Thursday, February 28, 2008

Etsyversary Celebration Dinner

Last night the boy came over for our weekly Project Runway viewing party (ie: I make a nice dinner and we open a bottle of wine). Since it was my Etsyversary and I felt like being nice to myself, I made a really killer dinner. We had veggie loaf, cauliflower cheese and roasted potatoes with leeks. I got us a decent bottle of red wine and some nice chocolate as well. YUM!

Listening:  Goldrush - "Wait For The Weels"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy Etsyversary To Me!

I made the marshmallow fluff injection cupcakes to celebrate. They're OK. Not fantastic, not spectacular, but OK.

On the bright side, the chocolate icing was to die for again, so thats squared away.

I've been working on the recipe so that I could do two varieties of cupcakes for the boy and my engagement party in a few weeks, but I'm not thinking the marshmallow fluff ones are worthy quite yet. Maybe I'll just make 2 batches and frost 1/2 w/ chocolate and 1/2 w/ cream cheese.

I'm a little bitter about the marshmallow ordeal though. I invested time in making 3 batches so far . . . my coworkers have been very supportive and have eaten and reported back on all of my attempts. This latest batch they DO endorse . . . but still . . . its just sort of not what I had in mind. I was expecting pockets of globby marshmallow goo but I ended up with more of a dribble.

Now . . .I COULD always mix the marshmallow fluff with some whipped cream to get a filling that would be easier to pipe into the cakes . . . or i could just cream fill them? Maybe I should cut a little section out and fill them manually? Anyone know more about this than I do?? Suggestions???

Listening:  The Beatles- "Happy Birthday"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh Happier Day . . . and a note on world domination ;)

On the eve of my Etsyversary (its tomorrow!!!) I've finally passed the 200 sale mark! With a big push from my mom and my aunt today, I've hit 203 items sold. The lariat pictured was the actual 200th item to go, which is sort of fitting because its always been one of my favorite pieces. I posted about it in Craftster, which usually means I'm realy proud of something :)

My first 100 sales on Etsy took 8 1/2 months, my next 100 took only 3. I'd love to hit 500 by our wedding date, 3/10/09 . . . if I did, in all likelyhood my Etsy earnings really would be able to pay for the whole wedding (another HUGE goal of mine!).

I'm crossing my fingers . . .and to start the big push towards my next 300 sales I've placed myself a nice big order on Fire Mountain Gems as a "200th sale present". :)

The boy and I are going out for dinner on Friday night to celebrate my 1st year, and also now my 200th sale! We'd planned to go to Disneyland for my 200th, but since we just went (exactly 1 month ago today!) and got engaged there, another trip right now seems a bit excessive . . . although I still really want to go . . . maybe for 300? I'm already 3 sales in, only 97 to go! Who wants to buy a necklace? :D

Listening:  Tom Vek- "Nothing But Green Lights"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh, Happy Day!

I finished organizing my crafting supplies!!!! I didn't take a photo, but here's a photo of my friend's dog, Gidget, dressed as a lobster because Gidget as a lobster makes me pretty much as happy as my organized crafting supplies do :)

I didn't throw much away . . . the whole point of being crafty is that you can make things out of junk, so junk is valuable in itself!! I did manage to sort a lot though, zippers with zippers, ribbons with ribbons (and loose ends taped down on the spool instead of tangled everywhere!) . . . I also managed to set up my storage so that I think it'll work better for me. I had a stack of hatboxes w/ craft supplies in them in the corner of my dining / sewing room. They were pretty, but since they were stacked I'd have to move them around to get to whatever box i needed. About a month ago I realized that I didn't even know what was in those boxes anymore since I never felt like moving them to get to the supplies inside!

