Saturday, January 31, 2009

House tour: living room, part one.

I keep finding myself wanting to blog about projects I did awhile back, which seems a little silly in some respects, as this should be about what I'm doing now, not something I did last year. A good solution came to me in the idea of a weekly house tour segment, exploring the various nooks and crannies of my home.

I thought I'd start with the side table in my living room. Looking at this picture now, I actually think the table is a bit overcrowded, which hadn't occurred to me before. My aesthetic definitely does not fall into the minimalist, bare room with just a few little trinkets displayed kind of decorating style. Quite the opposite, I'm always buying new stuff and trying to figure out how to cram it all into the same space. Anyway, I'll probably rearrange this a bit in the near future, but am regardless continuing with the tour.

I do like the top shelf, and would probably not change too much here.

I made the stuffed cat from a pattern from
this book. Part of me wants to make tons more, each in a different patterned fabric, and then line them all up in a row. Maybe one day.

I bought this letter organizer as a way to, well, organize my mail, remember to pay bills, etc. But now I pay most of my bills online so this has become more of a showcase for various cards and paper items I've received.

I discovered not too long ago that typewriter ribbons came in an amazing assortment of beautifully designed tins. This is one of my favorites.

I used record covers I found in the dollar bin to create these storage boxes. The tutorial can be found in
this book.

Some of the boxes I've made have been used to house cassette tapes, pens, and the like. These two are filled with old family photos.

I'm not really sure why but I love antique skeleton keys. I bought these at a flea market not too long ago, and haven't been able to figure out what to do with them just yet. I thought about stringing them on some twine and hanging them on the wall, but then they all clump together and you can't really see all of the individual detail. More brainstorming on this will occur in the near future. Either way, this was not intended to be their permanent spot.

A stack of postcard sets (I am a postcard-buying fiend). The top one is a collection of thaumatropes.

Underneath the table is an old wooden bin I got at a flea market over the summer, which I use to stash all of the knitting projects I'm in the middle of.

The glowing fireball--err, lamp--believe it or not, was a $10 Ikea purchase. I'm not the hugest fan of Ikea (maybe it's the whole big box store thing that turns me off, not to mention my vow to replace all the cheap fiberboard furniture in my house), but they are definitely a good source for certain well-designed yet inexpensive household items.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Waste not, want not.

I had some leftover heavy cream from a meal I'd made the other day, and rather than let it go to waste I decided to use it for the most practical application of heavy cream that I could think of: whipped cream. I'd never done it before, and as it turns out, it's pretty easy to make.

Combine 1 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a bowl. One recipe I found suggested putting the bowl and whisk in the freezer for ten minutes beforehand. I followed the suggestion but I'm not sure whether or not it was necessary.

Using the whisk attachment on an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks begin to form. I recommend stopping every so often to check the progress, as if you beat it too long it will turn to butter (or so I'm told). Making butter would be interesting too...but I'm not sure I care enough to try it out.

Of course, now that I had all this whipped cream I needed something to spoon it on top of. I had two apples in my fridge, as well as some leftover streusel topping from
these muffins I'd made a couple weeks ago (I really hate wasting stuff). So the obvious answer was to make an apple crisp.

I peeled and chopped the apples and coated them with cinnamon and sugar. Then I added some old-fashioned oats, flour, and melted butter to the streusel topping until it had a good consistency. It's not too far off from the usual recipe I follow for making apple crisp (1 cup flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup melted butter).

Then just cover the apples with the topping, bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, and in this case added a dollop of whipped cream. There's still some whipped cream left, which means that tomorrow I'll be making hot cocoa again. I'm pretty sure that before Christmas I had vowed to cut down on the desserts after the holidays, and I'm also pretty sure that I was talking crazy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fans of instant film rejoice!

Kittery Point, Maine
(Clearly this was taken by Dave, not me)

Last February I was quite saddened to learn that Polaroid would be ceasing production of its instant film products. The demand for instant film has most certainly decreased dramatically, considering that digital technology that has more or less rendered it obsolete--but there's something about those square format images, the labels (which I never find myself filling in), the film loudly spitting out of the camera, staring at that white square waiting for the image to fade into view, and the lovely washed out colors that I find totally alluring and desirable. There's a niche market out there for this product, and while I can't say how many people feel this way, I know that there are a considerable number of them.

When I heard the news I made sure to quickly buy up a good supply online, which turned out to be a prudent move because when I returned to the same site to restock, they were permanently out of stock, as was every other online source I tried. Prices for the film continue to soar on eBay. Now down to the last 2 packs of film in our household, I was getting ready to say goodbye. Until yesterday, when I saw this.

