Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from the ModSauce Ranch!

IT HAS BEGUN.  My body has been consumed by the spirit of glitter and excess and I am TRANSFORMED.  And bloated.  Maybe it's the eggnog.

Either way I'm ready to explode with joy and moderately priced gifts bought out of love through Amazon.

Here's what Christmas is looking like at the Ranch this year.
Wreath starting to sag? Turn it clockwise a few hours and you're good to go!
Mr. Slim Wreath got moved to above my couch to rain good tidings and small spiders on my head.  And yes I keep eleventeen blankets on my couch at all times.  This selection inclues one my mom crocheted for me, the plaid is from the 1996 JCP catalog and is totally back in style now and the bottom "fur" one is from the (yes) Dollar General.  I meant to use it as a tree skirt but Charlemagne and I rather liked it...

This is her happy blanket face.  It kinda looks like her bitch face and hungry face and annoyed face and tummy rubs face. 

I've also been on the citrus train this holiday season.  Making pomanders is a great childhood memory for me which I tried to recreate a few years ago only to realize those cloves are torture devices straight from Krampus himself!  BUT I tried to put them into Clementines and sweet citrus savior in he manger it was a dream.  Now my house smells divine and I've retained use of my fingers.  A win/win!

I don't know what's happening on my coffee table... a win/lose?  It's like a plate of old food mixed with shiny things...?  I think it's a collection of leftover ornaments that didn't make it on the tree so I just left them there.  I shoulda studied more Dutch still life references.

Forgot to put candles in the lanterns...
Over on the sideboard I hung up some dried orange slices also studded with cloves.  If I was a punk rocker that's my clothes would be studded with: cloves.  

That combo is my favorite holiday scent, obviously.  I've petitioned for some Pop-tarts and pizza rolls of the same flavors but they haven't returned my harassing phone calls.

Yes, this twig thing stays up all year.  Don't care.
Now these ARE orange slices since I need a bigger round.  Sliced and baked on a rack at 250 for about three hours or so.  I decorated with some cloves but I've seen really cute ones with cranberries and cinnamon sticks tied on - just search Pinterest and tons of options come up.  So easy.  Will make again x 100. 

Tiny Santa and a church death candle.  Remember, dark Christmas.

Also feeling the big Moroccan lantern for this holiday? More next year?
It's a jumbled mess but I'm feeling it.  That skull is working its way through every season around here.  Wait til you see what I do with it for Easter!

Someone should name them!  I have three!
I haven't bought a lot of new decoration items this year but I did find these adorable little porcelain gnomes on Instagram from a great etsy shop called Salt and Ginger. I bought them with the intent to give them as gifts but I don't think I can let them go.  I mean, Chattanooga kinda has a gnome theme and also I'm selfish.

They are about 100 years old and were dug out of the ground outside a German toy factory so they are gnome zombies. 

They go well with my Crate and Barrel village that is terrorized by glittered dinosaurs and foxes.

It's a regular menagerie of weirdness up in here!

I see that calligraphy class is coming in handy.  Just kidding that's wonky as fuck...  I hope my instructor isn't reading this.

Saucy tip: I like yarn because it's soft and I have fantasies of learning to knit one day but it also is cheaper than fancy twine and ribbon for wrapping presents.  

However, I did enjoy making this giant yarn pom as a bow!  Tutorial here.

I strongly recommend NOT buying IKEA wrapping paper.  UGH.
It's yarn MADE of tiny poms that became a giant pom.  It's a pom within a pom.  Inception pom.  

Might I also recommend leather or suede to tie your gifts?  It's like Christmas for a lumbersexual.  I can practically smell the forest in here oh wait I can it's the all the fresh greenery I've used.  

Moms.  They probably don't care how amateur the calligraphy is, thank gawd.

Yes, that's the snake tail from last year that may or may not have stayed out all year...

I'm a little meh with my tree this year but if you squint it looks fine.

Charlemagne doesn't mind.

