Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Our newest rommates: Pesce and Poisson!

(pay-shuh and pweh-son)
They’re called Half Moon Bettas because their tail forms a semi circle when its fully flared. The crazy fish girl we bought them from had about 20 of them. She was originally just going to sell Poisson but she said they seem depressed when the other one isn’t around so she wanted to sell them as a pair. Okay. But then as Shawn pointed out later, when they flare at each other, it’s because they’re wanting to fight.. so technically they are actually arch enemies and not BFFs.. but we will keep that fact to ourselves. Also, they eat these little live worms which totally freak me out. So I will leave their feeding up to Shawn. I just hope he doesn’t “over love” them and cause them to die of obesity.

Other than the fish excitement, it’s just been business as usual over here in Craft Town. I’ve been practicing my calligraphy..

Anything to make a buck, right? ;) p.s. I'm aware the word "success" is spelled wrong.. I was copying some lettering I found online and the girl had a little quote written out and framed but it was spelled "Sucess". Very annoying to me.

We created an art masterpiece from an old framed Jimi Hendrix poster we found in the trash pile. A mixed media of sorts with craft paint, semi-gloss furniture paint, tissue paper, bits of gold trimming, vegetable oil, foot spray, and nail polish remover. You’d never guess Jimi was hiding under there.

I also finally finished the coat rack that we got (ha, almost said “bought” but nope, it was CraigsList free!) with the table a while ago. It started out a hideous glossy flesh toned color. Not sure why that color even exists… but it was promptly sanded off and replaced with a fresh coat (or three) of shiny black.

I bought a little white side table this past weekend at an estate sale. It’s a good fit but it wasn’t really exciting me. I also found a gold vent plate at a sale with no idea what I would do with it, but I loved the pattern. So the two have now been combined and I am very pleased with the outcome.

I have been seriously into geometrics lately.

Plus the couch pillow patterns, key holder, and the base of my yellow ottoman. They’ve been catching my eye everywhere I go. I’m thinking curtains next. Or a rug. Maybe a subtle monochromatic pattern. Once I get a paycheck :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

happy birthday laina!

Today is the 9th birthday of my most dear and favorite niece. I'm sorry I can't spend it with her :( She's a hilarious fun-loving tomboy who is sometimes too smart for her own good. No one can beat her in tree climbing and lizard catching but she also has such a sweet little heart. Love you Laina!

saying goodbye :(

classic Laina pose--lizard in hand

or a dead squirrel?

or a dead fish perhaps?

with her "boo boo"

crazy little climber

sale-ing away

 It seems as though missing the garage sales last week just made it even better this week. We usually start our excursion with a quick check of I pulled it up on Wednesday just to see what was in store for the weekend and discovered that there were actual a couple starting on Thursday which means now I could be estate sale-ing more days during the week than not. An awesome and scary thought.

So Thursday morning we headed a bit south of Denver to potentially one of the oddest estate sales I’ve ever been to. Also one of the most severely overpriced. We made a pact to never go to another sale run by the company who was in charge of that one.  Just as an example, a cross-stitch wall hanging to commemorate the couple’s wedding day (circa 1985) was priced at $15. Heh? We spent a lot of time pondering what had happened to the people who lived there. They were definitely not old, probably my parent’s age judging by the stuff and the wedding date. There was a full house of furniture, including a kid’s room. Very strange. Divorce? Tragic accident? Murder/suicide? I’ve been using homegirl’s Big Sexy Root Pump Mousse for the past few days though so hopefully it’s not anything too creepy.

Luckily we managed to find another sale that was pretty much amazing. A bunch of retro 60’s furniture and fun kitchen stuff. It was there that I found this awesome ottoman which I think is going to become a side table.

I also found this little oddity for $6 but decided it would make a perfect coffee table with the right piece of glass on top. 

I have no idea what its real purpose is. But it’s $193 less than my dream West Elm table, so I will definitely make it work! I also snagged these candle holders and we got these hilarious bottles for the bar.

