Friday, December 30, 2011


10 points to the first person to tell me who she is named after. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Up the Chimney

Don't you love a little pop of color, especially from something as mundane as a chimney? Speaking of chimneys, my chimney in Winnemucca is crooked. When I first noticed this, it just added to the charm of this old house and I had a little ditty running through my head regarding a crooked old house with a crooked shoe, and crooked six know the old jingle. But my romantic bubble was burst when I learned that crooked chimneys are rather common place. Still, it does add to the charm of the house.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wherever you are...

...have a Merry Christmas.

P.S. I made this using trashed maps from work. Fun!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Crafts

Somehow stillness and simplicity were more important than tradition this year. This candle center piece is the extent of my Christmas decorating, yet its simple beauty and its combination of old, new, and upcycled seems to be a perfect reflection (no pun intended) of 2011.  May your Christmastime be a time of stillness and a reflection of the unique beauties in your own life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Hand carved spatulas. Gorgeous party favors from our office Christmas party.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To-Do Lists

It is the ultimate to-do list time of year. I even made a page for it on this blog. Sometimes I become so busy doing that I don't take the time for photographing.  Such was the case with our very short lived Christmas cookies. Gingerbread people snickerdoodled all the way into our stomachs, and did not linger for a picture. Still, that was one delicious item to check off.

P.S. It has come to my attention that you can only leave a comment here if you have a GoogleID. That has now changed, anyone can leave a comment, and you can even leave them anonymously. Feel free to say hi, leave feedback, or whatever other lovely notes you have for me. Or the not so lovely notes, just try to be nice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Desk Upcycle

For months now, our TV has rested on a government surplus desk. Surprisingly, the desk is made of wood and it is not in terrible shape. However, as a piece of living room furniture it could be more functional and decorative. And so, the cabinet idea was born. Here is the original desk, already prepped for transformation. 

 We couldn't paint or restain  the wood because of some strange divets and stripping that was carved into every part of the surface. It looks ok, but mostly it would require more wood filling than I was willing to invest in, so I just applied a coat of polyurethane and then we moved onto the siding and doors. Here is the end result:

We bought the plywood for the sides and doors, but the rest of the wood came from scrap one by twos. We were really able to expand our skills in this project as adding supports called for new creativity and learning the functionality of new drill bits. Let me just tell you, I am the drilling queen.

On the inside, we Mod-Podged fabric to particle board to make the shelves. Does the fabric look familiar? I  am still in love with the pattern and I am so happy we incorporated it into this piece, even if it is hidden from site.

The hardware came off of a salvaged end table. Originally the drawer pulls were just side bars, but with the help of a hidden nut, they function as a handle.

In many ways, this was our most involved project yet. I love how the lines turned out, but I am on the fence on the color combination. The gray (thank you Mr. Oops Paint) is wonderful, but the orange feels a bit too juvenile to me. At this point I am thinking that a burnt orange might be better option for the hardware. Or maybe the Pantone Color of 2012, tangerine tango?

Thoughts? Tango it up, or leave the pumpkin orange?

Here is the cabinet again

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fighting through

I have been a DIY blog junkie for a little over a year now, and I find this hobby to be equal parts inspiring and disheartening. The ideas and encouragement I generate from the world wide web are tempered by the comparisons and knowledge that my own art projects and blog just are not at the caliber that I would like them to be.

This video was exactly what I needed to hear today.

Thanks Ira .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Sarah Adventures

My dear friend  Sarah came to visit a month ago. Right before her visit, we had a text conversation that went something like this:

"Hey, do you know how to crochet?"
"Nope. Why?"
"Oh, I was just going to have you teach me this weekend."
"Well, I've been wanting to learn too, so lets figure it out when you're here."

