Saturday, December 11, 2010

Teeni Weeni Mushrooms

I really, really need to get crackin on making a few more Christmas gifts, but I have mushrooms on my mind.
I was inspired to make these little fellows this morning... I hope to make a few more, perhaps a purple one...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sketchbook Challenge

One of the online artist groups I belong to is putting out an interesting challenge for others. It is the Sketchbook challenge.

I plan to participate because I think it will not only chronicle a year of my life in pictures and words. I think it will also help me stay in a creative frame of mind.

I am inviting all of you to participate as well. You don't need to be an artist to take up a pen, a crayon, some watercolors or even a simple pencil then draw something from your day. You could even glue in found objects, make a collage, doodle. Regardless it will be a creative and fun exercise.

The Blog is called The Sketchbook Challenge, you will find all the info you need there.

There will be a monthly theme, the artists there will show pages of their own blogs and share the inspirations behind the pages. They will be sharing techniques and tips.

As one of the featured artists Jill Berry states " you can spend the year learning to draw, ( I think anyone can do this) or you can not. But the year will go by anyways, might as well give it a go."

So my friends instead of posting random thoughts just to your wall post them to your journal as well and then illustrate the page.

Let's get creative !


Monday, December 6, 2010

Baking Time, and How to Custom Color Your Own Sugar Sparkles For Your Cookies.

It is time to make boxes of cookies for our friends and neighbors. So of course we made a production out of it.

We just made 3 kinds and managed to burn the first tray of Snickerdoodles. If you keep up with my blog you know I am sort of prone to burning things.

After the initial batch of torched cookies we figured out our oven and made Snickerdoodles, Spritz and the best darn Lemon Meltaways with a colored crystal glaze.

You can find the recipe of the Lemon Meltaways here

To make them festive and pretty you will do one final step of dipping them in a small bowl of colored sugar crystals, right after you dip in glaze and dab exess glaze off on the back of a fork.

To To make your own custom sugar colors

Gather together:

a bottle of white sparkling sugar, mine is Wilton's brand

Wiltons icing colors to dye the sugar.

a 1/2 -1 tsp granulated sugar

In a small ramekin pour about 1/3 cup of sugar crystals and the granulated sugar. With a fork take up the tiniest amount of icing color. You can see in the photo the small amount on the tine of the fork, start with just a drop and begin mixing. I stir with a mashing type motion until my color disperses evenly. Add more color as you see fit. With icing colors you can mix colors and create new colors. So play around a bit. My green was yellow, and blue sugars mixed. My red was a bit of burgandy and red mixed. Yellow takes more to color that other colors but always start with a little and add until you reach the color.

These cookies are so damn good you will want to make 2 batches, because your family will devour one batch right away....

Happy Holidays,

Friday, December 3, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Feast AKA year of the flaming oven.

Last year my husband and I went above and beyond to create the most amazing dinner and experience for everyone who came to spend the holiday with us. This year I decided I did not want to compete with our success so we would just keep it low key but go with some less traditional foods. Obviously we would put on a feast that would be unforgettable , just not so extravagant.

We had quite a crowd, My mom came from north eastern Oregon and stayed for 10 days. I miss her so much already, it has been years and years since I was able to spend that much quality time with her. Steve's mom, sister and her family were here as well, our house was quite full with 10 of us for 3 days. 60 meals were prepared over 3 days.. we consumed a vat of butter, a wagon load of carbs and we all need to diet now.

Everything was going well, we were making a BBQ prime rib and my famous or perhaps infamous roasted duck. Along with all sorts of fabulous sides.

About 1.5 hours before serving time I removed the duck from the oven to pour out the fat that accumulated in the bottom of the pan when I failed to grab both sections of the damn thing, I pulled out the roasting rack and that was all I had in my hands a roasting rack and a duck but no pan. The pan of drippings, mind you there was not just a scant 1/2 cup it was more like 4 cups of juice and fat just fell into the oven draining into the vent holes in the bottom. I have a gas oven so the floor of the oven is above the flames that heat it up there are long opening for heat to pass up through. All the juices went down into where the flame element is. Well at first it didn't seem so bad. I wiped up what I could see, turned on the fans, it was starting to smoke pretty bad....but nothing to worry about So I put in the Yorkshire puddings. Figuring I'd clean it after cooking.

