Favorite Things Friday

I've been kind of sad for the past couple of days over some potentially worrisome and depressing news, and have been trying to cheer myself up with pretty things. In case you need cheering up too, I thought I'd share them with you.

spring line: emma cassi

lace lightshade: nice

danni's studio: oh, hello friend

tamar's flickr favorites: nest, pretty things

Happy Friday, and happy weekend, friends. What I want for my weekend: the sun to come out, my mood to lighten, to get some new items photographed and listed in my jewelry and destash shops, and to spend some time with my sweet husband in between his lengthy sessions of militant research.



I've begun a small Japanese washi paper tape collection. I blogged about it here. I immediately thought when I saw this on Oh Joy! yesterday, that's perfect! My Pop can make me one of those! Hey Pop, I really need one of these; can you make me a tape dispenser? (To which my Pop would reply if we were actually having this conversation in real life: "Poof! You're a tape dispenser!" ... "Thanks, Pop.")


Etsy Treasure Tuesday: Polly Danger Notions

Today's Etsy feature post requires a bit of background, I think. I've mentioned here, here, and here before that it is my goal for this month to overhaul the back bedroom in our house, which currently contains my old bedroom suit, and make it into a beautiful little office space that Nathan and I can share. Finally, he'll have a place to do his schoolwork and work on research other than the dining room table, and I'll have a dedicated, organized space in which to sew and put all of the wonderful jewelry workspace furniture I got at Ikea in December!

My lovely mother very graciously came over on Saturday to get me motivated, and the two of us working together for three hours successfully completed Step One of the project: to empty and get ready to move out all of the old furniture, which had been holding more than 25 years of accumulated "keepsake" ridiculousness. The bed is taken apart, all of the linens have been packed up for storage at my parents' house, and I even reorganized the closet! Even better, we took the hardware off of a beautiful antique sewing table that mom picked up for me on a recent antiquing excursion (so that I can repaint it a crisp, clean white), and we discovered, to my very great happiness, that my own sewing maching will fit perfectly into the space where the original old school black Singer had been! This means that not only will my sewing machine not have to share space any longer on my jewelry desk, but it can be folded up inside my pretty little sewing table when not in use!

All this preparation for finally being able to sit down at my sewing machine quickly and easily whenever I like has fueled my current obsession with thinking of various items I want to make, and prompted today's Etsy feature, a charming shop called Polly Danger Notions. Polly offers gorgeous handmade bias tapes, fabric covered buttons in several sizes, fun little sewing tutorials, and more. If you're as excited about beginning some fun sewing projects as I am, hop over and take a look through the shop. Here's a pretty preview:

Before much longer I'll be able to present some real progress to you here on my lovely new workroom! Much unpleasantness has to be got through first, like repainting just about everything, some new task lighting in the room, and approximately 47.3 hours of assembling my new Ikea desk and shelving unit. It'll all be worth it in the end!


Without Further Ado

I give you: the great Red Velvet Cupcake Adventure, begun with the aid of my Grammy's beloved, tried and true, pride-of-the-family Red Velvet cake recipe.

For the cake:
-- ½ cup crisco
-- 1½ cups sugar
-- 2 eggs
-- 1 cup buttermilk
-- 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
-- 1 tsp. vanilla
-- 2¼ cups flour
-- 2 tsp. cocoa
-- 1 tsp. baking soda
-- ¼ tsp. salt
-- ¼ cup red food coloring (2 1oz. bottles)

1. Cream crisco, sugar, and eggs.
2. Beat well and add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk.
3. Beat well then add vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring.
4. Beat well and pour into 2 greased and floured 9" round cake pans. {Or, as in my case, 12 greased extra-large cupcake or mini-cake papers.}

5. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before icing.
For the icing:
1. Cook the following over a low heat burner until thick:
-- ½ cup milk and
-- 3 Tbsp. flour.
2. Let cool.

3. Whip the following until creamy (whip WELL):
-- 1 cup sugar
-- 1 stick margarine or butter
-- ½ cup crisco
-- 1½ tsp. white vinegar
4. Add the cooled cooked mixture to the whipped mixture and beat until very fluffy {i.e., for a very long time}.
5. Add 2½ tsp. vanilla and beat well again.

