Wednesday, December 15, 2010

wish list

I am so in love with these light houses from my house party. Aren't they magical? I also want everything else in that shop...

While browsing Uncommon Goods, I stumbled across this Aebelskiver kit - oh my lord. I must get this thing. Anyone else not know what aebelskivers were? Am I the only one?

And how freakin cool is this bottle and jar cutter kit?!? Arghh. No bottle or jar would be safe. I could even cut off the damaged part of my mixing bowl that chipped. This would make me feel invencible - seriously how many people can cut glass?!

Sigh. I will dream on :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shoe Makeover

I recently decided my "pilgrim" shoes could use some sparkle, especially after I saw some beaded flats at Anthropologie. I had so much fun making these - it was a freehand beading project on felt, repeat, then hot glued onto the shoes. Pretty quick, and very satisfying. This sort of project really relaxes me - and gives me twinkle toes! I know they're over-the-top, but I love them so.

Monday, December 6, 2010

goats milk soap & organic cotton cloths

I have no idea why I've taken such a long break from my blog - I have had fun though! The best Thanksgiving ever (despite losing my granddad), tons of crafting, sewing and knitting, tons of cooking, and Christmas tree decorating and hanging out with Craig and Pipsqueak :) I am way behind in sharing my creations, so here goes!

My eldest sister got married this year (happy dances!), so for their wedding present I decided to knit up some organic cotton washcloths and pair them with homemade goats milk soap.

The cloths were very relaxing to knit - easy and elegant. Blocking is the real trick to get them to look neat and tidy.

I wrapped the soap in tissue paper and topped them with some stickers I had been saving since I was a teenager (yes I save stickers).

I also wanted to give her a little something sexy and special for her bridal shower, so I whipped up a lacy thong from some wonderfully soft and washable green merino wool from Knit Picks. I definitely want to try knitting that pattern with silk to see what a difference it makes.

I tucked the knitted goodies, and a few other good smelling goodies, into a patchwork drawstring lingerie bag. Note about this - use thin fabric! While the patchwork looks nice, the fabric is a bit too thick to gather nicely for this size bag. Next time I'll use some very thin cotton or silk.
More to come soon! This past weekend was so very fun - I made monster cookies (several dozen!), baked bread (awsome recipe here - more on this soon), cooked up some bolognese sauce (13 cups worth - my freezer is stocked with cookies and sauce!), and worked on a very special knitting project for my mum-in-law. Altogether relaxing and wonderful. This holiday season is shaping up nicely!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

despite appearances, I am not dead

Good golly, April 16 was my last post?! I have all sorts of finished projects and things to show you, but I have not got the pictures on this computer :( Lately I've been making goodies for my sister's upcoming wedding (woohoo!). I can't wait to share all of those...

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this video of Pinky the cat as much as I have. I literally cry laughing every time I see it. Freaking hilarious.

Friday, April 16, 2010

call of the small

I've just stumbled across a new blog through a ny times article - the call of the small (which begs to be written in small caps). She collects mini modern furniture (how cool!) and decorates these chic modern doll houses. Oh how I want one. I am thoroughly in love with this room - I can't even tell you how much I wish I could live in this room.

I'm already plotting how I can make that awesome square shelf - and that mushroom - gah! It's almost too much for me. I might even go gather sticks and put them in a vase in a corner. And how much do you love that art on the wall? This is the coolest doll house ever.

I am feeling a distinct urge to go through all my old doll things. I must acquire a shelf like this white one. Then I must acquire all the goodies. This kind of shelf could just go anywhere - shoved in a closet, out in the middle of a living room, anywhere. I feel very inspired. Thank you call of the small!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

work in progress

I am head over heals in love with Alabama Chanin. I have not been this inspired to sew in years. It is incredibly liberating to sew without a machine! After combing through her website and blog over and over just swimming in the possibilities, I decided to try my hand at some of her techniques. I've leafed through her books at my local B&N, and took a few basic notes. I figure if my first couple of projects turn out well, I'll bite the bullet and buy both books.

I saw this skirt on her site and thought about a red dress I have but never wear. It's a sporty knit mini-dress. I'm really not sure why I bought it years ago. I wasn't exactly into sports, and I can't imagine wearing a dress for it if I was.

Here's a shot of it (with horribly bright, color altering light) of the dress after I applied the bloomers pattern from Ms. Chanin:

I read a tip in her book about using contact paper for homemade stencils, and it works really well. I have this thing lately about only using what I have on hand or can get for free for my projects. Fortunately, I had some contact paper, fabric paint and old unworn clothes to play with. yay!

So the concept here is to use two layers of knit fabric, then cut away the top layer in a pattern to reveal the layer underneath - reverse applique. In order to have a pattern to follow, you stencil it on with fabric paint. That way you have a little color at the cut edges when you've finished stitching and cutting. I plan to use this old Abercrombie shirt for the backing fabric. I'm glad I bought this XL!

