Thursday, August 28, 2008

Swistle's Mint Chocolate Brownies


I've been OBSESSING over Swistle's Mint Chocolate Brownie recipe for, like, months now. I haven't been able to find the Andes Mint Chocolate Chips it calls for though. Damn LA . . . the baking sections of our stores are WOEFULLY inadequate. Like, 90% pre made boxed mix crap and only ever 1/2 the staples you'd need to make anything from scratch. The new thing seems to be a step further than boxed mixes . . . these "microwave cakes and brownies" thinggies. I mean, come on. If you can't muster the energy to make something DECENT for yourself to eat (this isn't rocket science) then you probably shouldn't be eating it at all. How good could a 'microwave brownie' filled with preservatives and unpronounceables possibly be? Sorry . . . I digress . . . but I just don't get it. It isn't worth my time to eat some crap pre-packaged cookies or cakes. These brownies only took 10 minutes to prepare, and the recipe made at least a dozen servings. Plus I can pronounce every ingredient.

Sorry. Rant finished.

So to make up for LA's lack of baking items, we DO have a spectacular selection of gourmet chocolates in most grocery stores. It finally occurred to me that instead of the mint chocolate chips, I could try buying a big mint chocolate BAR and breaking it up into pieces.

OMFG, the brownies were INSANE! And I realized while stuffing my face last night, I could probably put just about ANY candy bar in there. Caramel chocolate. Raspberry Chocolate. Heath bar perhaps? Its all I can do not to leave work and go home to make more brownies right now. Serious.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Really Really Old Things


It occurred to me a few weeks ago that coins have been around for a REALLY long time. And, as such, there were probably some REALLY old ones floating around in the world, just waiting to be made into jewelry.

A quick glance at Ebay proved me right :)

I placed a largeish order with several sellers and am now the proud (albeit, temporary) owner of an assortment of coins from the turn of the century all the way back to the mid 1700s. Mostly from England and France, as those coins tend to sell well. But I also have coins from Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria and Canada.

I've been pairing these mostly with gemstone beads . . . I think anything with a bit of green mixes beautifully with brass and bronze so I've been using lots of sea foam quartz, moss agate and green line jasper. I've been trying out somewhat more upscale stones as well like garnet and amethyst.

I listed my first necklace yesterday and its only had a few views, but one heart already! These aren't necessarily especially eye catching at first, as the coins are all VERY worn and well used. But I think once buyers see them and realize OH MY GOD THAT IS A TWO HUNDRED YEAR OLD COIN that they'll sell fairly well. I think they'll do great at the holiday rush season since they're a little more "big ticket" than most of my jewelry items. And if not, dude, seriously, I'd keep them all if I could! (but someone has a wedding to pay for ;))

Here's a gratuitous photo from the wedding boy and I went to over the weekend. Boy has mad photo skills.
And another photo to prove I didn't spend the whole wedding glowering around like Jane Eyre.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jane, this post is for you!


I stopped by The Ivy on Ventura Blvd in Studio City a few days ago with the boy to browse their antiques. Boy and I want to collect a few antique pieces for our home. Nothing crazy . . . but we'd like to get a small collection going. The Ivy does antiques as well as antique inspired modern furniture AND reupholstery. They have a HUGE upholstery fabric department upstairs, all really crazy pretty and unusual stuff. And for the last few weeks they've had a TEN DOLLAR A YARD sale! Did I mention this is REALLY WIDE upholstery fabric? And PRINTS I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYWHERE ELSE (except maybe home design magazines)? AND they sold me 1/2 yard quantities for purses!

I bought three 1/2 yards . . .mixed toiles. God, if I still lived alone I'd be doing my WHOLE HOUSE over in mixed toiles right now! But boy, being male, isn't totally into them so these are going to have to be for purses :)

Meanwhile . . .I've got a few large orders of new coins in. All turn of the century or even older. I can't wait to get a new collection of SERIOUSLY antique pieces going in my shop! I'm wearing an english Georgian period penny necklace with brass and sea foam quartz right now and its positively edible.