So I've got a lot more crafting and baking up ahead but here's where we are right now.  And by here I mean watching dystopian movies like Snowpiercer (OMG) and Divergent while I wrap the last of the gifts and try to find something else to put Fireball in.  Again, I strongly recommend you explore the darker side of the season if for no other reason than Snowpiercer is just that good.

So Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Joyous Thursday to you all from all of us at the ModSauce Ranch.

I spend way too much time drawing these for how they look.  But lettering slightly better here? 
Thank you for reading me this year when I've been all grumpy and unfunny and for all your comments and support.  They mean a lot and it just goes to show I have an amazing bunch of readers.  All six of you!

I'm going to be taking the next few weeks off so I'll see all you saucy cats in 2015! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm dreaming... of a DARK Christmas.

I don't know about y'all but I'm thoroughly enjoying my Christmas season so far.  

The key was getting all my shopping done sooo early - pretty much right at the start of December AS INDICATED BY MY WINTER BUCKET LIST WAY TO GO, SAUCY!  I have zero stress and have spent way less money overall since holiday shopping is usually a "one for you, two for me" event.  Now I'm spending that money on charity!

And socks.

Not my feet but whoever's feetsies these are remains unknown
I don't know why I'm addicted to socks and legwarmers this season but I am.  Maybe have toasty warm lower extremities is the reason I'm so sunshiney right now.  

That and I'm spending all my not-shopping time crafting and listening to Luther Vandross Christmas music.  It's a recipe for spiritual success, I tell ya.  My preferred Christmas music is, surprisingly, gospel and Tevin Campbell's 'O Holy Night' is my favorite holiday song hands down.  I might be a godless heathen but who can resist a full choir and an early 90's R&B sensation?  

But even Luther Vandross' smooth velvet voice may not be enough for some people.  Look, I get it.  Christmas is not everyone's favorite time of year and it can be a real shit show triggerfest of misery for a lot of people.  It's all about family and money and display and religion and religious display and that's everyone's perfect storm of emotional issues with some crippling financial debt sprinkled on top and you have to pretend to love it all or you are labeled a grinch.  (Probably by me.)  

I'm certainly not immune to my own brand melancholy this time of year either despite my large amounts of glitter and feeling like I want to hug everything.  An overly tacky light show or a nice lady in a Santa hat at Big Lots might reduce me to tears and I'm not 100% sure they're always tears of joy.  

Whatever kind of melancholy or emotional trapeze work we're all doing, it's not all jolly all the time.  Maybe this is why I've been enjoying the recent rise in popularity of another sunshiney Christmas face: Krampus.

In old European folklore, St. Nick came and rewarded all the good kids and Krampus, his horned holiday partner, kidnapped all the bad kids took them straight to hell.  I guess... I don't know where he took them but that's a pretty good guess.  Maybe the South Pole?

Doesn't that sounds a lot more exciting than Elf on the Shelf?  Europeans did not fuck around.  

Every year in the beginning of December some European towns celebrate Krampusnacht where drunk dudes dress up in their most beastly attire and terrorize the streets in a big parade.  Just like baby Jesus would have wanted!  Maybe they were trying to get to the manger but got lost.  

It's like SantaCon but less scary.

I'm liking this live action kind of Christmas terror.  It's the perfect combination of Halloween and Christmas.  It worked for Tim Burton and it can work for us too.

Speaking of Halloween, I also learned recently of the Christmas spider - do y'all know this Ukrainian story?  About how spiders spun webs all over a poor woman's Christmas tree and when Santa (or the Christ child, depending on which version you read) saw the webs he turned them into silver strands.  And that's why we put tinsel on our tree.  True (internet) story.  Spiders are actually a sign of good fortune on Christmas morning so put THAT in your eggnog and drink it.

