Sunday, December 18, 2011

O Tannenbaum!!

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope everyone is keeping sane! I just wanted to share a couple of small, simple projects I've busied myself with since finals are now over. The first is a Star Wars inspired paper snowflake, compliments of MattersofGrey. I chose to start out with a Stormtrooper design because I've always thought those guys were pretty cool. It turned out really well, but the first one took me about twenty minutes to complete. You'll need a good pair of scissors, and a pen knife for the more intricate details.
The second home-made treasure of the season is this DIY chalkboard mug. It's really simple to do, and doesn't require a lot of artistic skill. All you need is a ceramic mug, painter's tape, Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Chalkboard Paint, a brush, and a little time. I chose this little gift for my dad's wife because I don't know her all that well, but I do know she enjoys coffee quite a bit, so I'll still get credit for putting at least a bit of thought into it. You can get complete instructions for making the mug at Wit & Whistle.

If you are looking for interesting gift-wrap ideas, consider wrapping your gifts in a brown paper bag, and then pasting on black and white photos of the recipient in lieu of a nametag. You could also use old road maps, and a bit of twine for the geography guru in your life, or just for plain fun. There are many ways to get fun and creative this holiday season without breaking the bank. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Button, Button, Who's Got The Button?!

Photograph taken from seller's site.
I have absolutely adored button earrings for as long as I can remember, but every shop I find them in sets these outrageous prices that I just can't justify paying- until now. Etsy shop Button Beloved sells not only earrings, but bobby pins, and rings; all hand-made with adorable fabrics! The best part is, everything in the shop is eight dollars, or less! I received the pair shown in a cute little box tied with ribbon. If you share my affinity for all things quaint, and classy, I suggest you check out her shop.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back-To-School Book Shopping

Good morning, bloggers! I just thought I'd log on with a quick reminder that if you haven't purchased books for the semester, then be sure to stop in to your local used bookstore before you spend an exorbitant amount of money on texts. My personal favorite is Half Price Books; they have never failed me yet. If you don't have a store near you, then click on the link, and order them online. I tallied the price of this year's textbooks, and compared it with what my school was charging, and my bill went from 250 dollars to 100 dollars.
So, the moral of the story is: do something nice for the environment, yourself, and your pocket book! It's not too late to save a little dough, and a tree or two!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

When Leftovers Become the Main Course

Being the frugal scavenger that I am, I hate to waste anything that I paid hard-earned money for, and I hate to see other people do it. My mother is the worst about wasting food; she'll stock up at the grocery store, and leave the majority of her purchases half-eaten, or untouched, rotting in the refrigerator.
I decided to take it upon myself to raid her cabinets during my most recent visit, and make use of what little she had. I think this may be of use to some of you, as it can extend your groceries, and if you are like me and love to cook, you should have most of these spices on hand (much of this you can also substitute with a little creativity, and "Googling").
The first meal I prepared was Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts with a bit of lemon zest. They were incredibly easy to make, and took very few ingredients. The recipe I went with goes as follows:
1/4C. flour
1/4C. dry bread crumbs
1/2tsp. salt
A clove or two of minced garlic
1 egg
1/2C. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1Tbsp olive oil
A couple pinches of lemon zest

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, beat the egg in another, and pour the parmesan in a third bowl. Dip chicken in flour mixture, then egg, and then in the Parmesan. Brown chicken on both sides in oil, and then transfer to a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes.

It turned out beautifully if I do say so myself! The second recipe I whipped up was a copy of the ever-famous D'Amico & Sons Turkey Pasta Salad. I used leftover (but still edible) chicken my mother had in the fridge. It's the dry, light, meat that no one ever seems to want. I didn't have all the ingredients, and I don't particularly like dried fruit in my dishes, so I left a couple of things out. The recipe for this goes as follows:

Salad:
7-8oz. Rotini
1-1.5C. diced chicken
1C. slivered almonds
1/2 onion, diced

Poppy-Seed Dressing:
1/4C. Powdered Sugar
1Tbsp. champagne vinegar
1C. mayo
1Tbsp poppy seeds
1Tbsp cold water
1tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper



Cook noodles per instructions on the box (I like mine a little al dente for this recipe). Combine dressing ingredients, and chill. When the pasta is finished, run under cold water; add dressing, almonds, and chicken. I went ahead and threw in a handful of leftover shredded mozzerela that I doubted would find much use otherwise, and it added a nice flavor as well. Oh! How I love kitchen experiments.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tout est beau.

Good day, dear followers. I hope all is well with you and yours. I for one am in a fantastic mood. This summer has gotten off to a beautiful start, regardless of the rainy weather we've been experiencing. My little sister is in town for a short visit, so of course I went on a binge shopping spree, and spent way more money than I should have, but I think that's alright every once in a while, and I'm pretty satisfied with my haul.
 I've been absent-mindedly crafting through the rain (with an anime or two playing in the background of course), and I now have a whole slew of lavender sachets that I need to get rid of. They're so cute, and so easy to make, that I got a  little carried away.
I also finally had a few strands of feathers put in my hair earlier this week! I had my girl on the inside, Sarah Rae, put them in for me at a cost next to nothing. When you're trying to live as frugally as possible, it's really nice to have a best friend that only charges about ten dollars (or a free drink) a service. I'm especially pleased with this new addition to my locks because I've been sticking feathers in my hair for as long as I can remember, so to have them at least semi-permanently installed is a dream come true.
Well, I am now off to make soaps and shampoo, as well as prepare for mon copain anniversaire. Have a wonderful afternoon, and enjoy the sunshine!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bonne fête des mères!

