Always Remember...

Studio Mela

You Really Should Read This.

Some people claim that Blogs are dead.

Obviously, I would disagree.  And so should you, seeing as you are reading one of the many FANTASTIC blogs on Al Gore's Internet.  Aside from the 'Nest, here's another not-dead blog you should read if the moment strikes you...Songs for Now . 

SFN is Husband's songwriting blog.  If you find the process of writing interesting or just want to hear a great tune, check into it from time to time. 

Also, Husband writes about me a lot....and I really like that.


Oh the Updates

Hey Folks,

We've been neglecting you, haven't we?  Life has a way of putting things in perspective, and for the last few months, blogging just hasn't been top dog.  But don't worry, I've been making lots of things, Husband has been writing losts of songs, and together we've been making pies and slowly expanding our waistlines.  And now that life has settled just a little bit, we can continue sharing our nest with you.

To make up for our terrible lack of updates, here are a few lovely bridal pictures from Red,White, and Green Photography (whom we love very much):

More to come.


Makin' a Pie for Fourth of July

This was my afternoon before the fun began:

A Red, White, and Blueberry pie!  (Actually, its a Strawberry-Blueberry pie, but it's definitely not as cute)

Annnnnnd Baked:

Happy Fourth!


The Growing Collection

Took a trip to the local Goodwill yesterday and brought home a treasure load of vintage ceramics and milkglass:


The Couch: Remastered

The back alley foundling couch is finished!


I had already removed the NINE layers of fabric and the original stuffing, which for all accounts was completely nasty.  Notice the barf green paint on the wood.  The stuffing you see here is salvage foam and stuffing from a different couch we cannibalized and tossed.  Up-cyling!


Ahhh.  SO much better.  I stripped off the green paint and replaced it with a matte black.

Notice the trendy Ikea fabric?  'Stuff White People Like' would be so proud.

The cushions?  Up-cycled foam, of course.


Starting Business: Part One- The Apple Blossom

Now begins the paper flower journey!

I've been collecting crepe paper, stamens, glue, tissue and all sorts of extra crafty things for a week now.  Last night I decided it was time to crack open the flower books and learn my destiny.  I started with flower number one:  the Apple Blossom. I figured, hey it's small, there are a bunch of them so I can practice them a few times.  Its probably going to be cake.

So wrong.  It seems the smaller the harder.  Which looking back is like:  duh.  My fingers, having not tinkled the ivories like they used to are not so nimble.  Still, I think they turned out pretty swell:

Here's the whole branch, with several clusters of white and pink blossoms and buds.

Up close.  I love how the insides look!

Next challenge: Poppies.


Catching Up

Well, its been two life changing months so now its time to get back to blogging.  I hope you agree.


The Husband's internship finished last month and at the moment he's busy ghost writing.  We've both been starting up various new projects and side jobs.  It seemed like the most lucrative idea seeing as the economy hasn't really bounced back like all of us recent grads have been hoping.  Tay, with the help of my (part-time-job) boss, is hiring himself out for conferences and Sunday sermon illustrations as a spoken word poet.  He's pretty good (if I do say so) and he's already made a tidy bundle doing so.  He's also a freelance writer and editor at the moment.

I, on the other hand, have been working happily part time with Ministers Label Publishing as the publishing coordinator.  I get to work from home and learn new skills all the time.  Nice! 

Remember all those crafty projects I did for the wedding and for...well...general life?  Mum has been encouraging me to try my hand at selling some of it.  At first I thought it was pretty dumb.  Like, something cute moms always say, but isn't that practical.  But I kept thinking about it, in fact I couldn't get away from it.  After eight solid months of job shopping in earnest and coming up empty handed, I think its time to get professionally crafty. 

God has been generous to us lately- sending a bunch of profitable music gigs and projects our way so we have a small amount of start up capitol.  Ever since the wedding I've been in love with paper flowers.  And I'm not the only one.  Etsy has lots of people who make crepe paper doodads and bouquets, but no one seems to sell them singly or in half or whole dozens.  With my knack for craft, I think I can make these things. My favorite paper artist is Lalalaurie.  She has a great sense of whimsy and nature.  I'd love to make flowers like her.

In preparation for my new endeavor I've done some research, found flower patterns for about 40 flowers, and found a few wizened old ladies to converse with.  The most handy resource I've found so far has been ourpaperflowers.com, a little e-book put out by a tiny little old lady whose been making these things for ages.  She put together a 93 page booklet that includes patterns, how tos, and supply lists.  Awesome! 

