A Sunday afternoon ice cream social...

For my mom’s birthday, we had an ice cream buffet for dessert. It was delicious and everyone had tailored bowls of ice cream to their liking. Here are the toppings we set out:

Whipped crème
Candy bars – chopped
Hard Candy – crushed
M & M’s
Thin Mints – chopped
Oreos – crushed
Pretzels – broken
Coconut flakes
Blueberries – canned
Chocolate chips
Peanut butter chips
…and a favorite was crushed Chick-o-Stick candy (who knew)

We also had two different types of easy, easy to make chocolate sauces.

Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce

•1 cup corn syrup -- light or dark
•1 cup creamy peanut butter
•1/2 cup heavy cream
•1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a 2-quart bowl (microwaveable), combine corn syrup, peanut butter, and cream. microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes, until boiling. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Store in the refrigerator; warm up to serve over ice cream. Makes 2 1/2 cups
The recipe was found here at southernfood.about.com


Amaretto Chocolate Sauce

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 lb semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbl Amaretto or other coffee liqueur

Pour cream into a glass bowl or 2-cup measure. Microwave on 100% power until tiny bubbles break the surface (1 to 2 minutes).
Stir in chocolate until it is melted and mixture is smooth. If chocolate does not melt completely, microwave on 100% power until it is completely melted (20 to 30 seconds longer).
Stir in liqueur
This recipe was found here at fooddownunder.com

"It's amazing how quickly you recover from misery when someone offers you ice cream."
- Neil Simon, Brighton Beach Memoirs

postings on location: our back porch

Tomorrow's October 1st…Yay! It was around this time, years ago, that my daughter ran breathlessly into the house and exclaimed: “I can smell Halloween!” Here in SW Florida that time is not quite here yet, but today, as if by magic, and to reign in October, our heavy blanket of humidity has been lifted. A fond farewell to mugginess, although I have to admit, I will miss my toadstools…or fairy umbrellas, gnome’s homes….

Who uses snail mail anymore?

...I can't resist when I'm having a party and want to send my invitations in envelopes that will really get the recipient's attention. For me---the party begins with the invites, and when you can send them inside of  unique, handmade envelopes that also matches the theme of your party, it's all the better.
We have sent out hand-made envelopes made from recycled magazine paper for years, not just for parties but also for business correspondence, holidays, and whenever a personal note card is needed. The response from people are always positive, some have even kept them as keepsakes.

National Geographic magazines pages are perfect for cards created with letter-size paper folded into fourths (5 ½ x 4 ¼ inches). The images are bold and striking; they travel wonderfully through the mail, and are just the right size for this style of envelope. Thrift stores or EBay are a good place for back issues; the older the issue the more retro your envelopes will look. We don’t bother with adhesive for the flap; we just secure it shut with a return address label.

For different sized envelopes, you can make a template by choosing any size envelope, open it up flat by carefully detaching the flaps---and, you have your own template. Then, chose your paper, trace an outline of your template onto the paper, and use scissors to cut along your outline. Fold and crease the flaps down with a glue stick or glue, just like your envelope which you are modeling from, and leaving the top flap open, of course. :-)

Envelopes can be made from all different types of paper, including cardstock, construction paper, scrapbook paper, vellum, gift wrap, or wallpaper. The ultimate would be sketch or watercolor paper with you own art work on it. In any case, be creative and get noticed with your next invites.

Want to make a party hat?

Why not? They always seem to elevate the happy mood everyone is already in at party. Perhaps because it makes us feel a little like royalty. Back in the distant past, birthday celebrations were only given to royal families. Once it became permissible for common folk to commemorate their own birthdays, people took to acting like ‘king for the day' and put on a crown or special hat to symbolize the occasion. I especially like them because it adds to the ambiance; they’re like floating party decorations moving all about.

So keep this in mind when you decide what you will use as your hat material. Any paper similar in weight to watercolor or card stock paper will do. I used paper from some old Ideals magazines from the 50’s and 60’s. I liked the color tones of the photos back then---bright, jewel like, and very softly muted. The compositions are very retro, and the weight of the paper is similar to sketch paper. Or, how about watercolor or sketch paper with your own artwork? :-)

These hats are very basic, but tall---so they really stand out (almost to the point of absurd) when you are wearing one, and I add a little twist. Here goes…

You’ll need:
Sheets of paper (one for each hat)
Marker or pencil
Stapler or small brass fasteners (four for each hat)
Ties---something stretchy works best (two for each hat)

For my instructions, I’m using regular card stock 8.5x11 inches. You can adjust the dimensions as you like.