So maybe the key to an enjoyable holiday that doesn't make you question your worthless existence (if you even choose to celebrate) is to not pretend the sadness and dark places and gross spiders don't exist but instead to embrace them like Santa's other half and maybe give them a parade.  For historical reasons and our own sanity. Like Civil War reenactors but for mythology.  (Probably shouldn't embrace a spider though.)

So that's what I'm doing this year - having a dark Christmas.  It's still glittery and shiny and fun but I'm making an effort to have more balance.

(That's partly because I still have a giant tree all decorated in white and sparkle that I'm not trashing just for a completely goth holiday this year.)

(Just a goth Rudolph.)

Looking straight into your black soul.

I'm highlighting plenty of skulls and horns and fur as part of my dark decorating but I think including quiet, velvety colors and morose Instagram filters will work just as nicely.

Elle Chavez
Perhaps celebrate your tacky, pathetic tree.  Then abandon it in the wild. 


Or don't decorate at all and stare longingly through your neighbor's window and watch their festivities and happy lives like the neighborhood creeper you are. 

Perhaps delight in your garden variety death and decay.

But if all that ain't your bag just enjoy some blackened jewel tones and dulcet sounds of Luther Vandross and drink egg nog spiked with Fireball until you black out.

Saffron cinnamon wreath (yum!) via Call Me Cupcake
I would like to eat this until I black out as well.  I've never cooked with saffron but even if it's terrible a satin ribbon can do wonders.

It's all about the lighting.  

Skimbaco Lifetyle
And snuggles next to the lighting.

Khado Photography
I am kinda feeling this wintery picnic idea (don't question the green grass).  It's like a Dutch still life brought to, um, real life.  It's full of dying flowers and skulls and pewter finishes and candles but also a yummy festive feast!

Lara Jensen millinery works
Merry Christmas, sad Dutch girl!

[MS sidebar: after I had collected all the images for this post I discovered the photographer above, Lara Jensen, was inspired by 'vanitas' or Dutch still life paintings for this collection and photo shoot.  Zing!  I like synchronicity.  It makes me feel like I'm not crazy.  Or crazy in the right ways.]

So a momento mori/vanitas holiday it is!

Beth Kirby of Local Milk
I don't remember art history that well but I think everything in a still life meant something... skull is mortality (thanks overpriced college degree for that stunning deduction!), rotting flowers meant something... timely?  Citrus meant something too but I'm choosing to be blissfully ignorant here and celebrate citrus for its seasonal charm instead.  #pomanders

You know what else has seasonal charm?  Crocheted ornaments from your memaw starched so stiff they could be used as ninja throwing stars.  I love them. I'm not sure how Krampus feels about them but I think he'd approve.

Do you see the yule goat on the right? here
Actually, I'm not sure how I got from Krampus to Luther Vandross to Dutch still life to your memaws talents but it all makes sense in my head.

More satin bows...  For some reason these limp bows are making me exceptionally happy and/or sad this year.  Or am I the only one that is projecting picking up some emotion here kinda like crying at the nice Christmas lady at Big Lots?  It's a weird time of year.

Regardless of your feelings about satin bows, cheers to making all our lonely, depressed, overtaxed, overfed and undervalued moments have a little color.  It's our holiday prayer this year.  

Who do we pray to?  Krampus, obvi.

Soho Interiors
Or to the Pinterest gods that all our crafts and saffron bread wreaths will turn out divine.

Go home and get your dark on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Alert the social media, I HAVE CRAFTED!  After last week's post on wreaths I kinda committed myself so I couldn't risk the embarrassment of failure.  ESPECIALLY around the holidays.  Santa would have been so disappointed.

Fortunately I have a fellow wreath-minded friend - Emily Rose - with a great property for foraging so a craft date was set.  We both foraged our respective yards and met for toast, christmas music and greenery sharing.

I was greeted with homemade jam and this upon my arrival:

Just a bathtub full of ivy, naturally.  Where else would you put it?