The hard (and pricey) part about this is the crepe paper.  Dennison, the mother of all fancy pants paper makers made the best, heavy weight crepe paper anywhere.  Its the only stuff that really does the job.  Unfortunately they no longer make the stuff, or at least very much.   Most folks buy up vintage stock when ever it comes up.  I've bought a few sheets on ebay for crazy low prices along with some cute vintage stamens.  The real place to get paper is Blumchen.  They have great paper colors, stamens...well, everything.  But its not cheap.  I ordered a few sheets today just to play with.  We'll see how it goes.  Rumor is they have the best paper and all vintage stock.  (salivate). There are a few discounted paper suppliers, and I might give them a try too after I play with some real crepe paper for a while. 

I'm pretty excited to get to play with paper,  even if its only for a little while or it never sells.  But like Mums always say...you never know.



I promised Miss Casey that I would post some pictures of my latest TOMS adventure.  For those of you who don't know what TOMS are, its a shoe company that gives away one pair of matching new shoes to a needy child for every pair that you buy.  I'm working on my fourth pair currently, and Tay has had five or six.  I stumbled onto them about four years ago and thought they'd make a great birthday present for Tay.  I bought a white pair and decorated them with Tay's favorite writers. 

So there you have it, the begining of our TOMS craze. 

I wore my last pair, a lovely gift form my brothers in law, into the ground.  For my birthday I bought myself a new white pair to mark up.  We're hearing to Florida for a week's vacation and I wanted a sparkly new pair to break in.  So I did a little rush job and finished them yesterday.

Thats a bird on the left and a kitten on the right.  You'll notice the kitten is thinking of the bird and the bird is thinking of scribbles.
Tada!  Let the Florida fun begin!


To Try or Not to Try

Just stumbled on this beauty over at creature comfort's blog.

Take a peek.


Lucullan Adventures Vol.1 4th Edition

The Husband has been at work super late as of this week, so I've taken the adventuring into my own hands. 

Behold,  The Fruits of my Labor:


The Ingrediants:

-two pie crusts
-7  peaches, peeled and sliced
-1 cup blueberries
-3/4 cup sugar
-2 Tbsp lemon juice
-1/4 cup flour
-1/8 tsp nutmeg (I doubled this)
-a generous dash of cinnamon (which I added)
-1/2 stick butter, cut into pieces

The Business:

Confession- I used store bought pie crusts.  I did re-roll the top one but they are store bought none the less.  Could I have made them myself?  Yes.  Did I want to do all the clean up involved in making pie crust? No.  Moving on...

1.  Prick the bottom pie crust with a fork, then pop into the oven until it dries, about 8-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
2.  While the pie crust bakes, mix your fruit, sugar, lemon juice and flour together in a medium sized bowl. 
3.  Fill the bottom pie crust with the filling.  Dot the filling with the butter slices (which I totally forgot to do...we'll see what happens..)
4.  Cut desired top crust as you wish.  Whet the bottom crust with water or milk, then gently lay the top over the pie using the rolling pin method.  Using a fork or your fingers, squish the two crusts together, joining them.
5.  Wash the top crust in either milk or egg, depending on the finish you want (I always use milk for a shiny crust).  Dust with Sugar if desired.
6.  Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
7.  Let cool for 15-20 minutes.

The Outcome:

ck:  What makes it a "Maryland" Pie I wonder?  Anyway... My thoughts.  The crust was good!  Maybe a wee bit dry but that could just be due to overbaking.  The filling was also good, though the butter might have pushed it up to great.  It need a little saltyness.  The blueberries were the best part.  I usally don't like blueberries, but this was a major exception. I've never quite figured out how to keep juicey pies from leaking out of the steam vents.  Advice?  4.5/5
Che:  De-lish! (he licked the plate clean)  4/5


The Updated Apartment Tour

The Updated Apartment Tour from Courtney Walling on Vimeo.

I've been busy while the Husband is in Kenya.   Bored much?


Lucullan- Adventures Vol. 1, 3rd Edition

Lu.cu.lan (adj)- extremely luxurious, esp. of food.

