Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I was looking back through a couple of journals from 1993 and 1998 and found a pattern relating to new year's resolutions:  they are always the same.  I've never faced that fact before.  The mind is amazingly good at protecting itself.  I could see the problem when reading through the journals.  Every year I vow to try to become perfect and do everything I want to do.

Every year I vow to get my house organized in order to make better use of my time.  This first one is the killer.  It requires that I get every facet of my house in order.  It means that I will need to get and keep the house organized.  I will need to maintain a schedule to keep it clean.  I'll need to make menus and grocery lists that include everything for those menus and all the other things I'll need to keep the house going.

I also resolve to take better care of myself.  I will lose that 10 (or 20, 30, 40...pounds--depending on the year), cook healthier meals (making the menus and shopping above a bit harder), make the hair appointments, do my nails, exercise, shop for clothes, meditate, do yoga.  As part of this, I will fit in my hobbies and passions including writing, sewing, and crafting.  What I have looked at as two resolutions requires an unending number of other resolutions.  I'd be just about perfect if I had pulled it off.

Despite the stupidity of my resolutions, I've had some success over the years.  I've managed to keep within 10 to 20 pounds for the weight loss for the last eight or nine years, my meals are healthier, and I'm better organized in many ways. Another problem is that my resolutions failed to take "life" into account.  Families have problems.  Members need comforting, counseling, a kick in the butt, to borrow the car, someone to accompany them to the doctor, for surgery.  Jobs, volunteering, and neighbors also make demands on time and energy.  These things all take time.  Plans fall behind or need tweaking.  I become discouraged and stressed out more easily than many others.

Here is what I am thinking now.  I need to pick one thing and work on it, become comfortable with it, before adding on more.  So this year, I resolve to get up at 5:00 a.m. every day and write down a REASONABLE plan for the day over morning coffee.  Getting up on time and writing the list are the only things I HAVE to do to succeed at the resolution.  Having extra time in the morning to plan and get started on the day might be just what I need.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review of Martha Stewart's Glitter Glue: Two Thumbs Down (both mine, of course)

I love glitter.  Actually I love almost all shiny things.  I must have been a raccoon in a former life.  Consequently, it was inevitable that I would try Martha Stewart's glitter.  I got the 24-pack of small bottles in all the colors for half price at Michael's.  Who could resist that?  I want to put glitter inside the clear glass ornaments.  Two problems with that.  I can't find the ornaments or the Future floor wax suggested by many people for adhering the glitter.  The next best thing was to try some glitter in my art journaling.

I bought Martha's glitter glue which looks exactly like the thick craft paste I used in elementary school; the one with the brush attached to the inside of the top.  It worked just like the old-fashioned paste, too.  The paste was difficult to get out with the brush.  As you move the brush around, the paste (or as Martha says, glue) moves to the sides of the bottle and stays there.  The "glue" also wrinkles the paper just as the elementary school paste did.  You end up with a stiff, bubbled, warped piece when it dries.  Did the glitter adhere?  Kind of.  Maybe with practice it would be better.

I also bought the ballpoint-tip glue pen.  It has a squeezy area in the middle so that you can get the glue out when you need it.  It says, "permanent bond when used wet; let dry clear for a temporary bond."  What does that mean?  I'm still not sure.  I think it means that it remains sticky if there are spots that don't have glitter and that that glitter will come off pretty easily.  I know it means that my journal pages will stick together if the glitter comes off.  I'm sure I should not use it in my art journal.    Also, after using it a short time, I could no longer get a uniform amount to flow.  That is a problem with lettering.  Perhaps someone with patience could get this to work.

All in all, The glitter is superb.  It is ultra fine.  The colors are magnificent.  Martha's glue?  Any money I saved on the glitter I lost on the full-priced pen and paste.  (It's paste, Martha, paste!  Thick, clumpy paste!) Both are in the trash can. My end result was five sticky, warped pages with uneven thicknesses of glitter.  Had I been glittering a picture of a dog, it would have appeared to have a bad case of mange.  I've had pages warp a bit from other media.  I'm okay with a bit of that. These pages were not even salvageable. (BTW, I didn't DO five pages.  It's just that the paste/glue was wet enough to soak through making the pages lumpy.)

