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  • Macarons: What I Learned in Class

    rhubarbmacarontops
    While we were in Paris I took a class on a Sunday morning at the Cooking with Class cooking school. The class was awesome. The chef, Constance, was charming and funny and a wonderful teacher.

    I was most interested in seeing the technique in macaron making called the “macaronage”. It is the process of combining the almond meal/powdered sugar/ liquid egg whites with the whipped egg whites. This step has been shrouded in mystery for me as some recipes call for an exact number of strokes and often tell you that you know you are done when the mixture is like “magma”. That is very specific and somewhat vague at the same time. I’ve watched a million YouTube videos and looked at tutorials for this step but there is nothing like seeing it in person.

    It wasn’t actually that big of deal. No secrets or specific strokes. The main thing I got out of it was that I have been over mixing my batter and knocking too much air out of it. It was just one of those things that I had to see for myself.

    I decided that (once I got over my cold) I needed to make a match of shells as soon as possible in order to see if what I learned in class actually made a difference in my home kitchen. I am happy to report that I got an almost 100% shell success rate, which is awesome. I think I need to play around with the cooking time but I am really pleased.

    macaron_bottoms

    Three out of a hundred…not bad! These came from the center of the baking sheet and because of the way my oven works, the center doesn’t get as hot as the edges, so the macarons in the middle of the baking sheet tend to stick. During the cooking class, Constance showed us how to make a jam for the macarons. She used frozen blackberries, sugar and dumped in a little powdered pectin. It was the easiest thing the world. We tested for doneness by dropping little blobs on to a plate and checking to see if they were “jammy” and jewel-like. Once it was done, the mixture was dumped out onto a plate, a piece of plastic wrap went on top and into the fridge it went. Easy. Did I mention it was easy?

    I wanted to make a seasonal flavor and decided that I would try rhubarb. I found a recipe for a Rhubarb Beer Jam, got the supplies, and macerated the fruit with the beer and sugar overnight per the recipe’s instructions and was planning on using the same technique that we did in class.

    The too-long-don’t-read version of my jam is this: it didn’t work. I don’t know what the heck I did or didn’t do…perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough? Too much liquid with the beer added? I don’t know. I only know that it did not jam and the rhubarb was starting to scorch. It turned out more like a fruit puree.

    I tried to salvage the mess by mixing a little of the not-jam with some cream cheese. I filled a few shells and let them sit overnight as is required. I sort of knew in my gut that the filling wasn’t going to work, and I now understand why macaron fillings are usually buttercreams or ganaches. The point of letting the macarons sit overnight is so that the shells absorb what little moisture is in the filling, which softens them slightly and allows the flavors to meld. If the filling is too moist, you will end up with soggy macarons. Like these:

    soggymacarontops

    So. How do I make this work? I still have half my batch of shells and about a cup and a half of the not-jam. Here are my options:

    • I found a recipe for a rhubarb buttercream, which uses egg yolks. I have a million of these in the freezer so this looks interesting.
    • Using white chocolate and folding in the rhubarb to make a flavored ganache. I think I would also like to try to find some Rhubarb bitters to add to this as well. The only issue with this filling is that it might be too sweet for my taste.
    • Thickening rhubarb by adding gelatin or agar agar.

    I’m thinking the buttercream. I’ll let you know how it goes. I almost forgot to mention the fact that I created my own colored sanding sugar by adding the gel coloring to some turbinado sugar. It worked like a charm!

  • Bonjour!

    twopugsinParis

    Hello! How have you been? I hope all is well in your land! I am currently hacking my lungs out on the couch with a cold I caught on the plane back from our AWESOME trip from Paris. Poor Jefe was sick the entire trip and I was expecting to succumb sooner than I did.

    I felt like the past two months my life was consumed with preparing and researching for the trip. Now that it’s over I feel like I can get on with my regularly scheduled program: Preparing for my next trip to Paris!

    Just kidding. Sorta. I’ve got a ton of things I want to get done, now that I can focus. Things like Sewing! and Gardening! and Cooking! and Projects!

    I plan on sharing all the fun details of our trip with you but for now I’ll leave you with my covert attempt to capture some adorable pugs that were coming our way while we were walking down a Parisian street. I was trying to be all sly and not alarm the poor lady who was walking them. I don’t think it worked judging by the look she gave me. What can I say? I have a soft spot for pugs.

