Wednesday, September 24, 2008

California here I come...

John and I are off to California, and just in time, too, as far as I can tell. It's supposed to start raining overnight here and not end until through the weekend. Of course, L.A. always has beautiful weather, so excuse me if I gloat a little. ;)

No idea what our plans are for the weekend, but it doesn't really matter. I'm just excited to see Shanon and Tim, so whatever we do is fine by me. I won't be posting over the trip, but come Tuesday expect a nice picture-filled California trip post.

See you then.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall is here!

The first day of autumn was a beautiful, cool day here in South Jersey, full of promise for a wonderful season. I wasn't able to do anything fall-ish today, but fall sugar cookies, pumpkin cookies and the like are in the works for the coming weeks. I'm still waiting for the leaves to change.

Happy fall!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New hair

I got a new haircut! I've been doing the part-in-the-middle, straight hair thing since I was 14, so I decided it was time for a change. It didn't turn out exactly as I imagined, mainly because I don't have the type of hair that would work best with the cut I was thinking about, but I think it's alright. I should have taken a photo yesterday after I left the salon, because today it doesn't look as good. How is it that you can never blow dry your hair as good as your stylist, no matter how slow and meticulous you are?

Anyway, my webcam can't seem to get a very good image because my hair is so dark, but it's parted towards the side now, I have long choppy bangs that are brushed to the side, and there are some subtle layers. I also had it died a couple shades darker than normal.

The best part of this haircut is that I can't just tie it back in a pony tail as easily, because of the bangs and layers. That was an objective, because I want to start having my hair look a little nicer than tied back all the time. Plus, I think it makes me look a little more my age. (Which is 25 in two weeks and one day!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pandowdy, buckle, crisp and crumble...

Mmm, New England desserts. They're full of berries and apples, peaches and plums, topped with streusel and oatmeal and homemade tea biscuits. There's plenty of maple flavoring, and a touch of molasses and generous dollops of creamy butter. And, of course, New England baking is full of silly words.

My mom and I took a "New England Baking" workshop at the Academy of Culinary Arts Wednesday evening. It was a delicious class packed full of tips and tidbits of the best from up north. We made many desserts: Apple Pandowdy, Peach and Plum Crisp, Indian Pudding, Very Cherry Berry Cobbler, Blueberry Buckle, Irish Tea Biscuits, Wet Streusel, Maple Pecan Scones... It certainly wasn't the best class to take on a diet, but I did a good job not gorging myself on all of the tempting treats.

The top photo is of the Very Cherry Berry Cobbler topped with Irish Tea Biscuits. I'm not a huge cranberry fan, but as you can imagine there are plenty of cranberries in New England baking. The cobbler was still delicious, though, and the biscuits were crisp, yet buttery and fluffy, too.

Below is the Peach and Plum Crisp, although we left out the plum. The difference between a cobbler and a crisp is that the cobbler has the thick, biscuit topping, and a crisp is topped with a crunchy coat, in this case butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, walnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. I'm in love with peach desserts, so this was especially delicious for me.

Next is the Maple Pecan Scone, which, yes, is in the shape of a maple leaf! This is actually the only dessert I tasted at the class - I split one with my mom. It had a subtle, sweet maple taste and was so, so smooth and buttery. I loved it. I'll definitely be making these at some point.

I brought home most everything for John to taste test (and I did a bit of taste testing with him myself), and last night he tried the Apple Pandowdy, Indian Pudding, Peach Crisp and Very Cherry Berry Cobbler. We both vetoed the Indian Pudding, but I think if it was served with vanilla ice cream I'd sing a different tune. He liked the other three, but when I asked him to pick a favorite he deliberated and then decided on the Apple Pandowdy.

"Because it's named after me," he said. And from there on out it became the Apple Pan-Dowd, in tribute to John's last name.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A bit of down time...

Not that there's ever actual down time at work, but I'm eating my lunch so I decided to take a teeny break.

I played with my Sculpey this weekend (pictures are forthcoming - I still need to glaze) and I'm so happy with how everything turned out, save for one or two items. I made mini pumpkin earrings, and they are too cute. Ever notice how if you make anything tiny, it's just cuter than normal? Like baby shoes - what's cuter than miniature high tops? Anyway. I also tried mini bats, which the charms by themselves I wasn't absolutely crazy over, but I love how I put them together with beads for earrings. I did mini pine trees (for Christmas), little Rudolphs (not thrilled with these) and - also too cute - little slices of pumpkin pie with dollops of whipped cream. Those are for earrings, too, and I think I'll make charms for necklaces to go with. Mmm... I love pumpkin pie.

