I'm doing a little germinating this week. I'll be back soon!
New Orleans is unique in that it offers its partygoers a portable option for cocktails - the "go cup." Armed with a go cup, you're able to journey from one destination to another without being stopped for an open container. So when my East Coast girlfriends came down for the weekend to celebrate two milestone birthdays, it seemed only fitting to find a go cup that was a few steps above the norm (the norm being plastic - which, legally, is what it's supposed to be).
I went to Cheryl Charming for handmade cocktail rings - vintage glass coupettes attached to adjustable, silver plated rings. We wore them, we drank from them. They were a blast! And should you find yourself coming to New Orleans for a girls weekend, you can have your own, sold here or at Lost and Found.
Even if you're not coming to New Orleans anytime soon, here are the recipes for what we drank that weekend. The Vieux Mot was perfect for our cocktail rings and the Ramos Gin Fizz is a New Orleans classic that swayed even the most reluctant of drinkers among us. Cheers!
(created by Don Lee of PDT)
1 1/2 ounces Plymouth gin
3/4 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/4 ounce Simple Syrup
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupette. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
To make Simple Syrup: Bring equal parts water and sugar just to a boil; stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let cool.
Ramos Gin Fizz
1 egg white
2 ounces Plymouth gin
1 ounce cream
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (see above)
4 drops orange flower water
2 ounces club soda
Place all ingredients except the club soda in an empty cocktail shaker and dry shake to emulsify the egg white faster. Add ice to the cocktail shaker and shake VERY well. Strain into a tall, chilled glass with club soda in the bottom. Garnish with an orange twist.
Once in awhile I'll come up with a project that I get a little obsessed with and can't stop making. This decoupaged lace container that I made for Better Homes and Gardens was one of those projects. It all started with my love of textured pottery, but as I've been embracing my more feminine side lately, I was drawn to using lace as well. Admittedly, I wasn't even sure it would work. But not only did it work, it was one of the fastest and easiest projects I've ever undertaken.
I started with white containers, cut a strip of eyelet lace wide enough to cover it, applied a layer of Mod Podge in matte finish, and wrapped the eyelet band around the container. I let it dry, trimmed the edges with sharp fabric scissors, then dabbed on another layer of Mod Podge (matte finish) with a foam brush and let it dry thoroughly. That's it! A single coat of Mod Podge over the fabric lifts the weave a bit and gives it a rough, textured feel and look that's not too rubbery. (In fact, I tried two coats and didn't like the look nearly as much).
Since then, I've moved on to different shapes and tried my hand at tapered containers (Cutting small slits around the bottom edge of the fabric helps when you're dealing with a tapered shape. You can then carefully overlap those cut edges without making much difference in the look of your lace). I've also started working with flat objects (to be used as trays) and introduced containers in different colors. Mostly I'm using cotton eyelet fabrics, but I've found that lace trim works as a nice embellishment as well.
I think there are a lot of possibilities here. Eventually I think I'll branch out and try eyelet lace over bright, modern colors (red, yellow, turquoise) and I'd love to create a grouping for a table (wouldn't these make great centerpieces for a bridal shower or casual wedding?). They're so easy to make - I hope you'll try them!
Lace trims work just as well as fabrics. I don't apply Mod Podge to the entire container - I brush it onto the area that I'm applying the trim. Q-tips are good for cleaning up excess Mod Podge around the edges.
Resources: I've been finding lots of cotton eyelet fabrics on Etsy, along with lace trims available in small amounts.
**UPDATE: I'VE CREATED A PHOTO TUTORIAL HERE.
Title photo by Rob Brinson for BHG
The feature I did for Better Homes and Gardens May is on the newsstand, which means I finally get to share some of the projects I've been keeping under wraps. The first is the invitation shown above - paper origami cherry blossoms glued to a twig from the garden and placed in a brown paper envelope, along with a card. I love this as a simple invitation, but I think it would make a lovely "Happy Spring" or Mother's Day card as well.
I also crafted several containers for flowers and I think you'll have fun with those, too. My favorite is the lace decoupaged vase. It's one of the easiest projects I've ever come up with and one of the most satisfying. I've been collecting lace and making them ever since (I'll show some of them off later in the week).
To see more of this feature and get directions for the projects shown above, you can pick up the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens or visit their website.