  • Macarons – The Nut Edition

    nutmacarons
    I decided that I am going to try to aim for at least one batch of Macarons a month this year. I was brainstorming flavors, trying to think of something that would fit for January and inspiration struck while I was at Trader Joes buying groceries. I saw that they started carrying cashew meal, which got me wondering what the flavor difference would be from regular old almond.

    I’ll go ahead and confess that I am harboring a secret desire to sell macarons. Perhaps a macaron truck or a stall at the Farmer’s Market. I don’t know. It seems like A LOT of work and food service is super foreign to me, so it stays bubbling around in my head. That stupid Eat St. show on The Cooking Channel makes it look so easy.

    I recently discovered that macaron shells freeze AMAZINGLY well, so over the past two weeks I’ve made four batches of shells: cashew, pistachio, pecan and almond.

    cashewmacaronshells

    They’re filled with a basic vanilla swiss buttercream which I cut with some creme fraiche to add a little tartness.

    You can definitely taste the difference. I toasted the pecans, and that REALLY brought out the flavor, but the shells are super fragile. The pistachios are good as well, but holy cow. Aside from being expensive, they are a bugger to shell.I can see why the professionals stick to a paste in the filling.

    And I am STILL having the air pockets. I think that I am under folding during the “macarronage” stage, leaving too much air in the batter. I think.

  • Queen Bee Scarf

    EricaMulherinQueenBeeScarf
    There it is. I think it’s done. The skinny black border around the very edge will be rolled and stitched. Do you see the bee? Hint: Not the ones in the corners. Overall I am quite pleased if I do say so myself. And here’s where crazy artistic anxiety comes in to play: I’m afraid to get it printed! Isn’t that lame? I’m afraid it won’t look as good. AND THEN WHAT WILL I DO??

    Silly.

    I also have the next scarf almost done. Here’s a peek:

    EricaMulherinMermaidScarf_v1

    I still don’t know what to do with the border. A wave motif maybe? What do you think? I also tried putting the little ships in the corner boxes, but I didn’t like it. I might try it again, or I might not even have corner boxes, although I like the idea of having continuity with these initial scarves.

    I’ll keep at it.

  • Let’s Tesselate

    Do you know what tessellation is? I got this definition from MathisFun.com:

    A pattern made of identical shapes:

    • the shapes must fit together without any gaps
    • the shapes should not overlap.

    That’s right. Math. I try to as little math as possible so I don’t really care about that part of it, truth be told. I learned about tesselation patterns and how to create them in art school. You’ll run into tessellations a lot if you ever delve into mosaics as the repeating pattern motifs are often comprised of tessellations. There is also a song from a band I like very much that is about tessellating, but this is a (mostly) family friendly blog, so we won’t be deciphering those lyrics today. And oh yeah! M.C. Escher.

    Now that I think about it, it might have been the song playing on the radio over and over again that got me thinking about tessellations. I had to go back and relearn what I forgot from schooling and now that I have relearned and/or remember, I am tessellating all over the place.

    Let me back up, just a little bit by saying that one of my goals for a long time has been trying to figure out what I wanted to do creatively. For a long, long, long (too long) time I thought that would be something like illustrating children’s books, but I realized, quite to my surprise, that I really didn’t have any interest in doing that at all. I just thought I wanted that goal for so long that I never stopped and questioned if I really did, or never considered anything else.

    What I DO know, is that I like making things. Things that I want to make. I’ll make them and then sell them on something like Etsy and/or Store Envy. I want to do it rightwhich is why it’s taking so long. One thing I want to make is silk scarves. Wearable art if you will. So…scarves, patterns…I am sure you can see where I am going with this.

    Here’s a swatch of the Queen Bee tessellation I want to get printed on silk for a scarf:

    I’m trying to decide if I want a border or just the pattern. I’m leaning toward border, but I’ll keep you posted. I can’t wait to see what this looks like once it’s printed. I hope it turns out.

  • 2014 Reboot

    Why hello there! How have you been?

    Holy cow, I can’t believe how long I’ve neglected to blogand here we are at the start of a new year!

    I’ve got some big things I want to accomplish this year. Things like sewing more clothing, working on the house, getting my art career up and running, perfecting my macarons, and blogging more (of course)!

    I’m going to try to use the old blog here to document and share my journey and progress.

