Category Archives: Project Post

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I think I’ve done this once before, when I posted a recipe that has more substitutions than original ingredients. Here’s one that is a fantastic winter recipe–hearty, crunchy, yummy, and highly adaptable.

Baked Oatmeal

I’m a fairly recent convert to oatmeal. It wasn’t something we ate in my family, and any attraction I might have had for hot cereal abruptly ended when I was in the hospital at the age of four and a nurse force-fed me Cream of Wheat. But I’ve had a few good bowls of oatmeal in my adulthood, generally at restaurants where they added in a whole lot of stuff that added up to hot-cereal-creme-brulée-with-crunch. And last fall when I was at a fan con and wandered over to a nearby restaurant with my roomie, I had baked oatmeal for the first time. It comes in a square, and they bring it with cream (or milk) and brown sugar. Had it, enjoyed it, wanted to make it.

Anyone who’s looked up a recipe online knows what a confusing time-suck that can be. A kajillion versions, some of which could be exactly what you want, some of which are a world of no. Sometime it’s obvious which is which, and sometimes it’s not. To add to the time-suck factor, it’s one of the rare internet places where you want to read the comments. Because that’s where you see what creative cooks are doing, and/or those who are trying to avoid tons of sugar, fat or salt. Where I get into my happy zone is where I start combining reader variations and/or my own into the ultimate (to my taste) version of a dish.

So the recipe I found was on the Taste of Home site, here:
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Baked-Oatmeal?cpi=1&sort=2

I’ve been tinkering with this almost perpetually, and have a vegan version thought out as well as some non-vegan options. Here goes with my version and various notes:

Baked Oatmeal (veganized and otherwise improved)

Ingredients
2 cups steel cut oats
1 cup quick-cooking oats [recently I used mixed grain hot cereal oat-like things, and it was pretty crunchy. Anyone who hates food with textures should probably stick to the original recipe.]
<1/4 cup packed splenda blend brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder [seems fine without it, so I stopped using it]
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon [var: Penzey's baking spices]
1/2 c or more trail mix or nuts/fruit combo

1 mashed banana [original: 2 eggs]
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup [butter or] Earth Balance, melted [or oil]
1 teaspoon vanilla

Additional almond milk

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and trail mix. In another bowl, whisk the banana, milk and butter. Stir into oat mixture until blended.
Spoon into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until set. Serve warm with milk. Yield: 9 servings. [Well, I get 8. Also, I make it in a 7 x 11-in pan.]

About that “1 Year” thing…

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Started writing this on Sunday, but life went a little funky and I stalled before I got pictures uploaded/posted:

Yeah, I think I’m going to be extending the deadline on this “year” of crafting thing. (Actually I’ll probably keep this up as long as I have crafts I want to write about.)

So today I had a relatively large list of stuff I need/want to do. But things went a little sideways when I got a robocall from the pharmacy at FIVE THIRTY ON A SUNDAY MORNING. ::seethes:: I got up about an hour later, but still kept feeling very sleepy, so at noon I finally gave in and went to take a nap. It was more cat-cuddling than napping, but still very nice, but the moment I sat up my head just whirled. So I’ve got a headache and vertigo, so nothing that needs to be done while standing upright is going to happen today.

So. I guess this is the perfect time to show off one of the things I did during my last massive spray paint extravaganza. (Ironically, there was going to be a massive acrylic coating spray event today, but that ain’t happening now.)

A few weeks ago I found a sinktop shelf at the thrift store for $6. It has MDF shelves and metal pedestals with curlicues and metal tomatoes and eggplants on them. It was one of those with a high central shelf that’s supposed to accommodate a kitchen faucet with the big inverted U-bend. I tried it out and it was wobbly because part of the base sat on the sink edge, and part sat on the counter. And it limited the movement of my faucet. Turns out, though, that it just fits the leaning desk I got for my craft room, so I put it there instead. (I’d been wondering if one of those would work for that purpose anyhow.) But before I put it there, I spray-painted the shelves with hammered bronze-effect spray paint and the metal pedestals with that shiny-penny copper paint, which as I’ve said before I’m totally in love with.

