Sunday, January 31, 2010


Lately I've been so occupied with family/home life and have had so many occasions that have led me to making crafty gifts for loved ones that I haven't had the time to make anything new for the shoppe in ages. Much of the time I've been busy at work on some art project that I have to keep secret for gifty purposes, but these are a couple of new(ish) things I can share. I started this rose ball and finally finished it just before Christmas, but am only now finding the time to photograph and list it.

This is another ornament that I just finished as a 1st birthday present for a friend's daughter, The Bears and I, kids in tow, attended her party today. It was crazy and crowded, but the kids had fun.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What's on my wall: Inspirado

This little darling has always been in my life. It hung in my mother's room when I was growing up and she was nice enough to let me have it when I moved out. I don't know where it came from, or who it was made by.

On the back of the frame, in two places, is written B 350. It almost looks like a price, but I don't know if it is, or even if it is, if the price refers to the frame or the entire piece. My good friend KatinkaPinka used to have a storefront in South Austin with a couple of other ladies and they would have initials on their price tags to indicate who made what; that's my best guess for the B.

It hangs on a little strip of wall just big enough for it right outside my bedroom door. I look at it a little bit every day, some days more than others. I never get tired of getting up close and examining the variety of careful stitches that are so much more than they even needed to be. The extra touches of detail in the stitches is what gets me every time. I love to embroider and it seems to be somewhat of a fading art.

Someone doing a piece like this today is probably a fractional likelihood compared to when this was probably made, but even if someone were to take the time to do it now, I doubt that they would include all the nuance and care that went into this. I look at it and think, well, I can do that stitch, or I could probably figure that one out, or how did she do that? But I'm almost always struck by how the artist "went the extra mile" in a way that I'm not sure I would have. This is somewhat sobering, as I pride myself on being someone who "brings their A-game" most of the time, especially on craft projects. I have to imagine that it came from a time when there was simply less to occupy yourself with. No computers, TV etc. It must have been quietly lovely, but I won't get all romantic about times past, there's no point to it really. At any rate, it wouldn't be as inspiring to me if it were more on my level. My mother, the art teacher, summed it up with "If their work is better than yours, learn from it. If it's worse, feel better about your own."

That's not entirely fair though, because artists who are less practiced or comfortable with a medium than you can still inspire with their ingenuity, style, spirit or sheer drive to create.

Anyway, was taking another look at it and thought I would share my little moment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

moment of dork

Yeah, yeah... but don't you agree that Kristen Stewart bears a striking resemblance to Joan Fontaine? Just watched Suspicion, but would've preferred Hitchcock's alternate ending where Cary Grant did kill his wife.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm still here

I have sadly fallen off the blogge wagon in a big way; but I wanted to assure you all that it is a temporary situation. Still having major issues finding a balance that I can achieve on a regular basis of family/housework/art/on-line business/cooking/yard and house maintenance. I'm at a loss as to why this isn't every person's constant concern.
I am feeling pretty good today about it all. A little more Stepford than usual. I cleaned my floors today (mostly) with my new Shark steam mop. I was pretty happy with the Swiffer WetJet, but unhappy with the disposable pads that get used up pretty quickly and the cleaning solution that I didn't know was totally safe for baby or not. The Shark one uses steam, so no chemicals, and has washable pads. It seemed to do the job pretty well and was easier to scrub with than the Swiffer because the steam loosened the gunk up better.
I haven't messed with my Etsy shoppe in a long time either. I guess I've just been super focused in on my home/family life. The holidays were necessarily so, and I've just had a hard time getting back into a groove that isn't all about family and personal projects.
We've been busy with some much needed home improvements (though what we've done only scratches the surface of all that should be done!). We got new light fixtures for the kitchen, one which necessitated replacing part of the ceiling, which necessitated a "kill room" set up a la Dexter (Bryan's and my latest obsession, we're finishing Season 3 tonight!). It's pretty exciting after years of a ceiling with stains and holes and inadequate light, then months of a ceiling with stains and more holes and a fluorescent light nailed to the wall in my kitchen to finally have appropriate lighting. Don't have an "after" pic yet, because we haven't finished the ceiling off yet. Planning on getting the imitation pressed tin ceiling tiles. My inspiration for the kitchen since getting the new (old!) pantry has been the old free-standing Swensen's Ice Cream parlor.
We also put up a coat rack and curtains in the living room. Part of the wall is officially up in my studio-to-be. I finally got some bins for my laundry room shelf too. All the projects have been small, but those little things really add up!
Been working on art for present-type items, so no pics right now of that, but am excited to get back into the swing of things again soon. Thanks for reading and being patient with me as I figure out this whole life/motherhood/artist/wife thing!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


