Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas Lovely Blog Readers: free printable gift tags

Tip: If you make a present pretty enough, it negates the fact that you just wrapped up a package of socks and tried to pass it off as a real present.  Muah, Ha Ha!

 So, I've been on somewhat of a Christmas gift tag making binge this year (who knows why.. maybe because I have never made nice printable ones before).
And maybe I was a little inspired by my good friend Julie, who made these ADORABLE tags that I snatched up at the school craft fair.  
 Because when I have lots of projects hanging over me, I think of more, and less urgent ones to do to procrastinate the ones that are harder.  I'm brilliantly stupid and efficient like that.  (oh yeah, and I can't work on secret things when my kids are awake anyway)  First I started with (shhhh) some darling ikea wrapping paper owl designs that I totally just scanned in and digitally filched Ikea's artwork.  For non-commercial purposes... but still my conscience was miffed at me.  Because its not like I don't have artwork I can use... so I made up some Ted ones and printed four of them on label paper (4x6), so I could turn them into sticky tags. 
Freaking cute owls Ikea.  Well played.
Then for some stupid reason, I thought I needed a whole NEW design to print on cardstock for hanging tags.  Why, I do not know.  My brain gets broken when it has too many things to do.  Plus when I do make nice tags, I have always drawn a quick holly and berry sprig on each tag.  So... the thought was to do a really nice prismacolor version that I'd scan in and use forever.  You know, being lazy and all.  So I did. 
But after I printed them all out, I realized that, silly me, I could have used the Ted ones on different paper (and different layout, which I had to do anyway).  (But I guess nice to have one that was holiday themed anyway.)  Yeah, lets just call it Christmas brain, instead of temporary idiocy.  But since it is an image that only works for Christmas, and took me a scant afternoon to do, and I already did all the effort for me, and I'm in the giving spirit... why not give it away?  So I am.  You can have it.  I mean, for personal use.  If you sell it, or re-use my image or change it or take off my copyright, that stealing.  And, rude!  But you won't because you are a nice person.  So, Merry Christmas!!! 
layout/format is for a standard size (8.5x11) piece of paper/labels/cardstock

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Christmas Present Roundup Vol. 1

These are a smattering of presents I have made in years past.  Not to brag, but to share ideas.  Some were made from others tutorials, some I just improvised and some are both: tutorials that I have improvised on.  (Note: the captions are links to the tutorials..)  Happy present making!

DVD travelling art kit

No tutorial for the capes.  Just a hemmed rectangle of fabric, with an elastic casing at the top, and a craft foam applique.  Really easy.

Lunch Money Cuff tutorial: Lemon Squeezy Home

bowtie: Lemon Squeezy HomeHat: Sew Liberated

Wall-E instructable, EVE instructable.  Both modified
I know I have more... but I figured I would publish this now, and find more later. Instead of saving this as a draft yet again, because I don't need any more unfinished posts.  Thus the vol 1.  Maybe I'll get around to vol 2 this year, maybe not.   If you ask nicely I probably will though!

 (You can also check out my other tutorials..)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Classic Book Review: Tell Me a Trudy

Funniest book ever.   The pairing of the quirkiness of the story of Lore Segal and the awesome hilarity of Rosemary Wells illustrations is a killer combo.  There are three stories in the book, all told about a girl named Gertrude but who goes by Trudy and a mother and a father and a baby brother Jacob.

 They have adventures with Superman and aliens in their bathroom, and with Aunt Shirley and Cousin Leonard and sharing, and with their copycatting Grandmother.  All of whom are extremely funny characters.  The three stories (or Trudys) are all wonderful, but I think the Superman one is my favorite.

