Sunday, December 6, 2009

That's a nice seat, ma'am

This fall I was on a quest for new chairs for our dining table. They needed to be small, lightweight...and not $100+ per chair. I search high and low and finally stumbled upon some great chairs at the local flea market. Thanks to my mad negotiating skill (or more likely, the fact that it was 1 hour before the close of the market for the month), I scored these chairs for about $8 each:

Chair: before (2)

I got them home, cleaned off the dirt, and decided they needed a little TLC. The finish was less than perfect, the seats an icky blue vinyl.

The before:
Chair: before

But I had become convinced that I had scored some awesome vintage chairs and needed to clean them up right. Strip the varnish, sand down the stain, restain and refinish.

I tried several different methods to get these chairs shaped up. I exposed myself to no less than 3 different toxic strippers, effectively shortening my life by at least 2 months. I sanded until my hand went numb. Then I got out the power sander and sanded some more. Choice words were said and I still was no closer to completion.

Then more choice words were said when I was sitting in a local bar with my honey and realized my tuckas was parked on the EXACT SAME chair I had been working on refinishing!

Yes, my priceless antiques were actually old restaurant chairs. Ha!

The good news? Now I had no guilt about whipping out the spray paint. I had those chairs painted in no time, sans choice words. Add some new fabric to the seats and you have my new and improved chairs for Le Cafe du Moi.

The after:
Chair: after
Chair: after (2)

Just in time to be filled with bottoms for holiday dinners!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

But it's, like, so totally awesome, dude!


Dear Caboodle,

You were my pride and joy circa 1992. You housed pop bead necklaces, notes from friends folded into origami wonders, slap bracelets, a New Kids on the Block pin, and endless other wonders. You then took up residence in my dresser drawer, with nice necklaces and costume jewelry co-mingling in your divided sections. But alas, you just couldn't keep up with this modern woman. See, I'm starting a new job and I'm going to have to do things like accessorize and wear pants other than jeans. Which means I need something a little more hands on for my jewelry and can't be rummaging around in your strange sliding trays before dawn. Sorry Caboodle, you've been replaced.

Meet your replacement:


I hope you approve, old friend. But on a happy note, your departure has cleared up a large opening in my dresser! Guess you won't be that missed after all...


Monday, September 21, 2009

Unfinished project #63

UFO sightings are numerous right now. Don't bother looking for the other 62 unfinished objects - they aren't finished yet!

This UFO sighting comes to us via some kids spray painting road signs in the desert. Maybe the fumes got to them, but they claim to have seen white spray paint transform an ugly desk:

Before - cubicle grey, a real downer
desk before

After - oooh, it's clean! and white!
desk after

Additional sightings unlikely as my desk will never be this clean again...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sneak peak

I took my newest design out for a little field testing this weekend.


I love the flirty ruffles. They give off such a playful beachy feeling.


This bag also gave me a chance to use some of the pretty Amy Butler Midwest Modern fabric hanging out in my stash. Slowly but surely I'm working through the stash, I promise. Just don't ask what the UPS driver is delivering...!


Based on the reaction of "people on the street," I think this design is a winner. What do you think? Should I fast track pattern writing for this pretty little number?


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Truth in advertising


Just keeping it real...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A haiku...

feline breakfast

Spying on breakfast,
Lusting after the bacon--
Please share; I am cute!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Southern Food and Wine Festival - Part 2

The exhibit hall was full of all sorts of yummy, and dangerous, goodies. We pickup up some sauces and dip mixes, tried all sorts of goodies, and chatted up fellow foodies.

The best booth would probably have to be Wonderffuls - a yummy truffle/cake concoction with super cute presentation:


Top cocktail awards goes to St Germain elderflower liquor.

St germain
2 parts Champagne/sparkling dry white wine, 1.5 parts St Germain, 2 parts club soda = delish

And then we picked out our fav winery and brewery of the evening. Everything we tried from both places was awesome.