I made some pumpkin pins and sets of mini pumpkins, which I think I'll bring to sit on my desk. I love how everything looks without glaze, so I think I'll shine up about half of the pieces, and leave the others natural.

If I have time, I'm going to do some more tonight. I think I want to try some other mini desserts (all the posts on Craftster with little pies, doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes, etc. are so sweet) and some more pumpkins, of course. I think some candy corn earrings could be very cute, too... We'll have to try that out.

Some of my Halloween decorations are MIA. My parents are nice enough to let me keep (lots of) my stuff packed away at their house, since my space is limited, but now we're missing a box. Plenty of time to find it, but I'm thinking about what's missing and I'm very sad - my witch lantern is a favorite, as well as my gourd jack-o-lantern.

Speaking of jack-o-lanterns, I had my glass fusion class yesterday and we made jack-o-lantern platters. The instructor took them all to fire up in her kiln, and we'll have them back in a week. I'll take a picture of the final product. Unfortunately, I was in a depressed kind of funk all weekend and therefore forgot to take pictures at the class. I'm going to try more glass fusion, though, so I'll remember to take pictures when I do.

And the sadness? It's lifting. I'm still a little down today - I can't even figure out why - but I can feel myself getting better. Oh, and I had a Pumpkin Spice Latte today, so no doubt that perked me up. Aside from feeling down, it was a very nice, relaxing, craft-filled weekend.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hole in one... sorta.

Today was the humane society's golf tournament. As I previously posted, I was in charge of the boards for Putting for Paws, where kids got a chance to take a swing for a $1 and win prizes. I made the boards out of that poster board/foam board stuff, paint and wooden sticks on the back to prop them up with. I didn't factor in the wind, so I had to prop the boards against the little flags on the putting green. That was the only disappointment. Otherwise, I'm very happy with how they came out.

Here's an action shot:

And this one was modeled after Chipper:

I don't know how much they made off of it. By the time I left we only had $10 - no one really brought their kids for the putting. I mean, how do you play golf and have little kids with you, anyway? It was still fun to do, though.

Tonight's agenda? Sculpey pumpkins and Obama T-shirts.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Clip clopping away

The Budweiser Clydesdales clip clopped their way through Somers Point earlier this week. They were beautiful, however they would have been more majestic if they were running through a snowy field pulling a sled like in all those commercials.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Putting for Paws... for kids!

So, this Saturday is the Humane Society's Golf Tournament. (Seriously - that's what it's called. It used to be Mulligans for Mutts, which is too cute, isn't it? But apparently the Board of Directors didn't think it was "appropriate.") Um, anyway, I am in charge of designing the boards for Putting for Paws, where little kids get to take a shot for a $1 and win prizes if they can get their golf ball through a hole.

Now, it's not that I don't want to make the boards. I do. I just have so many craft projects in the works that it's hard to stay focused! But I promised myself this week that no other crafting will be done until I finish the boards. Aside from cutting the holes out, one is completely painted, a second is 75% finished, and the third is not yet started. So... I should be able to finish tomorrow, Thursday at the latest. I think they're very cute so far. I'll post pictures after Saturday - I want to take them "in action" at the putting.

What's that? You're dying to know what craft projects are in the works? Alright, then. I'll tell you.

I'm itching to make some charms and pins out of my Sculpey (after all my crafty research). There are all these ideas spinning through my head for teeny clay pumpkins. I got some advice from Kim today on how to make earring charms. I think I'm going to make some owls, leaves and other autumn inspired things, too. I still need to buy glaze for the charms... I'm going to have to research that next. Unless someone has a suggestion?

Another project I want to get to are election T-shirts I'm making. The front will say: Barack the vote. And the back: Vote Obama Biden. I'm making one for me, Ryan and Felicia. Any other takers? John agreed to wear one, but his is going to say "Do you smell what Barack is cookin'?" on the front. (He likes wrestling, didn't you know?)

I need to paint some more styrofoam pumpkins, seeing as I have 10 left. I dropped off my first sets at Rosie's store (The Maple Tree) ) but I don't know if any sold yet. That's okay, though. I have plenty of friends I can give them to otherwise.

Now, since I've spent the last couple hours painting dogs and cats onto boards, I should probably get some actual work done for my job. You know, so I can make some money. Although, I saw a post on Craftster today from a girl who has been crafting into the wee hours of the morning because she's unemployed and has nothing better to do. And that got me to thinking... maybe I should become unemployed and craft all day. But then I figured I won't be able to buy much in the way of supplies if I'm not making any money.

So nix that idea. Time to do work.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Be thankful.