I cut off that awful top and have made it lower. I plan to add spaghetti straps using the darker burgundy material (which is delightfully thick and soft - gotta love vintage A&F), and perhaps beading it to make it fancy. I'm thinking this will be a cool date dress.

I was MOST excited about cutting this blasted logo off the dress:

I hated this so much, it was usually the reason I didn't wear it. And now it's gone!
I realized as I was making this that it would be reversible - when you turn it inside out you see the Abercrombie logo and the writing from the back of the shirt all covered with the stitches from the bloomers pattern. I think this is going to be a really cool dress.
I'm afraid you will have to put up with much more I-love-Alabama-Chanin posts. I'm already working on another project which I will share soon...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

soup, gardening, etc.

After months of trying to find and order the right ingredients, I finally got around to making the first recipe from my Williams Sonoma Asian cook book that H gave me years ago. Yes years. I tell you though, the wait was worth it - this udon noodle soup is to die for. One of the things we miss most about NYC is our local Japanese restaurant where we always got udon noodle soup. This involves boiling konbu (seaweed), then adding bonito flakes (fish flakes), then straining, then adding a bunch of flavors like rice vinegar and soy sauce, then pouring over scallions and noodles. Yum!

A couple of weeks ago, H and I planted a rain garden with his leadership group, which was so much fun!!! I can't believe how much I miss gardening. What thrilled me most was how much H enjoyed it. We have lots gardening in our future...

You can read our little local article about it here. This is really the first time I had ever heard of rain gardens, so I'm just now learning all about them. I'm excited to learn more and someday plant my own :)

This is another gorgeous quilt from H's grandmother. She made it using free fabric samples from Sherwin Williams way back in the day. To me it looks like something from anthropologie - I love it! It's also very light, making it the perfect blanket for the coming summer months.

In other news, I'm still working on that painting for my you can see in the picture above I've put strips of fabric in and around the crevices of broken glass - genius! Mom actually thought of it which was just a stroke of brilliance. I plan to use this technique again in future paintings. It is so much more interesting a solution than grout or modeling paste.

And take a look at this mess:

What a cutie! I had this purring monster waking me up all morning today. I've got to remember to play with him more before bed...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

wire hanger

I was looking through my stuff from Italy a while ago (I did a foreign study there in 2001), I found a stack of beautiful postcards that I couldn't believe I didn't have hanging up. The trouble was how to hang them. I didn't want to tape them up, and I didn't want to just lean them against something. After looking at several wire wall card holders in places like Pottery Barn, I decided I would make my own (story of my life).

It took about 5 hangers, bascially all twisted by hand except the spirals which were twisted using pliers. 10 very sore fingers later, instant gratification without shelling out dollars for wire. Yay!

I think it's wonky shape is anthropologie-esque. I hope I'm not the only one :) Here it is holding some of my postcards:

It really does brighten up our bedroom too. I should take a picture once I have the room cleaned up a bit.
Just for fun, here's a cute pic of our little Pipsqueak asleep in his chair - adorable!

Monday, March 1, 2010

whole lotta bakin goin on

I baked two loaves of whole wheat bread for the first time! I used outdated yeast which did proof (albeit not heartily), but it didn't rise a ton. I was sweating it, but it turned out wonderfully - nice and dense. As H put it, you don't feel like you're being cheated :)

It really has been a delicious treat. I've been craving toast for a long time, and I never could find a consistent source of organic bread. So I did what I tend to do - made my own. How satisfying! I used Martha Stewart's multigrain bread recipe and altered it a bit. I left out the rye flour (since I don't particularly love rye) and used more whole wheat flour instead. I also left out the sunflower seeds since I forgot to buy them - heh. I'm telling you, it really is good bread. Even with old yeast :)

Craving satisfied.

Next, H and I got on a blueberry muffin craze. I was trying to use up some fresh blueberries before they went to mush, and they turned out to be a tasty and healthy dessert. It's been nice to reach for a muffin instead of, say, cake (which *cough* we actually baked yesterday - organic, yummy, and yet...evil). For the muffins, I used this recipe from Williams Sonoma. The cinnamon is great in these.
As you can see in the picture above, I used wax paper liners - I just cut squares from a roll of paper. Cheap, handy and fancy.

This is before I tried that trick, and it was H-E-double-hockey-sticks to get them out of the friggin tin, even though I greased it with butter. Sigh. For my aforementioned evil cake, I tried using wax paper to line the pan, and it was glorious to simply lift the cake out. No sticking, no mess. I used this brand of organic mix, and a separate box of icing mix from the same company. Very good. Very evil.
Next I plan to try apple wheat bran muffins. I must get back to healthy desserts.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Yesterday I made my first sale on Etsy! Yay! I sold three potholders :) I've definitely got to stock my shop soon, so stay tuned!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Painting Again

This painting was fun from first inspiration to final glaze. I got sudden inspiration to sew a funnel in a canvas and tack it to the back of the frame - this way I would get a mysterious receding hole. Then somehow I felt like I had to have something funky growing out of this orifice. Then I thought about how I needed a Christmas gift for my brother and his wife - bingo!

