Vintage Drums

©MaryBellus

My husband was given some vintage drums, by a school that was moving and looking to get rid of a lot of musical instruments and gear. He’s no dummy–he jumped right on it! Here are some photos of just SOME of what he brought home. More to come (too much to fit in a Mini Cooper all at once).

Circa early 60s Slingerland Pink Champage Snare Drum

Circa early 60s Slingerland Pink Champage Snare Drum

©MaryBellus©MaryBellus

Vintage circa early 60s Ludwig Toms

Vintage circa early 60s Ludwig Toms

©MaryBellus©MaryBellus

Vintage circa early 60s Ludwig Floor Tom

Vintage circa early 60s Ludwig Floor Tom

Vintage circa early 60s Camco Snare drum

Vintage circa early 60s Camco Snare drum

©MaryBellus©MaryBellus©DanBellus

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Activity Quiet Book

actv_01Here’s a little something I’ve been working on lately. Another Quiet Book for a little girl named Juniper, but this time I attempted some moving parts. (These pictures aren’t very good, but they convey the basic idea ; )

actv_02aThe flowers button on and off

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The shoes velcro on and off

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The cars move across the page

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The coat zips up and down

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The doggie’s spots snap on and off

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The clock’s hands move

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Monsters Quiet Book

©Mary Bellus_MQB_01After making my ABCs Quiet Book this past spring, I decided to make another for a very deserving little boy I know named Jesse, this time with a Monsters and Aliens theme.

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This quiet book is made with environmentally friendly wool blend felt and is completely hand sewn. Each page has a different monster/alien character and is soft and plush. I just finished making four of these and am now selling them on Etsy. Visit my store here. And now for some pictures:

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Gourd Candleholder

I love gourds. And I love decorating with them when Fall rolls around. Here is a really simple candle holder I made (this is actually an acorn squash, but close enough). You can really use anything as long as it’s stable and it has a deep enough top so that the candle doesn’t fall through.

 

Here’s the gourd before.

 

I took a Sharpie and outlined the candle, making a circle on the top of the gourd. Then I used an exacto blade and carefully cut on that line and then made intersections in the center and just chipped away at it until it was the right shape/depth I needed.

 

That’s it. Easy.

 

Easy Focaccia Bread

Lately I’ve been going through lots of changes–no, not exactly like Peter Brady singing when it’s time to chaaaaaaange!–but maybe a little in reverse. A little of “I’m halfway through my life. OMG, how’d that happen?” with a touch of “Am I doing what I love?” and then throw in some “I’m searching for more meaningful moments”. I feel like every 7-10 years I go through some sort of weird crisis, where the inner weirdo me yells out “WHAT IS HAPPENING???” and the outer, um, a little less weirdo me answers, “I’m busy watching Project Runway. Leave me alone.” And then with or without me, crap turns all over on itself.

Somehow these times conveniently come at the change of seasons. In this case, Fall. Since it’s getting colder, and I’m planning what we call in this house “our winter hibernation,” (because we’re basically bears) it’s good to do one of two things: bake or make soup. I also feel like cooking/baking is the best therapy ever. I totally channel my grandma when I’m in the kitchen. I can hear her now, singing out her favorite hymns while she cooked (you have to have witnessed her singing to fully understand what I’m talking about here. She had a certain tone to her voice that I have never, ever heard again, that I can only describe as “very high pitched, squeaky violin with a southern Illinois twang”). It was always a good feeling (and maybe a little frightening) to hear her in the kitchen. With or without the singing, you always knew something good was coming–usually in the form of her famous spaghetti and meatballs or her apple pie.

[A story about her much loved and always requested apple pie: One time when I was about ten, she came for Thanksgiving. The famous apple pie was requested, so she enlisted me to help her make it. She would tell me what ingredients she’d need next, and I’d get them for her. After she gingerly placed her homemade crust into the pie plate she asked me for the sugar. I passed it over and she sprinkled it very generously on the bottom of the crust, and right before she went to wash her hands, she licked her finger. Her face turned into a grimace and I thought she was sick, but she wasn’t. What had happened was that Little Mary had given her salt instead of sugar. She sort of freaked out (in her nice, happy grandma way) and I cried (in my very unattractive childlike way) and then we spent the next ten minutes trying to brush the salt off the pie crust. The pie totally tasted fine and Thanksgiving wasn’t ruined, but EVERY time I make an apple pie now, I think of that, and double-check that my sugar is sugar.]

As I search for more meaningful moments in life, I have felt the urge to go back to basics: making my own chicken stock, making stews with dumplings, baking desserts that smell like Christmas, and baking bread. There’s something about the smell of yeast that I just love (and also think is kind of gross at the same time).

So for the past few weeks I’ve been working on perfecting my focaccia recipe. I finally found a recipe to build off of that worked, so here’s my adapted version of it. Focaccia is so easy I thought you might want to make some.

Merb’s Focaccia:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees)

2 cups all purpose flour

olive oil

kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried chopped rosemary

1/2 teaspoon dried chopped thyme

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1 cup of tepid water

Directions:

In a small bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let stand about 5-7 minutes until yeast is fully dissolved and mixture is creamy.

In a large bowl combine flour and yeast mixture, stirring well to combine. *Add additional water a little at a time, until flour is fully absorbed (I used about an extra half cup of water). When dough pulls together, turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 1 minute.

