Monthly Archives: March 2010

Another Wedding Project – Paper Cones

As a wedding guest, one of my favorite parts of the festivities is when we get to shower the newly-weds with something – rice, rose petals, dried lavender, confetti, whatever! There is something so celebratory in the act of tossing a big fluttery cloud of WOO HOO! I don’t know, it’s just fun, and as a guest I feel like I am even more connected to wishing the couple happiness and prosperity through this ritual.

M & I aren’t planning a big exit from the party at the end of the night (heck, I want to stay till I’m ready to drop!); lots of couples have the big send-off exit with the confetti tossing (or sparklers or whatever!) after the reception. But that doesn’t make sense for us. Rather, we will have our big “exit” when we head back down the aisle after we’re pronounced husband & wife, and our guests can toss stuff at us then. I was hugely inspired by this post from Style Me Pretty back in January.

This DIY bride made paper cones to put confetti in for her guests. I love the double-sided paper, and the simplicity of the idea. Plus, the little sticker informs the guests on what to do and when.
Our variation on this idea will be to hang the cones (with ribbon) on the backs of the chairs at the ceremony rather than hand them out to guests.

M really liked the idea, especially since it involved cool paper (he’s such a graphic designer…he drools over fonts and papers!). So we hit up a few paper stores until we found some really cool designer paper at a cute little store in Wallingford called Paper Delights. We wanted to find a double-sided patterned paper in our color palette, and though we were hoping to find some navy blue & white damask paper (no luck), the green and light turquoise pattern we bought is just beautiful.

So here’s how you do this…

The paper we got was 24″x36″ so we could cut them into 6″ squares and get 24 cones per sheet (not too shabby). A paper-cutter made this waaaaay easier than cutting by hand.

After making a stack of paper squares, I popped in a movie and got to work taping. I quickly realized that forming a perfect cone is not easy to do freehand. The paper does not want to cooperate which can be very frustrating. My solution? I made a kind of template out of stiffer cardstock, so then all I would have to do is wrap my pretty paper around the template cone to get the right shape! This definitely made the whole process easier.

So with template cone in hand, I would wrap a paper square, grab a little piece of double-sided tape, and tape the edge down near the point. Then with a larger strip of tape, I’d tape the rest of the edge down to finish it off.

I alternated which side of the paper faced outward so there would be a bit of variety.

We still need to design stickers to put on the front of the cones, and also punch a hole in each one to string with ribbon. But the tedious part of taping the cones is done 🙂

I envision these hanging from the chairs at our ceremony, filled with rose petals, ready to be tossed joyously into the air as M and I walk back down the aisle ^_^
Yes, it’s the little details that make me smile.

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Filed under Crafts, DIY, Inspiration, paper, tutorial, Wedding

PHS Concert Choir leaves for Russia!

Way back in November, I wrote about the Puyallup High School Concert Choir and their plans for a historic trip to Vladimir, Russia. At that time, they were still gearing up for the trip, doing lots of concerts and raising money to fund the tour. Now, seven months since the school year started, they are embarking on their amazing journey! They fly out TODAY from SeaTac Airport for a double-digit hour plane ride.

I am so excited for them (and for my dad, the director of the choir) as they have this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

I actually get a lot of hits on my blog searching for the PHS Choir Russia Tour, so I thought I’d give an update. They have a full website dedicated to the Russia Tour, which you can find here:

http://phsconcertchoirtour.webs.com/

It has lots of info – their full tour schedule, photos, videos, a blog, an interactive forum, and more. Please check it out!!

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Filed under Events, Music

Homemade Planters

My mom has started getting Martha Stewart Living magazine (I think she got a free subscription for some reason or other), so I am very excited because I literally visit Martha’s website everyday for new inspiration, and I think my mom will really like getting the magazine. (I may need to steal them from her when she’s done with them…)

I discovered a really cool project on marthastewart.com a little while ago – making hypertufa pots – that I really wanted to try out. And serendipitously, the project showed up in the first issue of the magazine that my mom got in the mail. I said, MOM! I think we need to make a bunch of these!

Our goal ended up being: make 6 big hypertufa pots to plant 6 arborvitae trees in. Take a look at what we did…

We followed the instructions from the magazine (which is actually slightly different from the directions in the link above). The ingredients are: Portland cement, peat moss, and Perlite.
We used two big plastic tote bins for our molds; they had a nice swirled design and were plenty big for what we wanted.

