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.   

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Keepsake Quilting

I made it.  I not only got to Keepsake Quilting, I went twice.

(It seems so unfair that Lindsey Lohan even looks good in her mug shots, and I can't even manage to get a good one out of the hundreds that I take on vacation.  I was squinting into the sun here.  Okay, okay, it's a shoddy excuse.  The good news is that should I be arrested I can save them money by sharing one of my many, many pictures that look like mug shots.)

This is the more catalog-ish view of Keepsake.
I got an okay to take some pictures inside from the person cutting my fabric.  As soon as the camera snapped, however, someone else yelled, "You can't take pictures of the quilts!"  The cutter smoothed things over explaining that I was just taking overall shots.  I was not willing, however, to stir up things by taking more than these two.  They don't do the place justice.

(I'm not talented enough to Photoshop those two quilts out, so, instead, I'm going to ask that you don't look at them.)

I thought I was only there an hour or so, but apparently it was long enough for Brian to not only visit the neighboring stores but develop close personal friendships.  When I finally left, he took me around to meet his new friends in each store.

I could not pass up the ducks.  They match my rubber duck collection after all.
These are some fabrics that just starting begging me to take them.  I am in an orange mood lately.  This has never happened before.  I'm going to be redoing the larger bedroom in yellow.  These should make a lovely quilt, etc.  I passed up the first fabric, blue with tiny orange leaves, requiring the second trip. On the second trip, I found the rubber duck borders.  That little trip alone was another $56.  

Oh, yes.  The lake and all the surrounding area was incredibly beautiful.  The lake is enormous! We've got to go in the summer next time. 
Tomorrow:  The Maker Faire!!  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lake Winnepesaukee (aka Keepsake Quilting) for Our Anniversary

Happy anniversary to us!  We are going to Lake Winnepesaukee FINALLY!  I've been trying to get there for more than 20 years.  It's not THAT far from Upstate New York, and it has been just a bit off the routes we've taken for a number of vacations further north.  It was often on the list of places we would stop on the way to or from other places.  Something always got in the way.  We were running late, the kids were too tired, we'll do it the next time.  My reason for wanting to go there:  Keepsake Quilting.  I so want to see that store.  Their catalogs are eye candy. 

I guess when the sole purpose of the trip is to get to this lake, we might finally make it there.  When the hubster said we were going there, I was ecstatic.  He remembered.  He knew how much I wanted to go to Keepsake and was doing this just for me.  I had days of this fantasy.  Then I mentioned where we were going to someone in front of Brian.  Turns out Keepsake was not actually on his list of reasons for going there. Too bad he said that.  He had sooo many brownie points piled up before I found out he really wanted to go to the lake.

Be that as it may, I am going to Keepsake and to what I understand is a lovely lake to celebrate our 27th anniversary.  I shall post pictures of the too many fabrics I'm going to buy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art Journal Classes Online

I just signed up for "21 Secrets for your Art Journal."  It will be a collection of 21 lessons, each taught by a different artist.  I've been looking at Hanna of Stockholm's work on her blog for a while now.  She is incredibly talented.  Classes are going to begin on October 1st, but you don't have to do them at a specific time.  That's just when the classes will start being available.  The cost is $59 which is a bargain when you consider it's less than $3 a lesson.

Take a look at Hanna's blog to see the inspiring things that she creates.  She has some great tutorials.  Even I, with very little artistic talent, am able to do many of the projects.  There's a link on her site to join in the classes.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

They are Finished! 30 Sock Creatures and One More For Good Measure

Here they are.  I guess I was in a striped sock mood.

The monkey, who my lovely husband named Mango, is made from a pair of socks I got at the sock outlet store.  Some of the socks from there were good, but some "run" when you poke holes for eyes or a nose. That's not good.  The hole grows and grows.  If you are lucky, the eye and backing snap together quickly enough to stem the run.  It's a pain trying to do it though.  I couldn't get the nose for this on  quickly enough and ended up needing to use a felt nose in order to repair it.  

The snakes are from socks purchased at Joann's.  They're not really heavy, but are solidly construction and easy to work with.  I think I just need to avoid the really cheap socks.   BTW, the snakes are names Echidna and Cecrops in honor of the mythological Greek creatures that were also kind of snaky.

