Sunday, May 25, 2008


I took our youngest shopping with me today (the oldest gave me a big thumbs down and watched cartoons with his dad all afternoon.) The store was busy and it took a long time to get somebody to check us out in one department. (I would have left but the lady seemed kind of desperate to keep me there and I was amused that my child was bothering other people and that the store knew it was their fault.) After 5 patient minutes of waiting, the little one started to REALLY meltdown. I tried to find a new toy but had nothing new for him. I did, however, have change in my purse and a prescription bottle. I emptied the contents of the bottle into my purse and put a quarter inside the bottle and then handed it to the screaming 1 year old. I now see the error in my ways. He never got the bottle open but he spent 15 DEDICATED (and very quiet) minutes trying and people walked by, gasped and pointed. I'm not sure how many times I can win worst mother award in a row. Next time, I'll put a cookie in the bottle and then open it for him so that all of those gasping and pointing, holier than me people can be more horrified when he eats the cookie. I wonder where I can find some hazmat stickers and lab, specimen collection jars to use as his snack can?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Magnetism Part II

To continue the journey of magnets and art I've branched out to include clothes pins, glass beads or marbles and wood with decoupage.

I've put in several pictures of things I've been working on lately and also a shot of what materials and
tools I've been working with.  To work with children and these materials, I 
highly suggest skipping the xacto knife all together and punching images out of paper with the really cool paper punches they have out now.  

Another way to work with kids and the glass beads is to paper punch circles of cool paper, have the kids add a sticker to the paper, glue the paper and sticker to the underside of the glass bead and then glue the magnet to the back.  The glass beads are definitely a choking hazard so this is probably an age 8 and up thing.  (Well, really, any kid that reaches an age where threats work to keep things out of their mouth.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Office Store Purchase with a lot of Uses

You know those magnets that sometimes come on the front of phone books or that they give you at your vet's office and you cherish it because you can never remember your vet's phone number when Fluffy swallows the cat?

I was browsing in an office store once and found that you can buy business card magnets (pack of 50 for $11.99: They are 2"x3" and one side is magnetic and another side is a peel and stick adhesive. So, all you have to do is peel the paper, stick something on there and throw it on your fridge. They come in other shapes too.

I was so stymied by these little gems I became giddy. These solved my major dilemma of never having enough magnets on the fridge (my children find it unacceptable to give up their Leap Frog Fridge magnet letters for my shopping list or even their artwork).

Here's another hint, did you know your exterior doors have metal in between them to keep robbers from throwing their shoulder through your door? I use the magnets for notes to myself as I walk out the door etc. This solved my major dilemma of not having enough stick-able space after I discovered the magnets and pasted them all over the fridge.

For anybody out there that has been living under a rock, like I have, you can find these at your office store and here are just some of the things I have done with them:

1. Bought a super inexpensive coffee table book at a bookstore and cut pictures down to size. I have a whole Monet magnet thing going on now.

2. Then, I decided to start cutting Martha Stewart magazines apart and making those into magnets.

3. I then discovered my heavy duty scissors will cut the magnet to any size I want; hence there are round magnets, heart magnets, shrimp gumbo, shrimp scampi.....

4. Of course, I also stuck every business card I thought I would ever need again on a magnet.

5. What to do with those wallet sized portraits left over from every school picture day and the incessant JC Penney photo studio trip "because I have a coupon"? Slap those on a magnet, grandparents freak out and go nuts over these.

6. Got some awesome scrapbook paper or fabric scraps that you can't bear to part with but honestly, they REALLY are too small to make into a bookmark or card? Yep, slap those on there too. My picture collection below will demonstrate that little project.

7. Know many people who have gotten married or had a baby in the last few years and you can never remember the anniversary or birthday? Collect the wedding invitations, birth announcements etc. and post them on your fridge.

8. Do you have friends on the wagon (or should be)? A good alternative to a bottle of wine you might take to dinner would be a collection of your favorite photos from a book or you can even throw wine labels on there.

9. Make your own save the date magnet cards (why pay somebody else to do it?)

10. For your kids' birthday parties, have the little guests draw a picture on a sheet of paper that is 6" x 9". Lay the magnets adhesive side down on the back side of the picture and then cut it out. Kids will be amazed at the puzzle they just made for their fridge and parents will thank you for not sending their kids home with yet another choking hazard (refer back to Fluffy if you no longer have kids that stick stuff in their mouth or up their nose).

The Queen Elizabeth II magnets are available to buy from my Etsy shop.  100% of sale will go to the Idaho Food Bank.

ECO-friendly Stuff

I have shopping bag totes to bring to the store with me so that I don't waste plastic bags. After a few weeks of using these, I started to wonder what kind of alternatives I had for those ridiculous produce bags I will never use again.

My friends pointed out that I can take the plastic bags back to the store and recycle them, but I'm just too dense to do it and the produce bags, sadly, don't hold up very well.

So, I went in search of a good, re-usable fabric that would be as lightweight as the plastic bags. Guess what you can do with that crappy tulle fabric they put in wedding dresses and fluffy flower girl outfits? It's perfect as a replacement produce bag.

These are very easy to make. Cut a 14" x10" rectangle on the fold so that ifyou unfold it, you have a piece that is 28" x 10". Right sides together (I don't think there are right sides to most tulle but depending on whether or not you get the kind with sparkles and sunshine, this could make a difference) Sew up the long 14" side and then down the other 14" side to make a bag. Then re-sew what you just sewed for strength. Hem the top and if you want, leave enough of an opening to put ribbon through so that you can make a drawstring.

