Thursday, January 28, 2010

5-Star Chocolate Cake

Did I actually just eat half a (small, okay) chocolate cake in almost 24 hours?
Yes, I did and it was worth every bite!
I mean, just look at this baby.
My homemade buttercream could be thicker, I suppose...But what can I say?
I'm afraid of all that powdered sugar!

Anyway, this cake deserves to be called both "The Best Chocolate Cake in the World," and "Super Moist Chocolate Cake," 'cuz that's what it is!
Although I am not a vegan, for some reason, I go vegan for most of my baking recipes.
I enjoy the more wholesome ingredients and figure it can't be all that bad for ya, either.
So, VegWeb is one of my favorite sources for vegetarian as well as vegan recipes. I've been a member for like, six years and it is my go-to spot for a solid recipe or idea.
You can find this wonderfully cake recipe here. I highly recommend it;
especially if you are a chocolate cake freak, like myself.
I made a simple (non-vegan) buttercream frosting:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup of powdered sugar
Tiny splash of vanilla
3 chopped strawberries mashed with a fork.
Whip the butter until its light yellow.
Add sugar and vanilla, keep beating with mixer.
Add the berries, fold 'em in or if you are lazy like me, dump them in and keep the mixer going.
Either way, you can't go wrong with homemade frosting...with
no scary chemicals and ingredients. Yummy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Whole Lotta Craftin' Goin' On...

Since the coming of the new year, I have been in creative overdrive and it has been wonderful!
Lots of looong crochet scarves. Well, the pink/black one on the left and the orange/pom-pom scarf were both fingerknitted. The white one is a long popcorn chain scarf. It looks pretty cute as a belt, too! I'm going to attach some crochet-rosettes to the "mint ice" one below.

Another shrug made from an Old Navy t-shirt I had not worn in over eight years!
Yay, for clothing reincarnation! :)
I am pretty happy with this one and am planning on wearing it real soon under a bulky black sweater. It was made from one of my many thrifted XL tees.
The little appliques on the front are iron-on peacock feathers.

...And here is the refashion I am most proud of at the moment.
Remember this old hoodie of mine that I cut-up last week?
Well, it has been given quite the "face-lift" and now belongs to
the best little girl in the whole wide world.

I attached a pink hoodie from a sweatshirt she outgrew.
I kept it sleeveless but she really wanted to wear the black turtleneck today...not the pink one Mama picked out.
I sewed this cool multi-colored rick-rack down the sides of the zipper and at the top of the pockets for accent. I attached a vintage heart charm dangling from a polka-dot ribbon to the zipper pull...and that's it!

Oh, yeah- I made a couple of super-cute bow headbands for her using Elsie's adorable
bow tutorial.
This one just happens to match perfectly.
She wore her new "dress" proudly today.
It gives me so much joy to know that she is wearing something I made just for her.
My little one, I would make a quilt out of the world
and give it to you, if I could.

Hope you are enjoying your week.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Staten Island Years: Broken Bits and Pieces

Photo taken by my new favorite (French) photographer, Cedric Bihr.

So happy to have accidentally found this wonderful photographer tonight in my bloggy travels.

I wish I could remember exactly how I found him, but you know how it is once you fall down the rabbit hole of blogs and links! Anyway, I think I am going to write to him, asking his permission to use the photo for this particular section of my "book." (Yes, I'm using the term loosely).

It's just too perfect, with that ferry trudging ominously into the distance from the "Manhattan" side. With that, I thought I'd share some of the entries I've written for the chapter.


He gave the stray food,

She was deathly allergic.

Mom made them keep it.


Windows front and back

Wood floors lead from room to room

This is where we died.


Auto mechanic,

Artist, antique-store owner

All of them, but you.

Perhaps a bit on the dark side. But oh, so much fun to write and like I said a few posts ago,

wonderfully healing and therapeutic. Each chapter is another "milestone" section of my life.

I am loving this ongoing writing project.

Blessings for your week, All. xoxo

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tag. I'm it!