6. Ice the cooled cake and enjoy!

Red cake, as it's affectionately called in my family, is my very favorite Grammy dessert. It would even edge out her marvelous chocolate cream pie if I had to make a choice. It's what I've always requested ever since I was little for my birthday celebration, but usually, I only take home what's left after everyone else gets a piece too -- a quarter of a cake or so. But this time, Nate and I had 12 whole mini-cakes, essentially an entire red velvet cake, to ourselves. And one week later, I have 3 extra pounds to show for it. But boy was it worth it. You can diet anytime, but red cake makes any day a very special day.


DIY Thursday: Fabric Roses

I'm sure that you've been seeing these gorgeous fabric rose bib necklaces and accessories everywhere if you visit Etsy on a regular basis, and I've been really wanting to try them for myself. I'm not really a huge, chunky necklace kind of girl, so my preferred avenue would probably be headbands and brooches. I picked up this charming little stretchy headband from the magnificent lou and lee for Cate at Christmas, and have been searching for a good fabric rose tutorial ever since. I finally found one last week at a crafty blog called Everyday Chaos, and the instructions are really clear and detailed. I bought some cute plaid and gingham fabric this past weekend, along with a pretty light blue seersucker I've already used to cover a wooden bangle, and I hope to be able to make some progress on new headbands this weekend.

(Headband by Byrdferth on Etsy; photo pulled from the item listing here.)

I'll give the abbreviated tutorial in photos, but be sure and check out the full project instructions here if you decide to try it. I'll keep you posted, and I hope to have something good to show for myself!

(tutorial photos by Bridget of Everyday Chaos, pulled from here.)


I Do ... Wedding Work: Part Two

I promise I'll have the Red Velvet cupcake extravaganza here for you later this week, but for today, I got so excited about finishing up and photographing some wedding pieces, that I couldn't wait any longer to share them with you. I've been working on some lovely sets for a bride who has great taste; as evidenced by 1) her wedding colors, aqua and chartreuse balanced by a soft grey, and 2) the fact that her bridesmaids are wearing these gorgeous Anthro dresses:

So when the bride initially told me about the feel and colors for her wedding, we did some collaborative thinking, and decided that her six bridesmaids would receive personalized pieces that fit each girl's style and personality. (That's the best way to do it, in my opinion: it becomes a part of your gift to them and a way to honor them for being part of your life.) We also decided that three colors in the jewelry pieces might get too busy, so I stuck with aqua and grey, with a flower theme to tie in with the flower embellishments on the dress. Here's what I came up with: six coordinating sets of necklace and earrings. {An update: my mom informs me that these pieces look to unsuspecting viewers like jewelry for giants because of the scale of the dress form. So, I suppose I should specify here that this is a mini dress form made specifically for jewelry storage and display, and is actually roughly the size of a 4-month old child (ignore the fact that there's never been a 4-month old child with a developed chest and a Barbie-sized waist); so the beads are not as large, and the necklaces not as long, as they appear to be in the photos.}

It does feel good to be finished with so large a project, but I have to admit that I'll be sad when these pretty colors leave my house to be shipped off to the bride. {Sigh.} Anyway, if you are or know a bride who's looking to do custom pieces for herself, her bridesmaids, mothers or hostesses, feel free to send me an email, and we'll chat.


Feast Your Eyes Upon This

As I've mentioned here before, we opted to stay at home on Valentine's Day and celebrate quietly by making ourselves a scrumptious meal. I think I've also mentioned that a few months ago, we had a wonderful pizza at West Crust Pizza here in town, and we decided to try something similar: a homemade pizza with honey-wheat crust, prosciutto, spinach, dates, and fancy cheeses. We chose asiago for the base and a bit of parmesan for a complement.

