Friday, November 7, 2008

Handmade Holidays: Recycled Paper Snowflakes

I've been thinking lately that I'd like to start a little series on this blog called "Handmade Holidays". Jake and I both try to make gifts by hand as much as possible, and even if you're hard pressed for time, I think there are little things you can do to add a handmade touch to the festivities. Not to mention, you can cut out big box stores and give someone something truly unique. Today I made these little snowflake ornaments for the store Christmas tree out of an old Paper Source catalog. Being a stationery catalog they use particularly nice paper and I liked that all the colors and images were Christmas themed. Plus, I couldn't stand to just throw it in the recycling bin... it seemed better fit for a project. They're pretty basic so I thought I'd offer some instructions so you can make your own.

You will need:

- An old catalog (ones with holiday images might offer similar colors to the ones I made), magazine, newspaper, book pages from a damaged book, etc. (hit up your family, friends, neighbor if you don't have any)
- Scissors or an x-acto knife (I used an x-acto knife)
- Glue (I used Memory Mount because it is archival and doesn't bleed through... also, it's not very messy... you can usually find it at one of the big chain craft stores or an art store.)
- A straight edge ruler
- Thread

Step 1:
Cut out strips of paper of equal length and width. You will need four strips for each snowflake. (Mine were a quarter inch wide by 6 inches long... I just used the width of the magazine for the length of each strip so I wouldn't have to do as much measuring.)

Step 2: Fold strips back so that it overlaps on the back by about a quarter inch. Crease flat. Do this three more times using the first one as a template so each one is the same length and overlaps in the back. Put a little dab of glue to hold each together so that they form a flattened loop.

Step 3: Put glue in the middle of the top and bottom of one folded strips and insert it into another folded strip (holding it open wide so as not make a mess with the glue) so that they cross each other in the middle and press down so that the glue holds. Now insert another strip inside the two of these with another dab on the top and bottom of the strip so that it intersects one of the remaining directions. Do this with the last one too so that you have a a little star-like snowflake. It should puff out a little for a 3-D effect.

Step 4:
String it with thread or tape it to a present for a decoration.

Step 5: Enjoy!

Tip: It's definitely easier than my directions make it sound. Try it out if you like!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"And we live and we shine and we die"

Hello my deers(hehe),

I am joyfully celebrating my 26th birthday today. This beautiful cupcake was brought to you by my parents this weekend... made by the wonderful and terrific bakery in town, "Seasons Books and Bakery". Ooo! Indeed!

In honor of my birthday, I would like to share with you my "New Year's Resolutions":

1) More breathing... yes, more! I would like to begin meditating everyday, as I used to. It seems an essential step in reducing my worrier tendencies.

2) More painting... drawing everyday... it is too important to put off for later. Making art important in my life again will require many steps on my part. And the first part will be making the necessary time for it. The second will be getting myself a website up again so I can share it with you more freely. The third will be finding places to show my art. I would love to start doing art shows again.

3)Going slow, but with purpose... Sometimes I feel this rush to get things done, but then I lose the purpose. I want to put creativity back into every step. I think this will make me happier.

4) Celebrating! Everything...the outdoors, the dishes, the night sky, all the lovely people I know and love.

I'm sure there's more, but that keeps it simple enough. I'm having a beautiful day so far. Mr. Jake has given me some wonderful presents that I will share later, and now he is singing me songs, so I think I will go listen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Maiden Crone"

This is a painting I made recently that I've been meaning to post. It very much reflects my feelings about what has been going on in our country and around the world these days, and the hope that I have in people to make changes big and small, to open up a new world of dialogue and ideas and imaginative thinking and most of all, a world based on human kindness, and not cruelty. I hope that the results of this election will truly embolden people to stand up again for their ideals and not feel that they will only be meet with deaf ears. There are still many things that need be changed about this country, and we need to speak and sing and paint (and curse when we feel it's all not working very right). But I do think this is a start, and I'm very much heartened by the unity and determination I saw in my country yesterday to begin to make these changes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Voting

Oh my, are your nerves as frayed as mine? The uncertainty! Just have to breathe and remember there is beauty and goodness no matter who rules the land. Hey ho! Hey ho!

