Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Vintage.

There is nothing like a shopping high to confirm that you really should be cutting up your credit cards/seeking help.  I get all Buddy the Elf when I come home with a shiny new box of things, or more likely, used grocery bag of rusty, tarnished things, which naturally spirals into bank account depression and weeping.  I feel a bit better about not shame-crying over my recent foray into the Portland jungle of Antique stores because all these bad boys are going up on Cass & Merlune, so now you can shame-buy too!
My latest stash.
My favorite thing about shopping for antiques is that you never know what you're going to find.  With the exception of furniture and clothing,  it is highly unlikely that you will find anything remotely useful or practical, so you can go in there with the full knowledge that you will come out with something you have never known you wanted and absolutely do not need, like a Ship Telegraph lamp. True story.
This is not for sale.
Personally, I would use an antique bottle for absolutely every liquid substance if it weren't so entirely breaky, and I am going to have a hard time parting with these:
One is an old IV drip bottle - it actually may have held someone else's bodily fluids.  You can use it to serve bitters to cocktail party patrons, then disgust them all later when you tell them what it is.
 I posted some antique spoons and forks awhile back to see if other people felt the same love for tarnished silverware, and it turns out that according to Pinterest, they totally do.
My very first meme
So the point is, I bought some more, along with a tarnished shell bowl and a meat grinder.

Um, I was considering turning this into a farmhouse vase.  Weird?  I'm doing it anyway.
I found this awesome bottle, which will be getting a paint treatment later on, and a Tagus Copper Egg Coddler.  You can use it to cook eggs if you want a hell of a hassle, but to be honest, I think it would be better to use it as a display piece, especially with Easter coming up.

 A vintage wicker beekeepers bonnet!  Seriously, I would wear this.  But mostly I would display the S%^& out of it on a coat rack.
And lastly, an antique copper kettle that I have had for the past 5 years.  It was a dull tarnished copper, but I decided to patina it and it brought out colors I didn't even know existed on copper.

I will be listing these in my shop in the next day or two so be sure to check back!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocovine-infused Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries are one of the best manmade creations, equal only to the wonder that is the electric Snuggie. In terns of making a dessert, it is also absolutely perfect for the lazy person who wants to get a lot of praise for very little work.  I added booze to mine, because everything is better with booze, and I had some Chocovine to use up.  I'm sure you could substitute Port or champagne or Riesling and it would still taste brilliant.

Step 1: Wash your strawberries and dry them.  Put them in a bowl and cover them with Chocovine.  I didn't have enough to cover them, so every half hour or so I would stir them and mix it up.  Stick em in the fridge and let them marinate for at least an hour, more if possible.
For those of you who don't know what Chocovine looks like.  Unfortunately, I am a terrible photographer, so you probably still don't know what it looks like.
Step 2: After the strawberries have soaked up enough alcohol for your liking, melt your chocolate.  I mixed semi-sweet chips with Ghiradelli dark chocolate and a little bit of Coconut Oil.  I used refined because it is better for heating and doesn't have as much of a coconutty taste as unrefined, but you could use either.  This helps it to harden and gives it a richness.
Pick some good chocolate, this is my personal favorite.
The final mixture.  Use a ratio of about a tablespoon of Coconut Oil to 1 cup of chocolate.
I used a mug to heat it because a bowl would make it harder to dip the berries in.  You could use a double boiler, but I just nuked it for 2 min on 50% and it was perfect.  Just make sure to stir it every 30 seconds, and once the chips are about 75% melted, stop cooking it and just stir until they are all melted.  At this point, you might want to stick it in a bowl of hot water so that your chocolate doesn't start to harden in the mug like mine did.