Instead, I used a plastic 3 drawer chest that I reclaimed from my closet . . top drawer jewelry, middle drawer sewing, bottom drawer miscellaneous. I hid that in a coat closet so its easily accessible, but I don't have to look at it all the time. My beading supply boxes are still stacked next to the TV (which doesn't' bug be because I usually have them out to use most of the time anyhow ... no point finding them a home to hide in!). My ottoman is hollowed out and stashes my yarn supply. I have my "good" fabric and ribbons in a little hutch in a corner. My linen cabinet houses my "extra" sewing machine (yeah . . . I have two) and a box of scrappy fabrics. The only items that are out in the sewing room are my dressform, my machine and ironing supplies, and a vintage pyrex casserole dish of vintage buttons.

It feels great to have everything in its place . . . last night after I did all the organizing I went on kind of a beading spree . . . so I think having things clean and sorted is going to improve my crafty productivity quite a bit :)

. . . so, what was that again about world domination? ;)

Listening:  Meho Plaza- "The Beach"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cupcakes are getting there!

(Please excuse the photo quality . . . a flash doesn't do much for the appearance of frosting!)

Like planned, this time I used a more basic chocolate frosting recipe . . .and WOW! So good. Frosting accomplished!

The mini marshmallows were better, but still . . .well, kind of disappear-y. They melt into the cake and don't do much of anything for it. There are no pockets of marshmallow goo like I'd hoped for.

Soooooo . . . batch #3 which I hope will be the winner will be made with my usual chocolate cake recipe, the new improved chocolate frosting, and (drumroll, please) I will be INJECTING the cupcakes with store bought marshmallow fluff before frosting them. Yep. Marshmallow Fluff.

I'm planning to make them for my Etsyversary which is in 1 week, if all goes well there will be a recipe posted then :)

Listening:  Mew

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Countless hours of manual labor

. . . and my closet is finally something I'd deem "useable". I got rid of a LOT of stuff. Like, an unreasonable lot of stuff. I just don't have the energy to hang on to things that I'm never going to use or wear again anymore. "Stuff" stresses me out, I feel so much better now having let so much of it go.
The boy built my dresser for me (THANK GOD!) because had I been left to do it myself I'd have been in tears in no time. Its amazing that for how crafty I am I can't manage to build Ikea furniture. I think its mostly that I can't stand following instructions. The garment rack was basically just a snap together deal so I did that. I also did some serious moving . . .I had to rearrange most of the furniture in my bedroom to fit in the new dresser; the biggest job being moving my bookcase (I have a literature degree . . . so yeah, my "bookcase" is more of a small library. And as you can see in the photos, the book collection isn't confined to the bookcase . . . I've got several additional book piles in each room of my apartment.)
I've also got more than one closet . . . I've actually got 3 hall closets in addition to the bedroom one. And a linen cupboard. And a broom closet. And a built in set of drawers in the hall. My apartment was built in the 20s . . . maybe lots of little closets was the trend back then?! Who knows. But I cleaned them all out.
It was a ton of work, but work that really did need to be done, so I'm happy to have it off my plate. Up next I'm going to organize my crafting supplies (scary! they're not confined to one closet, they're all over my apartment!). I managed to reclaim some plastic drawers in the process of redoing the closet though, so at least I've got some new options for the crafting materials. I'd love it if I could reclaim some space in one of the hall closets for crafting supplies, so I could shut the door on them when I'm done working for an evening. I'll let my subconscious work on that idea for a while, then tackle the job later this week :)

Listening:  Failure- "Enjoy The Silence"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Crummy Cupcakes

I really really really wanted to make s'mores cupcakes. Been wanting to for ages! All of the recipes I've found though have been unduly complicated and really messy (As in producing messy cupcakes, not being messy to make. Messy to make would be fine!) So I came up w/ the compromise of trying marshmallow fudge cupcakes. The idea is that you take basic chocolate cupcake batter, submerge a large marshmallow in each cup, and ice with fudge frosting.

Well . . . yeah . . . the recipe I was using said clearly to use LARGE marshmallows. But, have you ever put a marshmallow peep in the microwave? You know how it gets HUGE then collapses? Imagine that happening to my cupcakes and you'll pretty much get the idea. Then the recipe I had for fudge "frosting" . . . more like chocolate syrup.