So here’s the project:

sink shelf

So there’s a faux oak finish and the supports are painted hunter green with (hard to see here) purple eggplants and red tomatoes. I don’t know why I dislike hunter green so much, but I do. Plus EVERYTHING is improved instantly with a shiny copper coat!

100_3501

And a process pic here.

sink shelf painted

See what I mean about shiny penny colored paint?! See?!

desk shelf

And now here it is in place at my crafts desk, though not entirely set up the way it’ll eventually be when I get time and my brain back. And, by the way, if it had been just that little bit too long to rest on the desk, I was going to hoist it on a pair of glass bricks I got at ReStore a while back, but those now are waiting for another opportunity to become a thing.

Dead and berried

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Dead and berried

Things have been a bit hectic this week — well, they are hectic all the time, honestly. But I did want to post some of the spraypaint extravaganza and decided to focus on one item and some similar things I’ve worked with in the past.

This weekend I got the most awesome spraypaint. It’s this shiny shiny coppery color, just like the newest new penny. So while under the urge to play with it, I grabbed the paper maché berry box I had kept because it didn’t have any berry stains or anything. Such an iconic shape–I seem to remember there’s a ceramics artist who did ceramic versions of paper plates and such, and I think I saw a berry box replica, too.

So I spraypainted the crap out of this, and check it out!

Ooh, shiny!

And the inside:

Isn’t this color just awesome?

I love the humbleness of the item combined with the shiny metallic, and the texture along with the shiny.

I love making things with paper maché packing materials, too. The kind that’s molded to fit around an item, much like a styrofoam piece around a small appliance. A friend from my art group brought in these long pieces that she salvaged from a business, and I started painting it turquoise. It became clear I was running out of paint long before I was finished, and there was no more turquoise in the store room, so we watered down what we had, with the results that the ends got lighter and lighter. I decided I liked the look of it that way, so never went back at it with more paint. Another friend who shares my love for Mexican tin objects gave me a box full of tin pieces, so I glued some of them to the piece.

I like the weathered effect that running out of paint gave the piece.

And here it is in context on my wall:

Speaking of the little tin thingies. And some art I bought on the street (the Statue of Liberty) and in a bar (David Cone), both in NYC. I love buying art on the street.

It’s nice when the shape speaks to me in some fashion. The square piece below (which I think was packed around a yogurt maker) just seemed to have a mechanical feel to it, so I wanted to paint it a rust color. I added all kinds of bits and bobs from the “found objects” stash at art group, wanting it also to have a petroglyphic kind of feel. It would make a bitchen clock, too, if not for the pieces that the hands would keep getting hung up on. I have its mate, and I may yet make a clock of it.

Steampunk petroglyphs?

I thought it went well with a few pieces I’d collected in Mexico, plus a painting by my friend Tom Kramer. This is on the wall opposite the blue piece, a little ways down. This assemblage is across from the open doorway to the living room, so I consider it part of the living room décor. It goes very beautifully in colors and feel.

I really need to do something with that doorbell, I think…

So that’s that for tonight.

Don’t pay the ransom, I escaped!!!

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Don’t pay the ransom, I escaped!!!

GISHWHES had me for a week, but I finally escaped its clutches. I’ve been fighting off a bug for the last few days (and even was during my one precious weekend during GISHWHES), but I’m emerging victorious (I hope, because my birthday is on Monday and I’ll be really cheesed off if I’m sick).

So, GISHWHES. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this, it’s the brainchild of actor Misha Collins, who plays with his fans like we’re action figures (dolls, dudes. They are dolls) for charity and also for general glee. It’s a scavenger hunt that involves not just finding things, but making things happen, or making things. A great deal of absurdity is involved, and items you think are impossible to fill, but when you are on a team with 14 mad geniuses, somehow very often someone finds a way to fill them. It’s fun, it’s exhausting, it’s record-shattering. (I have a Guinness World Record certificate to prove it.) I had amazing team members this year, and we’re still awaiting results on the winners, but whatever, we made a lot of awesome.