So, for Christmas this year, I made apple butter and bread for my close friends. This was somewhat initiated/supported by a wonderful lady I know named Guiniviere, who called me up and asked me if I wanted to do some canning with her. She purchased the canner, decided on apple butter and hosted our canning experience in her lovely home in South Austin.

We both made two batches, keeping our first, experimental batches for ourselves in our freezers as we did not can those batches. Using a crock pot, making apple butter is sinfully easy and is bound to become a quasi-regular occurrence in the Douglas house.

~8 lbs. of apples
(I used Jonagold for one batch and Granny Smith for the other - didn't notice much difference, except that the apple corer/peeler/slicer worked much easier/more efficiently on the smaller, harder Grannies)
The amount is unimportant, just fill up your crock pot with cut up peeled apple pieces. When it cooks down after a couple of hours, add some more in if you want so you can get the most butter for your efforts!
~2 cups of sugar
I used all white sugar the first time, but found 2 cups to be a little sweet with the already sweet Jonagolds.
The second time I used mostly brown sugar, with a little white, and the amount seemed fine with the tart Grannies.
~1/4 cup brandy (flavored or plain, whatever)
I used apricot brandy on the first batch and plain on the second, both were fine. This was an improvised ingredient on my part, I just thought it would be nice. It's totally optional.
~1-2 tsp. nutmeg
~1-2 tsp. ground cloves
~1-2 tsp. allspice
I don't use cinnamon, as my husband and daughter are both sensitive to it. I find these three spices to be a very tasty facsimile and I never miss cinnamon. I did these spices to taste. You can always add more after the apple butter has cooked for a long time and is all mushy, so start with a little and add as you see fit.
~1 tsp salt
I also do this "to taste" as I go.

Put everything in a crock pot and cook, covered, on high, for 1 hour. Then set your crock pot to
its low setting and leave it for 12 hours, overnight, whatever ( a long time! ). You can't overcook fruit, apparently! I like to cook it uncovered for a few more hours at the end, just to evaporate some of the liquid; but it does look more liquid-y in the crock when it's warm than after it has set up in a refrigerator, so don't fret! You can put it in freezer safe jars and freeze it, or just put it in your fridge and keep it as long as you would keep any other jam.
It's great on just about everything. My husband eats it on his eggs!

This was also my first experience using my sister's embossing supplies to make cute little labels!

I just used some last night (experimentally) to great success. I made a little pizza on a tortilla and used the butter instead of tomato sauce. It was faboo!

1 tortilla
1-2 tbs. apple butter
2-3 slices Havarti cheese
1-2 baby bella mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
1-2 tsp. diced, sauteed onion
1/2 slice smoked turkey lunch meat

Lightly crisp the tortilla on a pan just so that it isn't floppy anymore. Spread apple butter over surface. Break up your slices of cheese and your lunch meat into smaller pieces and arrange, along with your mushrooms and onion as you like. Put under a broiler for a few minutes until all the cheese has melted. Enjoy!

Just thought I would share my yummy mini pizza experience with you! Dicey liked it!

New Year's Resolution: To actually have Mondays be my clean house days, instead of just wishing it were the case. Wish me luck/give me reminders! :D*