Live Like a Pixie!

I’m so in love with the idea of these babies:  Tiny Tumbleweed Houses.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my future lately- about my career and where I’d like to settle down once I’ve established myself as a real, God forbid, adult.  *Shudder*.  I was scoping out the prices of housing in my city, a place where there has been an ongoing housing shortage for quite some time, and I was shocked to see that most of the listings seemed, to my untrained eye, obscenely overpriced.  So, I did a little homework and came to find that the average cost for a house in my province was $274, 485.  Even if I get my dream job I couldn’t afford that and I’d be locked into a mortgage for 30 fucking years.  Vomit.

So, a friend of mine sent me a Facebook message and I started scoping out these little pixie houses, Squeeee!  You buy the plans from these guys, you get an estimate of what your materials cost and then you put it together yourself.  Like a gingerbread house you can FRICKIN’ LIVE IN.  Most of the estimated costs are under 50 grand, they’re environmentally friendly, there’s no room for clutter and junk (which, anyone who’s seen my car can tell you would be a refreshing change in my life) and there’s a range of sizes from itty-bitty (65 square feet– not really my cup of tea) to not-all-that-small (874 square feet– more in my comfort range.)

Yep, I’m gonna add this to my “Someday” pile, but considering how cheap it is, it might be considered for my “Someday Soon” pile.

This one’s my favorite:
http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/whidbey/#ad-image-2

My God, I could live here.  And have planter boxes full of herbs, and raise my own chickens.  Now, if I could figure out how to get it up into a tree, I’d be all set.

Pick-Up Line? You Mean Beard.

I know that mustaches have been on the rise in popularity as of late, and while I love a good donut-duster, it just doesn’t cut it for me in the way of facial fur.

Think of  all the truly fascinating bearded men throughout history:  Shakespeare, Hemingway, Abraham Lincoln, Zeus, Aragorn, Papa Smurf, Colonel Sanders, etc.  How could one not want to join the ranks of such greatness? Being a lady, however, well… you can see the problem.  I have nothing to stroke when I need to concentrate and I have a perpetually chilly chin in those cold winter months.  Scrolling through Pinterest one day I came across a picture of a girl who crafts and sells woolen beards on Etsy.  I seriously considered ignoring my relentless decent into poverty just because I wanted one so friggin’ bad.  However, the moths that were living in my wallet pleaded with me in their tiny, pathetic voices “Please, Crafty Bitch, don’t take away what little insulation we have left”. Rather than condemn the poor buggers to a sticky bout of hypothermia, I picked through my very fancy, handy-dandy crafting kit (aka, Sobey’s bag filled with sparkles and shit) and fashioned myself some wooly whiskers of my very own.

Yer Bits and Bobs
1. Felt: Pretty much use any kind of fabric you like, I chose felt because I wanted something a little bit sturdy so it wouldn’t go droopy should my beard turn out heavier than I had anticipated.
2. Wool: Any colour wool your wee ticker may desire, I went with traditional hair colour that matches my own.  There’s a joke in here somewhere about carpets matching drapes and only having hard wood.

This Craft takes Balls... of Yarn.

This Craft takes Balls… of Yarn.

3. A needle and thread: but of course.
4. Two hair elastics

Instructions

Step 1- Trace Yo’ Face
If you have a friend or a boyfriend who’s not used to your all of your eccentricities yet, I would recommend giving them a jingle and asking them to come over to help you with this step—it’ll be a dandy little crash course into how frickin’ awesome you can be.  My experience went a little bit like this:

Crafty Bitch: “Here, I’ll just hold this felt up to my face, and you, like, trace out around my nose and chin.  Then feel where my lips are with your fingers and trace around those too.”
Boyfriend: “This is so weird.  You are so bizarre.  What are we doing this for, again?”
Crafty Bitch: “I told you, I need it to make my fake beard!  Do you want to eat the macaroni and cheese I made, or not? Now quit your yammering and do it!”
Boyfriend: “Oh yes, your fake beard, how could I forget.  Hold still, I’ll get a sharpie. Christ.”
Ah, Amore ❤