    I mentioned last summer that I was working with a life/career coach who was helping me get my act together in terms of making my personal career dreams turn into a reality. A lot of that was me actually DOING work, MAKING art, THINKING about what I want EXACTLY, which, is time consuming with a full-time job.

    I think the hardest part for me was/is that creating illustrations, or drawings, is a form of self expression, right? Well…what do I want to express?

    [INSERT BLANK SPACE]

    I’m still working on that part, but I’m getting there.

    P.S. I’m going to Paris for my birthday this year which is TOTALLY worth mentioning, but since the tickets and apartment are BOOKED it’s not an aspiration. It’s HAPPENING.

    !!!!!

  • BACK

    Back from Summer Break!!

    What? I never told you I was taking a break?

    I didn’t really plan it…it just sort of happened. I didn’t feel like blogging, I didn’t think about blogging (that much), stayed off instagram…I guess it was kind of like unplugging. But not really.

    It’s been an AWESOME summer. Let’s recap:

    Jefe and I went to Wyoming and had the best time ever with my parents, friends and a long lost cousin and her husband.

    A Store With All of the Dead Things. I almost bought a beaver pelt, but then came to my senses. Seriously though…it was the best vacation ever.

    Hung out with my cat on lazy summer afternoons not blogging.


    Started making some of those tree stumps as side tables I’ve seen all over the place. I got most of the bark off, but now it’s moved into Orbital Sander phase. I need an Orbital Sander. Project stalled.

    I’m Art-ing up the joint with my hat stands. I’ve been refining my technique and am very pleased with how it’s coming along. Project full steam ahead!

    I’m finally ripping up the burnt orange carpet in the upstairs bedroom. Ugh…what a chore. The particle board subfloor will be a million times better. I’m toying around with the idea of stenciling it, but then I found someone who used brown paper and stain on a subfloor! Wow…it looks like leather.

    I’ve let my garden go to hell and I don’t have a picture because I am ashamed. Poor Jefe asks me every time we’re out grocery shopping: “So…we don’t have any salad greens in the garden?” Shame straight to my SOUL.

    What else…we finally fired up the cob oven and ended up with a dirty, sooty, piece of raw dough and toppings. The oven, clearly, was not hot enough.

    So…there’s my “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” report. Lots of focus on house projects, which I am sure will continue. We ripped out a kitchen cabinet and chopped off a chunk of counter this weekend to make room for a new fridge being delivered later in the week. (yay!) As a consequence I am patching holes in the wall and thinking about paint colors.

    I am going to try to catch up on all of the blogs I’ve not been reading on vacation so I expect that everyone else has been having as awesome a summer as I have!

  • The Cob Oven: Version 1.0

    I have been wanting to make a cob oven for what seems like forever. I don’t even know how they got on my radar to tell you the truth, but the idea had taken root into my brain and I COULD NOT GET IT OUT.

    The theme of this project was “Damn…I can’t believe that worked!”

    Until it didn’t, of course.concrete_counter

    The first step was to build a mold out of melamine to cast my concrete “counter top” base.
    foundation
    This counter was then placed on a foundation built out of cinder blocks. Eventually I will put stone veneer to cover the cinderblock to make it look pretty.

    bucketsofclay

    A friend of mine lives on a piece of property that is right on the water, and her soil is really heavy clay*. She just happened to have a big plie of it laying in her yard that she needed to get rid of so I helped her out and loaded up seven buckets of the stuff.

    stompin_clay

    The hardest part of this project was stomping the clay. My legs were so sore!

    sandform

    An insulation layer was put down and then a layer of fire bricks. Sand was mounded to make the form for the oven.
    clay_layer

    The first layer of cob was applied, which was comprised of sand, straw and the clay. Looking back on this now, I realize that I didn’t add nearly enough sand. My soil is “fat” which means it has really heavy clay content (it’s super sticky) and I needed to have like a one-part clay and three-parts sand to make sure that when the cob doesn’t shrink too much when it dries.

    finishedoven

    Not too bad, eh? Looks pretty good at this point. Too bad it didn’t stay that way! Another thing I did wrong was to leave the oven uncovered as it was drying in the hot sun. I was thinking that the heat would help, but I realize that clay needs to dry slowly to minimize shrinking, which can cause….you guessed it….CRACKS!

    cobovencracks

    Bummer. However, being all Glass-Have-Full like I am, I am thinking of this as a test run. I learned a lot with version 1.0 and I think that will only make version 2.0 even better! Pizza will just have to wait a little while longer.