Someone needs to tell me what the hell I’m going to do with a 2′ x 2′ portrait of Jensen Ackles done in Skittles.

a la Warhol

The silence of the lamps — Project 32

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The silence of the lamps — Project 32

Just as I’ve hit the point where I want to Spray Paint ALL THE THINGS!! it’s also getting to the point where it’s often a bit too cold to leave the car out. But I’ve pretty much turned the entire garage into the painting station and I have at least one more piece I’m dying to paint (though 2, really).

Anyway, I have this lamp that I bought when I did a very girly remake of my NYC bedroom sometime in the 90s, with some leaves and petals worked into the shade. I’m well over that now, so I decided spray paint was the thing.

I didn’t think to take a picture of the whole lamp before I went at it, but here are the components:

All your base are belong to us.

Only one shade, and it’s not grey

Decided to use the flat black paint on the base, with an effect somewhat like that Led Zeppelin cover with all the people fondling the weird black artifact. And spray paint through lace on the shade, the way I’ve done with fabric paint on t-shirts.

Wrapped in lace.

And here’s the result, in place on my nightstand:

Made in the shade.

Brace(let) yourself–here comes Project 31

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At long last, here’s the knotted bracelet I made at the Supernatural fans gathering, which I mentioned last week. We were supplied with a length of hemp cord, a DIY charm made from a decorated washer, and a gun charm to represent the demon-killing gun made by Samuel Colt in the show’s lore. There was a collection of other charms we could use, so I added 3 to make a nice, even number. A wing to represent the angels storyline, a key to represent secrets (or just Papa Winchester’s self-storage locker) and … well, beats me what the big honkin’ bird represents. I just liked it.

Not sure if this is before or after I trimmed the adjustable ends a bit.

The other side of the washer-charm:

This side of the washer has the Solomon's Seal aka the devil's trap

My captions have disappeared, for some reason. This side of the washer has the Seal of Solomon, aka the devil’s trap.

I was going to link to the sites listed on the instruction sheet, but I can’t find where I put my little swag bag from the con. I found some hemp bracelet video tutorials on eHow (and I don’t know about you, but I find I’m much better watching someone make a knot than looking at a diagram of how one’s done), and this is a similar knot to the main part of the bracelet: http://www.ehow.com/video_4433735_making-square-knot-hemp-bracelet.html

The separate piece that the two long strands slide through to adjust the fit is the part I’m not sure where to find. I had a tough time getting that right (and think I screwed up at one point). And now there are a couple of long strings hanging out of that clasp knot, and I’m afraid to snip them because they might be key to the whole thing.

But hey, it works and it is a neat little piece and blah blah blah spirituality of imperfection.

Pictures or it didn’t happen–Project 30

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Pictures or it didn’t happen–Project 30

I’m still deep in the middle of a writing project I thought would be done by now.

But here’s pictures of my gradient painted chest — it’s got some imperfections (NATURALLY) but I. Love. It.

I now want to get some other stuff painted before it gets too cold. So here goes….

The pink version that was Just Not Me.

Front view.

But I really liked those colors played off the glossy grays and black.

Still some pink, but much more me.

The sides of the drawers show off a bit more of the imperfections of the finished piece. The top drawer is much lighter because I forgot my plan to paint the sides all with the unblended burgundy, then I painted it over with another coat of burgundy. Since it’s not going to be on display in its opened state, really no one’s going to see it who doesn’t already know. And let’s just say I am rather disinclined to mess with paintbrushes again when spray paint is so much fun.

Right in the chest

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I made it through most of the frame and 2 drawer-fronts on the chest of drawers before I didn’t feel I had enough light to continue. (And oxygen was an issue.) I probably won’t know until I can haul them out of the garage into daylight to get a good look whether or not the coverage is good enough to do it in one coat, but it looks good at this point. I hope so! I really need gloves and a mask to do any more of that. (Stupid not to in the first place.)

