quiet, but busy

Both RKP and I are busy right now, getting through final papers, presentations and exams. Not much time for crafting (even stress-crafting), but I am trying to stay on top of my holiday shopping.

Here are a few suggestions:
Burt's Bees! organic! local! (well, at least for me)...their products are lovely and work great.

This penguin filled with delicious Grade A maple syrup comes from Williams Sonoma and would make a sweet little hostess gift.

Or how about some scattering snow from Anthropologie? You know, for those holiday displays in the window...or, if you live in the South like me, beneath the palmetto trees in your backyard?

Or, if students you know feel tired of writing papers, how about a multiple-choice journal? Like the SAT but with none of the anxiety.

Or maybe luggage tags from J.Crew for the friend who needs to get rid of the nasty ribbon they put on the suitcase about 10 years ago?  Or a subscription to American Scholar? Or letterpress bicycle notecards from Etsy seller larkpress?

Room Fun

Some lovely house some-days...

(All pictures from BonLuxat)

chic tags & stickers

Since Christmas is just over a month away, how about some cute and chic gift tags?

I like these chic little tags from Seasonal Delight's Etsy shop.
They also have these:

and these(!):

and stickers.
I'm stopping now because I'm supposed to be learning about the RDA standard in cataloging class. But I think these paper goods are awfully nice.

Pressure Cooking [and Cleaning]

RKP recently noted that, in the midst of pressure from school and work, she likes to turn to "stress crafting." Because honestly, when you have a lot to do, nothing relieves the stress like adding 4 or 5 new projects. I experienced this last weekend when I should have been working on my final portfolio for my graduate program. Instead, I emptied our two closets, re-organized and put things back. I bagged up old clothes for Goodwill. I made a Rum-Apple Baked Custard:

and homemade chili:

and chocolate chip cookies:

and then this weekend I was very productive on the portfolio. "Stress crafting" isn't avoiding work; it's a way of resting your brain. How do you rest your brain?

Real Fast Food...and the Egyptians?

This pictured recipe by Nigel Slater gets no points for food photography, but it does get points for being delicious.  I guess other people probably knew about Nigel long before I got to him, but he's definitly worth a read. I am currently enjoying Real Fast Food which has great ideas about how to get real food on your table in 30 minutes or less. I like his creativity and his flexibility...and his Chili-Chicken with yogurt sauce.

This morning NIS and I went to our local farmer's market, where we had a chocolate brioche and bought fresh pork sausage made from happy pigs and some vegetables. Right now it is cooking in an onion-beer sauce. We plan to eat it with mustard. We also enjoyed seeing a part of the city we had never been to before - we wandered around with our coffees in hand and saw Morning Glories:

and this bizarre...Egyptian...thing...proving once again that I just don't understand the South.

It was just out in the middle of the grass...randomly...

Nigel Slater's Chili-Chicken (modified)
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
juice of one lemon
1 or 2 chicken breasts cut up into small pieces

combine all ingredients together and let chicken sit as long as you can...heat a skillet (if you have one of the Le Creuset grill pans, that would be perfect - I make do with my little iron skillet) very hot and throw the chicken in. It shouldn't take more than 3-4 minutes to cook. Serve in whole-wheat pitas with chopped lettuce and yogurt sauce - or alternatively, just eat it plain with the yogurt sauce. It is that good.

Crafting for Relaxation

So I've pretty much realized that when there is a lot going on in my life (and sometimes the stress level is high), I can measure it by the sheer volume of craftiness that suddenly overtakes me. Then I have to stop myself so I don't get out of control and start planning all sorts of crazy projects.

Guess what I've been up to recently? Well, first there was the cool shirt made by PPS:

(which I think is pretty awesome and soon to be posted in the etsy store)

So I tried my hand at some sewing:

(also coming to the store - I think I like how it turned out?)

Then there is something for the Meeper (Jan, close your eyes):

(I think he was trying to get away)

And as Amms correctly guessed, Marie Antoinette is in town:

(yummy shoes, anyone?)

Which brings me my special winter break project that I'm really excited about. Let's just say it relates to the pink shoes, but involves this:

(they look like easter eggs??)

I could stop at any time...

Etsy Friends and Hints

I think that it is very cool that there are a couple other friends on etsy (and hopefully more soon!).
onewordprints makes fun journals and collages (with the help of her goldfish).

mrsjennyjames is one of my favorite photographers and she has lovely prints in her store!

And here is a little hint for my winter break project! This picture comes from a movie involving delicious shoes - anyone know what it is?

what we've been eating.

