The Blue Octopus- Sips-n-Canvas

Hi, my name is Monica. I am a craftaholic.

I certainly can’t decide which skills I would like to hone in on in the craft world, so I’ve decided to dabble in them all- and I mean ALL. This week’s adventure brought me to The Blue Octopus in Tacoma, Washington.  My dear friend over at Mary Jo Photography recommended this adventure thanks to a quick snag of a Living Social deal.  I am so glad she did. This is soley a blog about my super excitement about the entire experience. So. Much. Fun.

Walking into the studio space- The Saint Helens Ave Mercantile, you will find a creative co-op run by 4 fabulous and entrepreneurial women.   Located there is the OCD Candy Company, The Tea Works, Wolf Bear Treasures & Orcal Card Reader- Gail Scott, and of course The Blue Octopus. It is filled will all things lovely, creative, and a bit eclectic. Something for everyone really. The painting class is taught by Kerry Cole, who quit corporate job permanently a few years ago to get fully immersed in her art. Luckily for her students and the community, she did.  Her art covers the walls and can be felt in every speck of paint on the tables.  Every piece feels like it is personal and has a story.

The Sips-N-Canvas class is an opportunity for those interested in painting to dabble (stipple) their way into the paint media.  Kerry starts everyone off by having them choose an image that speaks to them.  She gets you all the supplies and techniques needed to create a masterpiece including cheese, crackers, and wine. of course wine. During the two hour class, she is patient, knowledgeable and SO encouraging.

This was one of the best guided art experiences I’ve had in a while, and would highly recommend Kerry’s classes to anyone interested in painting.  Her art is for sale on etsy, in her shop, and at exhibits. Her painting classes are open to everyone, and she even offers private parties. Who’s in?

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Easy Apple Chips

I don’t make resolutions. I  only make goals. This year, I’ve set the goal to be a happier, healthier me- mind, body, soul.

Food would be a big part of living healthier. I tend to go to lighter fare, but can find myself seeking sweets. All. the. time. Cold fruits get slightly monotonous for me, so I’m always seeking something healthy, easy to pack, and delicious. Finding myself without a dehydrator (would use too much counter space, I have to improvise.  Baked Apple Chips. Recipe/DIY at bottom.

You’ll need:

2 of your favorite apples

1 cup of apple juice

Cinnamon (for taste)

Tools: Mandoline Slicer, cookie sheets, cooling racks (parchment paper)

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1. Slice your apples into the thinnest slices your cutter allows.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper (trust me, this will save sticky scrubbing later)

3. Soak in apple juice with cinnamon in a bowl for 20 minutes

4. Line apples onto cooling racks without overlapping.

5. Put cooling rack onto cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 25 Minutes at 350 degrees.

7. Turn heat off, open oven to cool it a bit, and keep an eye on the apples.

8. When apples are dry, take off racks and enjoy or put in seal-able container for fresh keeping.

A twist on an old tradition

Every holiday season, my Grandma makes the same delicious meals. It is tradition after all.  Every year, I drool over the smell of of her version of “Pigs in Blankets”. Don’t let them get confused with the hotdog/pancake imposters, but rather the zesty, hearty cabbage rolls made of magic and covered in Sauerkraut.  Now, there is one giant problem for me. I don’t eat pork. Its like I am missing out on a pot of gold every year.  So instead of stuffing myself with her traditional creamed potatoes and appetizers in regret of my no-pork diet, I took matters into my own hands to make a new version “Birds in Blankets”. Recipe Below of course.

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Here is what I used:

1 lb of Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey

2 cups of Brown Rice

2 tbsp of seasonings (I used generic Italian, Garlic and Onion Powder)

1 Jar Homemade Sauerkraut (equivalent of 3 cans store bought)

1 Package of Italian Chicken Sausage (precooked)

Instructions:

1. Steam your Cabbage until soft and plyable (this may take a couple steams after the first few peels)

2. Peel into large petals and set aside

3. Mix ground turkey, rice, and seasonings together in a big bowl

4 Lay the cabbage out flat, and spoon 1/4 cup of the ground turkey mixture in the middle of the leaf

5. Roll the cabbage from the bottom and sides, and carefully place into a casserole dish

6. When the casserole dish is full (about 14 rolls), slice your sausages in half, line the edge of the dish

7. Cover the entire dish with the Sauerkraut and cover with foil.

8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook for 90 minutes.