Question for blogfriends: How much more do you think I should charge for pieces that are REALLY OLD. Like, Victorian and older. Like, years starting with 18 or 17? Boy thinks I should price them high . . . I tend to agree but I dont' know how high. Similar necklaces with more modern coins I price around $26 - $28 . . . for the very old pieces I was thinking I'd up some of the gemstone and pearl quality as well and sell them for $36 - $38. Does that sound anywhere near reasonable?

Off this weekend to a wedding (boy's cousin) in wine country. HOORAY for old grape juice! :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ok, Ok, I'm back.


Disneyland was awesome. Boy and I had a great time. Perfect weather, minimal crowds. We went on the Astro Blasters four times (first time I beat boy's score! Then twice I scored over 100,000!), Pirates twice, Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toad, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and the Matterhorn. We toured the new Innoventions exhibit, walked through Toontown, had lunch at the Hungry Bear restaurant and dinner at the Plaza Inn. 10am - 11pm. We were champs!

The night before we went to Downtown Disney and had dinner at Tortilla Joe's. The plan was to stay for the fireworks but we were both SO TIRED! We figured it'd be better to get back to the hotel and have a good night's sleep instead. We grabbed muffins from the bakery for breakfast in the morning and headed back. Our hotel was actually pretty great. It had an arcade! And I slept like a log. A dead log. Very comfortable.

I woke up on Tuesday exhausted, sore and desperately sad for it all to be over. I think I managed to score pretty big though by getting engaged at Disneyland. Pretty much for the rest of our lives, every time boy wants to take me somewhere especially romantic for a birthday or anniversary or whatnot its going to have to be the Blue Bayou at Disneyland. And you can't get in to eat there without spending a day at the park!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Guess what?


I'm going to DISNEYLAND!!! Boy and I just booked a room to stay over Sunday night in Anaheim so that we can spend the entire, horking day at Disneyland on Monday, my birthday. Bwah! EXCITED!

Anywho . . . tonight is Project Runway night which is the one night a week boy and I devote to making a nice dinner and polishing off a bottle of wine (as opposed to huddling in our respective lairs working all night, him on records me on jewelry). I ripped this lemon and parsley potato recipe off of Jenny of Sew Darn Cute's blog and I've made it three times in the last three weeks, so I thought I'd share the joy here. I switched out the order of a few steps to accomidate my lazyness and I added onions cause I love them. The basic method, to paraphrase: make a dressing of melted butter, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Toss cubed potatoes and diced onions in the mixture. Bake. Hot. Long time. Stir sometimes. Toss with chopped parsley.

For special occasions, like Project Runway night, I make cauliflower cheese to go with the potatoes. I think I'll make a salad tonight too, just to avoid putting myself in a carb/fat coma.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pub Night


Since my dad and boy's were both so helpful last weekend, I decided to make a special dinner this Sunday to thank them. With boy and my wedding date growing nearer, my brain has been stuck on Wales/England/Scotland pretty much all of the time. So I decided to go with a pub theme: Champ Mashed Potatoes, Leek and Cheese Pasties, Peas, and a Very Small, so as almost to be microscopic, Salad.

Champ is THE WAY to make mashed potatoes. Leave it to the Irish to do potatoes right. Boil up a bunch of white, red or yukon gold potatoes, diced with skins on. Then drain, dry out and mash with half and half, kerrygold butter, salt, pepper and sliced green onions.

The peas are self explanatory. Salad came out quite nicely I think with romaine, parsley, green onions, tomato, mini sweet pepper rings, shredded carrots, salt and pepper. That parsley was DAMN good if you ask me!

Then the pasties. There was some cheating here, I've got to admit. I bought a few tubes of Pillsbury Recipe Creations (what? I can't bake!). I sliced each sheet of dough into 4 long strips, piled a mixture of leeks sauteed in olive oil and shredded sharp cheddar on one side of each strip (let the leeks cool before mixing with the cheese to avoid a melty mess), folded the dough over and pressed the seams together. I baked them for about 12 minutes. I made 12 for 7 people. Had one left over :)

We watched a few episodes of Terry Jones Medieval Lives which I picked up on DVD a few weeks ago. HIGHLY entertaining fare!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Weddingness (mine, for a change!)