Sweet potato pie & mushroom-red onion-chicken tart

Acorn squash & butternut squash ready for their water baths

Sauteed with garlic, onion, olive oil & basil and served over whole wheat pasta & mozzarella

Unfortunately, the Sweet Potato Pie had too much vegetable flavor. One slice was nice for novelty, but we didn't devour it like we would a pumpkin pie. I think that makes me give up on sweet potatoes; I've tried them multiple ways now and they never seem to succeed. Squash, on the other hand, has been really tasty - especially with a lot of garlic. Yesterday the New York Times had this tasty article about seasonal cooking, with recipes for fig tart with onions, rosemary & stilton, ratatouille & sausage potpie, and tomato eclairs with ricotta & basil filling. I think I need to get some figs?

Fall Weddings and Upcoming Attractions

Another wedding! Bride Sara asked me to do shoes for her and then decided that she wanted them for her bridesmaids as well. She had purchased jewelry already and so I went with the theme of black/silver/red roses to create the girls shoes.

Detail on one of the shoes. It was really fun because I did them all similar, but also different so they could each have their individualized pair. (How fun is customizing?!)

I bought some small pieces of vintage jewelry at the thrift store to incorporate into the shoes (like a pair of drop ebony earnings on the backs of this pair).

Doing these shoes involves my love of thrift stores, etsy, ebay and craft supplies. Even a small piece of ribbon can finish off a pair - left over from a gift or church rummage sale (where I bought a whole box of stuff for $0.50).

The bride's shoes turned out wonderful - vintage lace, a velvet rose and pearls and rhinestones - how decadent is that?

They almost seem like they could be the cake!

PPS and I have been brainstorming a lot recently. This has led to some thrift store purchases, checking out options online and a hopefully a crafting bonanza soon. She has some ideas to add to the store that I think will be really good. A spring line of fun fashion may be in the works! (And I also had a really fun idea of something I want to do over winter break!)

.muffins & foodreads.

apple whole wheat yogurt goodness. from smitten kitchen (with some variation by me).

here are some good food reads for Sunday night:
City Journal on how there is lots of good food in America - everywhere.
Mark Bittman of Bitten on how to make your own hummus.
Martha Stewart with 33 ideas on what to do with apples.

A great bookstore

Selexyz Dominicanen
Originally uploaded by rob4xs

 This picture doesn't do it justice, but if you jump over to The Coolist, you can read about and see more pictures of this amazing bookstore in Maastricht, Germany.

Field trip?


This was the start of a scrumptious roast stewed with carrots, onions, portabella mushrooms and thyme. I don't like beef very much, but N. loves it so I made this last Saturday. Even I had to admit that it was pretty delicious.
Part of the prompting for this dish came from the fact that it has been just a little bit cooler in the South this week, even though I know our real "Autumn" won't come until November. If you want your own inspiration for fall cooking, check out Nigel Slater's article on autumnal food over at the BBC...the Stilton, Onion and Potato Pie sounds fantastic (to easily convert from the metric system, use this tool).

Wearing Perfume (and on the cheap!)

I've always been disappointed that perfume never seemed to "work" for me. No matter how nice the smell, about 20 minutes after I put it on I began to smell like a combination of rubbing alcohol and the makeup aisle at CVS. Gross. But I liked the idea of having a signature scent and I decided that there had to be a solution!

I realized that if I spray the fragrance in my hair after I'm done blowdrying but before I do the final styling, it holds the scent and doesn't revert to the gag-inducing alcohol stench upon contact with my skin. Success! And now I have a signature scent (thanks to sweet N), which is Daisy by Marc Jacobs - classy and fresh.

With my new fragrance-freedom, I've discovered that the better department stores (Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdale's) will happily give you sample sizes of all sorts of perfumes, even if you haven't made a purchase. A great way to find a perfume you like - or just to try out some new ones. I've been enjoying Lily Pulitzer's summery scents (Beachy, Sqeeze and Wink).

Lots of Shoes!

I have been quite busy working on finishing up a bunch of custom orders before taking a little break (now that school has started for the fall).

Here's what I've been busy with:

a pair of bride's shoes for a funky do-it-yourself wedding (she has some great ideas!)

a pair inspired by Anthropologie (my secret plan is to sell my shoes there some day)

classy, inspired by Chanel's recent line

this customer said "go all out". it was really fun (there are even pink feathers!)

Of course, sometimes I really just like to get a pair that's not for someone in particular and just see what happens... especially when the sister sends me some really fun shoes:

I just wish they were my size... but since they're not, you can buy them in my shop! I have some more fun happening in the shop, so I'll be posting again soon!