Monday, June 30, 2008

Thank you, Design Star

I admit it. I'm hooked on this season of HGTV's Design Star.

Yes, this is in spite of the fact that the contestants are (for the most part) annoying and the designs somewhat uninspiring. So why do I watch? Because this season was taped in NASHVILLE!

Finally, I'm getting a clue into where to shop in the city. It's definitely hilarious to see the posh NYC/LA designers struggle with what the rest of us have to choose from, but the good news is that I've discovered a new place that may be a great resource!

In Episode 2, Stephanie and Jennifer used their "assets" to score this amazingly gorgeous wood slab table for $500! Really. They subsequently ruined it by painting it gloss white, which caused a brief drop in the Earth's oxygen levels as everyone watching collectively gasped:

Oooh, pretty....

What? Wait! NO!!!!


After recovering from that trauma I became obsessed with discovering where they had found a table like that in Nashville. I searched blogs and message boards with little success then realized that, duh, the sources for all the products were listed on the HGTV Marketplace.

And that is how I discovered Southeastern Salvage.

I popped over there this weekend and was intrigued. This was obviously one of those stores that you have to stop by often, somewhat like an overstock place for furnishings and larger household objects.

They had plenty of wood tree root tables, but none as gorgeous at the one on Design Star.

Some nifty benches, if you're into that kind of design.

I fell in love with this rustic looking table (I was on a dining room table hunt that day), but it was wobbly and the store was too busy to try to track down a manager for a discount.

This pendant lamp for $70 caught my eye as well--too bad I don't have anywhere to put it!

So thanks, Design Star, for introducing me to another cool place in my own backyard!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cheap Chic?

I'm on a quest--for a lamp.

Not just any lamp. No, it's all complicated (of course). See, when I bought our new couch it fit perfectly in our space which is not easy to do. But I neglected to take into account the need for lamps. Thus we are currently left with three options 1) the entry lamps WAY across the room that are impossible to read by, 2) the icky overhead light that make everything all glare-y, or 3) darkness (or the glow of the TV).

Soooo, I'm on a quest for that perfect lamp that will fit in our limited space. I need a base that is small or will slide under the sofa and a head that reaches out over our sectional sofa.

It's turning out to be harder than I thought.

And then I saw this:


What is it, you ask? It's the Tolomedo Mega floor lamp.

And it's available for the low low budget price of $520, plus shipping.


I'm all about spending money on high quality products that will last a lifetime, hence the sofa. But this is a LAMP and I was hoping to not spend my whole government bribe check in one place (cause I really really want a KitchenAid too!).

Now I'm out searching for substitutions for this lamp.

Option 1: Architect Sectional Lamp at Pottery Barn

Cute. Might work. But I looked at it in the store last weekend and I don't like how the pivot points are set up--I practically knocked over their display trying to get it to move (and of course no one came to help me as I wasn't dressed the part--we were on our way to Home Depot). And for $299 it better be at least decently made. And then there is my whole issue with Pottery Barn and their tireless promotion of completely redecorating your entire room every catalog cycle as they have barely tweaked their color schemes and now none of your old stuff matches...

Ahem. Pardon me, back to lamps.

Option 2: Double Dip floor lamp from CB2

It's not adjustable like the others, so I'm worried that the scale might be a little too big. And it has a foot dimmer, which would be awesome except for the fact that the base will be under the couch. BUT it is on sale for $149...

Option 3: Architect Floor Lamp

I don't know if I'm feeling this one for the living might be a little too much architect! And the shade looks puny. But it's on for $130, and I do love me some

Ugh. Maybe I should just look for something else. None of these options light my fire, and this post on Apartment Therapy pointed out the benefits of buying the original piece. Don't think I'm there yet. But is it really worth it to get a cheap lamp if it is an environmental and human right faux pais that will be replaced in a year??

It's Flea Market weekend here, so maybe I'll find something vintage...HAHAHA! That'll be a quest for sure!

Help!?! Any suggestions?

Update: See what I ended up with here!

Friday, June 20, 2008

In a jam

A few weekends ago we realized that it was the middle of strawberry season AND there was a pick your own strawberry field just outside of town. Fresh strawberries? Um, yes please!

We fell in love with the cute little farm and went a little overboard with the picking...2 gallons overboard! It was only $20 and a bit of our time, and it was nice to get out in the field and out of the city for a bit.

Nonetheless, we had a LOT of berries. That means it's JAM TIME!

Now here's the rub. Neither the boy nor myself have ever made jam. So it was bound to get interesting.

First we discovered that pectin, the stuff you need to make jam all jam-like and not soupy, requires a ton of sugar. The stuff we had was about 7 cups/batch. Ick. I can't stand overly sweet strawberry jam....I like it to have a little bite to it! Fortunately we ran across this article from the UT agriculture school and discovered low-sugar pectin. And being the scientist that I am, we decided to do an unofficial test of two brands: Ball and Sure Jell.

