Friday, May 18, 2012


I am so excited about this post that I couldn't even think of a proper title, only an emotion and an action.

 AGHHHHHH!!!!!=deliriously excited screaming.

Why so excited? Because this Mother's Day, a dream of mine came true.

KookyKrafts was one of the first shops I discovered on etsy, after becoming a member a couple of years ago. Full of crazy, colorful and, well, kooky, faux cake sculptures, vintage doll parts and chenille sculptures, KookyKrafts is described in the store's tagline as "Martha Stewart on acid". So true, and so good. I wish I could buy the whole store ou! (Oh if only I were independantly wealthy...) Beatrice Moore, the shopkeep and sculptor extraordinaire, has the most fabulously quirky talent I have ever seen. Her cake sculptures are definitely a unique niche.

I have been stalking her shop forever, as I just haven't been able to decide on just one cake to start my collection out with, because I love them all so much, but I finally took the plunge and ordered myself a fascinator and a teeny cake as my Mother's Day gifts this year. And yes, I order my own gifts for most holidays, because The Husband never knows what to get me and is practically computer illiterate(BY HIS OWN DANG CHOOSING), so he just tells me to get whatever the heck I want. So I do.

Upon opening my package from Beatrice, I literally let out a squeal of excitement and mirth. These pieces are amazing! Even better in person than the fantastic pictures suggest. The cake is just too real looking, and the vintage decorations are just too adorable. I'm not sure why I picked the baby cake-maybe my biological clock is trying to tell me something?!?! And the fascinator is just too much fun. You literally cannot be unhappy when wearing it. The vintage bump chenille is just so festive and oozes carnival charm. The little bit of "frosting" and sparkles in the middle add extra sweetness and texture.

I could not love these little beauties more.

Can you tell I am excited?!?!

Seriously, these are two of my favorite gifts EVER. If you have a quirky mom, wife, girlfriend, mother-to-be, WHATEVER in your life, check out Beatrice's shop. And if you are lucky enough to live in Phoenix, you can VISIST HER BRICK AND MORTAR SHOP!!!!

And then I'll probably have to stab you out of jealousy.

Totally kidding. I'd never stab anybody.

Unless you bought out her whole shop, you greedy bugger you. Then I'd have, like, legal grounds for inflicting bodily harm unto you.

Or something like that...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We spent the morning working in the yard today, and started several projects, the most significant being a rock garden for The Kid, but we didn't actually complete the garden as it will be a work in progress type of endeavor. Since we didn't really finish anything, I just took photos of a few sights around the yard.

Pots waiting for plants.
Freshly washed sea shells.
A robin's egg.
Keepin' it classy.
Once upon a time, this rock garden was a fountain.
This was the original bathroom sink. The Husband built a stand for it so we can plant annuals each year.
Guardian o'er the carrots.
Sweet Columbine.
Pretty wild flowers.
The work of The Kid.
The Kid's new rock/shell/brick garden.
Everytime we go somewhere, she adds new rocks. I cannot wait to see how it grows!

Simple pleasures are most definitely the best!

Mother's Day Pretties

I always love to buy plants as Mother's Day gifts for the moms in my life, and also give them a little something sweet to show my appreciation for them. This year I decided to make them something personal that could change as their tastes change. I found these fun, silver tone frame pendants(on etsy) that were perfect for housing small pieces of embroidery or cross stitch, and decided to start them off with something simple, an initial. Simple, clean and goes with anything. But, should they want something a little more complex or interesting later on, we can easily remove the initials and replace them with another piece of needle work.

They both seemed to really enjoy their handmade present, and to be honest, I am jonesing for one myself now.

The best part about these necklaces, is that just about anyone could make one. Even those who think they aren't crafty, could handle making one of these. As The Kid gets older, I'll be helping her to create new patches to replace the ones I made. I think the grandmas will just about pee themselves with excitement over that.

And really, isn't that what Mother's Day is all about? Getting brownie points?


 Kinda, sorta, maybe.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cupcake Gone Wild

And by wild I mean, nature wild, NOT New Orleans beads and bourbon wild...

I have a real love/hate relationship with nature.

I mean, I love home grown produce and rainy days and baby bunnies as much as the next girl, but nature has a tendency to be so...dirty. And hot. And full of bugs and other things with stingers and things that would just as soon eat me as eat my garden. Nature and I, we just struggle to get along.