I'm pretty sure with all the reviews I've seen that the Future floor was will work on the ornaments, but I'm going to have to do some research to find a way to use this glitter for anything else.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What non-bakers do for sweet holiday treats

I love these marshmallow lollipops covered in chocolate and sprinkly things.  Plunk marshmallows on lollipop sticks from Joann's, melt a bag of Nestle's chocolate bits, pour some sprinkles into a bowl, and have at it. 

I had an piece of packing Styrofoam that I poked holes into to hold the pops til they hardened.  I had to use a skewer for that cuz the lollipop sticks don't have a pointy enough end.

The plastic covers, also from Joann's, went on after the chocolate hardened.  I bought the covers last year for diabetic cookies I made for my father-in-law.  He was the ONLY person for whom I would bake cookies.  He died last month, and we will all miss him.  Frankly though, he had been so sad after losing my mother-in-law the previous year, that I feel at peace with it.  I hope they are together again in some realm and drinking the beer that Ed loved but couldn't have because of the damned diabetes.  Diabetes sucks.  Homemade marshmallow lollipops do not.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My New Ecosystem Journals

Does anyone else ever lose an entire post by going off to find a link?  Arghh! I just did.  I do, however, HAVE  to show you to see the three Ecosystem notebooks I won through Chica and Jo's blog.  I have been staring at them in their packaging for a few weeks now (lovely colors) waiting as I finished up both my work journal and my daily journal.  How is that for timing!  Today is the big day to start all three!!!

These are completely made from recycled materials.  Recycled paper often looks as though it is, well,  definitely recycled.  Not these.  The paper is bright white and smooth.  The covers are sturdy but flexible.  Those features alone make them great notebooks, BUT there is so much more.  They have attached elastic bands to keep them closed, built-in book marks, perforated pages, and large pockets built into the back!  Each notebook has a special identification number on the back pocket that can serve two purposes.   You can use it to find out what materials went into the manufacture.  In addition, anyone finding the notebook can contact the company to get it back to you.  For all this I thought the price would be way up there, but it isn't!  They are really reasonably priced. 

This green lined one begins life as my new work journal.  Throughout the day I write down whatever I'm working on--calls, emails, research, meetings, new ideas, possible problems.  I started doing this for the weekly and monthly journals I do for my AmeriCorps placement. This work journal has turned out to be remarkably useful.     I find myself culling through its pages for all kinds of useful information--dates, times, names, numbers. At the end of  one work day without it, I realized how difficult it is to remember all the little things yet significant things that go into filling the day.

And, finally, to replace all the bits and scraps of paper in my purse filled with random thoughts and ideas for writing and craft project is this little orange beauty.  It's about 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches complete with pocket, etc.  I've tried notebooks for this before, but they always become battered and nasty looking.  The sturdy cover, elastic band to keep it closed, and all-around quality of construction  make this one perfect for the job.

With the new year around the corner, I am ordering their weekly planner in  "grape."  If you are going to begin journaling of any kind or haven't gotten next year's planner yet, you have to check out I think you can buy them at Barnes and Noble, too.  Check the site to see about that for sure.    Once again, I have to give a big thank you to Chica and Jo for holding the giveaway and introducing me to such a great company.  Who knew recycled could be so chic!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crafty Staci's Rapunzel Scarf

I saw this scarf at Staci's blog yesterday and finished it today!  It's that easy. You can get the directions from Staci's blog, but I did change a couple of things that made it easier for me. 

I used two skeins of yarn--almost all of it--following Staci's directions to make 100 pieces of 8 ft long yarn.  Since I wanted to mix the two colors, I just pulled from each of the skeins at the same time to get the 8 foot pieces.  That  made it a lot faster to cut all those long strings--half the time.

I  used a ponytail hairband to hold all the pieces together to tie the first knot.  Since the band is brown and  blended right in, I just left it there.  The knot covers it.  In fact, I did the same thing at the other end to finish it. 

