumors in her own house.

The next day in the hall Jordan and Angela talk. At first it seems nice; he wants her to know he isn’t the one spreading the rumor, because he isn’t like that. But really he is there to suggest that since everyone is already saying they had sex, they should go ahead and do it anyway. This. Fucking. Guy. She walks away stunned.
Finally, in the girl’s room, the mystery is solved: Brian is the one who started the rumor about Angela. She confronts Brian and tells him he needs to keep quiet about Rickie, and they fight over the importance of the truth.  He admits he lied about her, but only because she lied to him when she invited Jordan to his house. It seems like he just wanted to hurt her back.  

Jordan apologizes to Angela for suggesting they have sex. He realizes now that she is different than other girls. He’ll even help solve the rumor problem by making it clear to everyone that they didn’t hook up and that she means nothing to him. You know, you really have to hand it to him, even when he is trying to be a good guy he screws it up. How do you make yourself suck this much? I mean maybe he gets points for trying, but somehow the fact that he doesn't even notice how much he hurts her actually seems like it makes it that much worse. 

Angela goes to talk to Rickie about the gun. But it turns out, that just like the other rumor, it isn’t true. Rickie wasn’t the one with a gun. His cousin brought it to school to sell it and during an argument it fell out of the box and went off. But he wants people to keep believing he is dangerous, because he thinks it will help protect him from the people who beat him up for being gay. He doesn’t care if he gets in trouble, it is the only way he can think of to stay safe. And your heart breaks for him. Angela hugs him, and realizes that some people have like, actual problems.

In the end, amid all the pressure and gossip, Brian decides to atone for his original lie with another one. He tells the principal and the detectives that he didn’t see anybody re: the fatal soda murder, and they need to back off or he’ll sue them for harassment. Who says two wrongs can’t make a right? But even though the power of not-truth has been harnessed for good, the school still has to look like it is doing something to keep the students safe, so they install metal detectors, which everyone seems kind of uneasy about.