Friday, November 28, 2008

Adventures in Knitting - Fair Isle Style

Well, it has been a while since my last post and alot has happened since then. Now that we are drawing closer and closer to Christmas I thought it best to start my Christmas Projects. I have taken the hand made pledge very seriously and intend to sew, stitch, knit or crochet ALL of my Christmas gifts this year.

My daughter was not too pleased to hear games and an ipod are on her list........but I think in the end she will get enough of that stuff from the rest of the family and I often find many of those items cast aside a few weeks after Christmas anyway. This year, I hope to make her something that will be well used throughout the winter months and maybe even last into next year.

I found Ravelry not too long ago, signed up, logged my stash and then promptly stopped visiting the site for several months. I have been longing to get back to my knitting so I sat down and took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to get started on some projects.

I am the kind of person that likes to work on several things at once, that way when one gets tedius I can move on to something else for a little while, and in the end I get more done. So right now I am working on a pair of Spider Man Mittens
and matching Spider Man Hat set for my nephew, I have yarn and needles ready to to finish some Beanies I am making for a trade, and I am going out to purchase some yarn this afternoon to make Endpaper Mitts for some of the women in my family. I won't say who in case they may read would totally spoil the surprise. I also have planned to make some felted mocassins for my little nephew Eli who is just 1 year old this past SeptemberThis picture is from the book Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas which you can find here if you want the pattern (or you can check your local library)

And I will finish my neice's (3 year old Serra) Amgurumi Monkey that I started back in April. All he needs is a tail.

So I guess you could say I have my work cut out for me. I better get a move on!

Sadly just before writing this post, I had to completely unravel the SpiderMan Mitten I was working on and start over on larger needles. The pattern is written for size 2 needles for a toddler mitten, and I need an adult size for my nephew. Being a new knitter, I thought a 6 would work since the pattern suggested a 4 or 5 for a larger size. But I either knit really tight or 6 just wasn't big enough. On top of that, I got all the way to the top and could not understand how to do the decreases and still stay in the pattern. (I am trying a 2 color stranded Fair Isle pattern for this mitten. It looked great until I got to the top and needed to start decreasing. And I am working on dpns for the first time too!)

I think I need to phone a friend for assistance:)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hand Painted Pottery!

My sister and I went to the Fire House Pottery Studio here in downtown Marshall and picked out some ready made pottery to paint. We both had been looking at 2 Tea for One sets , each a different style, and finally decided to paint them.

While I painted for about an hour, my sister sat and stared directly at her tea set. She had no idea what to paint on such a large project. Eventually she gave up and decided to trade it in for 3 smaller pieces, an angel ornament, a ladybug trinket box and a small cup for her 3 year old daughter to paint. (Sadly, this little cup was broken during the painting process....but the owner was kind enough to offer a replacement cup the next time we come in to paint). Hopefully we can return on Saturday because I am just about finished with my piece and can't wait to see it once it is fired and all the colors come to life.On a final note, I just had to share the rubber stamp I carved for my Dad yesterday. He had asked me to make a stamp for one of the companies he works with (my dad writes tv and radio spots for advertising). Here is the finished stamp.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Art-a-Thon!

I have devoted the entire day to the creation of ART! I have many trades going on at AFA and I haven't really been able to free up any time for art lately. So Today is the Day! I am not answering the phone, I am keeping a pot of coffee at the ready, I have pencil, paper, and scissors at I am off to create:)

Here are just a couple examples of what I have accomplished so far today.

The front of my 4x4 Halloween Chunky Page
The back of my 4x4 Halloween Chunky

A Cat themed Matchbox Shrine for PIF (Pay It Forward) trade.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Theoretical Girl

I discovered this video on Youtube this morning and thought you might enjoy this beautiful song.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Little Book Swap!

Well, I have not yet completed Wednesday's Challenge because I finished off my Little Books for a swap on AFA and sent them off in the mail today.

I really enjoyed making these books. They are both 3 1/2 X 3 1/2, include 20 pages of white card stock, and are bound together using ribbon stitching. I collaged both front and back covers inside and out, and rubber stamped on them using my hand carved rubber stamps, I topped it all off with a little bit of hand drawn embellishments and paper words and phrases.