Staci mentioned  another blogger who made an infinity version of a braided scarf.  That blogger, whose name I've forgotten (sorry, but you can hit the link and find it yourself;-}) tied pieces of yarn down the length of the three pieces to be braided to keep them from getting tangled.  That made the process sooo much easier.

The only thing I might change the next time is that I might try braiding it just a bit tighter. I did it kind of loose because I tend to make things too tight when working with yarn.  If you make one,  experiment with this aspect a few different ways when you start braiding to see what you like. 

I could not believe how quick and easy this was!  From start to finish it was only about an hour. It's a nice quick holiday gift especially if you have yarn in the house.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reusing Old Couch Cushions

I mentioned in another post that I saved some old couch cushions to recover.  I thought I could use one for meditation and just have them around for floor cushions.  They turned out to be more difficult than I thought because my traditional "take the old cushions apart for a pattern and to reuse the zipper and the cording" did not quite work this time.  The material covering the edge cording (which has another name I have forgotten at the moment) was incorporated into the side material.  That sounded like such a great idea!  A real time-saver! As it turned out, it was very difficult for me to figure out how to sew this all together. I gave up twice.  The cushions made their to the garbage area on two frustrating occasions.

Then, I was going through the Feisty Stitcher and noticed that she had a cushion that was sewn to the outside--very simple.  I was using denim that matched the furniture I covered in the four seasons room:

Denim would fray nicely--the perfect look for a rustic kind of fabric!  Here they are!  I'm still working on the edges.  I've been picking out the edges for that frayed look.  It's a nice boring job to do while watching television.

I'm glad they survived two near trips to the garbage.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out and the many uses I'm finding for them.  I love that I can just stack them up in a corner and grab one or two or three to use as needed.   I use one to make meditation time more comfortable and for some yoga things.  My book club is going to be watching Babette's Feast next week.  (Don't you just love a book club that will watch movies, too?)  These cushions are going to help provide the extra seating in the man cave, too. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Tree Is Up With 34 Years of "Stuff"!

Here it is!

I always love my tree.  After 34 years of putting everything possible on it, it's hard to find places for stuff.  And, I do mean everything.    In addition to the homemade ornaments, the store-bought ones, and the gifted trinkets, we have the cheap plastic giveaways from all kinds of companies including Ponderosa Steak House, Life Savers, the Energizer Bunny, M & M's, and last year's coke bottles shaped like ornaments.

Any little colorful treasure that made its way into the house at Christmas time including fast food restaurant giveaways got a ribbon on it and was slapped up on the tree.  Small toys that had been outgrown during the year are there and even a rubber chicken.   All the outgrown dolls and stuffed animals ended up in the Christmas boxes and grew to the point of not needing a tree skirt.  You couldn't see it under all the stuffed animals anyway.

Taking a picture of any portion of the tree will turn up a strange collection like this.  The handmade thing with a hat has a smiley face on one side and a frowning one on the other.  Who could resist that at a craft fair?  The blue at the top is one of those clear glass balls with acrylic paint rolled around inside.  I absolutely have to do those every year.  The Chinese doll is something my sister brought back from Chinatown at least 20 years ago.  I couldn't figure out what to do with it, so it went on the tree.  Peeking out from the side is the crafty little box sewn together using yarn with a pompom bear inside.  Those were popular about 20 years ago.  My oldest son made the sled in school.  Notice the very Christmasy colors of black and white.  You will see that this inability to get that Christmas things might be in Christmas colors is something that none of my kids ever understood.

Before we home schooled, my kids would buy things at a little fair the elementary school set up.  Students had a special day to buy items at special prices as gifts.  Here are a few of the things my kids brought home.

Yes, those are the traditional orange, blue, and yellows that we all put on the tree, right?  How about this one.
He paid for this!  Frankly, I was used to strange things coming from these craft fairs by the time these two trinkets were proudly carried into the house.  My daughter started the tradition of strange things with this item:
Who sells this stuff to unsuspecting children?  I've had this for over 25 years now, and I still laugh until I cry looking at it.  I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face.  You know the worst part?  She liked it so much she bought two of them.  Yes, for 25 years I've had two of these 7 to 8 inches long and about 4 inches wide dangling from my tree.

