Hello from Northern California. Where the oak trees dot the golden hills. This blog is a portal for me to share with you what is going on in my little part of the world. I love to garden, craft and use my imagination in every way possible. Please visit me often and stay tuned for tutorials of different crafts you can do at home. I hope to inspire creativity in others.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
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
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
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....
Friday, December 3, 2010
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 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
Monday, November 15, 2010
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
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.
Friday, November 12, 2010
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
Saturday, July 31, 2010
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
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.
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.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
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
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
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.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
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 gloss was added it became difficult to photograph because of glare, but it looks really good.
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.