Tuesday, January 31, 2012

downton abbeyonce

Thanks to CBC Live for submitting this piece of hilarity and featuring Downton Abbeyoncé on their site!
photo via

Not sure if any of you are fans of PBS's Sunday night drama, Downton Abbey (if you haven't seen it, check it out at 8PM CST!).  I found this hilarious blog that pairs screen shots of Downton Abbey with Beyonce song lyrics. 

photo via

Half an hour of laughs later, I had looked through all of the posts.  This is a blog I will be revisiting weekly for sure!

Monday, January 30, 2012

sloup, etc

photo via

On Sunday, Joe and I met up with our friends, Diane and Stuart, for an event called, Sloup.  I have been wanting to go to Sloup for months, but have been busy or forgotten about it each time. Sloup is a monthy soup dinner that provides artists the opportunity to submit proposals for micro-grants.  Your admission to Sloup goes into a pot and the artist with the winning proposal gets the proceeds. 

mingling, voting, eating soup

Past winners have purchased a button-maker which they use with the children they help to make buttons to wear.  Another artist asked for money to fund a project where she took photographs of abandoned buildings in the area and made them into postcards which she sprinkled all over the city.  This month, Sloup was hosted at several artists' homes.  We chose to attend one in South City, at the home of chef and artist, Clara Moore, who cooks for Local Harvest

Diane, Stuart and Zeke, hanging out at Sloup

She made an amazing vegan Butternut Squash soup and a Ham and Bean soup that Diane, Stuart and Joe all enjoyed.  We mingled with other artists, ate soup and read the ten proposals submitted for the night.  Joe and I ended up voting to support a new local art magazine, Piecrust, with their operation.  The winner will be announced later today.  It was a really fun event, and I am trying to convince Joe to throw one with me at his house next month.  I am also trying to convince him to get a hedgehog and name her Penelope (pronounced Pen-eh-lope), which may be just as likely.

Bailey's Chocolate Bar, open 'til 12AM

Despite spending time with Diane and Stuart at Sloup, it was crowded enough that we didn't get to talk to them enough, so we asked them to check out Bailey's Chocolate Bar, a restaurant in Lafayette Square that specializes in chocolate desserts and drinks.  Joe and I got some delicious Nutella and strawberry crepes and we got to catch up with Diane and Stuart some more.

All in all it was a very fun, very full weekend!

stuffed muffins, life chapters and lafayette square

photo via

This Sunday, after keeping three squirmy-wormy 4-year-olds in their seats and talking about God for an hour during Sunday School, I met Joe at Urban Eats, a cafe in South City where I used to display some of my paintings.  I love going there, because, not only is their food really tasty and innovative (french toast muffins stuffed with cream crease frosting.  homemade red pepper pesto and pita chips.  need I say more?), but the owners are the nicest people you will meet.  The cafe also gives back to its community in so many different ways and fosters the creativity of amatuer and full-fledged artists alike.  I also love their karaoke, hosted by Jacqui, each Tuesday night.

photo via

Joe had never been to Urban Eats and I thought it was about time he saw the place.  We ordered sandwiches and a muffin to split, headed over to a table by the window.  We ate our sandwiches and played a game I call, Name the Chapters of Your Life.  You start out by estimating how many chapters you've had in your life thus far, were you to write an autobiography.  Then, you tell the other person the title of each chapter (what the content would include, why it deserves a chapter in your book, etc).  It was fun and helped us learn more about each other.  Then, after lunch, I showed Joe where my paintings used to hang in Urban Eats.

my paintings hanging in Urban Eats, October 2011

We planned to spend the evening in the city with some friends, so we decided to explore more of the city until we met up with them.  So we ventured into the Lafayette Square neighborhood, a short drive from South City and Urban Eats.  Lafayette Square is one of my favorite places to visit.  I love the architecture, the old, lovingly-restored homes from the 1800s, the beautiful, tree-lined park, the neighborliness of the people, the late-night hours of the cafes. 
a few of the historic homes in Lafayette Square

Joe had never been, so we took a walk down Park Ave, close to Lafayette Park and admired all of the houses on the block.  I told Joe that Lafayette Square hosts a home and garden tour in the summer and a parlor tour around Christmastime.  I went to both last year and loved seeing the inside of each home on the tours, hearing about the renovations and the care with which each was restored.  I love that our city has historic homes and that there are enough people who care about owning and restoring them.  Owning an old home is one of the items on my mental bucket list, and I am reminded of this goal each time I wander past these houses.