I was tagged the other day by the most adorable April and so I'll play along, have some fun, and share some more...
7 Things I Love Lately~
1. My Daughter's Artwork, Writing, and Crafting
My girl is just blossoming in the art department lately. Some of her recent creations include a birdseye view of her classroom (from above!), her own town complete with parks, a store, houses, a road, and a school. She just handed me her, "very own paper chicken!"
Two days ago she turned a pudding cup into a holder for her "smencils."
Can you tell how proud I am of her?
2. God (When I asked my daughter what I love lately...She said, "People," then "God." So, God, it is!)
When we can't get to church, I listen to podcasts of sermons online.
I try to start our day with some type of inspirational music.
Me and my daughter pray and sing together each night before she goes to sleep. Later, I work on bible study (right now its the 30 Proverbs in 30 days), prayer, meditation, reading and/or journaling.
If nothing else...I never forget to say "thank-you," for the beautiful life He has given me.
3. Sewing!
I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't love sewing. However, I have been sewing-obsessed.
I have started a small notebook that I carry around with me, just for sewing/crafting ideas now.
I am IN LOVE with reconstructing our old clothes and (too)many thrift-shop finds.
I feel so refreshed and renewed while sitting at my machine these days. It is wonderful.
4. All of our January get-togethers and gatherings
Lots of birthday parties, school gatherings, re-unions, family dinners, and time spent with friends both old and new.
Not to mention Cub's upcoming play, "Bye, Bye, Birdie."
January has been oh, so busy...but so much fun.
5. Conan O'Brien-
Who said recently,
"If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen to you."
In a world that seems all too controlled by the Media Machine,
you stood bravely for what you believed was right.
My Man, I've always liked you...but now I respect you, too.
6. Nail Polish
I was off the nail polish for a while...After so many years of being crazed with it.
I think at one point, while living in nyc, I had at least one shoebox full in my fridge.
Well, I've rediscovered it and the darker the color, the better.
My current favorite brand is NYC - affordable, good quality, and fun colors- all named after nyc neighborhoods. Today, I bought a really cool blue-black called, "West Village." Love.
7. My Autobiographical Haiku Art Book Project
I have been searching so long for the appropriate written medium-
for the most comfortable way to pen fragments of my memoir, of sorts.
There are several sections and then sub-sections.
There are photos and collages that I have been working on as well.
My current section: "Staten Island Years: Broken bits and pieces."
This has been a miraculous and enormous release for me.
Don't know where it will end, but the creative journey is wonderfully healing.
Wow! Looking back over these seven things...I realize there could easily be 7 more.
(Silly, trivial things, too: Dunkin' Donuts hot chocolate, the music of the gorgeous Goldfrapp, rediscovering board games- again, my crock-pot...and the not so trivial...being in love, thinking about adopting, and my amazing family whom I love and appreciate more and more each day!)
There are so many things, people, and activities that I simply adore.
Yup, I LOVE life and living and everything that goes along with it.
I am blessed!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Have you heard about Molly?

I have been touched by this young woman's spirit and heart.
Thank you, Becky Ramsey for sharing.
I am reading Molly's blog and I am saddened, yet so inspired.
At 22 years of age, she has left behind quite a legacy.
My new heroine.
Maybe she will be yours, too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Under (Re)Construction!

Three day weekend, You've been so good to us!
Aside from brief bouts of the yuckies, our days have been filled with friends, shopping for goodies, yummy food, and wonderful parties!
Mama's evenings have been filled with sweet company, music, meditation, lots of sewing, and as of yesterday...good movies!
As you can probably tell, I have become very ambitious with preparations for my upcoming pledge. I now have two boxes of clothing to reconstruct. Yes, Cub now has her own little stash. Come spring, she will have some interesting (eh-hem) new pieces in her wardrobe!
I finished one shrug last night and made another this morning: grey with cranberry satin ribbon. Very cute for Mama come spring.
Turns out this was the number one tutorial of 2009 over at Cut Out and Keep It,
and I can see why. These things are so easy and addicting to make!

