Sunday, August 30, 2009

An excuse to go to the fabric store (a sort-of tutorial)

I'm sure I don't have to explain the dilemma of going to the fabric store with only enough money to buy one yard or less. I should be thrilled to be able to buy even that, right?! Unless I quickly choose the first print I love, pay for it, and leave without looking at anything else, I will be there all day tormenting myself with all the beautiful choices. Can you relate?
Sorry, this post won't help you.
However it will give you a reason to go to the fabric store (as if you needed one,) and choose only ONE print. Cuz that's all you need to make this cool little bag! (Well, and something for the lining. And matching thread, and some leather lace. But that's besides the point.) It looks kinda like a drawstring bag, but it's not. It doesn't have any fussy closure- the weight of the stuff you put in it keeps it snug at the top when you carry it. The only downside is the leather lace will kinda dig into your shoulder if the bag gets too heavy.

It took less than half an hour, and look at all the stuff it holds!

Truthfully, I saw a really cool pattern in an Amy Butler book and that's what I started out to make. But I couldn't figure out what was going on so I .... improvised.

Ok so you take a rectangle of fabric (I just chopped off a section of half-yard) and fold it in half with right sides together. Stitch each long side. Keeping it inside out, make a gusset on the bottom. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, google it. Cuz I'm not a very good 'splainer.) Or if you're even lazier than me (not judging!) skip that part. It just won't be as full-looking on the bottom.

Anyway, do the exact same thing for your lining. Now turn the printed piece right side out and leave the lining inside out. Fit the lining down inside the bag, doing your best to match up the gussets and the top edge.

To make the tube around the top for the leather handle, you'll basically make a big ol' hem on each side, without closing them at the seams. You're probably supposed to iron down a quarter inch and fold over again and then stitch, but I'm lazy and I hate ironing. So I folded the edge down a tad and stitched, then folded it over again and stitched, making it big enough to fit a safety pin through.

The hardest part is actually getting the leather in there. (BTW, you can get leather lace in all kindsa cool colors at the craft store in the hippie aisle... more about that later.) I don't have any special leather stitching or whatever tools, so I took a nail and hammered it down into the darn thing to make a hole for the safety pin. After threading it through the big ol' hem, Amy Butler says to stitch it together. Bwahaha. I just tied it in a knot. Meh.

What I love about this bag is (gasp!) the simplicity. As long as you're not too impatient to pre-shrink the fabric before you start stitchin', you can drag it around and toss it in the wash without worry. If you make the straps just the right length, you can wear it on your shoulder and fish stuff out with one hand pretty easily. Plus, even for the snazzy stuff, it's not more than $5 for a half yard. So it's cheap enough to make one in all your favorite prints and not worry about what happens to it during your busy day!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tea Party

I silently watched as she carefully arranged each cup and saucer according to color, added the little vase and plastic rose, and served tea to each doll. She then added one "sugar cube" Smarties candy to each cup and stirred gently. I watched in amazement as she used one hand to push the pram back and forth to quiet her crying baby while she sipped her tea.
Who taught her all this?
Seems like just last week I was crying with joy when she learned real kisses. And now look at her. I wish she could stay this size forever.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Favorites Friday: Momochas

I've been admiring Momochas on Etsy since I first joined. It was extremely difficult to choose which pieces to include, because they're all gorgeous!

Ana, the talented creator of Momochas, uses polymer clay to create this lovely jewelry. I love how she adds tiny swarovski crystals and lace or trim to her work. So unique!

Pinkish Chocolate Pendant

"Serenity" Dangle Earrings

"Simple Harmony" Pendant

"Matter of Color" Ring

"Sweet Chic" Locket

Can you believe the amazing detail?