So I hinted ages ago about making my wedding necklace and I did make it (ages ago) and have sat on it for a while trying to decide if its "bridal enough". I've gone with a YES, so if you don't like don't share! :) No, really, I do want to know what you guys think.

Its all sterling. Marcasite findings with labradorite briolettes. I bought the drop and the bail thinking they'd connect directly but yeah, not so much. So I used sterling wire to wrap them together then covered the join with a sterling crimp cover. Can you tell I had to mickey mouse it? The wire attaching the labradorite briolettes is also sterling. I'm not 100% on the chain. I might decide to go with a thinner one on the day of.

Guess what? I HIT 400 SALES TODAY!!!

And the final outfit picture of the week. Yet another top from Forever 21 (gotta make that clothing budget work for me!), wide leg Aristocrat denim jeans, a black pearl choker I made, and no shoes! (kidding, put the BC Ethic sandals on after I took this photo :))

And just to prove I OWN SKIRTS, here's an 'out to dinner' shot from last night: Dress from Forever 21, sandals from BC Ethic, two brass necklaces, one made by me one traded for on Etsy, gross and unwashed hair cleverly piled in a knot and put out of the way :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Australia!


Oh, sweet buttery Jesus (can't take credit for that one, I stole it from another blogger), I'M DONE WITH THE AUSTRALIAN ORDER! Got the last of the coins in, convinced my dad to help me yet again with them (very willing and helpful, it must be said!), and finished everything off last night. The listings are up in my shop and I'm sitting here with the package all ready to go.

!!!!

The necklace the wholesaler and I designed together is GORGEOUS, LOVE it. Black onyx beads with brass accents and a pre 1920 British penny. They came out just beautifully . . . very antique-y but still nice and sleek.

Oh the joy of being done! Boy and I are going out to dinner with a friend tonight, fantastic timing :)


Outfit picture for today features my latest steal on overstock.com: black wide leg Eight 14 jeans retail priced at $128 which I picked up for $14.99. I shit you not! I love overstock.com. They make my denim obsession affordable. I'm also wearing another of those great short sleeve Forever 21 jackets and a black cami, my brass studded shoes from Delias (bought on sale for like $12 or something ridiculous like that) and a serpentine and moss agate necklace I made a while back.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Really? Joann?

Last night I stopped at Joann on the way home for some findings for a bridal order I'm going to be working on. Also found a 40% off button sale. YES!!!! Joann's is all outfitted for fall . . . Halloween and Thanksgiving. I know that craft stores get started WAY early on seasonal merchandise because, hello! you've got to have time to MAKE STUFF. Especially Halloween costumes. They should probably go a step further and stock Halloween stuff YEAR ROUND, in my opinion. Gotta say though, I was still highly amused by the display of Halloween and Thanksgiving cake decorating items. Cause yeah, I'm not exactly going to get moving on my Thanksgiving baking quite yet, but thanks for the suggestion, Joann. And in the meantime, its a little annoying that you've de-stocked on all of the more generic springy floral and polka dot cupcake papers.

The button sale inspired a little project last night. Guess what? NECKWARMERS ARE BACK!!! Do you guys think its too early? Those who live not in LA, is it cold where you are? Getting cold? Are you thinking at all about winter and fall accessories yet? Cause if I were to gauge this entirely on LA weather I wouldn't start the neckwarmers until probably December or even after. I don't want to miss the boat entirely, but is it too early?

