Sunday, January 30, 2011

Do Not Adjust Your Screen

I have done a little redecorating.  I have been wanting a blog design that is a little more expressive, so I updated my design to one of the new templates that allows for a banner image.  I have been debating whether or not to stick with Typepad. I have a blog with the same name at Blogger, too, just in case (it's blank). Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hey, That's MY Wine!

As I said in another post, this Christmas, I made wine glass id tags for my wine club, AOC. I had the idea because everyone was constantly wandering around pointing at random glasses and saying "Is that one mine? Is THAT mine?" So, it just made sense. But, like many of my ideas, I kind of had something in my head and no real plan. No matter.

I made sets of charms for a few friends awhile back, so I had an idea of what to do for the thingy that goes around the stem. I did not, however, have a concrete plan of how to personalize. I explored letter charms, letter beads, and metal tags and other tags from Etsy. I didn't get any of those and thought I'd be better off seeing things in person, which brought me to Michaels over Thanksgiving weekend.

As it turned out, Michaels had a crappy selection. I dragged my poor mother around that store to every department, and I know she was getting more than a little frustrated with me. (But she's used to it!) The jewelry department was fine for the earring rings that make up the charm holder. The tag part, I had trouble with. I eventually found something approximating what I wanted in...the wedding aisle! They were on clearance which cinched the deal. The problem was they said "thank you." Oh well, I knew I'd find a way to cover them up.

So, I assembled my tools:
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I started by choosing a colored or patterned paper for the "covering of the thank you" part. I did consider covering every one with cork and making them like wine corks, so I bought a roll of cork. But, once I tried one or two, I realized they weren't going to come out exactly as I wanted. I did do a few with it as an alternative, but doing every single one that way wasn't something I wanted. So, guess I'll be repurposing that for another project!

Once I chose the paper (in this case, spaghetti-printed for the cooking-themed one I was making), I used the tags as a template to cut the paper with a craft knife to fit. (Oh yeah, please ignore my weather-beaten dry hands!)
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I then applied the paper using Mod Podge, coating both surfaces with a brush.

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After applying the paper, I added letters and other embellishments to personalize them. In some, I could fit a whole name; in others, like this one, an initial. As you can see, I stuck a chef's hat sticker and spoon sticker on this for Jason, who is quite the chef and always makes delicious dishes when he hosts along with Lisa.

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 This whole thing is then covered with another coating of Mod Podge. Because these would see some abuse, I also covered them with some coatings of varnish.

The tags go on an earring ring. These are sold in huge packs usually at craft stores. I strung a few colored beads on, which serve both decorative and a practical function; they look cute and keep the tag positioned on the ring. The ends of these loops are unfinished when you buy them. To finish, simply curl the non-looped end up so that it will slide into the loop. This can be done with small pliers or your fingers. (Pliers shown here, dry fingers edited out!)
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I can't guarantee you won't lose the beads. I'm sure there's a way to prevent this, but my solution is going to be to replace them!  When you're done, you'll have finished products, like this:
PC140738 These would be super cute for wedding shower favors, cocktail party gifts for guests, or as hostess gifts--either alone or as gift tags for a bottle of wine or accompanying wine glasses.

I'd love to hear if you try this or find other fun ways!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Make Your Own Vanilla

I admit. I had no idea 1.) how vanilla extract was made or 2.) that it could be made in one's home.  Then, my wonderful cousin Lauren surprised me and other family members with these:

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Aren't they the cutest? And it turns out Lauren was ahead of none other than Ms. Martha! Because I opened Martha Stewart Living this month (Christmas gift!), and this is what I see.

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Lauren is so cutting-edge. What really surprised me is how EASY it is. I'm going to shorten this, but basically, you take vanilla beans, scrape out the seeds, and stick the pods in bottles with vodka...and then shake them every day for a month or two. That's it! I'm so going to try this one day once Lauren's runs out. I'm wondering if I can do the same with anise extract!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hangin' Tough

Why do I need to make every title cutesy? I just wanted to share the wine glass tags I made for my wine group, Another Oneophile Club. I realized that during one of our get togethers, people were constantly hunting for their glass, so I made personalized tags for the regulars! I plan on doing a step by step, but here are some of the finished products:
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Where possible, I tried to personalize to reflect people's interests and personalities, but for the most part, I just made them pretty. I'm not showing mine because it has my last name (the top of a cork from a wine with my name), and I'm still a wee bit paranoid about the Internet! :)
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Cool Yule

I've been told that my fans miss me. Sorry...I just haven't felt like blogging. Hopefully, this will get the juices flowing!

I spent about 10 days back home, and they went really fast. It was a somewhat hazardous holiday. Both my brother and his dog had "paw" injuries--my brother from cutting ham and my brother's dog from having my brother cut his nails. Doesn't he look sad? Notice the bandage.

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That's okay, he got LOTS of toys from Santa, including the one he's holding and using as a pillow. I got great stuff from Santa too, including toasty gloves, a great new Scanpan frying pan, and boiled wool slippers. Love them! Check out the velvet "coat" on the Scanpan!

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I had my own holiday party the weekend after New Year's--my Twelfth Night Tea. I love entertaining after the holidays. Why? Let me count the ways. 1.) it extends the holiday season; 2.) people aren't as crazed, so they can enjoy the party more; 3.) you get discounts on Christmasy party supplies; 4.) I'm less crazed so I can enjoy the party more!

I don't prepare for weeks before. That would be a sane thing to do, but unfortunately, that would negate the whole purpose of having it after the holidays because I'm too busy in December. No, I prefer to wait until a day or two before and work nonstop.

I had Friday off and so decided to work my magic that day. I had planned my menu a few weeks in advance, tweaking it along the way. I ordered most of the ingredients from Peapod (love it!). All of the stuff was able to be made ahead. Here's the menu:
And the results?
 
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Before guests arrived, I had a quiet moment:
 
 
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Yup, bar's all set...
 
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Let the guests arrive!

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 And Jake wins as the youngest guest in his cute puppy outfit from Christine! :)

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When guests left, I gave them a tea bag with a sticker commemmorating the event. Unfortunately, the stickers were illegible. Doh!
 
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