Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm a Revolutionary

A while back, Big Box Detox recommended a cook book called Jamie's Food Revolution and did a book review on it here.  Detox said the recipes in his book were "fresh, healthy, easy, fast and delicious".  Sweet!  Did I need any more convincing than that? Well...just a little.  She also included a quote from the book which really grabbed my attention. Jamie wanted this book “…to be the catalyst for empowering millions of you to make proper home-cooked, affordable meals from scratch.” Double sweet.  And I must've been feeling revolutionary-ey that day b/c I ordered the book.  

If you're anything like me, you may have a million a few cookbooks sitting around your house that you have every intention of using....but don't.  I hate that.  I really am trying to get into cooking from scratch/more healthy this year.  It's very important to me.  

It's mostly the planning that gets me.  When it comes to cooking - I'm not a great planner.  You have to know what you want to make.  Make a list.  Go shopping (blech) because, go figure, you have to actually have food in the house to cook it.   And it really takes some inspiration and determination to do all that.  To start a new habit.  Get into something. And this book is inspiring.

I like that Jamie talks to you for a minute in the beginning.  You don't have to read that part -  but you should.  I like to know who I'm dealing with and I liked learning about his ideals.  I found him smart, insightful and in-tune with my own views on the subject

I like that the recipes are sophisticated enough to make me feel a little fancy and daring...but not too involved that my meat-and-potatoes family would never eat it or that I'd have to travel to 5 specialty stores to find that one last ingredient.  What a waste.  I'm not that determined.

So for my first attempt, I tried the "Mini Shell Pasta With A Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce".  Yum, right?  

I love all the photos. 
That's everybody - nothing too crazy here. :)
Tell me - when was the last time you got to use fresh mint in a recipe!?  The smell was divine.  So fresh and yummy.  I've got leftover mint too.  I'm thinking a refreshing mint/lemon/ice water is in order.
Isn't it pretty?  I'm loving the greens in this recipe.  And I don't think you can ever go wrong with bacon in a recipe.
And voila!

I thought it was really good.  And easy too.  The flavors played off each other so nicely.  The bacon and Parmesan are such strong, heavy flavors, but the lemon and mint really balanced them well and lightened the whole dish.  I'd definitely make this again.  Jon's review: "It was good."  :) A man of few words.  Works for me!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What I'm working on

A new owl for the shop.  He's a funky kinda fella...

And I've finally broken out my paints.

I've had a hankering for some painting for a long time.  But I've just had so much other stuff on my plate.  And painting for me...I don't know.  It's such a crazy process.  First of all, I really have to have a "vision" in my head before I start because that's what I go on.  I'm not one for sketching things out ahead of time or gridding the canvas out or things like that.  I usually go, almost entirely, on the picture in my head.  So I really have to have a clear idea to start.

And then, once I get going, I'm really transported to another place.  It's a very primal process for me, for lack of a better description.  Very basic.  Very intense.  Not at all like sewing - which I can do while watching a movie.  Or leave off and pick up later.  Painting - I have to ride that pony 'til I'm done, then I can quit for the day.  I love it very much.  I don't know why I left it for so long.  I've missed it. :)

So anyway, I started a little fish series.  I think I have three that I'm going to do.  Starting with this red and white fantail goldfish.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hair today....

I did it!  I finally did it!  I chopped it all off.

If you know me in real life you know that I've been kicking around the idea of chopping all my hair off since before the holidays.  It started because I was getting really sick of my long hair.  Too long, too much time to dry and I never did anything but throw it in a bun anyway - I was bored with it.  But the kicker was that I realized it was long enough to donate to Locks of Love! So it was kind of a no-brainer.

Before: (I took these yesterday after I made the appointment!)

During: (with my lovely and talented stylist, Christy of Glitz Salons)

And after!

And here's one after, after when I got home and couldn't stop looking at myself in the mirror and playing with it:

I've already tried various ponytails (that's a no-go anymore), some headbands, and took a shower...mostly b/c I was itchy...ok, probably equally b/c I wanted to see what it'd feel like!  Ooo!  Pigtails!  Pigtails are definitely first on the list of things to do tomorrow!  Then I promise I'll do something interesting.  That doesn't have to do with my hair.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow days call for snow boots

Woke up this morning to about 8" (or more!) of snow on our recently-melted landscape.  Seriously?  Could we call it good with the snow already?!  I'm so ready for spring.  Like, beyond ready.  I might cry.  Not really...maybe I'll just move to Brazil though.  Anyway, I think the plow guy might've made a quick swipe sometime in the night...before the last 7 1/2" fell, looks like.  Ugh.  And our driveway?  Yeah, right.

