Making purchasing decisions and lots of food.

Words with Lou…

*chowing down on beef jerky*
Lou – Forget an espresso machine. We need a meat dehydrator. We’ll make our own jerky!
Me – Or…here’s a better idea. We get BOTH. We’ve almost acquired all of the uni-tasker appliances. We can play uni-tasker appliance bingo!

I should really try out my new bread maker that keeps giving me the eye.

In other food-related news…
Words with the Italian bakery…

Me – How much are the mini cannolis?
Lady – A dollar each or 12 for blah blah blah (I have no idea what she actually said because of the intoxicating baked goods smell)
Me – I’ll take 24!

Argilla Brewing Co. in Newark, DE makes some awesome pizza. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to try it! They make good brews too. Lou and I ordered three personal pizzas for the two of us because we’re piggies. Also, because we couldn’t decide which of their “fancy” pies to try. One had sun-dried tomatoes and arugula and another had chicken fingers, bacon, and chipotle bbq sauce!

Something strange is going on at the Acme food store near me. The lemons are the size of grapefruits!

I’ve never had a cat that would sit on my shoulders the way Eevee does. She’s hilarious and I could take a million pictures of her doing it because it’s just so funny to me. She’s my own personal scarf kitty. I don’t even mind the constant scratch marks up and down my back and shoulders. She’s not always so graceful…

I had a fragile stamp made for my orders. I designed the whole thing with my little bean logo. I especially like the teeny “crack” in the bean like a typical fragile logo has on a glass. It reminds me of Harry Potter and his scar a lil bit. I’m also pretty sure that this fragile stamp is too cutesy to even be noticed by the post office handlers, but that’s alright….because CUTENESS.

Another Amiibo I just finished up. I have ONE more to complete and then I’ll be listing them all on Lou’s eBay account. Depending on how they do, I’ll start taking commissions in my Etsy shop for future ones! I’m super excited for this Kirby. But I was a little saddened when I was looking up reference photos for the Lucky Charms. I can’t believe how much they’ve messed with the marshmallow shapes! There’s a gold hourglass shape now? Hearts, stars, and horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons, pots of gold, and rainbows, and the red balloon! Those are the ONLY ones that should exist! The jingle says it all. I’m not even sure I agree with that green clover hat that replaced the plain clover. What is that nonsense.

We went to Joe’s Crabshack not to long ago. There was a balloon artist there making things for kids. As the hostess is showing us to our seats, Lou blurts out to no one in particular as we passed the balloon guy “How do I get one of those?”. As usual, Lou and his big mouth, who is always saying what’s on his mind and getting stopped on the street because he talks to strangers even when we yell at him, had a new balloon artist best friend. He told us this was a “new design” he was working on, and even had to go in the back to make it so that he could “present” it to Lou. Every kid that saw him was in awe and SO JEALOUS. “Mommy, look! No no…mommy loooooook!!” It was amazing.

Lou’s Surprise Palindrome Pi Day Fancy Yacht Themed Roast Birthday

Cue (or is it queue?) the Michael McDonald music!

And now that you’re in the right state of mind…
Lou turned 33 last week and we had a surprise roast party for him! The theme was fancy yacht party. Whatever that means.
I’m pretty pleased with myself that I was able to keep a secret. It’s hard to be sneaky when you’re a homebody and suddenly I’d be “staying late at work” and “running errands” for hours.

Check out this banner I cut out of glitter paper by hand!

Some key moments during the roast and Lou’s impromptu thank you speech. We got him a cute lil Captain’s hat that paired nicely with his powder blue tuxedo t-shirt.

My favorite part of the party planning was making the menu. I wanted some “fancy” foods. There were deviled egg boats, caprese pops, salami, cheese & olive skewers with arugula, honey, apple & goat cheese crostinis (my favorite!), prosciutto wrapped pears with balsamic glaze and finger sandwiches – cucumber on pumpernickel and roast beef with horseradish sauce.

