Visual Design Fun: Polyvore Set - Errands

This set looks so comfy and relaxed to me, and I just love the cheekiness of that seashell top!

Notice JJ Cale has again put in an appearance. If I were wearing this running errands I would have ear buds in allowing me to totally tune out the folks around me and jam. Not because I don't like people, because I do! I swear! But because I so rarely go anywhere with no children or the Hubs that when I do I like to wrap myself in a 'me' bubble. Ah, the 'me' bubble. How I love the 'me' bubble. Ha!

Would you rock seashells on your seashells?
Is the zipper bracelet too punk rock?
Are the shoes too ironic?

Let me know what you think!


Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm spending Valentine's with the kids, while the Hubs is away on business. Neither of them gets this holiday of course, but I did what I could to make it special. W and I shared a lovely spinach, artichoke, and feta egg souffle at lunch, and later a chocolate covered strawberry milkshake. Tonight we'll be having a flourless chocolate cake with our supper.

[I show my love through food I guess. With chocolate. And sugar!]

I read about a Valentine's gift idea where you add a sweet scroll message that is pulled out from a felt heart here. So I made three for the kids, along with the card you see above. The card is mixed media [paper, ribbon, fabric] and I wrote a personal message inside. My sister does a much better job with cards then I do, but these were fun to make. 

[Check out her work here.]

After I made the card I had a little fun decorating the envelope! 

[You can see I continue to practice my cursive skills.]

One of the messages read "You are my superhero!". W likes to have a blanket tied around her neck so she's wearing a 'cape'. Then she runs around shouting "I'm your SUPerhero!" Emphasis on the SUP. 

W had fun removing the scrolls from the hearts via the 'Pull Me' tab and a predictable difficulty rolling them back up. She mostly seemed to enjoy helping me take the pictures in this post, as she hasn't touched the hearts since before breakfast. I enjoyed every aspect of it, as making things is my favorite thing to do!

[And eating chocolate is in the top five. Ha!]


What I'm listening to...

I listen to a variety of music while I work, because I find it more in tune [Ha! See what I did there? In tune. Music. I slay me!] with my work than having the tv on in the background. Here's something from my playlist.

 JJ Cale

My mom's a music fanatic enthusiast, and each time she drives down for a visit she packs up a box of cds to listen to on the way. On a recent visit she brought the box in so I could look through it and suggested I give JJ Cale's Very Best of JJ Cale a listen.

It's been in the rotation ever since! It's bluesy, jazzy and old school rock 'n roll. Maybe even a little country. I instantly recognized After Midnight and upon reading his bio online I discovered that while Clapton made it famous, Cale actually cut it first, in the mid 60's. Clapton also recorded Cale's Cocaine, Travelin' Light and I'll Make Love To You Anytime. He's been covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, The Allman Brothers, Johnny Cash and Widespread Panic too. 

I suppose I tend to think that the band who records the song is the band that wrote the song, which is grievously inaccurate. It's so interesting to learn of these in some ways behind the scenes artists, who often aren't known to the average listener.

One of my faves off the Very Best of JJ Cale album is Hey Baby

Any song about how awesome and good looking I am is aces as far as I'm concerned.

['Baby' is an ambiguous term of endearment, which to me means the song could be about any one of us. Or at least any one of us that is awesome and good looking. Ha!]

I really like Mama Don't for it's guitar parts. I'll Make Love to You Anytime rocks. Crazy Mama rolls along in a country highway kind of way. The whole album just relaxes me. Like nothing can possibly be difficult or stressful or problematic because I'm hanging out with this 70 something year old guy who like, jams man. He makes me want to learn the harmonica so I can play it in his band. [I'm no groupie, yo.]

Am I going on and on here? I'll reel it back in. Get your hands on some JJ Cale. Go.

Personal Project: Tiny Wood Block Paintings

Recently I was inspired to create tiny paintings using scrap lumber left from various building projects around our place. I wasn't sure what I intended to paint, especially as I don't normally do much fine art painting, but I went to my brother's nearby with the scraps and the idea.

[He has a heated garage full of tools, so I took this opportunity to use them spend time with him. Haha! He even let me try to run the saw, though when I couldn't quite get the cuts straight he stepped in to save the project. Thanks bro!]