Happy Election day everyone! Here are some happy and sinister pumpkins representing the entire spectrum of political ideologies... well, not really, but I wanted to show off our pumpkins. Let's hope, hope, hope that we wake up tomorrow and this country is heading somewhere positive.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mother Goose and the Traveling Circus

Happy Halloween! Sorry to disappear for a while. I haven't had much time for the internet of late. Last week Jake's Dad came for a visit, and we saw this curiosity pictured above at the Shelburne Museum. It's part of a circus display of a hand carved and painted circus parade that wraps around a very long building and took twenty-five years to complete. It's amazing the things people decide to do with their time. You can see more of our Shelburne pictures over at Owlfoot.

We've also been doing exciting things like getting our Vermont drivers licenses and going to see a spaghetti western orchestra this past Tuesday.

Hopefully there will be some pumpkin carving going on this afternoon or I don't think we can really call it Halloween. I don't even have a costume this year... it's a pretty sad state of affairs. Hope everyone has some spooky plans for this evening. I'm going to go help Jake with a store display like I should be doing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's Cooking in the Wildwood House

Hello folks! These neato little kitties arrived today in a box... they're salt and pepper shakers. Miss kitty is reading "The Talon Cutter". I think they might find themselves as a cake topper on our wedding cake. I'm not sure if they'll crush the cake though.

And here's a shot of Mr. Jake swiftly making history of our dinner, sweet potato soup! This recipe is so simple and delicious that I have to share it with you. We make it for two people, but you could certainly adjust it for more.

The Wildwood's Sweet Potato Soup:
-2 large sweet potatoes
-2 garlic cloves
-1/8 to 1/4 vidalia onion (depending on how big the onion is)
-pinch of cinnamon
-pinch of coriander
-small amount of fresh basil (optional)
-fresh parsley (optional)
-salt and pepper to taste (optional)
-hot water... enough to cover the sweet potatoes

Combine all ingredients and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender (about a half hour). Put in a blender and voila! It should be thick but not too thick... if it comes out like mash potatoes, add some more water. The key is the sweet potatoes, garlic, coriander, and cinnamon... if you have to do without some of the other ingredients, it will be ok, I promise. Salt is totally optional... I only add it about half the time. You can also modify this recipe and add a squash instead of sweet potatoes, which we do when squash is in season. Yum! We add cheese and sometimes a little bit of sour cream on the side, but if you don't, it's totally vegan.

I've also been cooking up some needle felted designs. My mom got me a bunch of wool at the Harvest fair so I ordered the tools with the hopes of making some little animal/critter type things. But I figured I should play around with it first... The brown one is my first attempt... I was just playing around with shapes to see what I could do. I cut out circles from felted sweaters for the backgrounds. The cream one I think I might turn into an ornament or pin. I'm still getting the hang of it, but it's pretty fun and not as hard as I imagined. Working three dimensional might prove more difficult. The little brush thing in the picture is what you jab the needle into... you can also use styrofoam, but it just breaks down over time, so I figured I ought to get something I could keep using. I'm thinking it might be fun to figure out how to make some slippers out of shrunken sweaters and needle felt into them.

Anyone have any delicious soup recipes or projects they've been cooking up? We're always looking for more vegetarian soups to add to the weekly line up.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Giant Avocados

Hello, hello! I just had to share with you these giant avocados that arrived for us in the mail today from my Grandma (along with some other goodies) that Jake so artistically photographed with his new Camp Uke. Yes, I have to say I wasn't convinced these were avocados until a call confirmed it. Mr. Jake has been teaching me to play the banjo uke (a different uke not pictured here) in what little spare time we both have. It's really very rewarding after all these years of not being able to play a single instrument and now finally beginning to learn (the uke is a great beginner instrument for anyone looking for somewhere to start). I've also been painting, as I promised myself I need to do and will hopefully have more to show in that arena next week when I can scan things.

Anyways, anyone got any fun avocado recipes?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Spookin'

Happy witching season! There is certainly some sorcery in the air these days. The mountains are a wild explosion of color right now. I love it when the trees are a mixture of firey red and golden sun yellow.