This week our entree hails from Wolfgang Puck, Pizza, Pasta and More


The Ingredients:

-1 stick unsalted butter
-2 tbsp chopped shallots
-1 tbsp chopped garlic
-1/2 cup oven dried tomatoes
-2 cups chicken stock (we used stock made form bullion cubes)
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-sea salt
-12 oz angel hair pasta
-8 ox crab meat
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 tbsp chopped basil leaves
-1/4 cup chopped parsley
-20 medium asparagus tips, blanched, then refreshed in cold water
-several whole basil leaves for garnish

The Business:

1. Bring a large stock pot of water to boil, season with a dash of salt.

2. While the water heats up, melt the stick of butter in a large sauté pan. On medium heat, sauté the garlic and shallots until browned (not burned). Stir in your dried tomatoes (most stores carry small jars of sun dried, they work great for this recipe), chicken stock and cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until it reduces by half, which for us was 15-20 minutes.

3. Your stock pot of water is probably boiling by now, add your angel hair pasta. Once the pasta is done, add it to your reduced sauce, along with the fresh crabmeat (we used thawed imitation crab). Mix until crab is warmed through and the pasta is mixed well into the sauce.

4. Remove from the heat, garnish with cheese, basil and asparagus. Serves four

The Outcome:

Ck: The best one yet! We substituted some cheaper, more readily available ingredients, but you’d never be able to tell. Be careful not to add too much pasta. We overdid it a bit and ended up a bit thin on the sauce. I would suggest reducing the 12 oz to ten or nine. 5/5

Che:  I would have had more sauce, or at least made it a bit more creamy.  Nothng else to complain about.  Great stuff.  4/5

Mixing it up with a French dessert-

Crème Brulee from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

This one is shockingly simple and could easily be manipulated to include other ingredients like  fruit, chocolate, etc. We reduced this recipe by half, the amounts below are the original amounts.

The Ingredients:

-3 cups heavy cream
-1 tbsp vanilla extract
-6 large egg yolks
-2/3 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place six 6 oz ramekins in a shallow roasting pan.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream and vanilla. Stir constantly. Cook until the sides of the pan gently bubble. The receipe says this takes five minutes, but it only took us two. I turned the heat down to medium and continued cooking for another minute just to be sure. No harm, no foul. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, with 1/3 cup sugar until a pale, foamy yellow. Be careful not to over whisk. This should take 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk cooled cream into the mix.

4. Divide the cream mixture evenly into your ramekins, leaving a little bit of room at the top. Carefully poor very hot water into the roasting pan so that the water is about 1/3 of the way up the ramekins. Cover with aluminum foil.

5. Bake until the custards set, but are still a little jiggly in the middle. That’s about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your ramekins. Remove from oven, let cool in the waterbath, then place in fridge to completely cool, about 3-4 hours.

6. Before serving, dust the top of each custard with the remaining sugar, and caramelize them, using either a blowtorch or your oven’s broiler. Serves six.
The Outcome:

ck: Wow! Who knew that something with such a stuffy name so easily yields its tasty treasures?! I highly recommend making this one. As long as you carefully (read: slowly) combine your ingredients, something tasty is sure to follow. If you can’t caramelize your sugar, try fruit or sauce toppings instead. Someday I would like to try using vanilla beans instead of extract… 5/5

che: I licked BOTH ramekins clean. Enough said. 4/5


Lucullun-Adventures, Vol.1, 2nd Edition

Lu.cu.lan (adj)- extremely luxurious, esp. of food.

This week our Lucullun adventure takes us to the exotic locale of East India.

CHICKEN IN COCONUT MILK from The Best-Ever Curry Cookbook

The Ingredients:

-a handful of ground almonds
-a handful of dry, unsweetened, shredded coconut
-2/3 cup coconut milk
-2/3 cup ricotta cheese
-1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp chili Powder
-1 tsp crushed garlic
-1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
-1 tsp salt
-2 Tbs veggie oil
-1 lb cubed chicken breast fillets
-3 cardamom pods (or 2 tsp card. powder)
-1 bay leaf (we used 3 dried bay leaves)
-1 dried red chili (we opted out of this)
-2 Tbs fresh chopped coriander (optional)
The Business

1: Dry roast the almonds and coconut in a large wok, use no oil. Be sure you brown them, not burn them. We found this embarrassingly difficult. Set aside dry mix in a small bowl.
2: Add the coconut milk, cheese, coriander, chili powder, garlic, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl, mix well. Side note: instead of ricotta cheese, we use the whole can of coconut milk. It tasted great! but was very oily due to the oily nature of coconut. We recommend using the ricotta cheese/coconut milk combo instead.

