Friday, December 3, 2010

Sew4Home feature #2!

I had intended to post about the fabulous purse I picked up while in NOLA a few days ago, however our wonderful North Shore weather and string of gray days is not giving me good light to take pictures of the beauty to really do it justice. So, on to other happy news! The wonderful women over at Sew4Home have been kind enough to feature me on their wonderful blog once again. You can pop over their today and grab my pattern for the Dual Duty coasters I've created.

The coasters I stitched up for them use linen and  my Family Forever fabric at Spoonflower. I tatted all around the edges to add even more vintage feel to them. I'm thinking of stitching up some more in the next couple of days using my Bottoms Up fabric to make up some quick hostess gifts for all the fetes this season!

In other fun news, check out the Where Women Create for another day of giveaways in their 12 Days of Holiday Traditions event!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ornament Obsession

If you are at a loss for ideas for creating your own Christmas ornaments, never fear! Just head over to Singing Three Little Birds. Julie is hosting a fantastic Christmas Ornament Link Up inspired by a new tree in her daughter's room and there are all kinds of fantastic ideas to check out! Julie was kind enough to include my ornament and I'm planning at least a couple more before Christmas arrives as I finally finished up my first batch for gifts! And now that December is here, I'm really feeling the pressure to get everything finished! Off to finish more presents!

And continuing on with the Christmas fun - the Where Women Create crew is having a great 12 Days of Christmas contest. Check it out at the Where Women Create blog!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Food & Fabric Sales

So, in totally unrelated topics...

Here is what I baked for the Thanksgiving festivities at our wonderful neighbors across the alley! We have the most amazing neighbors across the way. Each Thanksgiving they host a brunch for lots of the folks in our neighborhood. They serve eggs benedict and hash browns and the rest of bring all sorts of other goodies. This year I chose to bake up some Peppery Cheddar Challah Bread. For the more intimate Thanksgiving dinner, I bake up some sort of dessert to share and this year's selection was a Chocolate Walnut Tart with homemade whipped cream - so yummy and I was so happy to have leftovers of this one to last through the weekend! My hips - probably not so happy!

Now, on to fabric! Spoonflower has been offering all sorts of specials lately, just in time for the holidays! Hopefully, you patronized them as part of Small Business Saturday but even if you haven't, small businesses should be patronized every day! Their latest offering is a sale on fat quarters, buy one, get one free! It's advertised as a buy one, get one free tea towel, but as the tea towel designs are sized to fit on a fat quarter, FQs also qualify. This is your chance to get all sorts of fabrics you've had your eye on! The sale runs through Friday so head over to Spoonflower and support small business!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


My husband and I got to spend a couple of really quick days in New Orleans while he was attending a professional conference and I was lucky enough to go along for the ride! We were both excited as we had never been to the Crescent City and were really excited to have a brief respite from the cold and snow of the North Shore if only for a short while. We got to take in some of the sights, sounds, and tastes and met some really wonderful and friendly people. We also got to stay in an amazing hotel with probably the most friendly and helpful staff I've ever come across. If you're ever in New Orleans, I highly recommend the Marriott Renaissance Arts Hotel!

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for this fun little excursion. I'm also thankful for the beautiful snow (though it's wickedly cold), good food and wonderful friends, neighbors, and family especially my husband! I'm also incredibly thankful for a couple of old friends and virtual strangers who have been incredibly kind and supportive in this struggle to conceive a child which is not anything I've addressed here before but has been very consuming in my life for quite a long time. It's been invaluable to find a few wonderfully caring and completely understanding of the frustrations and difficulties that accompany this journey as there are many who just don't understand and don't care to.

Now, I think it's time for one more sliver of chocolate walnut tart and some cocoa on this really cold but cozy Thanksgiving night!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Naughty or Nice?!

I realize it's not quite Thanksgiving yet so we shouldn't be bringing up Christmas just yet but if you are like me and make lots of Christmas presents and such, you have to start really early! Even if you don't make gifts, you still have to plan ahead if you need to order gifts or supplies.

