Blue Neutral Outfit

I’m somewhere between 5’9″ and 5’10″, not a short woman. However, I’ve never really hated being tall. I grew up in an area where I was actually relatively average height for a girl, and was only the tallest in my class for a brief period when the girl taller than me had surgery for her scoliosis, and then everyone else hit puberty and caught up with me. I didn’t brag about being the tallest for those few months, a 7th grader had back surgery, I wasn’t heartless… Anyhow. I’ve recently decided I want to wear heels once and a while. I’m loving the casual heel trend. But, I’ve almost never worn heels, so I’m still figuring out how. Seems elementary, but I’m an awkward human being, so things get difficult. But I managed to come up with this outfit…

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Chambray – Thrifted. Black tee (under) – Target, Merona. Pants – Thrifted. Nude Heels – Thrifted. Black headband – lace from Hobby Lobby. Necklace – Yobelmarket.com
 

Did you notice how much of that outfit was thrifted? I’m going to have to give my thrifting tips soon, because this was a success I think. Pretty neutral, but the various patterns and textures stand out because of it.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

My husband are by no means vegetarian (c’mon, bacon amiright?), but we try to be somewhat mindful of where our meat is coming from, and how often we eat it in the name of sustainability. And, depending on who you talk to, in the name of health. So, I’m always on the lookout for some hearty meatless dinner options. I got this one from my sister-in-law, added a little bit of my own touch, and love it!

sweet potato black bean

What you need:

  • 3 cups sweet potatoes (peeled and diced, about 1 large potato or a couple small/medium ones)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (or about a can and a half, or a full 2 cans for some extra protein!)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbs olive oil for sautéing
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded  cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings, some variety of the following: sour cream, salsa, avocado, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes… while the burritos taste quite good without these things, the freshness is a GREAT combo to the smokey sweet flavor of the burritos and adds a little more substance.

Start by peeling and chopping your sweet potatoes and chopping the onion. Saute together in a large frypan.

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Allow the onions and especially the potatoes to soften. They will be baked a little, but it’s nice to get a good bit done at this step. Meanwhile, start diving up your cheese in the tortillas. You can do this without spreading them out, but I like to just lay em all out there and make sure they are fairly even. I like to keep a little cheese to put on top.

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Add the black beans and spices. Cook until beans are warmed through. Then, divide among the tortillas.

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Wrap them up and tuck them in a 9×13 pan. (Sometime I want to add some sort of sauce and make them more wet burrito/enchilada…)

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Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Pull out, dish, and garnish with selected toppings. I like to make it sort of buffet style, where people can decide how to spruce up their burrito however they like. These are also GREAT leftovers, they reheat really well. I promise you’ll see this happen before you know it:

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Yum!

Art Scammers

I’ve had a few weird scam attempts on me lately. Most of them were pretty obvious. Unfortunately one of them was that my Paypal was hacked. I had a terrible password and never changed it since I rarely use Paypal anymore. Seriously, get a decent password, especially on anything close to money! I knew better, and so do you.

That’s not what I want to draw to your attention, though. I want to show you this email from richardbrowwn@live.com:

Hi,
My name is Richard Brown. I lived in Dallas for twenty years before I had a recent move back to Germany. I found your profile on Google and I’m interested in purchasing an artwork from you for the beautification of my guest room. May I have a few images of your available works. You could send me your website so that I can go through them online.
Till I read back from you.
Thanks.

Richard.

I got this and was pretty skeptical to start. Found my profile on Google? Oddly generic, and especially from the email that I rarely use for any account online. And Is he just looking around for artists before looking for art? But hey, I did just sell a few pieces recently, so maybe? So I replied, keeping it generic, also making sure I don’t send him anything high res in case he plans to do something sketchy with them. Then I got this reply:

Hi Mattea,

Thanks for the email. I went through your website and found the attached work interesting. Can I  have a detailed information about the work, its availability and pricing?  As soon as we reach a concrete agreement on pricing, I can instruct my personal assistant to  process a  check to you  for the payment of the work so that my mover can have it picked up along with my properties that are to be moved to Munich.

I await your email soonest.
Regards,
Richard.
Yeah, this has all kinds of weird scamminess written all over it. Especially for little ole me. Google didn’t find anything as a direct quote from the first email, but a basic search of “art scammers” found me the awesome Stop Art Scams blog. Just a few posts down, a very similar sounding scam was written up with countless other people with their versions.
Another site I found later after googling the email address:  http://www.artquest.com/artquest/scammer-names.htm, a growing list of emails used to scam artists.
I am not sure what posting this will do, but I felt unusually violated by the scammers going after artists specifically. It’s no secret artists tend to be a special breed. We are passionate, emotional, and incredible dreamers. We really want the best and while we are often seen as pessimists, I think it’s our way of dealing with being burned in the past. I know I have often said if I just assume the worst, if it happens it’s not a surprise, and then if it’s better we can be happy. Then, there are these scumbags preying on this realm of beautiful people. I feel the need to make sure they don’t succeed.

Removing Food Grease from Leather Boots

I hope this got you as excited as I was. Strangely, it’s happened to me twice over the past couple months. Once to each of my favorite pairs of leather boots. If you are a tidier person than me, this may not be an issue, but I’m not, so here we are.