  • Garden Update

    garden_backview

    garden_front

    How’s your garden growing? Mine looks so lush right now and I am loving it! I’ve let the leeks I planted last year go to flower and I can’t wait till they open. I’m going to try to save seeds. I’ve got garlic scapes that I NEED TO HARVEST. I keep forgetting and I don’t want THOSE to flower. One of my favorite things is to see what has reseeded from last year. I have a poppies coming up in the middle of the beds, DILL EVERYWHERE and mustard flowering all over the place. I need to plant more carrots, beets, and beans. And then there’s the weeding…always with the weeding…

  • HELLO?

    Helllooooo…

    Funny how in my last post I’m all like “I’m going to blog MORE!” and then totally disappeared. What the hell? I suppose I need to work on blogging about stuff as it’s happening as opposed to storing it up and then vomiting all out at once.  Baby steps!

    THE AWESOME:

    I started working with Sherold Barr, an amazing and wonderful business coach I met at The Blogcademy back in March to help me get my butt in gear and start my own business. I’m super inspired and am doing a lot of work and prototyping and brainstorming and drawing and my goal is to have stuff on Etsy in October. Creating is hard work.

    ArtingitUp

    THE NOT SO AWSOME

    I got clocked in the head with the little plastic bead that is on resistance bands when the door I was using popped open as I had the band pulled back ALL THE WAY. I ended up in the ER getting my head stapled back together. That took me out for like a week and a half. Working out is hard work.

    BloodontheSneakers

    MORE AWESOME:

    I got my herb beds built and filled with soild and have started building my cobb oven! I cast a concrete counter and it WORKED. I harvested arugula last night for some pesto and I have all kinds of starts I need to get in the ground.  My back is killing me…Gardening is hard work.

    Gardening

    NOT ALL THAT AWESOME:

    I’ve been sewing like crazy and pretty much wasted a bunch of time on this vintage halter pattern before coming to the realization that just would never wear something like this. Sorta sad, but sorta freeing. Self-actualization is hard work.

    HalterPatter

    So…to sum up: I’ve been working hard. But! At least I’ve been documenting it. What have you been up to?

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Macarons: A Photo Essay

    MeltedChocolatePB

    Melted chocolate and peanut butter.

    MeltedChocolatePB_chips

    Mixed with potato chips.
    MeltedChocolatePB_solid

    Spread in a thin layer and chilled until set.

    PunchingCircles
    Circles are cut.

    Shells

    Macaron shells are made, some are sprinkled with potato chips.

    PB_Glue

    Peanut butter glue,

    Shell_Circle

    holds the chocolate circle.

    PB_buttercream

    Peanut butter ganache is piped.

    PBCrunchMacaron

    Et voilà !

    Verdict: These were SO frickin’ fun to make. The flavor was good, but I was expecting a salty BLAST from the potato chips and unfortunately I felt like I couldn’t taste them at all. Next time I will use a saltier chip, like a Ruffle instead of the fancy kettle chips I used, and I’ll use a milk chocolate instead of a dark chocolate for the punched circles. Dark chocolate is good, but it totally overpowered everything else.

    Next flavor will be something with rhubarb, since it’s Spring and rhubarb is in season. What else? Any other spring flavors you guys can think of that I should try?

  • Back on the Horse

    Holy Cow, I’ve been busy lately! What have I been up to? I recently came across a learning community called Skillshare and I got sucked in completely.

    Have you heard of SkillShare? This is their tagline:

    “Skillshare is a global community centered around creativity, collaboration and learning by doing.”

    I am officially in love. You can find an amazing variety of classes and they are really affordable, like anywhere from 15 to 25 bucks!

    I’ve taken classes on Making Macarons, Drawing Maps, Designing My Dream Garden, and a Digital Illustration class just to name a few. These classes have been a large part of the reason I’ve been so busy.

    The Digital Illustration class was taught by the very talented Brad Woodward. I loved seeing the process of the other artists and especially Brad’s…You can learn so much by watching someone else work. I picked up some fantastic tips that I wouldn’t have known otherwise, and…most importantly…I think this was the first time I have illustrated anything for about a year, maybe more. I just hadn’t felt any desire or inspiration, which was really kind of sad. It made me remember why I liked doing this in the first place, and that was more than worth the price of the class. Like a million times more.