I just got these silly Gocco printed cards up on etsy, of course inspired by our own "spooker" kitty, Mr. Terrapin.

And while I was really trying to be good about focusing only on art, my fabric tempted me into making this quilted scarf for myself... yes, like I really needed another scarf! Well, this one is quite magic, to be sure, so I had to give myself permission to make it. I have been doing some artwork too, so never fair... maybe what I really need is a bit of balance.

I still haven't taken it off since I finished this afternoon. Perhaps it will give me some magic drawing powers so I can make some great paintings to show you soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Getting my pumpkins in a row

Lately I've been wondering a little too often where the time goes. My "to do" list seems to always have twice as many things as I can possibly do on it. Which has lead me to ask myself which of the things on that list are really important and which can be eliminated. I'd love to get rid of laundry, dishes, going to grocery store, etc., but that's not going to happen. What's been bothering me the most is that I don't make time for art anymore. I eluded in an earlier post to hiding crafts supplies from myself, and I think maybe that is the answer. At least for a time, I'm going to step away from sewing and other crafts to work on painting again. This will be more difficult than it sounds. I love sewing... I love that it's meditative and that I don't have to think all that much when I'm doing it (which sounds silly, but isn't it nice sometimes to have a break from your mind?) I've never been one of those artists who can keep churning out work. I usually go through spurts... that's why crafting was so great for me because it filled in those gaps of time where I just couldn't create artwork. It allowed me to explore creativity in a different way. But it's been quite some time since I picked up a paint brush and I think it's time to change course again and refocus on my art because it's too important to let it just disappear from my life. So this week I'm going to spend some time trying to get some ideas going and making my work space free from distractions. I'm tempted to step away from the blog too, but I think it actually helps me to remind myself of the things I need to be doing. And who knows, maybe in the next couple weeks I'll actually have a finished painting to show. Okay, off to brainstorm!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Butternut Scarf

Happy Autumn! (yesterday, anyways) The cold weather doesn't take long in coming here, and I could already use this butternut scarf I'm making from the softest wool you ever did feel. (Ooo, I hope someday to spin my own!) We even used extra blankets last night! And before we know it, it will be woodsmoke weather. I love this time of year that always disappears so quickly... I always feel a bit renewed this time of year... there's certainly an Autumn child in me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Morning Glories

Look! We have morning glories growing up our sign post... sometimes blue, sometimes purple, but always lovely. And the best part is that I started them from seed... the first thing I've grown successfully and beautiful to behold!

Here's a photo of Jake getting ready to perform at the Harvest Fair in town. He's going to be in a play/musical about Woodie Guthrie in October, and they performed a few of the pieces from the play at the festival. I like how our little town celebrates holidays and the seasons... it seems like everyone comes out to enjoy it. There were lots of crafters... my mom got me some wool to try needle felting. It was right next to the cotton candy booth so I felt like I was running away with a bag brimming with cotton candy.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make good on my promise to post more often because my eye has been irritating me, but I thought I'd share quick with you some things I've been up to.
These are dish clothes I've been making out of cotton yard. They work wonderfully and I wish I had made some sooner. They have a lovely texture that makes them extra thick and great for scrubbing. I have to admit I get a little excited doing the dishes with them. There also a great project I can do during in between times... like when Jake is poking around doing something when we're suppose to go somewhere... no need to stress about it, just pick the crochet!

The best news that I've been keeping under my hat is that we finally have an archival ink jet printer for my artwork (and for printing cd covers and other important such things)! So after we do the long hard work of rescanning all my images at a higher resolution, I'll have some prints for sale on etsy. It will also give me the extra incentive to make more artwork. It has been a struggle to find the time for art with the business. My energy has been very scattered in this first year and it has been hard to focus on painting. I find myself doing the things that I can squeeze into a short period of time rather than working on things that are more drawn out. I'm thinking of hiding some of my crafting supplies on myself and just focusing on artwork for a while. Sometimes I feel like a kid with too many toys. I'm also thinking of not buying any more supplies for at least a month and seeing what I can do with what I have. It's hard when your business is making things, but I have too many distractions right now and it seems the only way to get back to what's most important.