And figure it out we did. Together, we picked out our yarn colors and watched YouTube videos to figure out the basic crochet stitches. We decided that a scarf was an easy place to start, and Sarah had the genius idea to make an infinity scarf. Since we live in separate states, I hope she doesn't mind that I did the same. Well anyway, after some hemming and hawwing, Sarah got the hang of it and took off. During my flight home for Thanksgiving, my own scarf began to take shape, although I got lazy decided to make scallops by chain stitching out for 10 stitches and then securing the end to the previous row. I am very pleased with how it turned out. It really is more of a scarf necklace, but our office is always frigid, so this is a perfect winter accessory. 

Oh, and for our moms, here is a picture of us at Lake Tahoe

Let the crochet insanity begin!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Barnyard My Kitchen

Every winter, my landlords go on vacation to Costa Rica. In their stead, it is left to me to watch their fish, ducks (Fred and Wilma), Corgi, plants and power tools. So maybe it is not such a sad situation for me after all. Actually, I love it. Many of you may remember this farmhouse table a certain friend and I built a while back, well that was during the last Costa Rica house sitting extravaganza. This time around, we took it upon ourselves to build a barnyard bench to cover up the hideous pile that used to be my recycling corner. In my Black Friday extravaganza, which took place at Good Will, I purchased three milk crates to house our recycling items. The boyfriend was amenable to a construction project,  and I knew it would be a lost cause to hold out for a bench or bookcase to hold the crates, so we jumped right in.

And boom, we were done. Just kidding. This may be a long post, so you are allowed to skim ahead and look at the pictures. 

We designed the table from scratch according to the dimensions of the milk crates, but then had to adapt the plan so that we could use the scrap wood that my landlords left for us. Sorry, I didn't really take many process pictures, but if you want to build a bench, or anything else for that matter, I highly recommend Ana White's website. We used her schematics for the table and loved it.

Originally, I wanted to stain the bench the same shade as the kitchen table. However, we messed up while trying to get the legs balanced, so then we had to use some wood filler to cover up our screw holes. With my a $0 project hopes dashed, we trotted out to pick up some red paint. As is my habit, we checked out the "oops paint" section first, even though that successfully backfired last time. But we found a pint of paint that looked to match a candy apple red that we liked. Bingo bango bongo. I love discounted paint.

After sanding and priming, we were ready for some red glory.

It took three coats of paint for the pink-ish color to go away, but the paint is still pretty streaky and that doesn't look to be corrected by additional coats. Glidden paint fail. Still, you can't beat cheap paint and we think the uneven paint enhances the barn look.

Not too bad, eh?

As you can see, we put her right to work. It is certainly more sightly than Recycle Mountain over in the corner. For $7, it certainly makes my frugal heart happy.

Lessons learned:

1) Sanding forgives a multitude of sins. For instance, if you foolishly decide to plane a few uneven boards. With the aid of a power sander, you can prep your surface in a semi-reasonable amount of time. Even though sanding may take a long time, it will be well worth your effort. It is also worthwhile to do a light sanding with fine grit paper after each coat of paint. Between coat sanding is necessary to correct mistakes and remove stray lint or dog hair. Most people will tell you to sand between coats so that the paint sticks to itself. This is true, it just isn't the primary reason we sanded.

I cannot understate this. Sand your pants off and then sand some more. When I first started reading DIY blogs I did not believe people when they told me to sand projects. From one skeptic to another: sand sand sand!

2) Paint with a sponge brush. This compensates for the time you spent sanding. Not only you do you minimize streaking, but I found that it is much easier to control the amount of paint you apply.

3) Expect the rule of thirds. One third of your time will be spent building, one third will be spent sanding, and one third of the project time will be spent painting.

And that, friends, is the story of the barnyard bench.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


In our jars, we hold a mirror of our hearts. Tidbits of this and that, together a beautiful mosaic of where we have been and what we have done. But let us not forget, the true masterpiece is the dynamic canvas of the soul.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pizza pizza pizza!

