Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Big A** Book Review

I've been crafting for as long as I can remeber, and I edit craft books for a living, so I can be a harsh judge of projects sometimes. Imagine my surprise when The Big-Ass Book of Crafts, by Mark Montano, landed on my desk, on loan from a co-worker. Within 45 minutes I had ordered my own copy, and it just arrrived today. Why do I like this book so much? The ideas are fresh and diverse. They are well executed. The ideas are edgy enough to please my teenagers, but based on sound design and construction ideas that I can easily modify to my own taste. I'm not going to keep rambling on and on, just go ahead and buy yourself a copy.

While you're online, check out the Sweet Potato Queen's Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner. It's been a few years since I read this one, but you might as well go ahead and make a batch of Pig Candy as a pre-holiday treat. I had no idea that people atually made this stuff, let alone ate it, but it's amazing. In fact, it's so adicting that I've never made it again just to save myself and my family.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Take a moment

So, are you feeling as busy as I am? I meant to write this post on November 1st, and lookey here, we're already to the 21st. This is a gentle reminder from me to you to take a moment over the next few days and weeks, remember to see the trees for the forest, and keep this little word in mind:

You might be a little too distracted basting your turkey and whisking your gravy to feel truly thankful next Thursday, so get a jump start on it and find something to be thankful for today!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alphabet Game revisited

We haven't played in a while, so here's another letter (Meredith found this one for me):

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snowflakes inside and out

Well, I guess it's finally winter.

We've got snow outside, but just little flurries.

I've been busy beading snowflakes -- one for a special request, and then I just couldn't stop myself. Here are a few tips, if you want to make your own.
Buy the snowflake forms at a craft or beading store. They should be soldered together, but I heard from a customer who kept her snowflake out year-round that it ultimately came apart. This year I wired the middle together with very fine (26 gauge) wire before I added the beads.
Use very nice Czech glass beads or crystals. You don't have to go all-out for Swarovski (although I have before and they are really beautiful). Using nicer glass and crystals will make your ornament sparkle in the sunlight and give it life beyond the month of December.
The bead forms are made from very stiff wire. It's very difficult to turn the ends into perfect loops. Let gravity work on your side, not against you. Pick the top of your ornament. As you bead, turn all your loops up, so the small gap where the wires meet is toward the top. Then, if you choose to add dangles to the loops, gravity will help them stay in place.
Remember, don't use jewelry-grade cutters to trim the wires. You shouldn't have to trim at all, but if you do, make sure you have heavy-duty wire cutters.
This is a great activity to do with friends or kids, and it's a great way to use up your stray beads. Have fun and stay warm!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seed Bead Bracelet

I don't usually work with seed beads, but the colors in this hank were just begging me to notice them. I love the cuff-like results -- I wear a lot of black (slimming effect, you know, and it hides the dirt) and I usually have my sleeves pushed up. I really like the flash of color I get with this bracelet. Of course, if you want to see truly fabulous seed bead work, check out Beth Stone's book, Seed Bead Stitching, or The Art of Bead Embroidery by Sherry Serafini and Heidi Kumli.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Altered You project

While I love all the projects in Altered You!, I am particularly fond of the little bonus projects that accompany most of the main projects. This project was designed as a book bag or band instrument tag, but wouldn't it be fun to make them as gift tags for the kids on your list? Fill in their names and they can re-use them on their backpacks. Directions and a pattern are in the book. Remember, if you order online, send me an email and I'll mail you a bookplate.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's that time of year, I guess. I don't think I could have packed one more thing into the first two weeks of November! I've logged a lot kid-driving miles -- 230 miles on Sat. and 4 hours yesterday! I could have gone East to visit my family and come back already! Haley had a great Veteran's day concert at her school and luckily got her cast off the day before so she could play her beloved oboe instead of the triangle! Everyone had dentist appointments ... blah, blah, blah. In between things I've been making jewelry, and I promise new posts with photos very soon. In the meantime, think of me as you're driving in your car, because I'll be doing the same!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


If you live near Milwaukee, I highly recommend the Act/React special exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Daniel Rozin's Snow Mirror was my favorite, followed by Brian Knep's Healing Pool. Combined with the Sensory Overload installation, it's a great combination for kids. You can cover both exhibits in an hour or two. If you go, let me know what you like best.