Prestocaro’s Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Lovely View

leave a comment »

I took my dog, Mojo, for a walk today. The sky is relatively clear, there’s a slight wind, and it’s literally 70 degrees. I’m not messing around. The thermometer actually reads 70 F. It’d be a perfect walk, except for the view.

We started off…

mj-walk

Galveston’s kind of in the crapper right now, to be perfectly honest with you. The hurricane almost 6 months ago didn’t help the already faltering economy. People still live here, but I am ready to get out, hot on the heels of the 1/3 of the population that has already left. Sometimes things seem so perfect, and walking past the green lawn and perky flowers of my apartment’s grounds, I was feeling pretty good. Then I looked over and noticed the complex next to mine still has blue tarps.

blue-tarp

One would think I would be used to seeing the blue tarps. They are everywhere in this town. But it still gets me to see people living underneath something so temporary turned permanent. There are signs all over town — still! — advertising tarping skills.

So I hustled past that found the strangest looking fence. A bit melty, no?

more-fence

I couldn’t resist taking a few dozen pictures and I loaded them up on my new favorite site, picnik.com. I love tweaking my photographs and this site has a good mix of free stuff. This fence was surprisingly sturdy, despite it’s inherent structural flaws post-hurricane. I’m sipping on a vodka tonic right now, writing this, and feeling a little wobbly from the combination of liquor and photo insanity.

tall-fence

I have few more pictures from earlier this week. These are a little more surreal, at least for me.

A few boats have been on the side of 61st street since the hurricane. They are at varying angles — one is laying flat on the ground, it’s mast still unbroken, jutting out across an empty parking lot. Another sits atop a washed-out car, both so undesirable that their owners have decided to cut their losses and leave them there. Most of the other boats have already been dealt with — it was apparently a huge pain in the ass to coordinate insurance, owners, municipal government — but these few are still very visible on a busy street on our little island.

tiltaboat-61st

I snapped a quick shot, but I didn’t want to seem like a disaster tourist. That’s what they call them — the people who come to the island to see how bad it is, to see what the storm took away and what it left — disaster tourist. Some islanders resent it, others are grateful for the out-of-town money it brings in. I don’t care who they are, and why they’re taking pictures, as long as they don’t leave more trash than they found, or drive slowly in front of me, attempting to take pictures while driving.

Another eerie picture, off of Seawall Boulevard:

galvatron-015

This used to be a fishing pier. There was a two-story building on the pier, with a wide drive frequently occupied by pick-up trucks with coolers in their bed. There is still a truck, but the drive no longer exists:

galvatron-016

The pier was a long one, for Galveston standards, and you could catch some pretty big fish off of it — last summer, while getting unlucky, I spotted a few kids posing with a huge fish they’d finally tired out and hauled up.

It was actually T-shaped, had wooden railings perfect for leaning your pole against (that sounds much dirtier than what it means) and relatively even slats that your beer-filled cooler rolled easily across. You can still see the remnant of the T, and some lights, if you look closely.

galvatron-014

I never caught anything off of this particular pier, but I’m saddened by the loss nonetheless. The view was nice and there was enough room to spread out and grab your own little piece of ocean for a few hours. Part of me wishes all of this evidence could be wiped away overnight, that we could all wake up tomorrow after the dump trucks are done hauling away garbage, after the condemned homes and apartments are leveled, after the side streets have been cleared and cleaned. Another part is grateful that it’s still there, that the broken things can at least be seen for the time being, as it makes me feel better about what’s going on in my head.

Mojo looks thoughtful, but I’m sure his thoughts centered more on kibble and the new veggie cookies we’ve been giving him.

mojo-looks

Written by prestocaro

February 28, 2009 at 3:52 am

Kettlebells and Red Velvet Cupcakes

leave a comment »

I can never really decide what I want.  Take this post, for instance….

I’ve set a goal of exercising with my kettlebell 5 times a week. I use joesgoals.com to track my progress, it’s a simple program that I’m using privately to motivate myself. I know the wedding is coming up, but it still seems like it’s far away to me. I’m actually more concerned with my lack of a beach bod than the fact that in a few months I’ll be forever preserved in photographic evidence that will be around my house FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I love the DVD I’m using — it’s called Kettlebell Goddess and it has a ton of different ways to combine the exercises. I also love the instructor, as she is quiet and basically says what needs to be said about form, counting with you, and so on but quiets down after that. I was exercising with Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD for a while and her constant yammering really started to annoy me. Proof that I am not the “people person” I always think I am?

I’m finding it difficult to cut out the “bad stuff” from my diet. I love beer, fried foods, and salt and vinegar potato chips. I’m a carb-a-holic and could probably eat an entire baguette with some butter or brie on the side. Don’t even get me started on the wonders of a fully loaded baked potato. The other day the Fi and I even made cupcakes together.

cupcake-evidence

We made red velvet cupcakes, of course. I’ve been on a red velvet kick for months — my sister made some outrageously good ones from scratch for my bridal shower, and my flower girl decorated them with pretty pastel sprinkles. Ours were a little more laid back; we used a mix for the cupcakes and a can of frosting. Normally, I whip the frosting in my Kitchen Aid for a few minutes to make it extra fluffy but I was feeling lazy, so the Fi just slathered them up with this dark chocolate frosting. No sprinkles, even!

justbaked-cupcakes

I love how bright they are in the pan. It’s almost a shame to frost them.

chocofrost-cupcakes

I suppose the ideal contrast would be the more traditional butter cream or cream cheese frosting, but I’m a sucker for chocolate-on-chocolate. Besides, when I decide to make baked goods based on color alone, I’m making Aleta’s Rainbow Cake. I suppose it would be only fitting, since it’s so low cal!

