May 052012

Wine cork trivet!

So, a few months ago my wine cork supply finally started to overflow its keeper, and I set off in search of what the heck to finally do with them. And lo, there did I find that there are an INFINITE NUMBER OF PROJECTS YOU CAN MAKE WITH WINE CORKS. Seriously. Here is a website that lists 25! And it’s just one of the 361,000(!) Google hits that comes back when you search for “what to do with wine corks.”

I tried pinning a few options that I liked best. Then I took a nap.

Then, finally, a few weeks ago I felt up to trying again after I found these great leather and wood trivets on DesignSponge — figured I would make the same thing, but with wine corks.

Turns out, however, that wine corks do not look that exciting when painted, and you miss all the best parts of the wine corks — the design!

So instead, I crayoned my wine corks, screwdrivered holes through the middles, and then ran a leather cord through the middle, and split the cord and the end so I could tie them off. A little hot glue in between my rows of corks and I was done!

Of course, I forgot to take any pictures of the process. Gah.

BUT, since this one turned out OK I am going to make one for my mom for Mother’s Day, and will make a how-to then.

Luckily, since the internets CANNOT GET ENOUGH of wine corks, I know another post about them will be welcome.

Nov 142011
My chandelierIMG_0448IMG_0440IMG_0436IMG_0452IMG_0450
Chandelier CloseupHorrible Pic of Nighttime View of ChandelierPainted leaves for ChandelierEarly Thanksgiving 2011 - Pear Gruyere Pie!!My Orchid was considering suicide, but backed off at the last minuteWide view of Chandelier!

Birds’ Nest Chandelier, a set on Flickr.

1. An old book you can tear out pages from, or, if not, paper.
2. Some method of coloring those pages; I chose watercolor.
3. Hot glue gun or alternative attachment method.
4. Large grapevine wreath.
5. Wire.
6. Plant hook.

So I’ve actually made variations on this birds’ nest chandelier a couple times before. I originally got the idea from a Katie Brown episode from 2001 or so. Usually I decorate them with Christmas ornaments. But then I saw this great fall leaf wreath from Alisa Burke, and I figured I would try to adapt her happy leaves to liven up my birds’ nest.

Which is what I did. It was all very easy, although it took me more than one evening after work to complete. My process:

1. Found a book I figured I would never read (Charles Schwab’s Guide to Financial Independence, 1999 edition. Pretty sure the projected return rate on my 401(k) is a little off.), and tore out a lot of pages! Very satisfying!

2. Did a Google image search for fall leaves. You can find of variety of shapes this way and you’re all set. Unless you’re not from California. In which case you are welcome to draw these from memory and guffaw at my Googling.

3. Used a Uni-ball pen to draw out my leaf shapes on the pages of the book. One thing I wish I’d done is make them all bigger, like nearly the whole page (my book was a 9″ x 6″ I think) big. Also, I would have made 15, not 10. I’ll add some more next year.

4. Painted my leaves. I used to do watercolors a long time ago, but I didn’t have any supplies any more. I bought a 10-tube Grumbacher kit at Michael’s, along with a cheap palette and some multi-use brushes. I figured I could mix up whatever color wasn’t in the tubes, and I find colors look more real if they’re a mix of tube colors in any case. I made myself basically little mini-rainbow of colors on my palette and then I went to work:

Painted leaves for Chandelier

You could also use crayons, colored pencils, pastels, whatever.

5. After the paint dried, I realized since the book’s pages were so thin, these leaves were not going to look like crisp fall leaves on my chandelier. So I sprayed them with fabric starch after they dried. I worried it was going to make the paint run, but it didn’t. Then I put them on some paper towels to dry.

6. Next step was simply to cut the leaves out. You can see I left a bit of white. I like it that way. If you don’t, you don’t have to. But if you don’t, make sure you draw your leaf stems thick.