Reminiscent of Cinco de Mayo festival.
Mum and I decided to spend this Mother's Day at the Festival of Nations in St. Paul. I won't deny that it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but I still managed to come home with a bag of inexpensive goodies regardless. I was on a mission to find a roll of Tibetan prayer flags, and succeeded. I also fell in love with a gorgeous wire-wrapped ring, a woven key chain of sorts (I'm sure there is some significance to it, but I am no savant of Tibetan culture), some Nag Champa incense sticks (like I need any more), a couple of bracelets from Bolivia, and an utterly full stomach. I haven't eaten since lunchtime, and I'm still miserable.
Made entirely of thin wrapped wire.
I was completely enthralled with the Tibetan booth. All of the goods came from a store in Minneapolis called "The Heart of Tibet", and the woman running the stall was kind enough to give me a huge discount on the ring since it was the last day of the festival. The Japanese booth was less than impressive- food included. I saw nothing there that one couldn't have found in a kitschy gift shop in a suburban shopping center, and the only foods available at the stand were sushi (snooze), and fortune cookies. Perhaps next year I'll volunteer my time to the committee and add some real pseudo-asian influence. This sad display reminded me of a discussion I had heard on MPR regarding the separation from Japanese culture that many American-born Japanese experience. It saddened me, and made me feel like even more of a nerd knowing that I had a better understanding of Japanese culture than the Japanese teens that were running the booths. Ah, well!

video

Cottage Kitsch

Two of the finished products.
I've decided to spend the last few nights in to take a much-needed break, delve into the utter calm of playing the recluse, and get a few projects done that I had been putting off. I have a queer obsession with anything kitschy and cottage-esque, and being a city girl, the closest I've come thus far is with home decor. I found an adorable white side-table next to a dumpster a few days ago, and replaced the knobs. The paint is a little chipped, but it's wear almost looks intentional, and seems to add more to its quaintness rather than detract from it. I'll have a photograph soon.
A little piece of literary history.
I've also taken on the daunting task of wrapping all of my unsightly clothes-hangers in scraps of material left over from previous projects, and they look adorable if I do say so myself. Though time-consuming, it's an incredibly inexpensive way to brighten up one's closet, and it also makes choosing outfits a bit more fun! I'm taking my cloth-wrapping obsession one step further by covering some of the various vintage novels I've picked up at thrift stores. The one pictured here is a 1946 copy from Everyman's Library, founded in 1906, and contains miscellaneous essays by author William Hazlitt. It's not in any condition for collectors (which is probably why it was only a dollar), so I had no qualms about revamping it. Had I thought more in-depth about this project, I would have sewn the title into the cloth before applying it to the cover, but luckily I have quite a few novels set aside for the same "fate", so I'll have the opportunity to practice more ornate stitching when I get around to it!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spring is upon us.



 
Tamagoyaki, seitan, and sticky rice.
Good afternoon, dear bloggers! I hope that all is well with you and yours. I'm happy to report that the spring semester is finally coming to a close, and we northerners have even gotten the opportunity to see the sun once or twice. It's been a long winter, and I'm glad to see that it's almost over. With that said, this has to have been one of the better winters I've endured. I spent most of it with some great friends, and of course, my Cody-chan.
 
  In other news, I have been tirelessly studying my Japanese, and have introduced cooking into my regimen as well. I've been trying my hand at various Japanese dishes, subsituting the meat for seitan. Lucky for me, there are also quite a few delicious tofu dishes and treats to choose from, and plenty of asian markets in the area to supply me with whatever I need. Speaking of asian markets, here's a tip: if you enjoy asian cooking, do not attempt to purchase any of the ingredients at a co-op if you can help it. I picked up a large bottle of mirin at a local thai market for under four dollars, and the co-op a mere few blocks away was charging eleven dollars for a bottle half its size. Co-ops are great for quality, local, produce, but if you're buying something that's packaged and shipped from somewhere outside of your neighborhood, I suggest you look elsewhere.


At the Japhies' show in Mpls.
Anyway, now that I've significantly improved my asian-inspired culinary prowess, I've rewarded myself with a new bentoo box ordered from Japan. I'm hoping it arrives soon so I can start carrying my lunches to work in style. I am also looking forward to having the opportunity to spend more time on this blog over the summer before the move to Texas. My friends and I have quite a few fun activities planned before I leave, including a potential trip to Germany, so I should have plenty of photographs to share, and more fun projects coming up. I shall keep you informed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

From Noodles and Paste to Fancy Boxes and Baubles.



Konbanwa, bloggers! I know it's been quite some time since my last post; it seems to be the theme of this particular blog, but I've been rather busy as of late. I just thought I'd jump on here to give you all a peek at the gift I made for my mother's celebration of her exodus from the womb (or "birthday", as many of you refer to it) . I still prefer making gifts to buying them because for one, most of what we purchase can easily be fashioned with our own mitts for much less, and two, because giving (as well as receiving) a handmade gift is always a much more satisfying experience for everyone involved.
 I've also been on a DIY gift box kick lately, and this origami gift box was just perfect for the beaded bracelet I made for the occasion. The photograph doesn't do it justice, but it's an adorable little piece, and it matches nearly everything in her wardrobe. If you have a lady in your life with an affinity for beautiful baubles, then this is a perfect gift idea at the perfect price. Altogether (origami paper, beads, and "hardware" for the bracelet) this little number cost under fifteen dollars, and who doesn't love getting their craft on?