Which is good since we don’t exactly stock top-shelf liquor in this thrifty establishment. The little charm things just crack me up. Kind of gangster.

On Saturday we hit up a couple different Goodwills. The ones in the Denver area are 50% off one or two Saturdays a month. So it’s kind of a madhouse but you can get some really good deals.  Such as… the perfect glass for my new coffee table! Major score for $6.50. The glass part for the coffee table and the base I think I’ll paint and use for a nightstand once I find it a new top. So the living room is coming together.

The pillows are some bo-bo ones I got at the 60’s sale and tied scarves around. One scarf from a thrift store and the other I already had. Although, let’s be serious, I’m sure it’s from a thrift store as well :) So they cost me about 3 bucks. Me likey.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

happy easter!

Missing my bebes today and the usual Easter festivities. The ham’s in the oven but there’s no one to dye eggs with :(

That one was a few years ago. I remember Andrew kept trying to knock the mugs over so he was not involved..

Here's what Shawn and I sent them this year for a little Easter fun:

A homemade game of memory. We split them up and drew half each, can you guess whose is whose? ;) I backed them with green cardstock. These kids are way too good at that game to have any sort of head start with see-through cards. Here’s Laina beating up on Shawn.

My dad used to let Drew get three flips per turn but promptly nipped that in the bud after Drew innocently asked him one day, “PePa do we have to keep playing until you win?”

We had a cooking fiesta last night after FINALLY going grocery shopping. I learned a great trick in all my blog reading about keeping a “stock bag” in the freezer. We’ve been putting leftover chicken bones and miscellaneous veggies in there (like the ends of carrots and celery that you would normally just throw out). So after scooping up some more ingredients from the store, we made a huge batch of chicken stock. I’ve always thought about making my own but never thought about it when I had the stuff on hand. It’s actually really easy, just takes a long time (poor planning = straining out chicken bones at midnight..). We froze it in a couple different size bags to use later. I’m thinking I’ll be making a soup with the leftover ham bone too.

While the stock was simmering, Shawn was busy with his favorite food: hotdogs. Well, this time it was bratwurst but they are both very dear to his heart. He grilled them up and fixed them three different ways. One with sauerkraut and horseradish mustard, one Caribbean style with grilled spiced mango, and one “classic” topped with ketchup and grilled mushrooms and onions. Delicious. I think I’m at my hotdog quota for life. Actually, that ham does have about two more hours of cook time...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

cookin' and craftin'

A crazy thing happened the other day—I went to work! Just a catering job but it was nice to actually make a bit of money again and meet some new people. And I have a few jobs lined up for next week, so things are moving along :)

The past couple days have been full of cooking and crafting. We had an enormous pack of chicken to cook so we decided to split it up and each have a stab at it. Since it was Sunday, and well, Sundays are made for crockpot meals, I made this recipe. Just substituting the whole chicken for the halves that we bought.

spice rubbed and ready to go

It took about 4 ½ or 5 hours to cook but mmmm mm it was worth it. Like a Publix rotisserie chicken. And super simple. Luckily Shawn was working that day so it was allowed to cook long enough. He doesn’t exactly have patience for slow cooking methods. (Which is what led him to proclaim “I’m never cooking Indian food again!” the following night when it was his turn.) But the curried roasted chicken he made with spicy slow simmered chickpeas was well worth the wait.

Meanwhile, the living room and dining area have become enveloped in crafting clutter. I finally dug out the sewing machine to hem a dress and try out an Easter card design similar to this one:

found on pinterest of course

My machine had no love for sewing on paper though, so I had to bust out the trusty needle and thread. Not exactly the neatest stitches (I guess I’m more of a Laura Ingalls than a Mary..) but it got the job done. I also constructed Laina’s birthday card and then Shawn and I had a grand ole time making Laina and Andrew's Easter present. Don’t want to ruin the surprise with pictures of that yet.

And finally, since I had my sewing goodies out, I whipped together this little barrette out of extra buttons I had.