Here is a sneak peak at an overhaul I'm giving an old piece of clothing of mine.
I haven't worn it in many years. But it was so sentimental to me I couldn't say good-bye to it, either. So I'm giving it a second life and will be so happy to wear my (old) new friend!
I attacked a well-worn hoodie I don't wear anymore, too.
The black hood is currently being pinned to a scarf I made with black t-shirt-to make one of those hooded-scarf thingies.
I cut off the arms and here is what I'm doing with the rest:

I had Cub put it on and pinned it to her form. I am attaching a pink hoodie that I cut from a sweatshirt that didn't fit her anymore...And soon it will be called her "new jumper!"
Yay for making new things out of the old!
And here is something I found this morning when I turned on my computer.
It is the perfect phrase for the three little antique frames I found in LI two summers ago.
I've been waiting for the perfect inspiration and I've finally found it.

( Thank-you always to KIND OVER MATTER)

What a beautiful message for us to display in our home, yes?

Have a blessed day, Friends.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Clothing Recon #'s 3 & 4 and an Upcycle by Cub

I've been having so much fun reconstructing tee-shirts lately.
Yesterday, I purchased lots of shirts at the thrift mart. Many dkny with all that well-made jersey- I can't wait to make: tunics, scarves, t-yarn, dresses, knickers, and more.
I even found a dress I'm going to dare to reconstruct. (dkny organic line. Whoa!)
Thanks to all the crafty ladies out there for making those inspiring youtube tutorials I've been devouring!
Here is a simple shirt I dolled-up yesterday...just cuts and ribbon. I sewed the bows down for extra security.

And this shawl/capelet/belt whatever is much cuter in person, I promise.
It was a rush-job in the wee hours...after watching and crying a lot about Haiti.
I still have to trim-up those strays and stretch it a bit more, but it looks very cute over a camisole. Not Batwoman or Goth, really!
Whitney is my new hero. Love her.
I will make another one of these. Emerald Green or Ivory.
And I'll take my time to make it all even and pretty.
On the topic of my latest favorite obsession, I was touched and inspired by this talented woman's post today. Yes, it is so much better for the planet to make do with what we have...And that dress is adorable!
I am so ready to buy less and make more. Glad so many of us are on the same page here.

And here is Cub's very own creation...A headband made of the yarn Mama accidently left behind on the floor and a gift bow.
She makes me so proud...following the crafty-footsteps. I love it.

PS: Check-out big girls new earrings. She got them pierced this week. A coming-of-age for sure. I've been reading a lot about turning six. It's a magical transition from 5-6. Children are said to leave their "heavenly"bodies and ground themselves in their "earthly" ones. (sniff, sniff) That makes me just a wee bit sad for some reason. I can really see this transition, too and it is miraculous, to say the least. What an honor and blessing to be a parent, sharing and observing the daily growth, development, and all the love she gives to the world and to her Mama.

Maybe that dream of the Mother-Daughter craft shop/studio/school
will really come true one day...

Peaceful Sunday, Everyone.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Heart Saturday Morning

Weekend plans may have to be put on hold until this Mama feels better.
Under the weather, but here are some things around the house that are bringing me joy this morning.
Aside from listening to lots of Melanie...
A beautiful gourd we found in Long Island this fall. The stem grew like that long after we brought it home. It reminds me of a pretty pear. Me and my girl both love this a lot.
So simple and unique in its perfection.

Macro-shots of new yarn for a few fun projects make my heart race just a little.

And this has been making me the HAPPIEST of all.
My girl has really taken off with her writing!
She did this completely unassisted.
It was a surprise for me last night...A follow-up to the paper heart she left in my room the day before.

My Girl, you are Mama's beating heart.
I am so proud of you!

Enjoy your Saturday, Friends.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Funny Story and My Second Reconstruction

Just a cute backstory to a new craft I've been having a lot of fun with lately:
The other night, a very dear pal was over and she went on my computer to check her facebook. She logged me out of my page and logged on to hers. No problem.
The night went on...cookies were made and eaten, lots of laughs were had then everyone went home. Of course, this Mama stays up late enjoying her quiet crafty time. I jumped on the computer and taught myself how to finger knit...A simple, lovely, craft.
I was so excited I just had to share...So I blabbed on Facebook:
"Finger Knitting a neckwarmer!"
Then I saw the little profile photo pop-up beside it and it was my beautiful friend, who has so many talents: healer, communicator, compassionate humanist, excellent listener, brilliant advice-giver...You get the idea. She is AWESOME. However, she is not a crafter, and is probably the absolute last person who would finger knit a neckwarmer!!
I logged out of her page quickly and realized this could possibly be interesting.
The next morning, my friend said, "So, I'm finger-knitting a neckwarmer, huh?"
She showed me all of the comments she received as a result of my accidental "hack" into her status update, and we laughed hysterically at the responses:
"Interesting. Who are you planning to strangle?"
"Could you make one to strangle my neighbor, he is a monster?!"
Yes. We had a good laugh. On my update, the best comment was, "What the ****is finger-knitting?
Well, I'm proud to display the results of my first finger-knitting party.
I made a bra top (which you won't see!) and this neck warmer...and I don't plan on strangling anyone with it!! LOL!
This, my dears, is FINGER KNITTING:

