Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Valentine Gift Boxes Received!

You may recognize many of the items in these photos as they have been posted as they were created. I boxes them up happily and sent them to the people who I know would be thrilled to receive them. At a glance they seem similar, and they are, but they also have some slight differences, personalized the the recipients. They both got fun decorated mailboxes with stickers, conversation heartcandy and heart socks. They both received a set of the "Hugs and Kisses" towels I made. They also go the really fun "bath truffles." I spied them when I was a the Bath and Body Works getting scented lotion. At first I wondered why they were selling chocolate truffles in a bath goods shop, then I noticed that they are in fact bath bombs. I hope they are a hit! They also each recieved valentine kits. The top photo shows the stuff I sent to Natalie. In addition to the stuff mentioned above, I sent her really cool Valentine's day stationary. The envelopes are just too cool! She also got the photo acrylic tags that I had intended to send with her Christmas box.
Peg's and Jake's box is next. The favorite thing that I included in her box was a "scrapper's candy box" which I put together. Doing that alone was a blast! I had wanted to get a traditional heart shaped candy box and fill it with scrapper's embellishments, but the box was too expensive and I surely did not need several pounds of candy sitting around. Instead I found a fun box that had a small amount of chocolates in this molded box. I filled the cavities with sequins, ribbon, buttons, and so on. If you have a card maker/scrap booker on your list - this is the most fun thing to give them! I included enough candy for everyone in her family. I also sent off Ellie's box to Jake. It is detailed in a recent blog.
I do these boxes because I love thinking about the person they are for as I am finding the goods, making the stuff. I know they will enjoy them. Sometime I even giggle when I mail them. I wish there was an instant transportation item so that I did not have to wait for the mailcarrier to deliver them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Creative Kid Swap - a Friendship Born!

I began a blog for a few reasons. Partially to keep track, in a bigger picture way, of my own progress. I have also done it so that my firends who do not live near can see what we are doing. I also did it in hopes of finding a community of people like myself. Some people just don't get what I am about artistically. Some are inspired, some are intimidated, some just like to look. That's all okay, but I love it when I can converse with others who are under the "need to create" grip.

Lucky for me, this has begun to happen. Peg (you can see her link on my sideboard) and I have become fast friends. The cool thing is that two of our kids are developing a friendship, too. The photos here show their first exchange. Peg's son, Jake, made this wonderful blue set of gifts for Ellie. SHe simply adores it. The colors are perfect and he hit on all the kinds of things she loves. Many of the wonderful details that he included, like the tiny glass beads to add sparkle, are not readily visible here. The items he sent are much more lovely in real life. Ellie made him this oh-so-clever dog mailbox. She simply amazes me - she has such a wonderful vision. She has used glue dots to give the snout and ears dimension. She has also used one to attach the tail.

Tomorrow I will post what I sent to Peg.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

"Miss Potter" - a Daughter Date

There was a sneak preview for "Miss Potter" last night. Ellie and I went. We had a blast! It is a new movie about the life of Beatrix Potter. It was delightful. It made us want to paint. It made us want to go to the lake disstrict in England. It made us want to go home and paint, go home and read her books - it made us want to buy the movie - and it isn't even out in regular theaters, yet. Maybe next week. I think we will have to see it again.

If you are going to go, we suggest the following:
* Set out your watercolor paints, good watercolor paper, two nice containers of water (one for rinsing, one for deluding paint) and a good ink pen, along with your pencil. This movie is going to make you want to do art!
* Take tissue with you. We cried several times during the movie - some for joy, some for sadness.

After the movie we were famished, so we stopped by Whole Foods for a late, light dinner. We purchased wonderful "Pink Lady" apples, grapefruit (best ones EVER!) and Satsuma oranges. We also got pizza and mint & honey tea. It was a fun evening.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Basketry Merit Badge & Organized Embellishments

Ethan has recently finished his basketry badge for Boy Scouts. At first the boys were not thrilled with this option, but elected to do it because it was too cold outside to do the badges they are excited about. However, once they go going, I think most of the boys enjoyed making the items. The ones pictured here are the ones Ethan made. I helped him a bit. At times I HAD to GIVE IT BACK to him because I wanted to do it all myself. I had no idea how much fun it would be - and so fast! Making these items was very gratifying. I think I will have to do it again, but I might add in some funky fibers as I do the weaving.