Friday, January 27, 2012

dusty the destroyer: starter log edition

photo via
Last night Dusty and I went over to my friend, Joe's (and by friend, I mean someone I am dating's) house to hang out and watch Horrible Bosses.  Before the movie, Joe and I decided we needed candy, so we headed down the street to Walgreen's.  I asked Joe if we could leave Dusty in the house since we would only be gone a short while.  Joe agreed and we closed all of the doors to the carpeted areas of his condo.  We snagged some Sour Patch Kids and were back to his door in ten minutes.  We opened the door to find an overjoyed Dusty, ready to get out of the house and do some exploring outside.  I noticed, as we let him out the front door, that he had some brown chunks of something on his white chest.  I asked Joe to take him out while I investigated the source of these mysterious brown chunks.  I entered Joe's condo and saw red Solo cups scattered on the floor and a trail of brown chunks leading to his light blue sofa.

an innocent looking Dusty. who knew a dog this cute could do so much damage!

As I got closer to the sofa, I realized that Dusty had carried two of Joe's starter logs from their home next to the fireplace to the couch.  He had ripped off the paper covering on the logs and gnawed into each, leaving a crumbly mess all over the sofa.  Wonderful.  Way to make an impression, Dusty.  Doesn't help that Joe likes his apartment clean, and that his couch is light blue!  I prayed that the log chunks would not stain the sofa as I started furiously sweeping chunk after chunk into a cake pan I found in Joe's kitchen.  I hoped to finish before Joe returned with Dusty, but mid-sweep I heard Dusty's paws on the stairs leading up to Joe's door.  Joe came through the door with Dusty, let out a suprised chuckle and said, "Wow, we were only gone for ten minutes, right?"
"Yeah, I know" I replied, equally stunned.  "Guess we wont be leaving him unsupervised at your place again."  Joe came over to gauge my progress and quickly asked me to lead Dusty into another room while he vacummed up the rest of the wood chunk mess.  Lucky for Dusty, the wood did not leave any stains on the couch, and in a matter of minutes, the couch was back to normal.  Lucky for me, we were invited back.  Crisis averted!

artist crush: francoise nielly

An artist I am totally digging right now is Francoise Nielly.  Her portraits are gorgeous and haunting.  I love the realistic look she gives to each face in contrast with the bright, unrealistic colors she uses to paint them.  I love portraits, and I think part of it is because I can never imagine being able to create something half as realistic or poignant if attempting to draw or paint a human face.  I don't know what it feels like to be able to look into a person's face and translate their soul onto canvas.  I don't know how, but I want to.

 I do, however, know how it feels to be painted by someone who does.  How it feels to look at a painting of you and feel like someone has captured a piece of you, simply using oils and a paint brush.  Its an eerie feeling. A feeling of being disrobed, but at the same time understood.  Understood by a stranger and exposed to whomever comes across the canvas.  Laid bare for me and anyone else to see.


Nielly paints in Paris, but grew up in South France. She says, "all of that classical imagery of South France is very alive as an experience inside of me. Maybe it is what led me to the use of fluorescent colors in my paintings."  She considers the Internet and the dishwasher to be the greatest inventions of the past 100 years. When speaking about her life and painting, she says, "I am a passionate woman and i am passionate about my life, about doing my life with intensity. That is the way i approach painting, traveling, reading, etc. Somehow, painting may be the love of my life; and as in every couple relationship it's a moving territory with high and lows, fights, weariness, desire, fire and water. It can be exhausting, exhilarating, boring, fun, sparkling... whatever i go through with it, i just can't stop loving it."* You can view more of her work here.

*pictures and excerpts from the biography on her painting website

Thursday, January 26, 2012

pancake art

I think I need an excuse to make pancakes, just so I can try my hand at these babies. 

(source: moredesignplease, via )

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

lip-smacking good: clam chowder edition

Last week, I made some clam chowder for a friend.  He recently got divorced and everything about the man screams, "I haven't had a homecooked meal since my ex-wife moved out."  I took pity on him and found a recipe that made plenty so there would be leftovers for him for the week.  When I say I am a newbie to cooking, I mean I learned to boil water after college.  I believe measuring cups are over-rated and I've been accused of being a less-than-precise vegetable chopper.  If I can make this recipe, anyone can.  I got the recipe off of AllRecipes.com, where a woman posted it under the psuedomyn of Pioneer Woman.  Chad, the undernourished and newly single man cub, is going through somewhat of a pioneer period himself.  A clean slate, a new beginning.  Perfect, I thought.  And the recipe had 5 1/2 stars/ 6 to boot.
My Best Clam Chowder Recipe

3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
1 cup minced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
ground black pepper to taste

Drain juice from clams into a large skillet over the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover, and cook over medium heat until tender.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in vegetables and clam juice. Heat through, but do not boil.
Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

 A few things to note about the recipe. 
 *You only need one potato.  I wasnt sure what two cups of cubed potatos looks like, so I liberally purchased three. 
*The recipe also calls for half and half, but I discovered, upon arriving to Chad's house, that the half and half I'd brought from my own kitchen had expired in October (another giveaway to my rookie-cook status).  So we ended up using whole milk instead.  I couldn't imagine having the chowder turn out too much creamier, so I would go the less fattening, whole milk route instead of the half and half. 
*When the recipe says wait until just before you are ready to serve before adding the clams, it means, wait until just before you are ready to serve before adding the clams. Otherwise the clams get chewy and rubbery.  Enough said.