You see, I have see through Irish skin that sunburns after five minutes of riding in the car. Apparently it is also attractive to bugs, because I am always turning up with weird mystery bites on my skin that nobody else in my house gets the joy of receiving. I get hot embarrassingly quickly, and when I get hot I turn fifty shades of lobster red and sweat like a McDonald's cup full of soda in the summer. It is SO ladylike. I also have some sort of allergy to mold and dirt, because I cannot walk through the potting soil aisle, or down into my dungeonous basement, without my throat closing up and practically suffocating me. Nature knows that I am not fond of her, and therefore will not allow me to keep any plants, that I try to grow indoors or out, alive.

So, of course, my daughter is madly in love with rocks, trees, dirt, dirty water puddles and sticks and stuff. Of. Course.

Thankfully she has a father who is all over that crap. So I let him do all the naturey stuff with her. And his naturey goodness has helped my garden and flowerbeds to produce better than they ever have since I have owned this house.

Don't worry, I am getting to the point here soon.

We wanted to do something different for her birthday this year, but after a handmade Christmas, Valentine's day and Easter I was a little tapped out for ideas of things to make her.

Lucky for me, I came across the totally awesome and creative Anji Marth of paperanji on etsy. She also has an art shop and a print shop there, with some truly unique and amazing pieces of artwork. She was talking about terrariums in a forum on etsy and it struck me that a terrarium would be the PERFECT gift for a kid who loves rocks, dirt and plants. Terrariums can be small, are fully contained, can hold diverse contents and can be given the room to grow, evolve and change. They can be extremely simple and low maintenance, with just occasional watering, but can become more complex as you add new specimens, to your container. What a fabulous, ongoing, science and biology lesson for a kid! The learning can start off very basic and simple at my daughter's age, but grow into much more complex thought, discussion and research as she gets older. It doesn't get much better than that.

So I ordered some little specimens from Anji and we found a fishbowl for two bucks at a local consignment shop(It was on sale for half off!). When the box arrived, we made a big production out of opening it with her, and I kid you not, I have never seen a person so excited to open a box of rocks and itty bitty plants. She whooped and hollered, jumped and squealed, so excited that somebody had sent her "A wok! A wok!"

We added a few of her rocks that she had been saving, and a little dirt, and this is what we ended up with...

I don't know about you, but I think it is beautiful, and fascinating. It is like this tiny, alien planet, here in my little house. I sit and stare at it and imagine little beings hiding under the rocks and greenery, waiting for my prying eyes to pass on by before they come out to play. The Kid and I like to discuss these beings and what they might look like and how they might live.

And when I am by myself, I find it very relaxing and peaceful to just stare into the little terrarium and let my eyes wander over and consume the many unique shapes, colors and textures that my mind just gets lost in.

The Husband liked putting it together so much that he went and bought a second fish bowl to make another. We think we'll be putting tiny succulents into that one.

My favorite thing about our little terrarium, is that it was put together as something to entertain and teach The Kid, but it has really turned into something that entertains and is teaching all of us. And, I think that learning together as a family is just as important as us teaching her what we already know. It may actually be even more important, so that she will grow up realizing that nobody, no adult, knows everything about anything, but rather, we are all in constant states of learning as the world changes and grows. Because even as adults, the things we thought we knew are often challenged or they evolve until we know something different.
It is best to keep an open mind, I truly believe. If I had kept my mind closed, I wouldn't have this amazing little mosaic of nature(that doesn't sunburn me, bite me or suffocate me) which is so greatly enriching the lives of my family.
Some people just see a terrarium, or a fishbowl of dirt and plant matter, but to me, it represents a diving board to new realms of possibility and ways of thinking.
I can see the effects already. Yesterday I spent an hour digging in the dirt, transplanting seeds I started a month ago, and I didn't even worry about the sweat or grime. Last weekend I rode on the back of The Husband's Harley for the first time in the four years we have been together. For the first time in my life! It was a big step for someone as anxiety ridden and neurotic as me who has feared motorcycles pretty much her entire life.
Isn't it funny and wonderful, how something which seems so small can turn out to be so big?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What I Did Today(But Really It Was Last Week...)