    The assignment was to illustrate the words “Quiet” or “Loud.” This is the concept I came up with:

    I got great feedback, which made the finished illustration all the more better. The next step was to lay down some color:

    And then I added pattern and texture:

    It was such a fun little project that was purely for my own enjoyment. Brad was gracious enough to showcase some of his student’s final projects on his blog, (mine included.)  You can see some of the other fantastic illustrations the other students came up with. People never cease to amaze me with their ideas and creativity.

    I’ve got a few more classes on my watch list, (hello pattern making) but I might take a break for a while. That little hit of fun learning was just what I needed, I think.

    Speaking of fun learning…next time I want to tell you all about my awesomely fabulous Birthday weekend in Portland attending The Blogcademy. My head was exploded and I’m having a hard time putting back together IT WAS THAT GOOD.

  • Citrus Curds! Macarons!

    lemoncurd_macarons

    A side effect of all my macaron making is that I end up with a bunch of egg yolks.  I’ve been freezing them because I hate to waste perfectly good food and after a while I end up with a giant bag of yolks. What do you do with egg yolks? Make lemon curd!  I decided to experiment a little tried a variety of citrus fruits like key lime, grapefruit and blood orange. They all worked beautifully, with the blood orange being my favorite. I had a batch of (successful!) macaron shells just waiting to be filled with something so this seemed like a perfect fit.

    I’ve made lemon curd before, from an Ina Garten recipe and while the flavor was delicious, I wasn’t too keen on the texture. It seemed like it was too loose, (for macarons at least) and her recipe calls for a whole egg, which defeats the purpose of the whole yolk-using thing I had going. I finally found a yolk only recipe from CHOW which I used and it worked great.

    citrus_curds

    Aside from experimenting with the different citrus juices, I also added a little more butter to some of them to make a thicker spread for toast, which was crazy delicious. I substituted honey for the sugar with the grapefruit curd and…let’s just say that I won’t be doing that again. Honey can be a very strong flavor and it was too overpowering in this application, for my taste at least.

    I was in the store the other day and saw some beautiful pomelos, which look like giant grapefruits and immediately wondered what they would taste like in a curd. I’ve got some more egg yolks in the freezer…so…guess what I’ll be doing this weekend?

  • Macaron Fail

    I had a MAJOR macaron fail recently.

    I usually have maybe one or two shells that crack, but in this batch almost every single one cracked. I am not sure why because I didn’t really do anything different than I normally do.*

    It seems like it can be caused by any number of issues including: the batter being too wet, whipping the egg whites too long, too much humidity and too high heat, or generally the oven was too hot. I always cook my macarons at the same temp…so…was it the humidity? Did I mess up my ingredients? Did I over-mix the batter?

    I DON’T KNOW. That’s the mystery of these finicky dang things.

    So…it just goes to show you. Even after lots of successful batches, you can still have major failures. I’m going to pop them into the freezer and repurpose them in a trifle or something for a last minute dessert.

    *I lied. I got to thinking about it and remembered that I added some vanilla extract, which I don’t normally do. Half of me doesn’t believe that something small like that could make a difference, and the other half of me thinks it probably does since I sort just dumped it in there and didn’t really measure. In researching the causes for cracked shells, I found “using liquid coloring” to be a potential culprit, so perhaps the extract was to blame as well. Crazy.

  • Thrift Score

    Last year I made some pretty fantastic furniture scores at local thrift markets and I hope continued that trend this year. I’ve been on the hunt for little foot stools and I went into my favorite flea market with the intention of buying one (or two) that I had seen in there about a month ago. As is usually the case with things like this, (and I should totally know better by now) I should have bought them when I first spotted them because they were gone!

    However, all is not lost. I picked up this beauty:


    It’s a piano stool! I love the little round knobs. It will make the perfect side table for the chair I am still trying to make cushions for. It was a whopping $25 bucks! The paint looks like a darker teal in regular light, sick but when I take it upstairs to the guest bedroom, where it will live for real, the paint looks almost black – which is perfect. I might try to work on the top (seat) a bit to get the stains out, but aside from a good cleaning that’s all I’m going to do to it. I love it!

    Wanna go thrifting this weekend? I saw two new stores in Olympia that I haven’t been in yet. We’ll do lunch!

  • I Ate Salmon & Liked it

    EDIT: Damn, I should not write blog posts first thing in the morning. Remind me not to do that.

    We spent time this past weekend with wonderful friends eating wonderful food. That blobby looking roll is my contribution.