Ana was nice enough to take a few minutes to talk to me about her work!
ME: So where are you from?
ANA: I live in La Coruna, a beautiful city surrounded by the sea in the northwest of Spain, where I have been fortunate to be born and grow. When I feel a little stressed or tired I usually take little (or long) walks by the beach to recharge my batteries, and it always works! I can't imagine living in any other place.
ME: It sounds like a great place to inspire such amazing work! How did you get started with polymer clay?
ANA: I discovered polymer clay casually. One day I went with my sister to a little craft store and the variety of colors of the polymer clay caught our eyes. My sister wanted to make some adornments for the kitchen and we decided to give it a try. From that moment I fell in love with this material. I love the endless possibilities it brings.
ME: Do you enjoy any other crafts?
ANA: Although I love to work with polymer clay, I'm always looking for different mediums to create. I think I have a crafty and creative spirit clearly inherited from my mother (she's always been involved in different projects as far as I can remember,) and I can't help but to create and explore.
ME: What motivated you to start an Etsy shop?
ANA: What most attracted me to Etsy was the ease to use and the friendly appearance. It took me awhile to decide to open my shop, but now I couldn't live without it. I especially love the Etsy community, everybody is so sweet and kind. I have to recognize that now I'm an Etsy addict!
ME: I totally agree! Etsy is quite a unique venue. So what was your favorite thing to make?
ANA: It's difficult to choose a favorite piece of my creations. I'm very involved with each project and live it as it was the first one I make, but if I had to choose one it would be the "Sweet Chic" locket.
ME: I love that one! Lockets are a big thing right now, and this one is so different! I like how you have a wide range of colors and jewelry types in your shop- are you planning any new projects?
ANA: I love to explore, so I'm always looking for different finishes or products. Now I'm working on a new line of hair adornments and a bridal line I'm planning to add to my shop.
ME: I can't wait to see them! Today's brides love to have something one-of-a-kind in their wedding, your creations would be perfect! Is there anywhere else we can find you online?
ANA: My etsy shop is at . You can also find my work on Artfire at , and follow me on Twitter at .
Thanks so much Ana!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The All Natural Face

Anyone who knows me in person knows I have very badly-behaved skin. (If you only know me online, now you know that Photoshop is my friend.) Maybe one month out of the week we get along ok.
I've heard great things about mineral makeup, but the ads on tv and the radio sound so expensive. So I was really excited when I came across this great free sampler deal at The All Natural Face. The listing is for 7 sample-sized shades of foundation for $1.45 (shipping)
Here's what I got!

I got tons of foundation, several eyeshadows, mineral veil, concealer for under-eye circles, eyeshadow primer, lipstick, and the cute little brush! I can't remember the last time I had so much fun opening the mail! Crystal, the seller, is so generous!

Look at the shimmer in that eyeshadow! It's absolutely gorgeous. So far I've tried the Electric Pink, Moss, and Golden Brown. I love them! They're super soft and not at all cake-y. They stay on without getting creases, and that's before I've had a chance to try the eyeshadow primer or mineral veil!
(Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, the opportunities to get all dolled-up are few and far between!) Currently she has 49 shades of eyeshadow! And an awesome deal- 5 for $10!
Foundation is especially tough for me since my skin is super pale, but not in a lovely Dita VonTeese pale. More like a sickly see-through pasty pale. Not only that, but any color I do put on tends to look orange-ish. So the first shade I tried was Ivory Rose, and I'm in love! It's very tan and pink, but somehow cancels out my oompa loompa coloring to look really natural! And I still have 13 more shades to try out! I love the quality, too. It covers nicely by itself and reduces shine without the fuzzy "bunny nose" effect. It stays on all day without creasing or getting shiny, it's perfect!
I think my favorite part is the Frosted Merlot lipstick. I have it on right now heehee. It has a tingly, plumping effect that I've paid twice as much for at a certain other retailer with nowhere near the quality (rhymes with.. uh.. Mavon.) It's so soft and silky, and the color is fantastic. It has a gorgeous copper/bronze shimmer that's great for fall.
And check this out- Fix-It Sealant! It's a hydration mist for foundation and sealant for eyemakeup all in one! The description sounds heavenly.
Crystal also has tons of other all-natural products, like lip gloss, wrinkle serum, mascara, and blush. So get on over there and shop already!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Homemade Bagels!

Why would anyone want to make homemade bagels, you ask? Maybe you're super broke but bagels sound great, and after all you do have flour, salt, sugar, and water on hand. Plus you can brag to everyone that you don't eat "store-bought" [insert look of disgust here] bagels.
First off, a word of warning. Do not attempt to make bagels when it's over 10 degrees outside- you'll roast. Also, just give it up if you have an oven that looks like this:
Now then. You probably have all the stuff you'll need already. The only thing I had to buy was a packet of yeast, which is like 25 cents. If you don't know what I'm talking about, looks like this:

Here's the list of ingredients:
  • 6-7 cups flour
  • 1 TB salt
  • 2 TB sugar (or in my experience, a whole lot more)
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/4 ounce-package rapid-rise yeast or 1 TB fresh yeast (whatever that is)
  • 1 TB vegetable oil
  • cooking spray
  • plastic wrap

1. Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. In a separate bow, mix sugar and oil with the water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid, mixing to a dough with a wooden spoon.

2. Knead dough by hand or with a dough hook, trying to add more flour if you can until smooth and elastic- about 10 minutes. Put in oiled bowl, turning once to coat all around.

Cover with plastic wrap. Rise 1 hour until finger poke impression remains.

