Monday, January 21, 2008

On This Cold Winter Night

I decided that food is just as important to our creative lives and much as design, so I wanted to pass along this recipe that I saw on Rachael Ray's show, by the way, I love that Rachael. This is a vegetarian recipe, but could simply be made to order for all meat lovers, which I am. This past week, we were eating a fruits & vegetables only diet, so I needed a little help from the vegetarian world. It's so delicious, so spicy, and seriously healthy. I'm not taking any credit for this, so hopefully, the Rachael Ray legal people will not hunt me down. You can find this on, search black bean chili, or just read below.

Rachael Ray's Black Bean Chili
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans black beans (15 ounces), drained of half their liquid
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (a large palmful)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (about half a palmful)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice (eyeball it)
  • 1 bottle dark lager beer, such as Negro Modelo
  • 1 can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (15 ounce can or half a 28o ounce can)
  • 2 cups beef or vegetable stock (use vegetable to make it vegetarian)
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

Heat broiler to high.

Char the poblanos under the broiler so their skins blacken, 7-8 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 10 minutes. Once the peppers have cooled enough to handle, peel and seed them, then roughly chop them up and set them aside.

Place a medium-size pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons EVOO, about two turns of the pan. Add the jalapeño, onion and garlic to the pan, and cook 6-7 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add in the beer, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook a few minutes to reduce the liquid by half, then add the black beans and their liquid, the chopped poblanos, spices, crushed tomatoes and stock. Bring up to a bubble, then reduce the heat and simmer to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper as needed.

Serve the chili up and pass around hot sauce, sour cream, and cilantro at the table to top it with.

Note: I didn't have any Mexican beer on hand, so I just used half a can more of vegetable stock, it tasted fine to me, but you could use apple cider or other substitutes, if you wanted. Let me know, if you make it. Warning: It's seriously spicy, which is perfect. However, if you can't handle the spice, use less jalapeno or poblano peppers. Enjoy, it's perfect for a cold, cold January. It would be perfect with some melba toast, tortilla chips, anything!

"Sew" Many Memories.

This project isn't a new one, but I just knew I wanted to share it with you. It's probably one of my favorite accomplishments, right up there with some of my favorite paintings. I will cherish it forever, and it is something that can never be recreated. That's right, it's my quilt. I've talked about it and many of you have seen it, but I want to encourage you to, perhaps create your own.

Being a lover of fashion, most of my clothes find many great memories attached to them, so much so that I hate the idea of getting rid of them. In all my moving and not having a real place to call home, I finally decided to gather all those pieces into a memory quilt. Each piece is from a tee-shirt, skirt, dress, blanket (from childhood), anything really. Almost all the pieces are different sizes, which gives it that eclectic feel, naturally. So, I cut them all up, sewed them all together (by hand). I bought a solid brown with tiny green polka dots fabric for the other side. I used a random collection of buttons on that side to hold the quilt batting in place. It took me from May until October, but since I had so much time after surgery, it was a welcomed endeavor.

Since I didn't ever really learn how to "QUILT," I recommend you find instructions elsewhere, but take some inspiration and new ideas from this project. I already have more clothing, to start another quilt, but would love to use a sewing machine this time!!

Note: I'd love to see your quilt ideas, you could do so many things, so many. Oh, and I know the title for the blog is way clever, all the pun intended.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Real Trash to Treasure...

Being newlyweds, we didn't have much of anything furniture wise, so thankfully, great family and friends were eager to help. Our cousin Melissa, gave us these old cafe chairs (from a closed grocery eat-in deli). They were in great shape, but in serious need of a face lift. The seat cushions had tears, the paint was chipped, and the color was not really my dream color scheme.

After many ideas, I finally decided to paint and recover them.
(Picture: The chair's before shot.)

Here is what I did:
  1. I unscrewed the cushion, and painted the chair with a black acrylic paint.
  2. I covered the seat with a soft beige with lavender flowers pattern. It is actually an old dress of my mom's that I had kept. I used to play dress up, and I loved it. So it has some good memories attached to it. Simply use a strong glue or staple gun to adhere the fabric to the cushion.
  3. Return the cushion, screw in, and voila.
It was so easy, many of you probably already know how to recover chairs. If I had foam, I would have used that to make it softer, but I didn't have any. I only covered this one chair for now, then placed it in an empty corner of our bedroom. I plan on covering the others (used at the dining room table) in something else. They may be all the same or who knows, I may indulge my random urges and make each one different.

Picture: Finished Product and the chair, now a decorative corner piece to add a bit more style to our room.)

Funny Story: I asked Matt if he felt like our room was becoming to girlie, he said yes, but that he didn't care. I think he's secure in his masculinity :)

Mix and Match: A Bedside Tray

Yesterday, Matt and I spent the day at home, watching movies, working on projects, and enjoying a cold January day off in our cozy apartment. When we watch tv and movies, we spend most of our time watching in our room. We only have makeshift side tables, right now, so we could use a bed tray of some sort. However, it's a luxury to purchase, so enter the creativity. As a gift a few years ago, Matt was given an art set full of colored pencils and pastels, inside a wooden case. Since we have plenty of space for our art supplies, I wanted to take the plastic cases from the wooden case and turn it into a bed tray.
(Picture: the wooden case, closed.)

Here is what I did:
  1. I removed the plastic trays that were only barely held in place.
  2. I covered the bottom of the case with mod podge (any decoupage paste will do).
  3. I arranged the pictures and postcards, then applied another layer of mod podge to seal it.
  4. Since, I want it to hold drinks, I covered the entire collage with a plastic covering, when the sealer was still wet, so it stuck.
  5. Then, simply let it dry.
  6. Then, enjoy!

You could do a theme or color scheme, or make individual tray specialized for each person, or do an eclectic design, like I did. The possibilities are endless. I already love it, and use it to hold magazines, my coffee, and books. If you do this, send me photos, I'd love to see what you can do.

Note: You could seal the two sides together to make it one large tray, but I chose to keep it like a case, that way it's easier to store and will stay in better shape.

(Picture: Finished Product and the tray in use)

Elegantly Elementary

Hello and Welcome, I'm so excited about this new blog. I can't wait to begin sharing some of my new project ideas with you. I hope this will help those of you, who don't call yourselves creative to realize it is so easy and completely possible. For you creative types, I hope it will give you some ideas or start your mind reeling with others. I hope to include not only creative ideas, but also things that inspire me and thoughts that reflect on life, art, and beauty. Feel free to share any of these ideas with your friends and family, spread the creativity around! So, let's embrace our creative gifts and clever ideas to make life a bit more colorful and designed.