The essence of children is truly captured in the full spectrum: annoying, intelligent, gullible, fair, innocent and hilarious.  Both in Lore Segal's dialog, and in Rosmary Well's evocative illustrations.  I grew up with this book, and it weaved itself in and around our inside jokes and random references to become the stuff of familial legend.  Buy it for yourself or your kids for Christmas, or check it out from the library.  You won't regret it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tutorial: Upcycling cereal boxes into carboard mailers

This is so easy I can't believe I haven't thought of this before.   It is brilliant if I do say so myself.  I wish I had thought of this when I was bothering with all of the promotions and whatnot to get a tiny bit of sales with my etsy shop.  Though they will be useful for the new printing run I'm doing of my Ted book.  Just in time for the season of gifting and shipping everything.  Either way I am super happy that I found such a great use for the waste from the grotesque amounts of cereal my children consume.   I will certainly never need to buy another small mailer again! 

See, totally easy!  I know I'm going to be using them from now on.  Are you?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kid Project: Upcycling old broken crayons into swirly coloring sculptures

I did this last year with my kids for their friends, and since it was for gifts, I didn't blog about it then.  That and I'm pretty awful about blogging.  But in honor of the upcoming gifting/making/shopping madness, I wanted to get more homemade gift ideas out there and in my tutorials.  So, this random post which was half written (and of course not finished) was dug gingerly out of the pile of my squandered molding ideas, and with a little spit polish here and there, I present it to you for your crafting pleasure.

These were from candy pretzel molds, so I had to tape up the end so the wax wouldn't run out, but overall it made a great shape for coloring with.

Upcycled Fancy Crayons

Step 1: Peel old crayons.  (kid step)  Perfect job for kid helpers.  You (the adult) can make it easier by taking an exacto knife and cutting through the length of the crayon paper wrapper.

Step 2: Sort out the colors into like piles.  (kid step)  I used a ton of leftover crayons, all different brands.  Some of which had different wax and sparkles and whatnot other components, so it wasn't all totally homogeneous.  Not the best thing, so I would suggest maybe sticking to the same brand.  It still worked though, but next time I think I'll go with all the same sort of crayons.

Step 3: Melt them double boiler style.  (adult job)  You can use a variety of things for this purpose.  But just know it will probably ruin whatever container you use.  So think recycled.  You can start collecting rinsed out tin cans, or I used glass baby food jars.. anything that isn't going to melt with the crayons.  (don't use anything plastic)  And put them in a shallow pot of boiling water.  Make sure the water doesn't go into the crayon containers.

Step 4: Pour the molten wax into molds.  (adult job)  Use tongs or oven mitts or something, because I guarantee whatever you used to house the molten wax will be super hot.  Be careful when you pour!  You can use all sorts of different molds to shape the wax.  I used candy molds this time.  But you can use old ice cube trays, or muffin tins, old prescription bottles or even hollowed out egg shells.  The possibilities are really endless.  (you could get real fancy and make plaster casts of objects and fill it in with wax..)  I also like to swirl and mix two or more colors together.  I try to stick with colors next to or close to each other on the color spectrum (or mix with neutrals, white, brown, greys and black) to avoid really ugly combinations, like what happens when you mix complimentary colors that cancel each other out.  Because they will mix up a bit.  The mixing colors is my favorite part.  Go crazy and have fun with it though!

Step 5: Cool them off completely.  Cool off in freezer (where the wax will contract, making it easy to pop right out of the mold!)

Step 5:  Remove from the mold and color.  (kid step)  Make sure it is totally cooled off and cold, and not even slightly warm at all.  If so it should come right out and be ready to color with!
re-purposed glass baby food jars work great for gifting and/or storage (as well as for melting) can you tell I did this when Liam was still eating baby food?