Yes, the pumpkin fest continues over here in Winnemucca. It doesn't look to be letting up anytime soon, so brace yourselves, my friends.

However, there is something beautiful and wonderfully creative in taking the same base (pumpkin) and enhancing it to make completely unique variation on favorite foods. Is that not what true art is? Also, let us embrace the wonder that is cooking with the ingredients you have at hand and fewer trips to the grocery store!

In this case, we mixed pumpkin into our pizza dough (1/2 cup, omit or reduce the water) and crafted this wonderfully delicious pizza. I have an admittedly small sample size, but it thus far bread products made with pumpkin seem to be more moist and have a more pleasant texture than  regular bread. But maybe I am biased (or desperate to use up my pumpkins). Needless to say, this pizza was delicious and fueled us for some wonderful craft projects which I will hopefully share soon.

Also, I am holding my pumpkin explosion at bay. I have made (and not blogged) curried pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin pudding. If you want the recipes, I am happy to share.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dinner For One

Wine, homemade tomato soup, homemade grilled cheese (except for the cheese), wine, The Hours. Tasty, tasty.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Dinner for One

The bounty of the pumpkins continues! Unfortunately, I end up eating many of my dinners alone. I truly enjoy cooking, I just do not find it satisfying to do so for one person. Breakfast burritos and quesadillas, although tasty,  form a larger part of my diet than they should. Enter the single serving Pyrex dish (dun, dun, DUN...or yum, yum YUM). I simply layered cooked pumpkin, black beans, salsa, and cheese in this delicious casserole for one. After cooking in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes, I let the dish cool for a few minutes before consuming it with tortilla chips. Easy and delicious.

Do you have any other pumpkin or black bean recipes? I have an excess of both and crave your suggestions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Deliciousness

The pumpkin fairy visited us this year. Five times. Even though only one of these pumpkins grew on my pumpkin plant, we have embraced this bounty with open arms. One of these days I will do a how-to for scraping tasty pumpkin goods from your good friend Jack O. Lantern, but today I want to share my cinnamon swirl pumpkin bread recipe I modified from King Arthur

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 cups (ish) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1) Combine the yeast in with the warm water and brown sugar. Let the mixture sit until the yeast is foamy.

2) In the meantime, mix the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, pumpkin, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold in the yeast mixture. 

3) Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky and you can easily knead it.

4) Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise for an hour or until it doubles. Sarah Tip: If you don't have a warm spot to keep your dough, set your oven to 200 degrees while you mix the dough. Put the dough in an oven safe glass dish and put it in the oven. Make sure you turn the oven off while you let the dough rise. And then go watch an episode of Biggest Loser. This is essential to the flavor of this bread. And it will keep you from eating all of it once it is out of the oven.

5) After the dough has risen, give it the ole karate chop (this is my favorite part). This is where two paths diverge in a yellow, pumpkin-ey wood. You can form loaves (all told I got three loaves of bread from this batch) and rolls. Or you can make the awesomeness that is Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Separate a loaf sized piece of dough. Go dust off your rolling pin (its the Christmas season, time to give that baby a workout). Roll the dough out on a flour surface. Keep the width of the dough at the length of your loaf pan. Your dough should be roughly an inch thick. Spread a very thin layer of butter over the dough (although you could probably leave this out) and then a healthy layer of cinnamon. If you're a cinnamon fiend like I am, the more the better. Now you are ready to roll the dough up and plop her in your greased loaf pan. Let the loaves rise for 30-45 minutes.

6) Cook for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown. 

Slice 'er up and chow down (ok, maybe this is my favorite part). I also think this bread would be phenomenal as french toast. Try it and let me know!

Thankful for Stillness

Winter is a season of stillness. The dampening snow draws us back to slow motion and contemplation. In these moments, let us be thankful. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nifty and Thrifty

Happy Monday! I hope you had spectacular weekend. I gave myself a little "craftcation", during which I sequestered myself at home and worked on a soon to be unveiled project. It was heavenly, but I am a little sore! How is that for a teaser?