Speaking of such, the sun is shining and there's a poetry book on the table we picked up at the local book shop so I think it's time to get off this box.

Monday, September 15, 2008

End of Summer Celebration

Time seems to escape me so quickly here... if it weren't for paying bills and the changing seasons, I'd have no sense of time at all. I'm sorry the posts have been so spotty. I intend to post more regularly, but life has been demanding of late. It's also been fun (I don't want to forget that!).

The beginning of September kicked off with a hike to the top of the Horrid Cliffs and our much anticipated birthday trip to Montreal. We tried to take in as much as possible in the course of one day by visiting the Old Town and the Botanical Gardens. It was really a wonderful trip... so much to see and better said in pictures...

You can see more of our adventure here. We ended the day with Indian food in Burlington. Oh yes, I do get excited about Indian food.

Then it was day spend in Brandon taking in the little shops and an even at the State Fair to see the Royal Racing Pigs that my dad had been talking about since the beginning of the summer. And it didn't disappoint. I haven't been to a state fair since I was a kid, and it's quite the spectacle. The pig races were pretty excellent. But this time around, what I really appreciated seeing were the crafts and the animals and not so much the rides as I did when I was a kid. Of course, we did make sure to have a ride on the merry-go-round for old times sake.

Jake's actual birthday on the fourth was quite peaceful and low key after all the excitement of the week. I hope he had a nice day. It's still his birthday month, so I'm sure we can squeeze in more fun.

I think this three day celebration was a good way to say goodbye to summer. It's not quite Fall, but my thoughts have already floated away with the Autumn breezes and the changing colors and growing pumpkins in our garden.

I'll write more soon about recent craft projects and other things afoot. I can't squeeze it all into one post without missing out on the beautiful day that is before us...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Autumn Birds

Hello! The weekends creeping up on us and so is Autumn! We've already got the wonderful Fall breeze here and even a few trees have begun to change color. I've been making sets of these Autumn birds for custom orders with some vintage fabric I've collected. Maybe I'll find some time to make some seasonal potholders with these patterns.

This coming month promises to be very busy with Mr. Jake's 25th birthday to kick it off and lovely visitors from a far. Tomorrow my parents and Jake's mama will be coming down and we have a day trip planned to Montreal. I can't wait as it will be my first trip to Canada and we're hoping to find some crepes and perhaps an art museum. Have a good weekend everyone! I'll check in again soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Adventures in Seam Ripping and Swearing like a Sailor

I had great noble goals yesterday of making myself a wallet. It seemed relatively simple to make a pattern for the fold over kind with a slot for money and slots for cards. Of course I had to make it a little more time consuming by making it quilted, but I was really happy with how it was turning out. Of course, it couldn't be that simple...

Here's the machine quilting part which was actually a lot of fun.

I didn't run into any problems until I was sewing the last two pieces together... It's hard to tell here but there was some serious bulkiness from the layers when I turned it right side out. I foolishly used interfacing wanting to make it as sturdy as possible, but with all the fabric layers from the added pocket and card slots, it was just too thick... not to mention I used a light weight corduroy for the interior. I wouldn't stay closed on its own and when held shut, the inner pocket stuck out awkwardly above the outside of the wallet. I had intended to sew around the outer edges to secure the inner seams, but it was just too thick so the raw edges were left showing inside the wallet.

So after a day of making the pattern and sewing it, I took it apart again, one stitch at a time... I tried to thin out some of the interfacing in places where it was causing difficulties and I lowered the inside part which ended up causing another problem... raw edges showing on the outer part. Ah! So.. I took it apart again. And it's still apart as there's still more I have to seam rip before attempting to fix it. I don't want any of the raw edges to be showing so I'm re-sewing both the back and front separately and then I'm going to sew them together again. If that doesn't work... it's a lost cause and I'll have to start again using thinner material and with some adjustments to the pattern.

