Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

O Victory! Thy name is Kitchen!

Howdy folks! I hope your Christmas Eve is going splendidly... mine, not so much. I woke up with a terrible sore throat this morning, but I am not letting it deter me from Christmas Cheer. Behold, I have created this:



Babka!

You can find the recipe, with picture instructions, here.

At the moment I'd like to thank those lovely ladies, Jacqui, Connie and Sally, who pitched in and bought me this for my bridal shower:



KitchenAid of power, where would I be without you? Answer: Hungry and frustrated.

Merry Christmas Eve, Y'all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy St. Lucia Day!

Actually, St. Lucia Day was December 13. For those who didn't grow up reading the American Girl Books about Kirsten, the Swedish immigrant, St. Lucia Day is a celebration the Swedes hold at the start of the dark winter season, to celebrate light and to kick off the holidays. We thought we would do the same this year, just call it a little more Christmas-y.


It was a dessert night and people turned out in full force! The most popular had to be Kurstin Blumel's Christmas cookies with optional frosting-- naturally the culinary degree does always win out.




We also got to play a rousing game of Cranium, despite my mother's insistance that adults do not have to play games at a party. Well, these adults do! It was really fun, and I'd like to just say thanks to Paul and Elizabeth for such an awesome wedding gift! (The Cranium-- it's a new and updated version, which makes it much more fun)

Wall Art Tutorial

After last night's party, and a couple of comments on the previous post, I realized that several people would like a tutorial of the wall art I did. I have to say it has to be one of the more easier projects I've ever done. I didn't think to take pictures while I was doing it, so I grabbed some interesting ones across the internet to illustrate the points:

1) Choose your fabric.

Lena Fabric, Ikea.com

The reasons I would go with Ikea textiles are many. First off, they're affordable. Second, I love the design aesthetic-- I like a more modern/danish/scandinavian approach to home decor, than the more traditional patterns and designs you might find in a regular fabric store. Whatever you end up picking however, I suggest going with a large graphic print, to fit the larger frame-- it makes more of a statement, and it's easier on the eye. The fabric should be a 100% cotton and the weave a little more course than a fabric you'd use for a blanket for example. If you don't buy fabric often, you should know that when it's on the bolt, it's actually been folded in half. Most home textiles come with a fixed width of around 60." (Double check when you're buying though) For our wall art, we bought a yard of each.

2) Make your frame.

I picked up 6 6' 1"x 2" peices of lumber at Lowes for a decent price. I had Lowes cut two of the pieces in half (3') for me. Then I got my dad to cut the edges into mitered corners.

Illustration courtsey of kombat.org

I put down the lumber in the pattern of how I wanted the frame to be put together. Using a triangle and a pencil, I measured exactly 45 degree angles on each of the corners. It helps to visualize in your head a frame with corners like this (almost all frames have these corners) that you've already seen. Then I got my dad to use his table saw to slice along the pencil marks. Once the lumber has been cut to the angle, be sure and not touch the ends to the ground-- the sharper the angle is, the easier it fits together.

Next I got my husband to fasten the frame together-- his parents had a framing and painting restoration business and so he was pretty familiar with how to make a frame. Using a staple gun, he put staples perpendicular to the 45 degree angle, to hold the two pieces of wood together, then took one nail and secured the corner from just one side, for each of the four corners of the frame. I think it's easier to put one corner together, then the opposite corner, and then fasten the two pieces together.

3) Stretch the fabric.

Be sure to iron out as many wrinkles as possible. Even though you're stretching the fabric over the frame, a crease (and wrinkles) will show. I suggest using a clear starch, like Mary Ellen's Best Press (seriously, the best thing since the iron for getting wrinkles out of ANY fabric.) and the steam setting on your iron to get any offending creases or wrinkles out.

Lay the fabric down on the ground and smooth it out as flat possible. Take the frame and center it over the pattern appropriately. In hind sight it would be helpful to have a second set of hands to help get the material as taut as possible around the frame.

 

Photo courtsey of howaboutorange.blogspot.com

Stretch the horizontal edges first. Have someone else hold the fabric on the opposite end as you, then take your end, and pull as much of the fabric as possible over the backside of the frame. Be careful not to create vertical ripples across the fabric by pulling hard. If you do, before you start stapling, just pull a little on the vertical ends of the fabric to get those ripples out-- again the object is to pull as tight as you can, while keeping the fabric as flat as possible.

