Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Completely off topic

OK, I was surfing around some beading sites (the only part of this post that is on topic) and I was just fascinated to find out that Blythe has made a comeback. Here she is at Tammy Powley’s site , and come to find out she was on loan from Jean Yates . Anyway, it just brought back tons of memories about my favorite doll. I had to have one for Christmas back in 1972 and I specifically wanted the blond. I spent hours considering the hair color and how well it went with the eye-color options. I talked and talked about it. Then, as clear as a bell, a few days before Christmas, I knew I really had to have the brunette. Nothing else would do. I couldn’t imagine having the blond. My poor mother delivered. I got the brunette just as I’d asked and then package #2 held the lemon-yellow blond wig, just in case. Here’s my girl, in her original outfit:

Don’t you just love, love, love the shoes?

And here she is in her other outfit – from the fit, I’m guessing it was on loan from Barbie. Look at those wide legs!

But I always thought the pink eyes were a little creepy, despite my careful selection.

And finally, here she is in her lemon-yellow splendor:

A little more surfing around the web, and I’ve learned that these dolls are highly collectible How about you? What was your childhood must-have? Would you part ways for the money now?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kitchen Sink Chemistry

We’ve been talking about altering metals to achieve patinas around the office lately. It got me thinking about some of the things I learned growing up … for example, my mom said to never set the table for Sunday brunch with the good silver. Why? I always thought it was just one of those rules, but now I know the sulfur in the egg yolks will tarnish the silver. It’s a great effect on, say, a byzantine chain maille bracelet, but it’s a pain on the tines of your silver forks. My friend Susan said her mom always wiped the bottom of the spaghetti pot with a little leftover sauce before she washed it. Could it be that the tomato has an effect on copper? Of course, and ketchup works just as well. I’ve also noticed that if I put my copper-bottom pots in the dishwasher, they come out as shiny as a new penny. I think it might be because we have soft water (higher sodium content?? I really have no idea). Right now I’m experimenting with ammonia on copper (it is supposed to turn the copper blue). I’m not following any of the “proper” formulas – I just put a piece of scrap copper half submerged in ammonia, and then covered it. For two days the ammonia turned a remarkable color of blue – as blue as Windex. Then, the copper began to turn. I keep rotating the copper a half turn a day, and so far I’m getting an interesting pattern. I’ll post a picture when it’s further along.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Silver or Gold?

It used to be that I wore mostly gold jewelry, but broke out the silver stuff in summer. Maybe it was the arts & crafts fair aesthetic, but something about silver said summer to me. Gold was for the serious work-week and the long winter; silver was casual and fun.

In recent years, though, silver jewelry has been my mainstay. But now that it’s summer, (and I’m sporting an un-PC tan from dog-walking days and softball-game-watching evenings), I’m loving the look of gold against tan. I’ve hit the bottom of my jewelry box, and pulled out some old friends. In fact, I’ll be working on some gold jewelry this weekend to freshen up my summer look.

This post reminds me of the girl scout camp song: Make new friends, but keep the old ... one is silver and the other gold.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A reason to stop weeding

Our weather has been quite erratic this year, leaving me with a tremendous amount of weeds and mosquitoes, frogs living in the vegetable garden, and none of the "real stuff" doing very well. I'm trying to do about an hour a day, but I feel like for every weed I pull, three grow in its place. Whine, whine.

As I was weeding, though, I found some treasure.

Can you guess what these are? They are the seed pods from my ornamental poppy plant, which bloomed about six weeks ago. I really should have cut it back, but I didn't and this is what was left behind. (And yes, about a million tiny poppy seeds came out all over my kitchen counter, just like the kind on your bagel.) I had to stop gardening right away and see what I could do with them. First I tried stamping, but they were too concave. Then I broke out the polymer clay. First I tried earth tones. Some will be pendants, but I am kind of just enjoying them in a little bowl on my table for now. Then, since I had the bright colors out as well, I made a fun version.
You can't really see it, but there's some micro glitter embedded in there. I think it's so interesting how different the two styles look. Well, that's my craft, and I must say, I was much happier once I gave up weeding for the day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I made some friends yesterday

Years ago I learned how to make this project by watching the Carol Duvall show. When my friend Monette made her garden gnome, I was reminded of my little garden fairy. However, much to my dismay she’s missing and I know I haven’t seen her in at least a year. I’ve always intended to make more, though, so here are my new friends:

Now, I can’t tell you how to make them, because this is not my idea. I wish I could credit the artist, but I can’t even remember enough about the show to search for it. I know the artist was a man, and the episode aired at least 8 years ago. What I really love about this project is that it includes so many kinds of crafts -- a little painting, a little sewing, a little polymer clay, a little beading, and a little bit of all-around crafting to put it together.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My friend calls

What my friend says: Can you guys come over and help us install a basketball hoop, move a bunch of furniture and stay for dinner?

What I hear: I don’t have to make dinner tonight! My husband has to install a basketball hoop and move a bunch of furniture! I don’t have to make dinner tonight! I can sew today! I get to have a glass of wine with my friends! Boy, will my husband be sore from installing a basketball hoop and moving a bunch of furniture!

So I got out that skirt that needed altering. It's a long denim skirt with a front slit, but the skirt had ripped at the top of the slit. An initial repair attempt was not successful, so the skirt's been in my closet unwearable for about 4 years. Here's how the alteration went:

First I cut along the existing seams to open the skirt a little more, and to compensate for the ripped area.

Then I sewed a gathering stitch along the top of a vintage hand towel.

Here's the detail from the towel.

Then, I simply pieced the towel to the skirt, matching the bottom hem and side seams, filling the opening with the gathered towel. For a last bit of detail, I sewed the trim that I cut off in step one along the front.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vacation or Stay-cation?

