Saturday, December 17, 2011

30 Things I Love

1. I love my latest incarnation of a "...Things We Love About..." poster.

2. That I get to keep making these posters (I have another one in the works).

3. Speaking of posters, I love my newest set of prints by Ryan Berkley, which I scored at the Chicago Renegade Craft Fair.

4. Christmas is coming. And I ordered a bunch of cool gifts on ThinkGeek...

5....this is one of them.
Size does matter.

6.  ...

More to come later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Yarn Days!

My house is covered in every color yarn that you can think of! Green, yellow, purple, red... my head is spinning just talking about it.

Some lucky family members will be receiving hand-made yarn wreaths this Christmas and I've been as busy as a St. Nicholas elf making them. My inspiration started with a quick Google image search for "yarn and felt wreaths" (try it and you'll see!). I attempted a yellow and purple one for myself first, and was impressed with the result.

This was quickly followed by a smaller, red version (which will be given away during the annual Holiday Ornament Exchange at the office).

Unfortunately, or fortunately for some, I'm addicted and have already made 3 more (with another 3 in the next couple weeks). My fingers have the hot glue gun scars to prove it. But, now I'm experimenting with different felt flower shapes, feathers, birds, and glass ornaments! I even found perfect 16"x16"x5" bakery boxes to store them in.

Stay turned until after the holidays to see the rest and in the meantime, make one for yourself, or a friend. You'd be surprised at how fun it is (aside from the burns)!

So you're serious about making a wreath, huh. Here's how to do it:
1. Gather a lot of inspiration images of other wreaths online. It helps to have something to go by the first time around.
2. Pick your color palette. Keep it simple at first. I did yellow and purple but added different shades of each for interest. Don't worry, your color palette can get "crazier" on your next couple wreaths.
3. Go to a craft store to buy your supplies. I started with a straw wreath because I liked the size and it was cheaper than the foam wreaths. And picked out the yarn color, as well as a few colors and shades of 8.5"x11" felt sheets, and some embellishments (picks, fake foliage, sprigs, pieces of garland, etc. will do just fine).
4. Now start wrapping your wreath with the yarn. (Tip: don't remove the plastic wrap from the straw wreath. Also, don't worry about keeping the yarn perfectly lined up. It looks more interesting when you have pieces overlapping each other and helps to cover the wreath better.) This step takes the longest. I recommend doing this while watching TV. You should be able to get through an episode or two of Dexter per wreath. Once it's completely wrapped tie the ends together and tuck to hid the knot.
5. Start cutting circles in your felt. All different sizes. The bigger the circle, the bigger the flower. Once you have circles, then start cutting them into spirals (with a wavy line). Confusing yes, so go here to see visual step-by-steps.
6. Plug in your hot glue gun because you're about to do some gluing. Per the instructions on the above link, leave a flap at the end of the spiral and glue to the back of the flower.
 7. Once your flowers are finished, arrange them on the wreath, as well as the embellishment. Keep rearranging until you like what you see, then glue them down permanently (Tip: add an optional ribbon to hang it).

Cost of project:
Straw wreath - $3.99
4 sheets of felt at $0.30 each - $1.20
Embellishment - $0.99

Total - $6.18 (assuming you already have the hot glue gun and glue sticks like I did)

Wrapping yarn - 1 hour, 30 mins.
Making and gluing flowers, embellishments - 30 mins.

Total - 2 hours

Difficulty Level:

Yes! I guarantee you'll be proud of yourself, and everyone you know will want one.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Out with the gold, In with the cold

Goodbye Fall. You'll be dearly missed. It was nice while it lasted but Old Man Winter is knocking on my door. Until next year...

Au revoir! Auf Wiedersehen! ¡Hasta maƱana!

Shot this fall while vacationing on Lake Winter. * sigh *

March of the Penguins

Get your office talking about these dishes at your next Holiday potluck. Bonus: they are quick, easy, and impressive.

For the body: Cut a wedge out of a large black olive. Fill with flavored cream cheese.
For the head: cut carrots into coin shaped slices. cut a small triangle-shape wedge out of each carrot coin. Poke the wedge into the tiny hole (not the large hole) of a small black olive.
For the base: Using the same carrot coins, cut the wedge even larger to create feet.
Assemble: stack the stuffed olive on top of the wedge, place the head on top and pierce with a tooth pick until all three parts are secured together.

This doesn't take as long as you may think. It's simple and also very delicious. Would go great as a sandwich side. And your friends/family/coworkers will be blown-away!

Marshmallow Snowmen
For the body: dunk the top of a marshmallow in frosting, and then dunk in your favorite sprinkles. (I used shredded coconut, candy-coated mini chocolate chips, nonpareils, crushed nuts, and crushed candy canes.)
For the face: Just use simple cake decorating gel or pipe frosting to draw the face. It's fun to show a variety of expressions and feel free to play around with different colors, too.
Assemble: Stick a cake pop/lollipop stick (found at specialty bake stores or Michael's) through the top and you're done!