Oh well.  The day will not be a loss, of course.  Just means more time for me to work on my projects!  And what better thing to work on during a snow day than some seriously cute boots!?

They're getting there.  Slloooowwly but surely.  I have no idea where I'm gonna find laces.  I'm sure I've got something in the's kind of a matter of finding it though.  I'm pretty sure I've got some leather laces (in my jewelry supplies).  But I'd rather use a more rope-like material, since the whole boot is already made from leather scrap.  And I want those little tabby things on the ends like real shoes.  What do you think?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vests are best!

Eustace is now quite stylin' in his vest.  As I mentioned, it's made of some great vintage fabric I found a while back.  I've been waiting for a really great reason to break into it.  And this vest is just perfect in this material.

I basically tried to pattern it after the shirt.  It came together pretty easily.  I had to re-work the V in the front a couple times but other than that - pretty smooth.  And by pretty smooth, I mean I didn't toss the whole project and stomp out of the craftroom in a rage.

Here's my process for making a Eustace vest:

  • Trace existing shirt onto paper.  
  • Shape into vest - not shirt. 
  • Cut out.  
  • "Try on" Eustace.  Not right.  
  • Trace wrong vest pattern on new paper with corrections.  
  • Try on Eustace.  Not right.  Ugh.  
  • Repeat.  Ah.  Pretty good this time.  
  • Cut fabric - leaving seam allowance....aaaand a little wiggle room just in case "pretty good" isn't good enough.  (Do I know me, or what?)
  • Try it on Eustace.  Not quite right.  (Told ya.)
  • Cut some wonky areas.  
  • Try on Eustace.  Thank goodness - looks like it's gonna work.  
  • Skip the front for now - go sew up the edges b/c I'm getting sick of drawing vest outlines and Eustace is sick of trying them on.  
  • Jam sewing machine because teeny tiny vest seam gets stuck in bobbin thingy.  
  • Rip Gently pry material out of machine cursing and demanding begging my machine not to rip my material.  Phew, got it.  
  • Adjust sewing method -try again.  Got it.  
  • Stop.  
  • Turn.  
  • Sew.  
  • Stop. 
  • Turn. 
  • Sew.  
  • Jam.  &@%$#!! 
  • Finish a couple parts by hand.  
  • Done!  Yay!!  
  • Onto the front... 

Again, I like how it turned out.  And I found the perfect vintage button in under 5 minutes!  That might be a record.

Tonight I'm working on his boots since I found some salvaged suede scraps today in the color/texture I was looking for.  If you ever get the chance to try a craft where you sew some suede by hand - DON'T!  Geesh!  I didn't realize how difficult this was going to be.  Oh well.  I think they'll turn out really well at least.  I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Plaid chic!

Eustace got his shirt!  What do you think?  It took a great many fittings and a lot of pinning and re-pinning.  But in the end, I'd say it turned out pretty well.

Most of the parts are machine sewn.  But all the piece work, like the sleeves and buttons and button holes are hand stitched.  (Eustace himself is complete hand sewn, but I wanted a more machine-done look for the clothes.)

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  And I wanted to do his boots next...but I've got a limited (faux) leather selection and I don't like the colors I have.  When I make something like this, I have a pretty detailed picture in my head beforehand so I know exactly what I'm looking for when I execute a design.  So the boots will have to wait.

Instead, I'm working on his vest tonight.  I'm almost done with it, but I need to choose a button and sew it on and make another button hole.  Sometimes button selection takes me literally an hour.  Isn't that ridiculous?  The shirt buttons were okay because I just re-used the ones it originally had on it.  But the vest is made out of a really cool vintage fabric I've been saving and I want to pick something just right.  And I have like, five button jars now.  Ugh.  Wish me luck!  I'll come back to share when it's done.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Aaron has arrived.

