Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Paint: Grrrr!

I am ready to start painting stripes on my table. Or I would be if I could get it smooth. I should have spray painted the base color...but I didn't so now I am dealing with the ramifications.
When I look straight down and the table top, it is lovely.

But when I look from the side...

Argh!
Anybody know how to make that smooth and pretty?
As of now I am moving on to the leg stripes. I can come back and readiness the smoothness of the table top later after y'all give me some advice.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Of my dreams

I few years ago I was browsing around Anthropologie's website and found this table.

I gasped and brought my hand to my heart the way I do when I see something beautiful. It was love at first sight.
I kept my eye on that table until it went on clearance. The final price was something like $600.00. No where near my budget. Especially since it was smaller than my current too small table.
I imagined using it for a sewing table... but Hi, $600.00.
I would have to make my own.
I looked and looked for a suitable table to transform into my dream. It took time, 2 years worth of time.
Finally last summer I found a table on Craigslist and at long last we have started painting it!
I have a layer of creamy white on the whole thing and I'm getting ready to apply the beloved stripes.
I started by drafting an outline of the basic table shape (one leg of it anyway) Finding the closest matches to the selected colors our crayon collection has to offer, and striping my heart out. Here's my coloring page.

Number 1 was my warm up. I just went to town alternating crayons. When I was done I looked at it and wondered what on earth I had been thinking. That is plain ugly. So I tried again. Number 2 was much better. Then I decided to use that same pattern just reversing the white and the grey, only I messed up on number 3 so I gave it another go and number 4 became what number 3 was intended to be. Only I liked number 3 better so I decided to do that again and see what it looked like without the green and thus we have number 5. I then decided to throw a little green back in and came up with number 6. By that time though I was kind of sick of it so 6 came out a little sloppy.
I realize that you can't really see the green in any of the renderings but that's because if green is used at all it will be very sparing.
Any way, I'm going with number 5, though I'm planning to have a bit of green paint in reserve just in case I think I need it.
Fingers crossed I'll have an actual table to show you in not too many days.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are you a pizza?

Zizza has been wandering around the house singing to her self "A squeezy pizza"
Enzo asks every few minutes for me to sing "the cheese part," and he's indignant when I answer the request with a cheery "Avec du fromage!"
What brought this on? On Friday morning, a wave of nostalgia for jr high school French swept me to my computer to google "Je suis une Pizza"
Ah, the memories. Being twelve years old, sitting in the desk by the door trying to shake from myself the horrors I'd just endured in cadet band (the taste of saxophone reed still in my mouth) and nervous I'd be called on when we corrected the previous night's homework...
It was a rough year, seventh grade. Eighth grade wasn't that great either. In Ninth I'd figured out that if I actually did my homework, being called on to write the answer on the board ceased to be a big deal. Of course by that time there was a new French teacher who didn't painfully review each and every homework assignment on the board in front of the class, but such is life.
The fact that I stuck with French the face of such humiliation is proof how much I loved it. Mind you it took two years for that love to translate into completed homework assignments but I digress.
Here's the video that sucked my children into the strange and wonderful world of being pizza.


At this point I'd like to mention that Friday morning when I watched this video was the first time I'd ever heard the English version of the song. The video sadly does not include the tragic final verse in which the pizza is dropped and (roughly translated) sings "I was a pizza a treasure of cuisine, I am a pizza fallen to ruin" oops, that part actually is there it's just more englishified.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

obsess much?

I have a new dream anewgoalanewwish.

As of five minutes ago I've been over come with the desire to some time in my life, the sooner the better, be in a production of the hit musical Annie.

Who do you think I want to play?

Should I tell you?

Do you want to guess?

Do you already know?

Ok I'll just say it.

Here goes....

Miss Hannigan

Was that predictable?
I mean what other character in that show has any extra appeal to would be actresses of a post-pubescent nature?
Grace? Ihn. That's what I have to say about her. Lilly the floozy girl friend? Better, but it's not much of a part. It's Hannigan all the way.