You also have to plan ahead for Spoonflower contests as they need time to print and ship in time for Christmas decorating! The current contest just opened for voting yesterday and it's Holiday Stocking time! They're are some really unique, interesting and imaginative designs - over 60 of them actually. Go and check them out and if you're inclined to vote for mine, which you can see above, go ahead! My design is an amusing little play on the naughty and nice list - you could choose a side for whichever suits you and your loved ones on any given day!

You should also really check out Spoonflower in the next few days as they are having their first ever free shipping event - just in time for Christmas! Beginning on Monday, November 22 at 8 am EST and ending on Tuesday, November 23 at 8 am EST you can get your domestic or international order shipped for free!!!! This only applies to standard shipping, not rush shipping but they're reporting that their current turnaround time is about 7 days so you should really take advantage of this great deal while you can!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winner, winner chicken dinner!

So this weekend's dinners did not include chicken but rather homemade pizza and a really unhealthy dinner  from my younger days of visits to Grandma and Grandpa's house during lent. Fried potatoes and macaroni and cheese - not good for you but every once in a while I get the craving as do my brother and sister. My mom and her brothers and sister can't stand it and will never eat it again in their lifetimes!

The pic above was dessert this weekend - pumpkin chocolate tiramisu! So yummy! I wish I had a better picture but as we're plunged into darkness at about 4 in the afternoon now, getting good lighting is a lot more challenging.

This weekend was also the end of the contest to win some of my fabric from Spoonflower! I have to say thank you once again to the wonderful Sew4Home for their lovely feature. I continue to be astounded at the numbers of you who were kind enough to click over to my blog and especially to those of you who were so kind to leave comments. It's been so heart warming to see everything that you're all thankful for this year! So without further ado, the winner:

It was so fun to find that the winner is another very talented Spoonflower designer, Vo! I'll be in touch to get you started in claiming your prize!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Special delivery in waiting

Just look at the pretty stack of java jackets just waiting to go to their new home! Once payment arrives, they'll be on their way! I just love playing with fabrics and embellishments and trying all sorts of color combos when I'm stitching them up.

To get them ready for shipping I grabbed some of those cute red buttons I discovered at the antique store, punched some circles out of discarded cardboard coffee cuffs and secured them together with red and white bakers twine and wrapped 'em up. The final tough was sliding my business card in the back.

Now, once you've got your morning coffee or tea in hand, head over to Sew4Home. They've put together a pillow project featuring my Family Forever fabrics.

You've still got time to get entered in the contest to win a yard of my fabric from Spoonflower. Just click on to my post from earlier this week and leave your comment answering the question in the post before noon Central time on Sunday, November 14. The prize will be awarded on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Look, it's me!!!! (& a giveaway!!!!)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a person who likes to have attention drawn to me and am a bit too humble and self-deprecating for my own good. So today we're taking a break from our regularly scheduled program and shining a light on me!!!! If you check out Sew4Home today you'll see a great big profile on me!

I was lucky enough to meet the marvelous sisters who run Sew4Home when I was attending The Creative Connection Event back in September. We first started chatting during class on our first day and kept in touch throughout the event and once we got back to our respective homes. I absolutely adore their site and the fantastic, totally doable projects and how they inspire and empower others to create projects to dress up their homes.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Spoonflower is helping me out with a little giveaway! YAY!!!! If you'd like to have a chance at winning one-yard of one of my designs at Spoonflower, just leave a comment following this post in response to the following question in the spirit of Thanksgiving:

"What are you most thankful for this year?"

Just leave your comment no later than noon Central Time on Sunday, November 14. I'll draw one winner from all the entries and announce the winner on Monday, November 15. Once the winner is announced, I'll have the specifics of how to choose your fabric and place your order with Spoonflower. In the meantime, you can start browsing my fabrics at Spoonflower and deciding which you'll choose if you're the winner!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gorgeous George

Just because. One of the things that is sure to put a smile on my face and lift my spirits is a look at this man and who could blame me! My husband doesn't even mind as he developed a bit of a man crush when we were in George's presence.