So I did my best to clean them up and saved the frosting by beating in powdered sugar, but I'm not happy with them! I was going to toss them entirely but the boy convinced me to bring them to the office instead. They're getting an ok reception actually, meaning the general idea of marshmallows and chocolate is a good one. But the execution was just crummy this time.

I'm going to try again tonight. This time I'm going to use mini marshmallows and mix them into the batter instead of placing them in the middle (to make sure they're fully covered w/ batter. I'll push down any errant marshmallows that might float to the top w/ chocolate chips. Then the frosting, I found a more basic chocolate recipe, your standard powdered sugar and butter deal. Oh and I'm going to use foil cupcake "papers" and a cookie sheet, so if the marshmallows do overflow they'll (hopefully) drip artistically down the side of the cupcakes rather than pooling around the top of the pan.

We'll see . . .

Oh yeah . . . Happy Vday.

Listening:  The Puppini Sisters- "Jilted"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Great Closet Collapse of '08


Yeah . . . this is the third time in as many years that I've managed to break a garment rack. This time pretty spectacularly . . . one of the vertical metal bars actually snapped in half. The first one I broke was cheap, from Target . . . the second also from Target but slightly less cheap. This one, again, Target, but TOP OF THE LINE Target . . . it lasted longer than the other two did, anyhow . . .

This time I'm going to invest in a real garment rack. An industrial one from The Container Store. Anyone wanna take bets on how long it'll last?

And while I'm at it, I think I'm finally going to go ahead and invest in a dresser. I haven't had one in ages and thats part of the problem . . .there's only so much any garment rack can take (even an industrial one I'm sure). The one pictured, from Ikea, is only $129 and it matches the TV stand I already have . . . I'm going to do some measuring tonight and see if it'll fit where I need it to . . .

. . . and then . . . on to organizing the crafting supplies which are taking over my apartment! If I can manage both of those projects, world domination can't be far behind :)

Listening:  Failure- "Saturday Saviour" (in honor of the fact that I'm going to spend all of Saturday in my closet!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

So Busy, Like, OMG . . .

I guess busy is good though! Busy at Etsy means money for the wedding! I've been working slavishly on a wholesale neckwarmer order (I think we're up in the 30 piece range at this point, all handmade!) and in the midst of all that crocheting, I somehow almost missed the deadline for the March sampler!!! I'll be doing shilling chokers this time, pictured below, all of which will have to be made tonight (yep.). And of course since I've recently become reacquainted with string and crimp beads, I just HAD to make a new necklace that I'd come up with last night (pictured above). At midnight. When I should've been sleeping.
. . . sigh . . . and don't even get me started on how my huge order from Fire Mountain Gems is coming in tomorrow . . . I don't know how I'd be able to keep myself from tearing into that right away. I suppose its better to be busy with things you love doing though than to be relaxing by doing something boring . . . .right?? right!

Listening:  A Place To Bury Strangers

Friday, February 8, 2008

Beading With String

I have a confession to make: I bead using wire pretty much exclusively. I can remember being in high school and trying to make bracelets out of stretch cord and crimp beads and having the things just fall spectacularly to bits with one false pull. Wire has always seemed more secure to me (not to mention that wire is its own beading needle). But lately I've wanted to experiment with making necklaces with more drape. So I finally picked up a pack of nylon cord and some (cringe) crimp beads.

I made myself a necklace and wore it for a few days with no disastrous results. I pulled it around, swung it in circles, and basically TRIED to break it, but to no avail. Maybe crimp beads have improved over the years? Maybe I'm just better at crimping them? Who knows . . .but my fear of them is ebbing.

Today I'm listing my first cord beaded project in my Etsy shop (not the necklace I made for myself and tried to break, of course, a new one!). I'm excited about the possibilities of using cord as opposed to wire . . . and I'm glad I've finally made peace with crimp beads! They aren't so bad after all :)


Listening:  Rhett Miller- "A Question"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Goodie Bag Fun!