Staple as close as you can to the inside of the frame-- this will keep the fabric tight as it goes over the edges of the frame. Staple both of the horizontal edges first, then stop and get ready to fold the corners and staple those first before stapling the vertical edges last.

The object of the corner, is to have as little of the fabric showing by creating a very flat fold across the bottom and top of the frame-- much like a hospital corner on a bed, or gift wrapping a present. Take the corner fabric, create diagonal fold (think triangle), then wrap the fabric across the bottom (or top) of the frame. It'll look like a small flat triangle.

Then fold the remaining fabric onto the back of the frame. Position the excess fabric from the corner to lay as flat as possible with the vertical portion that you haven't stapled yet, pull tight, and staple. Do all the corners first, then staple the remaining fabric on the vertical sides and trim the excess.

Ta-Da! I realize that last bit is confusing without pictures, but honestly, once you get to the corner wrapping part, it shouldn't be that hard to figure out. 


Friday, December 18, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

First, because it's Christmas, but second because I'm throwing a Christmas party which has forced me to decorate more. Let's break that down....




Ta-Da! Wall Art! These are in our living room and dining room respectively, and they were my mother's very creative idea. While walking around in IKEA about a month ago, we made a stop in the textiles department to cut out a couple yards of these awesome graphic print fabrics. I finally got around to buying the lumber to make frames (actually Arthur made them) and stretched the fabric over the frames this week. It was a little nerve racking, because I had never done anything like this before, but they turned out great. Total cost was maybe $10, and we now no longer have naked walls.

You might notice that things are still a little sparse. No worries, I have plans for it all. In the living room, in that shockingly bare corner, I'd like to place an awesome floor lamp. In the dining room, underneath the clock, I want to hang a floating shelf, to act as a faux mantle, since we don't have a fireplace.

Which leads us to what's across from these walls:


Pictures! This wall finishes out the dining room and leads into the hall. I was really happy to put up one of our wedding pictures as well as a picture of Christ. (I feel like I can say I'm Mormon-- look I have some kind of art on the wall representing the Savior!)

This is the view opposite our sofas in the living room. I apologize for the flash in the mirror-- I accidentally deleted the photo where I sneakily hid myself like a good film student should. In the future-- that offensive green arm thing will be gone, and I'd like a bookshelf of some kind there. On the recessed wall, above the television, I'd like to frame three pages of a script of one of our favorite movies as an ode to one of the things that brought us together. Finally, underneath the mirror, where the Christmas tree is now, I'd love to put a console table, or small sidebar.

Speaking of the Christmas tree....

Can I just say that I have a real talent for decorating a Christmas tree? I've been doing a little blog stalking lately and I've noticed some peeps with trees that look like giant bushes with a few measly ornaments thrown casually on here and there. Not in this Kendrick household! I'd like to thank my mother who growing up somehow delegated the decorating of the trees to me every year. My talents are clearly, all yours. I mean look at this close-up:

Pure Christmas Splendor.

It's also been a crafty Christmas here in the Kendrick household, and I'd like to show you some of the things I did this year:


These cute stockings came with the bejeweled "Merry" on them from Target. I however wanted our initials on them, so I bought some press-on rhinestones to stick on there. So not as easy as I imagined. First, with a fuzzy like texture-- it's a miracle the Target peeps got anything to stick on there in the first place. Second, placing the rhinestones on the stocking required use of tweezers, and the tiniest hand-eye coordination known to mankind. Third, I couldn't directly press the iron to the stocking for fear of burning the fabric and sending rhinestones flying, so I had to repeatedly steam those rhinestones into sticking submission. Ultimately, a good hour long project that I wouldn't really recommend to anyone. As a side note, in college, my best friend Wendy bejeweled her phone with one of those kits you could buy-- and she did a really impressive chevron pattern-- I have newfound respect for her. Seriously.