The kids will really appreciate this one.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Word Warrior to the rescue!

This post is one big shout-out to my friend, Aubre. I'm proud to announce that she's just launched her professional website, with me as her web designer and Aaron as her web programmer. I must say the three of us make a good team because her site turned out wonderful (I especially had fun creating the roll-overs; play around on her site and you'll see what I mean). It's been months in the making but it's now finished so all she needs to do is wait for the jobs to come rolling in. And I'd bet money that she's going to be a very busy woman!

Congrats, Aubre on the official launch of your freelance business. May the Force be with you!

Check out her site here, her blog here, and like her on Facebook while you're at it. Pow! Bam! Kaboom!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Big 5-0!

I would probably say that one of the most exciting projects for a designer to work on is a poster (especially a screen print). So when this little gem was presented to me a few weeks ago I jumped right on it. I don't even know Scott, but after designing this poster around him and all his amazing qualities, it made me want to wrap my arm around his shoulder, clink mugs of beer, and start singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow..."!

Words can not describe the fun I had with this, but can I just say, I fit 50 reasons on one poster! That's a lot of copy, and I miraculously got it to fit. Round of applause, please!

Oh, and a great big happy birthday to The Man!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grandma Ruth

Warning: this gets sentimental.

So it's hot outside (heat index of 90) and I decide to take a walk with Lola. She loves walks...and smelling every single tree, bush, and blade of grass along the way. Needless to say it takes us an hour to walk a block (slight exaggeration but you get the idea). Tonight was exceptionally pleasant as there were no other crazy people out walking in this heat. No other person besides the sweetest old lady I've met, and I only say that because she reminded me of someone I love. My grandma. Grandma Ruth passed away years ago but I still think of her often. Many of my summers as a child were spent at her house picking raspberries and chasing butterflies (no really, it's true). She didn't smell like old people. She smelled like Trident gum, lilacs, and plastic hair curlers. She'd sing to me while washing my hair in the kitchen sink. Every morning she'd wake me up to the smell of pancakes or my favorite, french toast. And buy me the latest shoes for my Barbie (it was hard to keep up with the trends). She was the best! So when this sweet neighbor lady's dog came running up to Lola, she came running after her dog. It's what she said that stopped me dead in my tracks. "Say, now!" What? My grandma used to say that to us when we were causing a ruckus. Did this lady just say this to her dog? I must meet her! So we chatted about her adorable lab and the tree she recently cut down. I was even offered some free wood. The whole time we talked I couldn't help but feel like we had been friends for years. She maybe didn't smell like my grandma but she had the same sparkly eyes and spunky energy. It's times like these that make me miss Grandma Ruth the most, always when I least expect it. If I could I would hop on the next hot air balloon and ride on up to heaven for a little neighborhood gossip while we exchanged the latest issue of the National Enquirer. Love and miss you Grandma! "Talk at cha later!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Cinnamon Rolls

Everything is better when it's mini...and covered in frosting...and on a stick! I made this for a baby shower brunch this Spring. Super easy. Super cheap. Super cute!

You'll need:
One slab of frozen puffed pastry sheet (thawed)
Brown sugar
Candy sticks (found at specialty baking stores or Michael's Crafts)

How to make the mini morsels:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay the puffed pastry sheet on a floured surface. Cut in half the short way. Roll one half out slightly to help stretch and add more surface area. Set the other half aside to make more rolls later or use for another delicious baking adventure (see below for more ideas). Mix together about 1/2 cup brown sugar and about 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a bowl. (Really though, mix however you'd like. If you want sweet rolls, use more sugar. If you want a strong cinnamon flavor, use more cinnamon. Customize to your palette.) Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter until watery. Brush butter over puffed pastry sheet and then sprinkle some or all of the sugar mixture evenly on top. Roll the sheet into a log (tip: it's easiest to roll towards you instead of away). Cut up into about 1 inch pieces. Grease a mini muffin tin and place a cinnamon roll into each cup. This will help keep the roll small and tight instead of spreading out while it bakes. Pop in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until tops are nicely browned. Remove and cool on wire racks. Once cool, top each candy stick with a mini roll and frost!

Great for baby shower brunches, kids party snacks, or any day of the week. And if you want to get fancy, you can display them upright in a foam block, wrap them individually in mini cellophane bags and give as gifts, or rest them gently in mini cupcake paper wrappers.

This is only the beginning people! Try doing the same thing but with pizza fillings. Trust me, you'll never want to eat pizza the traditional way once you've had it mini, rolled, and on a stick. Donuts, cheesecake, and anything dipped in chocolate is also highly recommended to be consumed this way as well.

(Thanks to my husband for being such a wonderful hand model. Even though he was less than thrilled to hold this roll for 15 minutes while I ran him around the house finding the right lighting. All the poor guy wanted to do was eat one! Oh, the sacrifices we make for love...)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beers with Hats

If your beer could wear a hat, this is what I think it would wear.

