Sunday, April 7, 2013

Guest Blogger!

I’m so pleased to be guest blogging for my wonderful friend, Kelly at I’ve enjoyed trying recipes she’s shared this year on her blog. I still love the cinnamon rolls in the waffle maker. It cracks me up to find unique ways to use things we already have. I’d like to share my Sunday Pinterest-Inspired Brunch from this weekend. There are several recipes that we tried out. My wonderful taste-tester spouse is very honest about my cooking (for fear of having to eat a bad dish again, I think!) and so that’s where the words for the statuses came from. Enjoy being at our kitchen table for brunch!

Hash brown Cups
We love hashbrowns. But babysitting them in the pan on a Sunday morning when you have tons of other things to do just stinks! So I was very excited when I found this recipe. I adjusted the recipe so it would feed the two of us. The blog said that reheating these was not as delicious so I trusted that.

5 oz. Simply Potatoes shredded hash browns
1 green onion (chopped, use the white and green parts)
1/8 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 T. olive oil
*makes five muffin cups
Preheat oven to 350 and coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients.
Spoon mixture evenly into muffin tin evenly and then press into the cups using the back of a spoon.
Cook for about an hour.
Status: They are good.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I got it from my momma!

Of all the things I got from my momma, I'm glad I got her eye for colors, textures, patterns, design and putting all those together.  I wish I had gotten her knack for cleaning as well. But I didn't.  So I spend today playing in my studio using her pieces as inspiration for my own creations. Not cleaning my house.  Again today.  I'm okay with this.

These are three more of the pieces that I picked up from mom while home visiting her.  Each time she pulled out a piece she had completed I squealed with delight.  Mom has a great technique for antiquing frames and adding texture to them.  She's only shared a few of her tips and tricks with me.  I think that the only way she'll share more is if I go home and visit her more!

 These are on display at Kelly's Bakery and Café during the month of February.  I love how her pieces look with mine up on the walls!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Have Another Cup

The background for this pieces was a happy accident.  As I worked on other pieces I noticed this beautiful texture happening on the paper I was working on top of.  I loved that the square where I had mainly worked was a little bit lighter and framed the coffee cup. 

I love the spray of the ink and the way the it adds to the texture.
I did add some highlights to the dots and throughout the background.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


My little helper.  His name is Eddie.  I use the term "helper" very loosely.  Not sure that we have a shared vision of his antics. I'm sure he really thinks he is helping me.  He is confused by the stress he causes.  He's often referred to as Eddie-No-No.  How Eddie came to be a part of family is an interesting story.

We had a cat, Otis, that we had saved from under a porch in our former neighborhood. We had an old cat named Milo when we found Otis was it the perfect name to round out our duo.  We lost Milo six years ago but Otis kept going strong. Until in the fall of 2011 when we noticed that Otis was suffering from some stomach issues.  He would walk backwards when he was hurting.  The vet gave us remedies but the little guy would hurt so badly. We knew that our time with him was running out. 

While getting ready for our October art show in 2011, Otis snuck out the front door.  He had done this before and he'd stay out a few minutes and return to us.  He had even stayed out over night with other alley cats partying it up a time or two.  When we came home from the show we were exhausted.  We woke in the morning, put food in the animals' bowls and rehashed the evening.  As we poured our second cups of coffee, we knew something was wrong.  We started calling for Otis.  And calling. And calling.  Calls became panicked shouts and we realized he was in none of his normal hiding spots in the house and not waiting for us on the porch.  Thanks to FaceBook the news spread to our friends and we had search party in full swing within a few minutes.  We looked everywhere. We had people in cars, on foot, on bikes, running around, talking to neighbors and there was no sign of our little guy.  They say that tom-cats go away when their time comes because they are born free and that's how they want to go.  That wasn't much help when multiple friends told us this. We continued to look.  By November we had decided that we didn't need to go out everyday before and after work to search for him.  We didn't stop looking when we would drive around. We even stopped one day in December when we thought we saw him.  We never did find him.

With two dogs, one of which has developed seizures and requires a lot of attention and stability in her life, I say she's a bit autistic and being a teacher that makes sense to me with how to take the best care of her, we decided NO MORE CATS...for awhile.  We should have shared this revelation with our family.  Well, particularly, our brother and nieces.  And we should have done so before Christmas!