You’ll end up with something that should be shaped like this:
Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 1.52.16 AM

Step 2- Knot a Thang
Ok, your next step is tedious.  In fact, this entire craft is, for the most part, tedious—it’s not a craft for the faint of heart.  This is a man’s man kind of craft, it’ll put hair on your chest… er, face.   You’ll have to cut your whiskers.  Each one will be about 3 inches long.  It can be a little hard to estimate exactly how many whiskers you’ll need as it’s contingent on that mug of yours, but it’s safe to say that by the time you have enough it’ll feel like you’ve cut 1 kajabillion (real numbers are for nerds).   Then you’ll take at your little mountain of wooly bits and knot them all, right in the centre of each individual little sucker.  These knots will act as anchors for your next step.

A pile o' whiskers

A pile o’ whiskers

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 1.25.03 AM

My terrible drawing of a knotted piece of wool.

Step 3- Sew What?

Now, there’s probably an easier way to go about this, with a sewing machine, but I like to keep my hands busy while I’m getting my weekly helping of The Walking Dead, so I figured I’d hand-sew them.  Fold the whisker at the knot in the centre, make one little stitch across the two strands, just below the knot, and then one right through the knot just to keep it secure.

Diagram:<br /> Wool in black<br /> Pink depicted in pink

It’s important to remember to evenly space your whiskers apart, if you just sew them in willy-nilly you’ll have some patchy business going on.

Just keep sewing, just keep sewing

Just keep sewing, just keep sewing

Step 4- Fix it to yer Face
So, Now that you’ve got your lovely little beard all finish you’ll have to fasten to your face.  I had a big pack of hair elastics kicking around so I used one on each side.  I sewed them to the corners of my beard and gave it a try-on.   It was a little loose so I just pulled down the corner of the hair elastic and sewed that down as well, making the loop smaller.  It took a few attempts to get the right fit, but now it’s as comfy as if I grew it myself.

Dandy ear loops

Dandy Ear-Loops

Step 5- Sit Back and Bask in the Glory of your Manliness

A face full of scowl

A face full of scowl

Christmas Cards and Cardigans: I’ll be Coughing Glitter for a Week

Hey All, This is a piece I wrote last year and had forgotten to post.  🙂  More like Procrastinate-y Bitch, amiright?

So, over the weekend two of my friends had what I liked to call “First Christmas”.  Both of them are embarking on the crazy, fun adventure of moving to Saudi Arabia for a year to work.  So, my amigos, Crowe and Lady J, unfortunately will be spending their time eating McDonalds that can be delivered 24-hours-a-day and soaking up the sun in one of these spicy little numbers instead of shoveling their driveways and wearing 8 layers of clothes to keep from turning into people-sicles.

What actually sucks about their Arabian adventure is that they’ll be missing Christmas, which they are not allowed to publicly celebrate in the land of milk and camels.  The upside is that we are clever girls who have thought of a way to lesson this sting of holiday-withdrawal:  We had a “First Christmas” for them.  “First Christmas” is just like regular Christmas except no one drunkenly falls into the Christmas tree.  We ate dips and yummy homemade soup and hor d’oerves until we felt sick, then we exchanged presents and then settled in for a long winter’s nap, only to awake for turkey dinner.  Anyway, the point of this scpheel is that because they’ve been downsizing their lives to prepare for the move, Lady J gifted me all of her scrapbooking supplies—I was so excited I almost peed my pants.  So, I’ve been spending the whole day making Christmas cards and I figured I’d share my card-making experience with you 🙂

First and foremost, the first thing I learned was that one should figure out a couple of designs and stick to them.  If you try to get too Martha-y with these bad boys, you’ll get overwhelmed and quit after a couple.  Christmas is not the time to reach for the top; Christmas is a time to reach for the bare minimum and have low expectations of those around you, because, man, we’re all fucking tired.  I’ve been there—trying to wrap gifts and bake 3 fruitcakes, all while trying to transform my humble abode into a Winter Wonderland.  Well, I can tell you from personal experience—I ended up with a garbage can full of wrapping paper, 3 fruit-doorstops and my apartment ended up looking like a holly-jolly holiday hell-hole.  Don’t take on too much, my wee Gingerbread people, I worry about you.