I have already cut out materials for a new book. This time I am going to make it a Deco Book and ask friends from AFA to decorate it with me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FEEDING MY MUSE with some Halloween Spirit

I have decided, since recapturing my Muse, that I must feed it daily with activities which promote creativity and imagination in order to keep things flowing and keep artist block at bay.

During my blog searching this morning I happened upon several creative blogs which post a daily art challenge. Today's challenge is from and requires that you use a coffin shape (they provide a template) and make a piece of art using the coffin in some way and themed toward Halloween.

The photo above is my submission for today's challenge. It is an ATC sized (2 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches) Diptych. It features the coffin shape on the front which unfolds to reveal the inside of the coffin where my own original hand drawn vampiress rests in peace and solitude, surrounded by all hand drawn elements of webs and spiders. On the left hand side, I have used my own hand carved "Happy Halloween" rubber stamp. I really enjoyed this challenge.

To take the challenge yourself visit and FEED YOUR MUSE!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Recapturing my MUSE!

I have been in a sort of funk lately. Dealing with all the issues of home and family, my art has taken a back seat to everything, and when I would finally find some time to sit and create............I drew a blank!

Well, thanks to a LIVE TRADING SESSION with some women on my ATC trading site AFA, I have successfully recaptured my MUSE. After spending this past Saturday creating and socializing with these wonderful women I returned home renewed , my creativity revived.

Here is an example of the cards I have made over the weekend......and I am pulling an all niter tonight to finish up some cards and other mail art for swaps that I have been putting off.

Since Saturday I have been spending a lot of time on the AFA site and I stumbled upon a thread by one of the members showcasing her very first Video Tutorial. It is wonderfully made and interesting to watch. Check it out below. I have added a video reel of her Youtube Channel under Tutorials in the Menu at the top of my blog, so keep checking in for new additions to her video library.

I have a lot of plans to add much more interactive and informative links to my blog that I find interesting and I hope you find them interesting too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Butterflies, Slugs and Dragonfly Wings......

I feel like I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off lately:-) I am trying to make new items for my Etsy Shoppe each day in addition to getting the house organized as my sister moves out and my daughter moves in. On top of this I am also cleaning the remnants of my dad's last garage sale out of his garage and into my house so that I can sell everything that is left either on Ebay or by hosting a yard sale of my own. whew!

Well, I have managed to finish a few new hand carved stamps for My Etsy Shoppe. I spend a lot of time browsing the stamp aisle at my local Michaels and Hobby Lobby and I rarely buy any stamps. I always think, I can do that, and then most of the time I never do. Now that I have finally tried my hand at carving my own stamps I just can't get enough of it. I cut my teeth on some small and simple designs, and now I am trying things a little more intricate or involved.

I had the idea to carve a Monarch Butterfly Stamp first as a special gift for someone I trade often with on AFA.Then I thought I would carve a special Slug Art Signature Stamp for another person I trade with on AFA.Once I got those 2 stamps under my belt I let's try a dragonfly. I was really nervous about those wings, but they turned out pretty good......

So I went one step further and carved a set of Dragonfly Wings so now I can add wings to anything I want.I am going to try and set aside some time each night for me to spend on my altered and mixed media art only. I really do miss it right now...but it will have to wait a little longer.

The final thing I am working on right now is 20 sample items to submit to The Spotted Box on Etsy to be included in their October Box Sale. I am going to try to keep all the items themed for Halloween since that holiday will be right around the corner by then. I will have to post an update once I get all the items completed and ready to mail.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Historic Home Tour Weekend and the Art Faire!

On the corner of Madison and Michigan in Historic Marshall Michigan, during the Annual Home Tour Weekend, I attended the Art Faire with my sister Lissa. Lissa is my baby sister, and she came down from Kalamazoo to visit me on Saturday. I thought it would be nice for us to spend a little time together browsing the Art Faire that was being held a few blocks from my house. According to our local paper, the Advisor, this was a juried Art Faire and Artists from all over the state would be selling their work Saturday Afternoon only.

The City blocked off the street and vendors set up tents along the street and across the lawn next to the local Post Office. You can even see the Marshall Middle School, where I attended 6-8th grade, in the background.

