Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the post christmas toy explosion, and how to deal

 photo copyright ikea 2009 all rights reserved

Every year at this time, it becomes painfully obvious at our house that despite a measure of cutting back, plenty of weeding through and donating, and cunning storage ideas here, there, and everywhere, the sad truth is that the toys are taking over.  It doesn't help that there are four kiddies, and one has a birthday uncomfortably close to Christmas  -- it's a bit of a yikes moment.  So, what to do, -- especially about Teddy's extreme train collection, and our family's bordering on obsessive board game and craft collections? The charming vintage trunks and dressers, and even the vintage office and store filing cabinets, with lots of sweet little drawers, aren't quite filling the need.  So despite our general penchant for figuring out how to reuse old things, whether ours or just new to us, we took a family trip to our local ikea this afternoon.  Our motto at Ikea, esp. when children are along, is to come prepared, so I'd measured my space, perused the catalog, and even checked the website to see if my local store had the item in stock . . . . so, an hour later, success! -we loaded our three ikea ps cabinets and brought them home.  Now we're just waiting for dad to come home and build them really quick.  They are bright red, quite trim and modern, and have a locker/institutional feel that i hope will work with my powder coated old lab stools from Cal Poly, which are happily red, too. My plan is just to line the cabinets up along a wall in our little living room next to the kitchen -- they are just the right height at 24" to allow Teddy to chuff his choo-choos right along the top.  And i can close the doors on some more of the games, puzzles, kaleidoscopes, knights, playmobil people on bikes, dancing bears . . . you get the idea!  I'll post a photo when it's done.

photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

so that's our kitchen, complete with red powder coated lab stools from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, that's next to the little living room where Teddy plays most, and where Ikea ps cabinets in red will hopefully provide the additional storage that we need. 

and just to let you know we weren't joking on the reuse old things front, check out these excellent storage solutions that work well, and reuse castoffs in a fun way:  

we use these old lockers just as they were meant to be used, except not at school, of course . . . of course, they were an appalling shade of painted over blue/pink/orange cream when we snagged them at Sarasota Architectural Salvage (act quick if you see these -- they are very popular) -- but no worries, our local auto body shop was happy to spray them any one of about two thousand colors for us -

photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

and here's another, a steel cabinet used for fifty years in a hardware store for nuts and bolts, and now powder coated screaming orange (Teddy's favorite) and used in his room for army guys, matchbox cars, playmobil people, papo knights, and on and on for thirty drawers.  i swear it's teaching him to read!


photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

and another idea, another hardware store castoff, this time with fewer, bigger drawers perfect for craft supplies; stamps, glitter, glue, our nine hot glue guns (don't ask -- we moved across the country multiple times!), stickers, paint . . . this one is refreshingly in its "found" state, minus the coffee streaks (i haven't decided on a paint color, yet).


photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

year round worthy felt ball wreath (try saying that ten times fast)

via seesaw designs and a cup of jo, photos copyright pickles 2009

isn't this marvelous? we just really want to start making it right about now . . . instructions are available at scandinavian star Pickles, click here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

a thought for tomorrow, at the end of the year

photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.
H. G. Wells

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!!! And in case you tried to make the gingerbread - sorry- it's add the liquid gingerbread mix with everything in it to two cups of flour -- it will be a very liquid batter but not as liquid as it would have been without the flour! Thx Mairead! xla

Sunday, December 20, 2009

our favorite gingerbread recipe. super yum.

our favorite gingerbread recipe (thanks, nigella)
adapted slightly from our favorite cookbook, Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess; and please, don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe -- it’s really easy