Never in my life did I really think I would get to meet George and be mere inches away from him! So when news came that he was going to be in my neck of the woods, I just knew I had to be there. On a very chilly northland morning we staked out our spot which happened to be remarkably close to George's getaway vehicle. My hubby was in charge of getting his autograph as I would be busy snapping away to get his pic. These were my favorites from the day.

So when I need smile and a laugh, I can just take a look at these pics or pop in one of the Ocean's series of movies or my new favorite - George dancing in The Men Who Stare at Goats - love it!!!!! My hubby also makes me laugh and smile lots, too, when he does his silly, twisty dance!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Christmas in November! Ornament Tutorial

I know it's a bit early for Christmas (at least I'm not getting Christmas stuff out in July like the bog box stores!) but since I make Christmas ornaments as gifts each year, I have to get a jump on it! This year's ornaments were inspired by a couple of items, seen here:

Juice can lids and this fabulous find of red buttons that I picked up at one of our local antique stores for $2! Can you believe it?! I just had to have them even though I had no idea what I would do with them at the time.

To begin, I measured a circle to fit inside the juice can lid and cut it out of some heavy antique scrapbook paper. I aged the edge a bit with some brown ink.

Next came some vintage ledger pages. I cut some pieces to fit at the top and bottom of the circle and fancied them up with a scalloped scissors and a bit of green ink on the edges.

Lettering comes next. I first traced around the little red button that would serve as the "o" and then penciled in the remaining letters.

Then I filled in the letters with red using DecoArt Americana Berry Red.

Once the paint dried, I traced over my pencil lines around the outside of the letters with a fine paint marker and glued on a little red button.

After the glue dried, I poured a bit of DecoArt Triple Thick Gloss Glaze into the juice can lid and spread it around. I then placed the decorated scrapbook circle into the lid and poured more glaze in and distributed it evenly in the lid by slowly turning the lid at an angle so as not to create air bubbles. If air bubbles do appear, just use a toothpick to pop them.

Once the glaze is completely dry (I usually allow for about 24 hours just to be safe) add a ribbon hanger at the back. I cover the entire back with a circle of felt cut to size to make it nice and presentable on both sides.

Now it's time to start cranking out bunches of them for my friends and family! I'll be making a variety of them with Love, Hope, and Joy since those words all have "o"s in them!

Thanks again to DecoArt for giving me great supplies to play with!

Also, if you want a chance to win a yard of my Spoonflower fabrics, check out this post and answer the question following the post!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Just a little weekend watercolor...

Just a little something that's been in my sketchbook for months that I finally got around to working on. Inspired by the days growing up on the prairies of the upper midwest. I'm hoping to turn this into a fabric design down the road. My husband wants me to sell it as a postcard!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas Relaxation

An ULTA store just opened in our neck of the woods and we stopped in over the weekend. All the makeup and hair goodies are lovely, but I had the best time adding all sorts of items to my wish list from the wellness and spa items. Everything was soft and cushy and cuddly but this little number definitely tops the list! This massage wrap was just destined to come home with me - I really wish I had it right now as my neck is feeling a little wonky today after sleeping a bit wrong last night. It's so soft and has 2 massage speeds. Christmas may be too long to wait!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wonderful Weekends!

Today has been a great Saturday and there is even more greatness to come as hubby and I are all excited to watch SNL being hosted by the wonderfully talented and funny Jon Hamm!!!! Today has been wonderful for a number of reasons which include:

1. having a wonderful husband
2. it's a bit warmer and sunnier than a couple of days ago when we got our first snow which I am just not emotionally prepared for yet
3. working out on the elliptical trainer while watching the Rally to Restore Sanity makes the workout a LOT less onerous
4. getting a rock star parking space at the mall on a Saturday afternoon
5. singing along to Michael Buble in the car on a beautiful day
6. getting to enjoy a wonderful dinner at home on Saturday night
7. looking forward to hot carmel apple cider and homemade Madelines

I love Madeline cookies and desperately want to visit France one day. I also realize that the closest I am going to get to France in the very near future is visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans so I'll have to do what I can to bring France to me. I bought a Madeline pan a couple months back and finally attempted to bake some up yesterday. They taste yummy and look pretty. I still need to experiment to find just the right recipe and tweak it, but these cookies in the picture above are making me pretty happy right now!