Photos by Rob Brinson
Somehow the month of April is slipping by and I can't believe that Easter's next week. I'm hoping to spend a little time this weekend doing some personal holiday crafting and I've been prepping by gathering inspiration. Here are some of my favorites:
Ostrich egg centerpieces via Wunderweib
Egg planters from Better Homes and Gardens
Cake pan and recycled tin can centerpiece from Good Housekeeping
Still one of my favorite Easter basket designs from Martha Stewart Living
I'm smitten with these fondant cupcake toppers I found on Etsy
Printable Yolk Folk from Mibo Studio
Crepe paper treat carrots from Martha Stewart Living
Clever simplicity via Just Jenn Rants and Raves
DIY Bead-and-pin Baskets from Design Sponge
Bunny cupcake embellishments from Le Fru Fru
Stenciled eggs from Le Papier Studio
Possible for even the most time challenged, sugar cookie bunnies from Martha Stewart Living
Clever and super easy washi tape Easter egg card from Creature Comforts
Bunny fold napkins from Martha Stewart Living
I don't usually repost recipes, but it seemed like a good time to share this with new readers.
I made these cupcakes a couple of weeks ago for my son's preschool class and they were a huge hit. You know when you can entice 18 young children to clean their plates you're on to something good. The biggest surprise for all of them - where did the carrots go? To pull off that little trick, just make sure to finely zest your carrots. I use the Microplane Zester, which makes quick work out of the whole thing.
Get the recipe here.
Photography by Bryan McCay
My May column for Family Circle is on the newsstands now and I wanted to add a few notes about the project (space constraints make it difficult to include every tip and observation on the page).
The idea of plaster flowers certainly isn't a new idea, but I had not found any examples of colored plaster, which I wanted to mix in with the standard white. I tried two types of food coloring, both of which are represented in the photo above. The first, McCormick's Neon food coloring set (available in grocery stores) produced the most consistent, overall color and coverage. That's what I used for the pink flowers.
But I also tried Wilton's Icing Colors concentrated paste food coloring (which I found in the cake decorating section at Michaels) in Ivory. The yellow daisies shown above started off as white fabric daisies that I dipped into the Ivory colored plaster. In their initial drying stages, the flowers seemed to be drying consistently, but after several hours I noticed that the color was becoming concentrated on the flower tips and looked yellow instead of ivory. I thought it was a great effect and worth mentioning.
Another experiment I tried was in using different colors of flowers to dip. I found that if I wanted to create highly detailed pink flowers, I was better off starting with a pink flower and dipping it just once (possibly twice, if the first coat is really thin). As the plaster dried, some of the pink flower showed through the plaster, but this looked pretty. The more you dip, the thicker the coating and the more detail that you lose.
When it came to drying these flowers, I found I preferred hanging most of them upside down from a hanger, secured with a clothespin (I hung them from my shower rod and placed a plastic garbage bag over the tub edge to catch any drips). Smaller flowers (or flowers whose petals I wanted to showcase open), I stuck the stems in a Styrofoam block. But I also wanted to include a few flowers and buds on their sides, so I let those dry just resting on the plastic garbage bag. That gave them a flat bottom that was easy to glue onto the mirror.
Finally, don't skip the fixative step. Plaster flakes easily and the fixative will give you a highly durable finish. So durable that I was able to ship this mirror from New Orleans to New York without losing so much as a tiny bud.
For a long time I've wanted to get up before sunrise and shoot photographs in the French Quarter. I managed to pull it off this weekend, when several of my East Coast girlfriends descended upon the city to celebrate two milestone birthdays.
Up before dawn with two tired, but enthusiastic partners we made our way down to the Mississippi, just in time to see a magnificent fog rolling in, the sun rising at the same time. It was one of those magical moments and I was so excited to be there, to get to take it all in with my camera.
That experience recharged me creatively and I took more photos over the weekend than I have in a long time. Empty restaurants, streets photographed through the smoke from sparklers at a wedding, lit chandeliers in otherwise darkened storefronts, lights blazing in decaying stairwells...It was a completely new experience for me, photographing my city at times of night and morning when I'm usually sleeping, and I'm already thinking about my next subject matter, the places I want to explore in the near dark. It also reminded me that when you're at a creative ebb, it's sometimes just a matter of stepping outside your comfort zone, forcing yourself to see things in a new light.
I keep a list of things I want to share on this blog. The list is always much longer than my life will allow. But occasionally, I run across something that reminds me of what I really want to share, what I've been thinking about all along.
For months now, I've been thinking about gratitude, about how absolutely grateful I am for my life, for all the ups and downs, triumphs and despair. I've thought a lot about being a kid, being someone who's been able to chase dreams, who's had the satisfaction of seeing some of those cherished wishes come true. Part and parcel of those dreams are the unexpected joys, the quiet moments that turned my life upside down, the experiences that shattered me into a million pieces and then put me back together again.
I'm grateful. I love that I'm here, that I get to take part in this life. I am grateful for all of the dreams that have come true, especially the ones I couldn't articulate or even hope to realize on my own. I'm grateful for the amazing people I've met on this journey, the kaleidoscope of perspectives that have transformed my life. I am so grateful for this unparalleled gift - all of it.
Have a happy weekend!
(This quote is from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The typography comes via Pretty Zoo.)