Dos

  • Do look around before you buy, especially if you’re planning on sending out lots of cards.  If you’re willing to dig a little at your local dollar store you can find paper just as good as the fancy stuff.  Likewise, scrapbooking snobs will tell you that you “simply have to get the best quality rubber stamp because yadda yadda will deteriorate in such and such kind of ink” which is, to be blunt, a shimmering pile of reindeer-shit.  Usually that best quality rubber stamp will cost you your first-born and aren’t much different from the dollar-store kind except they might be a little more intricate in design.  If you’re fine with the plainer ones, then punch those stamp-snobs in the face and proceed with your day.
  • Do use glitter.  Some people think it’s tacky, these people have Grinch-hearts and smelly faces.
  • Do stray from the norm and find your own bits and bobs:  I like to use swirl candies in wrappers or pretty bits I’ve cut off of old Christmas cards or newspaper print (non-descript, of course, you don’t want your card recipient reading all about the Scranton Strangler, and whatnot).  I’m not going to patronize you by going through every single item you can stick on a piece of paper–my readers are smart.

Don’ts

  • Don’t spend when you don’t have to—Sure, you can spend 8 bones on pre-folded cards but no one is that lazy that they can’t fold paper.
  • Don’t buy the gadgets— The ladies in my card making class raved about their “paper cutters”.  How convenient, she was selling them for only $29.99.  Do you know what they called “paper cutters” in my day?  Fucking scissors.
  • Don’t stick to my designs– If you feel a crafty wind a-blowing, go with it 🙂

A Girly one— Pink! At Christmas!  Well that’s just re-dick!

Think Pink

Think Pink

A Trendy One– Black and purple, like my bruised soul.
302914_10150402429071026_425457008_n

A Classic Folky One– For all those little kittens on your Christmas Card list who hate straying from tradition (all the people you can’t tell dirty jokes to).
310684_10150402428406026_1805253500_n-1
As I said, I had made a bunch in my first attempts but I narrowed it down to these three that I liked the most for reproduction. Here are the others:
317750_10150402425136026_1204149567_n
And the final step is just to fill in the guts of the card.  What to write, you ask?  Well, that’s easy, just follow your heart! Ooooor, this website.

Merry Christmas, ya ho-ho-hos!

Geek Chic Without Breaking the Bank

So, as you might have noticed most of my crafty endeavours come from necessity:  I need cheap gifts for my chummily-wummilies, so I make bath bombs; I want a cheap beaded chandelier, so I give it a go.  However, sometimes I just want to make something for the calming effect that comes from mindless crafting.

Before I introduce you to today’s craft I’m a-gonna let you in on the flaming bag of poo that was my day.  In the midst of doing some major research for a school project that I’m thoroughly unprepared for, I got a call from Papa Pete reminding me that I had to renew my car insurance.  Crap.  That was a hefty bill I had conveniently forgotten about.  But, “c’est la vie”, “que sera sera”, “amor fati”—one of those has got to be used correctly.  So, I added that to my mental checklist of things to do, and carried on with my day.  However, my mental checklist had other plans and decided to spin wildly out of control and go on a rampage without my consent.  While driving through our fair city, a pebble, which I’m convinced was a tiny, concentrated lump of evil, was spat up from the truck in front of me and felt the need to make friends with my windshield.  Within the 20 minutes it took me to drive home the misleading chip had turned into a full-on snap-crackle-and-popping, visibility hindering beast of a chasm that had cleaved its way from one side of my car to the other and straight through my wallet.  Fucking awesome.  Add in a rip in some much-beloved jeans, the fact that the rent is due, some heartburn and a cut finger and you’ve got yourself a asshole of a day.  I know, I’m first-world-probleming all over the place, here, but goddarnit, did it have to happen all at once?