I really wish I could say I hand painted that Nutcracker, or learned how to fire porcelain this year, but actually, the funky sparkley oversize star in back is one of my Christmas crafts. (Actually, one of last years.) I made this star as part of a live nativity that went on for a church program last year, and I really wanted the star to shine from stage. So, what I did was take a really ugly outdoor metal star (seriously-- it was white with the ugliest santa/snowman thing on it)-- and spray paint it a light silver color. Then I took about 6 clear ornament bulbs, removed the little hook hanging thing from them, and hot glued them in a random pattern across the star. Next I took a TON of pickberry floral do-bobs in white, silver, and gold, snipped the greenery from them, and hot glued them to the surface of the star. I wish I could say this was quick or easy. Alas, this project took me like 2-3 days. But it sure is cool looking.


Needless to say, I'm really grateful for decor that isn't crafty, but rather just simple, elegant and timeless.

Like the porcelain luminary my mother gave to me-- it was my favorite Christmas decoration growing up even though there's nothing Christmas-y about it-- the scene is one of an old fashioned fox hunt.

Or  how about the gorgeous and very modern silver bowl that was a wedding gift-- it makes M&M's look chic.

Or the beautiful crystal votives that were also a wedding gift-- I love how they twinkle and shine and throw a warm glow everywhere. (And oh alright, I wrapped some floral berries around a plain white candle. That was crafty. But super easy! )

The point is...it is feeling a lot like Christmas around here and it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our conversations...

go something like this:

jessica: would you wear something with otters on it?

 Sent at 11:46 AM on Monday
 arthur:  otters?
I guess it depends on what it is
 arthur:  is it like pajamas or a otter costume?
 jessica: :  hahahahaha.


Otter costumes are a serious suggestion in our household!

Monday, November 30, 2009

a happy little christmas to you...

No it's not Christmas yet, and I still have yet to blog about Arthur's gun buying and deer slaying adventure, as well as thanksgiving, but today I was at my parents' house getting out their Christmas decorations (because if I don't, no one will...seriously) and I had to throw on some Christmas tunes. It just felt right. Which got me thinking about how Christmas music can be a really a reflection of your parents, or what you grew up listening to, besides the standard Classical Christmas, Hallelujah Handel or Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I loooooove listening to the Carpenter's Christmas portrait, a Christmas medley of just about every Christmas song out there, featuring quite a few 80s synthesizers, as well as Karen Carpenter's amazing contralto. However, I noticed in college that I was the only human being who knew about this album, or treated it with the reverence it deserves. Clearly, a family favorite, or just my favorite-- only to be inflicted on others by your own choice. (Some people hate the Carpenters. So so sad.)



I bought this album at a Barnes & Noble when I was like 15, specifically because it had The Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan doing, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," which at the time, was the best Christmas song ever. It still is hard to beat, but every other song on this album is incredible. Seriously, best album of alterna-rock Christmas songs you could buy-- I've never found another alterna-rock Christmas album that comes close. It makes me feel really Austin-y, which is a good thing, you know? Happy weird Christmas-- go check out the lights at 37th & 1/2 Street.


The title track to this book/cd (it's quite hard to find actually) is my family's theme song, for the entire year, not just Christmas. We gleefully listen to this song and sing along during the holidays with smiles plastered across our faces. You only have to know us just a little bit, and you'll get why. We're just a bunch of rednecks. (It's the truth, even though we don't drink or smoke, or eat cheese out of a can.) Anyway, I challenge you to not watch the video, but just listen to the texas drawl, steel guitar, and ridiculous lyrics, and feel like you know my family just a little bit better.

As this our, Arthur & me, first Christmas, I will definitely be on the look out for new Christmas tunes to add to our library for our traditions. What are some of your favorites to listen to? Do you have a story behind a specific song?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Subtle progress...

I don't know why, but for some reason, now more than ever, we seem to be settling into our home and making what I call subtle progress-- progress towards no more boxes, no more little piles of things to be unpacked, things hung on the wall and in their place. Why after almost three months of living here? No clue. Maybe all my home making skills that have been freakishly absent my entire life, finally decided to show up. (Let's get real, Arthur doesn't have those instincts nor would I want him to have them either) Maybe it just took some time to buckle down and make decisions-- yes that painting will go there, no I am not going to keep all of these wedding cards albeit they have very nice sentiments and sparkles on them. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I suppose what we've learned most from married life so far (one of many learned mosts actually) is that when you're married you get to call all the shots together. If together you want a minimalist zen approach to home aesthetics, then by golly, you can have it. (we don't, and we don't want it) If you want to eat off of paper plates you can kill all the trees you want, and throw away your plates. (we don't, I love real plates) If you want to sleep in on Tuesdays, and make breakfast together you can. (We don't-- that's just a pipe dream. I have killer aerobics on Tuesday mornings. Have you seen me try to walk on Wednesdays? I don't walk, I waddle)
So that's the life lesson we've been handling lately as we've tackled things like our office:



Okay, so it may look really messy to you, but the mere fact that you can see the floor, and that there are no boxes is huge. Arthur's even grinning about it. It's not done yet, but we will finish very soon. And there will be much rejoicing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pillows!