After a day full of running around, it was so nice to come home and spend time in the kitchen making a meal completely from scratch. First off was baking some bread from this amazing recipe at Sew4Home. So yummy! And my husband is a carb fiend so he could eaten only this for dinner and been completely happy. Salad was on the menu, too - a combination of lettuces topped with apple slices, asiago cheese, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. Mushroom risotto which takes some time and attention but is so worth it. The recipe here is a good basic one but I always change up some stuff when I'm cooking. Just a little bit of balsamic and orange glazed steak on the side was wonderful!

What a great day! Now hopefully tomorrow I get to spend some time sewing - that will make for a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Readable Radiator Shelves

I've been away from here and away from sharing my crafty pursuits with you for way too long! I'm so happy to have finally finished one of the projects around the house that I've wanted to do pretty much since we moved into our lovely old rowhouse.

As it is a lovely old rowhouse, it comes with those lovely old radiators that never seem to be in quite the right place and take up valuable floor space for stuff like bookshelves which hubby and I are desperately in need of as we are both voracious bibliophiles. So at long last I got to creating a few radiator topper shelves.

I began with a little trip to the local Home Depot's building materials area. I picked up a few 1 x 4s and 1 x 10s and wood screws. Back at home, I dusted off the circular saw and marked all my boards (after measuring each radiator twice - very important!). Out came my trusty Craftsman drill and I got all the pieces together.

After a little sanding, the shelves got a couple coats of a nice cream paint. As I am incapable of doing something basic, I had to add a bit more to the shelves . I found a few fun fonts and printed them out at a size that was a bit larger than the height of the front of the shelf. When choosing fonts I's always drawn to those that have a bit of an antique and handwritten feel which works really well for this project as if you make a boo-boo painting, it just adds to the character of the letters.

I rubbed a little pencil all over the back of the printouts and then transferred the outline of the letters to the front of the shelves. I mixed up some of my DecoArt Americana Acyrlic Paints to coordinate with the colors of the rooms where the shelves would be placed and then got to painting!

Now our books have a place to rest and our little old rowhouse has a little bit of art in unexpected places. I'm really grateful to DecoArt for letting me try out some of their paints for this project!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my Christmas wish list begins

On our weekly visit to Barnes & Noble, I was heard squealing with delight when I saw this book on the shelves! My hubby knows how much I want this for Christmas as I love Mad Men and this book takes a light-hearted and so funny look at a pretty dark and serious show. It's brilliant! Then I went to the Mad Men site at AMC and "avatared" myself Mad Men style. Here's me with the gang at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Exciting giveaway coming soon!

I have very exciting news coming up and to celebrate the occasion there will be an exciting giveaway coming soon! The pictogram above should give a clue. I can't wait and really wish I could win it!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My favorite class at The Creative Connection Event

When I signed up for The Creative Connection Event months ago, it was really hard to choose my classes. It wasn't for lack of options - that's for sure. As I was perusing the list, there were all sorts of wonderful options and talented teachers to choose from. However, when I saw that Kaari Meng of French General was among the instructors, I immediately knew I had to be in one of her classes. I've admired her style and work for many years. It was hard to choose but I narrowed it down to her Petite Coeur Cushion class and impatiently waited the many months for the conference and the class to arrive as it was the one I was most looking forward to.

Finally, the conference came and so did class! It was so much fun and even better than I had hoped for! This was my favorite class of the whole event. Not only did we get to stitch up these lovely little cushions stuffed with lavender and lambs wool, we got to create necklaces and bracelets with interchangeable charms. I can't leave well enough alone so once I got back home to my craft room, I had to embellish the heart a bit with some silk ribbon and beads.

