I forgot to take pictures

Part of my DIY Christmas gifting includes a photo frame for Eric to take to work with him because he’s always saying that he needs a picture for his office. I stopped at Michaels after work last night (awww. It was kind of nostalgic, and I even saw my old boss, who was very nice) and purchased a wooden frame to paint.

The irony, of course, is that while I got one picture of the base coat, I forgot to get any others. And the frame is now in a box, wrapped, and under the tree, so unless you want a picture of the wrapped box, I’m afraid I’ve failed in sharing any visuals.

But here’s what I did, anyway:

1. I painted the frame with a metallic silver. Since I was putting a photo of our elopement in the frame, the silver complements the white and black of our outfits.

2. Using a black permanent marker, I wrote the last lines of a poem that was read at our small ceremony for family.

3. I put the photo in the frame, put it in a gift box with a letter, and wrapped it.

Done. He gets something that he’s been asking for, it has a personal touch, and with dry time for paint, it took all of an hour. In case you are curious, the poem in question was “Litany” by Billy Collins. An amusing read, for sure.

I have caved, though, and I purchased some things for him, too. Alas. Time has not been kind to me this holiday season, since I’m working retail, and that makes it hard to do a whole lot of crafting. It is a little bittersweet, but I might as well get used to it. Once I start school again, I think it will be some time before I am able to get back into my craft room for any real length of time. Sad day.

With the rest of my afternoon before going to work, I’m going to make the labels for our canned gifts. Last bits of food gifts are going to be made this week, and then I’ll ship them all next week. And somewhere in there I have to write Christmas cards.

When did this holiday become more work than celebration? Bah humbug.


Homemade apple butter – the extended edition

I am writing with the intention of sharing how Eric and I made apple butter last week for our DIY Christmas this year, but before I start, I just have to talk about yesterday.

As some of you might know – hopefully all – on the 14th, The Hobbit will be released in theaters. That is great news. But what was even better news to me was that this past weekend (8th and 9th), theaters around the country/world were showing all three extended versions of Lord of the Rings. And I mean in a row. 800 minute run time (with breaks). And because last week the Universe seemed to be smiling upon me, I had yesterday off for the first time since I’ve started this new job.

So Eric and I went to see all three Lord of the Rings in theaters, and it was amazing. There was a small group of people there (I hope Saturday was busier. I can’t imagine how more people would not want the opportunity to see these films on the big screen again). Between films, one of the theater managers would come out toward the end of our break and have trivia questions for us, with prizes. Via Eric’s insistence, since I kept muttering answers under my breath while other people were participating, I actually stood up for one question and won him some candy. I mostly stood up because I was shocked no one had shot up immediately. The question was “What is the translation of the inscription on the one ring?” I wasn’t going to bother standing because everyone knows that. But no one stood!

If you’re not familiar and are curious, the inscription is “One ring to rule them all; one ring the find them. One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness, bind them.” It’s actually part of a longer poem about the rings of power that I will save some face by not posting in its entirety, even though I recited it on the way home last night. I told Eric that in the nerd world, he’s my trophy husband.

The showing started at 11am, and we left the theater just after midnight. Worth it. Totally worth it.

Now onto the crafting/cooking. Last week, in our hurried pace to get through making the last of the Christmas gifts, we made a rather large batch of apple butter. Here is how we did it:

1. We washed, peeled, and diced(ish) the apples. The instructions said to core, and since we don’t have any fancy device to de-core, I just chopped around it. It worked out fine.

2. We added the apples, along with a cup or so of water, to a pot and let it simmer for about a half hour. We wanted the apples soft enough to go in the blender.

It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.
It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.

3. When they were soft, we threw them in the blender and pureed them. I now have an old-school grinder that would have done the trick, but we were going for fast, not necessarily authentic, though I would love to use that device sometime.

4. When the apples were blended, we essentially had applesauce. In fact, when we make applesauce this week, we will get to this step and part of step 5, then be finished. But moving on!

Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.
Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.

5. We added the cinnamon and ground clove that give apple butter that slightly spicy taste, and we threw it back into the pot to cook. We cooked it until it was sticky and did not slide easily off the spoon.

This is not even close to ready
This is not even close to ready

6. It took almost another half hour before the butter was the right consistency. Luckily we had practice with the peach butter, although that did seem to go a little bit quicker.

7. When it was ready, we poured it into our sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space, screwed on the lids, and processed them in our boiling processor for 10 minutes. We made 12 small jelly jars.

Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.
Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.

All that’s left for these is some decorative flair. I will put the labels on and cover them prettily.

All that’s left for Christmas goodies are some blank-in-jar things (cookies, pancakes, soup, etc), the applesauce, and I think I will bake some cookies for those without the penchant for cooking/baking even pre-made mixes.

And Eric’s gift. I am caving and buying him some things, and while I’m not terribly pleased with giving in, I am more interested in making sure he has useful and enjoyable things that he wouldn’t buy himself. Which, if I’m being honest, is not a lot of things because he generally just buys what he wants. He’s gotten better around Christmas, though, after three years of me bugging him about it. 🙂

Well, then, I am off to continue my adventures. Keep it crafty!




Super birthday ideas

My brother turns 11 this year, and while I still need to come to terms with that, I can easily move onto thinking about totally sweet birthday ideas for him in August.

After talking to my mom for a while today, I got a great start. She is redoing his room to be a superhero theme, which I think is about the coolest idea ever. Maybe the only thing cooler would be a Doctor Who theme. But I digress. With that in mind, I’m thinking it’s time to get crafty!

There are so many home decor items for sale with a superhero theme, but I don’t want to just buy something and send it. I would much rather make something specifically for him, but then, isn’t that one of the reasons that we craft? Still, it’s a lot easier to steal an idea than to come up with one, so here is what I’ve found:

Spiderman room from Pottery barn

All kinds of decor at Amazon

Marvel sells stuff, too

Check out all of these products

And etc.

There are just as many craft websites with how-to’s and examples of completely remodeled rooms. Of course, since I’m not there, and I can’t just go in like a whirlwind, I need to keep things kind of low key. I’m thinking maybe some wall decor, a door sign, self-made decals, etc. Mom requested a curtain, which I am happy to do.

So here are some fabric ideas:

Marvel Retro Comics Packed Superheroes Multi Fabulously retro, courtesy of fabric.com

Marvel Comics Superhero Names on Beige - Fat Quarter Quilt Fabric Some of Marvel’s big guns, or at least their titles

DC Comics Batman Joker's Back - Fat Quarter Quilt Fabric For a little more variety, try some DC comics

These would make a good curtain – maybe even sheets or pillow cases.

As for other projects, I’m thinking his name in wooden letters, decoupaged with comics. O paper letters on a string?

Decoupaged letters here.

My concern with the wooden letters is that they are kind of becoming clichĂ©, and no offense, but my brother is totally original, so he deserves totally original stuff, too. Which is why I’m leaning toward paper letters on a string, a la wedding banners.

Regardless, I’m going to try to draw him some stuff, too. Maybe frame it, maybe use it for the decoupage, but I think that would be fun.

I am out of town again this weekend, so no posts from me. Be on the lookout for a guest post, though!