Monday, January 30, 2012

star moss all stars

This weekend I gave my tired old pair of Chucks a makeover that's decidedly "me".

These shoes are nice and comfy, and still in good shape, but no longer come clean after washing.  With these grey winter days I've had enough of dingy white so I got out my acrylics and some fabric medium and got to work.

A bright green suits me fine.

At coffee break time I admired my green nails.  Nice.

To finish off my kicks, I added some star moss to the heels and just like that I had a new pair of shoes.  They're sure to be one of a kind, and already worn in, bonus.

I kind of love them.

How are you bringing some green into your day today?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mr. Sun, sun, Mr. Golden sun

We've had what feels like weeks of grey weather here.  When it isn't snowing, it's been cloudy and grey.  I bemoaned aloud this lack of sun yesterday and as soon as the words left my mouth I thought "we should make our own sun."  So that's what we did.

I gathered up a thrifted teak bowl, some sticks, a few pieces of old yellow and orange bed sheets, yarn, and other fabric scraps.

I gave the bowl a face and drilled holes around the perimeter, slightly smaller in diameter than my sticks.

The tips of the sticks were whittled down and glued into the bowl.  I made sure to have an odd number of "rays" so the kids could easily weave the strips of bed sheets over and under, over and under.  I taught the boys how to rip strips of fabric, a task they found especially fun.  In hindsight, I'm not sure I should have shared that tip with them, I forsee many torn bed sheets in our future.

I started the weaving out with some sheets that I had previously spun into yarn and as I started to wind, what should appear?

The sun!  I couldn't believe it!  His appearance was brief but oh so appreciated.

The boys took turns weaving from there.  My youngest boy especially liked this project and told me, very excitedly, that he no longer wanted to be a "plane driver" when he grows up, but rather a weaver.  And he wants to vacuum.  I'm not sure why he's giving me that weird look.  Or why he's apparently wearing an ascot.  He's a funny guy.

Once our sun was suitably full I delighted the kids by wrapping a string of LED's around the back.  Once plugged in, we had a glowing sun on our wall, long after the real one had gone down.

It kind of looks like an eclipse, no?

I hope the sun finds you this weekend, too.  Have a good one, everyone.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Yesterday I offered to answer any questions you might have, and a few of you took me up on that.

Marilyn asked:  "if we can shoot the arrow through the hole in said bagel...will you bake us a batch a week?"

Answer:  Yes.  I'll hold the bagel, you shoot from there.   If you get it through the hole, bagels every week for at least two weeks.  :D


Glo asked:  "I want to know how you became an artist. Are you self-educated, did you have technical training...?"

Answer:  Both I guess.  I studied under an amazing instructor at the local community college who was a terrific mentor and friend, and I also took classes at NIU.  But, a lot of what I do now has been self-taught.  The years of art training taught me a lot, but as I'm sure it is for most people, the learning continues.


Rebekah asked (a couple):  "what exactly DOES your husband do? I've been a little curious about the man who married the woman who can bake, corral children and use a band saw all while blogging on an insanely regular basis."

Answer:  my husband works in IT but at home he is the fixer of anything and everything.  From biscuits to tractors, hard drives to gardening, he can do it.  He amazes me with his analytical mind and his creativity in problem-solving.  He's like MacGyver without the mullet.

" Have you always lived in MN?"

Answer: No, I grew up in northern Illinois and we only moved here a little over 5 years ago.  My husband grew up here though, and oddly enough, my family used to vacation here when I was a kid.  When my husband's job ended at Motorola (in IL), we bought our little patch of poplar and pine and moved up.

"You always seem to be coming up with cool ideas, does it ever exhaust you? Some people say it's "natural" but honestly not even the most artsy artist can do it 24/7/365 imo."

Answer: the creativity itself doesn't exhaust me, but the struggle to find the time to bring my ideas to fruition, or often just the time to thoroughly explore an idea in my head, exhausts me.  


