Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Usually I'm on top of the game with my Christmas cards, getting them out the first week in December. I'm not sure what happened this year. Lack of motivation combined with global warming and the phases of the moon?

I've been making my own Christmas cards for about ten years now. I'm starting to get a little burnt out on it and envy those people who do boxed cards or photo cards. I know I'll have some disappointed people on my mailing list when I discontinue the handmade cards, but one must consider one's own sanity!

Here it is Christmas Eve and I finally got the last of my cards out.
They'll never arrive in time for Christmas, but so be it!
At least they're done!
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Sparkles

A continuation of my previous is my favorite light fixture, no. 2 of 3.
This chandelier was in my Grandmother's living room and I always admired it. When she died and we sold her house I knew I had to have this chandelier!
I have no idea how old it really is...maybe 1960's(??), but it reminds me of the layered fringe designs of the flapper dresses from the 1920's.

Now it hangs in my studio, which is quite appropriate since my Grandmother was one of my biggest fans and very supportive of my art. She would be proud of me that I'm selling my work all over the world!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sparkles On My Ceiling

I finally got my lantern hung in the foyer! It's only been two years that it has been sitting in a box in the attic. I just love the patterns the lantern and water glass cast on the walls and ceiling.
When I bought this brass lantern in an antique store, it wasn't wired for electricity and had no glass, but I fell in love with it nonetheless! Lucky for me I have a hubby who was able to wire it up. We had an old chandelier we were replacing so we took the electric candles out and put them in this lantern. I cut the glass myself and managed to avoid serious injury (this is quite noteworthy as I am the world's biggest clutz).
Here it is with the lights off so you can see the detail. It's one of three of my favorite light fixtures. I'll show you the other two in another post!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

O Tannenbaum

Finally I have taken the long-promised pictures of my Christmas tree.
I did a blue and white theme this year, which kind of morphed into a bird/peacock theme. Can you find the peacock hidden in the tree?
I had to get out the tripod to get these pictures. There just wasn't enough light in the room since my chandelier is temporarily out of commission. We're in the process of replacing it but the wire wasn't long enough on the new one, so hubby has to go get a longer wire.

Here is the peacock, in the center of the tree at the bottom of the picture. You might be able to see him better in the picture right above this one.

I'd love to see pictures of your Christmas tree! If you'd like to share, please leave me a comment with the link to your pictures.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blue and Brown

The EtsyBloggers Team is featuring a blog carnival with the theme "favorite color combination: what do you make using those colors?"

One of my favorite color combinations is blue and brown. Ironically those are not my personal favorite colors, but I do like the way they look together. (Obviously, given the number of designs I have created using blue and brown!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Etsy Blogger of the Month

Is CalKat! I just love this piece of jewelry from Kathy and Carrie's shop, it's so unusual!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Braces? At my age!

**Please note: my article was "borrowed" by and appears without my permission on their website, advertising some teeth whitening pens. I DO NOT endorse them, especialy since they used my article without my permission and I cannot find any way to contact them to have it removed!!

I just got Invisalign braces this week for a rouge front tooth that decided after 20 years to revert back to it's former position. (I wore metal braces twice before as a child--blah!).

I am miserable. Of course it would be worse if I had those horrible metal brackets tearing up my cheeks, but my whole face hurts. The tray, as they call it--it snaps over your teeth, has rough spots on it along the gum line that are driving me up the wall. I've already attacked it with a nail file a couple of times.

Brace Face by GottaLotta

And on top of that I've got a sore throat and nausea. At first I thought I was coming down with something, but thought perhaps I would check the intenet for reported side effects of Invisalign. Lo and behold, I found many other people reporting the same thing! I've concluded it's either an allergic reaction to the plastic or caused by a severely dry mouth (another side effect of having Invisalign).

I reported these symptoms to my orthodontist, who is one of those good ole southern boys, and he said he'd never heard of such a thing. Maybe it was anxiety. (WTF??!!!)

So I have taken it upon myself to educate him by emailing him all the links from my afternoon of research on the internet. I'm kind of locked into treatment with him since I've already paid for over half of it, so changing orthos would be a bit of a hassle. Besides, the histrionic female accusation, he's a nice guy otherwise.

