Friday, May 29, 2009

Surprisingly Awesome

I have a long standing love of infomercials . . . I can remember being home during the summers as a pre-teen and watching programs for food dehydrators, carpet cleaners and ceramic knives. In between episodes of Gilligans Island. While eating Triscuits. (I swear, I was the most BORING tween ever.)

So when one of Boy's MANY sets of aunts and uncles got us a Magic Bullet as a wedding gift I was thrilled. Seriously? THRILLED. Apprehensive though . . . Boy bought a Shamwow a few months ago and it is so lame we've renamed it the "ShamFAIL". As in: Boy: "I've spilled something! Can you pass the ShamFAIL?" Me: "Why bother?".

I'm fairly certain most infomercial products aren't as awesome as they think they are. The Magic Bullet though? Pretty freaking awesome. The first day we had it we used it three times. Once to turn leftover morning coffee into afternoon ice blendeds. Once to make strawberry and iced tea smoothies. Then a third time to make blueberry milkshakes for dessert.

This thing ACUTALLY PULVERIZES ICE and, even more amazingly, it ACTUALLY WHIPS CREAM. Like, as if it had been in a stand mixer, not in that watery, half assed way a whisk or stick blender does. And it is so small I do actually leave it out on my counter. If you're doing the mental math while reading along, you know that means I can have strawberries with fresh whipped cream pretty much all summer long without ever having to haul heavy equipment out of my cabinets. Which is THE AWESOME. My stand mixer is still indespensible for baking . . . but for quick desserts for just boy and I the Magic Bullet is just perfect.

Two nights ago we had a pile of strawberries in the fridge and a bag of blueberries in the freezer. I thought "Gee . . . I wonder what would happen if I put a few blueberries in the Magic Bullet with some cream and powdered sugar." Then I found a stash of chocolate chips in the baking cupboard. It was every bit as amazing as it looks!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

ZOMG IT IS FINISHED!


AIEEEE!!! My ring! My ring! I finally finished it in class last night. There are still a few more tweaks I could do to improve the prongs but my teacher told me a) those are best left to be done in daylight and b) that she could tell I was OVER IT and just to go ahead and wear the damn thing already.

The classes are each 3 hours long and it took me FOUR of them to make this ring. In the first class, I cut my ingot to make the band, drew out the band to the right width, soldered it shut, made it round, and filed the knife edge. In the second class, I made the wire for the prongs, made the tubing (the little bits that sit under the stones), and assembled the settings. In the third class I soldered the settings into the ring, filed, emery papered and polished everything. Then I took the ring home and totally farked one of the settings. So, in the fourth class, last night, I cut out the setting I'd broken, put a new setting in, placed the stones and filed down the prongs. FIN!

I have started on the next project, a cabochon, bezel set ring that I'm going to make with a stupidly gorgeous labradorite stone. I have just three classes left so I'm hoping in those three I can finish the labradorite ring and make enough headway on the rose ring so that I'll be able to finish it off at home. I'd love to take the class again, but it is SO! expensive that I don't think I can justify repeating it. There is a "Level 2" class available, but that deals in lost wax casting and I'm not sure I'm ready to (or that I even want to) bite that off quite yet.

I'm proudly wearing my ring right now! The stones are peridot and ruby (both real), Boy and my birthstones. So its a teeny, tiny family ring. It is good to know that someday soon I'll be able to make my own mother's ring! (GAH, NOT YET, jeeze NOT PREGNANT!) (But, soon ;))

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Minutiae

Holiday weekend! Did everyone have a nice holiday weekend? Boy and I did! Boy's dad's side of the family threw a party for us and for Boy's cousin who is getting married in July. It was a really lovely day at the beach, veggie friendly bbq catered by a local, organic restaurant, beautiful cake which we cut with a sword (serious) . . . photos will be forthcoming as soon as my dad sends me the ones he took (hey, dad!) since I was too busy being all bride-like to take many decent photos myself.

The end of last week was a flurry of visitors. We realized that we hadn't yet had a lot of our friends over to see our condo, so we remedied that with a series of little get togethers. Lots of bruschetta was made. I've taken to making it in pretty little bites like these, using basil from our THRIVING! plant.