Good Wine

Good Beer

All in all, not a bad way to spend the day!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Southern Food and Wine Festival - Part 1

My lovely Auntie got me tickets to the Southern Food & Wine festival as a "congrats on defending" gift. A day of yummy food samples, wine tasting, and watching Alton Brown & the Neelys cook - not too shabby!

Food and Wine logo
I'd like a corner piece, please.

K at festival
(two days before my hair appointment - darn!)

Celebrity poster

Alton Brown stage

Alton Brown
The man lost 45 pounds since March. Um, yeah. And on top of that, he managed to convince me to try eating some trout and other fish besides sushi. But then...

The Neelys
...the Neelys made BBQ ribs and it smelled sooooo good it made me forget all about fish!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Ahhh, to be educated. Such a satisfying feeling, I'm now completely satisfied...

Or not.

Grad school takes a lot out of a girl! So I'm taking advantage of the fact that I'm over-educated and unemployed to have a little R&R...and R.

Yup, I'm staring my own three step plan to recover from grad school. It's simple really:
1) Revitalize the mind - That means no science! I'm going to read novels and books and learn things that are applicable outside of a laboratory. Whoa!

2) Revitalize the body - Um, I've been sitting on my keister writing a thesis and said bum is showing the wear and tear. Maybe I should go running...

3) Revitalize the spirit - I'm hanging on with all my might to the hobbies and things I love to do but haven't gotten to do thanks to all the things I had to do. So now I'm going to just do.

And there we have it. Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What I've been up to

Apologies for the absence. I've been occupied elsewhere.

Doing a smidgen of writing. Five and a half years in about 200 pages sounds about right, doesn't it?

Dissertation 1

And a presentation. Hardly worth mentioning, really, except for the fact that it was one of those "once in a lifetime" things.

Dissertation 2


Back to normal shortly...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cofee cupcake craziness

Sometimes a gal just needs a cup of joe. And a doughnut (with sprinkles, please). Aw heck, just throw it all in a cupcake:

cupcakes with coffee beans2

I know, I know - the insanity! But so worth it.

Want to make them? I know you do. Recipe adapted from here (which was adapted from here).

Coffee and doughnut cupcakes - makes 12

cupcake ingredients

for cupcakes:
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (cooled)
1/8 cup half & half

for coffee frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons coffee (plus more as needed)
1 tablespoon half and half (as needed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

sprinkles and doughnut holes (Krispy Kreme? yes please!!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

Whisk together four, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Set aside

Combine coffee and milk, set aside.

cupcake coffe milk

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.

cupcake mix

Alternate adding flour and coffee mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack.

For coffee frosting -

Cream butter in bowl of electric mixer. Carefully add about half of sugar, and 2 tablespoons coffee. Add rest of sugar slowly, testing for sweetness and consistency (I found it a bit sweet with all the sugar). Add more coffee and half and half to thin/amp up the coffee flavor!


cupcake decorate

Oh, boo-ya! Get on in there for a closer look:

cupcake decorate2

THAT is what I'm talking about.

Mmm, coffee and doughnuts...mug optional!

cupcake with mug

Friday, June 12, 2009

Feeling blue

summer blues

It's going to be a great summer...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Like a hole in my head...

Life 'round these parts is not busy at all. I've got oodles of free time on my hands as I try to finish my dissertation, search for a job, traverse the skies between Nashville and Tampa, paint the bathroom, help the boy landscape the yard, and try to figure out why there are always huge piles of laundry to be done. Free time....HA!

Yet even with all these demands on my time, I still have the urge to create something. I know I could be working on those long promised patterns for you guys (they are coming, I promise), but wouldn't it be nice to have someone else do all that pesky thinking? And make a pretty quilt? And maybe win some sewing supplies in the process?