7. Now, the birds’ nest chandelier. You get a grapevine wreath from Michael’s floral’s department or a florist supply shop.  I got the biggest one they had at my Michael’s, I am guessing 27 inches in diameter? The wreath has one big vine that curls around all the rest to hold them together, and there may be a metal clasp as well. You have to take off that big vine so you can pull apart the wreath. I did so by: (a) carefully and patiently sawing through the curler vine with a dull pair of serrated pliers for about 5 minutes until (b) I realized I was an idiot and could just snap it in two. You can leave the metal clasp unless it stops the wreath from pulling apart too much, in which case you’ll to plier it off.

Then you just sort of move around the wreath, pulling from all directions, until you get to a point where you think the wreath looks like an artfully deconstructed birds nest. You’ll have to go with your gut on this one.

8. Hot glue gun your leaves onto the birds’ nest, making sure to spread them out evenly. You can also tuck any actual fall leaves you have, or flowers (I tucked dried Chinese Lanterns), into the birds’ nest.

9. Take wire (I got red wire from the jewelry section at Michael’s), and wrap it around one of the bigger branches (but not the top branch) of your birds’ nest and then run enough wire out to the length it should be to the ceiling, plus a little to tie a knot to go around your plant hook, and cut. Do the same thing two more times, spacing the wire out so it will come up in a triangle to the ceiling.

10. Put your plant hook in the ceiling, tie the three wires together and wrap them around the paint hook, and woohoo! You’ve got a deconstructed birds’ nest chandelier!

Chandelier Closeup

I’m going to be rotating out my fall leaves for winter stuff in a few weeks, and I’ll post about that update as well.

Jun 212009

Folks went all out for their terrariums:

Damion made a “Week of Lindsays” terrarium complete with a disco ball (a.k.a. sparkly Christmas ornament I found while cleaning for the event):

A Week of Lindsay... In a Terarrium! Who Knew?!

Lynn made a succulent woodlands for her cute little deer:

Deer in the Headlights

I found a home for my Homies:

My Homies

Suganya opted for the less-is-more approach, in a sweet little cozy mason jar terrarium:

Sug's Sweet Little Terrarium

And I think Courtney elected to include Gordon Ramsay to light up her terrarium.

I Cannot Remember Who That Dude Is But I Appreciate Everyone's Fondness for Cardboard Cutouts of Their Favorite Celebrities

There was no menu for the afternoon — just good cheese and champagne and wine.

And I’m not sure what’s coming next! Perhaps a vote for the next Yurps! craft, to Let The People Speak.

 Posted by at 3:14 am
Mar 132009


Apparently YURPS! is ahead of its time. And simultaneously, OLD and RETARDED (check out the comments on the video, classic 12-year-old smack talking). In any case, what goes around comes around again and a couple weekends ago Neeta and I saw that the new Urban on Cahuenga was filled with terrariums (and also really cute underwear and the new line by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, oh, and Lauren Conrad).

And the next YURPS! is April 11th, at Jen’s again, is, as you know, all about the terrariums. And to inspire you:

1. How to Make a Terrarium.
2. National Geographic’s Make a Terrarium!
3. Stained glass terrariums
4. Of course Martha’s made a terrarium!
5. A detailed tutorial.
6. Defunct Domino (sniff)’s Detail-Free Guide to Terrariums (always more of a conceptual magazine, that)

Things I will provide:

1. Food.
2. Drinks.
3. A couple extra vases for those of you too lazy to come up with a terrarium base on your own.
4. Potting soil, gravel, charcoal, sand, etc.
5. Tiny cardboard cutouts of all the members of NKOTB.
6. A few succulents, just in case you can’t manage to make it to Target like all normal people/your job sucks.

Things you’ll need to provide:

1. Any weird crap you’ve got laying around your house you always thought needed a home somewhere.
2. Any succulents that also need a home somewhere.
3. A clear vase, clear-base lamp, gallon water jug, mason jar, old aquarium, whatever! IKEA always has cheap vases.