We attempted to make a “boat” out of a pineapple. Watermelon was the original plan, but I guess they’re not in season yet since we couldn’t find any. Look how adorable all those balls of melon are! Making little balls of fruit with a melon baller was so fun. I have no idea why.
Yesenia also made Blue Moon beer infused mini cupcakes. I’m so sad that I forgot to take a picture of the delicious cherry cheesecake my mom made for the birthday cake. It looked so glamorous with the metallic gold “33” candle I made for it.

Food & Snow

Lou bought me a pizza stone for my birthday last May. I’ve been trying to remember to use it more. I also slightly suspect that this gift was in part for him, since he gets to enjoy the pizzas I make. I smell a conspiracy!
I made a pineapple and Canadian bacon pizza. I’m pretty pleased with it since this is probably the first one that came out mostly round. I don’t know how professional pizza people do it, especially for very large pies. It’s amazing.

We also made a trip to an old hangout spot from college called the Landmark. I haven’t been there in YEARS. Despite the less than stellar Yelp reviews, I thought the food was pretty good and the staff was friendly. Lou got some kind of cheesesteak eggrolls (Isn’t that a cute presentation?) and I got a roast beef sandwich with au jus. I chalk up the bad reviews to being in a college town. College kids love to whine.

A family of birds took up residence in the ceiling of our balcony/drain gutter recently. I counted 7 in all, but you can see a few in this photo. They’re so cute. They look like mourning doves, but they have orange beaks. Why didn’t they fly south for the winter?? It’s so cold out!

View from my office parking lot last time it snowed. The Brandywine River is right over that railing. It’s really pretty in Wilmington when it snows, despite being labeled “Murder Town USA”.

Valentine’s Day Adventure

For Valentine’s Day, we decided to get together with some friends and frolic in Philly. We took the train in, because it’s not an adventure unless you utilize public transportation. Little did we know that it was going to start snow storming. I guess it’s better than rain!

We went for dim sum at some delicious place in Chinatown that I can’t remember the name of. It was only my second time, but my first in Philly. It was amazing and I wish I had more pictures than just Lou and I grinning like fools before the meal. It was wave after wave of strange and tasty dishes. And the bill was SO CHEAP. I would go everyday if we lived closer.

Then we all went for coffee and french macarons. I was beyond excited since I hadn’t had a macaron since we lived near that fancy coffee shop in North Carolina. They’re probably my second favorite dessert next to canolis. I planned on ordering 10 bajillion of them, but sadly they only had a few left of one flavor! I’m guessing this was a big dessert day since it was Valentine’s Day and all.

My one treasured macaron was delicious though. Earl Grey tea macacon with some kind of chocolate filling.

Of course no adventure is complete without a spicy pickleback shot. For those not in the know, picklebacks are a shot of Jameson with a pickle juice chaser. It’s freaking delicious if you like pickles and it cuts the harshness of the whiskey immediately. We first came across them in North Carolina a couple of years ago, but they’ve become kind of hipstery trendy now. I don’t care. I LOVE pickle juice.

And here’s the “bouquet” I made for Lou for V-Day. An assortment of beef jerky sticks that I glued some paper flower pieces to. Food is my favorite gift. You could give me food all day over a piece of jewelry. I hope Lou feels the same!

new designs

Well we were supposed to have something like 100 feet of snow last week. I can’t help feeling slighted. I didn’t WANT that much snow. But I just don’t like when people (the media, meteorologists, every one on facebook) are swearing up and down terrifying us all that I must run to the store and buy all the milk, bread and eggs I can find before the movie The Day After Tomorrow happens in real life. And now everyone’s standing around with their hands in their pockets, heads down, kicking at pebbles saying “uh…I don’t recall saying that”.

I know people farther up north still got hit with the snow pretty hard and I’m thankful we didn’t in Delaware, but it drives me bonkers when news reporters say with 100% certainty that something monumental or devastating with the weather is going to happen and then it doesn’t. Haven’t they read The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Have they learned nothing?? A lot of people are now saying “Better over prepared than under prepared”. I can agree with that. I do have a nice stock load of White Russian and Espresso-tini ingredients now.