9. Serve and Enjoy

Peppermint Bath Salt DIY

I have a large circle of fabulous people that I work with.  I have never been a big fan of buying gifts for colleagues for many reasons, but have found that my homemade gifts are much more memorable.

This year, I have all women (with exception of one great guy) that surround me professionally. All fun, friendly, and festive. I needed something that I could make a large batch of, please the masses, and acknowledge the hard work that happens daily.

Each jar was less than $2 to make with plenty of extract left over for another craft.

Homemade Peppermint Bath Salt

For 12- 4 ounce jars you will need:

.5 fl ounces of Peppermint Extract

3 lbs. of Basic Epson Salt

The Super Easy Instructions

1. Pour Epson Salt into a large bowl

2. Drop 12 drops of peppermint extract and mix together

3. Scoop into jars and seal

4. Add your own adorable touch (Cupcake Liners for a jar topper)

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Tastes of Fall

Figs. Why is it, the fall calls for figs? I searched my local stores for these delicious little delicacies without success, until my brain finally calculated the most likely location to find these little sweets.  The Olympia Co-Op to the rescue! Even as a member of the co-op, I still forget to go there first. While on my search, I stopped by another favorite produce and local food stop- Spud’s Produce Market, and found persimmons.  I can’t say that I have ever cooked with persimmons, but hey, there is a first time for everything and they just stood out in all of their golden orange beauty.  I have my usual produce haul in the fridge, and had some pears that begged to be used.  So enter my first attempt at a baked fruit tart. Beautiful, not so much. Delicious, absolutely.  Recipe at bottom (excuse the blurry photos as the recipe goes on… wine may have been involved…)

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Ingredients:

1 Cup of Flour

1 Stick of Butter

2 Pears

1 Persimmon

4 Figs

A drizzle of Honey

How To:

Start by slicing your chilled butter into the flour, taking time to pinch it in on a cool surface.  This keeps the “dough” cold.  Keep combining using your fingers, until all flour and butter are together.  Roll into a ball, place between wax or parchment paper and roll out.  Place in the fridge to keep cool.

Slice your fruit into thin, long strips.  I chose to use more pears and persimmons to keep a texture that is more firm. Slice figs in half. Set aside.

Take dough from the fridge, press into a tart pan. I chose my porcelain version, but it might be better to get a removable bottom tart pan if you’re feeling fancy.  Once dough is flattened to bottom and partially up the sides, place the fruit on in a pretty pattern.  I used extra figs and honey to create a glaze in a pan on medium heat. Preheat your oven to 425. I drizzled honey mixture on top and placed it into the oven.  Baked for about 40 minutes.  Cool, serve, eat.

Calligraphy- a nearly lost art

I’m not sure about anyone else in my immediate generation, but I haven’t really written cursive since Mrs. Petrich’s 4th grade class. It’s slightly depressing to see my attempts at formal cursive- nothing seems to properly connect, and as for scale? Totally non-existent.

Enter Calligraphy, and a lovely local artist, trying her best to rekindle this dear pastime. Caitlin Dundon of One Heart Studio in Ballard, Washington is meticulously mastering her craft and willing to share with any wanting to learn.  I signed up for her Into to Calligraphy course with my favorite photog-friend, Mary of Mary Jo Photography.

After venturing around Fremont and Ballard to partake in deliciousness at The Other Coast Cafe, we wandered around Venue-the location of the class. It is an incredible local store with really great locally crafted goods. It took a lot of willpower to not buy every.single.thing. in that store. I did not leave empty handed- but could have enjoyed everything there.

The class had 8 openings, 7 of which were filled. Two long tables are set up with all necessary supplies in the middle of Venue. Paper, ink, and your own take-home Calligraphy pen are included. Caitlin is attentive to learning needs, and demonstrates her craft with ease. She gives a little bit of background for each type taught.  Students are encouraged to learn the basics and add their own flair. Needless to say, I struggled immensely with my “formal” calligraphy style, but the whimsy of my innate penmanship certainly took over with plenty of support of all around.