So excited to see you there!!

If you’re unable to get stuff together on your own, let me know and I can see what I can have ready for you so you can still produce an awesome end product!

 Posted by at 4:39 am
Feb 152009

Finished goods

The first EVER Yurps! was super fun — even though I managed to STAB MYSELF cutting pistachios about an hour before everyone got to my place. Luckily Suganya showed up early and helped me do anything left requiring two hands and to artfully arrange all the dips and crudites (thanks, Suganya)! I think my favorite part was seeing the variety of decorating styles for the cookie boxes — from three-dimensional and vibrant to simple and clean.

Here are the recipes for the featured dips:

The afternoon also featured Revah sparkling pomegranate wine, which is available at Whole Foods (or at least at both the Whole Foods in Glendale and Pasadena).

In case you missed the event or want to recreate our Yurps! projects, here are the recipes:

(adapted from Spindlow Style)


22 oz. Amber glass bottles with stoppers (I got ours from Culver City Home Brewing Supply Co.; for you Eastsiders, there’s another home brewing place in Woodland Hills) — the recipe makes five or so bottles, and there are 12 in a case; I am going to use the rest of the bottles to make some more for Christmas presents
Plastic wrap
4 quart (or larger) stainless pot
2″ x 4″ labels (optional)


6 cups sugar
6 cups good water (bottled if your tap water is lousy)
20 teaspoons instant coffee or instant espresso (I used Medaglia D’Oro, available at Whole Foods and Ralphs)
1/2 gallon vodka (I used less because when I first tasted it it seemed too alcohol-y, but upon tasting after a couple days when the flavors melded more now I’d use the full amount; I had extra Skyy around from a party, but I’m sure it would be fine for you to downgrade)
20 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Start by combining the sugar, water, and coffee in pot.
  2. Bring the mixture up to just starting to boil; turn the heat down to low and let simmer (you should see a continuous foamy bubbling at the top) for at least an hour.
  3. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap (set the plastic wrap right on top of the liquid), and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours.
  4. After 12 hours, remove the plastic wrap which will also remove any film/crust that has accumulated (if it got really crusty and the crust didn’t come off in one big piece you may wish to run the liquid through a strainer/cheesecloth before adding in the booze).
  5. Add the vodka and the vanilla and stir well.
  6. Pour the mixture into well sterilized bottles.
  7. Apply labels.

Can be consumed immediately but is better after 24 hours, and even better after a few days.

(adapted from TheNibble)

Yields 3 dozen cookies.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature (best)/softened (ok)
1.5 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon amaretto or almond extract
1 tablespoon pistachio paste (available at Surfas in Culver City; if you don’t want to go to the trouble, just use 2 tablespoons of the amaretto/almond extract, but I think it makes a richer flavor)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1.5 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped, plus extra for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar; mix well. Add egg; beat well. Add amaretto, pistachio paste, lemon zest and fennel seeds; mix to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to butter mixture; beat well. Stir in pistachio nuts (dough will be stiff).
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. If desired, flatten balls slightly and sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Cool slightly on baking sheets; remove to cooling racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.


The next Yurps! will be in April and I have one word for you: TERRARIUMS. (Thanks, Courtney, for this awesome idea).

 Posted by at 10:06 pm
Jan 192009

Coming up, it’s the first meeting of YURPS (Youthful Urbanites Rocking Pretty Stuff)!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, join us in creating fun treats either for yourself or a loved one — homemade Kahlua and pistachio cookies (pistachios are an aphrodesiac according to Love’s Cookery Book).

We’ll make and package the Kahlua, make the dough for the cookies for you to freeze and make right before V-Day, and decorate favor bags for the cookies.

Snacks and beverages, including previews of your finished products, will be on hand.

Where: Jen’s place, she’ll email you the details
When: Saturday, February 7, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Please RSVP by February 2 so we can get enough ingredients.

Can’t wait!!

 Posted by at 5:24 am