These are really easy to make. If you don't have a sewing machine, I can make them for you fairly cheap. See my Etsy site. (Now, isn't it convenient that I plugged my Etsy site here?)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bags, Bags and bags

Well look at that. Posting a picture inside a blog isn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. You just have to use the little icons on the little bar.

Since this blog is all about my creative outlet and the things I'm selling on ETSY, I thought I would post pictures and links to ETSY where you can buy the purse as well as a little bit about the bag. Most of the things I write about the creation of the bag won't be interesting to anybody but me but it's worth noting that I don't have anybody standing over my should telling me what is an isn't interesting.

This bag is one of my favorites. I took a purse pattern that I liked and figured out ways I could like it more. First, I changed the handles (and now the handles don't define the style, it's the shape of the bag that does....I use a lot of different handles for this bag.) The next thing I did to the pattern was to enlarge it. That became the small bag. Then I took the small bag pattern I had made and then re-tooled it to be larger but at the same time, also retain some symmetry. This sounds odd, but even in an asymmetrical design, you still have to have some symmetry or else it just won't look right. For example, if you install tile in your kitchen, tile on your countertops need to be small than the floor tile or else the room looks top heavy and weird. If you use tile on the wall, counter and floor, you should think about the math or else the room will again not quite look right. For example, if you use 12 inch tiles on the floor, you should make the tiles on the countertop a divisor of 12. So, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 inch tiles would be used. If you use 5 inch tiles then something won't look quite right. Wow, that was more time spent on symmetry than I planned. Oh well, it's my blog. If you're still with me, good for you.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, for the medium sized bag I used good old math and a ruler and made it bigger. This medium sized tote is probably as large as I would ever make a bag for myself. Although, I know lots of people who like even larger bags so I'll probably be breaking out the ruler and math again.

The fabric on this bag is Amy Butler. I was completely blow away when I first saw Amy Butler fabric. My concept of fabrics, particularly those from quilting stores, had always been of soft little florals that suggest a great feminine quality than I'm willing to embrace. Don't get me wrong, I love being a girl, but some of those 1970's and 80's calicos scream 19th century, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen woman and less the I really hate to cook, 21st century socks on in the kitchen girl that I am. Who are all of the people who are screaming hot during pregnancy, oh I was hot, just not temperature wise. My extremities were like icicles when I was pregnant with both kids born in opposite seasons. I had one hot flash with the youngest. Anyway, the fabric in quilt shops quite frankly scared me. The new fabric designers are such a breath of fresh air. They took a much loved concept, the florals, and paired it with geometry that gives it such a modern flair.

And then there are the Michael Miller scenes that I love so much; but that's another entry.

If you would like to buy a Jane in medium size purse, you can visit me at ETSY or even request something custom. Find a fabric you like and let me know where you found it. Peruse the fabric shops at ETSY. I buy A LOT of stuff from ETSY sellers. One of my favorites is Fabric Supplies by Charlie (see the link at the bottom of the page). He has a great selection and pairs the fabrics so that even the most challenged fabric pairer can't go wrong. I even bought the fabric for this bag from Fabric Supplies. The price was fantastic, selection great and shipping phenomenal.

Gosh, I hope I do this everyday

I like reading other blogs, especially friends and family with kids so that I can see what's going on in their lives.  It irks me when the blog isn't updated frequently enough.  That, of course, begs the question, what kind of blogger will I be?  The everyday variety or the once a month until I forget entirely?

This is a great way to move material in and out of your life though so I hope it's not a passing fancy.  I have some great ideas for homemade gifts, party favors and eco friendly ideas I'm planning on foisting off on all you good people.  This should keep me busy for a while.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The World of Blog

To be honest with you, this is my first blog. Not just the first blog I have created but the very first blogging I've ever done. To blog is a radical notion for me. It's one of those social networking things that I have been so reluctant to try. I have a mySpace page, but I haven't done much of anything with it. Actually, I set it up to see what students were saying about me once I discovered there were such activities going on. I just received a new iTouch as a gift from my husband. I wasn't looking to upgrade my iPod but well, I've been upgraded. The most important feature in a phone is that it makes and receives calls (don't text me because I can't really do that either). You would think I'm technologically challenged but the reality is, I think, I just reject the newer technologies because they counter my natural tendency to isolate myself. By day I work for a large technology company as an infrastructure analyst (a tech engineer). Before that, I supported servers for this large company. Friends and family are always astonished and bewildered at my detachment from such technological wonders as texting but here I am.

I set up this blog to save my creative ventures in an electronic portfolio. For some weird reason I don't sleep like a normal person and in the eery hours of the morning I'm often sewing. So, I have turned my nocturnal activities into an electronic trade, of sorts. I just started selling on ETSY - you know, the handmade crafters website. You can see my stuff here:

I love the handmade revolution we're seeing. In an age when we need more and more consumer protection from the things we didn't know could harm us 30 years ago (honestly, did any of us ride in a car seat past the age of 2?? The kids from my generation that were in a booster seats when they were 3 were always the ones we suspected would turn out to be paste eaters but now kids are in booster seats until they're 4'9"). Anyway, in the era of consumer protection from things made with toxic chemicals, I have come to love the handmade revolution and have even signed the handmade pledge, which just says we will try to buy handmade gifts etc.

If you haven't been out to ETSY and haven't the foggiest idea what I'm talking about, I urge you to go. I spend a lot of time with the Pounce feature just looking at what people are making out there. There are so many amazing artists selling their creations on ETSY that you will never run out of options. I wander around and window shop but I think my favorite artists are those working with glass. There is so much talent out there! Before you buy another gift card go out and spend some time with the indy crafters!