One of the first items to catch my eye was this pretty little handpainted Mary Engelbreit style child's table and chair set.I really liked this glass artist who made lawn and garden ornaments out of glass dishes, I think they resemble flowers.
There were also many pottery booths. I saw a group of lamps with handmade clay bases, their metal necks glinting in the sun, and couldn't resist taking a picture.
One of my favorite items was what looked to me like a bird bath, but it was shaped like a giant leaf. It is absolutely stunning.
During the day you could also take a leisurely carriage ride through town.

My sister Lissa took a special interest in some handmade tribal drums and ended up playing a duet with the Craftsman. She purchased the drum in the end, and I am sure she will play it often.

Here is some video of my sister jammin on her new drum. Please forgive my shaky camera work. Hopefully I will get better at this the more video I take.

After the Art Faire we decided to take a walk through downtown on our way home. Marshall is full of Gift Shoppes, Art Galleries, Artsy Shops, and Antique Stores. Marshall generates alot of its income from tourism. We are a National Historic Landmark. Here are a few pics of some of the things we saw on our walk.
The Mole Hole Gift Shoppe has been around town for as long as I can remember. They always have many unique things to display, including this Military Band Organ.

I was able to upload the videos to Google Video, so here is the Organ playing. Please excuse my shaky camera work, I am still getting used to using my camera to capture video.

For more information on this National Historic Landmark town, Marshall Michigan, Please visit the Marshall Historical Society.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Journey Home

Well, I have finally returned home after spending the summer visiting my parents in SC. It feels a little strange to be home again after several months. Many things have changed here. When I left I was sharing a 4 bedroom house with my brother, one of my sisters (the other one lives in Kalamazoo) and my sister's 3 kids (baby boy less than a year, daughter 3, Son 13) and my brother's children(2 girls 7 and 8) visit him several times each week. In the beginning, my daughter (18) had moved out with her boyfriend and since they broke up recently my daughter (Molly) has come back home to live, with her puppy dog (Loki). Upon my arrival home I was told that my sister and her 3 kids had gotten an apartment in a nearby town and were moving out within the week. So now it will just be me and my brother, and my daughter, and my brother's girls when they are here to visit him.

Right now I am alone at home, my sister and her kids are gone to her friends house, my daughter is out at a friends house, and my brother is at work. After being at my parents with their 5 dogs, and 2 cats, add in my 2 dogs and 1 cat, and my mother working from home (She makes soap), it seems oddly quiet around here. I am sure that as I get settled in I will develop a new routine and will become accustomed to being alone again. We'll see.

Every time I call my parents they ask me if I am ready to come home yet. Funny, I have only been away from their house for 3 days, counting my driving day.

I am still tired from the long drive, and my dogs are off of their schedule and a little out of sorts. I am always very tense when I drive to and from SC. I really, really, really hate driving through the mountains in the Virginias. I have to force myself to stare only at the road ahead because if I even glance to the side and see the tops of trees below, my stomach does a flip. Suffice it to say, my fingers are sore and stiff from the death grip I had on the steering wheel most of the way here.

Here are some pics of my jeep as it was packed for the trip home. ( I came back with much much more than I left with).Once I was able to shut the back door, I wedged some small loose items in the gaps....including a small crate of peaches wrapped in a plastic bag to keep the peaches from falling all over. I am going to make some more pies with them this week.

I left a portion free in the back behind the front passenger seat for my dog Isabella. That is where I put my pillows and blankets, so she had a comfy ride.

Here is Isabella.......isn't she precious?
Where you see the pink blanket in the front is where I had to put one of my duffel bags of clothes. The other one is on the floor in front of the front passenger seat. I covered them with a pink blanket and that is where my dog Princess stayed during the trip.

Here is my little dog Princess.....and my fat cat Omi (Oh-Me) who rotated between sitting with Isabella and sitting with Princess. I was really surprised at how well they did together in the car, especially Isabella. Isabella is only 8 months old and had never really been anywhere except her backyard. I actually had to pick her up and put her in the car that first time. But now, after a 16 hour trip of stopping to go potty and get gas or food, she is a pro at jumping in and out of the car.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Little Boots ROCKS on YOUtube!

I will be the first person to admit that I am completely lacking in internet savvy. So, now you will understand when I tell you that it took me several hours of messing around on YOUtube to figure out how to attach this clip to my blog.