 There you go!  Enjoy!  It is really fun, and they make fantastic gifts.  If you want more gift making tutorials let me know!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"The Next Big Thing" (theoretically of course, and not at all presumptiously)

I was blog tagged by my lovely friend and supporting authoress Amber June, and it gives me the chance to ramble about my book, and give out probably not previously aforementioned glimpses of my process and background story.  So, here goes: 

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book? 
Penelope's Perfect Pet

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

Huh, it stems from a few things.  It started with a couple of watercolor illustrations that I was trying my hand at.  To see if I should delve into the illustration thing or not.  Because I am not spread thin enough on my current repertoire of creative/artistic endeavors.  hah!  There is a reason my friends, that this blog is entitled "Rampant Eclecticism".  If you are being polite you can call me a Renaissance Woman.  But honestly and put simply I had previously refused (and still hesitate to do so) to be pegged into one specific genre of artist.  I have a very eclectic skill set.  Which unfortunately means I am master of none of it.... so far.  It is mostly a fear based sort of thing.  (and there are too many awesome things that I wanna do!)  Which I am trying to overcome by focusing on illustration.  Anyway..  I really liked the idea of juxtaposing wild animals into normal everyday life domestic scenes.  I like animals, so the book (and my subsequent actual focus on illustration) sort of evolved from those two pictures. 
The bear is no longer in the book, and I also never finished his setting (he was meant to have trampled a rose bush by a mailbox.)  The elephant is going to be in the book, but not this exact illustration anymore.
What genre does your book fall under?

Children's Picture Book
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Ummm..  honestly no clue.  Incredibly rarely do they ever make children's books into movies.  And pretty much then, it has got to be a Caldecott winner book at the very least.  You have to be legendary, like Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak.  I feel presumptuous enough for one day.  Mostly though, I'm too lazy to really think about it.  Visually when I picture the characters, I picture my daughter Sohvi, who is the model (and partial inspiration for the main character), and my niece and nephews who did all the reference poses as her older siblings.  I don't have any interest in changing that visual image, so I don't want to pick out actors that look like my relatives. 
Sohvi, and my niece and nephews, one of whom is just an interested observer, as they pose for an imagined scene in which they play tug-o-war with a tiger.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Penelope endeavors to dream up and then find the ideal pet for herself, which must also be better in every way to the pets of her siblings.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I would like it to be represented by an agency, though I have yet to even try to find one.  I tried the self publishing thing with my and my sister's Ted the Hamster book, and re-realized not only do I hate self marketing, but I'm also terrible at it.  Either that or I need to face reality and realize it isn't as good as I think.  I was printing them myself (because I could do quality control, and every other financially available alternative looked horrific).  Which is a really, really dumb idea.  Mostly though, the Ted book was a very nice practice in finishing things, so I could convince myself to be able to take on finishing this book, MY baby. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

First draft?  Not very long.  It isn't really word heavy.  It is very much image heavy.  It was probably written out in one sitting.  Honestly though, I really don't remember.  I started it when my oldest, who is nearly 9, was about a year old.  That was a long time, and many brain cells ago.  And I haven't focused on the writing part of my book for a really long time. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Jumanji for its usage of juxtaposed animals.  Where the Wild Things Are in terms of visual storytelling.  I try to have it show you what is happening, rather than tell you.  There are a few pages of only pictures and no (or one or two) words on the page. 

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As clichéd as it may be, my kids and my husband, who has been my biggest support and listened to my whining crap and encouraged me when I felt like giving up.   It all started when I found myself at home, a new mom adjusting to my new life, in a new city (Portland) and desperately needing to submerge myself deeply into a Real Grown-Up Defined Creative Endeavor.  I had graduated with a bachelor's degree in Visual Art (with no emphasis, I wussed out of the BFA degree) less than a year before and had done virtually nothing with it, besides a couple of boring landscape oil paintings just for fun.  As I had been focused instead on starting a family.  Which was glorious and terrible, and is the hardest and the best thing I will ever do.  But my creative beastie was antsy to say the least.  It refused to be sequestered in the dank corners of my psyche.  And my oldest daughter even as a baby loved picture books.  And I thought, my art could fit in, in a kid's book.  And then, hey, I could do this.   I should do this.  I love words AND art, it is the perfect marriage of my skills.  I will do this.  And so I did.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has an alligator in a tub, with it's tail in the toilet. What little kid (and me) doesn't think that is the funniest thing ever.