Delicate and pretty, yes?
I'm going to have fun creating lots of accesories with this technique. I'm already working on a funky twisty scarf with some thick yarn.
I highly reccomend watching some youtube and trying it for yourself.
This is something I plan on teaching my Cub.
Now, for my second clothing recon.
1) I took this old, thrifted cardigan I never wear out of the donation pile and had some fun.

I stayed up into the wee hours transforming it into a nifty sweater scarf and I am in love with the result. I was inspired by this tutorial.
2) I changed the buttons on the sweater and tied thin satin ribbon bows into the button holes.
I whip-stitched around the edged and done.

It is warm and toasty, too.
Perfect for the cold and crispy weather we're having.
Am I the only one who loves this cold?

Happy and blessed Sunday, Everyone.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Project 6- Here I Come!

Photo courtesy of Craft Hope
My heart was filled to the brim tonight after opening the recent Craft Hope post and learning that Project 6 is finally underway.
I found Craft Hope over the summer and was so happy to find that someone is actually organizing the craft community to help those in need- all over the world, too!
What a brilliant, loving and kind idea.
Jade Sims, you are an angel!
This next project is especially near and dear to my heart as the scarves will be sent all over the country to thousands of teens in foster care.
What a great feeling to know that something I make will be sent to someone I've never met...and that my scarf will help to keep them warm.
What a nice way to reach out to someone.
I can't wait to find the perfect unisex crochet pattern. That should be easy.
Funny, because earlier tonight, I bought a big skein of one of my favorites...Lion Brand Hometown USA yarn in red!
The deadline is February 14th, how appropriate!
So, I think I'll add this to my Crafty-To-Do-List for the weekend (More realistically like the coming weeks!) :
1. Finish the no-sew blanket for my sweet friends.
2. Complete that sock monkey I started a few nights ago!
3. Darn that last pair of booties and complete an overdue ornament.
4. Work on the crochet Kingston Hat I also began this week.
5. More Finger Knitting! I have so many ideas and I am in love with this at the moment!
6. Oh, yes. Make some more t-yarn to finger-knit with. I think it would be perfect.
7. Work on embellishing that retro-style photo frame I've been thinking about.
8. Headbands and more headbands!
9. More 3-D religious inspired the future.
10. Tee-shirt reconstructions. I watched at least an hour of them last night!
11. Sew a zipper into my green crochet pouch.
12. Start and finish Cubs "Princess and the Frog" themed pillow-case!
Can you tell I've had crafting-mania lately?
Yes, it is true...but blissful. I'm loving it...So inspired and having so much fun!
Happy Friday Evening to you...
May your weekend be filled with joy and blessings.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Latest Obsession: Discontinued Yarn

It all started when I fell in love with this Caron shrug pattern.
I know one of the reasons I love it so much is the yarn and that d-ring. Cool, yes?
Oh, then the yarn name, "Black Magic." Ohhhhh. Interesting.
A very short search revealed that sadly, this yarn was discontinued.
Hmmmm. I never thought about that before!

Just look at this yarn! What can I say? I love it! If I were a yarn, I think I would be this one!
I'm a sucker for a 70's color palette...and then that whisper of metallic yarn running throughout.
That sealed the deal for me.
So off to ebay I went in search of my Black Magic.
Sadly, I don't think anyone has four skeins of any of it.
Well, maybe one seller. But I'm still waiting to hear from her.
Oh, the things I could make with this.
I have so many ideas. Too many!