I don't know about you but holidays can be stressful. Ha. I'm trying to be nice.  Holidays ARE stressful.  I have a bit of perfectionist in me and it has taken me ten years to find the perfect balance for hosting a "perfect" Christmas.  I had snacks ready for the early comers. I had plans for roast and chicken and enough sides that even the pickiest eater in our family could be happy.  The cookie plates were adorable. I was well-enough rested and had eaten breakfast and drank the perfect amount of coffee.  As I turned to my Emily and said, "We are so ready this year," I should have knocked on wood. 

Her mom came in with a bag of what I was content to keep a mystery to myself.  Emily took the bag and I knew she could handle the last minute addition to dinner, the final gift that needed wrapped, a casserole to throw together, a stocking to stuff.  I got drinks for the family and got the littlest niece busy with a job I had kept just for her as the family came. Another part of my perfect plan!

More family streamed in the house.  We've got this.  {Where was that wood I needed to be knocking on?!}  Someone else knocked. Why were they knocking? I walked towards the front door to see Emily opening it and a little kitten being placed in her arms.  What is this? What?! A kitten for Christmas?! I had thrown out the litter pans. We had no cat food let alone kitten food. And it's Christmas Day.  Okay.  Okay....then the littlest niece says, "Don't you just love him Aunt Mandy?" Well.  I adore her so of course I hugged her and thanked her. I then did ask if she wanted him to stay at her house to which she said she already had two dogs. I excused myself to the kitchen.

I reemerged with an extra strong Dirty Shirley {that's a Shirley Temple with vodka and today it had some extra vodka} and a smile.  Emily was already smitten with the kitten. She'd have a thousand animals if I wasn't careful.  Eddie fit into the palm of our hand.  I think Emily held him until he no longer fit into the palm of her hand.

Over a year later Eddie is growing on me.  Or I'm getting used to his antics.  He steals my paintbrushes. He rubs against my artwork and attacks my hands while I type.    Eddie eats bread that's on the counter- he tears the bag open and shares to loaf with the dogs.  Randomly we hear crashes from other rooms and later find he has knocked over things in my studio or off the stove or from the counter.  Water glasses are Eddie's. All of them! He sticks his head into your coffee cup for a sip.  Beer isn't safe on a table as he'll help himself.  Eddie drives the autistic doggie crazy as he has his own agenda and schedule.  When I get really frustrated I do remind him that I didn't invite him to live here.

But then he stretches up my leg or jumps into my lap. He's soft.  And cuddly.  His purr is pretty relaxing. Somehow those five minute increments of love each day balance out the antics! I tell him during those times that I guess he can stay.

From My Mom's Kitchen Table

While I was home for Christmas Break visiting my parents and taking some much need relaxation time, my mom shared with me her beautiful creations.  Since she didn't have a sale coming up for February I BEGGED her to let me display her beautiful pieces.  Her collages are such masterpieces and I'm excited to share the walls at Kelly's Bakery and Café with her this month. .  Mom is so much better at the book boards, tags and swags than I am.  I like big pieces but mom is an expert with adorable smalls! Easy to give to a sweetheart, loved one or friend this Valentine's Day.
The top picture is an adorable heart embellished with dainty little flowers and the cutest vintage image.  The DREAM sway is so beautiful. I hope that it doesn't sale while on the walls at Kelly's Bakery and Café so I can hang it in my bedroom.  It has such magical colors that it would fit in any of my rooms: green, yellow, tan, blue!
The bird with the flowers says, "tweet, tweet."  As if it wasn't already cute enough with those feathers! Mom added 3-d elements that let the bird pop off the board.  The LOVE swag is so adorable. We have two of these at Kelly's for sale.  The swags have been backed with thick paper and are put together in a professional manner. My mom always says, "The devil is in the details." She's very thorough and it comes through in her masterpieces.
The Mona Lisa board is an amazing collage of various papers.  The pinks play perfectly on the board and compliment Mona Lisa wonderfully.  The final picture is one of my favorite pieces that my mom made! Hey Cupcake! TOO CUTE! I love all the layers she incorporated and how the cupcake takes center stage with the little girl.  She just makes my heart smile.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

you and me

This mirror was in my mom's crafty space and she passed it on to me. Sometimes we get pieces to create with and as time passes the inspiration leaves the building. When I saw it I loved it! Wasn't sure what was going to happen with it though.