Damn touch screen

Just as I was about to have a vicious weepfest, I remembered a quote that someone awesome once said:  “When Life gives you lemons, thank Life profusely because you didn’t have any lemons and can’t find them at stupid Sobey’s.”  The awesome person that said that, my friends, was me.

I put my nose to the grindstone, hopped on the “Gettin’ Shit Done” train and punched my to-do list in the face.  I scheduled the remainder of my day for some non-stressful, cheap craft time and some instant happiness (aka True Blood).

I headed out to the nearest Dollarama and found some cute little ceramic piggy banks.  I figured since I needed to start saving my pennies to put towards my crack problem (might not want to say that in public) I’d get a few and jazz ‘em up.

Supplies:
4 Piggies- $4
Paint- On hand
Imagination- In head
Money to put in piggies- AWOL

Mario Piggy Bros:

I'll be playing Wii Wii Wii all the way home.

Piggy Link:

From Oink-arina of Time

Can't forget the hero sword.

Van-Gogh Piggy:

"Paint your palette blue and grey..."

Missing an ear, are we?


I think I’m going to start a collection of these things.  I can see a Piggy Elvis in my future, Piggy KISS, Piggy Batman, Piggy Darth Maul… my God, the  opportunities are endless.  Now, if I could only find something to put in them.

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Well Hung: Makeshift Chandeliers for the Sassy, if not Classy

So, the hunt has begun for my very own big-people-apartment.  After 7 years of shared bathrooms, divvied-up cupboards, and roommates, I’ve begun looking for my very own place.  I’m not complaining—personally, I think I rather lucked out on the roommate front. But, I need a real home, a place where I can cook naked and let my fuzz-beast run around like the wild-sock murderer he is. Without a properly ferret-proofed home he must be confined to my bedroom.  Look at him, he longs for the freedom that comes with chewing up the inside of boots or sleeping inside a couch:

"Let me be free!"

So, I made a list of things that I’m going to have to buy for the new pad:  couch, microwave, end tables, lamps, toaster, table and chairs, etc.  As you can see, getting settled can cost a pretty penny, so I’m going to have to use some serious restraint when it comes to purchasing the decorative frivolities that I love so very much.    So far, it hasn’t been going well.  I got some cupcake sugar bowls yesterday (although, to be fair, they were a present from my boyfriend who I have dubbed with the very manly moniker of “Panda”), a new duvet cover, some curtains, some embroidered towels– the bill is starting to run a little high for things that serve no practical purpose.  One thing, however, that I really wanted, was one of those cute decorative chandeliers to hang over my bed.  I tried a little online shopping and found that they are, for the most part, super expensive.  I cannot justify shelling out $100 dollars on a mini chandelier that gives off no light and is purely decorative—I did find one however that was the size and shape of a pinecone for $59.99+ $30.00 for shipping.  What a steal! :S

I got on the crafting-pony and rode all over the interwebz looking for help and came across this site. I love that someone took the initiative to put one of these puppies together.  It was super cute and just what I was looking for, but when I ventured out to collect supplies I found that there was not a wire hanging basket, nor mardi gras bead in town.  All I could find was faux pearl necklaces and for 10 dollars a pop I might as well have sprung for a fully functional, crystal fixture.

I was ready to give up on my treasure hunt but I remembered that in a pinch crafty bitches pinch back.  I figured I’d go balls to the wall and try my hand at making one from the ground up, and while it was a lot more time consuming, I’m sure, than using pre-strung beads, I got more of a say over how I wanted it to look.  I figured I’d share with y’all 🙂

Step 1:  Collect Supplies

  • Fishing Line- I found in a drawer
  • Beads-  $3 (on sale) for a pack of 550 at Michaels, I bought three packs
  • 2 Soda Cans- liberated from Panda’s bag of recycling
  • Crafting wire- I had on hand
  • Ribbon- $1 for a spool at the Dollar Store
  • An old necklace- I used the pendant as my dangly-bit and the chain to hang my chandelier, if you don’t have a necklace like this, you can get chain at hardware stores and find a perfect finishing-piece at most crafting stores.