I'm definitely going to lose weight too, due to the hassle of taking the durn tray in and out every time I eat. Then I have to brush before putting it back in, otherwise the food will be trapped in the tray and I'll get cavities. Unfortunately, aside from a couple of inches around my belly to get back into my "skinny" jeans, I really don't need to lose weight. So I'll end up looking like a skeleton before this self-imposed ordeal is over.

I've been sipping on water the last few hours and the nausea has gotten better, so maybe it is related to dry mouth. The good news is my treatment will only be 12 weeks long. I put up with morning sickness during my pregnacy with my son longer than that, so I guess I can hang in there!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Photograph taken by me yesterday at the library.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dishwasher Woes

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday! (for those readers in the US). My holiday was nice, spent with family, and now I am recovering from having a house full of guests.

Today I got a lot done--laundry, putting things back in their places, and dishes--yes, dishes. My dishwasher broke last night. I'm not happy about that. It's a 2 yr old Kenmore provided by the builder of my new home.

Kitchen Scrubbie by Laksaware
I may just need to get this if my dishwasher doesn't get fixed soon!!

Part of me wants to fix it since there will be lots of expenses with the holidays coming up and I don't really want to shell out the money for a new one, but the other part of me wants to replace it. I've never really liked it as it doesn't do a very good job, is extremely noisy, and bowl #4 always comes out dirty. I have bent the tine so many times trying to tweak the position of it I'm afraid it'll pop off if I bend it again!

Crocheted Dish Cloth by Laksaware

I miss my Maytag I bought for my last house. I wish I could have brought it with me! Yes, I'm spoiled, but I didn't always have a dishwasher so I figure I've paid my dues. My parents had one when I was growing up, but it was never hooked up. Isn't that the stupidest thing you've ever heard??--and it's still not hooked up. It's just a vintage kitchen decoration at this point.

Hmmm...I hope mine is not destined to become a vintage kitchen decoration.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wordless Weekend

Fall blooming camilla from my Grandmother's bush that's over 30 years old.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Revamping My Shop

As the holidays draw near and I have a little time before things really get crazy, I thought I would take some time to examine my shop and perhaps change things up a bit.

This summer was a really busy time for me, both for my family and my shop. Due to time constraints, I let myself get into a rut of doing the same thing over and over.

Here are some of the things I critiqued in my shop:

1. I was making the same style of book, just in different colors.

2. I used the same shots for photographing the books. Again, all the same, just different colors. As a result, I think it made my shop look rather mass-produced and less handmade.
3. I had the same background in all my shots. This was a hard call for me because I've heard having the same background gives you some unity and cohesion to your shop, but for me it seemed to contribute to the mass-production effect.

Sooo....I set to work retaking photos of some of my books, trying different angles and backgrounds. This required me to break free of my little light box as it didn't allow me to get in there with the camera for special angles.

As a result of not using the light box I battled with glare and shadows. This photo of Autumn Paisley is actually more true to color than the original one. Next to it, the original looks washed out and overexposed.

Overall I'm pleased with the new photos until the time for my next critique comes around! But that's what it's all about--learning, growing, and changing for the better.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Invasion of the Fleas

Has anyone else had a horrific time with fleas this season? Apparently this flea problem has been going on around the country for the last two years, but I have been fortunate to avoid it until now.

I have a dog who seemingly repels fleas. His "brother", a cocker spaniel attracted them like a magnet, but he (the lab-greyhound mix) rarely has any.

The last few weeks I've noticed him scratching a lot but didn't really pay much attention. He has minor skin allergies and I thought maybe he'd been laying in the grass. As time went on the itching did not subside so I thought it was time to take a closer look.

Lo and behold, the dog has fleas! He's been on Vectra for the entire season and I was shocked to see it wasn't working. I spoke to my vet who confirmed my suspicions: The fleas seem to have built up a tolerance to the medications currently on the market. There is another product my vet suggested called Comfortis that I'm going to try as soon as they get it in stock. I'll let you know if it works.
In the meantime, I sit down every day with my poor itching dog and comb him with a flea comb and jam the fleas I catch into a glob of vaseline on a tissue. Pretty labor intensive, but at least my dog is enjoying the attention!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Upcoming Holidays - Blog Carnival

The theme for the Etsy Bloggers Blog Carnival this week is: "The holiday season will soon be here - what's your favorite holiday movie or special?"

