Monday, April 19, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wine Corks Into Cork Board

A while back, I decided that it would be a great idea to make a cork board using a bunch of discarded wine corks. I asked all my friends to save their wine corks for me.  For the past few weeks, they have been sitting around, waiting for me to find the right frame and the right motivation to put them together.

And then I saw this cool wine cork bath mat and felt inspired.

Here's the how-to.

Gather your corks, a really sharp, non-serrated knife and a self-healing cutting mat.

Be very careful not to cut yourself while cutting your corks in half, lengthwise.

Arrange them however you like on the back board of your photo frame.  
You can be way more simple than I was, but I wanted something more than straight up and down or side to side lines, personally.  Of course, this required me to cut the corks into a lot of different sizes...

After they're laid out, use your glue gun to glue them firmly in place, one and a time.
I found it easiest to work my way around the edges and then press the middle ones tightly into place.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DIY Inspiration: Books As Planters

Italy's Gartenkulter has turned old books into the most amazing up-cycled planters!

Via Inhabit:
With the recent rise in popularity of electronic readers, thoughts of “book extinction” have really seeped their way into design conversations. Italy-based Gartenkulter pays tribute to the tree with these beautiful planters made from old and disused books. By removing the heart of the book’s cover and pages and then creating a seal, the book becomes a home for a living and growing tree. “As each seed becomes a plant or tree, the book becomes a pot or cradle.”

I absolutely love these!

Now, who wants to hollow out some old books for me so I can get started?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Amy Sedaris Was A Girl Scout

It's no surprise that Martha Stewart was a Girl Scout.
As was Amy Sedaris.
As was I.

It's no wonder we're all so crafty.

Here's a fun clip from last week where Martha and Amy make Girl Scout inspired Merit Badges in honor of the 89th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts.

image via The Martha Stewart Show webpage

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Design: Patterns, Motifs and Turning Squares

©Briana Campbell, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DIY Inspiration: Terrariums

I feel like everyone's been talking about terrariums lately.  My friend Dan made this really cute one, filled with succulents and little rocks and posted this photo (filched from his Facebook page), left, of it in progress.

While I haven't gotten around to making my own yet, I have been giving them a lot of thought.

Should I make an open one, like Dan's and the ones I have seen selling for a pretty penny at Sprout Home?

Or do I want to do something more enclosed and traditional - the whole self-sustaining system?

While I figure out what I'm going to do next here is some DIY inspiration to get you started on your own terrariums.

A really simple how-to on Design*Sponge.

Cute mason and jam jar terrariums on CRAFT.

A thorough how-to on

 And, of course, the Fairyland Terrarium that Martha and Julie Andrews made on the Martha Stewart show the day I shadowed the art department.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Upcycled Undies

A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to Colette Patterns cute mini-bloomers pattern with the promise of posting my own, once they were finished.

Over the weekend, I had a bit of spare time to complete the project and added a cute little bra-top to match.  Obviously these aren't really undergarments - more for lounging around the apartment with your hunny, drinking hot coffee and watching the rain (or, you know, feet of snow) fall.  His cardigan or button-down from last night would be a great robe-replacement over this sweet set.

For my bloomers and bra, I up-cycled an old Dwell duvet cover my friend Sarah had given me - I love Dwell's modern designs and color palette and was definitely inspired to make this set when I saw the fabric folded up in my large piece stash!

The finished mini-bloomers with elastic waist and navy grosgrain at the legs.

I finished the seams on the inside of the bloomers with a Hong Kong Seam.
There is a super tutorial on seam finishes over at Craft Stylish.

The bra top obviously offers no support, but it's a cute compliment to the bloomers.
I made a pattern for a triangle top and finished with an elasticized ruffle, as opposed to making a string bikini/halter.
  I finished the back seam of the top with a flat-fell seam (like you see on the side of your jeans).
The top just slips over your head.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Design: Chairs

©Briana Campbell, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dinner For Two: Spicy Chocolate Tart

A few nights ago I made dinner for a special gentleman friend.  I wanted to make something delicious and romantic and kind of sexy.  I wanted it to taste yummy and, more importantly, I wanted my friend to really like it.