At this point, I find it handy to go ahead and heat up the oven. The recipe says it should be 550 degrees, but mine only went up to 525- still hot enough to burn the little boogers to a crisp very quickly. If you put your dough close to the oven, it will help it rise a bit too.

Moving on..
3. Punch down the dough well (this part is fun!) Knead, and divide into 3 pieces. Roll eah piece into a rope, cut rope in 5 pieces.
Because I'd like to have bagels sometime this year, and without developing arthritis in my hands, I opted to skip all that nonsense. I'm sure it's better to do it the way the recipe says, maybe it makes the dough better or something I don't know. But after a long time of dividing, rolling, dividing again, I got tired and just tore off hunks of the dough to form into the ring for the bagel.
***Returning to recipe***
Roll each into a ball, roll into rope, curl around to form ring. Seal ends by overlapping and pinch together. Set on greased baking sheets, cover with towels for 20 minutes until puffy.

Boil a large pot of water with 2 TB of sugar. (says the recipe)
I used a stockpot, but looking back I think something more shallow would have worked better- like a dutch oven. Cuz you really don't need all that water to float a few bagels, and you'll need a ton more sugar. The first batch I poached were really bitter on the outside, so I added gobs more sugar and the next batch was much better.
Now the recipe says to drop 2-3 bagels at a time into the boiling water for 1 minute, turning once. Oops. I dumped as many as I could in at a time. Meh.
Put back onto oiled baking sheets.

Enter Doubting Husband: "Gee, hun, those look ... uh... yummy?"

After you've shoo-ed the ungrateful family members from the steaming kitchen, Bake the bagels 10-15 minutes (says recipe) until shiny and golden brown.
I think the recipe is out to get you. It knows at this point you're nearing a heat stroke and wants to ruin all your hard work. Don't listen to it.
Even at 525 degrees, my bagels were burnt at 10 minutes. I left them in for 8- much better.
That shady recipe.


Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Not Funny Anymore

Look all I wanted to do was wash the dishes. Is that really too much to ask? I promise, she was sitting quietly 5 feet away watching 101 Dalmations. Honestly I don't know how to keep stuff (eyeshadow this time) out of her reach!

Maybe SHE still thinks it's funny because everytime she's being rotten, Mommy gets out the camera?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oops I Did It Again...

...Only it was no "oops!"
You think I would have learned by now. It might make more sense if you read this post first...
I'm tapping away on something very important, (actually, it was probably Twitter or something. But for business purposes!!!) and this time I made sure the munchkin was occupied. She was sitting on the floor behind me with her coloring book and crayons. (ok, they were markers. Whatever keeps her quiet for 5 minutes- give me a break!) When suddenly I hear, "Look Mommy I pretty!" I was afraid to turn around. Sure enough, she had the mascara wand in her hand, gleefully applying it to her hair and eyebrows:
I know kids learn by example, but surely this is NOT the way to apply mascara!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Calorie-Free Confections

So I was browsing around on etsy today when I came across Fairchildart and her jaw-dropping creations. I could spend hours squinting at the teensy-tinesy dollhouse miniatures and jewelry made from polymer clay. I could never choose a favorite, and then I wandered into the "sold" section of her shop... Gahh!
Kim Burke, the amazingly talented creator of Fairchildart, graciously agreed to a blog interview. Enjoy!

Kim is from Mounds View, MN. She's been enthralled with miniatures since childhood, and is inspired by cook books and local pastry shops. "It's truly remarkable when the delicate textures of food can be reflected on such a tiny scale."

Me: I love your miniatures as jewelry! They're making my mouth water! What inspired you to open an Etsy shop?

Kim: It's my greatest joy as an artist to be able to share my work with others and I was really impressed by what a welcoming community Etsy seemed to be. It always brightens my day to receive a convo from a customer or just another Etsian passing through to drop by comments about my shop- It's this kind of feedback that makes running my shop worthwhile. Seeing the amazing talent on Etsy fuels my desire to create to the best of my abilities.

Me: Do you enjoy any other hobbies or crafts?

Kim: When I'm not hovering over fingertip-sized dishes, I like to unwind with photorealistic graphite pencil drawing or scrapbooking.

Me: Do you have any other websites?

Kim: , and a blog:

Thanks so much Kim for sharing your incredible talent!

If these gorgeous creations weren't on the tip of her finger, would you ever guess they aren't real?

A mouth-watering pomegranate. I've never even had a pomegranate, but now I really want one!

This rivals Martha Stewart's cakes!

Can't you just smell the warm syrup?

Unbelievably perfect!

If you can believe it, her blog and flickr site are filled with even more mind-blowing miniatures! I won't spoil the surprise with any more pictures, you've gotta see for yourself!