    I didn’t get pictures of the delicious little appetizers we had. They were mini-scrambled-eggy glorious bites of yum in a filo cup. Also missing is the salad course! Alas!

    I did learn that I like smoked salmon and am pretty darn excited about it. Our host made the AWESOME blinis with smoked salmon and crème fraîche. I could not believe how great it was! And I was eating it!

    Salmon is so good for you and I live in Salmon Country, which means we have access to great salmon (or so I hear)…but I can’t stomach the stuff. I can’t even swallow it. I am thinking that the “smoked” is the key. I was afraid that smoked salmon would have an even stronger salmon taste, but the folks I’ve talked to about it say just the opposite. I’ve been hearing that Costco has great smoke salmon, and I’m thinking about trying the stuff that comes from our local fish monger.

    You guys have any idea what I can do with it? What to eat it with?

  • Woo!

    I was just looking for my Resolution post from last year and realized that I didn’t post anything! I also nuked my list that I keep in Evernote to make room for 2013 goals so I can’t remember everything I wanted to accomplish this past year to check to see how I did. Oh well! The main thing I feel when I look back on 2012 is how fast it seemed to go. Things that I thought happened in say, actually happened in February.

    Here’s my 2013 Resolution and/or Goal List:

    • Be better about taking a daily vitamin
    • Build drawers for the pantry
    • Print/silkscreen fabric
    • Blog more – and more consistently
    • Create art from personal family stories
    • Work on the house – quit being lazy
    • Take better photos
    • Sew more of my clothes
    • Organize my crap
    • Keep working out consistently, especially with the weight training
    • Eat better – less bacon
    • Make cheese
    • Make pasta
    • Master the art of Hypertufa
    • Build a coldframe and a potting bench
    • Front porch – get some damn pots already!

    My goals are not super grand…I don’t want to run a marathon or anything like that. I’m not even sure that they can be considered “resolutions” but I take comfort in setting goals for the year ahead. I feel like it gives me structure and a sort of roadmap for the year. The most important thing is that I don’t beat myself up if I don’t accomplish what I want to do. I think the “front porch” goal has been on this list for the past five years and I haven’t slit my wrists over that one yet. Yet.

    Do you make resolutions?

  • Intergalactic cowl

    So…remember the lazy wheels I was crocheting? I had a grand vision of what they would eventually look like once I had them attached to each other, and it actually wasn’t too far off from what I had imagined. However, when I sauntered out into the living room to show my husband he said to me:

    “You look like a Klingon.”

    Hu’tegh! Now I cannot get that out of my head. Back to the drawing board!

  • What do I do next?

    I’ve got the momentum! Now that the bathroom is (mostly) done it’s time to pick the next project!
    Will it be:

    Paint the Dining Room Table Project?


    I’ve been wanting a pedestal table for a while now to replace the gigantic IKEA table we currently use. The dining room is a tiny space in the center of a major thoroughfare and a circular table will allow for better movement, take up less space, yet still allow us to seat the same number of people. I finally found my table at the local Restore for fifty bucks! Woo! This table has been sitting in our living room for a few months now, and as become a dumping ground for stuff. It’s making me crazy, so I’d like to get it into the dining room where it belongs.

    Disruption-o-Meter: 3 out of 5. It’s going to be an involved process painting (and sanding and priming and sanding again) in a cold-ass garage, and the old table will need to be moved into my sewing room (new sewing table, FTW!) which is so messy I currently don’t have room for it. Ugh.

    Or, will it be Finish the Chair Project?


    I am actually almost done with this one. I found this chair a million years ago on the side of the road FOR FREE and finally got around to painting it this summer. This chair is going to be a cast member in a larger Spare Bedroom Makeover Extravaganza. It was also my first time painting with milk paint. I chose to do a “Chippy” paint finish, which is not really my style, but you don’t have to sand or strip or remove paint or even CLEAN the piece, so hey. I’ve been loving everything coming from the awesome Miss Mustard Seed that I decided to just go for it. I chose a more modern print for the cushions so it doesn’t look too “Shabby Chic”. The juxtaposition of styles makes it “eclectic”, right? RIGHT? So now that it’s painted and chipped and waxed, all I have to do is make the cushions.

    Disruption-o-Meter: 2 out of 5. I just need to get some foam cut and sew the cushions. It will involve piping and zippers and MATH, so while it’s not super easy, it’s not anything I can’t handle.