Aside from the impending snow-doom, I’ve been busily chipping away at some new figurine designs. Here’s a few things I’m working on! Most of these gals are going to This N That Gift Gallery in Carrboro, NC, so sadly they won’t be available in my shop. But if you’re in the Triangle area, be sure to stop by!

I was waiting on these adorable little flowers that I ordered to arrive. They’re soooo cute and tiny! They’ll be used for bouquets and maybe little head pieces for the bride figurines of my cake toppers. I’m also going to offer little painted bases for them to stand on with customizable writing.

Lessons in Italian food

Words with Lou…

Lou – What’s for dinner?
Me – Spaghetti Carbonara
Lou – Aw mannn….
Me – What’s wrong??
Lou – That’s the stuff with the peppers and shit? I don’t like that.
Me – No, that’s caccitore.
Lou – Oh. …well what’s carbonara?
Me – I’m not telling you just so you can hate on that too.

It’s like living with a five year old when it comes to food with him. I am thankful that he’s always willing to try new things, but it boggles my mind that he doesn’t like classic dishes¬†like fettucine alfredo and eggplant parmesan.

The carbonara turned out alright. I was just following some 15-minute meal recipe. It wasn’t exactly authentic, in that I used the rest of a bag of bacon bits instead of frying up real bacon because it’s all I had. Ok, don’t judge, it says REAL bacon on the package. I also added some peas. Because peas are freakin delicious. I may have added too much garlic though. Lou said his whole head felt like garlic, or something along those lines. I just played it off like that was supposed to happen. “Oh, the ol’ garlic head? Yeah…umm, that’ll happen”.

Here’s the recipe for those curious: Spaghetti Carbonara

Italian Food FTW

Recently, a few of us went out to eat at a new Italian restaurant that just opened up in Pitman, NJ – Mannino’s. Our friend is the head manager extraordinaire ring leader? I’m not sure what his title is, but he’s been working his butt off to get everything up and running perfectly. Being Italian, I was really excited to try it since this is my FAVORITE type of food ever in the whole wide world and I feel like we never get it very often!

The restaurant is a byob, and we really came prepared. Probably a little TOO prepared. They were really nice about chilling the beer in the back for us and bringing out some wine holder thingy to chill that too. Also, how cute is that red wine in the front called The Scribbler?? I don’t know if you can tell, but the label is meant to look like a piece of paper ripped from a notebook and scribbled on. I’m a sucker for creative packaging.

We ordered some kind of spicy mussels & clams appetizer, along with calamari, and some freaking delicious sausage and broccoli rabe thing.
My meal had scallops and shrimp in this rich brandy rose cream sauce over linguine. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Lou got a pizza, because he’s Lou. But it was really good too! Very garlicky.

Not like we had any room left in our stomachs, but we all ordered cannolis and espresso for dessert. Unfortunately, now I can’t stop obsessing over buying an espresso machine. It was just so wonderful tasting and a great end to the meal. The owner came by a couple of times to see how we were doing. It was really nice to be in a restaurant where you feel like they care about you being there. If we lived a little closer, I could see coming here very often.
I hope this place does well. It seems to be off to a good start and I’m looking forward to stuffing my face with more delicious Italian noms.

My Halloween Costume

Well it’s practically Christmas, so why not FINALLY make an update about how my Halloween costume turned out? I mostly blame my broken phone and the difficulty I had in getting the photos off of it. I slightly blame my laziness. Ok and I also partly blame my memory for forgetting I could find most of the photos on my Instagram and Facebook. SHH.

Say hello to Fox McCloud! (I’ll get to that other crazy character next to me in a second…)

I’m really happy with how everything turned out. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a few updates here and there about the costume. Fur color and painting it, the gun, yadda yadda. After all my drama with the fox fur, I think it came together pretty well! I was mostly¬†just winging the whole thing the night before Halloween. The fox ears have A LOT of hot glue holding their shape. Hot glue is your friend.