By the way, I like to wear a cute apron, like the one I made a while back, when cooking for others.  While it does protect your cute date-night outfit, it's also an important addition to it.

The meal started with a mushroom risotto and an endive/watercress salad with a really simple vinaigrette.  I think risotto is a great date-night meal - it's not too complicated, has a lot of flavor and you can do so much with it.  Done right, it's impressive and thoughtful.  Though you need to constantly stir, you can sip a glass of wine and chat while you're tending to the meal.  And having your hunny in the kitchen with you is always sexy.

What topped off the meal, though, was dessert.  Knowing my friend is a chocolate lover, I wanted to challenge myself to make a creative and amazing dessert that we would both really enjoy.  Okay.  Okay.  I wanted to make something that he would love.

While at the Greenpoint Food Market this weekend, we came across a really interesting jam - a collaboration of two awesome indie food-makers - and it was that find that was the inspiration for my chocolate tart.

Brooklyn's Anarchy in a Jar and Mama O's Kimchee were selling a little something they call Anarchy Mama, a sweet a spicy grapefruit jam infused with kimchee spice.  It might sound a little strange to some, but it is totally amazing.  And, as Kheedim of Mama O's had promised that it would "totally get [me] to second base," it seemed only appropriate to somehow add it to my romantic dinner menu.

Spice and chocolate are a no-brainer and this simple tart is delicious, with layers of flavor that hit the sweet, salty and spicy parts of your tongue.  If your date is a chocolate lover, I guarantee that this dessert will get you at least to third!

my inspiration

The recipe is based  on a recipe for a chocolate-citrus tart with jasmine infused whipped cream I found on Epicurious.  I substituted three heaping tablespoons of Anarchy Mama for the citrus zest the recipe calls for and some Mighty Leaf Orange Dulce Tea for the Jasmine tea called for in the recipe.

the tea for infusing the cream, as this is a really good tea, I only used two bags, as opposed to the two the recipe called for

The recipe from

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup all purpose flour

* 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
* 1/2 teaspoon (lightly packed) finely grated blood orange peel or orange peel
* 1/2 teaspoon (lightly packed) finely grated pink grapefruit peel

* 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
* 1/4 cup boiling water


For crust:
Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl. Add flour and stir just until blended; let stand 5 minutes. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of 9- to 91/2-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Chill 30 minutes.

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Bake crust until deep golden, pressing down with back of spoon if bubbles form, about 25 minutes. Cool crust in pan on rack.

For filling:
Combine chocolate, butter, and both peels in medium metal bowl. Place bowl in skillet of barely simmering water set over low heat. Stir just until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove bowl from water. Place fine strainer over bowl with melted chocolate. Keep skillet with water set over low heat.

Whisk egg yolk in small metal bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water. Place bowl in skillet of hot water; stir constantly with heatproof rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl to prevent egg from cooking, until instant-read thermometer inserted into egg mixture registers 160°F, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour egg mixture into strainer set over bowl of chocolate. Stir just until egg is incorporated into chocolate and mixture is smooth.

Pour chocolate filling into crust; tilt slightly to spread evenly (crust will not be completely filled). Cover and chill overnight or up to 2 days. Before serving, let tart soften slightly at room temperature.

Remove pan sides. Place tart on platter. Using pastry bag fitted with star tip, pipe whipped cream rosettes around edge of tart. Garnish with candied peel.

a close up of the delectable cream

Whipped Cream

* 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
* 1 tablespoon good-quality loose-leaf jasmine tea or 3 jasmine tea bags

* 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine chilled cream and tea in bowl. Cover; chill overnight or up to 2 days.

Strain cream-tea mixture through fine strainer into mixing bowl; discard solids. Add sugar; beat until peaks form.

yummy dessert!

We both really enjoyed this. The slight tea flavor (and big tea smell) go wonderfully with the sweetness of the chocolate and the kimchee jam I used in lieu of the citrus peel in the recipe above provided a subtle, spicy finish to the tart. I used all semi-sweet chocolate this time, and, while my gentleman friend really enjoyed it, I think next time I will use a mixture of semi and bittersweet chocolate or a really dark chocolate to cut some of the sweetness from the dish.