I love wearing the simply elegant jewelry and how lovely it looks decorating my bedroom wall when I'm not wearing it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A break from our usual programming

Much as it pained me to do so, I needed to take a little break from my Creative Connection fun and creativity to stitch up something for my mom. In exchange for her supplying me and my hubby with her wonderful Tastefully Simple products, she sometimes sends me projects that she wants stitched up. She sent me a pattern and supplies to stitch up this this little wool felt candle mat - now I may just need to stitch up one for our home!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Creative Connection Day 1 Project

I've been feeling a bit under the weather but wanted to finally get one of the projects from my classes at The Creative Connection Event posted here. My first afternoon at the conference was spent learning how to make these beautiful felted wool ornaments and a couple of others. I had the best time and got to meet wonderful new people who were seated at our table. I met a wonderful woman named Anne from Sew4Home - you should definitely check out her site!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Freebie

One of the fantastic parts of The Creative Connection Event was all the giveaways!!!! Once I arrived back home, I discovered that a few of the items we received are items I already have. So, in the spirit of sharing the love, I'm offering my first giveaway! I'm hoping to make this a more regular occurrence so keep your eyes (and computers) peeled in the future!

I love both of these magazines but want to share them with my followers, so if you leave a comment before noon Central Time on Monday, September 27, I'll do a drawing and the winner will have two new mags to add to their collection!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just Desserts

Even the food at The Creative Connection Event is creative and inspired. The S'mores cupcake wasn't actually at the event but what I consumed before heading to the Handmade Market the first night of the conference - I needed massive sugar intake to power me through all those aisles of fantastic art and crafting possibilities! This little delicacy comes from Hell's Kitchen - an amazing restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. I've missed it terribly living along the North Shore as ours has been converted to a burger place.

The lovely red velvet cake was served at our luncheon on the opening day of the conference. The recipe comes straight from the Pioneer Woman Cooks, courtesy of Ree Drummond, the speaker at our luncheon. I have a sentimental attachment to red velvet cake as it is what my husband and I served at our wedding reception. This recipe is my very favorite of Ree's many wonderful recipes!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sign here, please

This is the minuscule pile of books that was my traveling companion to The Creative Connection Event. This little, light stack of hardboard and paper necessitated it's very own bag to Minneapolis. While others were purchasing their books at the Barnes and Noble booth at the conference site, I brought all these books that have graced my bookshelves for years and are now graced by the greetings and autographs of all my "she"roes! Though I did not have the books of all 30 or so authors at the event, this was quite enough for me! I think any more would have necessitated back surgery on my part following the conference! You'll also notice that Amy Butler's books are at the very top of the stack!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Swap meet

The weekend before The Creative Connection Event was spent finishing up this "little" project to swap with my new friend, Vicki. We met through the message board set up for the event and connected initially because she lived in an area of the country where I had lived for many years. As we emailed one another prior to the event we decided to set up our own little swap and create traveling art kits from old cigar boxes. We each answered a few questions to guide our choices as we were creating for each other.

Vicki shared some of her interests - personal and creativity-wise. As I was putting her kit together, I tried to incorporate her favorite colors and personal interests into the exterior design of the kit. She and her husband like to go cruising on their motorcycle on weekends so I chose to cover the exterior in black and mustard colored leather all stitched together with thick mustard thread. Punching the little holes to thread the pieces together is not for the faint of heart (or those prone to carpal tunnel!). All the work was definitely worth it and I loved it when I was finished and Vicki did, too!!! You can see the original cigar tin in the pic below.

I filled the inside with lots of little trinkets, beads and baubles - perfect for creating lots of mixed media art journals. Little fabric yo-yos, hand-lettered ribbons, tiny cardboard flowers, wooden spools of bakers twine, and mini journals fill vintage baking molds. Covered matchbooks are filled with tiny pinked denim patches, handmade paper beads, cork circles, vintage stamps, and paint chip buttons.

We got to meet in person after the end of the first full day of the conference following the incredible keynote address and opening dinner. We got to talk for about an hour before fatigue completely took over and the excitement of going to look through our gigantic goodie bags from the dinner was too much to bear!!!

Creating these gifts for each other was so much fun and is something I love to do in my everyday life. When birthdays and holidays come up, I always try to create personalized, meaningful gifts for others. In the next few days I'll share the fun kit that Vicki put together for me - I just have to stop myself from using all the stuff in my art before I get to take pictures of it all!!! You should also check out Vicki's blog, Killer Queen Boutique sometime!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Butler did it!