And I'm not going to play by the "rules" and tag anyone. I will link to others in my support group who have done this and throw out the hope that Willow will join in the madness, but no-one is under any obligation to do so.

Amber June (aka A.J. Snodgrass? right?) 

and the lovely J. Larkin

(both of whom are incredibly talented, brilliant, funny and also helpful in bolstering my authorial confidence)

I will also list other illustrators whom I admire and follow, but do not know on a personal level, so the invitation and links to their blog probably may likely not result in a playing of this game. But I would be tickled and flattered if they did. But in the spirit of fellow support for what I would hope to be my peers I will throw out blogs I know of, of these illustrators of whom I admire. Though they are all actually successful in publishing books and I am not. (yet) (cross your fingers)

Sarah Jane

Julie Olson 
Will Terry

Friday, September 14, 2012

Can't we all just get along?

Politics....  (shudder)  Why has this become such a nasty and negative thing?  It has for me at least.  I don't even care which side you are on.  Lately you can tell which side someone is on not based on what candidate they support, but by their hatred of the opposing candidate.  What happened to "United we stand, Divided we fall"?  You think that might be why even after the elections are over we still can't seem to rally together and get anything done?  The rift between the two opposing parties has grown into such a gaping chasm that seems if you attempt to bridge it you risk a grisly death.  Death by vicious villainous rhetoric at least.  Why does it have to be so mean and vile and negative?  Seriously.  I'm all for supporting and endorsing a candidate, but why can't it stop there, instead of feeling compelled then to eschew hatred and all things evil towards the other party?  Seriously, one of these guys is going to win, and we need to be able to work together to fix this mess of a country.  Instead of pointing fingers at who's fault it is.  How can we fix it if we are so divided from the elections we have no time to heal in between.  What happened to compromise?  When did the idea that a politician who compromises is seen as weak?  What happened to the ideals that we learned in Kindergarten, huh?  If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all.  Working together to find a solution that everyone can be happy with.  Everyone learning to share, be nice, and follow the golden rule.  I believe that people generally are trying their best to be good and do what is right according to them.  I like to hope that includes politicians (from both sides).  So, even if we disagree on some issues we can still learn to work together for the greater good.  BUT NOT IF WE KEEP POLARIZING ISSUES!!!  AND CALLING NAMES AND MUDSLINGING AND IN GENERAL JUST BEING MEAN!!  We need to as a country just freaking grow up and learn to work together and play nicely.  Quit throwing sand in the sandbox already.  It just makes everyone uncomfortable and irritated and in reality just ends up exposing all of the hidden cat poop.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On productivity and my general lack of it.

complete with personal neurosis
In yet another desperate attempt to be a better taskmaster for myself (ie. real grown-up) I have come up with again, another solution.  (Because I've certainly never addressed that issue on my blog before, ever...)  I need to be more accountable and organized and stuff, so I can be productive.  I don't really want to use (and thus use up, as it is almost full) my current planner, because then I'd have to make a new one... and I'm so crazy overwhelmed with creative projects right now I just cannot even fathom the thought of having to make a new one (even though I have already planned on what paper I want to make my new one with).  Therefore I re-adjusted the planner page I previously designed to a single page printout that I can just print off whenever I'd like, hang on the fridge, and throw away and such when I am done.  (as opposed to binding it all together in a beautiful, yet time consuming planner).  And I'm using it differently than I have my beautiful red planner.  It is basically a glorified "to do" list.  But without as much guilt... maybe.   ...hopefully.  I list things that need to be done on the right side and things that I DO on the left side.  (even if I list them retroactively)  Then I can both cross things off as I accomplish them and feel productive anyway with things I did that weren't on the list.  And whatever isn't done, if it deems itself worthy it can be moved to the next weeks list.  Or not, so as to not feel overly bogged down by OLD goals.  (I have weird mental tricks..) Who wants to do an old guilt laden thing, when there are bright and shiny new ideas to chase?  Which couldn't possibly be the reason for my creative buildup, right?