And then the fun began.

First, the decapitation

One gallon down, one to go!

And sterilization of the jars:

We followed the directions on the pectin boxes, which of course meant that the Ball batch was different than the Sure Jell batch. For instance, the Ball pectin required apple juice to set while Sure Jell did not. But the Sure Jell did require a certain amount of sugar (4 cups I think) while the Ball let you use a range of sugar, or sweetener, or even honey! We kept it simple and went for sugar.

The berries were beaten to a pulp and the cooking of the strawberry goo was fast and furious. Of course, the boy had to show reclaim his manliness by drinking a Guinness while stirring jam in my apron!

Not the cleanest project in the world, but fun! We bought this kit when buying jars, and it was TOTALLY worth it. Jar lifter, lid lifter magnetic stick thing, and funnel. Yeah, you need those!

Ten minutes in a boiling water bath, 24 hrs on the counter and.....

Whew! Lotsa jam. Now we are going to have to eat a whole lot of toast....

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pattern Review: Amy Butler Anna Tunic

Summer is officially here and I find my closet sadly short on summer tops. Seriously, I'm still wearing sweaters (short sleeved) some days!

I grabbed another Amy Butler patter so I could whip up something quickly. This time, the Anna Tunic:

I used this crazy rainbow-esque Alexander Henry fabric I got on sale ($5.14 for almost 2 yards!) at my fav fabric store. Because the fabric was loud and I happened to have exactly the right amount for it, I chose the cami option. This would put the finished length right at my hip, which is what I wanted anyway. Hurrah for serendipity!

The result:

anna cami on form

This pattern was reeeeaaaally easy to put together. Definitely a plus. I cut a straight large and it turned out nicely, with a good amount of ease.

The front has cute gathers to give it some shape.

anna cami front

And I love the buttoned back:

anna cami buttons

The only problem I had was the same problem I had with the Lotus Tunic. Again I had things wrong side out when I put the lining down inside of the exterior, and it was supposed to be right side out. Apparently I don't pay attention to that stuff! So remember right side out on step 3H! It was much later when I realized how wrong I was, but luckily it was easily corrected.

One small change. When hemming, I first turned up the hem the total 2 inches, then turned the raw edge down 1/2 inch. This ends up giving the same hem but helps ensure it is straighter...if you are like me, that 1/2 inch is hard to make perfect which could lead to a wonky hem. Oh, and every sewer needs this and this to save your fingers from a hot iron!

Overall I like how it turned out. The fit is good, but I'm not positive it's the right style for my body type. I saw a similar style as a dress on my much much more diminutive friend and it looked fabulous, so you thin or petite gals can eat this one up. I might not make another one, but I'll definitely wear this proudly on a hot summer day!

anna cami full
This is why you hardly see pictures of me in my creations - I always end up looking constipated...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

These cupcakes are evil

Horrid cupcakes.

Absolutely revolting.

Who in their right mind would put this into cupcake batter?

Mmmm, peanut butter cups

And make frosting out of this?

Ooooh, dark chocolate

And create something as disgusting as this?

Evil cupcake 2
Whoa! Double chocolate peanut butter fudge cupcakes?!?!

Who would eat this mess?

Evil cupcake 1

MMMMMM, that'd be me!

Evil cupcake 3

Original recipe here. My changes included making 24 cupcakes and baking for only 15 min. I used one 10.5 oz bag of "snack size" peanut butter cups in the batter (the original size to me) and about half of a bag of mini's for the topping. Yummmmmm.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Tremendous Totes are HERE!

Finally, after much patient waiting on your part, dear friends, I can announce that I've actually finished the Tremendous Totes!

Tremendous Totes are HERE

I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting these, so here's the scoop on how to get your hands on one:

1. The totes will be listed on my etsy site TOMORROW, Tuesday June 10th at (almost) exactly 7:00 pm Central Daylight Time. You can translate that to your local time here (I'm in GMT-6, the same as Chicago).

2. There are only five totes available in this color combo--I'm calling it "Georgia Peach", as I think it fits! There will be other colors (and maybe even a custom option soon), but if you've got your heart set on this exact one you better act fast cause I really really really can't make any more!

3. I'm throwing in a matching mini stuff stasher! They are just too cute and too useful not to be included :)

4. Okay, okay, the price. $147.00 US.

5. Shipping will be stated on the etsy site (check my shop policies later tonight--I should have it updated by then). In short, I'll be shipping USPS Priority with confirmation to US customers, and I will ship internationally as well. I'll figure out international shipping by USPS Priority International zones and spell that out. Please note that you'll have to be responsible for any duties or fees that your country imposes, so check that out before you buy.

Phew. I think that covers it. I'm so excited to get these out to you all. I'm hard at work at other colors, the pattern, and figuring out how I can handle custom orders, so stay tuned for much more excitement. Happy Toteing!