Today I interviewed:

• A man who is alive because he received an organ transplant five years ago. Until his new lung, he was living on oxygen for four years, 24 hours a day. When he was being wheeled into the operating room the first time, the transplant was canceled because the organ was damaged. He waited a year and a half more before he got a second phone call that there was a lung waiting for him. It came from a 19-year-old girl who died in a car crash.

• A 23-year-old woman who is in her second week of a five-week treatment of radiation. She found the mass in her chest in February. She was diagnosed with cancer in March. She finished her chemotherapy in July. After her radiation, she'll find out if she's cancer-free.

• A mother who lost her 25-year-old son in an accident one year ago. She and her family decided to donate his organs. His kidneys saved the lives of a 2-year-old and 12-year-old. His heart went to a 30-year-old. His liver went to a 51-year-old. Just this week the liver recipient's wife wrote a letter thanking this mother for choosing to donate her son's organs. It gave her husband another chance at life.

Be thankful. Be thankful for every day, every moment and every breath.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chipper's photo shoot

I had a little photo shoot with Chipper this afternoon. Turns out he's not a very cooperative subject. I did get a few cute shots, though. It was so beautiful outside today... really hinting at the coming season. I can't wait for the leaves to change. I kept meaning to take shots in John's neighborhood last year (he has the MOST gorgeous trees around there - vibrant, unreal shades of reds and oranges and yellows) but of course I never got around to it. This year is a must.

So, here are a few more Chipper shots. Isn't he cute?

I need to practice my in-motion photography. I thought I had my shutter speed set right, but I must have had to adjust something. Most of them were a bit blurry.

I'll leave you with a thoughtful Chipper. I think he was debating whether to continue eating the big branch, to pick his ball back up or to keep running around the back yard like a maniac. He opted for the branch.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hurricane Hanna

...was such a disappointment.

Don't get me wrong - I didn't want anything too major. But, after all this hype and preparation, a little bit of flooding or a brief power outage would have been nice. I hate when the weather forecasters predict this huge major catastrophe, and it's but a blip on the radar. We had a bunch of rain and some wind, and that was it.

And I live on an island. It wouldn't have taken much.

Well, as can be assumed, I guess, Ryan, Felicia, Piper and I were stuck in the house all day. I fielded frequent calls from my mom (which were much less frantic than last night) and assured her we'd head right over if the city suggested an evacuation. We watched a lot of television (way, way too much). I finished "What Was Lost" by Catherine O'Flynn (excellent!), read a bit more of Harry Potter, worked on some dream catchers and did a puzzle (yes... the entire thing). I realized late tonight I should have been working on the boards I have to paint for next week's Humane Society fundraiser, but I sort of forgot about that. I'll work on them tomorrow.

I wanted to work on some sculpey pins, but after much research I figured I need to use translucent liquid sculpey for bonding the clay. I had made pins last year and had some trouble with some of them, as far as antlers falling off of reindeer and snowmen losing their carrot noses. I, of course, couldn't go by any TLS today so I had to save the sculpey for another time. Shame.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Trick or Treat!

A local shop is interested in selling my "boo" pumpkins, so I made a few sets tonight to bring over. I decided to do a solo design on a larger pumpkin, too, and this is what I came up with:

I'm so, so happy with it. It's pretty much what I envisioned in my head, but usually those things don't ever quite come out to expectation. I was going to have a little ghost in the mix, but I was afraid it would come out too blobby as a silhouette. I have one more large pumpkin, and I might do another one of these with different costumes, or a creepy silhouette of a haunted house and decrepit fence. We'll see.

Here are a couple details, so you can get the full effect:

All I have left to do is paint lettering onto one set of "boo" pumpkins and then spray all of them to seal in the paint. I have three more sets I can do this weekend, along with that other large pumpkin.

I'm also making and canning pickles and salsas with my mom this weekend. We're a bit behind with our Christmas gift canning. But if we do this, and then some apple and pumpkin products in a month or so, we should be in good shape. I'm generally behind in Christmas stuff right now, though. I finished half of Stef and Bill's gift, part of one of Ryan's, and part of one of Felicia's. I'm set to make one of John's next week.

Otherwise... yeah. I have a lot of crafting to do!

Happy Birthday, Eric!

Eric's birthday was last Sunday, and I brought a cake in for him on Tuesday. He specially requested the symbol (from the cover his book which comes out widely in November - awesome, right?). It was vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.

The hardest part, aside from getting the symbol circular enough, was blending the yellow and orange icings so there was that gradient in the middle. I think it turned out really well, though. And Eric liked it, which is pretty much all that matters when it comes to birthday cakes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's baaaack!

Pumkpin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks. Enough said.