Step 3: Dippin.  If you want to add other layers, like sprinkles or white chocolate, get that prepared.  I didn't dry off the berries from the Chocovine mixture before dipping, which makes the chocolate layer a bit thinner and doesn't adhere as well but also adds some of the Chocovine Flavor in the dip.  You could go either way.  I double dipped mine because I love me some chocolate, and then I stuck em on wax paper.
First coat
I decided to dip just the tips in Coconut Sugar, just for a second, just to see how it feels.  
I love the earthy color of Coconut Sugar, and it has a really great nutty sweet taste.  I dipped the side that was going down on the wax paper in the sugar to help it not stick.
Towards the end the chocolate mixture had started to harden.  Here they are, in all their inconsistent glory.
Have leftover chocolate?  You can either mash it in your face like a lady, or make a cheesy looking heart as a garnish.
Cheesy looking heart with Coconut Sugar.  Tip, don't put this on a plate, put this on the wax paper.  If you put it on a plate (see above) you will spend 10 minutes angrily stabbing it for breaking apart when you tried to pry it off.
Stick it all in the fridge and it should harden within a half hour, probably sooner.

I decided to pit the sugared tips against the non-sugared tips in my  own version of West Side Story.  A sad, cat lady version.
 Bon appetit!  Let me know how it works out!

Happy Spontaneity Day!

Happy V-day!  My feelings on Valentines Day have always been quite mixed.  On one hand, I feel a lot like this:
It is so over-commercialized, and seeing how 99% of men LOATHE Valentine's Day, it's disturbing and wrong that society has pressured them to buy overpriced flowers and dinner and we are then expected to lose our S%^* when they don't.  Contrary to popular belief, most women aren't psychos.  How about if partners buy each other flowers when they feel like it, and go out to dinner on nights when the only reservation left isn't at 4:30 or 11, and then we aren't all forced to do it on one day?  Wouldn't this be so much better?
On the other hand, Valentine's Days are fun as hell.  I get sweet messages all day from the love of my life.  I get to chase my cat around screaming "I'm cupid!" until he hides under the bed.  Random someecards show up from friends I don't get to see that often and it's the best.  Back in my single days, my friends and I would drink wine, cook amazing food and watch funny movies together.  Basically, it gives people an excuse to tell them you love them and it's hard to have a problem with that.
I was lucky to be on both the giving and receiving end of this one
But the main reason that Valentine's is both a blessing and a curse is the commercials, amirite?  By now, I think we can all do without seeing another commercial for the chocolate diamond, aka the fugliest thing I have ever seen.  The silver lining it is that we get to mock the transparancy of the marketers.  You just know this concept was created by some fat suits in a boardroom, and they're writing down things women like, and the brilliant idea appeared to them that women like both chocolate and diamonds, so why not combine the two into a gemstone that is the color of feces?
Over $1000 for a dingy-looking diamond ring shaped like a belt.  A BELT.  ON YOUR FINGER.  Why?
My all time favorite commercial, yet another gem by Kay, is for the Leo Diamond.  Click here to see it. Basically, the couple, on the pretense of just looking, go into the Kay Jewelers, and the woman tries on a ring.
I can't believe it fit!
Spoiler alert, it turns out he already sized it and proposes in the store.  The problem: wasn't the point of the trip to Kay to look around?  Doesn't this give you the impression that the woman clearly wanted to be a part of the decision making process for the ring she wanted to wear for the rest of her life?  I mean, it's lucky that she liked that ring and all, but in real life, she probably wants to look around.  And second, he proposed in Kay Jewelers???  Here's a tip menfolk, don't propose in a Kay Jewelers.  Just don't.  She will have to tell her friends and family that, and it will be embarrassing.  Find a park or something.

And lastly, my favorite Valentine's Day promotion, because The Bedwetting Store will always have a special place in my heart:
Because nothing says "I Love You" like a liquid-repellant mattress that you didn't have to pay to ship.
Happy Valentine's Day, and stay tuned for a recipe for wine-infused Chocolate covered Strawberries.  Whatever you do, with whomever you love, may it be soaked in champagne, and hopefully not urine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DIY Nautical Ship Lamp

Ah, the joys of food poisoning.  Last night I awoke at 3 am to spend the next few hours vomiting in a 50 degree bathroom.  Anyways, the point of this isn't to whine, it's to explain that if perfect coherence isn't achieved in this post, it would be advisable to hold off on complaining until I'm in a better mood.
A picture I took of Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine, AKA my dream home.
Anyhow, this post revolves around one of my great loves - anything nautical.  I would kill to live on the ocean or a boat. I don't even have high expectations, a crappy boat is fine, just as long as I get to hear some obnoxious seagulls as I do the dishes, but alas, that isn't in my immediate future.  To compensate for this, I obsess over all nautical decor so I can trick myself into thinking I live on the beach.