The guac of the Irish

Yesterday Zizza asked me "Why didn't we have walk on St Patrick's day?"
"Why didn't we have what?" I asked her.
"Walk" she said.
Now that I knew I'd heard her right my brain went into analytical mode trying to figure out what she possibly meant.
"Walk, wok?" I'm thinking.
Maybe there's a St Patty's tradition I don't know about. A promenade of the green, or fresh vegetable stir-fry.
She sees that I'm confused and offers further clarification. "Walk and chips" She offers talking in that slow deliberate manner reserved for stating the obvious to befuddled companions.
I still don't get it and now I'm wondering if "walk" is some kind of fish?
She's nearly fed up by now and throws an eye roll into the bargain with her last clarification; "Walk-a-mole!" she nearly shouts.
"Oh!" I say, "Guacamole! Yes that would have been a good green food for St. Patrick's day."
My recipe is here. Though lately I've been going with a pared down version that was the result of a guac craving and a nearly bare kitchen.
The simplified recipe skips all ingredients except for red onion, avocados (of course) salt, pepper and lime.
The simplified guacamole is fresh fruity and much easier on the breath of those who eat it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Showered

Zizza and I attended a baby shower last night.
My good friend Suzi in expecting a granddaughter, or two.
Suzi was my employer back in the day, and for a long time, the best friend I had in this strange hot new place I found myself living. Her daughter and her daughter's best friend are the mommies to be.
When the invitation for the shower came I was thrilled. Suzi is the kind who is always giving, alway doing for others.
She bought me lunch everyday when I worked for her. The crib where my babies sleep is thanks to Suzi.
If she has something and you need it she'll give it to you.
A baby shower for Suzi's girls, here was a chance for me to do a little something (in a round about way) for her.
I didn't know right off what exactly they would be, but I knew the gifts must be handmade. The best baby gifts my fingers could produce.
This past week we spent quite a few dinner times with family. My sister in law has a fantastic quilted bib for her little one. The Mr. referred to it as "The overcoat bib" I decided to duplicate (triplicate?) it for the shower gifts. The main difference between my bibs and the one I copied is that I used a button closure at the neck rather than a tie. I do not like tying bibs especially for girls. It is no fun to have the hair at the nape of your neck tied into a knot with your bib strings. I remember this form my own early childhood.

The shower was Saturday night, come Friday morning I hadn't so much as bought fabric for the project.

I didn't want to waste time shopping so I called ahead to the fabric stores to plan my attack. If I could find what I needed at Joann that would be ideal as it is the closest to me.


So I called and asked if they had a good selection of pre-quilted fabrics. I was told that yes, they do have quite a selection and all are patterned on both sides. You know how sometimes the back is plain? That wouldn't do here.


Thinking of how pleased I've lately been with the prints available in their quilting cotton I decided to trust that there would surely be some attractive quilt-ed cotton available.
I was wrong.
There was only one option in the quilted fabrics that didn't look like an old lady purse. This wouldn't do at all.

So I selected fabrics to quilt myself. 3 of the 4 prints I chose were Alexander Henry. The cream, brown and pink hexagon/bumblebee print is generic Joann.


The quilting doubled, or maybe tripled, the time requirement for the project but it also enabled me to match the bias binding to the lining.


Do I even have to tell you how much I love binding? Taking a frayed messy seam (doubly so when there's batting involved) and fixing it all up, nice and neatly bound, Sigh. It's a beautiful thing.
Speaking of beautiful things...I won a drawing at the shower so I got to bring one of the centerpieces home with me.
I love the bright pink hydrangeas and the green hypericum berries
The just pink tulips are so sweet
with a few white roses and pinker tulips to round things out.

I am a lucky duck.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's day

Zizza is away tonight, sleeping over at her cousins' house. She very carefully packed her suitcase this morning with green clothes for tomorrow. She didn't want to leave any room for pinching.
She asked me half an hour before it was time to go if I'd be so kind as to make her a green nightie so she'd be safe even before she got dressed. It seams a cousin warned her that he'd be looking to pinch at first light.
A nightie I could not do, not in time anyway, so I gave her toenails a quick coat of green polish to ward off any early morning pinchers.
As I painted, she practiced "Haha! Green toenails!" she'd exclaim and then she'd say aloud as she flexed her fingers "pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch," She repeated this again and again.
Those boys had best watch out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Orange and Dinos

The party we had Friday was not for Enz alone. His friend has a birthday a month after his, so we (his friend’s mother and I)selected a date midway between the two and planned a party for them to share.

IMG_4173

We ruminated a bit about a theme for the party because where Enzo loves trucks and tools and such, his friend loves dragons and tigers and things that growl.

IMG_4174

See what I mean? The kid loves growling.

Enz enjoys a good growl now and then, and his friend likes trucks and things well enough, but neither theme really embodied both boys. There is one thing though, that they love equally and thoroughly.

