Friday, November 20, 2009

Deep In the Forest

I just finished the second round of the Random Swap. One of the random things I sent my partner was a forest/woodland creature altered board book. It was my first finished altered book, and it was really hard to send off, because I kind of loved it! My pictures aren't the best, because I finished everything at around 4:45 on the day it was due to be sent out, and the post office closes at 5:30! I usually do my best work under pressure, but I really went down to the wire on this one.

This is my favorite spread. I used acrylic paint for the background and paint chips (hurray for free crafting supplies!) to make the trees and leaves.
The text says "When autumn comes...the leaves change from lush green to fiery red and gold."

Here's the cover of the book. I had the idea for the autumn leaves spread for my own altered journal, and then found this Discovery children's forest book with great pictures. My partner had mentioned that woodland creatures was one of her favorite themes, and requested an altered book, so I decided that this was the perfect project. All that I actually ended up using from the original forest book were the background of forest trees on the cover and a mushroom that shows on a later page.
I love these thumbprint owls! I totally borrowed inspiration from another talented crafter. All the text on this page is dictionary and thesaurus entries for various woodsy words.

More thesaurus/dictionary entries and some random foresty paper bits I dug out of my stash.

Nearly every forest kids' book I had went into the making of this background. The blurry little creatures are from a Russian picture dictionary. They include the Russian spelling and phonetic pronunciation guide.
A series of inchies made on some woodgrain cardboard that came with a set of notecards and old sheet music, plus a couple leftover autumn trees. The little kindergarten creatures are made with puffy fabric paint, which I have recently loved working with because it gives really nice texture. I also used some buttons, one of my other favorite things to embellish with.

I really enjoyed this project, and I definitely want to make more altered board books. They're the perfect size, and not too many pages to plan. I don't know if I'll do another one for a swap though, because they're too hard to give up!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ladybug, Ladybug Fly Away Home

This year was the bug's first big Halloween. She had a play group Halloween costume party, and we decided she was big enough for some light trick-or-treating. The last two Halloweens she was a lobster, because the boy had to have a lobster costume. A very privileged few actually saw Lobster Baby, since she was really too little to enjoy the Halloween festivities. This year, I wanted to make her Halloween costume, and since lately she's been all about bugs, a bug she had to be. The original plan was a plain red or yellow sweat shirt (like the ones that covered an entire wall at Target back in the day) and some black leggings, and she would be either a ladybug or a bumblebee depending on what color we could get. So I looked, and looked, and looked. Apparently, toddlers these days are way too cool for the sweatsuits we wore when I was a kid, because it was impossible to find one! Finally at the last minute, we found a red turtleneck. The finished costume was a collaboration between myself and my mommy, because I can't sew in a circle and I'm the slowest ever hand sewer. She made a pretty cute little ladybug, if I do say so myself.
PS - The wings, they sparkle. So do some of her spots.

Here's a front view, I was going to do dots on the front, but ladybugs don't really have on their bellies, so I did stripes instead. I went with piggy tail antennae, because I didn't know how long a headband would last. And yes, she's trick-or-treating with an apple, it was the only way we could get her out of the house without a tantrum.
All told, the costume probably cost about $5. We already had the leggings and shoes, the turtleneck was about $3, and the felt was 79-99 cents a sheet for 4 sheets. And in my opinion, way cuter than any of the ladybug costumes we found online. Trick-or-treating was pretty successful, and even though she didn't say thank you at every house, she at least gave them a good ladybug buzz of gratitude.

Gratuitous Lobster Baby photo. She was only 10 days old and this was the smallest size available. It's stuffed full of towels so she wasn't lost in it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Halloween has come and gone, and since it's a pretty crafty holiday, here are a couple Halloweeny projects: Jack-o-lanterns, of course (hey, I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here).My moon and stars. Anyone who saw how I decorated my room in high school should not be surprised that this is a fairly common theme for me (bonus, moons and stars are fairly hard to screw up, even for someone with kindergarten drawing skills such as myself).

The boy's Sumirian Sun God (what?) I thought it looked like a three-eyed-alien.

Oh, no! Pumpkin on pumpkin violence! (Actually, I think the bug is just helping clean the pumpkin pre-carving. She wasn't really as into the whole messy scooping part as I thought she would be. Maybe next year).