I found a recipe (here) for a fairly simple honey-wheat crust on allrecipes.com, but unfortunately did not take any photos throughout the process. It was, however, a pretty simple and relatively quick recipe. Here's what you need:
--1 (.25 oz.) package ative dry yeast {I used the rapid rise kind}
--1 cup warm water
--2 cups whole wheat flour
--1/4 cup wheat germ {honestly, I had no idea what wheat germ was or where it was located in my grocery store before Saturday. I'm still as clueless on the first point, although I now know it's used in some pizza dough recipes.}
--1 teaspoon salt
--1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle and add honey and yest mixture. Stir well to combine. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for a few minutes. {I let mine sit for almost ten minutes.}
4. Roll or pat out dough on a floured pizza pan and poke some holes with a fork. {Make sure and pat the center a little further in, so that you have a raised outer edge like you're supposed to. I neglected this step and regretted it when all of the toppings on the outside wanted to roll off.}
5. Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.
{Another note here: the recipe states that this amount of dough will make a thin crust, but that doubling the recipe will make a thicker pan-style crust, so I opted for the thick-crust route. I will know better next time; ours was over an inch thick, and was altogether too much bread for a pizza crust. I'm pretty sure that the original recipe amounts, given above, would have produced a perfectly suitable crust somewhere in between thin and crispy and deep dish.}

I didn't photograph the crust on its own before we added our toppings, but here's what we did next:
1. I brushed a thin layer of olive oil on top of the crust and then sprinkled on a little garlic powder.
2. We'd grated our asiago cheese, and we added that next, followed by prosciutto, then dried dates which we'd sliced up, then spinach last.
3. For an extra flavor, and also partially to cover up the spinach and keep it from getting quite so wilty, we added a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan for the finishing touch. Here's what it looked like after all toppings had been added and before it went into the oven for the final baking.
4. Since the crust is already baked, you'll put it in the second time mostly just to melt the cheese. We baked ours for about another 8 minutes.

Ta da! (Sorry my photos seem so red and yellow -- terrible light in my kitchen, and we took these at night.)

Since this little recipe post turned out to be longer than expected, perhaps I'll save the red velvet cupcake recipe for a later post this week. In the meantime, if you decide to try a handmade pizza, let me know how it works out! What would your special toppings be? Nate and I are fancy pizza people -- we do like to experiment with our toppings, and we also like the addition of a sweet ingredient, like dates or pineapple or pear. What about you? Prosciutto or plain pepperoni?

I've Been Featured in an Etsy Treasury!

My Instant Sunshine necklace was included in a bright and cheery all-yellow collection of Etsy beauties this week! See the treasury here: http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=113200. It's an honor to be included in such a lovely collection of items, espcecially as I'm seriously loving yellow lately, hoping for spring to come and take over for winter asap.

Hope your day is bright and cheery. Pics of our glorious Valentine's Day Feast coming tomorrow!


And the Winner Is ....


(My husband very kindly helped me with the name-drawing this morning.) So E., send me an email telling me which of the five items you want and your address, and I'll get it sent off to you this week! Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who commented! I hope you'll all continue to stop by regularly. This week, you'll get to see how my red velvet mini-cakes and our special Valentine's pizza came out. Plus, I hope to be able to post photos of some wedding work I've been doing recently. Stay tuned!

(photo above is called "Looking for Love" by the incredibly talented Irene Suchocki. Look her up.)


Don't Forget the Giveaway

The V-Day giveaway ends tomorrow, friends! Leave your comment on the giveaway post to enter!

Favorite Things Friday: V-Day Edition

These are a few of my favorite things:

1. Having my dear, sweet husband back at home with me.
2. Not working at a flower shop during Valentine's Day.

(Although, 3. I still love getting beautiful flowers. Like these. But never, in any case, the dreaded and prosaic red rose dozen. It's just old and tired, fellas, and those flowers have been sitting in freezers for three weeks: they aren't going to last another four days. Go with a lovely mix, or a simple hand-tied bunch of tulips or anemones. Trust me on this one, I'm an expert.)
4. Cupcakes, like the red velvet ones I'm going to make for our V-Day dessert!
5. Emersonmade's beautiful fabric flowers.
6. Danni's beatifully-designed Valentine's cards.
7. Sweet cream with raspberries.
8. Love stories.
9. Pink vintage dresses.
10. Lace and ruffles, on just about anything.

(Photo above, and flowers pictured, by nicolette camille, via saipua.)


DIY Thursday: Silhouette Valentines

More loveliness from Livy of A Field Journal. (This DIY post isn't a full tutorial, sadly, because Livy created it for Victoria magazine, so you'll have to pick up a copy to see the full project. I certainly plan to; Livy's gorgous aesthetic, her charming ideas, beautiful colors and wonderful styling make all of her projects instantly my favorites.)

(Image by Livy, pulled from her blog, A Field Journal.)


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