"Aside from chickens have you ever killed anything else for it's meat? Like a cow, pig, deer, moose, giant fish of doom...etc. etc. "

Answer:  We do raise some chickens and an occasional turkey for meat, and I grew up hunting and fishing with my father.  The hunting I've done has been for food, mostly upland and small game - dove, pheasant, and rabbit, as well as duck and geese, but it's been a few years since I've gone.  We all fish, but so far no fish of doom.  And I don't ice fish because I don't enjoy being that cold.  I think those people might be a little crazier than I am.


Margie asked: "when are you coming to visit?"

Answer: a. not soon enough and b. we'll have to work on that.


Lynn asked:  "Do these jeans make my butt look big? "

Answer:  I'm pretty sure it's not the jeans. 

(don't worry, she knew I was going to say that)


Sonia asked: "when on earth will we meet up ?

Answer:  also... a. not soon enough and b. we'll have to work on that and c. when I win the lottery we'll be having a giant international conference of craftiness.  Everyone will be invited!

Thanks for playing along, girls. 

Have a great weekend, everyone.  I'm off to buy a lottery ticket.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


You might have noticed from yesterday's post that the bagels are back.  That muse of mine really likes the carbs.  She did work on some projects yesterday too, so I'm not going to be too hard on her.

I had a chuckle at my friend Lynn's comment on my "wordless" Wednesday post: 

"If it's a Wordless Wednesday, does that mean if I ask you a question, you make the 'pick a lock' finger twisty motion thing on your lips? Can I guess stuff like 20 Questions? If you make a sound like 'grrrrr', does that count?"

Then my friend Joanie asked if I use a bread machine or make bread the old fashioned way, and that got me thinking.  Do you have a question you want to ask me?  If so, go ahead and shoot.  I'll answer them in tomorrow's post.

I'll reserve the right to make the finger twisty motion thing on my lips though, just in case.

Oh, and Joanie...'Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day'... fab.  Makes everyday bread doable for me.  No bread machine here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a tan toadstool twosome

Just a quick post before I dash out the door for an appointment this morning.  I'm running late but wanted to show you the little wool toadstool piece I finished up this morning.  Two tan toadstools in a cedar stump.

I added sporophytes to the moss, of course.

I've put this little guy in my shop this morning and I hope to have more friends joining him soon.

Have a great day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

focusing the muse

I mentioned in my last post that my muse is feeling a little unfocused.  She's still feeling creative, just not in the way I'd like her to be.  Not knowing exactly how to focus this side of me, I decided to revisit a project I had done in the past, the "mother nature's palette" brooch you see here.  I thought maybe if I could work on a familiar project it might make the transition from bagels to brooches a little easier.

I sewed up one, reflected a while, then made another.  It seems to have worked a little bit as there are the beginnings of a toadstool and a piece of cedar on my table today, signs of creativity returning...

I've put the two brooches in my shop this morning, along with the last two acorn ornaments I'll be making until I can gather more of the right caps this fall.

Speaking of caps, these teeny tiny acorn caps on the brooch just kill me.  I find them on the French Rapids trail by the Mississippi river and make a trip there every fall just to gather them.  The entire acorn, minus the stem, is only as big as my pinky fingernail.  So cute!

Hope your week is off to a good start, everybody.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

an unfocused muse

I'm having a little trouble with my muse.
She hasn't wandered off or anything, it's that lately she's been really into making toys for the kids, planning woodworking projects for the house, and baking.  That's all well and good, but as someone who makes their living, no matter how modest, from their work it would be nice if she could, oh I don't know, focus for a minute on that kind of work.

I'm going to do my best to get her to concentrate this weekend.  If you could all send some "focus, muse" vibes my way, I'd appreciate it. 

Ultimately, I think muse will appreciate it too...after she's made this last batch of bagels.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

antlers + plants = plantlers?

With the day turning grey and a high of -4f forecasted for today (-30 to -40 with the windchill...what?), I decided to thumb my nose a bit at ma nature and bring a little green into my day.