So armed with my blank canvases, I got to work sketching out some ideas. After choosing a few rough sketches to try, I primed the pieces and sketched the layouts onto the blocks. I broke out the paint trays, paints and brushes from college [was that really 10 years ago already!?] and got to work.

A trip to the hardware store secured tiny sawtooth picture hangers and tiny nails.

And then I tried to hammer those tiny nails into the backs of my paintings.


Tiny nails. Not so tiny fingers. Dilemma.

Idea! I pulled a needle nose tool from my jewelry making supplies and used it to hold the nail in place while I hammered with the other hand.

Admittedly a few times the nail slipped out of my pliers, but eventually I got the hang of it.

Once the nail was at least partially in the back I could finish it off without the pliers.

I was so excited to make these little buggers, and I've decided that with my attention span, these small, mostly quick projects are right up my alley. Quick sketch, a little paint, hanger attached and ta da! I'm suddenly a painter of fine art. Or children's art. Potato potahto. :)


Inspired by: e.e. cummings

e.e. cummings is one of my favorite poets, but just recently I learned he's an artist of a different sort as well. Turns out, he viewed himself as much a painter as a poet and actually spent more time painting than writing. I've barely scratched the surface of his work but I did find a painting that I find inspiring I'd like to share today. 

This piece is tempera on cardboard.The use of off-beat materials is one key reason why this piece inspires me. It speaks to how creative expression is possible anywhere, you don't have to have the 'right' materials to convey what's spinning around in your brain. 

I also appreciate her hairstyle. The short curly 'do brings me back to my 8th grade school photo. The subject would need to be rockin' a large pair of spectacles to really capture 8th grade me, but the hair is spot on. Ha! I love the liberal use of color, the unexpected green that represents the shadow along her side, the orange around her breast. It's bright and splashy, and sophisticated.

This piece makes me want to use chalk to create a masterpiece on my driveway [once it isn't so cold!]. I want to use my fingertips instead of brushes and wear paint splattered ripped up jeans with bare feet [because what you wear while you create least in the daydream version! Silly.].

What's inspiring you today?


[on the table] Mocha at Home

I stopped drinking coffee in 2009 when I was pregnant with my daughter. After she was born I began again and somewhere between then and my second pregnancy I quit for good [or at least until I begin again!].  So in the meantime I've switched over to enjoying Teeccino caffeine-free herbal coffee. 

It tastes good, although coming off normal coffee it takes some adjusting to, but my favorite part is that it's non acidic. An alkaline system is a happy system, and when you drink normal coffee, especially first thing in the morning, you're basically dumping acid on acid. 

[That is as bad as it sounds.]

So with teeccino I get the coffee-like experience without the caffeine or the acid.

That said, occasionally I still get a fancy coffee drink for a treat, and earlier this winter I became obsessed with the Salted Caramel Mocha. I'd 'treated' myself to many of these [is it really a treat if you get it multiple times a week?] before I accepted how many empty calories there are in each one and added up just how much money my 'treats' were costing me.

So no more of those.

[Unless we're driving to Watertown in a ground blizzard. Then you get one before you go, and one for the ride home too, because you know it will be just as bad. It wasn't. It was like a totally different day on the trip back.]  

But we can of course make mocha's at home. So I do. Almost every day. 

You can froth milk up at home just like you get from the coffee place by whisking it briskly!

My 'recipe' goes like this:

I warm approximately 2 cups milk [I like the unsweetened coconut and almond blend from Blue Diamond] in a small saucepan over low heat. To that I add 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 Tbsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, a dash of cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 2 packets NuNaturals stevia. Whisk whisk whisk. Add 2 cups strongly brewed teeccino and whisk some more. Pour into a mug and enjoy hot. This makes two servings, both of which I drink myself. 

The cinnamon, ginger and cayenne add a bit of extra heat I've become eager for on these cold South Dakota mornings. I sip my mocha and feel the warmth spreading out to my fingers.

[Or maybe that's because I'm holding the hot mug? Hmmm.] 


Visual Design Fun: Polyvore Set

So, if you haven't heard of it, Polyvore is a website where you can create outfit inspiration from real clothes. 

I super, super love it. 

It's like getting dressed in whatever you want from the comfort of your chaise lounge. Money is no object. Accessories are unlimited. The options aren't endless, but they do stretch for miles.

