Friday, September 30, 2011

Wanna Come to a Halloween Party?

So you get a box in the mail & you open it to see:

Hello! What’s this?

A poem? Contents? Contents of what?

Oh, nothing:
Hallo invite



(Silver bullet made from polymer clay, spray painted silver; holy water is tap water with a little blue food color; vampire stake is balsa, carved with an Exacto & stained with watered down brown craft paint; match is a stick of wood dipped in red paint; mirror is from the mosaic section of the craft store. Everything is held in place with removable glue dots).

Major hat tip to Brooklyn Limestone for the inspiration!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Have I ever mentioned that I like babies? Well I do. I really like babies. A lot. As in, I will eat your baby's face off if you give me a chance. You know what else I like? I like throwing a party. I will throw you a party right now if you want, just to prove it. C'mon. Ask me. I dare you.

ANYWAY. When this beautiful couple

did me the honor of letting me host their baby shower, I hopped to it.

Wanna see?

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I decided on a (loose) Chinese theme right away. I loved the idea of bringing good luck, prosperity & fortune into the celebration. I painted those lanterns & scanned them into Photoshop, where I laid out all the text. I wanted Asian-inspired writing, but not the kitchy "fortune cookie" style. (I find that type kind of offensive, honestly.) I settled on Thuphap (free from Urban Fonts) & used it for almost all of the printed materials at the shower. (The little red characters in the corner say "boy").

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I mailed the invitations in Chinese red envelopes that have the symbol (fu) for "luck" on them in gold.

Poor Josh strung up about a gazillion lanterns. Since we have vaulted ceilings, we strung kite string between the curtain rod & the stair banister, then hung the lanterns off those.

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Action shot!

I also got some parasols & tied them to the stair spindles.

In Chinese culture the dragon is a symbol of power, & general awesomeness & bad-assery, so we had to have one of those.

Since we know our new little man is going to be the baddest ass of all. (Wanna know how I know? These are this parents)

(He is a kite who was hanging over the buffet, which for some reason I neglected to photograph).

The first game I settled on was "guess how many paper cranes are in the jar." (I know origami is technically a Japanese thing, but its origins are Chinese, so I called it good.) I had never made an origami anything before the shower, but I'm pretty sure I could make them in my sleep now.

These are the little slips I made up for people's guesses. (I made that ball by sticking cocktail umbrellas into a Styrofoam ball.)


We also played Baby Pictionary (like regular Pictionary, but with clues like "breast feeding," & "humidifier.")

This is Wyatt, who is adorable as hell, but totally sucks at Pictionary.

Since we played in teams of five, & there were two rounds (so ten winners total) I couldn't really do super-fancy prizes, so I gave these little ceramic cranes in lucky red envelopes to the winners instead.

name that tune
Josh downloaded hilarious songs that featured the word "babe" or "baby" & we played Name That Tune, Baby! If you want, you can download the sheet & song list from my Flickr by clicking the picture. The winner got an iTunes gift card.

Raise your hand if you like playing Name That Tune, Baby! Woot woot!

Baby Trivia
I also made a trivia sheet, but we didn't have time to play it. You can download it (& the answers) by clicking the pic.

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For food we made my beloved peanut sesame noodles from Smitten Kitchen, veggie egg rolls, chicken lettuce wraps on wonton spoons, & this amazing green mango salad (also served on wonton spoons) that you should make tonight because it is the JAM.

I wanted custom fortune cookies, but I couldn't find a company that could accommodate the number of different fortunes I wanted. I eventually found a diy kit that came with empty cookies & little cello wrappers so I could make & insert my own fortunes. 

I also made little vanilla-tangerine cupcakes to send home as favors. The best part was the candied orange peel I made from this recipe. (Or the ghost poop frosting. I can't decide).

Here they are, all stacked up in their mini take-out containers, next to the almond cookies I dipped in chocolate. Because there isn't a lily I won't gild.

I invented a cocktail. Isn't it all sweet & genteel looking? With those little cucumber slices floating around in there, all dainty-like? Well it is a wolf in sheep's clothing. That shit will fuck you up. Trust.

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Here are the tables. I made the table toppers from Lisette fabric, & I sprinkled each table with the fortune cookies & Fortune Teller Fish. They're not exactly Chinese, but they're fun & the fit the color scheme.

The flowers were mostly tulips in take out boxes (I put jam jars filled with water into the containers, then stuck the tulips into those), tarted up with dragon picks & cocktail umbrellas.


Christ, have I gone on long enough already? One more picture, you say? Of the quilt that I made them (preferable blurry)? OK, fine, you don't have to cry about it. Here.



So, in conclusion, anyone have any ideas what I can do with 50 porcelain wonton spoons?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Recommendations From a Crazy Person

[I honestly have no idea why I'm compelled to write this post, but I can't stop composing it in my head, so I'm just going to get it out. I have not been compensated by a single company or product in this post. I tell you that now because I hate when I read an entire post about how awesome something is & I get all excited & then I find out at the end that the blogger was just shilling.]

Orange Glo: I had never even heard of Orange Glo before we moved into our current house. I always just mopped our (laminate) floors with my go-to mixture of 1:1 vinegar & water. But when we moved, there was a half-used bottle left under the sink and I thought, what the hell? Dudes, it was a revelation. I don't know what this stuff it, but you wipe it on and it dries and your floors stay shiny and streak-free for, like three weeks. WEEKS. As opposed to the two-days-if-I-was-lucky-and-made-everyone-walk-around-in-socks-so-as-to-help-clean-the-floors I got from vinegar.

