i am creating the life i love.

changes. July 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 2:31 am

So. I haven’t updated this for a while. I haven’t forgotten it, but things have been changing all at once and I am dealing with it privately, and not always in a great way. And I told myself this would be more about creating things and experiencing good and not about my personal life. But life IS personal, so I guess I can get away with writing about it a little bit.

While I was in college I spent a ridiculous amount of time sitting by the creek, reading books and drawing and thinking too much about everything. And even though my insides were often in turmoil (oh, the drama of being a young lady!) I was told by someone that when I create I become “curiously tranquil” and seemed happy almost the instant I started working on something.

I have not been creating as often as I’d like. I have so many ideas but no time. Or motivation. In the last couple of months I had a relationship end. It was so hard to experience. This was someone I saw myself marrying and spending my old days alongside. It was someone who made me cry a lot but who made me smile a lot more. Someone who shared my political ideals (liberal) and religious ideals (none). Someone who was himself creative and funny and interesting and ridiculously intelligent. We planned adventures together and spent many evenings in silence, reading and enjoying the others’ presence. And me, a girl who for years insisted that she would never be monogamous, never be tied down to one person, would never let a man influence her decisions, fell head-over-heels in love with someone who didn’t love her back very much. So it was hard to see it end, knowing that there was not a thing I could do to save it. And for a while there was a huge empty space in my life that I didn’t want to fill because I was afraid I would forget him.

Things are a little different now. I’ve had a chance to be alone and sleep alone and make every decision for myself. It’s quite nice sometimes. Sometimes it’s sad because I have to laugh at funny animal videos by myself and baking for one person is sort of dangerous, calorie-wise, but for the most part it’s okay. I’ve spent a lot of time with new and old friends, sprawled out in bed while using up all four pillows simultaneously, gone for solo bike rides in the early hours of morning and beautiful warm evenings, eaten entirely too much bacon and still somehow lost 10 pounds. And now I’m ready to go back to creating.

I used to feel that creating something was only important if you had someone to share it with. And I’ll admit that it is hard not having a cheering squad around when I have a fantastic new idea or a great new monster completed. But it’s also nice to make things just to make them. Creating is something I have to do. It’s not an option. It needs to fit into my schedule. And it doesn’t matter if it is sewing, painting, drawing, baking, sculpting, taking photographs or giving my dog a new hairstyle…it needs to be done for me to be happy.

I want to be that girl from years ago who would sit by the creek and create for the sake of beauty. Not to impress anyone and not to make a profit–just creating something just because. I remember once in Brevard collecting thousands of cherry blossoms in a basket and then carrying them up to the top of a windy hill and watching them fly. There was no one around to witness it but me but it was one of the most fantastic and gorgeous things I have ever seen. I think it will do me good to get out by myself and fly kites and hula hoop and collect wildflowers and take naps in the grass. I don’t need to be with anyone else to love these things. I didn’t before. And if someone comes along and loves the idea of taking a nap in the grass alongside me, great. But until then, I’m okay with doing it on my own.


i made some things. May 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 8:58 pm

I had a sudden burst of energy this afternoon and decided to use it up by sewing. And knowing that once I put something down and walk away from it, I will usually not go back to it for a very, very long time made me start and finish this in one go.

I started with this, a large men’s shirt I got from the thrift store:

I took it in at the sides and ruffled the leftover fabric. Making ruffles is so much fun. I don’t want to spend the money on a ruffler so I just switch some settings on my machine. When the fabric goes in it gets sucked together into ruffles!!

This is the finished product. I was originally going to shorten it but I decided to leave it as is and put a belt around it (another awesome thrift store find!) so it’s tunic-length.

A close-up of the collar area.

I cut off the cuffs and attached them to the shortened sleeves.

I plan on wearing it tomorrow when I visit the observation deck of the Terminal Tower. I’ll take action pictures then!

On the topic of newly-made things, I finished this a few days ago. I needed a place to put my jewelry since it was all mingling and getting tangled in a box. It’s all out in the open so I can see all of my options at once. And it matches my bedroom scheme, which is yellow and white with some black.