Orange.

So we planned the party around the color orange using whatever orange stuff we could find in our houses and at the dollar store. But that's not really what this post is about.

Remember I mentioned the growling? Who do you think I thought of when I ran across this tutorial?

Why growly growling boy of course! So I dug into my stashed fleece and made him a pair. IMG_4162 I was busy cutting the cake when the presents were opened, but after opening them,  The growler came over and showed me how they fit.

As he stood there smiling peacefully, admiring his dino hands, I may or may not have suggested that he make them fight one another. Then he may or may not have gleefully taken the suggestion.

I'm going to wait and find out if either of his hands were injured in a dino-fight before I confirm whether or not that story is true.

Dino mittens are a fun quick project and the tutorial is clear and easy to follow.  I recommend it.  So does Enzo.  In fact, he’s already selected fabric and submitted a request for a pair of his own.

Due to the climate I live in, the mittens I make will likely never be used as anything but puppets but I'm ok with that. Puppets are a good time.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beach Bum Shorts

Another refashion took me from this:

To this:

I decided to use the original hem and keep the side vents. After I got to work though. I figured out that keeping the side vents with the off-set hem meant I'd have to duplicate the vents on the inseam.

When it was all said and done, I decided that next time I'll keep the vents but re-hem the back pieces to match the front and skip constructing the inseam vents.

Adding pockets was absolutely necessary. If you know any three year-old boys, you likely recognize this statement as the truth.
As if to validate my pocket stance, the first thing Enzo did when he put these on for the first time was locate a pocket and deposit a car inside.


Once his pockets were satisfactorily filled, I sent him down stairs to show his poppa the new pants. The Mr's response was, "Those are nice beach bum shorts!" This was also validating because I'd been calling these "the beach bum shorts" in my head all along! Is my family in sync or what?

Friday, March 12, 2010

At party's end

There was treasure to hunt for...



Snacks to be consumed...

Did you know there was such a thing as orange licorice?

Incidentally, I don't recommend displaying a ganache-clad cake on a sunny table.

And what's a party without balloons?

In time, the treasure was hunted, and found. The snacks were devoured. And we even found away to deal with that unsightly melted spot on the cake...
Balloons, it turns out, are just as much fun when the party is over, and things are being packed away.
Enz came home and inspected his gifts: a car, a train whistle, a puzzle and a tube of m&m's he carried happily to his room for quiet time.
When all of that was done he came down and rolled play dough.
Then he sampled more candies, bubble gum eggs were brought forth. After being instructed not to swallow them, but to select one, chew it and then spit it in the trash when he was done, he chose a blue egg, sucked on it and triumphantly spat it into the desired receptacle. Then it was back to the tiny carton for another. This time he reported gleefully, "I do'd it mama! I chew it!" and with that he ran to the trash can and spat once more. Half of his dozen bubble gum eggs were dealt with this way before he moved on to examine his "tootsie row" bank. After vowing to put money inside at the first opportunity he retired to the ottoman to color in his new giant coloring book. "It's a Jungle one!" he told me.
Thanks friends for partying with us. We had a great time, and we hope you did too. Now you'll have to excuse me, there are bubbles here that need blowing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coping with chocolate stress

A few hours ago as I set out to decorate a cake for the party set to take place twelve hours from now, I found myself fretting over the ganache.
I wanted it smooth, sheeny and perfect. If it couldn't be perfect, I didn't want it at all.
If it couldn't be perfect, I should just whip up another batch of the creme I'd used between the layers and ice it with that.
Then I shook myself by the shoulders and said "Eva, get hold of yourself and consider for a moment that you're making this cake for a group of three year olds. Now go to the pantry, get the can of pre-made frosting you discovered today and get the job done!"
So, I quit fretting and got to work on the ganache. (Just the threat of canned frosting was enough to snap me out of it) After all, some of the mothers of the three year olds will be showing up by cake time so I ought to make it worth their while right?
I gave up on smooth and perfect, but sheeny I could do and dark chocolate deliciousness could not be compromised. Now the cake resides in my refrigerator; rather lumpy, far from perfect, but pretty OK and all together good enough.



Oh, and by the way, I've got some extra ganache firming up in the fidge as well. Some time in the coming week, I'll shape it in to truffles, dip it it dark chocolate and sprinkle it with sea salt.
Now who wants to be my best friend?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jammies, refashioned

Have you ever tried to write a post but found that all the words seem to have been sucked out of your head?
My ability to form anything more than the most basic of sentences is clean gone.
Please keep that in mind as you read the following skeleton of a post.

