Friday, January 31, 2014

Let Me Collect My Thoughts

I know, I know. I was a terrible blogger this past week.

I do have excuses.

The baby has been teething. I had totally forgotten just how awful that can be. His darned teeth are taking their time rising up, too. It might not have beeen so bad for him, had they just appeared overnight, but they are taking their sweet time. The two coming up now have broken through the gum, but they are refusing to pop up all the way. Everyday we see a little bit more of each tooth, but the nights are long and restless and painful for the little guy.

Needless to say, we've all be kinda tired. Plus, The Husband had some days off, so we were doing some runnin' and a LOT of work around the house. We've been spring cleaning.

Plus, it has been cold. Cold=unproductive. And puffy marshmallow down filled coats. And upcycled turbans. And waiting for a half hour in the car for the baby to finish his nap while everybody else goes inside.

And now there's this going on outside...

THIS has put a halt to spring cleaning. We are supposed to get five to seven inches. Kinda hard to get in the spring cleaning mood when you've got piles of snow to look forward to shoveling.

This is the road in front of our house.

I can honestly say that I've officially had my fill of snow for the year. I would not be sad if there were no new snow for the rest of the season.

But, this is Iowa. So, I know that won't be happening...

I recently placed an order from my new favorite place to blow money(heh heh) and buy gifts, Perpetual Kid.

The FedEx dude dropped off the package, and I about had a heart attack when I tore open the box and this thing jumped out from among the packing peanuts...

Yes, he has a peanut tucked into his gaping mouth!

One of my favorite purchases from Perpetual Kid is a pair of Shwings I ordered for The Kid.

She is so excited!

I bought a matching pair for myself.

She is so...NOT excited! Ha!

The Husband and I went for Chinese food, a couple days ago, while The Kid went to the beauty parlor with her grandma. My fortune was particularly poignant.

I cannot tell you why this is so poignant, at this time, only that I am working on something big. Something that I have wanted for a very long time. Something that will have to occur in stages, and may take a couple of years to bring to full fruition, but that I have recently taken the first steps towards achieving.

In addition to the hopefully predictive fortune, the waitress brought me TWO little takeout boxes for my leftover Princess Chicken when I only needed ONE, so I got a free cute little box to stash stuff in!

Please tell me that I am not the only person in the world who would be excited by that...

Babycakes is getting more and more difficult to nurse, so I'm trying to express enough milk to give him a bottle at bed time. He seems to sleep a little longer before that first night waking if he's had a bottle. We're talking two or three hours versus forty minutes, so it is a worthwhile endeavor. Problem is, it is very difficult to come up with enough milk. I have been researching galactagogues, and decided to try as many of them as I can, in order to boost my milk supply.

I've not tried the fabled fenugreek yet, but I am eating carrots and oats and trying to time feeds out so that I can have a dark beer at night. Yes, I read that dark beer is a galactagogue. If that is false information, please don't let me know. I've been enjoying the occasional treat of a beer and a rice pudding cup.

I am a simple girl. What can I say? And for the record, this Snowdrift Vanilla tastes nothing like a snowdrift or vanilla. But it is not too bad. I'm not one for beer, aside from Guinness, so I make The Husband finish what I cannot. Ha.

Speaking of The Husband, he's been finishing up the paint job on the fireplace.

I know mint green is sort of a love it or hate it color(I don't know too many people who have neutral feelings about mint green), and not a color that most people would put on a fireplace, but I LOVE IT. It makes me so happy every time I look at it. Life is too short to live in a house painted in "safe" colors that you are not completely in love with...

Finally, I've been working, very slowly, on an illustration.

I'm thinking that it might be done by Christmas, if I continue on at the pace I'm currently working. Ha.

With all the snow, and The Husband going back to work, I'll be much better about posting, this next week, since I will be trapped staying at home. I'm getting back to making items to sell at shows as well, and will hopefully be posting sneak peeks at new items soon, too.


Stay warm, my friends!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Take A Hike, Jack

The Husband and I went on a little trek, last week. We were at his parents' house when he started telling me about a little place in the woods that he used to wander to as a kid. I asked if he would take me, but he did not really want to. He warned that it was a good distance away, and it was sort of cold. And really muddy. I was intrigued, so I  pleaded, just a bit, and gave him the kitten eyes until he agreed to take me.

We left the kids with his parents, then I hiked up my maxi skirt and we set out across a corn field, full of brittle chaff and stiff root bundles and mud that seemed to be full of suction cups. We crossed a small patch of dried grasses, which pulled the caked mud from our shoes, and a ditch full of frozen snow. Another muddy field, marked by the sharp, woody remains of bean plants was next to be crossed. Eventually, we reached the woods. He took me to a little hill which overlooked a little valley and frozen stream. It was a beautiful scene. The trees, so naked, made for a wonderfully clear view. The white of the snow and the blackness of the dirt were punctuated here and there by brilliant green moss that was thriving on dead and decaying bits of tree bark. Rusty colored oak leaves littered the ground like the confetti aftermath of a big parade.