Removing Food Grease from Leather

You are hanging out at a classy party with friends, wine in one hand, a cracker in the other, going for this fantastic melty honey brie dip… when a healthy drip of cheese grease goes straight for your soft leather shoes. Or another scenario: You live in boots, and at a less classy party you have a beer in one hand and fantastically greasy pizza in the other. No judging. Both of these stories may or may not be true.

But, for us klutz’s, I have good news! See above? That was just one overnight application. I love these shoes, so I wore them that day, and after normal day walking and scuffing it wasn’t visible at all.

What is this magic you ask? Cornstarch.

What the what? My mind was blown. The first time (with the brie) I was devastated,  I thought my boots were stuck with a stain forever. The next day, I wanted to yell from the mountaintops. I’m only slightly exaggerating.

What you need:

  • leather with a food grease stain
  • corn starch
  • old toothbrush (optional)

So, you start with you beloved shoe or other leather item that is now has a dark splat on it. Sad day.

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Find these items in your home or for dirt cheap at the store

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Give the shoe a little rub. You can just rub with your finger, I found it works a tiny bit better if you can get it deep in the grains with something like a brush.

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Let the powder set for a while. At least a good 8 hours. It’s worth cleaning it off and doing another application for a little extra grease extraction. Once you’ve given it some good time just use a cloth to dust off your boot, no need to dampen for most types of leather.

Viola!

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I am still alive.

I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but I survived the Holidays.

Phew, I think I need to just take December off, it’s been over a month since I posted! I dream of the day when my employment will not revolve around Christmas… that hasn’t happened since high school. Until that day, you will just have to give me some grace.

In better news, it is a goal of mine to blog 52 times this year. This isn’t a promise of once a week, on those busy weeks I will always choose husband time over crafty blog time, but 52 total. I’ve got some catching up to do, but I’ve got some built up. I didn’t post over the past month, but I did take some pictures!

To start, this is what is currently on my plate. I’m making a wholesale catalog for the previously mentioned and deeply loved Yobel Market. For these photos it was below freezing or close to it, but these volunteer models were rockstars as we make something to sell the spring/summer jewelry, scarves and skirts. I’m excited to get into some creative photography again!

Yobel Market catalog photos

 

 

Yobel International

Oh, the holidays are crazy, always. I dream of a day when my job doesn’t get busier around Christmas (and Easter). Life will always get busier, I don’t need work to add on to it.

One small creative item recently, to add to my busy work schedule, my regular volunteering (and board duties) for this awesome non-profit called Yobel International also increases. Yobel International works around the world in impoverished areas to bring business and entrepreneur education to help people change their lives and communities with their own businesses. Many of the products that these people make are for sale at their market (and online at Yobel Market) Between end of the year fundraisers to help bring the curriculum to new countries, and the holiday shopping surge, they need as many hours as I can spare.

Thankfully, I’m able to donate some of my other skills. I’ve had a small hand in product design, I’ve been doing their photography for the website for the past year and a half, and I occasionally test my hand in design for them.

I GAVE HOPE

Today is a big day, all day people around Colorado (and the rest of the country) are encouraged to donate to Colorado non-profits, and especially today because all credit card fees are waved, and a percentage of the donations are being matched! I helped put together a little campaign to help spread the word. I love the little profile logo (above), and don’t hate the directions. This was just a few hours of playing, but I love when playing pays off.

Colorado Gives Contest Yobel

 

By the way, if you stop by https://www.facebook.com/yobelmarket before midnight tonight you can participate in the contest! Or if you are interested in contributing, you can still donate through December https://www.coloradogives.org/YobelInternational, or donate and get more info year round at their non-profit website http://yobelinternational.org/

Neck Pillow and Space Saver

I made this for my trip to Costa Rica this spring with Yobel International. We needed to travel light so we could bring supplies to and from, not to mention it was an 8 hr red eye on the way down. So, how about a pillow that, instead of taking up extra space, relieves space from my suitcase? Even better, you can make it for ALMOST NOTHING.

Travel Pillow

What you need:

  • old teeshirt (or comfortable fabric
  • sewing machine
  • travel plans

It’s pretty straight forward, just an empty neck pillow that you then fill with (comfy) items that you want to bring with you.

I’m sorry, I don’t have a pattern for yet, but I wanted to get you this idea with the holidays approaching. You can see the proportions on the teeshirt below. Also, sorry for the terrible photos… it was a crazy time and this was a late night craft.

Step 1: Fold your comfy shirt in half.

Step 2: Cut out half a neck pillow shape (but across the folded shirt it will make a full pillow)

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Step 3: Sew all the edges together.

Step 4: Cut a small slit on the top (for stuffing) and flip inside out

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Step 5: Stuff with clothes that you are packing!

I was able to fit all of the below in mine, it was amazing! I ended up taking a little out of the back of the neck so it was more for the sides of my head to lean on on the plane. It could be a good idea as well to put a couple undergarments in here in case of lost luggage.

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The extra nice thing is that very seldom do you get told you need to fit this in your carry-on. I flew all around with it just “attached” to my carry on, which can also be great for those of you who, like me, try your hardest to never pay baggage fees! It’s really amazing how much you can fit in your “carry on and a personal item”. I’m becoming a pro.

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Again, this was like a 20 minute craft, but kind of looks like it. You can easily class it up with some nice fabric and finish up the seem around the stuffing hole (terrible name…). You could also get even fancier and make the side with the slit 2 separate pieces, creating a nice overlap where you stuff so that nothing is peaking out! I’ll have to try that idea soon and give a 1 hour version to join with the 20 minute version.