Fast forward a year and to me redoing my studio. When I found it again hiding in the corner of the studio I got to work on it. It has two of my favorites- pearls and a paper flower. I added words of love and happily ever after on the shelf and at the top. Even though it will be on display at Kelly's this month, I've found three places in my home it would look perfect in!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Follow your Heart

I'm obsessed with crayon art. I love all the different things you can do to make an old, dull crayon have a second chance at life. However, sometimes my creations are a little dangerous. I know you're wondering what's so dangerous about CRAYONS!?

Well, I should confess to you that I don't have a sense of smell. Rarely can I smell things. A random coffee here, a pot of my favorite soup simmering on the stovetop or sometimes a minty addition to my bath catch an olfactory nerve and I'm in heaven. But 99% of the time- nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So, I'm hanging out in my studio. All the lights are blazing and two computers are up and running. The television, cable box and surround sound are cranking. I'm buzzing from too much coffee and more ideas than time. Em comes in and changes the channel to one of those ghost story shows. The scary reenactment ones. I don't even notice because I'm feeding crayons through the glue gun. On Pinterest they make it look easy. It's not. I'm burning my fingers. The muscles in my entire body are pushing on this little glue gun (I didn't want to risk ruining my big, good one)! We are in a full out fight! I think I might be winning. Em goes upstairs to start dinner (when I'm in the ZONE I can't be bothered with domestic duties) and I glance up to see that this lady is about to be attacked by the ghost on tv when BAM! Spark! Smoke!

I scream and jump. I'm sure that ghost is about to get me. Wait. Smoke? Yep. The hot glue gun had caught fire and blew the power for the entire house. "Couldn't you tell how hot it was?" That's the question following the pitter-patter of the footsteps flying down the stairs. Well. Yes. Of course I knew it was hot. It's a hot glue gun. However, I could not smell the smoke! And she wouldn't let me plug that hot glue gun in again. Ever! Good thing I had another hot glue gun and she still had dinner to make.

I hope you enjoy this piece. It wasn't easy to make! It will be one of the focal pieces for First Friday on February 1, 2013, in Downtown Bloomington at Kelly's Bakery & Cafe. See you there 5-8.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Midwestern Oldtimer

I love the TV show American Pickers.  This piece makes me think of Mike and Frank wandering around the Midwest looking for the perfect pieces to add to their store or personal connections.  Through our kitchen table creations we have put our passion of picking to good use and love seeing old relics get a new chance at life.

Ride a Bike

Though I prefer a perfect spring day for a bike ride, some of my friends are willing to pedal off any day of the year.  The map for this piece was found in a garage of an estate sale and I got it for a dime. I'm pretty sure the gals at the checkout didn't see the beauty in this water damaged atlas that I was so excited to find. Notice the stamping on the bottom of this map of Illinois.  I had a great time painting the gray highlights onto the bike.  It really gave it wonderful dimension.  I am getting so excited for Friday night! This past month has flown by and it's almost time to redecorate Kelly's Bakery & Café.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dream Collage

This mixed media collage has The Daily Pantagraph from 1963 as the base layer.  Some of the quirky articles can still be seen through the paint and top layers.  Sheet music, graphic paper, a page from a book published in Braille, acrylic paints, a coffee filter flower and mirrored images make up the layers on this piece.  This will be one of the items for our First Friday in February. 

Check out Between Naps on the Porch Metamorphosis Monday (  for more creative ideas! Great party going on there with lots of crafty people sharing their work. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tour the Studio

WELCOME! My newly redesigned studio makes my heart sing! Pieces are coming together like you wouldn't believe in my new space.  I can find everything so easily and when I want some fun bit or bauble I'm not tripping over everything to find it. (And if you know me personally, you know I spent the fall with a broken rib because of a klutzy moment in the hoarder-state the studio used to be in!)  Open a drawer or door or cabinet and there is what you desire! Amazing concept. I know. You have no idea how bad it was! I decided not to even take before pictures. Let me explain that in one corner was an explosion of Christmas pieces that never came together, in another was a leaning tower of totes and boxes up to the ceiling...again with ideas that never came together, and in yet another corner was paper perched on top of bushel baskets on top of wrapping paper on top of frames. It was an avalanche waiting to happen. Since putting the studio in order, I've found six pieces that just needed a touch or two more to be finished. 