    Legos are Optional

Step 2: Take your Tops off
You want to cut the tops off your soda cans—this is the easy part, just be careful you don’t cut your little fingies, my gems.  Next you want to cut the centre bits out of the soda can tops- one should have a quarter sized hole in the middle of it so there’s enough flat surface to hold a small, battery powered tea-light, and one top should have the entire middle taken out leaving just the rim.   I will from this point forward refer to these as Hole-Top and Rim-Top (creativity at its finest). The cutting can be a little bit tricky, but for the record I found that diet Coke cans have the thinnest metal.


Step 3: Create a Wreath
Loop the wire around a salad bowl to keep it round.

Step 4:  Create a Skeleton
Attach four pieces of wire to Rim-Top and the wire wreath.  This will give you some support as you start to add your beads.

Step 5: Start Beading
 Tie one side of a piece of fishing line to Rim-Top, bead the line, and tie the other end to the wreath.  And I cannot stress this enough: Double knot everything.  Do about 20 bead-strings to start off with.  Make sure that they all have the same amounts of beads, otherwise you’ll have a wonky, lop-sided chandelier.  I used about 22 on each string, but it depends on what sized beads you have.

Step 6: Make a Wire Crossbar
Make sure that it’s tight enough across the Rim-Top that it won’t move around.  This will be what you hang your masterpiece from and it’s got to be sturdy.  I attached the chain from an old necklace then tied the whole thing to an open dresser drawer handle so I can work on it while it was hanging.

Step 7:  Add Your Pick-Up.
You’ll need to tie fishing line from Rim-Top to Hole-Top, letting Hole-Top hang a couple inches below the wire wreath.

Step 8: Cut Those Wires
Once you’ve got about 20 bead-strings attached, it’s time to cut your skeleton wires on the inside.  When these are gone your whole chandelier will be supported by nothing but bead strings and you’ll find it looks more even.

Step 8:  Bead Until you Think you’re Face is Going to Melt Off
In the same way you’ve been beading the top, add bead-strings to the bottom part of your chandelier.   Take a piece of fishing line, tie it to Hole-Top so it leaves two long ends.  Bead these with about half as many beads as you did for your top half of your chandelier, then tie it to your wire wreath.  Repeat.  Continue with adding bead-strings to the top part of your chandelier, as well, until you think it looks full enough.  This is the part where you turn on Pretty Little Liars and fantasize about Ezra Fitz reciting Yeats to you before he ravishes you for hours upon hours.  (Side-Note:  Sorry, Panda!)
 Step 9: Your Dangly-Bit
Once you’re done beading, tie a piece of fishing line to the centre of your crossbar on the top of your chandelier and let it hang down through the middle of the entire structure.  Add something that gives the whole thing an extra bit of sparkle—I used a pendant.

Step 10: Add your Bits and Bobs
Glue some ribbon around the wire wreath to cover up all the bits of sticky-out fishing line.  I added a bow on top of my chandelier which is completely optional.

Step 11: C’est Fini
Be amazed at creating a piece of unadulterated beauty for under 20 bucks, then sit back and revel in your ingenuity and overall fabulousness.

A Peek in the Kitchen: Boy Wonder runs Critically Acclaimed Restaurant

Regardless of the fact that this kid eerily reminds me of one of my ex-boyfriends, he still fascinates the guts out of me.  He’s 21, shy as all hell, and fucking brilliant.  I was only in Kingston, Ontario once and he was 16 at the time (oh my, I hear someone at the door.  Oh, hello, no worries, it’s just my midlife crisis).  If I ever head back I’m definitely going to pop into Luke’s Gastronomy.

Just a warning, if you’re the type of person who likes to ignore that some of your food has a face, it’s probably not a good idea to watch the following video in which Chef Luke prepares tete du cochon.  If it makes you feel better, the pig looks like he’s happy– smiling even.  I, on the other hand, am the type of person who sees a pig and ponders over the quickest way to get him into my belly. Om nom nom….