We stood awhile, listening to the quiet sounds of the wind through the trees and cheery birds. We pondered what it must have been like to be pioneers, seeing these sights for the very first time, and romanticized about being farmers. It is not the first time we've dreamed about the farm life, but we both know it is much harder than romanticizing leads you to believe, and we just are not sure that we have the fortitude or endurance and discipline required to make a go of farming.

He mused that being a young boy and having free reign over some rarely traversed woods was a fabulous way to grow up. I conceded that it probably was, but that there was no way I could ever let our kids out to wander without adult supervision. Too paranoid.

We were on our way back to the bean field when we noticed a gully full of junk, and my inner archaeologist(or treasure hunter, or picker, or pirate!) came out. I wanted to explore.

And so we did.

Unfortunately the ground was still fairly frozen, so it was difficult to pick up much of anything. The Husband found a few little bitty glass bottles that were half way exposed, and after much digging, scraping and picking, using bits of metal, sticks and some broken plastic combs we found, we were able to unearth our little treasures.

We also picked up a few rusty metal lids, and this big ole can.

And part of a faucet.

I think we are going to turn the can into a lamp, and the faucet into a wall hook.

As we made our way back across the fields, our cheeks pink and our noses running, with mud squishing and plant remains crunching underfoot, I couldn't help but feel a little giggly and excited, like a kid who had just partially realized their dream of becoming a Boxcar Child.

The Husband and I do not get a lot of alone time together anymore, now that we've got a baby and a kid, so it probably seems like a silly way to spend what little time we did have, but I tell you, we had more fun that afternoon than we had in I don't even know how long. And, his willingness to keep working towards freeing those little bottles from the earth(even though I knew he was ready to quit) just to please his treasure eyed wife(I wasn't going home without treasure, darn it!), was just a testament to how much the man loves me. Even when I am absorbed by a sudden, crazy obsession. The man loves me.

We joke that the bottles are probably worth about ten cents, because they are not antiques or anything, but to me, they are priceless. They are a happy memory in the shape of a cheap glass bottle, and a reminder to not get so caught up in our grown up lives, that we let the magic of nature and discovery and adventure escape us.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Few More Cardboard Kid Crafts

Ever since we stumbled across an unopened box of brads hiding out in my desk, we've gone cardboard crazy. Each time we finish one project, The Kid thinks up another.

First it was the little paper doll.

Then, a bigger paper doll.

Then, some toilet paper tube vehicles.

"Choo choos", as The Kid says.

Who knows where our imaginations will take us next?

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Paper Doll Named Alice

The Kid and I made a paper doll.

She was pretty excited.

She named it "Alice Not From Wonderland".

We made it from the cardboard backing from a pad of "chore sheets" that her aunt and uncle gave her for Christmas. Oh, and some Sharpies and brads.

I'm the dingbat who photographed it while wearing a hot pink maxi skirt that reflected onto the white background.

It was a fun little craft for a winter afternoon.

And I'll never take photos in a hot pink floor length skirt ever again...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chazz And Snoops

A couple of summers ago, I found some heavy, vintage ceramic(Or plaster? I don't really know...) blanks at the SalArmy. I think they are supposed to be Charlie Brown and snoopy, but I'm not a big Peanuts fan(sacrilege, I know), so I decided to have a little fun and give them my signature Sharpie line treatment.

I started them when I bought them, but only recently finished them up.

See, I was serious about tying up all these loose craft ends!

I love how they turned out. I really do.

You probably cannot tell from the photos, but they are pretty generously sized doo dads, too. Chazz is probably about nine or ten inches tall. I'm too lazy to measure, but I know he's just a little shorter than a Barbie doll. But much heavier. I'm using them as "paper weights" on my desk.

Does anybody actually ever use paper weights as weights for paper?

At any rate, they are simply weird, wacky, whimsical art objects. They were quite fun to doodle on, but the sort of project that I don't see myself doing more than once.

At least not with Sharpies. Paint, on the other hand, I am definitely considering. Seeing my normal 2D style designs in 3D are pretty cool.

Right after I finish up the four million, one hundred and thirty thousand, three hundred and forty-two other projects I've got queued up first...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fruit Island

I'm trying to take better care of my body by eating more fruits and veggies.

No, really!

 I am.


So, I've set up this little fruit island in the kitchen, that way my goodies are always out in the open, in plain view of my constantly hungry eyes and body.

Why am I showing you this?

Because I forgot to show y'all the cool, vintage, commercial bread pan that I bought a while back.

At least, I think that's what it is. I can't imagine a home cook having one of these things. It is seriously heavy. As far as loaf pans go, anyway.

I've entertained the idea of using it to bake bread in, but for now, it makes a wonderful vessel for fruit and veggie storage.

Maybe if I eat more of those fruits and veggies, I'll actually be able to lift the dang thing when it is full of bread dough...

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Few Weekend SalArmy Finds

I say "weekend", but really, they are from Friday. Friday was the first day of our family's weekend, since The Husband works a weird schedule. The kids were antsy from being cooped up inside for a week, and the weather wasn't too terrible, so we went a thriftin'.