Yes, I do always keep the extra buttons they give you with shirts and pants. No, I have not ever needed them other than maybe once. Maybe. But you know, just in case :)

I also managed to motivate myself to go for a run. My first mile-high run. And wow, it was a doozy. I’m pretty sure I must have stopped about 5 or 6 times to walk during my 3 mile loop. The fact that I haven’t actually run in quite some time wasn’t helping my case either. Never enough oxygen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

staying in

Unfortunately, work got in the way of garage sales this weekend :( Which is actually probably okay since I pretty much have my hands full with projects I’ve already purchased. I woke up this morning with arms sore from sanding. And I’m still not done! Hopefully today I’ll be able to cross at least one item off the sanding list.

I went to an open call for a local caterer on Saturday for a serving job so I at least have the opportunity to make some money. They’ve been around for 40 years and are very organized but they’re not exactly paying what I’d like, so it’s good and not so good. They are catering a 450 person event on the 28th, which is the reason they are doing a mass hiring. All of their scheduling is done online, so when I got the email with the job request, I went online to accept and discovered a 5 am call time. Say whaaaat?!

I also met with a florist last week who is looking for some extra help. We’re meeting again this week to discuss more specifics. So things are in the works, just not moving as quickly as I would like them to.

Since I have spent a very large part of the past few days on the internet, it only seems fitting to share one of my new favorite things. It’s just a collection of images that people find on other sites and “pin” to this site. You can create your own board and “repin” images that you love into your own little collection. I haven’t gone that far yet, but I definitely find myself getting lost in the gorgeousness. And the images are categorized so you can find beautiful decorating ideas, wedding details (ooh la la), travel scenes, etc. A few that caught me:

Love the silver/gold combo
Neat idea for hanging those zillion necklaces
A bit shabby chic for my home but a cool use for antique doilies
From the DIY section.. you will definitely be seeing a ruffle pillow on my couch in the near future.
I have also been enjoying I recently added it to my Google Reader and it has been seriously flooding my feed with items. (On a side note, am I the only one who gets seriously stressed when I have unread items? It’s like I have homework that’s gonna be late.) My favorite thing right now is the Small Cool 2011 contest they’re running. It’s interesting to see how people decorate and organize their small spaces. Definite inspiration. There’s also a “Scavenger” feature where they showcase cool finds in cities across the country. And plenty of DIY before and afters which I can never get enough of. I thought this one was pretty great:

They made that headboard for $60, inspired by a West Elm design. Don’t even get me started on West Elm. Insert dream table here: 

At first glance I thought the headboard was made with picture frames. Which would be awesome because honestly who wants to do all that mitering, but still.. a pretty nice result for only 60 bucks. I have a feeling Apartment Therapy and I are at the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.

Friday, April 15, 2011

out and about

With an entire free day on Wednesday, our goal was to stay out of the house and to spend as little money as possible while we were out. Of course that all had to start with a good hearty breakfast to minimize the food spending later in the day :) Shawn whipped up these delicious huevos rancheros which seriously hit the spot. I think I could’ve eaten another entire plate.

We’ve been thinking about getting a kitten so our first stop was to hit up some animal shelters. I sort of lost count but I’m guessing we met about 70 different cats that day. Whoa nelly. I felt like a crazy cat lady, walking into a room with five cats coming up wanting to be pet or trying to climb on my lap. Shawn was quite popular.

There were lots of sweet cats and some kind of crazy ones but no kittens :( We were told that the breeding season isn’t until May so it looks like we have a bit of a wait. I personally would be okay with getting a slightly more grown cat since you can kind of see who they’ll be but Shawn really wants a kitten. Well, really Shawn wants a dog, so I guess I can compromise with a kitten.

After our visit to Cat Land we were off for some more free exploring at Red Rocks. If you’ve never heard of it, I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s a natural amphitheater that has hosted hundreds of concerts. The scenery is awesome.