Thinly oil a large bowl (I also oil the ball of dough lightly). Place dough in bowl and cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place (I put it on top of my preheating oven) for 30-40 minutes.

Deflate dough and turn back onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Roll dough into about a half inch thick circle, place on an oiled parchment papered pan, cover with towel and place on top of oven. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. It’ll puff up slightly.

Indent dough to make “holes” every inch or so. Brush dough with a thin coating of olive oil and then sprinkle with kosher salt. Combine rosemary, thyme, onion and garlic powders and then sprinkle on top of dough.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (mine was perfectly done at 12), or until dough is slightly golden on top.

Enjoy dipped in olive oil or on its own.


Simple eReader Cover

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When I got my nook eReader, I quickly went online to find a cover for it. Knowing me, I would drop it after about day two. Barnes and Noble sells lots of different covers (some of them are really cool, like this Jonathan Adler design), but I just didn’t like the fact that they all look like old Daytimers and they’re about 30-40 bucks. Sorry, no.

I wanted something protective, that I can slip on and off quickly, but that stays off when I want to read. And I wanted it to still fit in my bag (those covers they sell look very bulky). So I decided to use some leftover felt and create a very simple cover. This is it! You really can’t get much easier than sewing three straight lines and some embellishments. This has really come in handy and I find it easy now to throw the nook in my bag and not worry that it’ll get scratched.

I made this one for a friend’s Kindle Fire.

 

ABC Quiet Book

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Several of my friends are pregnant or have just had babies and I’ve been trying to think of what to make for them for baby gifts. I don’t know how to knit or crochet, so I had to get creative. I saw this Star Wars Quiet Book on Pinterest recently, and I totally fell in love with the format. I had never heard of Quiet Books before seeing this, so I did a Google search to see what’s out there. I found this really cool animal one too.

I love to work with felt and I knew this was something I could do, so I decided to make one of these for my friend who is due in a couple weeks. I came up with an illustrated ABC concept (at first I had wanted to illustrate every letter of the alphabet, but since these books are plush, that would have been way too many pages, so I decided to illustrate just one letter on each page). I sewed it all by hand and hot glued the pages together to try to get a really good seal.

I have some ideas for more of these, and more friends with babies to be my guinea pigs, so I’ll be making more in the near future. I hope to get a little more “interactive” with them. Here’s the book:

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Decorative Eggs

This easter we decided to color eggs the old fashioned way–you know, the store bought egg dying kit, with the ridiculously cheap components, and the stickers (STICKERS?? I don’t remember stickers when I was a kid. I remember decals. Yeah, decals. Those things you have to use a little skill for. Oh, man, I’m bitter). Anyway, my 40ish husband and my 29ish (40ish) self had fun playing with the colors, trying to use that little metal holder they give you, that inevitably makes the eggs slip right off of it and SPLAT onto the counter (we cracked a lot of our eggs), and we had fun. Our eggs look no different than if a four-year-old colored them, and I see that as success.

But I also wanted to do something a little different–push the creativity envelope a bit. Ever since kindergarten, when my teacher showed the class how to get the goo out of an egg without breaking it, I’ve been wanting to try it (by the way, she lied. She did break it. Just a little–with a pin, on both ends–but still, she had to break it to get the goo out, so she lied.) I tried to flash back to remember how she worked this magic, and I made some hollow decorative eggs. Here’s how I did it.

First I took some raw eggs and punched a hole on both sides of it. One hole I made a little bigger, because the goo has to be able to get out.

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Then I blew through the smaller hole, into a cup to catch the goo. This was extremely trying to my abdominals. If you want to go ahead and use this as your ab exercise, go for it. I was huffing and puffing after just four of these. Also, these images are sort of egg porn. Keep your kids away.

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I wiped the eggs clean and made sure there were dry. Then I used different width Sharpies and drew some designs onto the eggs. FYI it’s super hard to draw on eggs. My advice would be to use the thicker ones. Mine ended up looking pretty rough, but two of them are blog worthy, I suppose. I hope. I think so. Here they are.

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Beaded Chandelier

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When we moved into our current house, there were a few projects we knew we’d get around to, but weren’t exactly first on the list. Our house, having been built in 1985, still has a few left over dated 80s fixtures, one being a hideous chandelier that used to hang in our stairwell (see before picture). We lived with that thing for three years wondering what we could do with it (without having to go and buy a brand new, expensive fixture).

One day Dan got sick of the ugly thing and stripped it of its cheap, plastic planks–at that point I knew I had to get off my lazy butt and do something creative with it. In it’s bare state it looked like an alien with a thousand prongs sticking out all over. After leaving it bare for probably a month, I decided I couldn’t stand that thing staring at me anymore, so I finally got to work. I went to my jewelry kit and found a bunch of larger beads left over from some other projects, and then supplemented what I didn’t have with new colored glass beads from the craft store. I created about six to eight basic strands of different lengths and then left a loop on the tops so I could hang them on the prongs. I tried my best to use big enough beads to cover the left-over light sockets on the inside of the fixture (you can still see them, but it’s not that bad). Then I finished off the bottoms with some oblong, retro pearls that my mom gave me.

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After

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Mostly I like how it casts some really cool shadows on the walls and ceiling. Now I have to think of what to do with our other dated 80s chandelier that hangs over the dining room table.