I signed up for Wardrobe Refashion. Summer is coming and all of the new clothes that will be needed (or wanted) for the children and myself will be refashioned from pieces either salvaged from our closets, purchased from the thrift store, or fashioned from my existing fabric stash.

This was my warm-up for the next 2 months.

I loved this t-shirt.
Evidence of the love is written in the worn pit-area and over-all dinginess of the shirt.

I chopped it up thusly, to eliminate the worst of the dinge (read arm-pits)

And stitched it back together to form a jammie romper for little Moo-Moo.

The elastic thread shirring is not my best work. the seams are not even close to straight and I should have started lower on the garment and worked up toward the neck rather than starting at the edge and working down, as each subsequent row of elasticized stitching gets a bit tighter than the last. It's good enough for jammies though, and there's always next time!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Birthday dirt

A few weeks before his Birthday I asked Enzo what kind of cake he wanted. He was having trouble coming up with an idea, every time the subject came up he'd exclaim "My Buh-day cake!" That was all I could get out of him. Then, Zizza, ever helpful, suggested a Bob the Builder cake and he was sold.
Now, I can hold my own with a piping bag. I even enjoy decorating a cake from time to time but the thought of piping all of those red and yellow squares to make Bob's checkered shirt made me want to chop off my fingers, effectively ending my cake decorating career.
Soon Enz was talking about his Bob cake every time mention was made of his birthday and my fingers were seeming more and more disposable so I came up with a plan.
I took him to the store and we picked out a toy tractor together. It would have been great if we had found a "Scoop" or a "Muck" but Bob really isn't that big anymore so you can't find his paraphernalia at Target. We went with a Tonka Bulldozer that makes growling engine noises. I told him the tractor would go on his Bob cake because Bob uses tractors and that was it. We were both happy, no icing checkers necessary. Just a plastic bulldozer climbing a pile of crumbled sheet cake dirt . And it even tasted good.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Music Man

My wife says that I am the main source of music in our relationship, and while I would agree in general, I think that her contributions end up being some of my favorites. You see, I feel like music is the closest thing to a real physical representation of emotion that we have. Thus, the music that really excites us and gets us going opens a little doorway into how we feel and where we are at any given time. The songs that my wife asks me to look up give me a little peek into how she is really feeling and what she is really enjoying. So, while I bring a large quantity of music with some quality mixed in, she has me beat on the quality scale.

On to the playlist!

This playlist is mainly comprised of songs that I heard while on a business trip in Germany. They had a great radio station there called 1 Live which played a great variety of music. Generally speaking, I don’t like the genres that these songs come from that much. I am not a closet Beyonce fan or a closet Rihanna fan, I don’t know any of their other songs, these might be considered some Dirty Little Secrets, but I’m not sure.

First, we’ll start with the Beyonce song, “Halo.” Honestly, I don’t know why I like this song, that’s why I think it might belong in my Dirty Little Secrets category, but I love listening to this song. The beat in the background is catchy and her voice is fantastic. The video below is pretty cheesy, but who cares.

Next, we’ll get the Rihanna song out of the way. Rihanna’s Russian Roulette is the next song. I’d post a video of this one, but the only ones I could find were a little bit risqué and I know this is a family show. This is another song that I don’t really know why I like it. The chorus is pretty great, she really belts out that part. The musical progression in this song is a little weird and the chorus doesn’t follow a “normal” progression, but maybe that adds something to a song like this.

Now, we’re onto stuff that I don’t feel I can put into my Dirty Little Secrets category.

First off, is OneRepublic’s “Secrets”. When their first hit song came out (Apologize) I liked that song, but that song is not even in the same arena as Secrets. Secrets starts out with a great cello part that follows through the whole song. Then half-way through the song, you get the little “rap” section against the melodic background that is an awesome use of percussive singing. I can listen to this song over and over and not get sick of it.

Next up is from a German group called Culcha Candela. The song is called Monsta. Culcha Candela would fall into a genre that I don’t normally listen to, but I can’t get enough of this song. I’d post a video of this, but it is also risqué and my wife would not approve since her family reads this. Look it up on YouTube if you are of the appropriate age. This song is one that my brother and I would crank up on the radio while we were in Germany. Nothing beats driving 120 mph on the Autobahn while listening to Monsta cranked up.