3: Heat the veggie oil in the wok and add chicken, cardamom, and bay leaf. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes (ours took about 4) until you no longer see pink chicken bits.

4: Pour in coconut mixture and stir. Zap the heat to low, add the chili and coriander. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by at least 1/4 (or more if you want it thicker).

5: Uncover and simmer for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Garnish the finished dish with the dried almond-coconut crunchies mix.

Serves four.
A great way to serve this puppy would be with nan or basmatti rice. If you like, keep some of the extra sauce to pour over rice for leftovers. It only gets better after a day or two.

The Outcome:

ck: very tasty. The coconut is subtle enough to taste the garlic in there. I was a little concerned about the shredded coconut. I was unable to find unsweetened shredded coconut. Instead, I washed sweetened coconut in a large sieve over the sink. I rung out all the water several times, then patted it dry with a kitchen towel. It worked great. I wished we would've had ricotta cheese, as the coconut was very oily and made the sauce look orange (its supposed to be a creamy white color). 4/5

che: oily, but good. It was a little tough to sense when the chicken was done because of all the sauce. I might cook them through for another few minutes before adding the coconut mix next time. 3.5/5

Try this at home! It easy to replicate and takes no time at all.

By the way, thats grapejuice and and a bottle of gingerale...in case you were wondering.


Its Curtains for You

I've received word that my father-in-law is going to visiting our little slice of heaven in less than a week. You know what that means...we have to make it look like adults actually live here. I'm now attempting to finish (or at least partially finish) as many home improvement projects as possible. I can't get them all done, but I figure I can choose a few from the list:

-recovering the up-cycled loveseat.

-painting the bathroom

-recovering all the old throw pillows

-framing fabric (more on this one later)

-painting details on the huge storage chest, coffee table and rocker in the living room

-sanding/staining the bathroom medicine chest

So much to do with little time. I figure the two most pressing jobs first, that is the couch and painting the bathroom. The loveseat is pretty important as it is the only thing to sit on in the living room. And the bathroom? Well, its just gross. You'll just have to tune in later to see who wins out.


I completed a project today, actually.

We have groovy french doors that separate the britchen and living room. My only complaint about these awesome vintage doors is the lack of privacy, that is, the glass is completely uncovered. Putting curtains on these babies would be complicated (i.e. drilling, placing rods, finding curtains to fit) and pricey. Instead, I went the cost effective/visually simple route, my old friend paper.

I picked up this trick, believe it or not in bible school. I was seven and it was Christmas. Our bible school teacher had us make stained glass ornaments from oiled butcher paper. Flash forward to my high school years and I was re-creating 15th century European cathedral stained glass on my bedroom windows. My tools? Oil and colored crepe paper. I discovered if you oiled a window and simply applied the paper shapes to it, the paper would create a semi permanent and opque bond to the glass. Beautiful.

There is a distinct lack of views from our first floor apartment, that is from the bottom panes, anyway. So I've covered the bottom panes of our back windows in white geometric patterns using white crepe paper. The effect in the daytime is a pleasing creamy wash of light, while in the night time, the patterns really standout. Using a water-glue concoction I can layer paper as many times as I want.

I've done the same to our lovely french doors. Take a look:




Culen-adventures Begin!

Hey folks,

Been a while hasn't it? Sorry about that. che and I have been doing so much lately that the blogging was on the back burner for a bit. No worries- I have plenty of new blog-worthy material to share with you over this coming week. So check in often...

First up, a new tradition from the Wallings, jr kitchen:


Lu.cu.lan (adj)- extremely luxurious, esp. of food.

Every weekend, or close to anyway, che and I will whip out one of our many cookbooks and try a new and fabulous recipe. Lucky for you, we’ll share our joys and dismal failures with you here, In the Nest. With no further a due…

For our first lucullan-adventure, we decided to shake it up with two Spanish entrees and a Hawaiian dessert. Lets begin.

From our ‘Tapas’ cookbook comes CHICKEN IN LEMON & GARLIC.