The cabinet, which has an incredible work surface, has drawers that now hold what used to be in totes and boxes stacked to the ceiling. Paper, music pages and newspapers along with bits and baubles hide in plain site now for me. This cabinet was more than I ever pay for anything! However, it was so worth it and when you consider that we've remodeled the basement and been able to reuse our couches and coffee tables, it was okay to spend the entire furniture budget of the remodel on this piece.  The table in the middle of the room was a side-table in a dining room and I bought it the last day of an estate sale for 70% off the ticket price making it $10.

 Among these bookshelves are obviously books but also more paper storage and my stamps and inks. Ribbon and fabric are in the black drawers and I have lots of space on top to stash some treasures. The bookshelves were a present (gift certificates from our Civil Union and Christmas last year).  The storage for the paper was bought YEARS ago when I was scrapbooking a lot. Don't even ask to see our family'd be disappointed! The organizational unit on wheels beside the table was a Christmas present to me from Emily this year.  It has an open top that is deep set and has three cloth drawers. My fancy scissors, punches, paints and collage supplies are in here and thanks to the wheels can move to any area of the room easily.
Please ignore that there is bit still to sort through under the main table!
Life is a work in progress, isn't it?! 

The table to the left is created from the top of a table I found on the side of the road (our old neighbors were throwing it out) and the base is the other part of the white shelves that are sitting on top of the awesome cabinet. My printer, extra computer and sewing machine hangout on the shelves below the table.
LOTS of work surface on top! Love this reclaimed wood piece. It was made from a barn that had been taken down.  It's so rustic that I don't feel badly that it already has paint, hot glue and
glitter in spots. Even though we found it at Furniture Row in Oak Express, it fits perfectly with our style. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was the piece we had been searching for!

This big white cabinet came from the salvage warehouse in town.  We had it in the office on our second floor and it was tough to move to the basement!  We had to cut off part of the top to get it to fit. We got a great price on this because we are members of the Old House Society. I don't remember how much we paid as we got it several years ago! We had to paint it and add the hardware. The smaller set of drawers to the left of the big cabinet was $1 at an auction.  I bid $5 and the auctioneer gave it to me for a buck because it was in such horrible condition. However, the hardware was there and I had vision...even though it was leaning and had birds living in it!  The cabinet  with the glass doors came from a thrift store in downtown Bloomington. It was already white! Love the glass doors on it! It was missing a top piece and didn't have a base cabinet with it so they weren't sure what to do with it.  It was priced to move and they were having a 50% off sale. Even better! I added a piece of shelving that was in my classroom and I was no longer using.  The ribbon shelf above came from mom for Christmas last year...along with the little vacuum- she knows that I craft without care of where the pieces of paper go as I work (much like her)!

Thanks for coming for the tour of the new studio! I'm off to create now. Have a creative day yourself!

Love is in the Air

     We are in preparations for the First Friday in February: Tour de Chocolate in Downtown Bloomington.  Mark your calendar for February 1, Friday, from 5-8.  We will have our lovely opening at Kelly's Bakery and Café that evening.  Stop in for "Chocolate Soup" from the bakery and check out the new pieces on the walls from Our Kitchen Table Creations!  Make sure to make your way through all of downtown for lots of chocolate treats and then head to the Castle to see Chicago Farmer...that's our plans for the evening. (I love him! Check him out on iTunes.)  For the February First Friday my pieces will be on display and if you see something you like, you pay at the counter and can take your item at the time of purchase.
     Love is in the air and I've got some great new pieces for the show. Lots of new techniques and experiments have made their way into the creations.  I've been really enjoying my time in the studio this three day weekend! Don't you love how the wood from my new cabinet looks behind these letters? I have a whole line of these pieces. Stay tuned to see pictures from my new studio and to sneak peeks at the pieces that will be on display starting February 1.