Also works for when you happen to decide you must go bunny shopping instead of everything else on your "to do" list
I may have ADD.. or clinically: ADHD-I, the sort with the inattentive subtype, but who really speaks that language ;).  Remember how I might be a mental hypochondriac?  Yeah... so who knows really.  I do know that I beat myself up for being lazy and am a massive procrastinator and I get crazy distracted by so many useless things ALL THE STUPID TIME!  And how I currently have no less than 26 uncompleted drafts of blog posts that I have started, but not finished.  And countless sewing projects that have been abandoned in various stages of completion.  And how I have been working on illustrating the children's book I wrote for going on something like 6 years.  And how sometimes the only time I get anything done is when I'm avoiding doing something else.  I should be able to get so much more done (even with kids.)  So, maybe I do have ADD.   But I'm thinking/hoping it isn't bad enough to warrant medication.. (what I have actually tried, it didn't help and I hated it)  This is my current way to fight back.  We'll see how well it works...

The glimmer of hope is that sometimes I have fantastic productivity surges and I am able to accomplish nearly everything I want to, until reality crashes the party.   Then I get caught in guilt and shame spirals where I beat myself up and it only makes it harder to do anything because I feel so crappy and I feel helpless against my unreasonable un-productivity.  I'll give you an example.  I really don't like doing dishes.  Normally I just do them anyway, and push through and pretend I'm a real and responsible grown-up.  (Or I totally jam out to loud music to make it fun.)  But sometimes, such as some unspecified three days last week, they unsuspectingly pile up to incomprehensible levels that may or may not contain every single bowl and utensil in my entire house and it becomes so awful and overwhelming that I will mean to do them, and constantly try to start, and feel completely awful that I haven't, but I'm never actually able to do it.  For three days people!  That is just super gross.  This is an extreme case, yes.. but sometimes the worse the problem, the harder it is to face.  But the more I actually do get done, when I finally break do break out of my stupor, is fantastic and encouraging.  The hope is that productivity is contagious.  So maybe it is possible to slowly turn my weaknesses into strengths.  Eventually.

And since I already re-formatted this goal/"to do"/productivity-planner/page/list/thingie for myself, why not share, if it could be useful to others.  So here you are.  Just click on the image and save it to your computer, and then you can print it out with whatever program you have that prints .jpg files.  So if you happen have my particular brand of crazy, you are welcome to make use of it.*  Or alternately you can use it like a regular planner, if you are normal and your grown-up-ness isn't broken.  You're welcome.  I make no guarantees as to its efficacy.  That part is up to you.

*Just don't be mean and try and sell it or things made from it, ok.  But that is just common sense and decency, right?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review, King Hugo's Huge Ego by Chris Van Dusen

Not only are the pictures beautiful, but I even laughed out loud at the hilarity illustrated in one of the pictures.  His expression, the total ridiculousness of the situation, it was comic genius.  As for the rhyming text, well, I am actually usually not a big fan of rhyming verse in children's books.  It is just hard to do well and most of the time it becomes quite tedious, and I find myself just paraphrasing.  Quite surprisingly that is NOT the case with this book.  Which is quite the feat in my eyes.  Very few people can pull of rhyming text and make it work.  The pace is good, and not tedious and the storyline is exciting, funny and not repetitive.  And the illustrations are wonderful!  The colors throughout the book are vibrant and the compositions have just the right amount of detail.  We checked it out from the library, but now it is on our "to get" list.  Because it is a hit for both parents and kids in our house.

Have you read it?  What do you think about it?