All in all, dinner was a great success.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blog DIY Inspiration: Colette Patterns

I recently discovered Colette Patterns and am so inspired by her patterns, and her site in general.  Designer Sarai Mitnick has lots of fun patterns and links to books and fabric and other craft sites.  She also has a section called Make It Work, all about starting one's own business.

I'm really looking forward to making these cute mini-bloomers from this great website!

Download the free pattern here.

Let me know if you make your own! I'd love to see them!
Send pics to unemployedbrooklyn [at] and I'll put them up on the blog when I post my own.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I wanted to make some really special "thank you" cards to send to the creative team of The Martha Stewart Show - to show them my appreciation for the day spent with them, but also to show them what I can do with some paper and an Exacto knife!

I decided to print out some designs I had drawn last semester for my textile design class at FIT and use them as background for a slim silhouette of a wintry tree. I found a jpeg of a tree online and, using Photoshop, turned it into a silhouette that I would be able to cut with an Exacto and cutting board.  I chose an orange Ginko leaf on a blue background and pink butterflies sitting on pale pink and yellow cherry blossoms for the ground of my cards and cut the trees from traditional black paper.

 the template for the tree silhouette (in pink) and the cut out tree on black card stock

 the cut out and folded card with the Ginko leaf designed paper 
(if you can't make your own designed paper, a pretty wrapping paper or piece of scrapbooking paper would work well)

a close up of the completed card, with the butterfly/cherry blossom design

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be Mine

Ah, gentle readers, it's that time of year again, St. Valentine's Day.  A day we either delight in or despise.  Me?  I'm of two minds about it, but you can't deny that there are loads of cute, cool and crafty things one can do with a heart-shaped theme.

I had originally planned to post some of my personal V-day crafts on here - but, as my computer has been sitting at Tek Serve for the past week, my blogging has been...  let's just say I am well behind in all things blog/computer/e-mail related.  So, instead of a something of my own creation, here are a few Valentine's Day to-dos that I have come across in my internet wanderings:

An adorable mini-megaphone from Design*Sponge

Lacy paper Valentines from Craftzine

Jojo's Brownie Bites via Craftster

A love-themed succulent garden from Ready-Made

A delicious prosecco based cocktail from Martha

Also, for those of you in the New York area, be sure to check out the Greenpoint Food Market this Saturday for a Valentine's Day themed experience - loads of great food vendors, a secret food-mirer wall and a kissing/photo booth should prove fun for everyone - attached or not!

image courtesy The Black Apple (check out her site and Etsy shop for loads of other cool work)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Umbrella Tote Bag

Everyone has one.  A broken umbrella they don't know what to do with.  In New York, it's hard to walk down the street on a cold, windy, rainy day and not see one or two laying on the sidewalk or in a garbage bin.  And, if you get caught in the rain, you inevitably have bought one of those $3 jobs from the vendors who seem to come out of nowhere at the first drop of rain.  We all know that those things never last.

I have, or should I say had, an adorable little pink and white striped umbrella that I picked up at H&M one rainy Saturday, caught in SOHO and not expecting rain to fall.  It lasted a while, but let's be honest, an umbrella can only flip inside out in the wind so many times before becoming obsolete.  So what?  It doesn't work as an umbrella anymore, but what about that fabric?  I could no longer use the umbrella to shield me from the rain, but there must be something, being a resourceful gal, that I could do with the fabric.

So, I made a tote bag.  It's simple, it's light, it's handy.  It took about an hour to make- start to finish.

Start by removing the fabric from the skeleton of the umbrella.
It should look something like this:

Fold the umbrella in half, along the center seam

Then fold it in half again.  Using a straight-edge and a blade, cut your umbrella into a rectangle

Stitch the open edges

I used the scraps from the side to make long handles for my bag. 

Sew them together into a long even tube, right sides facing and open at the ends.
Turn them inside out and press with a cool iron.

I left the tab on so the bag could be neatly rolled and carried in the bottom of my regular handbag.

Here's the finished product, all rolled up and ready to go

Very handy for grabbing groceries or a trip to the store.  Just remember to toss it into the bottom of your handbag before leaving the house!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Day At Martha Stewart

When I was on The Martha Stewart Show last week, the result of this little blog, they surprised me with an offer to spend the day working in the art department of the television show.  No, it wasn't an offer of a full time position (as many of you have been e-mailing me and asking), but it was an amazing opportunity to get in there and meet some people and learn about the day-to-day activities that go on behind the scenes of the show.