    And finally…our last contestant…

    The Do Something About This Entryway Already, Dammit! Project

    I need a console type thing where I can hang my purse and keys and mail and general stuff that seems to collect on the various surfaces throughout the house (like dining room tables). This distribution of crap is starting to become a big problem. LITTLE PILES EVERYWHERE. We need a PLACE for our THINGS. I am thinking pipe shelving. (Of course.) I’d like to be able to get the paper shredder in this location as well, so that’s an issue I’ll have to solve. I have already painted the picture frames that I am going to use as mirrors and I’ve replace the hideous light that was there before…so…I’ve sorta started on it.

    Disruption-o-Meter: 4.5 out of 5. So…pipe shelves. Have you seen how expensive pipe is? Yikes. I really need to figure out exactly what I need out of this space and then figure out how to execute it. Do I get bins? Do I build a cabinet? Shelves? I need a rug! Do I really need an umbrella holder? Sigh.

    AND THE WINNER IS:

    Chair. Writing this post helped me see what I have to do with each project and considering the fact that the chair is mainly done, I might as well continue with the Finish-What-You-Have-Started-Before-You-Start-Something-Else theme and finish the dang chair. Woo!

  • Bathroom Update: I’m Finally Almost Done. Sorta.


    I was so jazzed after going to the Design Camp back in September that I wanted immediately tear into redecorating my living/dining room. Much like Stef and her kitchen renew project, I decided that it was probably a better idea to finish the bathroom project I started almost three (yikes…really?) years ago before I launched into something new. I was mostly done, but there were a few small things like putting the trim/moulding back on the floor and installing the toilet paper holder that needed to get done. A few things have come up as we have been living with the space for a few years that I needed to fix as well.

    This past week I took off work while Jefe was out of town so that I could focus on Getting! It! Done! without his distracting me. Doesn’t seem like a whole lot now, but I worked my tail off and still didn’t do all that I wanted.

    I won’t bore you with boring trim deals, which was the brunt of the work. So much measuring and cutting and nailing and nail setting and wood filling and sanding and painting and ick. And this was JUST the trim around the tub (the tub is just slightly larger that the space for the tub and the walls aren’t exactly square so I had fiddly bits). I didn’t have time to do the trim on the floor, so I still have that yet to do.

    I moved the hooks for the towels AND as sort of a reward for doing this, I bought fancy turkish towels. Have you seen these? I had never heard of them until AB Chao listed them in her bathroom makeover and I spotted them again in a magazine this month…Allure I think? I have towel issues. I’ve been searching and searching and searching for new towels and after doing yet ANOTHER load of smelly, mildewy, THEY DON’T DRY IN THIS CLIMATE terry towels I decided to spring for something new. Let me tell you this: They are pricer than your average towel. They are worth every single stinking penny. If you are one of those people who like a soft, fluffy terry cloth bath sheets, then these might not be the towels for you. They are super thin. They don’t smear the water around like some of those cheap-ass “quick dry towels”. They come in ton of colors. I love them. I am a convert.

    At first when I started this project all those million years ago I thought I was going to be fancy and mount my toilet paper holder to the wall, so in order to do that I had to patch the hole that was there first. Let me sum up and say that was a dumb idea that cost me a lot of effort to fix. I’ve been living with a role of toilet paper on the end of the counter for so long that it’s clear that it’s going to take me a while to remember to reach the other way. “Where’s the toilet paper?!!! Oh yeah.”

    I got a new rug as well, which I love. I also had found a stool on the side of the road that was painted a chippy-white-and-other-colors that I revamped and added little casters to the feet. It’s the official martini table laptop stand for watching Downton Abby in the bathtub.

    Caulking. I had to re-caulk as well, but that’s boring. So…not a grand “TA-DA!” but I feel so good that I got it (mostly) done. I got sick halfway through the week which didn’t help things and was sort of odd. Either the UPS man sneezed on a package or I picked something up at the Home Improvement Store. Sucks either way. And, of course…I had to save the best for last:

    I found another Ashtray Man Head or whatever they are called at a flea market this summer for a STEAL. Since the Uncle Fester looking one is busy holding Q-Tips, I’m thinking Jeeves can be the Incense Stick Man. And now that this is all (mostly) done I’m feel like I can move on to other things with less guilt.

    EDIT: I should add that I had to call my Dad for help only once!