We had the brilliant idea of doing the mile and a half trail loop first before checking out the amphitheater. At 6000 feet above sea level. It was certainly not a strenuous hike but even just walking up to our third floor apartment at this altitude gets me out of breath.  After the short hike we tackled the giant ramp that leads up to the stage area. And then the stairs all the way to the top. According to a sign, climbing the stairs from bottom to top burns 40 calories. I don’t think that even put a dent in the huevos rancheros, but it certainly had me taking a seat at the top. The views were incredible though and the huge rocks protruding out of the earth that form the amphitheater are amazing. Definitely a cool place. Probably even cooler when it’s a bit warmer out.

Shawn at the top
Searching for our next adventure, we realized that we were awfully close to the Coors brewery. Unfortunately we discovered upon our arrival that they aren’t open for tours on Wednesday. Luckily Colorado is the king of microbreweries so we scouted out another one and stopped in. At Golden City Brewery, we had a bit of a taste test before ordering the Belgian Trippel and a brat with sauerkraut. I am German after all. We were given a tour of the brewing room which smelled an awful lot like a stable to me. (In a non-manure, grain-like way.) This of course inspired us to finally use the brew kit we bought at Whole Foods about a year ago. Once we find a large stock pot at a garage sale that is. The day ended with a couple rounds of $1.75 Coors Light drafts over a friendly game of Words with Friends. Not too shabby.

A bunny spotted on the hike

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I finally received my Colorado license in the mail and am quite perturbed to see this discrepancy:

Unlike in Florida, when you get your license here, they give you a “temporary” license which is in all actuality a piece of completely unofficial-looking paper that is an awkward size, making it quite annoying to carry around with you. And they punch a hole in your old license. So something as simple, as say, returning some unneeded hangers at Wal-Mart will result in the clerk asking for the temporary one which is of course in the car… but I digress. So then they send you your “official” license in the mail a couple weeks later.

Most of you are probably aware of the daily struggles I have encountered ever since that fateful day in 1984 when my parents decided to spell my name with an F instead of a PH. I generally prefer my spelling as I find the f a far more attractive letter than a bloated ph. But there are many times when it is rather annoying to have a common name spelled uncommonly. Email addresses for instance, have always posed a problem. My address at Chef’s Garden was misspelled but forwarded to my correctly spelled Gmail account, which I think really confused people. 

The best (or the worst?) was at Belle Fleur where I was spelling it out for people trying to send in their orders on a daily basis. That’s actually how this blog was titled. Sami gave me the idea after constantly hearing me spell it out “, so that’s S-t-e-f like frank-a-n-i-e...”. They would inevitably call back an hour or so later to see if I got it. “No, what address did you send it to?” “s-t-e-p-h-a-…” Grrrr.

This however seems like a bigger deal, considering that it is an official government document. You’d think homeboy at the counter could have paid a bit more attention as he was typing it in. I may again have to blame that one on Shawn’s dimples, or maybe this time it was the baby blues. Either way, upon closer examination of the temporary piece of paper I was given, I realized it was misspelled there also, which resulted in two separate DMV employees telling me over the phone that I’ll have to go back to the office for a new one and most likely have to pay again “since I didn’t catch it while I was there”. 

SteFanie = not a happy camper.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

craft time

I've been slowly gathering pieces for various projects that have each been waiting on one missing piece to complete. These first two are definitely the easiest of projects on my to-do list so of course I did them first. We picked up some black lacquer paint the other day so I was finally able to finish my key rack a la garage sale finds.

The backing is I think from a piece of radiator cover that I trimmed down to fit into the 5 x 7 frame. The frame used to be a similar gold but that was looking a little crazy. The hooks came from the same sale that we got our plant stand bar from. I just wired them on through the holes. And the old key I picked up from a funny little shop in Austin. So now our keys have a home.