And, just cause, the mini pumpkin pies I took to our play group's Halloween costume party. You can see some much cuter, more photogenic versions over at Bakerella, where I got the recipe. I even forgot the sugar (health conscious and all, but not really, I mostly just forgot) and they were still a hit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ghosts of Projects Past: Garden Party Cupcakes

This summer I got a book from the library called Hello, Cupcake, just for fun. I didn't have any special occasions, but the boy loves desserts, so I decided to get crafty and make him some fancy-schmancy cupcakes. My favorites in the book were the Garden Party Cupcakes. The tiny radishes! The peas! The cookie crumb soil! I had to make them.

And here they are:
I liked this book because they use things that are easy to find and for the most part easy to work with for their decorations. I know fondant looks pretty, and I've seen some really awesome cakes made with it, but I think it tastes gross. And I think it's kind of difficult to work with. I want to make something that looks and tastes good. My little pea pod twirlies aren't as good as the ones in the book because I couldn't find green licorice strands. I had to buy a package of Airheads, a package of Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews, a package of M&Ms and a box of corn flakes for these, and somehow I ended up with no orange chewies! I was going to do tomatoes instead of carrots, but I only had enough reds for the radishes (and I loved them so!) so even though my piping skills are not fabulous, I piped on the carrots. They were delicious (another great thing about the book, pretty easy but oh-so-yummy from-scratch cupcake recipes. These are vanilla, and we also tried the almond, delicious), but the fruit chews and chocolate and pretzels made for some strange flavor combinations. Chocolate on graham crackers, however, mmm mmm good.

I also made petit fours with mini almond cupcakes for some neighbors who took care of things around the house while we were away, but I forgot to take pictures before I delivered them. Oops. They were very pretty and delicious.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Now I Know My ATCs

As you may have noticed, I've been really into the paper crafts thing lately. And many paper crafters it seems, eventually end up making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). The only requirements for ATCs are that they must be 2.5" x 3.5", and that they can't be bought or sold, only traded. They're basically like baseball cards for artists, tiny little works of art (although not as tiny as inchies). I've been making ATC's for a little bit, but mostly just messing around to try techniques, nothing really worth showing off. Now I've joined an ATC swap, and my first ATC was received by its new owner today!
Her theme was postage stamps. I recently inherited a huge collection of awesome stamps from my aunt, so I signed up to make a card for her. I didn't want to just put a whole bunch of postage stamps on a card, so I tried to think of phrases with the words postage or stamp in them. I was a little nervous about the "tramp" part, since I didn't want to offend anyone (for those who don't know, a "tramp stamp" usually refers to a tattoo on a woman's lower back). I thought it could be cute though, if I could find just the right tramp. I searched and searched for an image of a tramp that wasn't too sad, but not too clowny or cartoony either, and I finally found this little guy in the Library of Congress image collection. Unfortunately, there was no information about the artist, or I would give credit where credit is due. I think it turned out quite nicely, and my partner was very happy with it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crafting for the Kiddoes

Actually, this is the stuff I crafted for a 13 year old girl (a tween? a teen?) in a swap, because what kid doesn't love getting packages in the mail? In return, I received some very exciting things for the bug, but I'm holding out until her birthday to deliver her package, even though it's killing me! I tried a lot of new stuff for this swap, and perhaps even advanced my sewing skills from the super duper basic beginner level (though, I did still want to throw the machine out the window most of the time). Some of the things my partner's daughter wanted were things to decorate her locker, a t-shirt, and monster stuffies. She loves rock and pop music, she's a tomboy, and bright purple, green, and pink are some of her favorite colors.

First, and what I am probably most proud of, the purple and green skully zippered pouch:
I did accidentally sew it shut inside out, and had to bust out my seam ripper to pull it through, but it made it, and I think it's perfectly punky.

Next, I made a French ribbon message board for her locker and a little monster keychain. I loved the safety pin fabric! And I think my monster is a cutie petootie.

While I believe that young people should be able to choose the music they want to listen to, I just couldn't bring myself to endorse Hannah Montana. We need more rocker girls in the world (and not the tie-wearing-Avril-Lavigne-loving kind, Avril Lavigne ruined tie-wearing for girls!). Her favorite AC/DC song is Thunderstruck, so I made a freezer paper stencil t-shirt that is colored (or un-colored?) with bleach. This project was the most intimidating for some reason, but I will definitely be trying this again. It was so easy, and I really like the way it turned out. The only down side is that I could only use the stencil once, because it got pretty wrecked when I took it off of the shirt (after all that fun exacto cutting, my favorite!).