All in all, I was pleased with how the chowder turned out.  I made a simple avocado, tomato and arugula salad and some parmeasan bread (super easy and delicious recipe to follow at some date). 

After dinner, Chad and I roasted marshmallows in his fireplace.  he didnt have any big ones, so we loaded the mini ones onto skewers and used his large metal fireplace tongs to hold the skewers to the flames (did I mention that Chad is an engineer?)

The perfect end to a home-cooked meal.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

dusty the destroyer: sequin edition

This post is part of a new (and hopefully, short-lived) series of stories about the ways in which my 8-year-old Australian Shepherd, Dusty, has “redecorated” my apartment as of late.
Around New Years I was inspired to make a few glitzy, crafty projects for decoration around the home.  I picked up a few bags of sequins from Michael’s craft store and drove home to start attaching them to anything that didn’t move.  Some of the projects I used the sequins for involved only certain colors, so I separated sequins into a few different containers and set them on the desk in my bedroom.  When I came home from work one night, I made my way into the bedroom only to find the floor covered in sequins. Dusty had also knocked over a cup of Coke that a friend had left on the desk, so sequins congealed in the sticky substance all over the desk.  I guess Dusty must have been jealous of all the crafty projects that I was getting to do with sequins and wanted to create his own. I must say, his was more high-impact than any of the ones I came up with!  I am still finding sequins in my shoes, on my body, in the covers (see photo of Dusty above for proof), in pockets and all over the apartment.  So glad I didn’t go with glitter!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

make it: sequin board

I wanted to make something glittery for New Year's Eve, and was inspired by Jordan Ferney's post about her sequin wall creation. I remembered seeing some images of Kate Spade's flagship store where they did something similar and set to work to find large gold paillettes. Six phone calls to craft stores, specialty art shops and Target, and I was still coming up empty-handed. So until my online order comes in, I have been making do with smaller sequins. I picked u a few packages of multi-colored 8 and 10 mm sequins, foam board, 4x4 canvases, 24K gold spray paint, acrylic gold paint and sequin pins from Michael's.

I painted a few of the canvases with gold paint and waited for the canvases to dry. I also sprayed the foam board with the gold spray paint. The foam board does not take nearly as long to dry. I then lay a ruler against the side of the canvas to help measure out where to put each sequin. I placed the first line of sequins on the board and punctured the center holes with sequin pins, one for each sequin.

Then i measured down another side of the canvas and repeated my process until the board was covered in sequins. I nailed the sequin pins into the wood around the edges and then punched the sequin pins in at least halfway on the canvas near the center of the cube to ensure that the pins wouldn't fall out. But, I didn't nail the sequin pins all the way in because I didnt want to lose the 3d nature of the boards. I made one 8x8 board with sequins in gold, silver, bronze, pink and magenta, a 4x4 board with alternating bronze and magenta, and one with just gold sequins. I am please with the way they turned out. I'd recommend putting foam board in the back of the canvas though to help secure the pins and keep from pricking yourself if you pick it up the wrong way.


this girl has it in spades. i want to frame this photo. i cant help but smile ever time i look at it.


make it: pom-pom wreath

This Christmas, I wanted to make my mom something for Christmas. After seeing Jordan Ferney's felt ball garland, I was inspired to make some of my own. Only to discover that felt balls are fairly pricey! Undaunted, I wandered through the aisles of Michael's craft store looking for some more reasonable substitutes and came upon brightly-colored chenille pom-poms. I put several bags in my cart,grabbed some thread, a needle and a wreath form and headed to the check out line.

Armed with my materials, I spread out on my mom's kitchen island and got to work, sorting the pom-poms by color and threading each one. I used about 15 of each color before going on to the next color. After I threaded several colors through, I began to wrap the threaded poms around the wreath form, securing them with hot glue.

I made sure to wrap the threaded poms tightly so none of the green styrofoam would show through. A few hours, several pin pricks and 20 some tracks of a Carpenter's Christmas later, I had finished my mom's Christmas present. And, I liked the end result so much I plan to make myself one too at some point. I also decided it wasn't so labor intensive that I couldn't make one or two for my Etsy shop, though I think I will make them to order.
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