If you can’t be fresh to death… Looking to the experts and getting back to basics

I come from a pretty small town where we don’t so much have a grocery store as a funeral home where costumers can come to pay their respects to deceased produce. About once a month I’ll head home to visit Papa Pete and after a couple of days of trying to collect enough to keep myself sustained and scurvy-free makes me feel as though I would do well to run off to the Ituri Rain Forest and join a hunter-gatherer tribe. By the time I have perused all the aisles of our local Sobey’s I’ll have accidentally smooshed tomatoes, fondled wilted leafies, and have scoured every container of yogurt in an effort to find one that hasn’t grown a gorgeous fur coat.  At the end of my shopping adventures I’ll usually have a cart full of dusty cans, some boxes of cereal that look like they could have ads for the Jackson 5 on the back, and a carton of milk that, according to the expiration date, has to be drank… well, yesterday.  If you think I am joking, I can assure you, I am not.  I once found an avocado that wasn’t rotten and hid it under my jacket until I got to the check out in fear that someone would try to wrestle the little green gem away from me.  If it’s hard to get a meal together in this town, it’s damn-near impossible to make a good one.  Trying to work with what is available, it’s been my experience that:

Canned/frozen vegetables= mooshy, tasteless messes
A lot of pre-made frozen meals= salty as the dickens
Frozen fruit= often bitter and squishy
Your basic, everyday, easily findable produce= boring.

But, after a few days of soup and crackers I looked for help from my fav chefs in order to make edible meal using only frozen foods and basic, easily findable stuff.  I did my best to make lemonade out of lemons…. Actually, how about orange-juice out of oranges, I don’t think I can find a lemon.  Here’s my meal:

Recipe #1: Fabio Viviani’s Roast Chicken
Why:  There’s no other reason why I initially chose this recipe except that it seemed easy and Chef Fabio’s hotness makes me weak in the old knees.
Necessary Adjustments:

  •  I wasn’t joking when I said I couldn’t find a lemon.  I used an orange.
  • I couldn’t find fresh garlic, sage, or thyme.  So, in a bowl I mixed a teaspoon of garlic powder and a tablespoon and a half of poultry seasoning.  Instead of just pouring the powder mixture into the chicken, I rolled the orange slices in it so it would have something to stick to and season the whole bird from the inside out rather than just the bottom.
  • When coating the chicken in oil I added some butter.  Who needs arteries, am I right?

Here’s a before and after look at my bird:


I’m not going to lie, it was probably the tastiest chicken I’ve ever had.  Notice Papa Pete’s hand in there?  The man couldn’t even wait until I was done taking pictures.  I’m not really tooting my own horn as it’s not my own recipe, but I’ll toot Chef Fabios horn any day of the week- ow OW!

Recipe #2: Martha Stewart’s Risotto
Why: Everyone loves risotto.  Never had risotto?  Welcome to the most comforting food in the world (aside from mac and cheese, of course).  Oh, you have had it?  Well, please, come to my house, we’ll have a risotto party and live like fucking GODS.
My adjustments:

  • I used a mixture of yellow onion and garlic powder instead of shallots.  As I’m sure you guessed shallots were MIA within a 100 km radius.
  • I skipped the parsley

Lastly, I literally threw together the last dish
Recipe #3: Nigella Lawson’s Green Beans and Lemon
Why:  I had 1/3 of a plate to fill up and I had some frozen green beans in my fridge.  I wanted to use them in something where their natural mooshiness would be welcome.
My adjustments:

  • I used frozen beans.
  • Again, no lemons to be seen, however, I did find one of those little plastic bottles of lemon juice which did just fine.  I also added some little bits of orange to give some texture.

Verdict: Over all, it was delicious, it was filling, the whole thing took less than an hour, and was pretty damn cheap.  It was an elegant and simple meal which I shoved into my face like I was a beast who might never see food again.  Now that I’m back to the city I’m considering sending Papa Pete a lemon… I wonder if he knows what it looks like.