Brain Vomit: or the post where I get overly deep and all psychoanalytical and even (gasp) religious

I just so happen to be an occasional mental hypochondriac.  I do not think I am alone in this as it happens to be quite the trendy thing to do to claim to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Bi-Polar Personality Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder.  Some times though our issues are big enough to have severely mucked up the chemistry in our brain.  But sometimes we are just self diagnosed wikipedia psychiatrists who borrow a convenient mental illness to blame our problems on.  The real point is we all have issues; big ones as well as small ones.  It is human nature to sympathize with others diagnoses and problems.  It is how we relate to others.  Diagnosed mental illnesses (professionally or not) are good and helpful and all, but they can become crippling and lead to feeling trapped by your own label.  And while medication is good and very helpful and all and totally needed in tons of circumstances.  But the underlying caveat is: it alone will not fix you.  YOU NEED TO FIX YOU (working with the medicine, if necessary and/or a REAL psychiatrist).  But the desire and willingness to change has to come from YOU.  (you know and/or help with God.)  Whether you believe in Him or not.  Even if you do (believe) He can't help you if YOU'RE not trying.  Its not like faith is magic.*  So it is still up to YOU.  God doesn't force anybody to do anything.  EVER.  (which is WHY evil things happen, by the way)

*unless you ask my son, who has said, and I quote: "Everyone is a muggle, except for Jesus."
God loves us no matter what we do or believe or anything.  He is going to love and try to help out atheists, or hardened criminals or overly religions judgmental and hypocritical zealots alike. Whether they are going to recognize it or not.  Seriously, and this shouldn't be a novel concept.  Cause He loves everyone.  Fo' reals.  And following eternal truths leads to happiness which is what he wants for everyone.  And one eternal truth is trying to become a better person.  Which most everyone is trying to do.  Because they have love (to some degree or another) for those around them.  And love makes us want to be better people.  Thus, you know the whole two great commandments.  (love God, love your neighbor).  Whether you cite the Bible or cite the Beatles (all you need is love), it is still truth.  And when you live your life for the love of others (as opposed to being the center of your own narcissistic universe) it makes you happy.

And yes while we sympathize with others we also do the polar opposite; we judge.  Which is really stupid.  I am not saying I do not do this (I totally do, and it is dumb).  'Cause everybody does.  That is the part where we think we're better.  And sure, sometimes we all have different truths that we have figured out better than other people.  BUT JUST KNOWING TRUE THINGS DOESN'T MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON.  We can all learn from each others strengths and knowledge and experience.  No matter what they look like, no matter what religion (or lack thereof) they are, no matter their social class or geographical location, or political affiliation or mental illness or physical deformity or gender or race or shape (or the lack thereof), or beauty or sexual orientation or even age.  That is the hard part.  We can't figure it all out on our own.  Of course you have to filter out all the crap wrong things too... its not like it is easy.  Whatever resonates with you.   And holds true.   (which if you ARE religious, is the Spirit: but truth is true whether you believe it or not) And sometimes our own personal truths evolve as we are ready to learn it on a deeper level.  And sometimes we are dead wrong.  But there is usually a grain of truth in everything.

So find truth and then LIVE it.  I don't care where you find it.  I happen to be a Mormon, but I realize you can find pieces of truth everywhere.  There are also misconceptions and crap everywhere too, including in the culture of the LDS Church.  (And for heavens sake, I don't need them pointed out to me, mmm-k!)  Because nobody is perfect.  One of my very favorite scriptures of all time, and don't totally zone out... is in the Book of Mormon Mormon9:31, written by Mormon's son Moroni... and he basically says that neither he nor his father (or any of the many other prophets that wrote in the book) are perfect, and we shouldn't condemn them, but learn from their weaknesses that we may learn to be MORE perfect than they have been.  So when we see other people's mistakes, we shouldn't judge them, but learn from them.

The best thing (in my own personal opinion) that the LDS church teaches is that we can and should search truth for yourself.  Between you and God.  Or you and your own conscience, whatever you believe.   Truth does nobody any good whatsoever if you just talk about it.  Actually BE nice to people, even (or especially) when they don't deserve it.  Control your own emotions and destiny.  Decide to be happy and look for good things in situations and people and life.  And that is what you will see, and live.  Your life is what you focus on.  Another favorite quote of mine by Abraham Lincoln is: "Most people are about as happy as they want to be".  There is good and bad in everyone, and inherent strengths and weaknesses in everyone.  The difference is that you get to choose which parts of you to focus and act on.  Your choice.  You are the instigator of your own life and not the victim.