While I was in the crafting spirit, I decided to finish off my plant stand that had been waiting for some more attention. This one will be used as an actual stand for plants (namely herbs) and not for serving cocktails from. It looked like this when we got it:

Not exactly my style. I painted it this khaki/greenish color which was actually a leftover sample from one of my old house painting clients. (Thanks Dwayne!) Then I roughed it up a bit and added some free pots that I found at another sale. So now I just have to get some more pots and the actual plants and we’ll be cooking with fresh herbs in no time :)

dinner guests

With Robyn’s mum in town we had our first opportunity for entertaining. Exciting! We decided to take advantage of the nice weather and the gas grill that our building provides and barbecue some chicken. 

I spent the morning preparing a scrumptious Bourbon Whiskey BBQ Sauce (if I do say so myself). Starting it early in the day meant that the flavors had time to meld in my $4 garage sale crockpot for several hours. Alongside it we served asparagus and baked macaroni made with cauliflower and Annie’s White Cheddar Shells, one of Shawn’s childhood obsessions. The top was a crunchy Cheez-it crust :) Shawn also whipped up some homemade guacamole to snack on while the chicken was on the grill. Yum! 

After we chatted around the table (that had been pulled up to the couch for additional seating.. we only have 2 chairs..) it was time for dessert. I put my Silver Slipper skills to work and made bananas foster to top caramel turtle brownies with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Luckily they were small servings. So rich but oh so good. I meant to take pictures, especially since dessert was so cute in my little white Fire King dishes, but alas, I forgot. I must say I was quite pleased that there were some leftovers. Definitely excited to eat that meal again :)

Earlier in the day, while I was getting the house together and stashing miscellaneous unpacked boxes and such into any and all closets, I decided that our poor plain table definitely needed a centerpiece. Making a little trio of vases, I took Shawn with me for some greenery clipping around the neighborhood. Perhaps I should have done this a little sooner than 5:00 when everyone was arriving home from work.. not the best planning. But with Shawn as my distractor I was able to get enough pieces to fill my vases.

Don’t worry, they were only clipped from large trees and shrubs. I would never steal someone’s flowers from their bed but I was amazed at how many people were growing muscari and tulips. All kinds of flowers that you certainly don’t see much of in Florida. I took a few pics during our stroll.


Not sure what these gorgeous pink flowering branches are but I definitely want them
And these little guys were randomly growing in a sidewalk crack. So cute!

Monday, April 11, 2011

weekends = garage sales

This past weekend’s estate sales did a pretty good job at filling in the existing gaps in our home furnishings. Well, Friday and Sunday’s. Saturday Shawn had to work and I was laid up after our Friday evening adventure with Evan Williams and Diablo-tinis. We did have a fantastic evening experimenting with our new printer/scanner/copier.

And lounging on the new couch we found Friday morning. Strangely, the estate sale we went to was all half off, which usually happens on Sunday. Not sure when this one had started but the tremendous price cut did result in us finally getting a couch for $12.50! And I actually like the fabric as it is so I don’t need to start plotting how I’ll scrounge up the money to reupholster it. Kind of reminds me of a men’s suit. 

I was seriously stressing how this thing was gonna get home but Shawn assured me our girl could do it. Luckily the rope just stays in the car now for these emergency furniture hauling situations.

As we were pulling away, three old men were walking up to the sale. They were of course checking out the freak show and we heard one of them say to the other “I don’t think she has it on there right..” They clearly didn’t know what kind of professionals they were observing.

Sunday we did something I haven’t yet done in my garage sale experience—we went back to a sale to see what was left for half off.  After hitting up one sale and finding a sweet set of cordless Black & Decker power tools: saw, sander, and drill; we went back to one we had visited on Friday that had a ton of tools to see if we could find some drill bits and whatnot. Whoa. That place was wiped out. We managed to scrounge up a bucket for Shawn to wash our fine steed with and a jar of upholstery nails for a grand total of 50 cents. And on the way out, they had a box of free donuts for the shoppers. A plain glazed and a blueberry cake? Yes and yes.

Our final stop yielded this super fantastic headboard:

We’ve been needing one but the bedroom is preeetty small so I didn’t want something that would fill up the room. This one should do nicely. I might end up painting it but right now I’m enjoying the way it catches the light that filters through those fabulous vertical blinds.