I knew based on their tastes that the colors had to be dark and rich, plus I had gotten my SIL to give me her defective pottery to smash up for paintings - enter the lovely shards you see in the painting.

They are glued down, which was not my first pick on how to attach them. I had first tried "sewing" them down with some nylon thread, but it kept snapping against the sharp edges. I do want to try sewing chunky things to paintings in the future, but I have to make sure they're not sharp. I've been thinking about doing something like this since 2001 when I saw the huge chunks of colored glass (grapefruit sized) wrapped up in wire to form the garden gate at Peggy Guggenheim's museum in Venice. I really must figure out a way to wrap up cool treasures in ropes to form a loose painting surface...

I made the frame for this little painting out of the top bar of the bead curtain my sister gave me in college (I love having power tools handy). It gives a funky shape to the edges which adds to the assemblage feel.

I even signed this one. I usually don't like signing for some reason. I know a lot of artists have a problem viewing their work as a commodity to be sold, and that somehow money is unwelcome in the true creative process. I feel somewhat this way about signing my paintings. In a way, I feel like they are independent creations that transcend the need to be claimed. It seems to me that it would detract from thet piece - tie it down somehow to slap my name on them. What do you think? Does it lessen a work of contemporary art to have a signature? I get a self conscious feeling when I imagine people in museums looking at my painting and noticing my signature on the piece. I would MUCH rather have my name on a little white card next to it on the wall. Perhaps I'm still flenching after seeing so many cathedrals in Italy plastered names of the sponsors and artists. Doesn't the greatest art go beyond all that? But I digress.

The reason I signed this one is because it felt right and special when giving to my brother and SIL. I might feel more like signing my work generally if I can come up with a really cool way to do it. Albrecht Durer's signature is very cool - same initials as me...mmm....

The tree in this painting was really fun to sketch out and paint. I really allowed myself not to care so much about how this painting came together. When I allow myself to incorporate chance as part of the process, and to not worry so much that I overly control the work as it progresses, I find that the result is more satisfying and usually more visually stimulating. I like being surprised as I go - for example, I first painted in the tree with raw sienna because it was the first tube of paint I reached. Once I did the over painting with a dark mixture of blues and reds, I left a few slivers of the sienna to show giving an interesting detail when you look closely. I have some progress shots somewhere that I might post soon so you can see how it looked at various stages.

As much as I love oil paint, it is difficult to beat the instant gratification of acrylic. This is painted entirely with acrylic. It's fun to play with thinned down layers of color over texture. It was especially important to use in this piece because I had to travel with it very soon after I finished it :)

I like to think of this as a collaboration of sorts with my SIL. The pottery is so integral that it would be hard to imagine without it. I never thought of a title for this painting - that's another weakness of mine. I always feel REALLY self conscious about my titles. They either sound way too corny or they don't actually communicate anything important. I hope I can improve on this.
More to come soon!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Teacup Potholder Set

I am so thrilled to share this fun project. I made this set of potholders for my eldest sister for Christmas. I have a similar set I bought ages ago and still use all the time. The little teacups are especially useful for getting hot bowls of soup out of the microwave.

All the fabric is recycled from old clothes, and the flowers were embroidered using this wonderful embroidery blog for guidance. The multicolor yarn was a Christmas gift from my SIL, and the leaves are from recycled yarn from an old scarf.

Isn't it just so fun? I think I might make a few more of these to put in the shop.

I have more to share still, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two Knitted Hats

I bought this brown wool/mohair yarn in 2004 when I first moved to NYC. I was thinking of knitting a hat for my sister. FIVE years later I finally get around to it! I really kinda made up this pattern - I call it the February Beret.

I cast on (long tail) and ribbed for a few rounds. I used EZ's gull pattern from the February baby sweater pattern (Knitter's Almanac) to knit the next 10 rounds or so until I needed to start decreasing. At this point, I began stockinette - the decreases left a lovely star pattern on the top.

It looks awfully dramatic in front of the painting doesn't it? I look like an "artist" - hehe.

This next hat is for my sister's husband. I remembered that he liked the fishtrap pattern from my mom's sweater, so I figured I'd try a fishtrap hat. This is made from my freebie yarn, which honestly I value more than paid for yarn. Go figure. This yarn is so soft and lovely - I do need to add an inch or two as a border since that hat falls a little short. Gotta keep them ears toasty!

I worked on this hat in the car all day long in Columbia when H was doing his mediation training.

It was alternately cozy/nice and cramped/frustrating. Anyway, I hope I won't be doing it again anytime soon. At least I had EZ's fishtrap pattern to keep me alive and entertained :)
More to come!