I'm sure this was way more than anyone wanted to hear about making a wallet, but it was such a huge disappoint when I thought I had planned it out fairly well. And when you spend your whole day working on something that you end up taking apart, it's more than a little frustrating. Jake had to listen to all the cursing and feet stamping that went along with this frustration. I know there's some lesson to be learned in this, but mostly it just reminded me how much I hate having to use a seam ripper.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paint Sample Hearts and Fall Scarves

I hope you all saw the bright big beautiful full moon last night. She was singing a lonesome song but it was altogether inspiring.

Look what came in the mail the other day! New art supplies! Hooo-ray! I got some new sketchbooks just like my old sketchbooks that I filled up but in different colors...lavender, green and blue, pretty as a picture! I originally found them at the RISD art store when we lived in Providence and was so sad to not be able to get them anymore. But I went on a vision quest, and low and behold, I found them online! They are quite lovely... my dream sketchbooks, smooth and versatile and the little ones are great for carrying along in your pocket. I also invested in some casein paints. I'm so excited to try them out. From what I've seen of them they have a similar quality to gouache but with the added bonus of being able to work on surfaces like wood and canvas. I'm just hoping they're not too frustrating, but it'll be good to experiment again .

And here's what I've been up to while watching the shop... crocheting some new fall scarves in some very soft cotton yarn. They're very simple, but I love looking at all the bright colors together.

Before I go, here is another little exercise in color... figuring out what to do with all the extra paint sample cards left over from painting our new place. They make lovely little Swedish heart decorations. Maybe I'll make some more, but I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gumtree Canoe

Sickness has made us both a little slow and useless these days. There's been a definite lack of crafting and arting and a lot of curling up in sweaters (yes, our house is actually kind of cold!) and reading books and some impromptu snoozing. This afternoon we did something adventurous and escaped outdoors for some fresh air. It's amazing what a little air can do for a foggy head. Unfortunately, after we enjoyed some time laying out on a picnic blanket in the sun, we were reminded of all the outdoor chores that have been waiting for us, like this field of grass you see Jake laying in.

(note our hobo blanket... found at fleamarket... made from old pants!)

With all the rain and a broken lawn mower before that, our lawn quickly grew and grew and grew some more... On top of that we have ten cords of wood that we have slowly but surely been stacking and trying to find a place for. Ten chords is a boat load! But it was good to tackle some of it... especially the lawn which has been gnawing at our conscience. And it also gave me a chance to pick some flowers and tomatoes. Salad tonight!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Handkerchief and Old Box

These last few days thoughts of the holidays seem to be popping in my head. I don't know why at the end summer I always jump so far ahead to winter festivities. These are some little things found and gathered... a rock from our river, a wildflower from my sweetheart, and a handkerchief from my grandma sitting on an old chest I just painted green. I keep thinking of lining the inside with pretty paper and hiding handmade presents in it. I'd really love to make all of my Christmas gifts this year, and that takes a bit of forethought. I'm also thinking about maybe painting some animals or a fun folksy design on the box. Right now we use it as a coffee table, but it could have oh so many wonderful purposes.

We're off to our weekly trip to the grocery store... we have to take the long way because one of the major roads is out from the flooding last week. But that's ok... we'll poke around in town and go to the bookstores. Working from home, it's definitely our bit of sanity for the week to go out to Middlebury and enjoy the little shops. Off I go!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Introductions and Whatnot

Hello! I'm starting this blog to share with you my artwork and crafts and other things that I find joy in, and also as a way to motivate me to do more of the things I love! I now live in the north country and run a country store with my true love, Jake, and we both spend our days making things. We hope to someday own a castle (small cottage in the woods) made of ginger bread... or maybe just wood I suppose, being that we get a lot of snow up here.

Ten Odd Things:

1) This blog is named after our kitties "Indian" name.
2) Our kitty is named after a land turtle (Terrapin).
3) Our back yard is a mountain and our front yard is a river.
4) It's 8-8-08. (and it's also my Grandpa's 75th birthday)
5) Jake is playing a round ukulele.
6) I love fresh basil to unreasonable amounts. (Jake too)
7) We've been having torrential down pours and flooding all week.
8) We have a three pound block of cheese in the fridge. (thank you visitors!)
9) Our porch is bright green. (very bright green)
10) I wish it was Christmas so we can have rice pudding.