The fox ears and tail were a little rough to the touch after I painted them the color I wanted with acrylics, but from far away I think they work great! I pinned the tail to my pants with a giant safety pin (sadly I don’t have a good shot of it on, but you can see it poking out from the side) and the ears are on a thin plastic headband. Surprisingly, it’s very hard to drive while wearing fox ears and a tail.

I painted a Nerf gun with acrylic paints as best I could. I know nothing about guns or what they’re supposed to look like. But hey…this is the future. My gun can look however it wants! I also made a holster out of thick felt and sponged it with more paint to try and look leathery. Next time, I’d definitely like to make it out of real leather since the felt was kind of flimsy. For one Halloween night, it got the job done. I also added another strappy belt around my leg for more holstery stability. I don’t know. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Having a gun prop was a lot of fun. I wanted to shoot everything! The only problem was I only had three darts and kept having to retrieve them. If I could rig something up where they’re attached to a little string that I could easily reel back in…oh man…that would be the best.

The headset was made out of an old Xbox headset. I painted an empty playing card box, added some red foam and slid it onto the headset. I found a pair of hippy green glasses at the Halloween store and cut out the little green shape I needed for the eye piece. Then by the power of hot glue and electrical tape, I used some thick black wire to attach it all together. I’m actually really surprised this all worked out alright. It’s a little janky, but it totally works!

If I have more time, I’d like to go back and fix the headset, maybe replace it. This was Lou’s old headset, and his giant head stretched the shape out a lot. Even a light breeze was blowing it off my head.

The belt buckle is made out of thick foam. This is another piece I’d like to redo, but at the time I was just working with what I had. I free-handed the Fox emblem onto the foam and painted it silver, adding some loops so I could easily slide it onto my belt. It looks just like a buckle, but it’s not very durable. I risked crushing it anytime I sat down.

I’d also like to add shin covers on my boots similar to the Smash Bros. Fox version (there’s a few different ones spanning all the different games). I didn’t have enough time before Halloween.

This is probably one of the most comfortable costumes I’ve put together, despite all my head accessories. I can’t wait to try it out at a convention.

The hilarious icing on the costume cake…you may or may not recognize the character standing next to me in the first photo. So my friend Yesenia wouldn’t tell me what her costume was. I knew she was making something, but I had no idea what. She’s a sneaky sneak like that. I show up in my costume and what do I see but FALCO staring back at me. Another character from Star Fox! Dis bish just leveled up my costume into an epic group costume!

Now we just have to convince Lou or her husband to be Slippy the Frog (also from StarFox) and we’ll be set. For now, we’re part Star Fox, a bartender, Ness from Earthbound and a shark dog. And that’s a wrap Halloween 2014!

Halloween costume progress

This year, I didn’t think I was going to dress up. I was feeling lazy and busy with other things. But then randomly, I thought of a costume that I could probably make and decided I’M DOING THIS – Fox McCloud from the video game Starfox! I have the basic clothing getup, but I still have a lot of small elements to make. I think I can do it all this weekend. I just have to go into bubble mode.

The biggest issue I ran into, that I didn’t even think would be an issue was finding the right color faux fur for the ears and fox tail! Silly me for putting so much faith in my local Joann’s Fabric store to have a light brown/rust/orange-ish color. I ended up buying a light tan (all they had besides dark brown) and using my crafty know-how also picked up some orange and brown Rit fabric dyes. I’ll dye the fur the color I need…I’m a genius! Guess what, I’m not a genius. Did you know that Rit dye won’t dye polyester faux fur? It literally washes right out. DOH! Now what??

After much searching, I found and ordered some of the proper color fur from a seller on eBay. Maybe if I was lucky, it would arrive with enough time for me to make the ears and tail. The seller is allll the way across the country, so it’s going to take forever in general. But then…just my luck, there was a glitch in the matrix and they were all sold out of that color. GAH! In a bit of desperation, then I ordered the fur from a website I swore up and down I would never use again only because they were the only other retailer I could find who had the color fur I needed. I’m stressing because the reason I originally decided to never shop there again is because they took FOREVER to ship my order.