Measure a couple of inches in the center of the top edge, and mark. Then do the same a couple of inches from the bottom along each side.

Make your outline by connecting the side markings to the top markings, and freehand a curve along the bottom edge connecting the bottom markings together.

Cut along the outline.

Take your leftover corner pieces---you should have two large and two smaller triangular pieces, and cut strips, into them, about 2/3 of the way down to one corner. You can do this a dozen different ways; it really doesn’t matter which side or corner you do this on. I cut the two similar pieces at the same time. It does not have to be perfect.

Gather your pieces together with the corners that were not cut, and staple at the bottom to hold them all together.

Then you will tape this to the inside of the top of the hat.

Grab your stapler, tape, or small brass fasteners (if you would like a slightly fancier look) and attach the bottom corners together. This might be a little fiddly---be patient; you’ll get it. I only connect the edges a few inches up from the bottom, and don’t have a problem with the opening near the top.

Again, grab your stapler, tape, or small brass fasteners and attach your tie. I use file rubber bands. They’re heavy weight, come in bright colors, and can be picked up at the office supply store.

Play around with the fringed pieces on top and fold them however you want them to go.

And, that’s it. Now put it on your head, tie it, go look at yourself, and try not to smile…I bet you can’t! :-)

Hats off to parties!

I love, love, love having parties … planning them, reveling in them, and afterwards, spending days remembering everything about them.

Mama had her 80th birthday recently. My sisters and I threw her a party complete with party hats, games, and an ice cream buffet---she loves ice cream and July was National Ice Cream Month. :-)
The party hats were handmade; I found a how-to guide online and used pages from some old Ideal magazines. I thought they were fabulous, and everyone was a good sport about wearing them. I’m not sure why I never thought of it before.
Tomorrow I’ll post instructions with step-by-step photos of the process. And next week I’ll divulge my ice cream toppings list with two of the easy, easy to make sauce recipes.

Do You Heart Zombies?

The Dark Art Exhibit has been an unusual, exciting and stunning art exhibit that breezes through SW Florida the beginning of every Fall. It’s one our favorites to attend, and is part of Zombicon---a zombie festival that began as a tribute to the George Romero’s “Day of the Dead” film, shot here in SW Florida in 1985.

This year we are very excited to be showing at Dark Arts 3 two of our pieces. Take a look:

This upcycled bottle is titled Aorta...

Part of our 'Walking Heads' collection---
titled: cabeza roja del diablo, or the devil's red head

The exhibit opens on October 2nd at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center and closes on October 17th, the night of Zombicon.
I'll be sure to post photos from both events. Jeff and I will be zombies, of course; you might not recognize us :-)
You can find out more about the history of this bizarre celebration here.

Have we met?

Hi, I’m Dale.
Jeff and I make things and always have, even before we met, which was in 1980. I would visit Jeff at work, while we were dating, and he would be making miniature furniture from scrap wood, or trees from copper wire, while on break. Might have seemed odd to some, but I was learning batik, pottery, weaving, photography, etc, in school, at the time. Arts and crafts had become a lifeline in my teenage angsty years. So, I adored all the cute, interesting stuff he made, and it all seemed quite normal. I was really young.
Since then, I have made, designed, and sold soft sculptured dolls, handmade paper, and altered books. Once, I made seven inch dolls which nestled inside of paper boats, made from my handmade paper. They were very cute…hmmm, if only sites like Etsy were around back then. Our family use to sell Jeff’s bamboo walking sticks at renaissance festivals. My daughter made all of our costumes as Christmas presents one year. They were beautiful, and I felt beautiful while wearing mine.
Now, I am surrounded by all things Jeff makes and builds for me and/or the house. I fall in love with every piece the first time I see them. Of course, this encourages him to make more. Somehow we always find room.
Being makers lends it self, easily, to serious DIY tendencies (diy = do-it-yourself). A case in point would be homeschooling our three grown children from beginning up until they started classes at our local college. Why?...basically because I could. And, I’m a bit selfish. I had romanticized about the idea of homeschooling when I read an article about it in Mothering magazine. My oldest was one. It was one of the most liberating things I have done so far, and luxurious.
This is all so nostalgic; I prefer a more forward thinking mindset to be in. So, to finish, this is Jeff and I in a tiny nutshell. There is so much more, though…