Rockin JB Custom Work

There is a new artist blowing up the Facebook pages. That'd be my little brother with Rockin JB Custom Work. Below are the Christmas gifts I've received from him the past three years. He made all of these items - the cross and book ends out of metal scraps and the purse out of a pair of old boots. Even the conchos on the purse are reused - they came from a belt he had as a child.

I carry my purse everywhere, and I've had folks just stop me and ask about it. The latest was in the Detroit airport.

Go to his Facebook page and see more of his great work!



iPhone photo of the week

This week's photo comes from my office. Oddly enough, I haven't been spending all of my time sitting there lately. Most of the time has been spent running from one meeting room to another, and I'm about to embark on another meeting day with little chance of getting to enjoy my new art work.

I made this drawing when I spent my weekend in the country. It's based off a picture my friend had in her house, and I used colored pencils to complete the drawing. I especially like the background, which I created using about five different colored pencils - sky blue, periwinkle, purple, royal blue, robin's egg blue.

On the iPhone camera: I could've used more light. I didn't do anything to this picture to edit it, and it could use a little lightening. This could be because I never turn on my overhead lights but my window faces north, so I only get filtered sunlight.


Shrimp for lifeGroup

It was my turn to host lifeGroup today. Each week, a group of us from The Church at Christ Memorial here in WI meet for food, fellowship and time to study God's word. Tonight, our worship included singing "Jesus Loves Me," which reminds me so much of sitting in the church during vacation bible school. But it also reminds me of how, even as a child, this was a stated fact. 

Before the singing began, I treated my friends as guinea pigs with a new dish. Other friends of ours have been kind enough to practice new recipes before getting nine people over for dinner with nothing else except one frozen pizza and the spaghetti noodles at home in case the experiment fails.

Here is the thought process that went in to this dish: "I have spaghetti noodles - a ton, I bought a package at Sam's" and then, "But I don't want spaghetti" followed by, "It's spring - it should be something with veggies" to "Shrimp sound good."

What I came up with was a Shrimp Pasta Primavera. I'm calling it LG Shrimp Pasta, and here is the recipe for my friend who not only asked for the recipe but was willing to take home some leftovers.

My LG Shrimp Pasta recipe

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (9 oz) bag fresh spinach
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 zucchini, diced
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
cooked pasta
Parmesan cheese

1)   In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until onions are crsip-tender.  Add more oil as necessary during cooking
2)   Add mushrooms
3)   Add zucchini,
4)   Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
5)   Add shrimp to pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through.
6)   Add spinach and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently until spinach is wilted.
7)   Add white wine to pan, stirring to combine
8)   Add butter, stirring to melt
9)   Serve immediately over pasta

I didn't come up with this recipe completely on my own - here are my sources:

A couple of additions/caveats:
1) I have no idea what "crisp-tender" means for onions. What I did was cook them in the olive oil until I was done cutting up veggies
2) Measurements are a guess. I filled up my big skillet/wok with veggies and shrimp, and it fed eight adults and one kid with leftovers enough for two meals
3) When your pot is very full, it takes a bit for the spinach to wilt. I put the lid on and then went pack and stirred it in
4) Notice the lack of salt and pepper on the ingredients list. I'm horrible at remembering to season things, which is why I'll never make it on Top Chef. I ended up putting a sprinkle of Kosher salt in and then 3-4 dashes, oh and one for good measure of Special Shit. If you don't know what Special Shit is, go here. This is the secret to my cooking. I bought mine at the county Ace Hardware (not WI, but back down home). You're lucky they have a website, because otherwise you'd be out of luck. I can only get so much back in my suitcase. Speaking of which, BLady, I might need another jar. I think mine will stretch another month or so.

To finish out the meal, we had some fresh fruit, bread, a yummy salad and beverages, including Supper Club from Capitol Brewery (thanks guys for the contribution to dinner). 

I was assured of one success with dinner, even if we were eating peanut butter and jelly - dessert. I made a pan of Lemon Bars (thanks mix from the grocery store) last night that turned out perfectly.


Rainy days and cleaning

Unfortunately, I don't have any new crafty things to add to the blog today. It was gray, cold, rainy and windy - the kind of weekend where you just want to curl up with a stack of DVDs under a blanket on the couch.

That's not what I did this weekend. I spent the cleaning my apartment before my lifegroup from church comes for dinner tomorrow. I also repotted some plants and went grocery shopping.

There was also the chance for creative expression. I made several pillow houses in my living room and drew pictures of a backhoe, an airplane and a helicopter. You may have guessed it; I was babysitting my favorite little guy. It was so much fun to crawl around on the floor and watch a wooden spoon transform from a guitar, to a drum stick, to a sword and then back to a spoon.

So, I don't have any new craft projects to post from this weekend. But don't worry, I've got a few things cooking that I want to tell you about this week. There will be plenty after next weekend, too; BLady, Megs and I are meeting up for a girls' weekend full of shopping and ideas.