By far the most bizarre item has to be this one. 
It is some kind of imitation stained glass on plastic glued on a sawed off cardboard oatmeal container.  Believe it or not this side looks better than the other.  I have no idea who made this stuff or why the school foisted them off on my kids. I know these were not made by students at the school.  The idea that no more would get into the house may have been in the back of my mind when I decided we'd home school.

My kids contributed their share of strange things, too. This "ornament" is about 5 by 8 inches.

Kyle gave me this for Christmas.  The F K had me momentarily stunned, but it turned out to be, "To Mommy from Kyle."

Fortunately, it's a big tree and crowded to the point that it is hard to take in all the individual oddities without working at it.  I'll bet you didn't even notice the rubber chicken.  Oh, yes.  It's on there. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

2011 Owl Calendar Freebie From My Owl Barn

Want to create your own calendar using incredible artwork of owls from 30 talented artists FREE?  Go to

It is so easy to do!  The hardest part is deciding which of the pictures to choose for each month.

The pictures are even more impressive when you see them in the final pdf.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Introducing a Young One to Harry Potter this Christmas With Chica and Jo's Help

Ever since I saw the butterbeer recipe on Chica and Jo's blog, I've been planning this basket.  Being kind and generous, Chica and Jo made a recipe card that can be downloaded free.  They even offered very reasonably priced stencils at their online store so that I could copy their etched butterbeer mugs.  It's so nice to have someone else imagine great things for me ;-})

I thought that the first Harry Potter book, a copy of the recipe which soon became two recipes when they created a hot version, some butterbeer mugs, and a few other Harry-inspired items in a basket would be a great way to introduce a special young one to Harry this Christmas.

So here it is.  Yeah, it needs a few more things, but it's a good start. 

In back of the book, is the black Hogwart's robe from a simple pattern found here.  Wrapped around is a polar fleece scarf in Gryffindor's scarlet and gold colors.  This is just rectangles of polar fleece, twice as wide as long, sewn together.  Then the strip is folded in half lengthwise to get the square blocks of color.  The edges are sewn all around leaving a spot large enough to turn it right-side out.  Last, that opening is sewn closed. 

My mugs--actually very large cups--were too rounded to use the full stencil. I HATED losing the lovely decorative edging, but they look really great with just the lettering.  This picture doesn't do them justice.  I love the font Chica and Jo used. 

In back of the mugs, you can see the recipe card Chica and Jo made.  I printed both recipes on nice heavy card stock and used double sided tape to put them back-to-back.  Laminating them would be even better.  They'd make a great bookmark!

Last is the wand.  It's just an old long-handled paint brush.  I took the brush part off, sanded it, painted it black, and covered that with gold glitter paint.    Yes, I know there were no glittery wands in Harry Potter.  I think Hermione and Ginny would have wanted them, though.

I need to find some Harry Potter candy to finish this off.  It's not even Thanksgiving and one Christmas gift is done!   We just won't think about the fact that I'm still working on the Thanksgiving tablecloth and napkins.  Well, maybe it will be the Christmas tablecloth with napkins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Early Winter Wonderland

Nature must have decided to make up for the completely dark sky we have at five o'clock this time of year by dropping lots of crisp, wet, white snow to reflect the outside lighting needed to see when I left work.  I'm not a big fan of cold, snowy, icy, winter weather, but I must admit the first snow is always a nice--just the first one, though.

It even made the left over pumpkin look good (albeit a bit lonely).

To Elke in lovely Florida:  Do you guys even HAVE shovels down there? 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Messy, Messy House

Is anyone else suffering from Halloween overload.  I love my creative blogs, but pre-holiday posts can drive me away for a while.  I have been busy, though.  In an effort to fix up the house, I have created a very messy house!