And I simply adore him!  He is beautiful.  He's better than I thought he'd be.  I'm sooo glad he's mine. :)

But lemme back up...I recently discovered this little shop on Etsy called Olive & Earth Knits run by the talented Ms. Jody Lew.  I immediately fell in love with her art dolls.  She also does really cute illustrations, among other things.  So I contacted her just to tell her how much I loved them and to ask her if she had anymore in the works.  She is super sweet and convo'ed me back and suggested a trade!  A trade!  How fun! and how funny too, because I was just talking to Clarence's mom (who also has an Etsy shop, btw) about how awesome I thought the world would be if we all worked on trade.  Like everyone actually had a skill and could trade their work for other's work and it would be a glorious utopia of peace and love and skill-trading.  Ahhh.  :) But I digress...

Anyway, so Jody picked her favorite beaver and off went Josephine and here is my brand new Olive & Earth original!!!  Do you love him?  I highly recommend you get one.  I mean, I'm of the camp that everyone should collect plush & art dolls, but maybe that's just me.  So don't get one if you don't want.  But I still highly recommend you do. ;)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eustace is too sexy for his shirt

Well he's that sexy for at least another day or so.  At least he has pants now.  Which fit him perfectly, I might add.

I have most of the shirt  done actually.  I just have to sew the sleeves on.  And I finished those today during my lunch hour at work. :)  And then I have to hope this whole thing looks and fits like a shirt when it's done...because I've never made a shirt in my life.  Let alone a little mini-sized one.  This is what I've got so far:

Except for, like I said, I finished the cuffs on the sleeves today, so they're lookin a bit better than ^.  The collar of Eustace's shirt is actually made of the sleeve cuff of the shirt I took this fabric from.  So that saved me a lot of shaping and stitching there.  And then the "vest" part of the shirt is just from the sleeve, as well as the arms.  I took me a couple fittings with Eustace.  But he's a patient kind of guy, so it was alright.  Progress, people, progress!!  And I'm loving him loving him loving him!!

Right now I'm waiting for Jon to get home.  He's bringing us BWWs for dinner.  Mmmmmm!  And then it's off to the craftroom!  I'm hoping to get to his boots tonight!

Oh, and PS, yes, that's Beauty and the Beast in the background.  I was watching it while I sewed. <3

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Antiquin' on our lazy Sunday

Jon and I went over to Town Hall Antiques today.  I've told you about it before.  We go probably about once a month or so.  Just to get our "bygone era" fix and see if anything new has come in.

They're currently having a Valentine's sale - there were lots of really cute vintage valentines.  I loved this one especially - it fans out and is meant to stand on a table or something.

Isn't it adorable?  I love old valentines. 

Aside from that, I was really drawn to a few great folksy/Scandinavian/Dutch-y pieces - like this adorable couple:  

If I needed a pair of hard working, stern-looking folk artdolls - these would be mine already.  Alas - I've decided I can't buy everything, just because I like it.  (Or maybe Jon decided that - either way, it's true.)  

I loved the colors in this ^ display.  Lots of bright yellows, reds and that great vintage seafoamy green.  And I fell in love with this coffee pot...

Sadly, again, I just don't need it.  Try as I did, I couldn't figure out any reason to bring it home with me.  But it's really cute, isn't it?  And perfect condition.  Sigh.

I didn't come home entirely empty-handed though!  I found some great! vintage fabric.  

Town Hall usually doesn't have fabrics - so I was surprised, and really excited, to find them.  There was quite a nice little stash and I would've taken home a lot more, but buying vintage fabric from an antique store does not really coincide with my thrifty nature.  So my two favorites was the limit. :)  

And I also found this adooooorable little cuckoo clock!!

Look at the little mushrooms!  And all the hand painted details!  And it just about fits in my hand it's so little.  Could you die?  Jon did not share my enthusiasm for this one.  So my mini cuckoo collection (Jon's dad gave me one a little while ago - and I hope to find a couple more this summer at the shows) will probably be hung in the craft room.  I love it!  

PS: I just finished some pants for Eustace!!  I'll come back and show you soon.  Until then - I'm off to work on his shirt.  Ooooo, little clothes!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eustace in all his nakey glory!

Eeeeeeeee!!!!  Are you so excited?!  Look at him!  He's all together and stuff!  And don't be trying to peek at his naughty parts....well, not that he actually has naughty parts...but don't be peekin behind his loinleaf anyway.  I just didn't think it fitting for a grown man doll to be all completely naked for his internet debut.  Actually, he's not really that modest.  As a matter of fact, he told me that he did one of those naked "polar bear" dips up in Canada once with a group of his caravan buddies.   (Apparently he and a group of friends caravaned across the U.S. in their Airstreams in their younger days too.  He seems pretty adventurous, from what I'm finding out now that he has a mouth.)

