Wednesday, February 25, 2009

spring apron give away

Since every girl needs an adorable apron and spring is just around the corner, I will be giving away one of my custom made aprons to one of my lucky readers. If you would like to qualify to be entered into the drawing, please do the following:

1. Leave a comment on this post by March 9th stating how lovely my blog is and what your favorite entry has been so far. Also include your blog address.
2. Link your blog to my blog (I will also add you to my blog roll as well).
3. Feel free to add any suggestions of what you would like to see more of.

Once I have picked the lucky winner, I will email them to get a mailing address to send the apron to. Good luck to all (which I would say is pretty good since I think I have a total readership of about 8).

wild mushroom risotto

I received this recipe for a coworker who raved about it. Since I love both mushrooms and risotto, I thought I would post it for all to enjoy. I obviously won't be using dry sherry, so I'll probably substitute with a juice or something else. Now I am on the hunt for some wild mushrooms so that I can make this risotto.

35 ounces chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (such as oyster, crimini and stemmed shiitake), sliced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep broth hot.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped shallots; sauté 1 minute. Add wild mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are tender and juices are released, about 8 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add Sherry and simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 3/4 cup hot broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining hot broth 3/4 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh thyme.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the cutest aprons

I've been trying to use up leftover fabric lately, which has lead to making lots of aprons. I bought a lot of adorable fabric last year, and I finally felt like it was time to use it (or use the last bit of it). The aprons all have pleats and pockets. I thought I would show some of the cutest aprons I've ever seen.

I fell in love with the John Deer fabric the moment I spotted it in the clearance bin. I'm so in love with this craft apron that I might not be able to give it away. It might become part of my permanent collection.
I love the lime green, pink, and black and white combination. One pocket is pink and one is pink with a green overlay on top (as seen above).

This photo doesn't do justice to how adorable the brown fabric is.

The blue fabric has tiny bows, which I just loved. The black and lime green combo made the blue fabric even more fun.
This photo doesn't show just how fun these two fabrics are together: purple polka dots with green stripes.

I had the red with tiny star fabric leftover from a previous project, which was the perfect fit for the blue fabric (which actually has tiny flowers and stars in white).

Most of the aprons are created out of me picking two random fabrics and just making it work. I had leftover lime green fabric and some yellow that needed to be used up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

wednesday night craft night

My dear friend Emily suggested that we start a regular craft night to (a) help us finish all those projects we have been meaning to and to (b) add some more activity into our lives. I thought it was a great idea. Now that stack of fabric can turn into something really fun and I can use more of the leather I received. I actually have a lot of scrap fabric that I have been trying to use up on projects, so this will be the perfect thing.

Emily is also going to take some vintage patterns from her house so that we can start learning how to make kids clothing, which I think sounds like a fantastic idea. It will be a great way to perfect sewing in zippers, doing hems, and making clothes, plus we can make adorable dresses and send them to our sisters or friends!

And when I say craft night, this isn't a guise for getting together with friends to talk. We will be doing hardcore projects and getting things done! Let me know if you want in on the fun.

russian winter

My brother sent some pictures of the winter in Russia. He has been lucky to be in the southern part of Russia, so he doesn't have to deal with the crazy winters in Siberia. Above is huge ice cycle that he found and apparently started to eat.

The beautiful view from his bus stop. Doesn't this make you want to visit?

Garrett enjoying the winter. I'm not sure what this pose is all about. I'm going to chalk it up to being a missionary thing.

This is my favorite picture to date!! Is he snuggling with the puppy or about to attack? I'm not sure. The puppy doesn't seem to be enjoying this as much as he is.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I am an unabashed lover of all things cheap. Like getting great deals on clearance fabric, recycled leather, free furniture on the side of the road, and abandoned free-standing bars in frat houses in Georgetown that I take home and refinish.

This past weekend Ben and I got to shop at one of my favorite stores, Aldi. It is a discount grocery, but not your normal kind. It sells a lot of European and other brands you don't normally see for amazingly low prices. I love this store because you never know what kind of treasures you are going to stumble upon.

What? A jar of salsa for $1.50? I think I'll take two. A block of cheese for $1.30? Of course! V8 Splash for $2.10? Ben couldn't resist. Eight tomatoes for $2.00? What a steal! A gallon of milk for $2.90? Even better.

That is pretty much how the entire shopping trip went. If you are not jealous by my ability to find cheap deals, you should be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

new leather

I received a new shipment of leather this week, which made me incredibly happy. I've been on a book binding craze recently, which has caused me to run out of paper and run dangerously low on leather. Luckily, my Dad recently picked up some more leather, which he sent to me. I will have to post pictures of the books made from that leather, because it is gorgeous, but for now here are pictures of some recent books I've made.

These books are 5 inches tall by 4 inches wide. Each is made out of recycled leather, and many keep have the natural edges of the leather. You can even see the brand on the left, bottom book.

Here is a close up of the books. The leather wraps around the book and the closes with a leather strap that gets tucked under itself. Each book is made by hand is different, since the leather pieces have raw edges and I use different combinations of paper and ribbon.