The bathroom remodel continues.  I am taping and mudding the new walls while Brian finishes up the plumbing.  I am also fixing the stairwell wall while I have all the paraphernalia out.  I tried to get away with NOT repairing the wallboards on the stairs that had begun to bulge at the joint over the years.  The new paint job actually emphasized it.  Every time I walked downstairs, it was there grabbing my attention, demanding to be FIXED.

Am I good at mudding?  NO.  I always end up having to sand a ton.  I feel totally inadequate every step of the way.  I'd hire someone in a heartbeat, but the price for that around here is just too much.  In the end, however, I am always freaking amazed that I can pull it off.  It's frustrating and messy, but the end product is always more than adequate.

I'm also still in the process of moving the sewing room.  Aside from the closet, it is one messy room.  I'm sharing space with the new bathroom vanity and granite top along with the various tools for the bathroom remodel for now.  One job has to wait for the other. 

I'm ALSO recovering some sofa cushions to use as floor cushions.  There is a good reason for doing this with all these other projects going on.  They are a big part of the new sewing room mess.  I thought it would be a quick and easy job.  I've done it sooo many times now!  I cut apart one of the original cushion covers and use it as a pattern.  This way I can reuse the zipper, too.  BUT the manufacturers did something I've never seen before on this set.  They didn't cut a separate piece of material for the edge piping.  The piping was sewn into the side panel.  What seemed like a great idea that would make things easier, has turned out to be a real pain!  It is really difficult to make those corners turn for one thing. 

All this is snowballing into one big mess.  I may not be the cleanest housekeeper, but I have always prided myself in having a neat house.  "A place for everything, and everything in it's place" is the motto.  It fools people into thinking that the house is a lot cleaner than it is.  NOW, I have the master bathroom and bedroom, the stairwell, and another bedroom looking like disaster areas while housework falls behind in the rest of the house.  I've decided to tell people it is all part of the holiday decor.  It really is scary.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stashing the fabric without spending a fortune

As part of the "Use Your Crap Challenge," I needed to be able to see what crap I needed to use.    I cannot show you how the stash looked to begin with because it would take too many pictures--it was all over.  (Not to mention that I would die of shame if I posted pictures of the mess.).  Now, I can show it off!

 and this:
Lessons learned from past attempts are that you HAVE to have dividers or the stacks will fall over as you rummage through.  You also cannot stack things too high.  It makes it sooo difficult to get at the stuff on the bottom.

Taking out the wire closet organizer was not an option--too expensive to replace it right now.  Fabric or plastic cubes would have been nice, but at $5 a pop at the very least, that was not happening.  Instead, I folded large pieces of fabric over hangers, used corrugated storage boxes small enough to fit  between the shelving to hold fabric and serve as dividers, put in a hanging cloth piece meant to hold sweaters, and used plastic containers on the floor. 

Yes, I know the cardboard storage boxes are not acid free. I'm planning on that being encouragement to succeed at the goal of USING the fabric rather than just looking at it.

Let the sewing begin in earnest.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stitch magazine should be named "Stitch: The Expensive Sewing Magazine"

I was in Borders Bookstore yesterday at lunch time.  I thought I'd get a small latte and a magazine.  I buy an occasional  latte and sometimes a magazine that seems to have a few appealing ideas when I thumb through it. 

There were only two general sewing magazines there.  I already had the issue of "Threads," so I grabbed "Stitch."  I didn't find anything particularly appealing to me thumbing through, but there was nothing else.  When the total came to over $18,  I was in shock.  I think the cashier recognized buyer's remorse when I listed backward with eyes wide muttering a long, "wow."  She offered to take it off, but I figured there is nothing like being ripped off once to learn the lesson about checking prices before reaching the cashier.  I really wanted something to read, too.  Stitch has a list price of $14.99--not $15, $14.99. 

The magazine is very nicely made.  It's eye candy.  It is on the upper level of sewing magazines.  I'd call it a hip version of Sew Beautiful.  It has two ideas that I might use--I counted.  They're things I've seen before, with a slight change.  I will use none of the patterns included in the magazine.  Most patterns require going online and downloading as a PDF.  I expect that a magazine will show some old ideas with new fabrics or a bit of a twist. Frankly, there is very little in Stitch that I haven't seen on the internet for free. 