We started out trying to mix it all up in a plastic bin, but actually ended up transferring that to our wheelbarrow since it was such a big batch. (We mixed equal parts cement, peat moss, perlite and water)

And then all we had to do was pack the mixture into our molds. It didn’t look very pretty on the inside, but the important surface is the outside, so we didn’t worry about it too much – so long as we poked a few drainage holes in the bottom.

After letting the pots set for a couple days wrapped in plastic, my mom popped them out of the molds, and let them dry completely. And here we have the first completed hypertufa pot planted and done!

I love how rustic the pots look, and I think they really coordinate well with the new paver driveway/patio. I like to imagine they’re potted cypress in a Tuscan villa. 🙂

So we still have 4 more pots to make (since we can only make 2 at a time). Now that we’ve done the first ones, I think the rest will be much easier since we know what we’re doing.

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Filed under DIY, projects

The wedding photobooth

If you are a follower of the wedding-blog scene (which, I admit, I have become since getting engaged), you’ll know about the photobooth trend. This idea has been taken all different ways – you can actually rent “real” photobooths (with the pull-back curtain and you get your 4 photos in a row); I’ve seen lots of examples of people just putting up some kind of fabric backdrop and setting up a camera (don’t forget the goofy props for people to play with!); and I’ve also stumbled across examples like these…

{kiss the groom}

and

{green wedding shoes}

How cool are those???

I love the creativity of actually constructing a set! And the cut-out picture frames for people to stand behind is ingenious. So much fun!

We want people to come to our wedding and play! And what better way to bring out the kid in folks than to give them a playset to goof around in? Plus we hope it will insure us awesome pictures of our guests.

I’ve hinted at our plans for a photobooth with this post about the mustaches I made…

And now you’ve seen the chair I restored from yesterday.
This guy will be in front of our photo faux wall for people to sit in!

Our plan is to design a set up that basically combines the two ideas up above: we love the intricate wallpaper with all the smaller photos scattered around the big cut-out frames. But we also like the idea of having people sit in front of the wall, too.

We still have to figure out how to construct the thing…and we’re hoping M’s dad will be a big help there for us!
I don’t want to give too much away. After all, keeping some things a surprise is part of the fun 🙂
But I am very excited for this project and can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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Filed under DIY, projects, Wedding

My chair refinishing project

So I was at the Goodwill in Ballard a couple weeks ago, and they always have a huge selection of furniture that they just let chill outside the entrance. Normally there isn’t anything really cool, or if I do see something interesting it’s too big to fit in my car or there really is no practical reason for me to purchase it (vintage steamer chest, I’m lookin’ at you).

But this chair had so much potential and it was only 8 BUCKS! Now, the upholstery was really discolored and worn, there were paint drips on the wood, this thing had clearly had a long rough life. But I saw the potential.

I mean, look that that backrest detailing! And those cool legs and arm supports! For $8, I’m sold.
(I have a destination for this chair, which I’ll touch on later)

So for the first time ever, I undertook a furniture restoration project.
I know I could have spray painted the frame for a really fun modern effect (plus it would take a fraction of the time), but I really liked the wood!

So instead, I stripped and sanded the wood frame until it was clean and smooth.

Then I stained it a beautiful dark walnut color.

(this shows the chair half-stained, and then fully stained)

I love how the deepening of the color makes it so much richer and just gorgeous!! Staining raw wood is a very satisfying experience. 🙂

My soon to be mother-in-law helped me so much with the re-upholstering. M and I had picked out a fun green+white patterned fabric for the seat, and his mom and I staple-gunned it on.
And after a few coats of Wipe-On-Poly finish (to protect the newly stained wood), and screwing the seat back in place, voila!!

I think it is such a beautiful chair! And I love the dark wood with the springy green! Such an improvement from where the chair started. And a big thanks to Diane for all the help she gave me ^_^

And, as mentioned above, I have a final destination in mind for this chair (and not just for sitting in our apartment). I’ll divulge more on that soon. Happy Monday!