I'm really looking forward to my silversmithing class tonight since I think I'll FINALLY finish my faceted stone ring. It has been slow going with that ring, but I'm learning so much. I really think I could take the skills I've picked up on this project and make something of my own.

Class night has also turned into 'date with myself' night which is FUN. I have an hour between work and my class, and only about 5 minutes commute between the two. I've taken to using the extra time to get dinner by myself. If I take a book with me it feels less odd to be sitting alone; although I'll admit to having been a little freaked out the first time I tried it! After dinner sometimes I have time to stop in at CVS and buy myself a lipgloss. Then class, of course, is a lot of fun. And on the way home I can listen to 20 minutes of Loveline while I drive. I still manage to get home with enough time to hang out and have a drink with my husband before bed. Really? Wednesday is the BEST NIGHT EVER.

All in all? A lot of little things have been keeping me busy and happy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Makings and Quakings

You can tell you’ve lived in LA your whole life when the morning after a fairly sizeable quake, you blog about BENCHES instead of, you know, the whole EARTH SHAKING thing. So, yeah . . . we had a reasonable sized quake on Sunday night. And I totally forgot to mention it. I was home by myself since Boy was out having a man dinner with his dad (In N Out Burgers. Ew.).

Honestly, it was nowhere near big enough for a full sized panic but, having been in a few VERY sizeable quakes, when the earth starts shaking I find myself just waiting for that one sickening crack. You never know when things start moving how bad a quake is going to be. It could be nothing . . . the small ones aren’t much different than the kind of swaying you’d feel in a parking garage when a truck drives by. The larger ones are capable of flinging furniture and appliances across rooms. When things start moving, it could really go either way . . . so my adrenaline goes through the roof, whether it ultimately needs to or not.

Did I mention how I was ALONE? I was sitting on the sofa making this very necklace when I started to feel . . . odd. That’s how quakes usually go down. You don’t feel shaking exactly, but sort of off balance. Then I heard our glass shower doors slamming against each other and I figured out what was up. I stood up and debated whether I should a) run and blow out the candle I had burning or b) run to turn off the oven but settled on c) fish my cel phone out of my purse. I called Boy and said “COME HOME NOW”, called my parents (dad felt it, mom didn’t) and texted a handful of girlfriends to make sure everyone was ok. Earthquake: fin.

Earlier in the weekend, Boy and I did some work on our Final! Deck! Project! We stopped by Ikea to buy a few of their great, inexpensive pillow inserts, then the awesome F&S Fabric outlet on Pico to pick out a pair of Sunbrella outdoor fabrics ($9.90 a yard!) . I spent Sunday morning cutting and sewing and now, for a grand total of about $100, we have SIX new outdoor pillows; two massive and four smaller.

Also on the making front, but of a different variety, I had a killer new idea for a necklace last night . So killer, in fact, that I got myself OUT OF BED where I was happily reading The Historian in order to make it IMMEDIATELY. I had a stash of silver plated chains I’d bought from Fire Mountain ages ago but never used. The thing with ordering supplies online is that sometimes they aren’t what you were expecting. No blame there on Fire Mountain’s part, it just happens sometimes. These particular chains were kind of cheap looking and way too shiny white silver for my tastes. I thought if I took a handful of them and BRAIDED them they’d be much more substantial. Then I blackened them with liver of sulphur to take the edge of the shiny-whiteness. LOVE!

Monday, May 18, 2009

I think I might have a slight problem

Our condo is big. I don’t want to sound like a whiny brat complaining about how big her home is, cause really, it is AWESOME and I’m really lucky, I know. But trying to decorate huge, loft like spaces can be challenging on a few fronts.

Firstly, our condo IS very loft like. And although I’m seriously so not a fan of minimal design, a space like ours really does need to be decorated fairly cleanly. I can’t do the whole wild, overgrown red damask and velvet thing I had going on in my old apartment because a) Boy would kill me and b) it would just be TOO! MUCH! In such a large space. Secondly, when you have large rooms, you can’t get away with just pressing all your furniture up against the walls because that would leave you with an ENORMOUS BALLROOM FLOOR in the center of your living room . . . not very cozy! So you’ve got to have a few pieces you can leave lolling around in the middle of your rooms to carve up the space. Thirdly, if you’re going to go with a clean look, you need lots of storage. Preferably, unobtrusive storage.