I don't expect to pay $14.99 for any magazine.  I won't be again.  I could have gotten the book I blogged about yesterday, "The Feisty Stitcher" for less,  not been bombarded with advertising, had a better quality paper product that would hold up over time, and used most of the ideas included.  If all those ads couldn't bring the price down, maybe they should consider a smaller magazine.  How about leaving out the stuff that some one has already put on the internet free?

There was an ad that offered a sweepstakes entry.  I thought I'd enter in order to have a chance of making this magazine pay off.  As it turned out I would  have to drive across the state, buy a book  with a list price of $29.99, and, then, the  participating store would give me an entry form.  In fairness further down the page from the "go to a participating store, buy the book, and get an entry" information, there was a small note saying no purchase was necessary. They lost me at the 12-hour trip anyway.

Expensive lessons learned:  check prices, check prices, check prices, don't bite the bullet, return the overpriced item immediately so you don't end up blogging about what an idiot you've been.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Feisty Stitcher: Sewing Projects with Attitude by Susan Wasinger

I am not supposed to be on the computer right now.  I promised myself to spend more time doing projects and less time computing.  BUT:  I just read The Feisty Stitcher (while using the elliptical trainer--I'm not wasting any time) and had to post about it.

I have never wanted to do even half the projects in a sewing book before.  I wanted to do almost every single project in this one.  It's all about utilitarian sewing and, yeah, they  all have a bit of attitude.

I borrow a lot of books on sewing from the library.  Sometimes I am impressed enough with a couple of projects to buy the book.  This one, though, is special.  This one  really justifies buying it.  It's going on my Amazon wish list.  Take a look at this link to Amazon.  Then go borrow it from the library and see for yourself. Let me know what you think please and thank you.

I am five minutes over my limit and really have to go.  Sorry if there are errors--I'll fix them later.  Have a great day!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The new park in the neighborhood

I pushed my husband to join our neighborhood district parks committee a number of years ago.  It's a citizens' group that makes decisions on how the money allotted to parkland in the neighborhoods will be spent with final town approval.  Brian suggested I do it  myself, but I reminded him that my ability to compromise was somewhat lacking.  (He agreed a little too quickly now that I think about it.)  He, on the other hand, has an exceptional ability to work with a group on something.  Perhaps 27 years of putting up with me has helped with that. 

The Stony Creek Parks Committee has been working on developing a large piece of land into a combined nature/play area for a few years.  It's not quite finished , but I do need to brag about the incredible park area this small group of volunteers managed to get in despite some neighbors who worked hard to block it. I wish my house bordered this area!  We are just a short walk away, though.

The park is right in the midst of suburbia, but you barely get a glimpse of the houses in the area. There are what seems like miles of looped, stone dust trails.  A lot of people are already using them for walking, jogging, and biking.

This is my lovely husband Brian and another parks committee member, Paul Bylenok, on the trails this past weekend.

 Several beautiful bridges go over streams and wetlands.
Benches are from recycled materials.

Water, webs, and all kinds of growing things are there to fascinate kids and adults.  I cannot wait for the frogs to appear next year!  Our area is filled with them.  I have a penchant for taking pictures of frogs, toads, lizards, turtles and snakes.  They are much more cooperative than mammals.

The Town of Clifton Park employees involved and, especially, the Stony Creek Parks Committee members should  be very proud of what they have accomplished.  Thank you!

Update:  I forgot to mention the Cleveland Brothers Landscaping Company from Corinth, New York that did the ground work in the park.  How could I forget them!  They not only did a terrific job, but were also always pleasant to and tolerant of those of us who just could not wait to walk through the trails. They get a well deserved thanks as well.