No more tangled necklaces!!

Earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces in one place, finally.

And bonus picture of a happy dog!!


how to: dandelion syrup May 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 2:32 am

Oh, dandelions. Long branded as a useless weed. I remember in second grade during a recess I picked a bouquet of them for my teacher, Mrs. Bugno. When I proudly presented the gift to her she scowled (as she did most of the time) and threw them on the ground. “These are weeds. Stupid weeds. Don’t pick these anymore, it’s a waste of time.” Mrs. Bugno made me cry on many occasions but this just broke my little 7-year old heart. I was trying to be generous!

Many years later I found a use for all of those “stupid weeds.” Actually, dandelions have many uses, including being put in salads, wines, teas, and also are sometimes used for medicinal purposes. But I’m not here to talk about those. I’m here to talk about SYRUP. Delicious, amazing dandelion syrup.

Last year I had a wonderful time picking dandelions with my friend Channa and her three adorable boys. This year I was helped by the kids I nanny for. They were enthusiastic about the idea, which was great because a lot of people make a yuck face when I tell them about it. They picked quite a few for me and then I went out by myself later when I got home and picked the rest. That batch disappeared very quickly so I went out last night to pick more for two more batches. I’m glad I went when I did because while I walked the dog this morning I noticed that most of the dandelions had closed up on their way to becoming the lovely, fluffy things that I used to make wishes on. Anyway, here is a step-by-step guide to making your own delicious syrup. It takes time but it’s totally worth it:

Go out and pick (or get someone else to pick) 250 dandelion tops, give or take a few.

I’m glad I went when I did–a lot of them were starting to look like this:

Some people end up cutting off the green part because it’s bitter but I left them on because I’m lazy. Really all you want to avoid is the stems. Just take the tops. It doesn’t make much of a difference taste-wise. To me it’s not worth the extra work!

Put your tops in a pot and cover them with 4 cups of water. Press down on the tops so that they are all somewhat submerged. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

After you’re done simmering, let the tops cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for 12 hours.
The next day, using cheesecloth or a mesh strainer, strain the water from the tops back into your pot. Squeeze or push down on the tops to get all of the water out that you can. Mix in 2 pounds of sugar and the juice of 1 lemon. (NOTE: I bought a pack of sugar that was labeled 4 pounds but I used a kitchen scale to measure the exact amount I needed and it ended up being closer to three quarters of the package. I would recommend actually measuring the sugar. Also, if you have no lemons on hand but you do have lemon juice, use about 3 or 4 tablespoons.)
This is what it looks like once you mix the water, lemon and sugar:

Simmer the mixture for 2 hours, until the sugar is all dissolved and the consistency is syrupy. When it is close to being done it will develop a foam on top like this:

Let it cool (it will thicken as it cools) and enjoy!! You can put it on pancakes or waffles, in your oatmeal, or (my favorite) mix a couple of tablespoons with a cup of club soda and a couple of ice cubes for the perfect summertime drink! I preserved some to give to friends and family. This was how much I got from one batch. I also printed out some cute labels for the tops (thanks to Merriment Design for the label template!!).

I love the dark amber color. I can already taste it.

If you end up making any, leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it!!


ice cream. April 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 2:23 am

It’s getting warmer in Cleveland. I sort of hate the winter. It’s long and cold and seemingly never ending. But at least it’s pretty at times:

But warm(er) temperatures have been sneaking in so a couple of weeks ago Andy and I got out of the house.

We started out at the Higbee Building on Public Square for the Pecha Kucha event. Higbee’s (known for being the set for the Santa scene from the movie “A Christmas Story”) is generally off-limits to the public since it closed in 2002 but every once in a while people are let in. We went up to the 10th floor where I was drawn to the windows to see the view of Public Square from above.

Key Bank tower, across the way.

An awkward photo of the Terminal Tower. We were technically in it, but off to the side.

Public Square.

Andy in the old, fancy elevator that was also quite terrifying.

The next day we started out with Chinese food…
A mysterious fortune:

…and ended up at a few thrift stores and eventually headed to the Gordon Square Arts District for some delicious goodness.