Happy Earth Day!

So, I did celebrate Earth Day yesterday with a new DIY necklace. This was made from one of the t-shirts that I dyed a while back - it's the same color material as the puff paint t-shirt . I got the idea from an issue of Body + Soul that I read at my friend's house in the country.

tshirt necklace

1) Lay a t-shirt out flat and cut strips. The magazine article said to use a rotary cutter, but since I don't own one of those, I tried to cut even strips by hand. It worked out pretty well.

2) Stretch out the loops until they curl.

3) Double the bunch of loops, and tie the back with a scrap of the same t-shirt


I think this would be really pretty with charms attached at intervals to the loops.

What else did you do for Earth day? One of my friends at work biked to work. Besides new jewelry out of something that I had at home, all I did was make sure that I turned off the big monitor on my desk when I left (after a reminder from another coworker).


iPhone photo of the week

IMG_0281This weekend, I house sat for some friends who live "out in the country." My time was divided between hiking and walks with their dog Jake, napping and reading magazines and a book. I also had to keep an eye on the chickens. I took this picture while, Jake, the chickens and I enjoyed the sunny hilltop.


Shoe shopping

The warm weather has my feet itching to be in new shoes. This season, I presented myself with a new challenge - find a pair of cute and stylish sandals that I can also walk in all day. For some folks, this may not be as hard as it was for me, but I tend toward sandals that are made with a couple of leather straps stuck into a piece of board with no arch support or cushioning.

Several Endless orders later, I have it narrowed down to three pairs. All are Dansko shoes, and each has a different look.

Shoe shopping
Left to right: CelinaMila, and Sigrid

And, the winner is....Sigrid in black!

These shoes will be perfect for all my walking adventures this summer. I'll probably wear them every day


iPhone photo of the week

Yummy. French toast with berries and whipped cream was on the menu for breakfast, thanks to Jenny Craig. I've been going to Jenny Craig for about a year and half now. Not only has it helped me lose weight, but it makes grocery shopping simple and food prep very easy. All I had to do was microwave the french toast, cut up some strawberries, and add a dollop of lite Cool Whip to have this yummy looking breakfast.

Now, the iPhone alone  didn't make the food look this yummy. I used the Camera Bag app for iPhone to apply a Helga effect to the picture. This is one of my favorite iPhone photo apps to play with because you can change the look of the picture by scrolling through the possible views. It recreates the look of different cameras and film. 

When I searched for a link to include above for more information about the app, I found that it is also available for desktops. I am going to have to think about getting this for quick photo editing.

Spring flower makeover

I'm halfway through switching my closet to spring. Last night, I went through everything in my closet and drawers, pulling out things that I didn't wear all winter to determine if they should a) go directly to Goodwill or the church-wide rummage sale or b) live another season in clothing purgatory (a big rubbermaid box in my storage unit).

Today, I'll go through the rubbermaid boxes and swap out summer stored clothes for winter. Yay! Then, it's fashion show time, determining how can I put existing clothes together in new ways to update for 2010.

I've already added a few accessories to my collection to help the spring transformation.

These floral beauties came from OwlEyes Accessories over at Etsy. The orange flower bunch is a big pin made out of felt. It will liven up my denim jackets and cardigans and also add some more of my favorite-color-of-the-moment to my wardrobe (it's orange).

Hanging out on my gray Toms are blue flower shoe clips. I got the idea to use shoe clips on my Toms after Megs and I talked about getting 'mod-ing' our Toms. Now, my Toms can have multiple personalities without any lasting changes.


What would you make?

Do you watch Project Runway? If you do but you haven't seen this week's episode, I promise I won't give away who won or who lost. The challenge was to create a high-end runway look based on what the designers saw at the circus.

One of my favorite reasons to watch Project Runway is that I will sit there and image what I would make. This week, I happened to have a pad of paper and pencils laying on the coffee table, so I paused the DVR playback and sketched what I would make. This assumes that I have wonderful sewing skills, so I don't have to worry about the logistics of making the outfit. 

This is my "high-end runway look based on the circus":


Like several of the designers, I was inspired by the coat the ringmaster wore. This would be a faux-shirt dress with a puff skirt. The whole thing would be skillfully constructed out of red silk dupioni (my favorite type of fabric). The top would be very fitted but have some reinforcement so that it stood up on the shoulders. To add a little sparkle, I would have an under tank out of red sequin fabric. In the back, the top would also be very fitted and scoop down in the back.

Then, I would make a pair of fuchsia satin slim pants. Almost leggings. Of course, I wouldn't have to worry about the common problems with "weird-crotch" as Michael Kors would say, because the dress would cover that portion of my model. But, what am I saying, I can sew impeccable clothing in this fantasy.

To further evoke the ring master, I think I would make a headpiece, just a flat black satin circle to sit in the model's hair.