We’ll move on to two songs by Lady GaGa. Yes, I said we were past the Dirty Little Secrets songs, and I was being truthful. I do enjoy these songs and I have what I would consider good reasons. Despite the subject matter of the two songs (sex, drugs, etc) I think they are put together very well. The beat is great, her voice is great and they have little things that make them interesting. The two we’ve been listening to the most are Bad Romance and Poker Face. If you want to see something really amusing, lookup the South Park video where Eric Cartman is singing Poker Face, it is great. That was actually my first introduction to Poker Face. They played it a lot on the radio station in Germany and I really like the song. It’s got a good beat and musically it is fun to listen to. Bad Romance is just a show of Lady GaGa’s voice that I really like. She belts out some parts and while her voice is not perfect, I like some of the raw qualities. Look these up on YouTube as well, the videos with Lady GaGa are all risqué just because she is in them.

The next one is from my wife’s favorite show, Glee. This is one that she got me hooked on. I don’t normally watch the show with her, I have been somewhat anti-TV for the past couple years. I watch a few shows every now and then, but there is nothing “must see” for me. Glee’s cover of Don’t Stop Believin gets the whole family singing in the car anywhere we’re going. It’s great to hear Zizza back in the back belting the song out (which she calls Midnight Train) with her whole heart.


Glee - Don't Stop Believe
Uploaded by Bugabookas. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

Last, but not nearly least is another German group called Sportfreunde Stiller. I heard this song only once and jotted down some of the lyrics in my phone’s note taking app. When you haven’t spoken German for nearly 10 years, you sometimes hear the wrong words and so this one was one of the most difficult to track down. I think it might be my favorite from the German trip. The song title means “never let me go.” The reason I like this song is the great mix of instrumentation (I generally am more liking of songs that mix piano, guitar and strings), but I also really like the up tempo feel and the idea of “I’ll never let you go. Never let me go” in the song.

By the way (This is Eva) Zizza sings this one too and as close as I can approximate, her pronunciation is pretty good. (Eva out)

So, these are the main songs we have been listening to for the last little while. Here is a playlist for your listening pleasure. Hopefully you enjoy these songs as much as we do. If you don’t then your musical taste is terrible and you should be ashamed of yourself.

P.S. check out this great cover of the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air by “Neil Young”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Birthday shirt for Enz

I got it in my head that a boy ought to have a shirt with a three on it when he turns three.

There are numerous ways to bring such a thing to pass, but I settled on freezer paper stenciling. I went through quite a few designs in my head, a dragon breathing a three of fire, an airplane writing a three in the sky, a hand raising three fingers, all of these would have been super cool, but when I considered my boy I knew he'd appreciate a crane dangling that important number more than anything else.

I used this tutorial as a guide for my foray into the world of the stencil.
I am not much of one for drawing, so coming up with my own unique crane design was out of the question. Instead I sifted through free downloadable coloring pages for hours until I found a crane. I wish I could link to the one I used, but I don't know where it is anymore.

I simplified the design a bit, most notably in the caterpillar wheely things, traced it, exacto-ed it, ironed it on to a four dollar t-shirt from target, and went to town with some grey paint.

For the record, I don't recommend using as much detail as I did in your stenciling patterns unless you have a great deal of patience and ambition. Also, this was not a project I could have had any chance at if I'd tried it with my kids around. A simpler, pattern, sure I could manage that while actively parenting. Those darn triangles in the arm of the crane though, not to mention all the random loose little bits in the body of the design nearly drove me to distraction. Even working, as I was, with the children safely tucked away in bed! Wrapping the design around the side of the shirt added to the trickiness of the whole affair as well. I'm super happy with it though, so it was all worth it. Doubly so since my big three-year-old boy was more than thrilled to wear it on his big day.

That's the best part.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

They were lovely

As much as I bemoaned all the work that went into them, the mammoth herd of flower girls really did make the wedding.

We never got a photo of all thirteen of them together. For one thing, the Mr took Moo home to bed not more than thirty minutes into the reception. For another thing, a portrait of thirteen young girls is not an easy thing to to capture and after the trouble of dressing all those girls (Not to mention the sewing) we, their mothers were ( in a word) pooped. So here are some action shots from the wedding. If you ever get the notion to undertake a project like this yourself, give me a call and I'll be glad to talk you out of it.