Here is one purse I am cuckoo over. I MUST...I WILL make this for myself...After I get my hands on some more of this, that is!
(Am I the only one out there that gets really excited about things like this?!)

While up late cruising around for discontinued yarn, I ran into this absolutely adorable capelet...
Coats and Clark...I'll never sleep again with all of those yummy patterns!
I think last night I copied at least fifteen free pattern numbers into my project log.
Looks like I'll be wonderfully busy for a while.

Anyway, the saga continues 'cuz the yarn used for this creation is also...
Moda Dea Cache in Rave...Where are you? Back to ebay.
Turns out this is a bit easier to find. At least Moda Dea lists all of their discontinued yarn on their site...Wow. I wish I had a ton of money to buy up all of these chunky, bright yarns, with their metallic threads and retro-flavor!
Love Moda Dea yarn.
I guess now I know I have a "type" because these two have a lot in common!
See for yourself. Sigh...

So, yeah. I've been up later than I should the past few nights.
I've bought lots of discontinued funky yarn.
I'm happy! Excited! Can't wait to make stuff!
And now I'm tired.
Thanks for letting me share.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Inspiration Everywhere

Looks like I'm already gearing up to take the two-month Wardrobe Refashion pledge. I must admit, I'm getting pretty excited and inspired after reading what many creative people are doing over there daily. Awesome. I've started putting aside pieces of our clothing for refashioning instead of the usual donations. I love having an ongoing project such as this to prepare for.

I wasted no time getting to work after seeing this lovely scarf posted on the very first day of the year! Late last night I removed some tired black buttons from this recently thrifted cardigan and spruced it up with some vintage pearl buttons. Here's a two-for-one shot of both!

The scarf was originally given to Cub, who never wanted to wear it.
However, the ruffle and large button have won over my girly-girl.
I guess we'll be sharing this one, which is definitely all right with me.

A trip to a favorite dollar store is always a source of creative inspiration. Tonight, I scored a pack of 8 zippers in rainbow colors - perfect for my new crochet pouch obsession...and some pink and white knee socks with black skullies are presently being transformed into my very first...


I've been wanting to make one of these for a while. This is a super tutorial, if you'd like to join me.

Have a happy week! xo

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Fine Art of Procrastination:

1. Finally make all that Peppermint Bark you were going to before the holidays.Preferably do this while simultaneously preparing two separate dinners. (Plus, kale chips, that were amazing; even Cub crunched on a few!)

2. In the middle of melting the white chocolate, try dipping some pretzels in, the way
they did on all those nifty tutorials you were reading last week (while home relaxing...Ahhh.).
These are really yummy, by the way...and addicting!

3) After being completely wired on sugar from all the bark and pretzels consumed with a strong cup of tea, read two veeeeery long stories to your little one before putting her to bed, organize all of your WIPS, wash a gazillion dishes for the umteenth time today, chat a bit with a friend,
and stroll around the grounds over here until you find something you just HAVE
to make...
4) Go ahead and crochet that flower headband (First photo above...too tired and lazy to re-do the order!) and then...
share the madness!
I can't believe my vacation is over. I guess I'm still awake because I really don't want it to end. It was absolute perfection. It was sweet and delicious. One of the best winter breaks EVER!
...And I'm going to miss my little girl like crazy tomorrow.
Best wishes for the upcoming week, Everyone!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Must Make and Do In 2010 (The Abbreviated Version!)

Happy New Year, All.
I can't help but look ahead to just a few things I'm going for in the upcoming year.
Here is a sampling from my larger list of simple goals:

1) A weekend visit to this ashram with my daughter.
Very soon.

2) A New Abode...Destination Unknown.
This is going to be ours someday (in Paris)!
Ha, ha...Why not dream big?
Thanks, (now defunct) Domino magazine for the lovely inspiration.

3)Continuing my love affair with CROCHET and making lots of
vintage-inspired coin purses and clutches, like the one below and this cutie.

4)To eventually join Wardrobe Refashion and begin with a 2-month pledge.
Hey, I have to start somewhere!

5) And when I am in the throws of my 2-month pledge...
I'm going to make this dress with all of those ties I've been collecting.
I luuuuuv this dress!

6) More prayer, yoga, meditation and overall focus on healthy living.
Here's to a magical and blessed year ahead.