That was exactly the thinking that sucked me into my latest adventure. I was blog cruising the other day and ran across this post on the Old Red Barn Co. blog. Remember the quilt giveaway from last summer? Now Dana's doing a quilt along for that same pattern, with plenty of giveaways along the way. And the grand daddy giveaway at the end is a Janome 6600! Yup, same as my baby. Obviously I don't need it, but one of you should win because its an awesome machine. Totally not to late to join in the fun as I'm just getting started myself!

I tried to go for a stash-busting quilt as I should not even be starting this project, never mind buying more fabric.

I bought more fabric. Just a little, I promise!

But look: pretty, green, and featuring a lot of my favorite fabric designers! Yippee!
green goddesses

Left to right:
Top row - Paula Prass, Anna Griffin, Paula Prass, Heather Bailey, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner

Bottom row - Heather Bailey, random stash fabric from JoAnn's, Amy Butler, Jessica Jones, Amy Butler, Patty Young

I'm a little behind the official steps of the quilt along, but I've got strip ready for when I get a free moment to sew:

strip club

I'll keep you updated on on my progress (or lack thereof) here, but in the mean time you can head on over to the flickr group to see how everyone else is sewing along!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gratuitous Cuteness

The only little feet going pitter-patter in this house belong to felines (sorry Mom!). But you, dear blog reader, deserve a little cuteness when you come by to visit. Where I am going to find some gratuitous cuteness for you? Never fear, I have a solution:


Look at that cute fuzziness! Not cute enough, you say? Try this on for size:


Would you look at that fat belly? So fat and squishy and loveable! It helps that our little part Maine Coon/part stray mutt of a cat is a total love bug and can't get enough of the loving that we want to give. He's a bit of a "special" kitty too, which makes him all the more endearing.



Play, eat, sleep... I wish I was a house cat!

Whew, all that cuteness must be exhausting. Why don't you take a break, buddy.

Good Kitty.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer food is good food

First start with a crisp salad, with greens picked fresh from the garden and homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing...

Follow with a juicy Moroccan-spice rubbed steak (from our local CSA!), grilled zucchini, grilled sweet potato chips (thanks for the idea, Mindy and John!), crusty bread, and a surprisingly good box wine...
steak dinner

I don't cook, so thank this guy for the meal...

Finish with some garden-grown strawberries for dessert.

I love summer...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Air boat...AIR BOAT!!

Although I currently reside in the South, I am by birth what most here would classify as a Northerner (aka "damn Yankee" if you are some random southern not-such-a-gentleman on the elevator...). Of course, we Ohioans classify ourselves as Midwestern, but I've been scolded by people from Kansas on that designation, so we'll leave that discussion for another day.

Growing up near a lake, a Great Lake in fact, I spent many of my formative years on different types of nautical vessels - sailboats, power boats, row boats, a random jet ski. Yet the one thing I have never experienced first hand is an air boat. There are no swamps in Cleveland, so no air boats. These crazy contraptions remain just a romantic yet intriguing figment of my imagination, represented only by Hollywood images of sleepy swamps where moss hangs from trees, a festive jug band accompanies dinner, and a crocodile or other crazy psychopath may or may not be hiding just out of sight...

(I need to stop watching horror movies)

Despite all the other pressing issues to ponder - global warming, writing my dissertation, what to eat for dinner - I still found myself haunted by air boat questions. Can you really power a vessel by a giant fan? Do these things even exist?

I finally got my answer with my first real-life sighting of an air boat. Really!!