I'd like to thank Anduin Havens, the art director, and her whole team (Hosanna, Robert, et al) for allowing me to spend the day shadowing them.  Everyone was extremely friendly and very helpful and kept asking if I was having fun.  And I was.  I was there to work and I hope that I was at least somewhat helpful.  Behind the scenes of a TV show is an ever changing environment, with lots of movement and last minute changes.

The whole place was, to no surprise, extremely organized, with all the drawers and bins and cabinets labeled with a P-Touch as to what was inside them.  Ribbons organized by colors, dinner napkins apart from lunch napkins and everywhere that could be used for practical storage was.

The day I was there the team was finishing up a long week of shooting but, though tired, were moving at full steam.  They start at about 7AM and go till the work is done - the day I was there, this was at 6PM.  At the end of the day the team was to change the set over from it's January theme to Valentine's Day, so there was a lot of hustle and bustle - moving clear jars to fill with pink and red and white candies, arranging jeweled crystals in little glass containers so they looked just perfect, separating colored stones - all this on top of keeping the show moving and looking just right.  While I didn't get to see too much of the creative process, the development and pitching of ideas (simply because of the type of day I went in on), I did see a bit of it - and got to spend some time wandering through the aisles in the art department.  Think the most organized craft supply store you have ever been in.  I also was able to see the team working on some ideas to pitch to Martha for Valentine's shows.

There is so much that goes on there, and it is so varied from day to day, that one day was not really enough to see the entire creative process.  And, after spending the day there, in such a bustling and creative place, I am even more determined to find that kind of work environment.

Image of Martha Stewart Living crafts room from The Martha Stewart Website

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baking: Chocolate-Orange Sugar Cookies

For over a year  I have been tinkering with a recipe for chocolate orange sugar cookies, inspired by the amazing chocolate tangerine cookies from Dancing Deer Bakery.  I did some research on the web and came across a list of the ingredients, but no actual recipe.  I've tried a few different sugar cookie recipes, tinkering with the proportions of flour and cocoa powder.  I've tried adding orange zest and melted chocolate.  Nothing has been quite right.

Last winter, I found this recipe, based on this recipe from a NH inn:

* 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
* 2 large egg whites
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
* Pinch of salt

In an electric mixer, combine brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla, and mix on medium-high speed until well combined. Add egg whites, and mix until combined. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, and salt. Add to sugar and butter mixture, and mix on medium until flour is completely incorporated. Turn this mixture out onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper, and roll into a 3/4 by 8-1/2 inch log. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove paper, and slice log crosswise into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Place remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a small bowl, and dip each piece of dough in sugar, coating all sides; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, placing cookies 1 inch apart. Bake about 14 minutes for chewy cookies; for crisp cookies, bake 2 to 3 minutes longer. Slide the paper and cookies onto a wire rack to cool.


The cookies I made with this recipe were definitely tasty, but, to be very honest, they were pretty ugly.  I took a few pics at the time, but there is no way I am posting them here.

After the success of the piparkakut that I baked for the holidays, I thought it might be fun to take the flavors of the chewy Dancing Deer cookies that I love and add the crunch of a cookie rolled incredibly thin.

So, I souped up a basic sugar cookie recipe, froze the dough, rolled it very, very, very thin and used my very cool skull&crossbones cookie cutter.  I'm really pleased with the way they turned out, though perhaps next time I will make them a little fatter and see If I can get a texture a little closer to those that inspired this project in the first place.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Easy Apron

This summer, dear ones, I cam across this cute fabric - pale pink polka dots and dark chocolate birds on a creamy yellow background.  I bought it without knowing what I could make of it - perhaps a cute summer top?  I searched for the right top inspiration, but never found it.  So, I folded the fabric away, still keeping an eye out for that perfect pattern to make a summer top (for that far away day when summer returns).