So that finishes the challenge!  It's late, but I did it!  Here's a group shot of all the little monsters.  What a rag-tag looking bunch!  Lessons learned:  make sure the sock material is worth all the work and make the challenges much, much smaller in the future.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Won a Ticket to the Maker Faire!!!

I won a ticket to the Maker Faire in NYC from the Martha Stewart Craft blog!!  I missed out on the original 15 tickets, but I and five others got an email saying there were extra tickets.

My lovely husband is going with me.  It's an expensive win with the cost of Brian's ticket and transportation and food and I don't want to think about this part of it anymore.  I'm only going to think about all the incredible things I'm going to see there!  This must be good karma from posting about Martha's napkins.  OR, maybe she DOES read my blog....just kidding.  I can always dream, though.

Hopefully I will be able to take some pictures for the blog.  Wish me luck navigating the streets of Queens.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

# 28 of the 30 Sock Creatures has Arrived!

So here he is, number 28, Ezcar Goe.  What a time doing this one!  It was not supposed to look like this at all.  The first few attempts were not working for me.  His head was originally his butt.  Then, I folded down the legs and had a giant head, but no body.  Adding various appendages that were originally to be arms resulted in a rather obscene looking creature--fun, but not something I'd be able to put on the blog. 

I had an even worse time getting pictures of this guy.  It's hard to show the face well and also show definition in the rolled back piece.  In addition, The black rolled back piece didn't show well on light OR dark surfaces.  This picture shows the back a little bit better, very little.

You'll just have to take my word for it!  Escar Goe is quite lovely in person.  Or should I say in snail? 

Lessons learned:  1.  It's hard for me to get good photographs when working with black socks.  2.  I really need to get a book on photography.   Any suggestions on that?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My inexpensive and almost maintenance-free water fountain

I am taken with water features.  On the other hand, I don't like having to spend a lot of time on them.  I've been playing with fountains since I first bought one of the little packaged models in the 80s.  All of those were either buzzingly annoying, obnoxiously loud, and/or require perpetual fiddling with the motor filter.  Their small size also required that they be filled constantly.   My own attempts at building one from scratch have been so-so.  They were still rather care intensive.  However, I finally did it!  I've waited to post about this to be sure it was a long-term success.  I've had this one going for over a year with almost little maintenance.

The porcelain pot,  about a foot high and wide, was one that was around the house.  I can put a ton of water in this so that I only need to top this off maybe once a month.  The sound changes with the level of water.  If it gets too loud and splishy (is that a word?), I toss some more water in.  I also put in a bit of bleach on occasion to keep the bowl from developing scum.  Just a splash or what amounts to several tablespoons does the job without getting the eau de swimming pool effect.

The pump is in the 100-155 gph range (about $25) so that it works at its lowest setting.    Although that is a high range for the size of the pot, working at the lowest setting means it is less noisy and not taxing the unit.  This low setting gives the sound of water throughout the downstairs but does not show water spurting up unless you look down into it.  I've learned that spurting water also means the possibility of over-spray which will result in water spots on the surrounding area. You can hear a bit of a pump buzz when you are next to it, but sitting in the room you just hear the water.

If you get a pump that overpowers the sound of the water, return it!  Try the next size down or a different brand.  IMHO, if the pump is too loud, it is defective--it gets returned.  Another suggestion, test the water pump outside if possible to get the setting you want.  You will be amazed at how far some of them can shoot water. 

My pump is covered with large washed rocks I've collected over time.  The cord is covered (well, almost--you can see a bit on the side) by the small potted plastic plant.  Yeah, I could drill a hole in the side of the pot, but I'm not willing to risk the pot.  The plant works fine for me.   Voila!  Finally, a fountain that can survive my neglect!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Martha Stewart Napkin

It's from Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.  Martha "claimed" that this would produce a napkin with beautifully mitered corners.  I love nicely mitered corners but have always found them to be difficult.  Following the directions (for once), I ended up with this.

I love Martha.  This napkin is perfect.  Look at these beautiful corners!