Yes, another project! While I explained earlier that our living room is all in cool tones, I felt like we need a pop of color as well as some appropriate sized pillows for our old and over sized couches. Thanks to my mother's quilting and textile addiction, I am nearly always in a fabric store of some kind, and constantly checking out cool fabric. The latest and greatest store is the Cotton Cupboard, which just opened this summer, and already has some pretty awesome selections of unique and beautiful fabrics for the quilter, or in my case, pillow-maker in all of us.


Fabric! Bright! Happy!


My super awesome mom, who can do anything. Originally I wanted to do this project as my first sewing project, but we made it a little more complicated than beginner sewing level.



How? With welting-- which is that cord like border around the pillow's seam that gives it a nice finished look. It isn't easy to create, especially when you don't really sew.



I don't recommend cats with any kind of sewing project. They think that you got out this nifty fabric all for them-- and the welting is their special toy. Beware of kitties. Seriously.



Finished Pillows! Don't they look fantastic?! I couldn't be more thrilled!



Okay, I had to include a close-up just in case you didn't believe me. They are awesome! 

Mirror Mirror on the wall...

Once upon a time, I worked for a little shop that had a tremendous sale, in which I snapped up a once overpriced mirror for a mere $10. Again, tremendous sale. I'm a big fan of mirrors and what they can do for a space, so I figured it was time to get one for our living room, and at $10, I wasn't out a lot.


The steal of the century, $10 mirror.
However, the mirror was gold. Which was a slight problem. Everything we own is in cool tones. We have black couches, and varying shades of cool tones-- so the gold really clashed. I wanted to paint it, but I didn't know how-- insert my friend Connie, who can paint anything, and has painted just about everything. She directed me to this kit thing you can buy to antique, or change the color of furniture. I thought it was a splendid idea, I beelined my behind to my local michaels and bought the kit. The following is what happened:


Ta-Da! Silver! I loved it this exact color when I first painted the mirror, but I was very sad to lose all the detailing of the basket weave frame.

So I decided to antique it, using the pewter color that came with the kit. Here you can really see the color difference with the stain on the right vs. the plain silver on the left.



Halfway done! This was a really time consuming and tedious process, as well as very messy. (see picture-- those rags-- they were white. yeah.) I wanted to make sure I got every nook and cranny.



Because the pattern is just really cool looking. I mean really, now that the mirror is "pewter antiqued" I feel like it came from the celtic period or something. Well, maybe not celtic. I just think it's cool.


It took me awhile to get used to the painted mirror-- for awhile I thought I had really screwed it up-- I thought I was a little too heavy handed on the patina and that the mirror looked a little dull in comparison to when it used to be just silver and shiny. Then, I found a glossy clear coat spray, which solved all my problems.



Ta-Da! Finished mirror! It doesn't look as shiny in this light as it truly is (crappy indoor lighting!) but I'm thrilled that I finally finished it and that we finally got it hung! Hallelujah!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy day

as evidenced by elements of a costume:

(nothing over the top, just a little halloween fun)

and by the arrangement of happy on the fridge:


(wouldn't you like to see gobs of happiness on your fridge everyday?)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our really, important, busy lives...

... have prevented us from posting in over a month. Apologies. First my brother came home from his mission, then unexpectedly we nannied for a week for a great family in our neighboring ward, and then Arthur had to work like crazy. The fire department has finally relocated from their cramped space sharing 3 month "temporary" fix (after the administration building burned down) and its resulted in some serious overtime. Not to mention attending a wedding every weekend (nearly). Its been a crazy month. Here in the last week of October, do I finally get around to showing everyone how in the swing of the season we are:




As our friend Paul said, "I know Arthur lives here because its the most masculine door I could find."

