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!