When baking bread the other day, I decided I needed a new apron.  I was wearing a very cute, yet utilitarian apron from Anthropologie.  I like the apron I have already, but it's just kind of... blah.  It's an unbleached linen with orange embroidery and trim, cute, but fairly plain.  And, to be honest, sometimes a girl just wants a little flounce when she's whipping up cupcakes for a birthday or hors d'oeuvres for a dinner party or, you know, re-heating leftovers.

I went searching online and came across this 1951 pattern that was exactly what I was looking for.

one square = one inch

First, transfer the pattern.  I pretty much always use pages from the Sunday New York Times when I make patterns - it's a great way to recycle - and for something I am going to make over and over and over again, it's fairly durable.

Using a ruler, make a grid pattern based on the above diagram.

Then transfer the pattern.  It's really easy - that's what the grid is for!  If you haven't done it before, just take a deep breath and go slow, one square at a time.  This, by the way, is the most time consuming part of the whole project.

After you cut out your pattern, lay it on the fabric, something like this:

Make pleats according to the pattern - lining up circles and triangles - and baste along the top edge.

I decided to use this hot pink grosgrain around the edges.  Measure about 5" up from the bottom and mark lightly with a pencil or a disappearing sewing pen and pin the ribbon (or whatever trim you decide to use) and top stitch.

Once you have the trim on, it time to pin and sew the waistband pieces.  It should look something like this:

The original pattern called for a pocket, but I didn't love the way it looked when I pinned it on.  It would be great to have a pocket on this cute apron, but I am really happy with the way it looks without!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Martha Stewart Blog Show

Ah, gentle readers, yesterday was a whirlwind of activity and excitement for me, culminating in my appearance on The Martha Stewart Blog Show!

It all started on Wednesday of last week when I received an e-mail from a producer of The Martha Stewart Show, saying that they had come across this little blog and wanted to speak to me about it.  I'm not going to lie, just the fact that someone at Martha Stewart had come across this blog was really exciting. Since, putting it up in November, I have gotten some hits and some followers and some good words, but I didn't expect that someone from MSLO would discover it so quickly.  Nor did I think that I would be asked by the producers of the television show to make an appearance- I was just happy to be in the audience!

It was just yesterday morning, but feels like a lifetime ago, so much happened!

I showed up in the morning at The Martha Stewart Show studios in Chelsea, NYC and, instead of waiting in line with the rest of the eager bloggers, I went through the glass doors on the side, where there was a name tag waiting and Allie led me through the corridors to a dressing room to wait.

I tried to be calm and collected (and think I pulled it off OK), taking a few deep yoga breaths and checking my e-mail and my Google Reader like it was just any morning, not like I was sitting in a dressing room at The Martha Stewart Show about to be on national television.

The morning went by in a flash, from speaking with the producer (big thanks to Barbara for helping me to feel together and prepared) to getting miked to being seated in the audience (in the front row), amongst other excited bloggers to the actual show itself.  I was on at the very end (watch it here) and the other segments went by like they were mere seconds long.

When it was my time on camera, they showed images from my blog of cooking and sewing and crafting projects that I have done and Martha asked me questions about all of it - from the pork loin roast that my sister and I made for Christmas dinner (my first time frenching a cut of meat made it on national television!) to my little grey bag (of recycled materials) to the octopus that I made for little Maxotn (she really seemed to like that one!).  She asked me why I started the blog and if I had applied for a position at the company.

I brought Martha a gift of a stuffed elephant from my Etsy shop, Les Enfants Terribles, and was super excited that she really seemed to like it.  I made it for her with re-purposed (a grey wool skirt with one little moth hole, chosen because of Martha's Bedford grey house) and new (a very cool orange and cream cotton) fabric.

And, at the very end of the segment, Martha invited me to come and spend a day working with the art department of her television show!

I couldn't believe it!

I was so happy to be a part of the audience, filled with all sorts of innovative and interesting bloggers.  I was beyond excited when I was told that they wanted to speak with me on camera (seriously, I screamed and jumped up and down, frightening the cat and startling my roommate).  But, to be invited to spend a day working in the art department of the TV show!  Oh my!

I cannot wait to go and spend a day with the art director, Anduin, and her amazing team!

I'll keep you posted!

Martha answering blogger questions after the taping

Martha's very sexy and very tall shoes