My excitement, however, probably should have been tempered by WHERE I saw this airboat:

<Air boat!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beachy Keen



All this time in working Florida and I finally got to go to the beach for the first time this weekend. Sun, surf, and magazines! Whooo hoo!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I'm a firm believer in the idea that knowledge is power. Hey, I'm a scientist - I can't help myself! But in all seriousness, there is no way that any of us can be expected to make the best choices for our health, our families, our wallets, and our environment without access to information that can help us with those choices. In honor of Earth Day I've assembled some online resources that I've found particularly useful for saving green:

1) Environmental Working Group's Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides
Sure buying organic produce is better for your body and the environment. But, as I'm sure you've heard, we're in a bit of a slow economy right now (shocker, I know) and everyone is watching their wallets. That's no excuse to bring home pesticide laden fruit thanks to this handy guide. The EWG tested the most common produce and came up with the top 12 you should always buy organic. Thin skinned fruits and veggies, like peaches and bell peppers, top the list. Other "conventionally" grown produce doesn't hang on to pesticides either by design - like thick skinned avocados - or because they just don't need pesticides to grow period! I know, kinda sneaky to call something organic when they never actually needed pesticides to begin with. There's a handy dandy printable PDF or iPhone app available at the site so you can have the list on hand when you shop.

2) Ideal Bite
This is a fun little site that has a lot of random bits of eco information, and you can sign up to get them sent to you by email. Fun to read, and great cocktail party conversation starters!

3) Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database
Another effort of the Environmental Working Group, this database analyzes the chemicals in different cosmetics and rates them on their safety (or non-safety I suppose). An eye opener for sure (ha!). I recently switched to mineral makeup as I was totally creeped out by all the crap in my foundation. (as a side note, I totally love the mineral makeup as all my occasional breakouts have become a thing of the past!) I'm slowly working my way through my lotions and potions and replacing them with ones that don't feature mecury, lead, nanoparticles (really creepy, but that's another story), phalates, and the mysterious "fragrance". It's a struggle, as many of this is unregulated even though we absorb a lot through our skin. I wouldn't freak out and throw everything away, as a little exposure won't kill you, but it's worth spending a few minutes on this site when you are ready to replace your moisturizer or mascara and see if you can find a "less bad" alternative.

4) Greenopia and GoodGuide
I haven't spent a lot of time on these sites, but they look like great resource for all sorts of info about different products. You can waste a lot of money chasing every item that is branded "green" but in reality some aren't really as good as they seem. Buying less is always best for saving both kinds of green, but it's nice to have options when you want to save the green in your pocket without losing the green outside.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

CAbi who?

About a month ago I received an invitation from a friend to a CAbi party. I was completely flummoxed on what this could possibly entail, and when pressed my friend said "It's like Pampered Chef, but all about fashion!!"


Still a bit skeptical, I looked up CAbi online and perused their catalog. On first glance I was a bit confused. Now I'm no fashionista, but I wasn't falling all over myself for the outfits in the catalog. Sometime a theme can go to far, right? They had layered pieces in ways that seemed downright weird in order to go bohemian, and then had grown women dressed in outfit "sailor "outfits. And I was skeptical of the prices too. Granted my last shopping experience was probably at T.J. Maxx or Target, but I always find myself dispointed in the quality to price ratio in most designer clothes. And I'm a grad student with limited income (and few places to wear nice clothes)!

But my friend has more style in her tiny size 2 body than I'll ever have so I decided to trust her and go over for a girls night. Fast forward a few glasses of wine and I'm running around trying on clothes like the best of them. No pushy saleswomen or bad fluroescent lighting, plus I had "Aunt Barb" going on and on about how great some of the pieces looked on me and how I'd wear them forever. How can you say no to that?

The damage?

Super soft Tencel trousers (still don't know why they tied her cardigan all funny...)

Cute red jacket that I love. The belt isn't pictured, but it makes it like a mini trench or something.

It is impossible for a woman to have too many cute black tops and this one has side ruching that hides the fact that grad school wasn't kind to my waistline.

So now I've had my pieces for a few weeks and I love them! More money than I spent on clothes in a while, but I'm trying to adopt a more sustainable approach to fashion. Spend more on good quality clothes that last many seasons and I'll save money in the long run. Not to mention valuable closet space! And besides, when clothes make you feel good about yourself, they are worth every penny.