Smoke was pouring out of the oven but we checked it and figured it would burn off and I'd just have a mess to clean later. Pretty soon it was not just annoying smoke but horrible black thick smoke, Steve opened all the windows and turned the whole house fan on to clear the air for breathing. Now it is like 37 degrees in five min from the fan. everyone is donning coats and covering up with blankets.

I opened the oven and HOLY HELL flames erupt out of it, smoke is curling through the kitchen and my daughter yelling to call the firefighters... someone said pour water on it....
NO water
NO firefighters, I can handle this just calm down people.

I poured salt a lot of it all over the flaming oven bed, pulled the Yorkshire puddings. They were a bit blackened but still edible. Thankfully I was house sitting the neighbors house, so my sister-in-law suggested we use their oven to finish the puddings, while we sorted out our own mess.

My first thought was sure I'll burn down not just my own house but theirs too... Happy Holidays! Ok we'll cook them over there....

Anyhow, since it was freezing in our house the oven cooled off quickly and in the 20 min the puddings needed to finish cooking my husband and I unscrewed the bottom plate of our oven and cleaned up all the salt, the grease, the juice from the duck and put it back together in time to cook the stuffing and whatever else we ate.

I like to make certain our holidays are unforgettable I think I managed to do it once again. We won't remember what we ate but we will all remember the flaming oven.

What will I do next year, how could I possibly top this experience?

Happy Holidays from Chef Cytel!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Paper Birds

Little woven birds crafted from paper.

Available in my Etsy Shop.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A gift for you.

I drew up these bird ornaments last night to share with all my friends. I just ask that you use them for personal use and do not sell my designs.

You need:
X-acto knife, I like the smaller one with a very pointy blade
extra blades at least a 5 pack
8"x11" white cardstock
colored cardstock for the background
craft glue ( I thin mine is a small Tupperware with a little water)
paintbrush for the glue
a self healing mat or other cutting surface. Not your dining room table

Right click on the picture below and choose "print picture". Print onto the back side of your white cardstock. I am sorry if the bottom of the picture gets cut off by font on the printed page, but you can draw in the bottom yourself. I am just not savvy enough to know how to set up my blog to let you print a picture perfectly.

Anyhow, I start cutting the smallest details first, such as eyes and wing details. Then I cut the smaller sections away that are in the leaves and between thin branches. I leave the bigger section for last, they help anchor the paper while you cut.

Practice a few times and don't worry about perfection, your human not a machine, inconsistency adds charm... that's what I say.

After you cut it out, apply a thin coat of glue to the printed side being careful not to get glue on the from of your ornament. Place it on the colored cardstock and press the paper down flat. when this is dry carefully cut along the outer edge and cut out the top hole for adding a hanger.

I hope you enjoy this little tutorial. If you have any questions just ask.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

While I have not been blogging I have been busy crafting away...

My Husband found this gem on the side of the road. I grabbed it for a friend who is sore need of a working machine. It works! It is old but good. The best part is the cabinet it lives in, it is really pretty or it will be when it gets refinished. Makes me want one for my sewing machine.

I finally completed the face of my big queen sized patchwork quilt. I tried so hard to make a layout where matching colors did not touch. Yet never the less when I sewed it up many mistakes popped up. I probably had one drink to many while sewing :) Despite that I just went with it, I'm not ripping it out to fix it. Mistakes add character.

Now I have to put it together... I have never quilted something so large. Any advice?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Silhouettes and Paper Cutting

The holidays for me are a time when I create an array of gifts. I try not to duplicate items I made in the years past.

So in my quest to make something new I found yet another craft that sweeps my imagination away. It is also very easy on the pocket book, which for many of us can be quite a blessing.

What I found for this years mini gifts are paper cut scenes, or Scherenschnitte. This is a craft brought to us by our ancestors. Paper carving has been a folk art in most countries spanning since paper was invented.