I’ve solved pretty much all of these design problems with benches. Our living room, for example, the largest and most challenging space, has THREE benches. One wood slat bench hanging out and making use of wall space in the entry area. One big puffy ottoman style bench that matches our sofa and loveseat, giving us a really cozy U-shaped seating area. And a third, brown leather bench with bad-ass nail head trim, tucked away in a corner that provides extra seating when we’re strapped for it and houses about 80% of my jewelry making supplies. Up until I got involved in torching things, I made all of my jewelry on the sofa. Preferably while watching The Science Channel.

Three benches in one room sounds like a bit much already . . . but it doesn’t end there. I have a bench in the bedroom, just opposite the bathroom door. It is a relic from my aforementioned red damask days and serves as an excellent place for me to sit outside the door and harass Boy while he’s trying to use the bathroom.

We have a fifth bench upstairs in our office that we bought as extra seating and for storage since OMG anything that stores ANYTHING is a good thing for us to have in the office. Seriously. We have So! Much! Stuff! up there.

And then . . . moving on to our newly redone deck, things start to get a little pathological. You’ve seen our two convertible benches in the upstairs area of the deck. And, as a wedding present, Boy’s mom just bought us yet another bench for the lower deck. This new bench might be our favorite. Boy and I both like it because it’s just a tad too long. Probably like a foot too long . . . therefore WEIRD! and AWESOME!

Bringing our grand total to: 8 benches.

On one hand, they’re really super-functional. Lots of our family (and Boy’s side is LARGE) live in the LA area, so it isn’t uncommon for us to have 8 or 10 people over for dinner at one time. The extra seating can be REALLY handy in some of those situations. On the other hand . . . it IS a little pathological, isn’t it?

Do you ever get stuck on repeat on the decorating front too?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Annual Lipgloss Dilemma

All Winter long, I wear Clinique's Black Honey in any of it's myriad of forms. I wore it to my wedding! And even though it now comes in a super cool balm formula (which I will, like, TOTALLY be buying), I still feel like I need something a little lighter for Summer days.

The ideal lipgloss would be a fairly colorful clear, candy apple red with gold flecks. Nothing too sheer or too lipstick-y. It would be moisturizing, not sticky and it would taste good but not like it was made for teenagers. So far this year I've bought two contenders and while neither is quite right, they've each got their individual, redeeming qualities.

Sephora Brand Brilliant Shine Lipgloss in Bronzed Beauty looked really promising in the tube, but on the lips it is almost completely clear. It does get HIGH marks for texture and taste though: it is completely non-sticky and tastes exactly like classic cherry chapstick.

Last night I found myself in CVS with a $3 Extra Bucks Coupon and 15 minutes to spare before my metalworking class. I picked up a tube of Loreal's Infallible Never Fail Lipgloss in Firey. The color is more gold than red, and since it is so long lasting it isn't all that moisturizing or shiny. It doesn't have that 'clear candy apple coating' look i'm going for. But at $2 (half off and with my coupon!) the price was right. And it DOES manage to stay put much longer than other glosses do.

Which brings me back to square one. Korres Cherry Full Color Gloss in Coral 45 looks promising.
Tarte's Double Ended Lipgloss in Rhett and Scarlett might work, if I mix the colors. Or, Makeup Forever's Rosewood.

What are your favorite glosses? Anything I should know about, ladies?! Help!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tudor Rose


Now that Mother's Day has passed, I can finally show you all the crazy cool pendant I made for my mom. As a child, my favorite thing to do was to "make projects" . . . meaning my mom would lay out piles of macaroni, yarn, glitter, glue, construction paper, and anything else she could get her hands on. I'd put it all together to make things that were probably pretty catastrophic, but which she praised and loved nonetheless. It didn't occur to me until I typed that out, JUST NOW, that those projects were probably the seed that led to my jewelery making today. So, THANKS, mom. And I'll bet you're glad my jewelry projects no longer involve so many dried Penne noodles.

The pendant is a Tudor Rose, which I designed, formed and forged from sterling wire. It is quite large . . . close to 3 inches across; but still light and airy because of all the empty space incorporated into the design. My mom loves it . . . and despite her history of claiming to love blobs of glued macaroni, I think she means it this time!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Silver


I'm almost halfway through my silversmithing class and I have at least one Actual! Finished! Project! to show off. The spiderweb I started working on during the second class is all finished. Last time you saw it, the web was done. Now I've made and added on a spider, and a bail. I love him and think he is adorable. Boy, however, likes to remind me that 'It isn't Halloween' every time I try to wear him. Whatever.