This ones easy-ish, and not too exotic. We halved the recipe, which usually serves six to eight. The ingredients (in the original measures) are as follows:

-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
-5 Tbs olive oil
-1 onion, finely chopped
-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 grated lemon peel, save the juice of the lemon
-4 Tbs chopped parsley, extra to garnish
-salt and pepper

The Business: Slice up the chicken into thin(ish) strips. Cook the onions for about five minutes in a large saucepan (very large, like titanic). Add the garlic to the onion, cook 30 seconds without browning the onion or garlic. Add chicken. Cook thoroughly. When the chicken is no longer pink on the inside, add the lemon juice and peel. Simmer until the garlic and lemon create a glaze on the bottom of the pan. Mix the chicken and glaze a few times, otherwise the lemon will burn on the pan, bad news bears. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate it up with a spring of something green, some extra lemon juice and fancy lemon peel.

The Outcome:
Ck- Not bad at all. Lemony, but not too lemony. I might add a bit more garlic, as it seemed to get lost in the citrus. 4/5
Che- tasty. 4/5

Next up, also from the ‘Tapas’ cookbook- TORTILLA ESPANOLA

This dish is basically the Spanish version of potato pan cakes, not at all the Taco Bell tortilla that it’s name implies.

The Ingredients:
-1 lb waxy potatoes (no idea what makes a potato waxy. We went with red potatoes)
-1 ¾ cups Olive oil, you’ll likely be needing more than that
-2 onions chopped, we used ½ that with plenty of onion-ness in the finished dish
-2 large eggs
-salt and pepper
-fresh parsley to garnish

The Business: Peel and cut the potatoes and onions into small cubes. Heat up the olive oil in the pan, add the onions and potatoes. Here’s the tricky part: heat the little devils so they become soft but not browned or falling apart. That’s what the book says, you got me how to actually accomplish that. We failed big time. While the onions and potatoes stubbornly brown despite your efforts, beat the eggs in a small bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Once the potato-onion cook-fest is done (about 20 minutes on low/medium heat), strain the extra oil and set aside to use in a bit. Add the eggs to the onions and potatoes in a large bowl. Heat up the olive oil you strained in the large sauce pan. Add the egg potato mixture to the pan , flatten and cook for 3-5 minutes. The underside should be setting by then. The whole thing should be similar to a very potato-y omelet. Loosen the pan cake with a spatula, place a plate over the top of the skillet and slip the pan cake onto the plate. Slide it back in to the pan, browned side up. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. To serve, cut into several slices like a pizza and garnish with parsley.

The Outcome:
Ck: Loved it. So tastey. I was worried the onions would overpower the dish, but they cooked down into a really mild yummyness. 4.5/5
Che: the flipping was way to hard. We failed in that department majorly. They just wouldn’t stick together. There was no way to flip them as directed in the cookbook. But they did taste ubergood. 3.5/5


This is actually a Hawaiian breakfast entrée, akin to French toast. I kicked up the sugar and vanilla extract a notch to make it more dessert worthy.

The Ingredients:
-fresh fruit of your choice, we chose blueberries, mango, and starfruit
-Banana, sliced (we skipped this)
-Passion fruit , which we substituted for more obtainable Manjo-Orange jucie, 1 ½ cups
-sugar, 2 tbs (I put in about a 1/4 cup)
-4 egg whites
-1/4 cup orange juice
-1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 TB)
-whole grain bread, four slices
For the cheesecake cream:
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-1/4 ts lemon zest (I used a 1 TB)
-1/2 ts vanilla extract (I used 1 TB)
-2 TB powdered sugar (I used ¼ cup)
(combine all four ingredients in mixer until creamy)

The Business: Combine the passion fruit juice, sugar and fresh fruit. Let the fruit marinate in the syrup while you work. Combine eggs, OJ and vanilla. Wisk until mixed. Dunk the bread slices and slap some premade cheesecake cream on them, making a sandwich with two slices of dunked bread. Cover and set in the fridge for about 10 minutes. In a large skillet, melt 1 TB of butter. Cook each sandwich, browning both sides. To serve, cut each sandwich in halves, spoon mixed fruit and syrup over the slices. We put some powered sugar on there as well and garnished with star fruit slices.

The Outcome:
Ck: ok. Not really a fan of this one. I want my desserts sa-weet. And this didn’t really do it for me. Even with the extra sugar it was a bit blah. I would also substitute the whole grain bread with white bread. It tasted way too wheaty. 2/5
Che: Liked it. The fruit was very tasty. The “cream cheese” stuff could have been sweeter still. 3/5.

Until next adventure-