My friend Karen, who is remarkably talented, sent me this awesome crocheted jute and antler pouch for Christmas.  Jute and antler?  You know how much I love this, right?

I had planned to (and might still) use this as a purse but I couldn't resist having it out where I can see it every day.

I snatched a few succulents from their pots and fashioned a liner out of plastic bags.  I filled the bottom of the bag with charcoal and styrofoam peanuts (those awful ones that don't degrade...lighter than pebbles), and then filled it up with potting soil.  In went the plants and just like that I had greenery hanging on my wall.

Isn't it lovely?
It really has brightened my day.

Now if we can just do something about warming it up.

Extra cocoa for everyone!  Stay warm out there.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

leather mushrooms

This past weekend the boys and I worked on a little project I found over at Elizabeth Abernathy's blog, leather mushrooms.

As I was bringing out the leather scraps and glue, the boys were throwing out random guesses about what kind of project we were doing, and then the teenager asked "are we making our own mittens?" (with a big sigh) which I thought was an AWESOME idea, and he's now really sorry he said that, because it's now on the list of things to do.  (muahaha)  When I asked, "what does momma loooove to look for?" they all shouted in unison... "MUSHROOMS!"  They know me so well.

I get my leather scraps in the form of neglected leather coats found at the thrift store and put out several different pieces to choose from.  I gave the boys jar lids to use as templates for the mushroom caps, and except for the gluing (I used hot glue), they really did much of this project themselves.

1/2 birthday crowns are the appropriate headgear when crafting, don't you know.

It was fun to see the boys choose their colors and textures, and I loved that they weren't afraid to experiment with using the back side of the leather pieces, which ended up looking kind of scruffy and really cool. 

I'm leaving these out where we can all see them, and the kids can play with them.  Best part, they've already asked when we can make more.

What kind of fun projects have you been working on?

Monday, January 16, 2012

snow stone giveaway winner

Thank you to everyone who entered and gave me their feedback in my snow stone giveaway!
This morning I drew a name from the hat and the winner is...

Congratulations Brenda!

I have to tell you all how incredible it is for me to have you all share this space with me.  It feels amazing to know that we have this community of sorts, of like-minded people.  Thank you.

Have a good start to the week everyone.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

frost feathers

The other morning Jack Frost had worked his magic on our kitchen window.  I noticed it as I was pouring my coffee and thought, "hmm, frost".  When my daughter noticed it she burst into laughter and said "silly chickens! feathers on the window!".  She was certain that the chickens were having some shenanigans, and sure enough when I looked at it again, I saw feathers too.

"Look at everything as though you are seeing it for the first time, with eyes of a child, fresh with wonder."-- Joseph Cornell

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

my very first toy society drop

Last year I stumbled across The Toy Society's blog and knew it was something I wanted to take part in.  It wasn't until this holiday season, when I made a sleepy baby for my niece, that I realized how I wanted to contribute.

 The Toy Society is a group of people from around the world doing a small random act of kindness - they leave a handmade toy for someone to find.  It's done anonymously and with no strings attached.  It's simply done for the joy of bringing a bit of handmade happiness into someone's life.

It's my goal to do one drop a month this year, each a sleepy baby fitting the theme of the season.  January's here is clutching a little snowball in her mittens and she has snowflakes at her feet.

Her (his?) shape is simple but easy for little ones to hold.  I added embroidered details like a tuft of hair and little bitty eyelashes.  She's made of all recycled wool, mostly from sweaters, and she's very soft.  I stuffed her with wool and lavender so she smells lovely and is delightfully squishy.

I gave her the cuddle test and yup, perfectly squishy.

She was my very first drop, and I left her at a small park in town yesterday.  I hope whoever finds her, loves her.

I think I'm going to enlist the help of my kids for the next drop.   I think it will be good for them to take part in a random act of kindness, and it will make me feel less like a creeper when I'm skulking around a playground if they're with me.

I can't wait to get started on February's.


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