A recent trend in the last few years is nautical tripod lamp, which has seen quite a few variations, but all are similar in the fact that they are out of my budget:

So began my mission to create a nautical inspired tripod lamp.  The first step was to get myself a tripod.  I scored myself a not-too-sturdy tripod for $35 on ebay that had a great vintage look to it.  These can be quite expensive if you buy new, but if you take your time and scour ebay, craigslist, and some thrift stores, you can luck out with a deal on an old vintage wood tripod.  Mine is sequestered by a door we don't use, so the ricketyness isn't a problem, but if you have kids running around or it will be in a high-traffic area, I would definitely make sure it is a bit more sturdy.  Just make sure it will expand out to the height you want, and also take a good look at the head of the tripod, or the bit at the top.  Some are flat, which would be optimal.  Mine unfortunately looks like this, but I made it work with the lantern I had:

I love the red and white stripe of an antique surveyors tripod, but wanted to make it look a little bit aged, so I purposely chose a plain wood one so I could paint it and distress it myself, however, I saw a few that came already striped.  I unfortunately forgot to take a before picture, but here you can see it with just the top section painted red, along with the giant mess I created:

Scotch tape made it easy to measure out and make straight lines, and also to protect the areas that I didn't want paint on.

To get a distressed finish, I used a gnarled, bristley brunch and lightly brushed on the paint, then dabbed at it with a towel to achieve a slightly uneven appearance.  For the brass sections that I painted over, I also sanded it in some sections after drying.  If I had to redo, I would sand the entire brass section before painting to give it a matte appearance.  Apologies for the terrible pictures:

Once it looks as aged as a rotted barrel, you're good to go.

The tripod was finished, and next came the tast of finding a good light to attach to the head.  Ebay and some antique stores sell a number of nautical spotlights/searchlights/lanterns that would look amazing perched on top, but they can also be quite pricey.  The searchlight look (like the black one above)  is quite popular, and you can occasionally spot one for around $30-40, but the trick it finding a way to light those up, so I went in a different direction.  For me, the perfect fix was a lantern I already had in my house that I had picked up for a whopping $2 at a garage sale.

I took out the oil well and wick to get it to fit over the thingamabob on top of the tripod, and also because oil well+fire+rickety tripod=a not brilliant idea that I probably wouldn't have thought twice about 4 years ago.  
Alas, you haven't found one of these gems at a garage sale?  If you are anywhere near a beach, usually the souvenir stores will sell replicas for around $10 - 15, or you can find some options online:
If you're willing to spend more, this bad boy will plug in and looks awesome.  In fact, it is now on my list.
This guy will give off a warm glow and is on sale for $27
Rusty over here would give it a cool look, and you can find this style in red too.
Electric would certainly be easier and way more useful than the way I have it, but you really have to keep your eyes out for a good price, especially if you would prefer a genuine antique, which I ultimately want.  But here we are, and all this nautical lantern browsing has given me the shopping addiction shakes, so let's move on.  I decided that it would be easiest to stick in some battery operated string lights that have a timer and be done with it:
I thought I would hate it but it turns out that I totally love it like this.  It certainly doesn't light up the room, but is a great nightlight and gives it a really warm glow.  However, you could also use a battery tealight (they have them now with timers) or if you aren't prone to electrocution like this blogger, you could try to wire something in.  OK, nevermind don't do that, I just found this which would make it so easy and I might buy that now.  Here are some pictures of it all set up and styled with some old floats I found at a seaside antique store.  Feel free to comment if you have any other ideas for lighting it up, I love to hear from fellow nautical lovers!