I opened up firefox this morning, logged into my igoogle page and saw this interesting looking video on the YOUtube listing. All I can say is this video totally rocked my socks off. It was made by a girl in England who calls herself "Little Boots" and she is sitting in her bedroom with her keyboard and this nifty little gadget called a Netorion (Which I absolutely love and have to put on my wish list of gifts to buy my daughter for Christmas). Watch the video and see for yourself, this girl is awesome. If she had a CD right now I would go out and buy it.

Obviously I have spread my wings a little in joining the YOUtube community (Scary), but I wanted to keep up to date on new songs this young lady comes out with. I have already tried getting a hold of my daughter to tell her to check out this video, but I was unable to reach her because like most teenagers (she is 18) her phone is either not on, the battery is dead, or she left it at home.

Since I am in SC visiting my parents and am just getting ready to drive back home within the next couple days, I will have to wait and see if my daughter actually checks her messages and calls me back.

Well, I haven't got much time left for surfing the internet. I have to get packing and load up the car. I was planning on leaving tomorrow morning, but the way things are going, I might just leave Saturday morning. I hate feeling rushed. I almost always forget things when I feel rushed, and I can't turn around and come back if I leave something behind.

Take Care everyone. God Bless and I will catch up with you again later:-)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Trick or Treat!

It is hard to believe that it is already almost time for Halloween! We are just one month away from decking the house with all manner of creepy crawly and spooky things. In anticipation of this ghoulish holiday I was recently inspired to hand carve some Halloween themed rubber stamps and use them to make some SPOOKtacular (I love that word) mini note cards.

So far I have made a set of 6 BAT note cards

and I have made a set of 6 Spider and Web Note cards

I am still working on a Ghost themed Card, A Jack-o-lantern themed Card, and a Witch and Black Cat themed Card.
I will be sure to post the finished results when I am done.
Finished card sets and Hand Carved Halloween Stamps are available at My Etsy Store.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pink Glitter Star Ornaments

Just wanted to take a minute to share the Pink Glitter Ornaments I made today. I spent the majority of today cutting, folding, gluing, and pouring glitter on these little gems. They are 3 1/2 inches in diameter and available at My Etsy Store. I have already cut out some more circles and stamped the backgrounds so they are ready for me to make more glitter ornaments tomorrow morning. I think this time I will make them in Green.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Carolina Peach Pie

Our local Farmer's Market had a sale on 25lb crates of peaches for just $15 and I decided I would try my hand at making some semi-homemade peach pies. I am a big fan of Sandra Lee and Semi Homemade. Even though I am able to cook 100% homemade, I have learned some nifty tricks to making a big baking project (or family dinner) a whole lot quicker by using as little as 1 pre-made item.For the pies, that pre-made item was the piecrust. Southern Home is a popular store brand here in the Carolinas, and I used a ready made crust by Southern Home as the foundation for my Fresh Peach Pie.

Now, having never made a Fresh Peach Pie before, I was unaware of the fact that you needed to peel the peaches before slicing them and putting them in the pie. So my first pie included the peach skins. (once it was baked you couldn't even tell the difference between the peeled and not peeled peaches).

After a little giggle, my mother informed me that I needed to blanch the peaches briefly in boiling water and then submerge them in an ice bath to make the skins peel right off in one easy swipe. This process left me with a bowl full of glistening gorgeous peaches.

After that, I cut them in half, removed the pit, and sliced them up.

Then I added 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the peach slices, gently folding it in until all the peaches were coated. The blanching causes the peaches to soften a bit and release their juices, so the added sugar and flour creates a sweet golden colored glaze on the peaches. Once that was done, I poured the prepared peach mixture into the pie crust. It was so pretty of course I had to take a picture of it.

I topped that off with another ready-made pie crust, pinching the edges, I cut four small slits along the top for the steam to escape, covered the edges with foil and popped it in a 400 degree oven for about an hour to an hour and ten minutes.

The result was a scrumptious Fresh Peach Pie with just the right combination of sweet and tart in the filling.

Of course I topped each piece off with some Ready Whip!

I used 8-10 peaches per pie and made 4 pies with all those peaches:-)