I love all the old claymation specials from the 1970's, but my very favorite is The Year Without A Santa Claus. Specifically, the Heat Miser vs. Snow Miser song. I love that song and sing it year round when I'm so inclined.

Here it is for your enjoyment!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Etsy Blogger for November

This month's featured Etsy Blogger is Becky of beckykazana and her other shop, thefabmissb. Becky has been an Etsy seller and an Bloggers team member for several years now. She has a lot of diverse things in her two shops, so stop by and take a look!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Color Experimentation

Wondering what you can do with all those blank pages in your journal? Well, I was too. Ironic, isn't it, that I make and sell journals and my own are sitting on the shelf empty and neglected. Last night I pulled my paints out and started filling the pages of a lonely journal that's been sitting on the shelf waiting for inspiration. My artistic soul has been starving for some playtime!
I've been going through old Somerset Studio and Expression magazines before packing them away in the attic to make room on my bookshelf. Somerset Studio has a article in each issue called "With one palette" where they experiment with four colors in each single piece of art. I've been inspired to do my own art using those color combinations, so when I saw these paint swatches in the hardware store my eyes bugged out!
At first I thought I ruined this piece by adding the blue swirls on top of the starfish design, but after adding the ecru dots and swishes it really made it pop.
I got the center medallion a bit crooked trying to hurry before the paint dried on my stamp! Oh well, it's all for play anyhow so it doesn't matter (the perfectionist tells herself over and over).
And I really am planning on painting a room in my house...those paint chips may just come in handy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Renovations

Ta-da! My blog has a new look!

I've changed my background color and my banner to match my website. The background was a nice pale sage green which I always thought was easy on the eye, but it didn't coordinate with my new banner.

How do you all like the new look? I think it's a lot cleaner and hopefully just as easy to navigate.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Etsy Blogger Of the Month

Is MadeByMelissa!

Melissa says, "I make jewelry and crocheted items. All of my items are one of a kind! Although things I make may look similar - no two items are identical. Therefore - you will become the proud owner of a 100% unique item!"

Check out her store for a variety of items. There are some great things in there for the little ones in your life. My favorite is this one -- a little crocheted turtle! So cute!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Blog Carnival: Halloween

This month's blog carnival theme for the Etsy Bloggers theme is to share your favorite Halloween memory from your childhood.

I loved going trick or treating with my neighborhood friends. We'd all go together in a group, with the moms in tow chatting and having as good a time as we were having.

Here I am at 5 years old with my little sister, ready for the big night! My costume was handmade by mom and she had me wear it every year for Halloween until I was 12. By then it was almost a mini skirt it came so far up my legs! I suppose she figured she spent all that time making the costume that I may as well get as much use out of it as I could. Besides, she didn't want to make another the next year!

To be honest, I was so sick of that costume after a couple of years and it took all the fun out of choosing what I wanted to be for Halloween.

My friends: "What are you going to be for Halloween this year?"
Me: "A princess." **big sigh**
My friends: "Again?! Haven't you been a princess for the last 10 years in a row?"

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Log Cabin

I must start off apologizing for ducking in and out of the blogosphere (mostly out!). We've been traveling a lot over the past month, taking care of my family's vacation home. It's a log cabin built back in the 1970's and in desperate need of some attention.

A bit of advice...don't buy a log cabin! Especially as a second home if you won't be around to take care of it regularly. My grandfather, who built the cabin, thought it was going to be maintenence free. HA! I think it's been more demanding than a traditional brick/vinyl siding home.

The log cabin in the 1980's with original finish

The biggest problem initially was insect damage. At the time the cabin was built, it was common practice to leave the logs in the lumberyard with the bark on, which encouraged beetle infestation. Once the logs reached the building site, they were already contaminated with beetle larvae.

After 10 years or so insect holes started appearing in the logs. My grandfather was (poorly)advised to paint the logs to keep the insects out. However, the insects were already in so painting it wasn't going to prevent anything. Additionally, the paint has inhibited the logs' ability to "breathe" and has contributed to moisture problems inside the house.