My adoration of Ebay is well documented . . . and vintage coins are one of the big reasons why!!! I've been buying up lots of "out of circulation" coins to use in making jewelry. Lately, I've come across a few matching sets of coins that I thought would be perfect to use in making earrings. The earrings pictured are done w/ Soviet coins and garnets. I've done others w/ Czech coins and smoke quartz, Belgian coins and labradorite . . .lots of combos!!! I think they're really fun and interesting . . . a great conversation piece :)

Also, my boss' birthday was yesterday and I made a spectactular looking cupcake display for her (my crafting isn't solely limited to wearables! I like eatables too! :)) They're the same recipe I usually make, chocolate chocolate chip w/ cream cheese icing, but they came out so pretty that I just had to post a picture . . . I'm finally learning how to use those great icing tips I got for Christmas!

PS: I'm going to see Rhett Miller tomorrow night!!!!!!

Listening:  Rhett Miller- "Won't Be Home"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sleep Deprived!!!

As I'm assuming everyone has figured by the post below (!), the boy and I got engaged a little over a week ago! We're so excited! We've taken the first few steps in planning the wedding and we've secured a date . . . March 10, 2009. We've been talking about getting married for ages, so we already had our dream wedding pretty much planned out. We'll be doing it at Conwy Castle in Wales (photo!)

There are lots of little quirks about getting married overseas. The first being that the time difference is brutal. In order to get our date set we had to stay up pretty much all night on the phone one night last week. The second big issue is going to be logistics . . . we're only going to have our parents and his siblings at the wedding, but still, getting even just the handful of us from our various homes all over the US to a teensy little town in Wales is going to require some serious planning! And don't get me started on the weather issues!!! March in Wales can be like November in Los Angeles, so I'm going to have to get creative with the dress (fortunately, I've got a KILLER dress idea and I'm really excited about trying to make it a reality!).

So, yeah, I've been busy and a little stressed out and not sleeping anywhere near enough, but I'm happy!!!!

On Friday night we decided to STAY IN to recover from the week and I wanted to do something new and interesting for dinner, so I tried my hand at making a veggie lasagne. Totally sans-recipe as always, and this was my first attempt at anything vaguely lasagne like!! It came out wonderfully though, and I we had leftovers galore. This recipe makes about 8 big portions and the groceries to make it only cost about $25 total, so its a great bargain! It also has some sneaky veggies hidden in it so I think it'd be a great recipe to make for kids . . . even if they pick out the zucchini bites they're still unknowingly eating tons of carrots and peppers (insert evil laugh here!)

Veggie Lasagne:

-1 large can of petite diced tomatoes
-1 large brown onion, small dice
-1 red pepper, small dice
-a big handful of basil, sliced into ribbons
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-3 carrots, grated
-2 smallish zucchini, cut into thin rounds
-about 3 cups of shredded cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella, parmesan, Romano and asiago, but just mozz would be fine too)
-1-2 jars of tomato basil pasta sauce (I used 1, but if you prefer a sauce-y lasagne 2 would be perfect)
-1 large tub of ricotta cheese
-1 large egg
-1 package of no-boil lasagne noodles (about 15 noodles)
-salt and pepper
-olive oil

*In a large stockpot, get the onions and peppers going in a bit of olive oil. Sautee until softened and add garlic, basil, and petite diced tomatoes. Let the mixture simmer while you handle the other prep steps.

*mix together the ricotta, egg, a handful of cheese and some salt and pepper. Set aside.

*prep your carrots and zucchini.

*build the lasagne in a casserole dish starting w/ a layer of noodles and a bit of sauce. Each layer should have the ricotta mixture, a sprinkling of grated carrot and a layer of zucchini rounds, a few scoops of the diced tomato mixture, and a bit of cheese. Make sure to surround the noodles w/ sauce or diced tomatoes, as that liquid is what will cook them! The top layer should be a layer of noodles, followed by sauce and lots of cheese.

*bake the lasagne covered with foil (but w/ room for air to circulate) for 30-45 minutes at 375 or until cheese on top is browned.

Listening:  Mew- "Special"