I recall cutting silhouettes in grade school to give as gifts to our parents. Not to mention pretty much everyone have cut a snowflake to display in the winter.... another example of Sherenschnitte in our daily lives.

One of the best things is it is so accessible all you really need is scissors, or and X-acto paper and a mat or cutting board. I love the folk art charm of the pieces and have quite a few ideas I hope to make.

Above is a selection of ornaments I have been making, They are just 5" tall and a couple inches wide. Each scene takes me a while to think up and draw out, but once I begin to cut it is pretty simple. The main thing is to try to keep the scene connected so the paper stays whole. Another thing to be wary of is accidentally slicing way to far across a scene, it probably happens to me when I've been at it a while, or if the blade is dull... but I almost cut the head right off my Turkey while making the menu frame for my Thanksgiving party.

I am working on this to showcase our menu, it is 8"x11"and I have not decided what color to use in the background, likely it will be an Autumn orange. The center will be empty and we will print something and frame it for the table. I think my mom is going to LOVE it and she will be coming down to have the holiday with us this year, so it will also be a gift for her. Maybe we can take out the menu and replace that with a photo of the family gathering.

I hope someone out there is inspired by this post to create something beautiful for themselves or as gifts to others.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Crafting Season is officially here

Too bad the chill in the air only last until the sun begins to shine each morning. It is going to be 98F this weekend. I just want a nice 60 degree day to bake bread and make comfort foods.

In honor of a somewhat cool day last week, only got into the 70's I decided to make myself a hat. Yes, I could buy one that was made in China for allot less, but that is not my style.

I found a decent pattern on Etsy and first made a fedora.
Unfortunately It is a little small, good thing I used inexpensive fabric instead of the wool I want for a final hat. Regardless I think it is very cute, and it is going to Etsy as a sample product. The hat is for someone with a 22.5" head, my head is bigger, good thing I have big hair to balance it all out.
Hat #2 is an Irish cap, it is to big... just a little to big. Yet despite things I want to change it is really cute, I cannot wait to make a perfect one to wear everywhere.
I did not get photos yet, so I'll just wait until I make a second hat with a better fit before I show it off.
I ordered yet another patter from Etsy , and older vogue hat pattern, still waiting for it to arrive, it shipped from Australia so it may take a bit of time.
In other news from the Oak Forest, it is harvest time, and although I have the tiniest garden ever I still managed to put away a fair amount of tomatos and pickles. Plus I just got myself a Lil Chief smoker and and making a big ol batch of venison and elk jerky. YUM! Thank you to my family who provided my meat :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sunshine and silk scraps make for a pleasent and beautiful creative weekend.

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I have a bag of hand painted silk scraps my mom-in-law gave me after she was done with her own creations. Knowing I am a packrat to the extreme she knew they would never be wasted while I’m on watch :)

Anyhow, I have been in some odd creative funk lately and have been thinking WAY to much and accomplishing nothing. Then by the grace off all that is right in the universe I read something that snapped me out after 7 long months of almost no creating.

It was just a simple statement by another artist …” You need to make time your your art if you don’t no one else will”

Ha! what have I been waiting for? For my husband to get out my beads and make dinner so I can craft? For my daughter to suggest I go take over the kitchen table with wool and scraps and beads and fibers?

I needed to also recall my own saying “ less thinking more doing” and start doing more art again.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Concrete Staining part 3

After the floor is cleaned, and taped off in the desired design the fun begins.

I want a light border tile followed by a darker inner border tile and the center to be earthy and brown but lighter that the border.

The first step is to sponge and dry brush on a semi opaque light color. I used a clear concrete stain and added white acrylic to make the color. go around in a random and unplanned manner dabbing and sponging your tiles. We wanted light and dark spots so I purposely add more stain to some places and less to others. Just stay on one side of the tape and keep a wet towel handy to scrub off any paint that gets away from you.