And everything together. I also included some Emily Strange (a grumpy gothic girl popular amongst the tweens) magnets and stickers and Happy Bunny (a sassy, sarcastic, well... bunny, obviously) stickers, because her mom said they are some of her favorite characters. I think my favorite Happy Bunny quote, which is included on one of the stickers is, "hey, you made me throw up a little"

She received her package today (I think the waiting is the worst part of swapping. It's out of my hands, but if the post office messed up and lost or damaged the package I would feel awful!), and here's the message I got, which I'm assuming is from the 13 year old, and not the mother:

"yo fool thanx so much 4 my coolio was of the hook ...peace tripple a what?" followed by a whole lot of smiley faces

I think that's good, right? I'm not really down with the teenage lingo these days, mostly just trying to translate two year old speak.

Peace tripple a, I'm out , yo.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Swap Goodies: \../ Summer is for Metal \../

I have been really uninspired lately, and everything I have been crafting is for swaps, which means I don't want to spoil the surprise by posting it here, just in case my partner happens to read this. So, this is the loot I got from my first every Craftster swap, from the talented Dorkariffic (proud new owner of the Poison undies). First off my favorite item, though it was hard to choose:

An amazing Manowar pouch (so that small, important things don't fall out of the string bag I've been using as a purse/diaper bag)! I apologize for the glare, Manowar is just too metal for my camera.

Best song lyric ever.

But that's not all. She also included some goodies for baby bunnyface:

baby bunnyface's bedroom will need a makeover to match this new metal decor

Detail of the AB/CD metal baby skirt

And one more thing for me, perfect for the chilly Pacific Northwest evenings (seriously, if the boy wasn't around to complain about it, I would have the heat turned on at night. I'm already doubling socks to keep my toesies warm).

Action shot with full on butt rock scream. The boy laughed and laughed while he took this photo.

Dorkariffic was a fabulous partner for my first swap, and I loved being a crafty metal mama.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Language of Rabbits

I just finished reading Watership Down by Richard Adams. It's a great book that takes place within a community of rabbits, and he even made up a lapine language. I've made a journal page with badly drawn inchies to illustrate some of my favorite rabbit vocabulary. Can you guess what all the words mean?

My mom loved this book, and was shocked that I have only just gotten around to reading it (so many books, so little time!). In fact, I grew up hearing and using the word "tharn" (adj. stupefied, distraught, hypnotized with fear) and only recently found out that it is not actually a commonly known word.

As far as my page, I'm on the lookout for some good rabbits to hop around and make it look more full. It's a crayon and watercolor background, a technique which I definitely plan to use again in my book (taking it way back to grade school style).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Working Inch by Inch

Most of what I've been working on lately is for swaps, and I don't want to post here until all my projects have found their way to their new homes. One thing I have been working on are inchies, strangely addictive, tiny works of art. The only rule is that they have to be an inch by an inch. These are a few nights worth of inchie work:

The first row are my very first, which I started a couple weeks ago but couldn't figure out how to finish. I finally added the borders around the letters and called them done. I love the lady on the end (a rubber stamp, along with the lock and all the letters) because she looks so mischievous. I definitely think she's got a secret. The second row is a zentangle that I cut down into inchies (one is missing, it's finding a new home along with some puzzle pieces). The third row are all cut out from a Russian picture dictionary, I think my favorite is the toilet (sorry for the glare, I'm not steady enough to not use the flash) or the bicycle. The last row are just some random ones I thought up, I love the button and lace and the candles. I think these will end up in my journal if they don't get swapped.

For those of you who are curious, I took some in progress shots as well.

These are some bases I cut out, some from a cracker box, some covered in scrapbook or wrapping paper, and some I made a whole set of with blow pens and a sheet of card-stock.

These are bases waiting to be cut down, the blue and yellow, blue and orange, and purple and orange are acrylic on card-stock, and the other two are tissue paper on card-stock. The blue tissue paper is going to turn into an ocean, I know there will be a jellyfish.