Written by prestocaro

February 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Posted in fooding

Quick Cards

leave a comment »

I made a few cards today.  These are smaller, note-sized versions of cards I sent out a few years ago for Mother’s Day.  I used a craft punch shaped as a flower, but these work with all different shapes.I love these ancient prismacolors.

You’ll need:

A piece of 8 1/2 X 11 inch cardstock

2 pieces of 8 1/2 X 11 inch printer paper, plus some scraps

Ruler

Craft glue

Tweezers (optional — you can always place with your fingers)

Your favorite Markers

a flower shaped craft punch

Process:

I use a ton of craft paper, but sometimes I just can’t find the pattern I like.  I make my own with markers and it’s very easy; I love to make plaids with bright colors.  Start with a scrap and lightly mark, only on the edges, 1 centimeter intervals.  These will help you keep your plaid straight (though if you’d like a more sideways, drunky plaid, go for it!)

Using the ruler, draw lines at random intervals and thicknesses.

make plaid 1 In theory, you should start with the lightest colors and finish with the darkest — this is something I usually remember halfway through the process, so it’s not super important unless you are using extremely light colors and very rich saturated colors (say, lilac, lime, and navy which look very good together for Easter cards).   It doesn’t hurt to scribble a bit with new markers to see what colors bleed when crossed over.  These prismacolors blend very well, and I love it when drawing, but for this project you’ll want to minimize seepage.

Keep drawing your lines randomly, being sure to alternate thick lines and lines that are close together — remember that with the first few colors, it’s better to draw lines sparingly, since you can always go back later and touch up the pattern.

So, keep going and put your pretty colors in where you think they’ll look best.  I love this apple green color, so I  chose it second (though its so light, I probably should have used it first).  It’s already looking like a preppy plaid, but I want it to be more colorful….    so I added a saturated violet…    and then a bright aqua and a darker, richer, blue…  And I was almost done!  A few touch-ups later…

create-plaid-21

create-plaid-31create-plaid-4colors-used

and the final pattern, with the colors used:

So now I was ready for the punch.  I have a ton of craft punches and dies — I love the texture of them versus printing, and I don’t have the neatest, most consistent hand.  The scrap was around 11 X 23 centimeters, approximately one “hotdog” half of a piece of printer paper.  Remember the hotdog/hamburger method of folding paper?  We learned that in elementary school (landscape, folded horizontally is “hotdog” and portrait folded horizontally is “hamburger”) and now I’m wondering if they just say portrait/landscape since kids are so tech-savvy.

So punch as many shapes as you can from your scrap — I always flip the punch upside down to look at the shape, making sure I’m getting the most color out of the alignment.  My technique:

card-tutorial-023 This scrap yeilded enough flowers to make 2 cards, plus additional flowers that I’ll use on the envelopes and packaging for the card.

Now to assemble!  For the cards themselves, I used a single piece of A2 sized cardstock, folded in half (5 1/2 X 8 inch card) and then cut in half to produce 2 already folded cards.

These cards are 5 1/2 X 4 inches, which is fine for the USPS as anything over 5 X 3 inches is “mailable”.  Now, using a pencil, lightly sketch the pattern you’d like your punches to follow.  If you’d like a random arrangement of clusters, skip this step, obvs.

I just wanted to do a border on 2 of the sides.

The start (if you look closely you can see the light pencil tracing) ….

edge-start1

And the final result…

done-one-2

And then I got bored and decided it was time for a gummi bear break.   The Fi keeps buying these huge 5 pound bags of gummis, so it’s hard to resist, but after a few handfuls, I remind myself that dress fittings start soon for the wedding, and while the seamstress said I didn’t need to lose any weight she also didn’t say to put on any.  My nemesis: snacksthe clear ones are my favorite.  jerks.

Ok, so then back to work.  I repeated for the second card, only this time I was feeling pretty lazy so I decided to just draw a thin stream of glue (very thin, the tip wasn’t even completely opened) over my sketch.  For the first card, I used the tweezer/dip into glue method that I usually use when quilling — fine tipped tweezers, dip the item into a puddle of glue, tap onto a piece of scrap to remove excess, and then onto the card.  This produces neater results, but takes forever and also doesn’t allow all the edges to maintain their fluffy texture as the glue forces them flat to the page.  Once both cards looked done, I sat them next to each other and decided to ‘fill in’ any spots that looked sparse or monochromatic.

Both cards:edges-both At this time, I realized I would have to make envelopes.  But that’s easy.  Another piece of printer paper, lay the card in the middle and a few snips….

And now to make envelopes, very easy.

card-tutorial-064

Another piece of printer paper, lay the card in the middle and make a few snips — where the bottom of the card needs to fold, where the flap needs to fold, and round out the corners on the top flap.  Then cut off the two edges of the far right panel (at the fold), fold that panel in, and glue the middle side flaps to the far right panel.  3 second envelope!

This style of envelope, with printer paper, will accomodate this size card or smaller — any larger and you’ll need legal sized paper to make an envelope.

card-tutorial-066

So the cards are ready to mail — I attached a few flowers to the envelopes using the dip-and-glue method (previously mentioned, involves tweezers) to ensure that the flowers stay in one piece through the rigors of the sorting machines at the post office.

Now for some vanity photography.  I love how these bright flowers look against the stark white; it was a very sunny morning in Galveston, so the light was perfect.

plaid-punch-start

Written by prestocaro

February 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Posted in crafting

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.