Barkeeper's Friend: When Dash was born I went a little off the rails on the whole "living green" thing. I got rid of all non-vinegar-based cleaning products & started--I shit you not (ha!)--using recycled toilet paper. But we still needed something to scour the sinks & toilets & I read that BKF (as it's known in the Engel house) was environmentally friendly, so I gave it a shot. And it turned out to be better than anything we had ever used. Better than Comet with bleach, better than Soft Scrub. Just better. Spots that we had given up on just kind of dissolved with this stuff. I used to only be able to get BKF at Target, but I'm seeing it at my regular market now, so it must be catching on.

Magic Erasers: I thought everyone knew about Magic Erasers, but I mentioned them to my boss the other day & she had no idea what they were. Seriously, if you haven't tried one of these, RUN to the market & pick up a pack. They're these little sponges with some sort of micro-abrasive in them (I actually use them with gloves because the abrasive bothers my skin, but I know I'm in the minority). You just wet them a bit and scrub out anything--scuff marks on walls & baseboards, burnt-on drips on the stove top, Sharpie on the floor (ahem). That shit really is magic.

Folex: This is a new-to-me product. I first read about it on Little Green Notebook here, but I didn't think I needed it. I had been having perfectly adequate success with Resolve for carpet spots, and the Deathwish Couch cushions just went into the washer. But then I started to notice that the cushion covers were coming out of the dryer kind of streaked, like some parts got clean, but others stayed grimy. You can imagine how well I took this turn of events. I tried one of those dry cleaning sponges (waste of money) and a bunch of other cleaners before I finally remembered Jenny's post about Folex. So, one trip to the market for a bottle of Folex and a scrubby brush, and all my problems have been solved. Seriously. Spray, scrub lightly, let dry, done. Also, works like a dream on carpet spots & you don't have to deal with rinsing or the revolting smell of Resolve.

CLR: We live in a notoriously hard-water area. It's shocking what happens to EVERY SINGLE THING THAT TOUCHES WATER in our house. The fact that our shower is entirely enclosed in glass was giving me the shakes. I could not figure out how to deal with the spots that were getting so bad you could hardly see through the glass. I tried everything: Kaboom (save your money), vinegar (ha), my beloved Magic Erasers, Scrubbing Bubbles, Comet. Everything. Nothing worked even a little. Until I saw a commercial late one night where they soaked a shower head in CLR and it came out all shiny and I was so crazed and desperate that I bought some. This stuff rivals Folex in its ability to exceed expectations. Seriously, you just spray it on & wipe it off and all your shit is glittery as unicorn farts.

Vinegar & Water: I would be remiss if I didn't mention my beloved solution of 1:1 vinegar & water in a spray bottle. We use it for everything that wasn't mentioned above--mirrors, tabletops, counters, sticky toys...the list is endless. It's cheap & green and really does work for 90% of what you need.

Dust Buster: I'm surprised about how few people I know with a Dust Buster. If we didn't have ours A: I'd be in an insane asylum from all the crumbs or B: I'd have to drag out the big vacuum cleaner at LEAST once a day (likely many, many more times than that). But with the little DB that just lives in a quiet little corner of the kitchen, I can keep on top of crumbs & cat hair & whatever else Dash drags into the house and only have to break out the big vacuum once a week. (SOMETIMES EVEN LESS THAN THAT. SHH).

And there you have it. We also use Tide for laundry & brush our teeth exclusively with Crest, but I have no idea if they're better or worse than anything else. I just buy them because my mom bought them. For hand washing dishes we use Mrs. Meyers Parsley because it smells like heaven and I think the bottles are cute. We haven't found a dishwasher detergent that we feel strongly about either way. We highly endorse clumping cat litter (with at least three cleanings daily) and Prozac for cats.

(If you thought this post was batshit crazy, wait until I tell you about the doll house I'm making. For myself.)

Friday, September 16, 2011


(this resulted in the game's--and Dash's--first touchdown. my Eastern-European ass was hollering like I was from Texas or something).

(AND THEN, my HUSBAND, who fronts like he's the NORMIE in this family, made THIS:
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but then I framed it to hang on the wall, so maybe it's a push).

Monday, September 12, 2011


We gathered some friends together yesterday afternoon, on the 10th anniversary of that terrible day, to spread some hope & cheer.

Hand made stockings for the families who lost everything in this year's terrible tornado season. They won't change the world, but maybe a small corner will be a little brighter for it.

Thanks, as always, to Jade at Craft Hope for organizing & inspiring.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Dash's tics had all but disappeared over the Summer. So much so that Josh & I had started patting each other on the back for getting him through such a difficult "phase."

Well. Then kindergarten began, and the tics got so out of hand that on day one we were pretty sure he'd hyperventilate. Things have calmed down considerably since then, but we're spending some extra time focusing on getting Dash to 1. feel more secure in his days & 2. be more mindful of his body and his breathing.

I've tried tackling the mindfulness by making him a mind jar (a jar full of water, a dash of glycerin and some glitter. when Dash is feeling particularly frantic, we shake up the jar and focus on the falling glitter until it's all at the bottom again. he seems to like it.)

Here's what Josh did to help him feel more secure during his days:

That's half of the shoelace and lock that Josh wore during his very first race. It goes into Dash's pocket every morning. If he starts to feel stressed or worried while they're apart, he can touch it for a bit of comfort.

This is the other half that Josh keeps with him. When he senses that Dash is needing him, he touches it to send some comfort Dash's way.

I mean. Right?