I know this has nothing to do with crafting, but I'm just curious. Are you traveling this summer, or staying home? We planned to stay home this year primarily because of our work schedules, a working teen, and other kids' activities. It was too hard to squeeze in an East-coast trip. Now that the impact of soaring gas prices ($4. 19 for regular unleaded, last fill-up) is beginning to sink in, though, I'm kind of glad we're staying put. Not only would a trip be expensive, it seems the added cost of living is cutting into our cash reserves -- it feels expensive to stay home, too! What are your plans?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My First Book Review

Mostly Metals was just reviewed by Tammy Powley on Read all about it here!

Is the grass always greener on the other side?

Last March I joined thousands of other non-native-Wisconsinites in a collective sigh of relief when Brett Favre retired from the Green Bay Packers. At last! We wouldn’t have to suffer through on off-season entirely devoted to chatter about would he or wouldn’t he come back. It was finally settled.

Or was it? With this week’s news, Brett is regretting his decision. He has second thoughts. The green grass of retirement that beckoned a few months ago has lost its luster, the green (bay) grass of football is calling his name, and maybe, if he’s released, he could play for another team entirely. Oh, the temptation.

I really thought I had nothing in common with Brett Favre. But I understand his dilemma. When I graduated from college, I dove into the workforce with both feet. I loved my job and quickly climbed the proverbial ladder. After marriage, I was sitting pretty in middle management, making more than my age (the goal of the day) and clocking 60+ hours a week. Life was good. We started our family, because thanks to the women before me the glass ceiling was shattered, and we could work and raise a family at the same time. We took our baby to daycare at 6 am, picked her up at 6pm and watched her fall asleep in her highchair as we scrambled to put dinner on the table. Divorced parents with shared custody saw their children more than we saw ours!

So, the grass looked awfully green to me on the stay-at-home-mom side of the picket fence. With baby #2 I boldly left the workforce and tried out this new gig. But after a few hours in the sandbox, my brain began spinning wildly out of control. I would mentally write and re-write business plans in my head as I played Polly Pockets and Barbie with my sweet girls. I loved being home, but the part-time job grass was looking really green…

Part time is good, but then, you always feel like you haven’t quite finished anything and it’s time to go. Then you get home, and you feel like you really haven’t started anything, so you panic. Then it’s time for work again, then home – Yikes! This grass was green, but there were a lot of dandelions!

So I stayed home again, but the kids were finally in school. Wasn’t it more fun when I was working? Maybe it was time for full-time again. Yea, that’s it. The velvety, perfect, putting-green quality grass of full-time, meaningful work. Sign me up.

And then, OMG, what did I sign up for? The kids are falling behind, the house is a mess, and we’re eating in the car on the way to the Y to work out at 7pm. This grass is turning into tumbleweed.

What’s next? Self employment? Small business ownership? More? Less? Nothing? Everything? I don’t know. All I can say is, Brett, I feel your pain. It’s really hard to make a decision about the rest of your life. How about we just take it one day at a time?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Do you have a studio?

If you do, I'm jealous. If you don't, well, you're like most of us. My "studio" consists of a series of plastic boxes filled with craft or sewing supplies and trays with jewelry-making stuff. When I'm not working, they are stashed away. When it's time to make something, out they come and spill all over the dining room table or kitchen counter. Yesterday was a crafty day. Haley and I were working on a project for a certain blog reader. I really enjoy the quiet companionship that comes with working along with someone else. Here's a picture of our studio:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Favorite New Expression

My English friends taught me a new expression – “gone pear shaped.” It’s kind of like our expression, “the best laid plans…” and much nicer than our other expression, when the “you-know-what hits the fan.” Any way, it kind of suits the situation when you have plans or expectations and then everything kind of slumps in on itself (kind of like a 44-and-a-half-year-old-body?).

Here’s a little project to try when you find that things have gone pear shaped. I learned it at a Stampin’ Up party and have had fun making variations.

You’ll need a 4 x 4-in. tile, stick-on felt circles, a background stamp, a decorative stamp, permanent ink in black, and permanent ink in a few colors – optional.

1. Wash the tile to remove any dust, and dry completely.
2. Stick the felt circles on the back of the tile, one in each corner.

3. Stamp the background pattern on the tile with black ink.
4. Stamp the decorative image on the tile with black ink.
5. Use colored ink to enhance the details of the image, if you’d like.
6. Voila! You have a coaster to protect your table from the much-needed beverage you’re consuming because your world’s gone pear shaped. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Our mini vacation was great. The perfect combination of relaxing, talking, eating, relaxing, talking... Of course, I didn't accomplish what I set out to do, but that's ok. Recharging is just as important, sometimes, and I came home with a clear head and a new outlook. I hope your weekend was relaxing, too!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy July 4th

We're off to spend the weekend with friends. We're all looking forward to some rest and relaxation. I did fill a big craft bag with an eclectic assortment of stuff, so we'll see if the muse visits and we make anything new. I'm bringing my friend Beth's book, Seed Bead Stitching, with me in hopes that I can learn a few things. And, I'm hoping to be crafting with the kids, which always teaches me something new! So say the pledge, watch some fireworks, eat some great food (see the quote from a few posts ago), hang with your family, and enjoy this very American holiday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Altered State?

Last night I had a dream that Altered You! was reviewed on NPR, and the host had a really hard time understanding the projects. So I called in (in my dream) and started to explain that altering things is kind of like cooking with cake mix -- you have the basic structure guaranteed without any hard work, but then you can have all the fun you want with the decorating. When I woke up, I thought, "hey -- that wasn't a bad analogy at all," and so I share it with you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Better Baby Pictures

Haley took some more pictures when the "twins" visited the side yard. We're a little worried that their mom might be missing. Does anyone have any advice if that's the case?