My favorite find of the day was these vintage "Bobbsey Twins" books. I had some of these books as a child and I adored them. I'm hoping my kids will enjoy them too. I love the simple, wholesome stories, and I really, really love the vintage artwork.

What is it about vintage story book art that is so darned appealing? Maybe it is the doll like way that children and animals are depicted? I'm thinkin' it is that. At any rate, the cute, black line drawings have clearly influenced my own illustrations. My characters almost always have those wide, unrealistic eyes and chubby faces.

I also picked up three pieces of Pyrex.

Two featuring green daisies

And one oval snowflake casserole dish with lid.

Finally, I bought these cute, vintage poodle planters to start a few herb sprouts in. I'd like to have a little windowsill herb garden in the kitchen this year, and I think this couple of cuties will be the perfect addition.

The craziest thing about all these purchases, is that they were ON SALE. As if buying things at SalArmy wasn't cheap enough, they give you sale prices, based on the color of the item's tag. So instead of paying two bucks a piece for the books, I paid one. Instead of three and four dollars for the bowls, I paid two something and three dollars. I don't even remember what I paid for the snowflake dish, but it was only eight to start out with, and it came with a perfectly good lid, so it was a steal to begin with.

The only bad part of this deal is that the glass and ceramic pieces have to be hand washed. I've only had a dish washing machine for seven months, but it has made me completely lazy in the dish washing department.

FYI, never never wash your old Pyrex in the dishwasher. You can cause the painted finishes to dull, or be removed completely. You should also be careful when rinsing or washing with super hot water, even when hand washing. I once had an old piece of depression glass shatter into a million pieces, in my hand, because I rinsed it in water that was too hot.


Actually, compared to the aftermath of that bad decision, uneventful hand washing sounds like a blast.

So, off I go!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Moustache And Specs

Apparently, I make a pretty good looking man.

Just thought that you should know.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Wonkiest Of Little Flower Quilts

One of my goals for this year is to complete all the millions(that may, or may not be an exaggeration) of half finished projects that I've got hanging around the studio. And hiding in the living room. And stashed in my desk. It seemed like an easily attainable goal when I made it, but that was before I had a mobile baby who is attracted to everything he should not be(electronic cords, my phone, busting through baby barriers), and illness after illness for me and the kids.

I swear, I think I've been sick more this past year of life than any other that I have lived. I was trying to get over a head cold last week and now I've been diagnosed with ear infections and lots of fluid in the ears. My head feels like a balloon full of sloshing water every time I stand up, and my ears feel like I'm wearing headphones made of hot pokers over them. Everything is muffled. And ouchie.

But, enough of my whining, let's get back to the topic at hand. Unfinished projects.

So, when I made the two patchwork quilts for Babycakes, that I showed you several posts back, I also made a quilt top for The Kid. Unfortunately, between buying and renovating the new house, giving birth and adjusting to having double the amount of children to care for, The Kid's quilt top ended up packed away(though not forgotten).

Until this past month when I rediscovered it and began working on it again. I had to take a break while working on Christmas gifts, but I picked it back up a couple of weeks ago and began the finish work. The Kid is pretty tickled by how it turned out.

The Kid chose all of the fabrics(everything from Dora to Princesses to vintage hippie) from my stash, and some of them were pretty small scraps, so I had to really make the most of each piece. Naturally this meant that some wonkiness would ensue, because I did not strictly size my squares. We are kind of a wonky family, so ya know, it works.
Since it was gonna be wonky from the get-go, I decided that I would just go ahead and use this little blanket as an experiment in quilting techniques, stitch patterns and such. Of course, that made it even more wonky.
But in a lovable way.
I think.

I also added a few of my beloved fabric flowers(hand stitched onto the quilt) into the mix, which The Kid really loves. It is like a little all weather flower garden, right there on her little blanket.
I'm excited to see what happens when we wash it. Quilts always take on a new personality after that first washing, it seems. They tighten up a bit, and get that lovely crinkle wrinkle look, which I love.

All in all, I am pleased with it. Imperfections and all.


But The Kid, she really LOVES it. Wonkyness and all.

In her opinion, it is perfect.

And that's the opinion that matters the most to me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Little Weaving

I mentioned in my last post that The Kid and I were learning to weave. Well, we finally finished our little piece of decorative textile. And by "we", I mean "I". The Kid's patience crapped out before we got to the first color change. But that was ok, because I really enjoyed a departure from my usual crafts.

I made a few mistakes as I went, but all in all I am pleased with how it turned out.


I followed the tutorial etsy posted several days ago, and I must say, it was a fun little experiment project to use up some of my yarn scraps on. I don't think I'll be giving up my hoops and buttons to make room for a permanent loom anytime soon, but I do think I'll weave again. I'd like to incorporate some weaving into future button embroidery pieces. Next time I'll have a more specific color scheme in mind too, as opposed to just using the leftovers from other projects that I had hanging around.

The best part about this project is the fact that I now have one more skill to add to my bag of tricks.

Which, of course, means that I am one more step closer to my ultimate goal of crafty world domination..