When the white drys the second color is added. I want to tie in my main color throughout all three different tiles I plan to paint. So I started with the brown stain I will be using for the center and main floor. To that I added a bit of yellow ochre tint-all as well as a bad of burnt sienna tint-all. Tint-all is a pigment that can be used in small quantities to color your paint, it is available in the paint dept of hardware stores, I got our at Home Depot.
Using a couple of bluebird tail feathers ( thank you my lovely cats) I began the rock veins, I followed behind and sponged them here and there to soften the look. To really add a natural look and depth to the stone, I went around a finial time with the brown but darkened it up with the yellow and a bit of tint-all grey. experiment and play, rocks in nature are not perfectly colored so neither should yours be. I used a fan shaped paintbrush to create the finial cracks and veins on my white border.

Inner Border, I mixed two batches of stain, the fist the brown stain from the main center, plus burnt sienna and yellow and a tiny bit of grey, the second a very saturated mix of the same three colors, but added a lot of grey until the mix was near gunmetal colored.

With the lighter of the two I went around filling the border with random darker and lighter spots taking care to fill my entire space, no grey concrete showing, and cleaning up any paint I got onto existing areas where it did not belong.

Go around with the darker stain but use a lighter hand so the light and the dark both show, but because I want this part dark I made certain the darker stain was more prominent.

Steve went around for the third layer with a clear stain with only yellow ochre and dry brushed here and there sparsely to add the rich depth we wanted.

The central tiles, here I mixed brown stain with a fawn colored opaque acrylic and my yellow and sienna tints, dab and blot it here and there until the surface is covered. Layer two for the center tiles was a white mix similar to the boarder but a bit more translucent. I just slothed it randomly and thickly here and there leaving some grey concrete exposed covering parts of the fawn stain, a very random and not planned pattern. Let it dry.

After it dried we taped off our borders with painters paper, the next step can be messy and splatter your other hard work so plan accordingly.

This was a two person job if your surface is large.
I took a weed sprayer the kind you pump, filled it with the brown stain and pumped it up until I could pump it no more. The stain is thick and if you do not pump it well you get big ugly splotches as opposed to a fine spray.
I sprayed the floor heavier in some spots lighter in others and Steve went behind with a roller feathering it out and smoothing the color.
We went around after the first coat and added some more color to places we missed or places that needed a little more color ( such as the glue line we did not completely remove and the spray painted J.A. that was on the slab.)

Let it dry... then remove all your tape and see the fruits of your labor.
After you have rested, sweep the area very very well, remove all the beasts from the house so they don't run through like our cat did. And seal the floor with a concrete sealer. Steve put down two layers, and we used a wet look, shiny sealer.
We are done, isn't it a beauty?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Concrete Staining part 2

We ripped up the carpets then we set forth to clean, and scrape off the glue and white residue that is on concrete. We rented a big rotary polisher/scrubber thingy, put our rubber boots on and scrubbed some more. It took a full day to get the concrete clean enough for our intents and purposes.

I did my measuring and computing for the faux tile design I am going to stain. then we had to tape it off in the proper grids.

After all the cleaning and scraping, sanding, scouring and so forth there are still many bits of residue and discoloration in the concrete. My back is sore and I also think that because I am using Behr concrete stain (which soaks into the concrete and residue) instead of an acid stain ( which would react with the chemicals in the concrete) the residue and white stuff will blend and add character. So we are done with the scrubbing.

After all the cleaning let it dry then use some sort of concrete repair or thin set concrete to fill any holes or gouges, large cracks etc. Allow that to dry then sand smooth. Vacuum, use a damp cloth to pick up any extra dust allow to dry again...

Then you can tape off your design. Or use stencils, etch with a dremel whatever you desire. after that is over make certain there is no particles etc and begin the staining.

I wanted to point out a problem we have to deal with on our floor.... the spray painted J.A. you can see it above in the photo. I am hoping it disappears with the many coats of stain that we are going to

put down.

I will post more later after I actually stain the concrete.

I think this can save you a huge chunk of change on changing your flooring, *but* it is labor intensive and you need to stay focused and complete all the steps if you want a nice looking finished product.

Stay tuned... see If I stay focused and end up with a nice looking finished product.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Goodbye nasty carpets.