I will have so much more to say about this in the coming days, but for right now I just wanted to share one pic from my magnificent trip to The Creative Connection Event in Minneapolis over the last few days. One of the absolute highlights, if not the best moment, for me was getting to meet Amy Butler!!!!! This is the moment I got to meet her and have her sign the books she's authored. This amazing autograph party was jam-packed with nearly 30 amazing women creatives and authors. I did not get books signed by all of them, but suffice it to say I did have to pack a whole extra bag just for all the books of my "she"roes!!!!!

The autograph party was followed by the opening dinner and keynote addresses given by Amy as well as Mary Jane Butters, farmgirl extraordinaire! It was the best way to wrap up an exciting first day of this amazing event. I loved Amy's presentation which included a slide show of the evolution of her life and business. She also shared the influences in her life that inspired her love of stitching and design. Probably most inspiring to me was her message of being your genuine, authentic self and following your passion - something I must remind myself of everyday and the message I will strive to pass on to every one I meet.

That's all I can manage for tonight - unpacking and ooohing and aaahing over all of the gifts we were given during the conference just absolutely took it all out of me!!!! More to come tomorrow and in the following days (along with some giveaways to share my stash of artistic booty with my faithful followers!!!!!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

So excited!!!!!!!!!

I can hardly stand the excitement!!!!! I am not very patiently waiting to hit the road for The Creative Connection event in Minneapolis!!!!! The actual event begins next Thursday but there is a Handmade Market preview on Wednesday evening. I'll be heading down on Wednesday morning on board the Rocket Rider to get checked in at my hotel and get all checked in at the conference. I can't wait to pick up my goodie bag and start meeting face-to-face all the wonderful people that I've only "met" online so far!!! I keep looking over my class choices and panel selections and all the special events like the Pajama Party and the Cupcake Farewell (though I shouldn't be excited for the farewell when it hasn't even begun yet!) and getting more giddy! I've already started packing for the event - I thought I was the only person doing that when it's still about a week away, but then I got an email from one of my new friends that I'll be swapping with at the event and she was packing, too! Now I don't feel like such a dork but I really don't care about feeling so dorkily (is that a word? I just made it one!) excited for the conference!

How can I not be excited about getting to hear and meet so many of my arts and crafts and women entrepreneurial sheroes! Amy Butler, Mary Jane Butters, Ree Drummond, and Kaari Meng are but a few of the incredible women that will share their amazing stories and wisdom with us. The pile of books that I have to be signed by them nearly necessitates it's very own suitcase for the trip! As wonderful and thrilling as it is to meet all of them, I can't wait to be among all the other attendees and form new friendships with all the other creative and artistic souls out there!

I have to be at least a bit patient as I haven't finished all of my items for swapping with others at the event. The main job for this weekend (in addition to making sure there are enough frozen meals for my husband so he doesn't just go out and get McDonald's salads and Subway to eat) is to finish a cigar box traveling art kit (which I'll share when it's all finished).

One project I did finish up early this week is a set of my Dual Duty Coasters. I stitched them up using my most recent fabric designs at Spoonflower called Family Forever (that's a baby pic of my mom you see in the close-up photo) and vintage linen. Once they were all stitched up, I wanted to make them even more vintage-y feeling so I tatted a little edge around each of them. It was a nice little task to keep me busy on the car trip to Iowa last weekend. Once they were all finished, I knew I didn't want to just hand these coasters over to Nan (my new online buddy and I hope face-to-face friend very soon). I discovered that these coasters fit perfectly inside those little rounds Laughing Cow Cheese boxes. I grabbed the box that I knew I had been keeping for some special reason and added vintage scrapbook paper, a coffee filter ruffle, sage raffia and little coffee cuff corrugated flowers. I topped with more corrugated cardboard and an orange juice can lid embellishment with my Family Forever design and mini Scrabble tiles. I can't wait to meet Nan in person and share this little gift and I'm so excited to see what she's created for me!