It was so nice, I was afraid to embroider anything on it.  It took me weeks to decide whether or not to put something on it, more weeks to decide what design to put on it, and another week or two to get up the courage to actually do the embroidery.  I don't know why.  This napkin was so easy to make.  You iron it, sew on a few of those creased lines, and do some straight stitching around the edge.

I finally decided on a simple floral design for the embroidery because I'm a bit tired on initials right now--I overdosed on my towels.  I used a slightly off-white on the bright white cloth.  I'm not sure that the placement is conventional.  I folded the napkin the way I would use it and put the design on the top.  It is off-centered when the napkin is open--one of the reasons I chose white-on-white.

I used a fabric from Joann's that looks like linen.  It washes beautifully.  No ironing needed at all.  I've had linen napkins before.  They were lovely but HAD to be ironed.  I like ironing, but who has the time especially around the holidays when you will most likely be using them?  Now I just have to finish the other 17 I want.  I know better than to put down an exact date for them to be finished here.  Life has an annoying way of interfering with my well-made plans.

I really do love Martha.  I want to be in her audience.  I don't want to meet her, though.  For some reason, I find her completely intimidating.  Could it be her awe-inspiring talents and boundless energy?  Yes, I know she has a hoard of people coming up with lots of ideas, too.  Martha did, however, create the whole venture and keeps it going strong.  Great napkin, Martha!  I just know she reads my blog ;-}

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Two new sock creatures are finished at last...

I've been having pretty good luck with my sock creatures, but these last two nearly did me in.  I haven't posted in a while because I just could not get them to be even remotely the way I wanted them.  I have worked, reworked, and reworked them again.  I have tried multiple ways of doing the mouths, ears, and limbs. I tried some new eyes.   And still, they are not what I wanted.

I worked with the baby socks that I used for the cute brown bunny in my last post on sock creatures.  These, though turned out just blah.  How can such cute little socks turn into such boring little creatures?  (I'm feeling intensely guilty saying this.  It's as though I'm a mother saying my kids are ugly.  Is this normal?)  So here they are.

They look sad, don't they?  Even they know they look bad.  I must admit, too, that the picture flatters them.

I tried doing the yarn straight across for a mouth like they do for the original sock monkey design.  It is my own ineptitude that caused the one with the red mouth to look as though it is frowning.  However, that piece of yarn pulled straight across just doesn't seem like a good idea for a kid's toy anyway.  There is nothing holding it firmly in place.  I tried to rectify that on the other one by tacking it down with yarn which is why there is a big black blob in the middle of the upper lip.

I wasted sooooo much time on these two that I just wanted them done!  Lessons learned:  If I do use the yarn mouth again, I will probably try doing really light tacking with matching thread to hold it in place.  Also, working with tiny socks is a royal pain in the butt!

So to name the little beasts--Sadlee and Dullci. These are numbers 26 and 27 of the 30.  I'm really, really almost there!

Hadley Mountain Near the Sacandaga Reservoir

My daughter, Keegan,  wanted to go hiking so we went up Hadley Mountain last weekend.  It's a nice little hike with an inspiring view.  There was a bit of a crowd at the top although the trail was not crowded.  It was a perfectly beautiful day!  The pictures came out well although there was a good bit of haze looking down on the water.   I love the rolling landscape in the distance. 

There is still a fire tower on top of Hadley.  You can't get into the room at the top, but you can still climb up to the entryway.  This is my lovely husband, Brian, in front of the tower. (I told you there was a crowd at the top!)   Both my parents grew up in the town of Long Lake in the Adirondacks.  One of the women in their group of friends spent a summer working in one of the fire towers and wrote a book about it.  Normally only guys would get that job, but it was during WWII.  I would have loved to do that!  It is a quaint little memoir that was not widely published, but I loved it. 

I did make it all the way up.  Here's proof. 

Here's Keegan sunning at the top.  How cool that the rocks make a lounge chair!

Although this next picture is hazy the view of the winding water is too nice to leave out.

See that--there is something more to New York State than the city. I climbed a bunch of these little ones but have only done one of the 46 High Peaks.  Mt. Marcy is off my list to becoming a 46er.  While it is the highest, it is not even near the top of the list for most difficult.  I'm not sure I even want to try doing them all.  I prefer taking my time, getting pictures, stopping for every little beast, rock, or plant that captures my attention.