So I am venting, brain spew, and being all preachy.  (And it is all sorts of disorganized.)  Call it what you want, take it how you will.  You certainly don't have to agree with me.  I know that I certainly don't know everything and I'm screwed up just like everybody else. 

But I've decided to be more open, even if that means I make my mistakes out in public.  I generally like to hide, and be safe in obscurity.  But I have things to say.  I am going to endeavor to get my opinions out of my head.  I am not going to hide anymore (probably).  I'm going to say them, and they just might be controversial.  And later I might think I'm stupid and disagree with myself... but I'm putting myself out there anyway.  Even though it is scary.  And people aren't going to agree with me and that is totally fine.  Just don't be a prick about it.  Disagree respectfully please.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review, Beegu by Alexis Deacon

I have discovered so many wonderful books from other reviews on blogs and such, I thought I'd blog about my favorites.  And perhaps it would give me more incentive to blog.  Besides, yay for sharing book love!

see, book love!
and sharing
sort of.

Look close though.

This is Sohvi. Not Lucy.
I discovered Beegu when I was first researching authoring/illustration of kids books.  So embarrassingly long ago I am ashamed to admit how little progress I have made since then.  My own personal book making journey has been (and will continue to be) a very long process.  I am not what you would call ambitious.  But I do have a stubborn streak.  It is pretty selective, and though often buried, is fierce.  Anyway, back to Beegu.  Fell in love with the book, as did Sohvi and so I bought her the book and made up a quirky pattern to make her a stuffed Beegu for her birthday that year.  She loved (and still does, years later) both of them.

It is a delightful, and very charming book about a little three eyed alien who is accidentally stranded here and she is lonely.  I love that the heroine is female but perfectly relate-able/accessible to everyone.  Most "neutral" characters just always seem to be boys.  The pictures are expressive and beautiful and communicate the perfect mood and feel for the book.  Though alien in form, her body language is amazingly communicative whether it be in expressing forlorn or delight.  The text is concise and evocative.  I love that I don't have to paraphrase it for impatient little kids who just want to turn the page and see the next picture already.  It is a total favorite with both the kids and adults in this house.  We absolutely adore this book.

Have you read it?  What do you think about it?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

So its done then..

 You know, that book.  The book I've been whining about and working on and stressing about for far longer than I thought I would.  It is finally for sale in my etsy shop.  

I am also crazily having a coupon for 50% off for its introduction.  But the coupon isn't going to last long..  So, if you want it at the ridiculously low price of $6 (plus shipping, unless you are local..) then you should hop on it, because I doubt I'll ever go that low again.

Coupon code is FRIEND2012.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tutorial: Pacifier Clips

I imagine that there are probably half a million of these tutorials out there..   But I thought I'd share this one because it uses fabric and not ribbon, and snaps and not velcro.  I needed something for my baby boy Liam, and since the ribbon I keep on hand isn't masculine, I came up with this.  It also uses up tiny scraps of fabric, of which I am a fan of.  Which means you can match it to baby stuff you've already made.  The clips are suspender or mitten clips, and the snaps are going to be close to them in the notions section of a fabric or craft store.  So, here you go.

You can use this to make pacifier clips however you'd like (personal and commercial) but if you use my pictures link back here or otherwise give me credit.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

On where I get my mad sewing skills from, and why I take them for granted

My mom is an amazingly talented, meticulous, patient, detailed, precise and incredible seamstress.  This is the gorgeous quilt she made for me.  And because growing up, it was my Mom, I thought that all mom's came built in with that skill and precision. Yeah, they don't.  This is hand quilted people.  Hand appliquéd where the triangles go over the border.  Every corner matches.  All the stitches are even.  She is amazing.  And this is not her first.  Its her fourth big one, with two more in the works.  That is actually not counting all of the little ones she's made for grandkids in between all of the full size quilted works of art she makes for her daughters.  Not a single quilt for herself, not even a simple tied one.  (I will contest that my mother is the most unselfish person alive). 