I wanted to go for a free-form simple wreath so no ivy for me.  I started with a piece of privet because fuck privet I hate it.  And of course this happened:

Fuck privet.  YOU ARE GOOD FOR NOTHING.  So it was too stiff (that's what she said) and I cracked it in half while trying to work it around (WHAT SHE SAID).

New plan.  I was already going to use cypress foliage so I just used the entire branch instead.  Duh.

Well lah di dah I made a circle!  I just wrapped floral wire around the ends and called it a day.  I did have to gently GENTLY coax/mold the thick part of the branch around to help with the shape just so it wouldn't pull that tightly on the wire.  I'm assuming most evergreens would be this easy to use at this time of year.  And you may need to take off some of the smaller stems on top to clean it up.  Business up top, party on the bottom.  Mullet wreath.

If you're looking to make a specific size of wreath my wreath is about 13 inches in diameter so my branch base to tip was somewhere over 40 inches.  I don't need anything that specific but if you do then don't forget 2(pi)Radius of desired wreath = length of branch.  MATH!  so handy for life's more important situations!

Back to things that are actually fun and interesting: rainbows and nandina!

Nandina foliage and berries look great right now so I mowed down a bunch from my yard and attached them with a small bit of floral wire too.  I think I threw in a small sprig of pine too and ended up with this:

Wonky and wonderful!  Well, close enough.  Maybe it needs a trim on that right side but overall I'm super happy with.  Honestly, excluding the time it took me to murder the privet at the beginning and for eating more toast I think it probably took about 20 minutes?  I bet I could knock one out in about ten minutes now that I have the magic technique.

That was so easy I decided to make another one since we were already destroying the kitchen.
Thanks for letting me ruin your house in the name of greenery, Emily.  That's one branch on the form FYI.
In case you didn't know, critters live in branches.  Every year when I decorate my mantel with cypress I always make a few new friends in the form of some teensy tiny spiders so you're forewarned.  Sometimes they're the tiny white/clear spiders which I think are kinda cute.  Your call.

I stole one of Emily's wire wreath forms - super cheap and reusable - you can see above and decided to do a fluffier option using more of the cypress base.  

I used about three long branches which were really easy to wire into the form.  I added some more nandina, some holly, a bit of cedar and pine and a few sprigs of dried crape myrtle buds.  

I didn't really even wire most of the extras on since they stuck in place fairly well.  Also, that holly is an absolute beast to work with so I was tired of getting my cuticles pierced.

Pardon the sad picture (hey, it was dark and I'm clumsy) but I'm definitely enjoying the final product: 

Ok it was actually a more round shape to start with but I when I closed the front door after hanging it the plastic hook broke and it tumbled to the ground...  Whoopsy.  Fortunately I think if I give it a haircut on the right side it'll be fine.

I also added these post-Christmas 2013 clearance sale antlers for even more hipster credibility.  I feel so 2013 relevant!  I think I also might add in some fresh rosemary the next time I'm outside in the daylight.  Perhaps even an LED faux candle?!  I'm gettin' outrageous over here.

But it ain't all about me.  Emily made this super adorable wreath for her exterior windows:

This is a wire base like mine above but with ivy and cedar.  I love how the cedar is hairy like a muppet wreath.  What I love even more is the "bow" made out of magnolia leaves and finished with some nandina berries.  That is so damn genius.

She also did a large wreath outside using a grapevine base with ivy, cedar and cypress with equally impressive results. 

This one is about 36 inches wide and I don't think it took her more than an hour just tucking branches into the grapevine. Super easy.  Again, I bet once you've figured out your system the wreaths will go pretty fast.

From Emily's Instagram
It's like we're in Vermont!  

So even including the extra wonk on these wreaths and the cuticle stabs from the holly overall I was super stoked about the project.  I would absolutely make them again next year and maybe even do more this year.  I can't stop.  

I mean, it's essentially free, smells good and it's quite possibly the most Christmasy thing you can do other than prove to Santa in sensual detail how naughty you've been.

But only if you like gift-giving older men more than crafts.

Shit, don't we all?