This is one of my first sets. 

I love this so much, I made the scarf. Then I made a version of the jacket [from some of that super cheap fleece!] and I have the material to make the clutch. The top however, eludes me. I have no desire to slave over pleats and that particular top is around $150. I could stretch the budget and order it online, but what if it looks terrible on me?! That would be torturous. In the interim, I keep my eye out for something equally eggplant and flattering. 

My favorite part is that this free site gives me the tools to expend a little creative energy, while also inspiring my everyday personal projects. We really can create anything we dream, you know?


Personal Project: Mini Polaroid Magnets

During one of many internet perusals in search of inspiration, I came across the idea of making tiny Polaroid magnets. I don't recall where, a Google search would no doubt find a few options, but I do think this particular DIY is more difficult without fancy photo/layout manipulation software at your disposal. I actually used Adobe InDesign to create a template of sorts that allows me to drop any photo I like into a pre-sized box on a sheet of many boxes. Like this:

One of the things I LOVE about this project is the big bang for minimal effort. I am an artist at heart, but also a Gemini, therefore prone to lots of ideas without the drive to finish them all. This project, once the template was setup, is easy-peasy and as I was cutting out these adorable little buggers I couldn't help but be smug about how little time it took to print, spray adhesive, set and then cut them out to be refrigerator ready.

It was so easy I immediately made gift pouches out of them. The kids' grandparents got family filled tiny Polaroid goodness for their various magnetic surfaces. Each magnet measures roughly 1" x 1". The magnetic paper I chose is not terribly strong, so these won't actually hold anything up, but they are art in their own right, don't you think?


Personal Project: Chair Redo

Our front room sports a, ahem, vintage chair that once belonged to my parents. Before that it belonged to my grandparents. Actually there are two. We brought both chairs to our place when we finished the family room downstairs and suddenly had need of more places to park behinds.

Over the years the cushions have been updated but the wooden frame is much the same as it has always been. The most recent cushion update was handled by my Mom, a catalog order if memory serves. The neutral tweed blended just fine with the front room decor, but I've been meaning to update the cushions anyway, for ages. I researched seamstresses in town who might do just such a job and while the cost wasn't crazy, it was still more than I felt justified paying, and occasionally I decide I'm completely capable of undertaking a task I have no experience with. Combined with a 50% off per yard sale on decor fabrics at a local fabric store, my suddenly desperate need to update the front room led me to decide this was just such a task.

Old cushion covers and new fabric.

This goldenrod chevron caught my eye whilst at the fabric store on a previous expedition to procure solid colored fleece available for $3.99/yd [!] in a veritable rainbow of colors. Perhaps seeing that bolt is what created the desperate need for room updating. Hmm. Fabric stores can be dangerous places for me. :)

So I discussed it with the Hubs, and after determining the length of the 50% off sale, decided to buy what I thought was just enough fabric to cover one chair [two cushions]. My sister had the brilliant idea to use a Velcro closure [thank goodness, I was planning a zipper if you can believe it] so I picked up some of that too.

I decided to use one piece for top, front and bottom, then separate sides and a two piece back with the Velcro. I Googled a tutorial to get some idea of what I should be doing and pushed ahead. A couple of hours later I had one Velcro-less slipcover for the bottom cushion. Hubs helped me wrangle the cushion into the cover and it had a nice, snug fit. Success! The next day I added the Velcro closure and moved on to cushion two.

Finished just in time for naps to be over and Hubs to admire my work. :)

By the time Hubs got home from work the chair looked like this. Not too bad!

[For all of you out there rolling your eyes at me because, in all seriousness, it's just a slipcover, not exactly the most challenging on the scale of sewing difficulty— how right you are! Celebrate with me anyway! Ha!]

So, mission accomplished. Cushions slipcover-ed. 

Unfortunately my gorgeous slipcovers left me with a problem. I love the goldenrod chevron. However the goldenrod chevron, to my sadness, doesn't love the aged walls and the beige curtains. The combination made the chair look washed out of all things. Do you know what that means? Do you?!

If you guessed new curtains, deeper aging on the walls and of course new lampshades, you are correct! My taste has grown from the mostly neutral furnishing choices of my youth into cornflower blue patterned curtains and round French scripty lampshades.

Oh, and goldenrod chevron slipcovers.:)