Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our Version of.... Frog Eye Ambrosia Salad

We've been enjoying this salad for years. It's a messed up version of Frog Eye Salad meets Ambrosia Salad. I'm afraid it's probably very bad for you, but it is delicious and it has a texture that only a mother could love. A conversation starter at parties for sure. If you like a good tapioca pudding, this salad is for you.

Frog Eye Ambrosia Salad

Ingredients to build the salad:

2 cups of uncooked acini di pepe pasta
2 cups of whipping cream
3 tbsp of sugar
1 cup of vanilla yogurt
1 tin of mandarin orange segments
1 tin of pineapple segments
1 cup of sweetened coconut
3 large handfuls of coloured mini marshmallows

Add the sugar and whipping cream to a large bowl.

whisk until stiff peaks form

fold in the yogurt until blended

this is the package of acini di pepe I used. It's teeny little pasta balls, smaller than regular tapioca by about half the size

Boil the acini di pepe noodles as you would any pasta. Cook them until they are just a little bit firm in the center, about 8 minutes.

Drain the pasta and rinse it in cold water to stop it cooking. Let it remain in the colander until it has drained completely. Make sure to use a colander with small holes.

Put the pasta into a large container. Drain the liquid from the orange segments and add them to the pasta.

Drain and add the pineapple

Add the marshmallows

and the coconut

now add the whip cream and yogurt mixture and fold it in until everything is combined.

serve and enjoy it right away or store it in the fridge covered until you need it.

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does.


Lighting and Using the $13.00 Light-box.

We went to Canadian tire and picked up some clip lights. I had some in the garage for the dart board and wasn't going to spend the money for new ones but they were under ten dollars each so I splurged. I guess you could say this makes my $13.00 light-box into a $43.00 light-box........ But it's still very inexpensive to make (even better if you already have clip lights) and it works like magic.

Here's how it went.

I am using an old tv stand to hold the light-box. The clip on lights hold nicely onto the stand frame. You could use directional desk lamps with goose-necks also. I just happen to like me a good clip lamp. Use what you have around the house. The only important thing to remember is you want to use a warm light. The curly bulbs give a much warmer light than an old school solid bulb. Having three lights, one aimed at each of the three tissue paper windows has eliminated most of the nasty shadows. I played with the light angle and layered and un-layered more and less tissue paper to adjust the shadowing.

Keep the light bulbs away from the issue paper. They get warm and could start a fire if you leave them on and walk away. I only light the lamps when I'm right there using the light-box.

There is still some shadow in this shot, but overall I like what I'm seeing in the picture as far as detail and correct colours. I can see loads of fingerprints in this project. Something I'll have to watch in future if I'm going to be taking clean shots like this.

It's hard to get good shots of clear anything. So I threw a plastic bead bracelet in the box to see how that would work. Once again I'm pretty pleased with the results. I used the macro setting on my little digital camera for most of these shots. I'm still getting some shadow here and will have to play a bit more with filtering the light.

Here is another clear item. It's really hard to get the detail inside resin pieces. It's a leaf inside the resin with loads of gold sparkle. I'm not very happy with this shot and will have to practice loads more with resin pictures.

Some of the shell pedants I made after our vacation. Thought I would try to get some professional looking shots with these. It was tricky. Propping successfully without seeing the prop is difficult. I used a black twist tie coiled up to prop the piece up a bit and give some interest with the angle.

These next shots show how different a piece can look on a different background. I tried a few different pieces of scrap-booking fabric. I'm not sure what one works best. I may be partial to the plain white.

Let me know what you think about the whole homemade light-box thing. I'm really interested to know if you have used one and how dealt with it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Light-box Build For $13.00

I take an unreasonable amount of detail pictures for project instructions. Normally I have to either work in the dining room to capture great lighting, or lug each step upstairs into the dining room from my studio so I can get an acceptable photograph. Both options are a huge inconvenience...... I want to be able to do all the steps to a project right there in my studio, so I decided it was time to build a light-box so I can create shadow-less detail photographs in the dark spooky basement studio.

Thought I'd share what happens here with you.

Things you will need to build a light-box:

Two three by four foot sheets of foam core ($5.00 each)
One pack of tissue paper from the dollar store ($1.00) I used three sheets of the ten pack.
One roll of packing tape ($1.00) I used about an eighth of the roll
One sheet of white Bristol board ($1.00)

Tools you will use:

An art knife or exacto blade or box cutter to cut the foam core
A straight edge long ruler to measure and cut against
A cutting surface

Cut one piece of foam core 20" by 20"
and four pieces 20" by 15"

Three of the 20" by 15" pieces will have the middles cut out.
Measure a 2" border around the edges of these three pieces.
I used a grid ruler for quilting to get really even borders.