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Filed under DIY, projects

My process with ceramic sculpture

In regard to ceramic sculpture, I am a hand-builder – generally using the coil method. It’s a very methodical, slow-paced way to work, and I enjoy it for those reasons. I love seeing a piece grow slowly – first as an idea in my mind, and then built layer by layer into reality.
I thought it would be fun to document how I work, and show the progression here on my blog! I recently finished building another spiky sculpture, which is drying now and waiting to be bisque fired. I used about 20 pounds of clay and built it to the height-capacity of my kiln. Take a look at the pictures below to see how I do what I do. 🙂

I start with a rolled out slab of clay, from which I cut my base shape. Then I began building up the sides using coils.

I continue to add coils to build up the walls, smoothing as I go.

I usually add about 2-3 rows of coils at a time, and then smooth them together. This slow process lets me see where my shape is going and gives me control in shaping its growth.

Here I am transitioning from a solid base shape into 5 separate arms. The cross sections inside help give the sculpture stability and strength without being visible from the outside.

The arms grow ever taller with successive rows of coils, spiraling clockwise ever so slightly.

The final form is finished! The arms are closed off at the top, each one coming to a point and almost meeting at the center.

The next step is to finish the surface with a dramatic texture of spikes. I keep the base form from drying out by spraying it periodically with water. To add the spikes, I score the clay in a pre-determined pattern where I’ll join the spikes.

To make the spikes themselves, I cut each one from a coil of clay, and then shape it into a cone.

Here is the first arm, complete with the spiky texture. The spikes add SO much to these already-interesting shapes.
(In the background you can see my rough sketches for this lovebird birdcage wall-hanging!)

Two arms down…

The final sculpture! A very cool top-view.

And here is the final sculpture, completed with spikes. The next steps are letting it dry slowly, then bisque-firing, then glazing, then high-firing for a finished work of art! (And here you get a glimpse of my dungeon-like studio space, haha. It’s not much, but I would take this setup over nothing any day!)

So there you have it! This is how I work 🙂
A sculpture like this one will take about 20 hours of work from start to final spike! That doesn’t include drying time, kiln time, or glazing time. It is a time-consuming process, but I love it, and when you have a final piece of artwork come out of that kiln, it just feels worth it! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this virtual journey, and I’ll be sure to share when the sculpture is ALL done (i.e. glazed). ^_^

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Filed under Jadeflower Ceramics

Brown Rice Pudding

Last night we had a veggie stir fry for dinner, and I made a huge pot of brown rice (apparently we eat rice so rarely these days that I am no good at gauging how much to make). Anyways, we had a bunch of left over brown rice. So today I decided to figure out what to do with the leftovers.

When googling “leftover brown rice,” guess what showed up the most – you guessed it, rice pudding.

I have never made rice pudding before, but I do have a memory from elementary school that has (bizarrely) stayed with me: a girl a grade above me (who I would frequently sit with on the bus) had brought in rice pudding for some kind of cultural report/potluck. She let me try it, and I thought it was the strangest idea, but so tasty! I think I embarrassed myself because I kept asking her for more 😛

Anyhoo, here is my first attempt at rice pudding, and I think it turned out great! I modified the generic recipe I settled for online. I used agave instead of sugar, soy milk (plus a touch of half & half), and obviously brown rice instead of white.

It takes about 30-35 minutes total cooking time, and the flavor is beautiful! A not-too-sweet creamy caramelly flavor with a hint of cinnamon and spice.

Leftover Brown Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups regular soy milk
1/2 cup half & half (I wanted to make sure the final dish was really creamy, but you could use all soy milk)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp cloves & 1/4 tsp nutmeg)

Combine your rice, milk, vanilla, and salt in a pot and bring to a full boil on the stove. (If all your ingredients are cold, this will take a few minutes, but be sure you’re watching once it gets close to a boil because it WILL boil over!!)

Immediately reduce your heat to a low simmer. Stir occasionally. The pudding will take about 20-25 minutes to thicken. Add in your spices. And if you want, add in raisins, walnuts pieces, what-have-you. Let it cool or eat it warm – enjoy!

So yummy, and you can feel good about it because the recipe uses whole brown rice, agave (which is low-glycemic), and soy milk (if you’re like me and have cut back on dairy).
I’m definitely adding this recipe to my “what to do with leftover rice” file 🙂

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Filed under food, Recipes