Today, I want to share with you a little project that makes me smile every day. A while back, I posted some wine bottle art that I keep on my windowsill. It was a simple project that brightens up my kitchen and reminds me to relax on a daily basis. I love this project for many reasons, but mostly because:
1) It was easy
2) Free (with the wine)
3) Green (both literally and figuratively)
4) Functional

Functional?! No, I am not opening a home winery. Yes, I have been known to stuff a flower stem or two down the wine bottles, but on most days this recycled sculpture looks like this:

See that little baggie? This is my Ziploc bag drying rack. I like to re-use my Ziploc bags (Tip #1: freezer bags last the longest). The practice saves me money and it is good for our little planet. Recycling baggies is a bit easier  for me to do since I grew up with the practice and in a place where brand new Ziplocs were typically reserved for guests and Christmas. I still like to just hold and feel a brand new Ziploc. Oops, I digress. I try not to use Ziplocs at all, but they are handy little things and this drying rack makes me feel a little less guilty for using them.

I love the wine bottle approach because the bags dry quickly (Tip 2: hang them inside out) and they don't get in the way like they used to when I just perched them on a knife in the dish drainer.

So there's your nifty, thrifty tip of the day. Save some money, brighten your windowsill, and enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Yes, it is true. This may be my third blog in less than four years. Let us put this in a little perspective, shall we? In the past four years I have:

  • Moved 5 times (if you count conservatively)
  • Answered 3 different e-mail address
  • Lived in 4 states
  • Answered to 2 different cell phone numbers
  • Owned 2 cars
  • Changed my Spacebook...I mean Facebook...profile picture 14 times
  • Held 7 different jobs
So yes, there is a fickle streak in my blood. But you have to admit, 14 pictures in 4 years is a verrrryyyy low number of Facebook pictures. All in all, my blog count is leading the pack of stability for the past 4 years. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. 

Hopefully I will have the patience to stick with this blog for a long while. I tell myself that the next time I feel the urge to pick up and move, I really should just re-decorate. You Google Readers, hit that original item link every now and again, will ya? 

Speaking of re-decorating, I anticipate that this blog will host a few more craft projects and DIY goodies than the last one. The current hand-made happiness to-do list includes:
  • Christmas presents
  • Christmas tree
  • coat rack
  • coffee table
  • wall art
Stay tuned for successes and successful failures!

In addition to blogging, this is a time in my year when work slows down and I get to hunker down to do fun things like read and cook rather than travel and sweat. I am excited about the stillness of winter, just not the cold. I plan on sharing these adventures as well. The hibernation to-do list:
  • Read:
    • Water for Elephants
    • Life among the Paiutes
    • Hunger Games
    • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    • The Hours
  • Make
    • Pumpkin yeast bread
    • Christmas cookies
    • Palatable yoghurt 
What about you? What projects are in the works? Any book suggestions?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Art Therapy

To say that, through art, I have found a new strength and vitality within myself is an understatement. Art can be the one of the most vulnerable expressions of self--so vulnerable that sometimes I avoid it. But in those moments of vulnerability, I subconsciously tap into other insecurities and traumas that are somehow able to sort themselves out through the union of colors. It is as if my brain rewires itself through the click of a shutter and all is right with the world again.

Because of this, I found myself deeply resonating with Brian McCarty's War-Toys project. The photography project combines principles of art therapy and toys as children in the Middle East draw pictures of traumatic events in their lives. McCarty, with the child's help, then uses locally available toys to recreate and photograph the scenes.
My rendition of this poignant drawing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Welcome to Art-full living

Come with me a while. Sit with me a while. All that I have is time. -Sean Hayes

Welcome to a journey of landscapes; the broad horizons of the great outdoors and the gaping vistas of the ordinary. In all things, great and small, there is life and there is art. Welcome to one small tale of art-full living.