And here they are all cut down and ready to be embellished!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ghosts of Projects Past: Altered Book

This isn't really a past project, since it is definitely still a work in progress. I've really been getting into paper crafts lately, and scrapbooking isn't really my thing. I'd like to keep a journal, but I'm just not good at writing every day (though I have found a system that works for me. I still don't write as much as I'd like to but I'm getting better). Then I discovered the altered book or journal. It was a bit scary at first. Being a loyal Barnes & Noble employee for five years and book lover, the idea of cutting, pasting, painting, and coloring pages of an actual book seemed ludicrous! But the projects I was seeing were so amazing, I decided to buy a book at Goodwill for 79 cents that I would never read (an old children's library book called New Amsterdam Days and Ways, some good illustrations, and the old library checkout log still taped in the front. It called to me) and give it a try. Now I'm cutting pages out of Goodwill books like there's no tomorrow. Here's my title page, the first of the finished pages you come across in my book:

The weekly theme when I started (I've joined an altered book craft-along on Craftster) was birds, and peacocks are one of my favorites. This is the first page I did in my book:

Next I started on a series of rainbow pages. I haven't finished yet, but here's what I have so far.

What's inside the envelope, you may be wondering. Why, it's a love letter!

The next theme I picked off the list was carnival and hands. I came up with this spread:

Who's that behind the curtain?

And the full fortune teller spread:

Eventually the other side will have a dancing girl behind the door, I just haven't had the proper inspiration to do her justice yet.

My last finished (almost) spread is black and white themed. I'd been collecting objects with one in mind, and I finally felt that I had the finished idea in my head. It's also my first try at a zentangle or in my case a zendala.

The images are from a children's literature anthology, they are by Maurice Sendak, one of my favorites. You may spot these in other pages that I post in the future. I'd like to find a quote to put under the zendala, but I haven't found the right one yet.

I'll continue to post pages as I finish them. I haven't been giving my book as much attention as I would like to lately, but with rainy, autumn weather ahead I'm planning to spend some cozy evenings with a cup of hot chocolate and my book (and scissors, paste, paints, and crayons of course).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ghosts of Projects Past: Poison Undies

In an effort to get some content up for folks to enjoy, and to show off some if my older work, I bring you the first installation of "Ghosts of Projects Past."

This is one of the favorite projects that I've ever done. I made it for the Summer is for Metal Swap on My partner collected quirky underoos and loved hair metal, especially Poison. As soon as I found that out this project was born, because who would be more at home on a girl's undies then Bret and the boys?
The Poison undies set was the product of nearly two whole days and one all nighter (literally, I was up until 6:30 the next morning, I do my best work under pressure). The time spent was really worth it, I love these! And so does my partner. Her fiancé was amused and slightly creeped out by them (and who wouldn't be? Bret Michaels gazing at you from your lady friend's derriere would be considered creepy by most).

You die hard Poison fans may be wondering where the fourth member of Poison is. Well I highly overestimated my embroidery speed, and swaps always have a deadline. I figured it would be best to send on time even though CC was missing (but don't worry, he sent a note. He's busy shredding a solo onstage, he'll join the band when he's done). And anyway, who doesn't love getting a package in the mail?

To check out some more metal crafts by the talented folks on Craftster, head over to The Gallery of Hardcore Craftiness (and click on "Show Images Only" towards the top if you don't want to read all of us heaping on the praise over our oh so metal crafting skills).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

As American As...

I've been wanting to try my hand at baking a pie from scratch ever since the fruit stands that live in parking lots all over Olympia started advertising marrionberries. Unfortunately, every time I pass one they are sold out and shut down for the day. I decided to let the boy pick the pie, since he will be eating most of it anyway. He decided on good ol' American apple. Out came my newly inherited Betty Crocker cookbook (the copy date says 1987, the outfits say 1960's) and my trusty housewife apron (seriously, an apron is needed when I'm in the kitchen) and I whipped up this beauty:

I was this close doing a cheesy apple pie, Boppa's favorite. Luckily for the boy, we didn't have any processed American cheese, as called for by Betty. I decided on whole wheat crust in an effort to be health conscious in my dessert making. I also accidentally on purpose left the dots of butter off the top of the apple filling before covering it with the top crust (health conscious you know). The boy and his band buddy took a break for a taste test and were well pleased with the results. All in all, a very successful pie. Now if only I had remembered to buy some vanilla ice cream...

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome... my first ever blog posting! This blog is mostly going to be about my crafty and cooking (cooking's pretty crafty, no?) endeavors, because I'm proud of them and I like to share, and maybe even inspire someone. My plan is to post a couple projects a week, unless I'm on a super crafty roll. Also, since I've never written a blog before, please let me know if there is anything you'd like to see.

Without further ado, I'm off to attempt my first ever apple pie (made from scratch--pastry dough, raw apples, and all). Perhaps my first cooking post will be later this afternoon!


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