During my most recent class, I started working on the two stone, knife edge ring project. I started with a bar of silver, sawed off of my ingot. I ran the bar through the rolling mill a few times, made a circle, soldered the circle closed, used my mandrel and mallet to make it perfectly round, then started filing until I had shaped the band into a knife edge. In our next class, I'm going to be cutting the ring open, overlapping the ends and setting 2 stones (a ruby and a peridot) in beween the band ends. All of this filing and messing with stones and whatnot is SO FREAKING COOL. It has me feeling like I'm doing acutal jeweler shit instead of messing with pliers and wire like I'm used to. I am so freaking happy I signed up for this class . . . it has been phenomenal!

Outside of class, I've been messing around with some of my own desgins and ideas. I've been designing lots of captive bead pieces; making frameworks that beads can move freely within. I've also been trying to get a plaid effect in some of my pendnats, but so far have only come up with more argyle-y looking bits.

In other news, Boy has finally gotten used to the torch and no longer flinches when he hears me firing it up anymore! Hooray for small victories!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Remodeling Things


Remember how much fun Boy and I had painting the deck? In the end, I'm REALLY GLAD he didn't bother telling me how hellacious that experience was going to be. Because if he had, I wouldn't have agreed to it, and then we wouldn't have the most awesome and fantastic summer hangout ever!





See how pretty it looks at night too!!!





The wood slat benches are actually modular . . . they stretch out into longer benches, or the backs lift up to form loungers. The little tables are also from Cost Plus and the chairs are from CB2. The first LA CB2 store opened on Thursday and it was ALL WE COULD DO not to drive down to Hollywood and visit it after work that very day. We managed to hold out unitl Saturday though, and we came home with 2 new chairs, 2 planters and a recycled metal lantern. YEA!

Boy and I finished the project off with a collection of plants . . . mostly succlents because we get a ton of direct sun up there during the day. I picked out an aloe (and named him Albert) and a lavender (unnamed, so likely to die). We already had basil and parsley plants going on the roof and I have half a mind to plant more herbs since they're so useful. But then I think about how plants usually wither and die in my presence and I reconsider. Prehaps if Boy were in charge of them . . .

We still have a plan or two for the lower deck, but the upper we consider done and we couldn't be happier with it! We've had wine, dinner and breakfast out there and all were fantastic!

Also on the remodeling front . . . you may have noticed I've been doing some amateur cleaver hacking at my blog's HTML code lately. You may have been unfortunate enough to stop by during the 10 minutes where my sidebars had stripey backgrounds, rendering them completely illegible. It is one thing to have cool ideas for your blog layout; but it is another, very sad, thing to realize that lots of your ideas suck. I feel like I'm getting close to something kinda cool looking though. Please bear with me until then!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Um, OK, Gap . . .but only because it works in my favor!


Yesterday I was snooping around in the Gap sale racks and I found a really cute pair of grey pants on sale for $19.99. They were running a further 25% off all sale items and on top of that, this particular pair of pants (my size!) was an EXTRA 20% off because they were missing a button. Which is all fine and well, save for the fact that a packet of EXTRA BUTTONS was attached right next to the big red "DAMAGED!" tag. I wound up getting this pair of pants for $11.99 instead of 14.99 in compensation for the two seconds it took me to sew on one of the (PROVIDED!) extra buttons. That, my blogfriends, I call a score.

I've had a similar experience at Banana Republic . . . a silk dress marked down from $150something to $29 which, because of a missing belt (that I didn't like anyhow) and a detached belt loop (which I planned to remove anyways), I got a DOUBLE 20% discount on for a grand total of $17.40.

There is a certain Bloomingdales in town that regularly accidentally marks things as on sale for a penny and will actually GIVE YOU THE ITEM FOR A PENNY if you catch the tag. This hasn't ever happened to me, but it has to my mom. Once for a pair of Earl Jeans! I'm assuming nobody is going to be able to beat that deal . . . but let's hear you try :) What has been your best shopping find so far (due to a mismarked tag, coupon combining or a sale)?