One of my favorite reasons for heading to Gordon Square.

We wanted to check out Sweet Moses, the new Soda Fountain that opened last month. It’s named after Moses Cleaveland, the founder of our great town.

I smiled immediately after we walked in. It’s so cute inside!!


Andy ordered a peanut butter and fudge sandwich with potato chips on it and a root beer float. THEY MAKE THEIR OWN ROOT BEER. I am kind of a root beer junkie and I was absolutely in love.

This was my treat. It was enormous and I have to admit that I felt intimidated by its size. I was unsure why exactly pretzels were served with my ice cream but it soon became clear. After the sweetness of the ice cream, the salty crunch of the pretzels was pretty much the most perfect thing ever. I even ended up stealing Andy’s and dipping them in the ice cream. Watching them make it was pretty interesting, too. It was a very involved process.

Sweet Moses was wonderful. It smelled amazing and was very aesthetically pleasing. Everyone was super friendly and it’s so laid back and cozy and welcoming. Not to mention tasty!! I want to go back again and again and again.

After all of that ice cream settled in our bellies we headed down the street to one of my other favorite places, Gypsy Beans coffee. It’s well known that Gypsy serves amazing coffee, but the food there is excellent as well. We stayed for a bit, reading the newspaper and talking. What a wonderful way to unwind and wait for evening to set in.

I’m really looking forward to more beautiful weather. The outdoors is calling!!


feast your eyes. March 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 12:37 am
Tags: ,

I know it is almost mid-March but I still wanted to share these because they were DELICIOUS. I baked them for Andy for Valentine’s Day and I had a few extra so I froze them and whenever I want to enjoy a yummy treat I just pull one out of the freezer and wait a few minutes for it to thaw. No frosting required! They’re all vanilla cupcakes with homemade vanilla creme inside. After filling the cupcakes with creme I topped them off with some strawberry preserves my mom canned this summer. Mmm!!

After the pictures I’ve included the recipe for my vanilla filling so you can enjoy it, too!!

Vanilla Creme Filling

*2 tbsp flour
*1/2 cup milk
*1/2 c butter
*1/2 c sugar
*1 tsp vanilla extract (it doesn’t even have to be vanilla–do almond or mint or whatever!)

~Whisk together the flour and milk and cook it in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a couple of minutes but stir it continuously to prevent clumping and do not bring it all the way to a boil. This is very important!! It will burn easily and clump beyond repair so watch carefully! When it has thickened to the consistency of a thin pudding, strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool completely to room temperature.
~When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the milk mixture and vanilla extract. Beat at high speed with a mixer for 7 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape into a pasty bag or ziploc bag with one corner cut off. Set aside.
~I filled my cupcakes by cooling after baking and then cutting a cone out of the top with a small knife. The cone should be about 1″ across and 1″ deep. Cut the tip off of the cone. Squeeze about a tablespoon of the filling into the cupcake. Replace the top and frost. Now eat and enjoy!!


Etsy is my Pocketbook’s Enemy. March 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 2:45 pm
Tags: ,

I made almost everyone’s Christmas gifts this year. I got totally burned out. I thought it would be fun but instead it was a chore and left me tired and sick of sewing. So instead of creating handmade things, I’ve been buying them. Here is a sample of what I’ve bought recently (if I posted everything you’d be scrolling for days).

Mustachio’ed robot t-shirt by Il Corvo.

Lilac rose on an antique locket from Hot Pink Chick.

Yellow rose earrings from Hot Pink Chick.

Sloth print by Berkley Illustration.

Cream rose earrings by Barberry and Lace.

Peach flower ring by Barberry and Lace.

Eucalyptus and tea tree oil soap from Belle Terre.

Day of the Dead print by Kiri Moth Designs.

Whew!! I am working on some creative projects. I will write about those soon.


new huggable horribles. June 23, 2010

Filed under: creations,huggable horribles — mandy @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

I recently finished a custom order for two Huggable Horribles creatures for a friend of my mom’s. She gave them to her grandchildren :)

I like them. They’re cute.