Here is what each book looks like when it is closed. The curved front flap was already cut round like that, so I decided to incorporate it into the book.

Here is the same book opened up. The paper used is an incredibly beautiful paper, which you can't see that well in the picture, but is actually one of my favorites.

I love this book because of the natural edge of the leather that I was able to keep.

Here is the book opened up, where you can really see the edge of the leather. The paper is a brand new one that Ben got me for Christmas.

Here is a top view of the book , so you can see the great edges of the leather.

I love the paper I used in this book. It is a great retro poppy print.
Last night I got another supply of paper (for 40% off, which was a steal), so I'm back in book binding heaven. I'm hoping to make a lot of new books, since I have new paper that has yet to be used.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

this is my brain on drugs

This is my brain on drugs. I'm not kidding. I'm completely serious.

To make a long story short, I had to have an MRI of my head because of a disorder with my left eye that the eye doctor wanted to check out to make sure there wasn't anything serious going on behind the scenes. So I showed up one morning to get stuck in a very small MRI machine and lay completely still for 45 minutes. (Note to anyone who has never had an MRI: they are extremely loud. It was kind of like putting your head inside a washing machine on spin cycle that has all the clothes on one side, so it makes clacking noises as it spins. Only louder and more clanking noises.) The nurse put some headphones on me to help drown out the noise, so I got to listen to birds chirping and water falls. Except that when the machine was running, they were too soft to be heard.

The MRI went fine until they had to give me an injection of a drug to make the image more clear (this is called an MRI with contrast). The nurse casually mentioned that occasionally some people are allergic to the drugs. Within a few seconds of the injection I started to have a really ticklish throat, cough, and felt a little scratchy. But since I was okay, we completed the last few tests. It was only when I was changing out of the scrubs that I noticed the hives on my arms, neck, and stomach. Yes, I said hives. And I was having a difficulty breathing (kind of like asthma). So I showed the nurse, who immediately called for more nurses and specialists to make sure I was okay.

The magical cure for this was to take Benadryl, so I spent the rest of the day at home napping. The hives went away quickly, but my skin felt just a little itchy for a few hours.

What I learned from this: don't do drugs. Not even the kind the nurses give you because you never know when you are going to be allergic. I never thought I would actually be a cleshay anti-drug ad.

PS, I have to admit it was a little creepy to look at images of my brain and face. At one point I thought I was going to be sick, and then I just realized I was being over dramatic. But it is a little unnerving to see your own brain.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

cuff links

For Christmas this past year, I decided to make cuff links for the men in my family. With a few cuff link backs, some super glue, and specially chosen items from the craft store, I was ready to go. Eric, a very proud Canadian, got a matching cuff link set of the statue of liberty and an American flag. I also gave him a pair of Canadian leaf cuff links as a consolation prize. Matt, who works at an Air Force base, got a bomber plane and tank. My brother Garrett, who is on a mission in Russia, got a matching set of a martini shaker and martini glass and menu. Yes I mailed them to him on his mission, and yes he wore them with pride.

After his Christmas package spent about 3 months on route to Russia, he finally received it this past week. And in typical Spencer custom, he wore them to his zone conference and told us all about it in his letter:

"So, I wore the cuff-links that you sent, Britt and Ben, since they are absolutely sweet. I don't have a French cuffed shirt, so I cut off both buttons, and then cut small holes in my shirt cuff, in order to wear them. Yeah, when I was in my interview with my mission president, I showed them to him, and he thought they were pretty cool, too. But, my companion told me (in companionship inventory) that he thought I was, as he put it, "living in Babylon" being focused on worldly things. First, I hate cheesy missionary analogies like that, and secondly, it doesn't matter that there were alcoholic paraphernalia on them—they were so sweet! Anyway, almost everybody at zone conference thought they were amazing."

I love my brother. He is an inspiration for being such a great missionary, but I also love how he hasn't lost his sense of humor and keeps it real on his mission.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Last Sunday when Ben was visiting Boston, I had five hours to burn before church (thank you, 3:00 pm church). After making six books and completely running out of paper, I decided to bake cupcakes. I searched my cupboards and found my Valentine's Day sprinkles (actually the only sprinkles I own), which seemed perfect with the holiday quickly approaching. Ben and I actually hate this holiday, but I couldn't find anything wrong with making pretty cupcakes for myself to enjoy. Despite the fact that it was fast Sunday, so I couldn't taste the batter or frosting as I was making them, they actually turned out quite well.
I had a fantastic time decorating the cup cakes with heart and kiss sprinkles, as well as coconut.

presents from Korea

Since my brother just spent two weeks in South Korea before he headed back to Russia with his new visa, he bought a bunch of ties and scarves for our family and mailed them to my Mom. We picked out the ones we wanted via webcam.
Ben picked out a really fantastic grey and silver tie, which he wore to church on Sunday. Isn't he dashing?

A little photo-op in our kitchen as we were getting ready for church. Yes, those are roses on the counter from my husband. Yes, he is fantastic. Yes, Diedra, he does give lessons.