Insect damage to the logs

My grandfather has since passed on and my parents now own the cabin, but my husband and I are the primary caretakers. Recently I noticed it seemed the insect damage was getting worse and I called out a log repair specialist. He found several rotten logs and told us the paint really needed to come off, which was fine by me since I always disliked the paint and wished the cabin could have stayed its natural wood color.

The red house with new replacement logs

So, all that to say, much money later...the cabin is back to its true color, the rotten logs have been replaced, and the holes are sealed up. Now all we have to do is apply clearcoat to the entire cabin every 3-4 years! Geesh! What a job that will be!

Tah-dah! The paint is almost all gone! Yippee!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Day In The Studio

I thought it would be fun to walk you step by step through one of my more unusual custom orders. A customer was browsing through my work and was inspired to request a guest book with a decorative polymer clay tile ornament on the cover.

1. I start my tile with a lump of polymer clay, conditioned and ready to run through the pasta machine to get it to a uniform thickness.

2. Here I've gotten the clay rolled out to the thickness I desired and impressed a design into it with a rubber stamp. I have my mica powders out and I have been filling color into the patterns on the tile.
**Very important to note when working with mica powder--less is more! I've learned that lesson the hard way, overloading my brush with powder and making the most garish mess.

3. Cooking in my dedicated polymer clay toaster over. This is an older Black & Decker that has a short in it and randomly cuts itself on when no one's looking. Scary, eh? That's why it's been relegated to polymer clay and isn't used routinely in the kitchen without supervision!

4. Cooling the tile under weight to keep it flat. My Pyrex baking dishes were the nearest thing I could find in a pinch. I put them slightly off center because they're stamped with some wording on the bottom and I was concerned the words might impress upon the tile.

5. The finished tile attached to the front cover of the book.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Variations on a Tangerine Theme

Have you ever had one of those days when you weren't satisfied with anything you accomplished? Well, this was one of those days!

The first variation

I was finishing up this book and selecting a ribbon to coordinate with the cover. The problem was the ribbon kept changing color depending upon the lighting! In daylight it was more green and at night it was more blue. This presented a huge issue when I was trying to photograph the book to list it on Etsy. I adjusted the color until my background started getting too red, finally gave up and decided to just change the ribbon.

Second attempt

I really changed it up here, using a band instead of a bow. However, I still had issues with the green-blue ribbon changing colors on me. As you can see from the above photograph, I tried to tweak the color to get the ribbon to appear more natural and ended up with a greenish cast to the entire photo.

Additionally, I was attempting to multi-task, talking on the phone, when I discovered I attached the band to the BACK cover instead of the front. Aaaarrrgh!

As if that wasn't enough, the white ribbon didn't want to stay attached to the blue ribbon. I tried every type of adhesive I could find. Nothing seems to glue one grosgrain ribbon to another grosgrain ribbon. Anyone know of any tricks? I really like this look, maybe not on this book, but I might want to try it on another book.

The final product

I completely ditched the blue-green ribbon and went with a simple creamy white grosgrain ribbon, tied in a square knot. Sometimes less is more--I think this combination shows off the book to the best advantage. Do you agree?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to School

I am so far behind this month! It's amazing how a vacation can set you back so far. The Etsy Bloggers Blog Carnival theme this time is "Back to School" and I am just squeaking in under the wire getting this post done in time!!

Back to school was always a bittersweet time for me. The good things: going shopping for new clothes, getting back into a routine, and seeing my old friends again. The bad things: end of the summer and freedom from homework, and having to get up early again!

I loved getting new clothes the best. I am a self-admitted clothes horse and was so even in elementary school. It was fun to get new shoes and clothes, but once I wore them a few times I was ready for summer again.

My favorite back to school shoes were a pair of "Bug Off" brown leather boots (that was the brand name, represented by a little ladybug). The picture is the closest thing I could find to what they looked like. I absolutely LOVED them and wore them every day in second grade. They were so comfy and I wore them every day. I even tried to wear them in the spring as the weather warmed up, but my calves got so sweaty I had to abandon my favorite boots in favor of sandals. Image from Zappos.

My second favorite look was knee socks with a cute pair of blue leather buckled loafers with short skirts. It was way more comfortable than wearing tights. I wish I could still get away with that look, but I'm way to old to be walking around in knee socks with skirts! Image from LandsEnd
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