Here we go, removing the nasty carpets from the front room. Carpet removal is easier than I thought... its those damn little tack strips that are nailed into the concrete that are difficult to remove.
The plan is to scour the concrete, make faux grout lines in a complex yet do-able design, stain with 3 colors, and seal this floor by tomorrow.
So I better get off this computer and get my rear end back to work :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My first fabric design

This is my first fabric design, it is subtle and monochromatic but I have only just begun!

It took a few days to figure out how to draw in inkscape and create designs from my drawings.

Here is the sketch I made, I tried to keep it simple and still very "Cytel" I needed to be able to trace it in Inkscape.

I took the leaf and manipulated it in various ways until I got the green swatch above. So I am going to order a swatch of fabric and see how the colors and design actually look in a fabric.

This is another plan coming together, the orange flower with the green vines. I need to play and tweak it more I want the background to be colorized. I'm not to certain of the color combo, but I still have learning to do in regards to coloring in inkscape.
This whole design reminds me of Cinderella's pumpkin carriage. Hmmmmm

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spoonflower, and the home textile designer.

I discovered Spoonflower a while back and the possibilities were really astounding. As anyone that knows me can tell you I am a crafty momma and I LOVE fabric and art... so this site combines these two loves and lets the home textile designer create and print high quality fabrics from their imagination and get it custom made.
I'm smitten, I have many ideas in my head but the real challenge is not drawing it on paper but in a program. I did some sketching last night, but this is not really my intended design just ideas. I want a provincial motif with a border in bright colors.
As for getting it into a program I have many hours of learning ahead of me, but I found Inkscape and Gimp both are free programs that are like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. I would post my progress but I have not figured out how to format the file into a .jpeg.
So check back and see if I figure out this fabric designing, beautiful creations could come of this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We are home, welcome to our new house... Bathroom first.

We closed escrow less than one month ago and immediately set to work making this house into our home. I will swear that the previous owner did not clean but maybe every few months ( or less) and worse than that the master bathroom must have served as a kennel. Use your imagination... it was gross.

Anyhow I wish I had a photo of how we received it, but We wasted no time and immediately removed the stained blue carpet and under pad to expose the concrete. The two pictures here shows the linoleum that was there in the other half.

While we would love to be able to spend any amount of money to make our dream bathroom, we have been spending plenty just to afford this house. So in light of financial responsibility we are going to keep it cheap. Our plan was to use a staining technique on the concrete to create the illusion of something more grand. We are very pleased with the results.

We had to remove old linoleum, that was a feat in itself, there was glue plus some sort of white stuff that was like plaster it must have been used to level the concrete. We used a small floor scrapper with a razor blade to remove most of the white layer and glue, them we switched to a disc sander and water to remove the rest. We had to give up on some of the white spots, they were small and impossible to remove so we figured they would add character in the finial floor.

The next step was to scrub the entire floor with lots of water and a stiff brush while my husband Steve shop-vacced it up. After that TSP cleaner, a stiff brush and a shop-vacc.

Boring stuff done, now time for the fun part!

We decided on a brown stain with green tints. I was trying to get a natural stone look. I bought some clear stain and a green avocado tint to mix my own green we had the store mix us up some brown.

At Steve's suggestion I used a feather to create the green lines and "cracks" and a paintbrush to feather and soften the color. You can see here how the green alone looked.

After the green dried I used a pump sprayer like you would use for killing weeds and sprayed the brown on in a random somewhat patchy design. I let it set for a minute or two then rolled a dry paint roller over to feather it and blend it. I went over some parts a few times to darken them while leaving other parts nearly untouched. After the floor was dried we added two layers of high gloss sealer. I was concerned it was going to be very slippery but it is not.

After the gloss was added it became difficult to photograph because of glare, but it looks really good.

So after two weeks of working on the bathroom in the
evenings here is our finial result. We are so happy with it. We
plan to rip out the carpets in the front rooms and stain the concrete in there as well, until we can afford what we really want... very nice hardwood.
All in all we spent $125 to do this and that includes the carpets, towels and shower curtain to match.