*you can make this as specified in the recipe, in a nine by thirteen pan, in which case you just cut it when cool into about twenty rectangular pieces, or you can get a it creative, and do something else . . . we like to make gingerbread cupcakes, iced with the royal icing from the recipe, and decorated with a sprinkle of Wilton sparkly edible “snow” sugar, or with Martha Stewart’s very pretty holly and berry sugar sprays, both available at Michaels*

so, for the gingerbread:

a half cup plus two tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
a half cup plus two tablespoons brown sugar
three quarters of a cup plus one tablespoon of light corn syrup
three quarters of a cup plus one tablespoon of molasses
two teaspoons of ginger, either fresh grated or the ground up kind you can buy in a jar at specialty food shops, and store in your refrigerator
one teaspoon ground cinnamon
one cup plus two tablespoons milk or soymilk
two large eggs, beaten to mix
one teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in two tablespoons warm water
2 cups all purpose flour

grease a twelve by nine roasting pan, and line with parchment paper or foil

for the icing:

one tablespoon lemon juice, or lime if you’re stuck
way more than the half cup icing/confectioner’s sugar that nigella recommends
one tablespoon of warm water, or an otherwise appropriate amount

preheat the oven to 325F

in a big saucepan, melt the butter along with the sugar, syrup, molasses, ginger, and cinnamon.  Off the heat, add the milk, eggs, and baking soda in its water.  Measure the flour out into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed - it will be a very liquid batter.  Pour it into the pan and bake for three quarters of an hour to an hour, until risen and firm. It will carry on cooking as it cools, so be careful not to overcook.  It is better when it’s a little sticky.  When it’s cool, make the icing.  Whisk the lemon juice into the sugar first, and then gradually add warm water.  You want the icing to be just right - thick enough to slather it on with a knife, but thin enough so that some of it drips down the edges of the cake.  Yum.  Cut into squares or rectangles, as you wish.

you can make this gingerbread in lots of ways; in the nine by thirteen pan, as cupcakes, in individual loaf pans for your neighbors, in a star shaped cake pan, whatever you have handy, really . . . . you can set off the rich dark brown of the cake with royal icing and  edible “snow”, or you can simply sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  But the best ever version is the gingerbread mold, this year available at williams sonoma as a cakelet pan, with a little Christmas village of houses and a church that pop out perfectly detailed.  Just make them, set them up on a pretty cake pedestal, ice with “snow”, and voila, a lovely anchor for your holiday table, or a charming and delicious gift.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

So, we're stuck on a snowbound highway on our way to Cincinnati, and the snow is falling, piling up on branches, ploughed to three and four feet deep at the sides of the road. It's beautiful but so dangerous - we've seen so many accidents, and we were stuck, sleeping, on interstate 77 for nine hours last night . .. The whole fergusandme family, fergus himself (he's curled around my feet right now, asleep) and Ginger, caroline's baby guinea pig. Pass the pig is proving to be a popular passtime;) she's very cuddly! We've had some fun snowball wars, a spirited game of I spy, even a little dora's Christmas carol. Now it's quiet, everyone's tired, and Sarah mcclaghlan's Christmas is playing . . . Last night we were sustained by the tin of pretty iced Christmas cookies and gingerbread I brought along. The next post will be a gingerbread recipe; delicious, perfect with tea or coffee, or for breakfast, or even for dinner if you're stuck in an impromptu gathering on a closed down highway -

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

can't wait to see these in person . . .

we are loving blabla's new dream ring things, and can't wait to see them in person at the Atlanta show . . . we love too that these are handmade sustainably in Peru and that their talented makers are paid fairly for their work ~ makes them more expensive for us, but it's worth it! Pity these weren't around for Christmas gifting.

in case you didn't know ~

photo layout via papier mache

in case you didn't know . . .  papier mache, a beyond adorable australian (why are those australians so cool?) online magazine for children and their parents (maybe more for the parents) is gorgeous, inspiring, and choc a block with ideas . . . . you should take a look, really.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

this kids woot is a hoot

today at kids' woot ~ portable ping pong! the fergsuandme family LOVE ping pong, and play it at the houses of lucky friends who have newer houses with large "bonus" rooms and therefore enough space for a ping pong table . . . . so, here's a cheap and cheerful solution to our no room for ping pong -- excuse me -- table tennis, conundrum: buy as many of these 5.99 on the go ping pong sets as you want for one 5.00 shipping fee. but beware: here today, gone tomorrow!