(click on image to enlarge)

What do you think? I'd love to hear what beers you'd like to see wearing a hat. Leave your comments below.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shark Attack!

I've finally finished making the last baby shower gift for a while, least until July when the baby bashes start up again. This gift may be my favorite though. Shark towel puppets! Perfect for making bath time with little Billy Bob (sorry Gretchen, I know you probably won't name him that!) fun and hopefully easier.

I started out by giving the expecting mama a clue a few weeks ago. Nothing but a cryptic poem and a bar of soap with a teethy bite carved out of it. She didn't get the final piece to her puzzle until last week when she opened her gift to find this, a family of sharks. Watch out Gretchen, they bite!

Go here if you're really digging these little guys and would like to make some for yourself. (Note: all I did was vary the size of the template to get a daddy, mommy, and baby shark.)

Handmade Nation

The revolution in DIY (do-it-yourself) crafting is nothing new. Ever since blogging became accessible to the masses we've stumbled upon everything from political bloggers to culinary bloggers. From artist blogs to celebrity blogs. And you know what? I love it! I feel a thousand times more connected to the world. To be able to follow what one person is doing in another country or culture is facinating. Blogs provide a quick glimpse into many worlds. And my favorite land to explore is that of DIY crafts.

I recently came across Honestly, WTF, a site devoted to fashion (and all things cool). They have an amazing DIY section that tells you how to recreate high fashion on the cheap! I'm really looking forward to making these lace earrings. I'm telling you, anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can make this stuff.

Other worthwhile crafty blogs to check out: Instructables, Design Sponge, Craft, Craft Gossip, and Cut Out and Keep.

However, if you don't know what blogs or sites are best for you, then head over to Stumble Upon. It's like Russian roulette with websites. But prepare yourself, it's addicting!

And if you're just not a crafter, then you can buy anything and everything handmade straight from the maker at Etsy

Lace earrings from Honestly, WTF!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Put a Bird on It

There's this new show on IFC called Portlandia. It's FANTASTIC! Starring Fred Armisen (SNL) and Carrie Brownstein (member of the all-girl indie rock band Sleater-Kinney, which is no longer in existence. Sad!). If you haven't figured it out already, Portlandia is a homage to Portland, OR and it's inhabitants. It's a must see on your already full schedule of weekly shows. Go here to watch skits from the show. My favorites are Put a Bird On It, Is It Local?, and Did You Read?. The Portland Dream of the 90's is a pretty awesome song too. And once you've watched Put a Bird on It you'll appreciate the rest of this post.

Put. A. Bird. On. It! For all my fellow craftsters, you'll totally get this. Birds are on EVERYTHING. I'm guilty of putting a bird on it (see my website name and header. Ha!) and so are these Etsy sellers:

Put a bird...

...on a coin purse. Chirp and Bloom
...on a tote. Naturwrk
...on a wall. Wow Wall a frame. Mengsel Design
...on a necklace. Lulu Bug Jewelry

...knit it! Cheezombie
...on a wedding cake. Country Squirrels R Us
...on a key chain. Rubbish Tees a bird feeder. Trash Bird Makes
...on a shirt. KSS Maternity

...on a pillow. Bark Decor

...wearing a sweater and scarf! Joo Joo
...on a dress. All The Numbers
...on a baby. My Swallows Nest

...on a mantel. Deanna Maree

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New York City, Art Edition: The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is one of the most amazing and impressively enormous art museums in the world. A must-do on my list of things-to-do while in NY. It was an all-day event and I only made it through about half the galleries. Shocker, I know! I fell completely in love with every piece of art within her vast walls and corridors. Here is a small sampling of some of my favorites:

Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue by Georgia O'Keeffe

Nine Jackies by Andy Warhol (Here's some interesting trivia for you, Warhol took this photo of Jackie moments before JFK was shot.)

Illuminated Gospel
Apartment Window: La Danse Des Fiancailles (The Engagement Ball). Cartoon by Luc-Olivier Merson, Executed by Eugene Oudinot
 Venus, marble statue by Antonio Canova

Lucas by Chuck Close

Roses by Vincent van Gogh (The great Mr. van Gogh painted this while still in the asylum.)

Serena Pulitzer Lederer by Gustav Klimt

Marguerite by Henri Matisse

Model in Kimono on Green Bench by Philip Pearlstein (Love, love, love this one!)

Richard Humphreys, the Boxer by John Hoppner

The Birth of Venus by Alexandre Cabanel

Roses and Lilies and Roses in a Bowl by Henri Fantin-Latour

Reclining Nude by Auguste Renoir

The Massacre of the Innocents by Francois-Joseph Navez (This painting takes my breath away. So deep, so emotional. I stared at it for what seemed like hours.)

Two Dancers by Edgar Degas

The Storm by Pierre-Auguste Cot

Now, run along to The Met. It's amazing in more ways than I could possibly express. Words don't do it justice. For a lasting impression and the best history lesson of your life, The Met has you covered.