After I was done sketching, I returned to watching the episode. You should watch the show and tell me if Heidi would have told me 'auf Wiedersehen'.


Warm weather clothes

This weekend, I'm planning to go into my storage unit and haul out a couple of big rubbermaid containers. These boxes contain most of my warm weather wardrobe, which has been banished since mid September. Now, it's time to put away the sweaters although the freak snow storm last night made me think that I should keep out at least a sweatshirt.

Pulling out those boxes is going to take a lot of energy, which I still don't have a ton of, so I'm saving it for Saturday morning after a good sleep. Also, I need to sift through the rest of the junk in storage for things to put in the church rummage sale.

So, since I can't wear my warm weather clothes because they're in storage and it's two cold, I decide that I should go shopping for more! Shopping online is fun, because you can see everything that you're thinking of spread out. I prefer shopping at sites that have brick and mortar stores where I can return the purchases if something doesn't fit.

I came across this fun tool at one of my favorite sites - Boden. Okay, I haven't actually bought anything from there but I love all of their clothes and one day I will. Especially, when I can see how the whole outfit will come together with their outfit maker.

For cross-site dressing, I still prefer Polyvore. Here is what I wish I could wear to work tomorrow. Oh, if only spring would get to WI!
PortA and summer clothes


Laptop Bags

Several folks that I know, including Megs, have purchased laptops recently and need new bags. They've each asked me about what I use, what I like, how it travels, and where to find good bags. One friend was more interested in the backpack style that I use for work, so I expounded on the benefits of having a bag with a couple of compartments and space to shove my purse in if the TSA folks strictly enforce the two carry on rule (I do make sure that all my bags will fit inside just two carry ons so that I am always compliant, even if I don't appear that way). 

Megs wanted something a little more fun. I also have an every day tote bag for carrying my laptop, notebook, pens, water bottle and whatever detritus is floating around the bottom. For this, I use a purple seatbelt bag from Harvey's. I figure, what could be more indestructible than a seatbelt. And, in fact, it has survived two years of daily use and even a few plane trips looking remarkably like new. 

Still, I couldn't help but start my own search for a new bag, just in case my current bag were to bite the dust. Since that isn't going to happen soon, I would definitely look first at a Harvey seatbelt bag in the future.

From left, Vinyl laptop bag, American ApparelUrban Junket-t.o.t.e Laptop bag;  Seatbelt bag, Harvey's; eBags Savvy laptop tote, Walmart;  Icon charm laptop tote bag, Target;  Orla Kiely Buzy Lizzie laptop bag, Muse Ten; Bueno Chevron Computer bag, Target

Or, I could get really crafty and make my own. I have a ton of plastic bags, so I may have to try this project to make a backup for the days when I'm not feeling the purple bag. How to - fuse plastic bags into a laptop case 


Happy Easter

God's blessings to you on this happy Easter! Wherever you are, I hope that you got to enjoy hearing the good news once again surrounded by family and friends. My family may have been far away, but the wonders of speaker phone made me feel almost as if I was there with them. The only things I really missed were the pancakes after church (just kidding BLady, I wish I could've had those peeps, too!)

Here is my list of all the things that I wanted to do today. I have new supplies and a couple of new craft toys laying around here, but I couldn't summon up the energy to do much with them this weekend. It's been a rough couple of weeks, with back to back to almost back travel and other work in between. I'm now going to be home for all of the next week (meaning not traveling, not on vacation by any means), so expect to see a couple of these projects come to fruition. 

Still, yesterday, I did go on an inspiration and supply gathering trip. First, I visited my favorite store on State Street - Anthology. The store is almost everything I need for supplies, ideas and a general feeling of craftiness. In addition to a pack of paper scraps and some buttons, I also got a Fiskars large block party squeeze punch. There are so many possibilities - I can't wait to show you the mess I'm gonna make with that thing.

I also stopped at the art supply store on State for the first time. Oh my goodness, if I didn't love my apartment, I'd have to move downtown just to be within walking distance of these two places! I am now the happy owner of some more iDye, other fabric dyes, two paint brushes and a pack of color-bleeding tissue paper.

So, with supplies and a couple of good nights' worth of sleep and a nap, I think I'm ready to hit the week both for real work and crafts/blogging crafts.

iPhone photo of the week

Spring has come to WI! It really has, and I've seen it. Here, the young buds are set against the bright clear blue sky that was gray just an hour before.

Now for a critique of the iPhone camera for taking pictures. I tried to focus on the closest bud. Several shots did not capture the look I was going for. This is the closest one. The size of the screen also makes it hard to tell what you've captured exactly until you get it back to a computer. Reminds me a tiny bit of taking film pictures. It was (is?) exciting to see what you had captured after the moment had passed. I often found myself looking at a stack of pictures or negatives wondering what I was trying to accomplish with the picture.