I may have some small adjustments to make still.  I have to give him a once over to see that he's up to snuff.  And then I'll send him over to Quality Control (aka: Jon - my second pair of perfectionist eyes) to pass inspection.  But I just couldn't wait to share with you so far!!  Next step - clothes!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eustace gets a body!

This is one of my absolute favorite parts!

This is where we find out if my pattern was any good - where we see if my careful placement and re-placement of limbs and stitches ended up where I actually intended them to be.

It never fails - I get the same feeling every time.  :)  Once I'm all done stitching.....I give myself a moment......allow the tiny butterflies to form......then slowly turn my work inside out......carefully pulling and excitement building.....

And then! Sweet relief!  And everytime - a small amount of disbelief.  Like a mini-miracle has just occurred.  I don't think I'm actually doubting myself, really.  It's more a fascination with the process I think.  I never get over it that if I think up A, and I draw out B, and I do some cutting and sewing of C & D, that I will inevitably end up with beautiful alphabet soup.  And in this case - a cute little Eustace body!

What do you think?!  *Sigh*  I really do love plushie making.

Ooooo!  I know what he needs!!  Can you guess what it is?  I'll give you a begins with "b" and ends with "elly button".

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In the craftroom...

I'm so super-giddy-beyond-stoked about this next project!!  I'm trying my hand at my very own first art doll!  Eeeeee!

Why am I trying this?  Well.....geesh, as I'm thinking about it, I guess there's really a lot more reasons than I thought....

  • First, there are a number of artists I've found through Etsy who are super duper talented and who have inspired me immensely.  They've made me want to push myself in general - to be more productive, to stay on-task with my business goals.  I see them doing it, and I know I'm not alone in my crazy dream.  More specifically, they've made me want to try to create a more "character" kind of plush art.  I love the stories behind the more complex dolls and I wanted to try something like that.  In case you'd like to check them out, and I hope you do, here are are some of my absolute favorites: Marathon1981, Olive&EarthKnits, YermitsSimpliJessi, and CaraCarmina.  (I definitely have a lot more plush artist favorites in general - these gals are more "doll" focused though.)
  • Second, I read a lot.  In the book I'm currently reading, I came across the name "Eustace Thoroughgood".  How awesome is that name?!  I don't know why, but it kind of gave me a little push - the same night I "discovered" that name, I started designing my doll.  
  • I love little stuff.  Everytime I come across an art doll I like, I obsess over all the cute little clothes and/or accessories and details it has.  I want to make some.  :)
  • And lastly, and probably most importantly, I'd like to take my Etsy shop in different directions.  I don't know, ultimately, which way I'm headed...but I never want to stop trying new things. 
Okay.  That's enough reasons.  Wanna see what I've got going on so far?!  

Isn't he cool?!  His hair and beard are cut from a faux fur.  And I'm also trying, for the first time, fabric paint.  So far, so good!  His eyes I bought specifically for him b/c I didn't have any vintage ones that were just right.

I swear...I have a never-ending supply of assistance around here.

And this is after I got all the limbs sewn up.  Oooooooooo!!! the carnage!  Hee hee - it's funny seeing a pile of mini-limbs.  (Those are his ears in the front, in case you're wondering.)

And what am I watching while sewing piles of limbs....?

Ooooh, yeah. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Treasury Love

I needed some bright and cheery today.  Thanks DoveBird!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Couldn't Resist II

Here's another Etsy item that has been lingering on my Favorites wishlist for faaaarrr too long.
ALL photos credited to: LauraGeorge
The artist is inspired.  She's great.  Her work is beautiful.  Uplifting.  Folksy.  Simple.  Fun.  Original.  I just love her stuff.  The one I purchased (above) is my absolute favorite, although it was clearly a tough decision...

Check her Etsy shop out HERE.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I won I won I won!!!

Ohmigoodness, I can't tell you how excited I was when the gals at the Green Eyed Monster blog contacted me last week to tell me I had WON!!! this awesome Slit Neck Tee from BePresent, Inc.  And I am not one of those people who wins stuff, so I was super stoked!  And yesterday, it came!!! 