I have all intentions of signing up for Calligraphy II: Fun and Fancy Lettering offered.  Classes start at $40. Which is  a stellar deal for the art of a diminishing craft.

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DIY- Industrial Iron Pipe Shelves

In between the day job and the portrait photography, I LOVE to create. Luckily, so does the Handsome.  Part of why we work so hard is to really enjoy our home and life together.  I found myself with some free time in the last days of my vacation recently, and could not sit idle.  We’ve been improving our home for the last 5 years, from bathroom/kitchen remodels, to a pergola, and a new 2nd story deck.  We tend to reuse materials often- we’re green like that.  The Handsome has been hoarding the old lumber for more than 3 years now, and was consolidating recently- we just couldn’t part with that old decking.

There has always been an unused portion of our tall living room wall that has never looked quite right.  It was time to fix it. Enter iron pipe and the salvaged lumber.A trip to the hardware store to get the following after doing a little math for how big we wanted this masterpiece to be:

2 – 6″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

2  – 8″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

12 – 10″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

4 – 12″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

6- 1/2″ Threaded T’s

4 – 1/2″ Threaded 90’s

2 – 1/2: Threaded Couplings

10 – 1/2″ Flanges

1 box of 1 5/8″ Counter Sunk Screws

1 can of Rust-o-leum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray paint

1 can of Rust-o-leum Indoor Clear Polyurethane (optional)

You will need lumber if you don’t have the salvaged wood option

Directions and cost breakdown are listed below.

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1st, thing is 1st: your flanges will probably be silver. I was informed that they don’t make un-galvanized flanges because they are usually used outside and need to be rust-proof.  The can of spray paint will more than cover the flanges, so do this first to let them dry.

Gather your pipes and complete a configuration that will work with your space. I chose to have a mix of smaller and larger shelve spaces to break up the wall a bit. Your hands will be filthy- the pipes are not clean FYI.

My pattern went for each “leg” went from top to bottom: 90, 10″, coupling, 6″, T, 12″, T, 8″, T, 12″, 90.

I then attached 10″ pipe to each 90 and to each T.  These will be the pipes that hold your shelves. Depending on your wood width, you could use a different length.

To each 10″ pipe, I attached a flange.  This will serve as your connection to the wall.

With the Handsome’s help, we attached each “leg” to the wall. We used a level and a tape measure to ensure the distance was correct and that the shelves would stay level.  We pre-drilled a few of the flanges before attaching to the wall to make sure we had some solid footings in the wall. This is a fairly heavy frame, so a stud should be used to secure the shelf “legs” to the wall.

We went through some of the old decking that we had salvaged that had some dry wear on it.  Some cracks and dings didn’t scare us.  We measured a portion of the wall and made cuts accordingly.  54 inches in length for four boards. Our lumber was mismatched a bit, so we had to make a cut to make the depth match the iron pipe. Using Polyurethane, I added several coats to make a slick surface on the worn wood to make future cleaning much easier.  This is definitely not necessary, but for someone who loves to make cleaning easier, this is a lifesaver.

Once the boards were dry, we placed them on the shelving frame.  After a few days, I took out one of the middle planks to make the space a little more dynamic.  I am still working on adding our favorite collections to the shelves, but it has changed the entire feel of the room for a pretty small price all things considered.

Here is the cost breakdown:

2 – 6″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $2.05 x 2= $4.10

2  – 8″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $2.89 x 2= $5.78

12 – 10″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $3.40 x 12= $40.80

4 – 12″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $3.84 x 4= $15.36

6- 1/2″ Threaded T’s $1.95 x 6=$11.70

4 – 1/2″ Threaded 90’s $1.53 x 4= $6.12

2 – 1/2: Threaded Couplings $1.53 x 2= $3.06

10 – 1/2″ Flanges $6.24 x 10= $62.40

1 box of 1 5/8″ Counter Sunk Screws=$6.47

1 can of Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray paint =$6.42

Lumber = Salvaged ($0)

Polyurethane= Optional ($7.99)

Grand Total: $162.21