Alright, side story…I ordered a lot of fabric and notions from for a costume I was making. It was a bit time sensitive and it was the first time I ordered from them, but I made sure I had plenty of time to get the fabric and make my outfit in time. A week later, there was no progress with my order when I checked my account online. So I contacted live chat and spoke to a CS rep who said there was a mistake with my address and that was the hold up. Apparently, my address line was too long with the addition of my apartment number. Ok, great, so why wasn’t I contacted?? The CS rep said they fixed the mistake and my order would be on it’s way soon. Ok fine. Four more days later and no action. At this point I’m starting to get annoyed because time is just tick tick ticking away. So I contacted them again explaining the whole situation and the looming urgency and their apparent butt dragging and the CS rep said they don’t know why my order wasn’t moving. WELL GREAT…GET IT MOVING. No apologies, no nothing. They really didn’t seem to care that they were driving me insane. I asked if they could upgrade shipping at least. I just wanted my order in a timely manner!…but no, they couldn’t do that for whatever reason. So after that, they assured me my order would ship that day, but it didn’t ship until the next day, according to the status on my account and the shipping notification email. Thankfully, in the end, nothing was wrong with the order, but I swore up and down that the aggravation and hassle I had to deal with wasn’t worth it. Basically, I’m worried any future orders I place with them are going to have similar issues. I triple checked my address and made sure everything was correct and now all I can do is cross my fingers. It’s only been two days with no action on my order yet and they say they ship within 2-3 days, so I still have time before I start bugging.

Anywho, while those shenanigans are going on, as a backup plan, I scoured the interwebs for a solution to this fur dye issue and found a lot of people also made the same mistake. I saw a suggestion about watering down acrylic paint and spraying it onto the fur, letting it dry and then brushing it with a cat hair brush. Surprisingly, it worked alright. The color is a little blotchy and the fur feels a little rough, but if this other fur doesn’t arrive in time, I think this makeshift one I “painted” will do alright for a night. Instead of spraying it on, I used a paint brush heavily dipped in water. It was a MESS, but also kind of fun. Like finger painting!

Look how much lighter it looks after I brushed it out. It’s just the color I was looking for. “Teddy Bear” as Lou calls it. It’s actually a smidge darker than the photo shows.

This is the gun I plan on painting. Lou found it for me at Toys R Us. It comes with three little foam darts and even has a laser sight! I already sanded it and layered on some gesso to prep it for the paint. That giant orange pull thingy is going to be a problem, I think. Oh, well, I’ll figure it out!

Once I finish the ears, tail, gun, headset, gloves, and belt buckle, make a gun holster, oh and slightly tailor the shirt and the scarf, then I’ll be all done! No problem at all……

Man, I always do this to myself.

PA Renaissance Faire Trip

This past weekend we managed to squeeze in a Renaissance Faire trip. The season ends this upcoming weekend, so we really pushed it! Lou and I found these ridiculously awesome hoodies from Kohl’s that doubled as a quick costume. I’m elbow deep in making my “real” Halloween costume (details later!), and didn’t have time to throw together much for Ren Faire.

I think I make a pretty alright Batman. Since I’m always cold, this hoodie was perfect. We didn’t realize Lou’s Darth Vader would be such a hit though. People were constantly high fiving him and gushing about how awesome he looked. Sure he was wearing shorts and poorly matching shoes, but he also had a lightsaber hooked to his belt, so it all came together…I guess.

What is this…bartender photobomb?!

In typical evil Darth Vader fashion, Lou found a Princess to harass. It’s okay…we know her. She was not impressed.

Sadly, at the end of the day in a drunken stupor, Lou forgot his beloved mug. We think he left it on the counter at the gift shop, but who knows! At least we have this photo to remember it fondly!

The best part of the day…I bought this magical jewel encrusted chalice of amazement! Lou convinced me. I wasn’t sure if it was too over the top. What was I thinking? Now I can be fancy when I sip my fancy $9.99 wine.