Please excuse the half-cocked, high-flash photos.  Lets just say photography is not in Jon's career future.  Although I do appreciate his efforts. :)
It's absolutely gorgeous.  So soft.  So comfortable.  So well-made.  I absolutely love it.  And get this: it's made of 95% Tencel which is "a biodegradable fiber produced using wood pulp from farms that practice sustainability".  How cool is that?!  And I love the company's philosophy "to exist in the current moment" & "to be inspired by life".  If you're feeling in the shopping mood, please go to the BePresent website and check out the goods.  

And if I could jump up on my soapbox for a moment, I'd like to address an issue that came up when my other half, exclaimed, "Pssssh, I don't care how unbelievably cute that shirt is, it's not worth that much!"  (Ok, so maybe he didn't say the whole "unbelievably cute" part - close enough.)  As you're browsing the site, keep in mind, the clothes that we're used to seeing in department stores and places like Walmart or Target, are generally cheaply made, and done so outside of our country.  The people making those clothes are usually grossly underpaid.  It's unethical.  And it creates a big carbon footprint shipping these goods.  (Not that I have anything against goods made outside the U.S. - I just think supporting our local businesses more than we currently do would be a healthy step for our country, both environmentally and economically speaking.  And I think that'd hold true for any country.)  Also, BePresent (and other like-companies) have invested a lot of extra time and expense to build and maintain the farm and processes used to produce the goods they make - the material itself is far more expensive.  No cheap chemically processed fibers here.  In short, similar to organic foods - there's a lot more expense involved in superior/more environmentally friendly/healthier goods.

As I got older, I started getting interested in and did a lot of research on the concept of "planned obsolescence" in our world.  It's bullhucky. 

I, for one, believe that buying from "companies who care" is definitely a worthwhile expense.  I also believe that investing in good clothing is not only smart money-wise, but is also better for our planet, as they won't fall apart in a year and have to be tossed into a landfill.  When I hit it rich, I will unquestionably buy all of my clothing from companies with environmentally sound practices.  Until then, I'll continue to buy second hand, make do, and make my own.  And I love it.  

And a big fat THANK YOU to GreenEyedMonster and BePresent!  And thanks to YOU, lovely reader, for listening. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Identity crisis aside...introducing, Geraldine

So I've decided HE is not a HE but a SHE.  (That would explain why she didn't want to be named Winston.)  Ladies and gentlemen, meet: Geraldine.

Ahem, over here, Geraldine.

Ah, there we go.  (Notice she happens to be modeling atop a set of vintage suitcases I recently picked up a'la craigslist.  Sweet score!)  And she is in the shop. <3

Friday, February 4, 2011

I'm still here...

Sorry for my mini hiatus.  I've been near death (okay, that might be a little dramatic...but only a little) since last Saturday.  I don't know what it was.  I'm not big on doctors.  Or medicine.  I tend to just ride things out.  Anyway, I'm almost back to normal now and I wanted to stop in! :)

Before my near death experience, I started working on a couple beavers.

This one was going to be Winston...

...but now that he's done...

...I don't feel like he's very Winstony.  I mostly liked the name b/c his left....wait, no, his right, my left...eye looked like a monocle to me.  And I thought he would have a very distinguished air about him because of it.  Now...not so sure.  I'll have to get to know him better.

(It's seriously hard to type under these conditions:
And God forbid you move him.  You'll get bit.  And he comes right back anyway.  Sigh.  Just thought you'd like to know the bloodsweatandtears that go into my blog posts for you guys.)

Also just before I got sick, we went to an estate sale where they were filming the HGTV series "Cash & Cari".  It was pretty neat!  Have you seen the show?  We watch it every week.  There's probably an added draw for us b/c she's local.  She has a vintage store about an hour away.  Maybe a daytrip in the future?  Anyway, we saw Cari.  And a couple of her girls that we see on the show quite a bit.  And we found quite a few really great items!

A couple of the treasures I found are going in the shop.  This beautiful lady's clutch is already in there!

And this sock, mouse will be going in this weekend.   I had never seen a sock mouse before!  I couldn't leave him. :)

K.  I'm off to do some more recovering from my couch.  Oh!  And I have a meatloaf in the oven!  I forgot about that.  I'm trying ground turkey instead of ground beef this time.  Wish me luck. :)