I HATE having idle hands. I totally have an idle body, judging by how fat I am, but I rarely have idle hands. They are always making something.

Sometimes I get really bored or stressed and need an activity that those hands can do on autopilot. One of my favorite things to make, during those times, is beaded necklaces.

ANYBODY can make a beaded necklace. You only need three tools-beads, something to string the beads onto and something to secure the thing you are stringing the beads onto. The simplest method is to tie beads onto a string, but I like something a little more secure, especially when it comes to my pretty vintage and glass beads.

This is my favorite way to go-

Beading wire, jewelry pliers and some sort of clasp. (I wrapped my wire around a piece of junk mail because it kept getting tangled up.)

Here are some of my latest stress relievers. I use a lot of vintage bits and baubles collected from thrift stores, my granny and various other random places. (I am a total pack rat).

Dyed howlite and a vintage turquoise pendant.

Plastic sheriff's badge from Hey Yo Yo on etsy, glass, plastic and wooden stash beads.

Another sheriff's badge and a bunch of odds and ends from my stash.

This pendant and earrings were in the stash bag I brought back from Texas. I added the beads, of course.

Really random bits, mostly vintage beads from broken necklaces.

Pendant from the Texas stash, polymer clay roses made by me, lots of vintage beads.

One of those heart lockets like you used to get in Valentine chocolate, and lots of vintage beads.

A wooden arrowhead from The Husband's youth, a vintage wooden Monopoly house and miscellaneous beads.

Polymer clay roses, made by me, and new and vintage beads.
None of these are incredibly amazing or anything, as I am not reinventing the wheel here. They are just some nice, simple, colorful, stress relieving pieces to add to my daily wardrobe.

Because, you know, beaded necklaces look fabulous with pajamas and/or oversized Nirvana/Rush/Michael Jackson tour tee shirts...

Brandy Cupcakes Makes Cakes

...that would definitely qualify as Cake Wrecks.

So, recently, we had three birthdays in my family, all occurring around the same weekend. I decided to have a little party and make a cake for each birthday boy/girl. They spanned the ages and interests, from 3 to 20's to 60's, so rather than stress myself out with fondant and pretty crap, I decided to take the easy way out and go for funny, as per usual. All cakes and frostings are entirely made from scratch. So cut me some slack, flapjack.

Here's what we ended up with.

For my mother in law,(the 60's) I decided to go with a hunky man topped cake. Hunky man is lying on billowy piles of icing which could be either flower petals, or a huge, sexy floor pillow. I let her decide. This cake was chocolate strawberry with strawberry buttercream frosting.

He's sexy and he knows it.

Next up was my brother. I decided to go the same route as Mominlaw's cake. SEX appeal!

So I put a boobtacular little blonde with a  gingham "bandanna" tied around her goods in his "cake". He believes in birthday brownies, so technically, his "cake" was mint cookies and cream brownies. For some reason, the blue "Happy birthday stud!!!" icing bled sometime during the night after I made the brownies...*sadface*

Now, I tried to keep everything PG, but then someone had to go and do THIS-

My three year old niece told me that this "barbie" was "inappropriate".

Nobody ever did fess up.

Finally, there was the grand finale of the birthday cakes-my daughter's. The kid is into many things, at this all important time of her life, and I tried to include them all in her cake. Batman, Scooby Doo, glitter, sprinkles, LaLa Loopsy, dirt, rocks, trees, stars, rings and Superman were all on the agenda.

There was really only one way to accomplish this.

A birthday volcano cake!!!

This cake was three tiers of yellow, one of chocolate, with strawberry buttercream, chocolate buttercream and chocolate cinnamon frostings. I thought the thing was a gaudy abomination, but everybody loved it. And we ate cake for an eternity, despite sending truckloads home with everybody else.

The cool thing about making funny cakes, is that you never disappoint anybody(as long as they have a sense of humor), because everybody laughs. Instead of critiquing your cakes, they are chucking over YOUR fabulous sense of humor.

It's a win win, really.

So, don't be afraid to forgo pulling your hair out over fancy buttercream roses or fondant butterflies and toadstools every once in a while.

Funny can still be quite tasty. Especially when made from scratch. With buttercream and chocolate. And LOTS of sanding sugar...