Art Journal Class #1 of 21

I mentioned in a previous blog that I had signed up for 21 Secrets which are lessons in art journaling.   The last time I tried an art journal was in a literature class a few years back.  The highest grade possible was a B unless you did art in your journal about the assigned books.  I knew nothing about how one did art journals and have zero natural artistic ability.  I HATED it.  I struggled to think up simple things that I could draw.  My focus was on the journal activity rather than the books.  Now, from Hanna and these other artists that are sharing their methods, I find that I could have been having a wonderful time.

I did Hanna's class first since I found out about the classes through her blog. The lessons can be done in any order.  The main focus for this one was the use of tissue paper.  You can do some amazing stuff with it such as running it through your printer--easily.  Here are my first two attempts.
It began with an idea that has been coming out in my writing journal and conversations lately--balance.  We hear that one needs to find balance, but that's not really true.  You don't find it, and then you're done.  It is a never-ending task to keep a balance between paid work, relationships, house work, outside chores, creative time, personal interests, and on and on.  That brought the phrase, "everything lies in the balance" to mind.

However, that  phrase can have completely different meanings in different contexts. It is hard to see the Carmen Miranda-ish head (does anyone else remember Carmen Miranda?) in this picture, but it is definitely an unusual take on it.  Shown without the accompanying story, it is  open to some wild  interpretations.  The quote, "To err is human, to forgive, canine, a take on the original making forgiveness divine,  is supposed to accompany the snarling wolf.    Again, context plays a key role that we too often fail to take into consideration.

The second page represents balance within.  Mixed in with what is real in our lives are a tumult of ideas of what might be.  That is a picture of Hedy Lamarr--she's even before my time!--that I copied on tissue paper.  Bust magazine had a great article on her.  It turns out that the uber-famous, sexy actress was also uber-bright and inventive.    

These are the ideas that come of writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing every day. I read a book recently that suggested this kind of writing each morning and a walk every day to expand our creativity.  Those were the only things I liked about the book, but each has turned out to be priceless advice.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Xyron Magic Sticker Machine

When got the Xyron sticker maker free at the Maker Faire,  I thought I'd use it, but didn't think it would be used all that often.  I've used it three times in less than a week on things I never imagined when I got it.

First, I was doing the  frog pattern from a previous post.  I hate it when I can't remember where the pattern came from..  You cut it out, file the pattern pieces away, and wonder where you got it from months or years later.  Yes, I could write on it, but the Lil Blue Boo blog owner who created the pieces had printed out her information on the page containing the pattern.  I'm cutting the pattern anyway--why not just cut out the info, run it through the new sticker maker, and slap it on the pattern!  So take one Xyron machine and the cut outs, and I will know where the pattern came from in order to give credit whenever I use it.

A day later I wanted a address label.  Why get out the label paper, load the printer, etc. when I can just type it out on a bit of paper--scrap paper at that--and run it through the sticker maker!

Today, I wanted to post a note on the dryer reminding my houseful of young people that they could and should CLEAN OUT THE LINT FILTER ON THE DRYER.  I wanted something more than the usual post-it.  I think this is going to have to be up for a while.  Amazingly enough, I'm finding that people in their late teens and twenties are more forgetful than preschoolers.  So, in any case, yeah, I used the Xyron.  Scribble a note on the back of a piece of scrap paper, run it through the little machine,
 and you have this.  
The sticky stuff works great.
I thought the information about clothes drying faster might capture their attention.  I find this crew of housemates are often drying something they need to wear NOW.

I love this little machine.  It's cute, takes up little space, and makes me think creatively.  I've just started my 21 Secrets Art Journal Lessons.  In the midst of the first one, I'm thinking, "I can use my Xyron to do some of this!"  I've check out the price of adhesive refills.  They are exceptionally reasonable and come in permanent and repositional strengths.  In fact, the machines are really inexpensive as well.  I'm really going to have to let the Xyron people know how much I appreciate their gift.  Their new slogan should be, "Xyron, not just for scrap-booking."

Lil Blue Boo's Blog

The frog pattern I used in my last post came from  Lil Blue Boo's blog.  It's a great little frog and so easy to do.  This creative and giving lady is now having a giveaway for a doll's dress pattern.  If you've got little people in the family, these dresses look like they will be quick and fun for dolls and also something that could be tweaked to fit other sizes and creatures.  Creatures sometimes need dresses, too.  I know this from my sock creature challenge.  Charlotte the Harlot comes to mind right now.