I used the grid ruler as a guide and cut out the middles of these three pieces using my box cutter.
Seriously.... don't cut the table or floor or yourself.
It's easy to make a mistake so go slow and take care.

Lay the pieces flat like this. The 20" by 20" piece is in the middle and the non cut out 20" by 15" piece is on the bottom. Tape along the edges that meet.

Fold the sides up and tape them with small pieces of tape just to make sure everything is fitting ok.

Check to make sure everything is pretty square and fitting correctly. Make any adjustments by re-cutting now if you have to.

Flip the box up onto it's base. (The solid 20" by 15" piece is the base.)
Re-tape all the joins so they are solid and permanent.

Cover each opening with a single sheet of tissue paper. Tape along the outside of each sheet to prevent wrinkling. Wrinkles cause shadows later.

Looks pretty good so far!
(Why YES... that IS a Storm Trooper helmet on the living room coffee table!)

Cut a piece of Bristol board to fit from the bottom front edge of the box to the top inside edge and tape it in place temporarily. You may want to change this card later because of wear or damage and don't want to have to pull the box apart to remove it. Small pieces of tape in the corners will do fine. I plan on covering this board up with decorative paper or fabric for most backgrounds. Just need the card there for support.

I'll post next time about lighting the box and let you see how the pictures compare to real daylight shots.

Have any of you had success with a home made light-box?
I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sears Kenmore Model 1755.... AKA George.

My sewing machine self destructed a while back after putting in many long years of faithful service. I've been looking for a suitable replacement for her and then this happened.......

Meet George!
She was sitting in Mr. Jimmy's Mom's basement.
She used to belong to his Grandma Georgina.
Mr. Jimmy's Mom heard about my loss and asked if I'd like to try to use this machine and I snapped it up. There is something special about sewing on the same machine that may have made knickers for Mr. Jimmy and his brothers. Or a sun dress for his Mom Dar.

It came with a manual and all the appropriate cogs feet and attachments.

Here is the page explaining all about the bobbin......

and another to explain about threading.

Let me know if you need me to post any more pages from this book.
It has instructions and pictures for all kinds of maintenance and repairs.

I'll have to study up a bit too. George can still straight stitch but she seems to be a bit seized and won't do a zigzag. I'll clean her up and loosen things a bit and see if we can't bring her back to sew some knickers and sun dresses for a new generation.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beach Treasure, Epoxy Coated Shells and Pebbles.

I decided to make some pendants from the oyster shells and pebbles we found on the beach last week. So I headed down to the studio with my treasures.

The shells and stones are beautiful now, but when they were wet they were all so much prettier.

I had some casting resin in a corner of the studio. It's been there quite a while you can tell from the yellow colour the hardener is turning. It should still work and I don't mind the slight discolouration.

I mixed up the epoxy in equal parts and made sure it was well combined. I used an inexpensive paintbrush to coat the shells and pebbles. The brush will be pitched out after the product hardens in it. I haven't found a good way to clean this stuff out of a brush. Easier to start over with a new brush next time.

Part of a worm eaten shell. The colours are so much richer when the piece is coated in resin. It appears a dull grey when dry.

I tried to couple the pebbles and shells so they fit together. I think they're going to be pretty little pendants when I'm done.

Lightly blow on the coated shells when they are done being coated. Your breath will break the surface tension on the coating and let the bubbles escape. You don't need to blow hard or get too close.

Here are the steps I used to make little findings to hang each pendant.
Cut a piece of 20 gauge jewelry wire 3 and a half or four inches long.

I use an assortment of round and double round nose pliers to help me make coils and curls in the wire.

Make 4 or five coils in the very middle of the wire like this.

Roll one of the tails up to the center coils.

Roll the other tail into the center coil but in the opposite direction to the first roll.

Fit the new finding to the top of a coated and cured shell.
Use your choice of clear jewelry adhesive to fix the finding in place. I'm using a UV curing gel to adhere mine because I happen to have it on hand, but a good clear jewelry glue like E6000 will work too.

Let me know if you try this. It's pretty easy and I think the end results are pretty spectacular.