Granted, we won't be seeing the results for at least a year, and who knows what they mean by their plan "to develop a new product with new characteristics, consisting of new optimised components, produced with a streamlined modern setup. An innovative and fresh analog material, sold under a new brand name that perfectly will match the global re-positioning of Integral Films"? But someone is working to keep the instant film flame alive, and that's enough to make me think there's a chance that our camera will not be shelved after taking 20 more photographs.

Dave is actually the most frequent user of Polaroid film in my household, and many of his photographs can be seen here. Here's a sampling of some of my favorite shots I've taken:

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

Inside the blockhouse at Fort McClary State Park
Kittery, Maine

Rainy windshield
Columbus, Ohio

Fourth of July at Death by Audio
Brooklyn, NY

Salt Lake City Public Library, Utah
(One of the most impressive public libraries I've been to--they even have a zine collection!)

Dave at Fort McClary Park (he only looks like he has one leg)
Kittery, Maine

Andy Warhol Bridge
Pittsburgh, PA

Sic Alps sure use a lot of equipment!
Brooklyn, NY

Outside Frisbee's Market, the oldest operating grocery store in the country
, Maine

Columbus, Ohio

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Paper cuts

I saw this post today on design*sponge about the paper cut cards of Kinsey Hamilton and the birds in a cage caught my eye immediately, so I ventured over to her etsy store to find out what might be available for purchase (I haven't bought anything yet...but I'm thinking about it!). My favorite of the bunch is this forest scene:

But I also love the intricate geometric patterns that make up much of her work.

This triggered a few reminders--for instance, that I'd been meaning to buy this book, a collection of the paper cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen, the famed author of Fairy Tales, who apparently was also well versed in the art of cutting out beautifully elaborate and complicated images.

And how could I forget about the paper cuts of Jad Fair, who played in Half Japanese, one of the best bands ever (it's a fact). His work reflects his drawing style, and is quite different from those previously discussed, depicting monsters, robots, aliens, and the like. I love it.

Papercutting is an art I've been meaning to try, though I fear I don't have a steady enough hand to exercise the degree of precision that's necessary to enact that kind of detail. Then again, I've made some decent stencils in my day, so I just might go out and buy some fresh xacto blades and take the plunge.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A love/hate relationship with baking

I've never really been into baking--I hate the mess, the flour everywhere, stirring till your arm feels like it's going to fall off. But I am a lover of baked goods, and while I can't say I've made the full conversion over to lover of baking, I have lately been indulging in this practice more often than I usually do. It started with some holiday cookies (chocolate chip and ginger crinkle), then I tried this chocolate swirl gingerbread that I found on design*sponge (it did not come out so great, although I did eat most of it anyway), and then I came across this muffin recipe (delicious). This weekend I went back to the chocolate chip cookies, the recipe for which can be found here.

Just look at this heaping mountain of deliciousness:

A little closer...

I decided that hot cocoa seemed like a nice accompaniment. I'd bought some Crate and Barrel hot cocoa mix as a stocking stuffer for my boyfriend but we both agree that it's just not quite up to snuff. I've instead been following the instructions printed on a container of cocoa powder I had in my cupboard, with the addition of some spices. It's much richer and more flavorful this way (I guess it's to be expected that making it from scratch would be better than from a mix).

First stir together 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and a few dashes of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Add 1/4 cup of water, heat, and stir until combined.

Add two cups of milk (or, in my case, vanilla soy milk). Now tonight's movie viewing (The Passenger, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975) will be even more enjoyable.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Killed By Headers

Welcome to Killed by Crafts, a documentation of my ongoing obsession with handmade objects (and, more often than not, making those objects myself).

For my first post I thought I'd record the process of making the header for this blog. Rather than find some cool images online and throw something together with Photoshop, it seemed more appropriate to use rubber stamps, paper, and glue.

You might call this my rubber stamping station. Various ink pads, stamp sets, a tiny bathtub filled with thumb tacks (why not?), and my 45 carrying case that's actually filled with bits of paper and other ephemera. It all sits on an old school desk, inside of which I have some other printing supplies stored.

And now to get started:

At this point I finally figured out how to turn off the flash on the camera (I'm pretty curmudgeonly when it comes to accepting new technology--probably one of the reasons crafting appeals to me!). I prefer the warmer tones of these next few photos.

A little mod podge applied with a foam brush (okay, the flash looked a little better in this one):

And finally...