Can you believe that I found a Turkey Nutcracker?! Okay, it came from Target, not that surprising. But our little Halloween figures were! Thanks Kathleen & Kelly!

Here we are embarking on our creative pumpkin carving mission....

Here's our host, doing a fantastic job.

Here's my final creation! Woot!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bad Meal....groan....

So today we decided to have company over for the first time ever. Our friends Paul and Elizabeth were married about 2 weeks after us, and prior to this evening had already invited us over for dinner at their home up in Round Rock. We had really tasty waffles at their house and played games.
So we decided to return the favor, and have them over for dinner.
(This is the key to developing friendships as a married couple, according to my mother. She says that people who aren't raised in barns get this, and that's how you go about making friends-- exchanging social graces. I just thought that was important to throw out there-- I am trying very hard.)
The thing is, not having many original ideas for what to make for dinner, I decided to throw together two recipes that SHOULD have been very good, had I been able to read the recipes correctly. Instead, I ruined the soup by throwing the lime garnish in too early, and giving it a terrible after taste, and I put way too much baking soda in the cornbread, making it edible only with loads of butter and honey.

Terribly Pathetic. Pathetic on an astronomical scale. I should just fall over in the kitchen from now on and stop trying. really.

Otherwise, we had an enjoyable evening. We had some great laughs, dumbfounded each other with our scattagory skills (who knew that Elizabeth and I would both think of Setee?!?)
So enjoyable, we forgot to take pictures.

Still, the meal was a major letdown. Thank goodness they brought dessert.
I am sorry Paul, I am sorry Elizabeth.
Next time, Arthur's cooking. Promise.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

They're coming!!!

Thank-you notes! After almost three months after the big day, I've finally got them written and sent out. Whew! Except to the person who gave us those white canisters-- I don't know who you are-- but thank-you. And "Stanley and Amy Romriell" There is no Stanley and Amy Romriell that we know or that we invited to our wedding, but apparently, they gave us $50. So thank-you imaginary couple, thank-you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

As promised...

Pics of our table and our first REAL meal on it! We've actually had the table for about a week, but I felt like this was the occasion to truly document it coming into our lives-- I'm so grateful to have a table! We purchased it on the holiday last week and I stayed up quite late assembeling all the little bits together using the tiny tools that come with.


(Apologies for the out of focus pic though...and the close-up of just the table. The walls are quite naked, so I'm refraining to take pictures until i've got the clock, and some wall hangings up)

I have to brag about both the pasta dishes and the pasta. The pasta dishes I asked for christmas, or for my birthday, when I was in high school! I had this funny idea of creating a dowry type thing-- since of course I'd be getting married soon, after I'd be going to byu for awhile. HA! While that didn't work out the way I planned, (thank goodness!) I'm quite pleased that I asked for nice stuff back then-- and that my mother kept it all in her closet for me while i was in college!

Isn't it cute? The large pasta bowl and matching bowls all have images of classic italian pasta advertisements on them.

As for the pasta-- it was delish! Arthur and I make quite the team in the kitchen, and I was pleased with our multi tasking skills. The recipe is a favorite that I found in real simple a few years ago, and that I was able to find again on their website, here. Quick, flavorful, and quite hearty, it pleases just about everyone. But don't be fooled-- it is not healthy. Like it the name says its all about the carbs. But then, it does have bacon in it, which is the food of the gods, so really, who's complaining?

Not me!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday Night Lights


Last Friday we had the pleasure of taking in the Battle of the Lakes: Lake Travis vs. Westlake High School Football game. Its a "rivarly" in that the two schools/neighborhoods of austin are next door to one another, and constantly competing against each other in an imaginary keeping up with the jones' race. (FYI: Lake Travis won! WOOT!)
It was overjoyus however to experience a proper high school football game-- I thought it was normal growing up, and only upon returning to Texas did I come to realize that actually, the whole experience is unique unto itself. I hope everyone has an oppritunity to once take in a high school football game in Texas-- it's like being in the movie Friday Night Lights.



Does your high school team come out of an inflatable tunnel at the start of the game? I think not! Only in Texas!


All Elated Fans... Promise!
Have you ever seen so many fans at a high school game?! Answer: Nope! Only in Texas!