My mother is the one who taught me to sew.  First by hand (at a pretty young age.. maybe I was 5 or so?  6?)  And then when I was old enough to be entrusted with her sewing machine (10 or 11?) she patiently taught me, and together we worked through the tears and frustration that sewing can sometimes bring.  I only thought it was hard because I was a kid, and she made it look so easy.  I didn't know that everybody goes through that.  (Right? the wanting to pull your hair out when it just. doesn't. make. any. sense! and the unpicking, and the broken needles, and on and on..) 

So, even though I learned from the best I am still trying to achieve the level of perfection in sewing that she has.  That is why I don't ever think my sewing as being very remarkable.  Because look at THAT!  Wow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

my briliant anti-cold-cereal solution

You may have noticed previously my stark and vehement dislike of cold cereal.    But I seem to have come up with a quasi solution to my problem of too expensive, too soggy, too processed, too boring and not lasting until lunch; cereal complex.  One that I will even consent to consume, nay even enjoy.  (pause for actual cereal eating break... seriously, I just realized that this is JUST exactly what I want.  right now).  Now to continue with out spilling milk on the keyboard..  ahem.

Make your own.

No, not another sort of breakfast (though you know, that is good too, but tends to always dirty more dishes... so, you know, kind of evil... but we're not talking about dishes now, are we?)  But make your own cold cereal.  I've made granola before, and its fun for a bit, but really quite sweet and pretty heavy on the stomach.  By itself.  BUT of the few cereals that I eat voluntarily at all... they seem to have the 'bunches of oats' or 'oat clusters' in them, which duh, is granola.  Then they just add flakes and dried fruit or nuts.  Pretty simple.  I've been meaning to do it for a while to see how my homemade version worked out.  Then I finally did.  And it does.  So I'm breaking my blog silence by deciding not to be selfish with my self proclaimed profound discovery.

The instructions are actually pretty simple.

-make granola.  (easier than it sounds)  You do not need to be Crunchy to do so.  From my brief stint of habitation in Portland, I learned thus: apparently I'm only a wannabe hippie.  I had only deluded myself that I knew anything about true earth love.  And footprints of carbon.  They are professionals.  However, for this you do not need to be.

combine in saucepan and bring to a boil:

1/2 c. water,
1 1/2 c. brown sugar,
4 tsp. vanilla,
1 tsp. almond extract (optional) and
1 tsp. salt.

pour the hot syrupy stuff you just made over this in a big bowl:

8 c. oats,
1-2 c. coconut,
1-2 c. slivered almonds, or other nuts of your choice (cashews are heavenly).

Mix it all thoroughly and spread out onto a large cookie sheet.  Bake at 250 for a couple of hours, or 200 or lower all night.

Break up into small chunks and add dried fruit.  I prefer cranberries, though raisins are good as well.  I haven't tried dried bananas, but they might be tasty (especially the non freeze dried ones) or cherries.. anyway, that is what truly makes it taste good, so don't skimp on the dried fruit.  Then mix in a whole box of corn flakes.  (you could go all authentic and mix in different kinds of flakes, like bran flakes and some frosted flakes... but I just used corn flakes... I'm lazy like that.

It actually makes quite a bit of cereal.  So it lasts a while, and my cereal reserves (that I don't even eat!) don't get depleted quite so fast.  We've been going through cereal like its going out of style! 

Liam does his part with the rampant cereal consumption.

Disclaimer: It does get soggy rather fast.. (which I truly despise) so I have taken to eating very small quantities at a time, repeatedly until satisfied.  Example, pour half a cup of my granola/flakes into a wide mouthed vintage tea cup.  (note to self, good excuse to go thrift some more beauties).  Add milk.  Inhale.  Repeat 2-3 times.  We can pretend that I actually stop at 3.