I have one drawer-front left and the rest of the frame, where I ran out of flat black paint.

I think the gray/pink and black/burgundy of the front/sides are going to look kind of cool together, when the drawers are open.

Now I’m off to continue writing a story I’ve been working on. Deadline is Sunday, and my Saturday and Sunday are kind of packed.

Hm. I want some ice cream, but I don’t want to have to go out to buy it. :(

Foxy Ladies – project 29

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Foxy Ladies – project 29

Remember the days when ladies used to wear little dead creatures, faces, feet and all, draped about their necks?

Yeahmeneither. I am much too young.

Well, I probably remember when old ladies occasionally did it. I definitely recall when such things turned up at garage sales full of vintage clothes. In fact, I, er, bought a little mink back in the days when I was a college student with a wild assortment of vintage, new wave, proto-goth and own-personal-style wearables. It had a little hingey thing so it could bite its own tail to secure it as you wore it.
Even irony can’t carry off dead things for very long, though, so it has been long gone.

At any rate, I’ve noticed foxes are a Thing now. They have possibly become the New Owl. I recently saw a sweater in a catalog which had a knitted-in design that looked like a fox stole, and I thought CUTE! Ironic dead animals without the animal death!

Which got me to thinking about the merino wool sweater I bought many years ago at the Burberry outlet in Vermont. Gorgeous tweedy russet, my first wool without itch. But it was a size that is distant history, plus pullovers are not my speed anymore, since tearing them off at the first sign of a hot flash is not the most discreet move. So I started playing with the notion of making my own wee fox, starting with an amazingly thick felted raglan sleeve, which already had a critter-suggestive shape.

I kept looking around online for a pattern, but most of those were for knitting or a stuffie, neither of which was helpful. After searching and considering and being very nervous about the whole thing, I took it to women’s art night at the local arts center for moral support, where I hacked one of the sleeves free-handed to make a fox-shape. It came out encouragingly well. I got a tail out of the same sleeve, then cut four legs from the sweater body. All of this was eyeballed and then cut freehanded, and at no time did I feel terribly certain about the whole thing. The tail, in fact, I amended a bit when I looked at some fox pictures online to see how much white I should put at the tip. The ones I looked at had a broader tip than I had made, which was rather pointy. I went into my stash for a white felted sweater, and used the sleeve to create that brushy effect, leaving the seam uncut so I could surround the original tail tip. I had some glossy white non-wool roving in my stash, so I needle felted that onto the white part to give it a more dimensional feel, and obscure the hard-lined border between the russet and the white. I dithered about whether to felt in some white around the nose area to give my fox a narrower looking face, and I’m still uncertain whether I love it or not.

And speaking of eyeballing it, I finished it off with the obligatory glassy eyes, which I got from the hobby store. I measured the distance to get them even, which is the first and only thing I measured in this whole project. After that, I sewed on a couple of pointy little ears, and some velcro hooks under the chin — the felt itself provides the loop part.

So…the finished item:

Craftus Interruptus cured!

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Okay, so I’m back from vacation and before that, from my usual pre-vacation frenzy. In fact, the PVF was so frenzied that I got my craft done but didn’t have time to fool around with pictures or posting.

Here’s a simple jewelry DIY I’ve seen around Pinterest.

Denim, wire & beads

The main thing that surprised me on this one was the fact that it’s the vertical seams you use on this piece rather than the hems. Which is good, since I had been thinking “but my hems have gotten all ratty and worn out!”

And since my favorite jeans which I’d dyed turquoise about 6 months ago to extend their life have finally sprouted a hole near the crotch, expect to see some other recycled jeans crafts around here.

Source for denim bracelet tutorial: The site’s in Chinese, but the tutorial’s all pictures. http://www.duitang.com/people/mblog/15856615/detail/