Check out the Lil Blue Boo blog.  This talented lady has an online pattern shop, too.  I do love shopping online--no checkout lines, delivered to your door, mailbox, or, in this case, email account, shopping at all hours in whatever grungy clothing you happen to be in at the moment...Life is good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Use Your Crap Challenge

I have a closet (okay two) full of crafty crap and half the time, I can't remember what project I bought the stuff for in the first place.  I also spend way too much time downloading ideas and not enough seeing them through. Consequently, when I saw the Shannon Makes Stuff blog challenge to stop buying and start using up crafty crap I knew I really needed to join.    I didn't get a lot done this week but something is better than nothing, right?

So my first goal is to use up some of the flannel fabric.  Here is the "Frog in the Pond."

The little guy has a fly on his tongue.

The basic frog design is  from Lil Blue Boo's blog.  A big thanks to the Lil Blue Boo designer.  It was really easy to sew up.  Lil Blue Boo's is a bean bag, but I decided to go with stuffing on this one.  I didn't do her crown this time, although I really want to try that on the next one.  The blanket doesn't have batting, just two layers of flannel.  It's about receiving blanket size.

Another big thanks to Shannon for inspiring me to stop buying and get doing.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Pretty Poppy blog is giving away of beautiful necklace!

Stop by The Pretty Poppy to have a chance (or two or three or four) to win this lovely necklace!
 They have another one that says, "Keep Calm, Carry On."  I think most of us need that message.  How nice to have such an attractive reminder.

A special hi to Elke in Florida!  Hope you're having a great day. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The New York Maker Faire

I made it to the Maker Faire!  My husband was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a lot more "Steve Jobs" than "Martha Stewart" stuff there.  There was truly an abundance of robotics, auduino and computer controlled things, ways to recycle all kinds of stuff, and opportunities for hand-on activities.  I'm not sure why there were half hour classes on lock picking from the TOOOL people or why men seemed drawn to that one like flies to a picnic.

I stopped at the Martha Stewart craft booth since they so nicely gifted me with a ticket.
You can see a wing of the giant two-sided butterfly activity set up at their booth just poking out from my bag.  You cut it out, put a dowel through, and tie some ribbon on.  Nothing shabby here.  The paper was thick, shiny, and  vividly colored.  Martha's group was also demonstrating the Cricut for cake decorating.  My lovely husband managed to get a cupcake from them.

The Craftzine booth was giving away Xyron Magic Sticker Maker Machines. Is this not the cutest thing?  I can't wait to try it out.  I'm lucky to get  my photos into albums, but I can see using this instead of writing.  I'll be able to type out blurbs in colorful fonts and not have to worry about mistakes..   

Xyron 0301-05-00 Magic Sticker Maker
Here is a conglomeration of things I picked up throughout the day.  I have a ton of websites I want to visit, a very bright red t-shirt, and Martha's butterfly.  I had never heard of Bust Magazine before, but they were giving away several issues.  It's a great magazine despite what I think is a strange name.  I didn't pick it up at first.  Bust?  As in measurement or sculpture?? But-- Helen Mirren is on the cover?  Turns out it covers many things with well-written articles.  Thanks to Bust for some on-the-way-home reading material.
People watching was fun, too.  Some were in costume, some were not.

I am amazed by this woman's hair!  My head hurts just looking at it.  Maybe it's not as heavy as I think it is.

While there were many booths we liked, here are a couple of our favorites.

I still haven't had the patience to solve a Rubic's cube and this thing did it in 13 seconds.

On the recycling side, you've got to go to  There were so many fun recycling ideas on their table!  Even their cards were recycled cardboard with the information stamped on it.  You have to love people who walk the walk!  Last one--I promise!  Who doesn't need this book?
Brian went as a favor to me, but now says he'd like to go again.  Thanks to the Craft blog for getting us started on this venture with a free ticket.