Today I so didn't feel like getting dressed. I managed it though, can't go to work naked and all. Teal top from Forever 21 (noticing a pattern here?), black cami underneath, grey skinny jeans from Express like FOREVER ago (still like them though!), the BC Ethic sandals and a black pearl and sterling necklace I made.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Because we needed more pillows

Very close to my office, over on Pico, are THREE F&S Fabrics stores. The first is fashion fabrics and notions. The second is high end upholstery fabrics. But the third is the best . . . the upholstery OUTLET. The place is huge, covered floor to ceiling in bolts of fabric. All of the fabrics, at least all of the fabrics I've seen there, should retail for over $40 yard. Some silk velvets and other high end things probably over $100 a yard. But I've never seen anything at the outlet for more than $19.90 a yard. They've even got a $5 a yard table in the back!! Discounted ON TOP OF DISCOUNTS. Genius.

So the other day I was snooping around thinking it might be nice to cover my old bed pillows with something that would make a little more sense in our new bedroom. I found this INSANE beige-y fabric that can only be described as having crusaders etched into the nap (click the photo for a larger image!). It was $12 a yard. !!!

I think the pillows are helping me accept the beige carpet. It was hard going from original 1920s hardwood to beige carpet! But at least its nice, high end carpet.

So today's outfit is one of my favorites. Wide leg Aristocrat Denim jeans from Overstock.com ($44!!!), a plain grey tank and a red short sleeved jacket from Forever 21. I love how the wide leg jeans w/ the jacket look sort of suit-like but still are totally NOT A SUIT. Thats one great thing about the music industry . . . jeans every day! But its nice to look pulled together too, and I think this type of outfit totally accomplishes that. The shoes are my absolute favorites, BC Ethic sandals. The necklace I traded for on Etsy, it cost me 1 neckwarmer :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dads are pretty much the best thing ever

So the weekend was insanity. Boy and I found out on Friday evening that our condo was going to be appraised on Sunday morning (in conjunciton with the mortgage we're still trying to work out. Yep, STILL.) So Saturday we spent the ENTIRE FECKING DAY from 8am to after midnight working on the condo. Getting rid of the last traces of boxes from my moving in, replacing the dining set with one that actually fits so as not to make our dining room look small, spiffing up little details like broken switchplates and screen doors, and of course finding places to store excess crap and furniture, which is where boy's dad came in. He let us move a carload of boxes AND a dining set with four chairs into his living room. Then bought us dinner.

Then the following day, we went to visit my dad to get all the coins drilled for my big Australian order. 150 of them. For about four hours. And then he grilled boy a steak.

I don't think its possible for our dads to rock any harder. We couldn't have gotten through this weekend without them!

So condo . . . yeah, we'll talk about it later :) And Australia . . . ALMOST DONE! And building (and swearing at) Ikea furniture at 11pm, also quite blog worthy! Did I mention that there are new pillows as well?

For now though you'll have to settle for the first outfit picture. Today I'm wearing my favorite red boots (check out the buckles!) with my skinny William Rast jeans, a silk top from Forver 21, and a necklace I made with brass chain and brick colored freshwater pearls.

I swear, all of these photos are going to be of me peering sideways into the camera display . . . couldn't figure out any other way to get the picture!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Weddingness (not mine)


I've had a slew of wedding jewelry orders lately . . . LOTS of fun, especially given that I'm planning my own wedding right now! I swear, if I didn't make jewelry Etsy would be the FIRST place I'd look for bridesmaid's gifts and favors (not that I have any bridesmaids, but still).

Last night I made five pearl chokers for a bridal party in Las Vegas and then a pair of sterling and freshwater pearl earrings for another bride. I listed them all this morning and my shop page looks like its covered in white buttercream frosting. Lovely!

And speaking of wedding jewelry . . . I made myself a little something ;) A pendant in sterling and marcasite with labradorite drops. I'm still mulling it over. For all the pearls I use in my shop I don't want to wear them to my wedding. So the pendant doesn't quite look bridal to me . . . but then I don't really want it to look bridal. Much to ponder. Maybe I should post a picture and let you guys help.

Blogplan for next week is to post pictures of what I wear to work every day. Clothes can be artsy-craftsy just as much as pearl necklaces and cupcakes can. I enjoy the heck out of getting dressed every morning, so I think I'll enjoy sharing too! Anyone want to join me?