I also wanted to start some posts about things I love, things beyond the obvious, like my family. I will begin with this item, my Craft Mates Locking Caddy Organizer Tote. I have a lovely collection of embellishments that were all stuffed first in a bag, then in a box, in the containers they came in. Looking for something was a dangerous, messy journey. Now that I have my Craft Mates totes (I have two of them, nearly full) I don't have that problem any longer. What I love is that the tote holds special trays that have 14 little, individually locking cavaties. They are snug so the items, like sequins, don't visit their neighbors and mess up my organizaational system. Furthermore, they have a fail safe tab on the side that must be pushed in before the little doors will open. This prevents one opening during unexpected times. I got mine from Joanne's, a fabric and craft store. WIth their execellent coupons I got it for less than $20.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ellie's Super Soft Hat

Ellie was excited when I finished Ethan's hat. She had high hopes that I might make hers next. She respectfully waited, and then hoped that the hat might magically be completed in a record amount of time - over the weekend and in time to wear it to school on Monday. As luck would have it, Saturday ended up being a day of errands and picking people up. I began knitting as we pulled out of the garage on Saturday morning. I knitted as my husband drove. Ellie watched as if I were a soccer match. Her excitement at seeing the stripes (one of her favorite things) develop was contagious. I kept on going. The black and dark scarlet yarns were heaven to work with - cashmere! Then she wanted a white stripe. It turned out that the vintage angora yarn was too thin to go it alone, so it partnered with the black for our favorite section. The whisps of white almost look like a slight snow angel halo. We had to keep going. By Sunday morning we were up the the point where I began to reduce the number of stitches. When you are to that point, you don't want to stop. By Sunday evening we sat with Grandma Eleanor and made pompoms with what was left of some of the yarns. Ellie is thrilled with the results! And in record, nearly magical time to boot! Now onto another hat for my husband, who keeps trying to lure Ethan's hat away from him. "Say son, you're not going to wear that hat today are you?..."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mail Art Swaps & Indian Summer Quilt WIP

As I wondered around blogland I came upon a fun 5 x 7 art swap hosted by Tiffany. Participants sign up and create a piece of art that will fit into a 5" x 7" envelope. It can be almost any media. Currently she has about 60 people from all over the globe. She is welcoming people to sign up until 8:00 p.m. this Thursday. If you are interested you can find more information at I am already trying to come up with something fun for the person I will be sending to.
I have also sent out two Valentine's day packages. I will post pictures once they have been received - I wouldn't want to ruin any surprizes!
My yearning to do certain crafts seems to be seasonal, and so I have entered and are galavanting in the season of the needle. My latest venture is to begin a new quilt. This is called an Indian Summer quilt. I absolutely adore the colors. Many of the fabrics softly shift from one color tone to another, moving from light blue to medium and to a dark hue of blue, or purple. I am making quick progress on this one. It will be a simple wall quilt. We remodeled our bedroom over three years ago, but never really finished redecorating it. Other things always seemed to call us away. One of my resolutions this year is to make my bedroom a welcoming, calming place - and this is where I shall begin.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snowbound Actions and Accomplishments

Would you believe that it is snowing, again? This is the 7th weekend in a row for that white, cold stuff to blanket our yards, roads and homes. Rumor has it that it may warm up to 38 degrees on Thursday - I've got my fingers crossed. So, I've been busy. My son is happy with his newest hat. This one is really cool, my best result and best pattern, yet. The bottom part is called a hemmed cuff. You cast on enough for the bottom and knit until you have about 7". Then you fold it up to match the bottom with the yarn on the dp needles. As you move onto the next color you knit through both layers (bottom and top) of the cuff color. This comes out nicely. The cuff is extra thick and snuggly. This hat is made with wonderful yarn that is alpacha, silk and cashmere. Next up is the hat that I started yesterday. We did enough running around, sitting playing games, etc. that I am already almost done with the hat. The black and red yarns are both cashmere and silk. The white is a vintage angora that came from an estate sale. Quite a find!
I also reworked one corner of my tiny art room. I moved out one kind of cabinet on wheels to make room for this little table so that I can have both my sewing maching and my Cricut machine available at the same time. Previously I had to pack up and store one before I could use the other - it ate up a lot of time. Now I am going to begin putting together a wall quilt I want to make for my bedroom.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Purple Pleasures from Peg

I recently received a really fun package in the mail from my friend, Peg. If you like my blog, you'd love her blog, Artistic Explorartions . I sent her a sewing kit (you can see those elements in my archives - look for a pin cushion, a needle case and a scissor case.) I was ABSOLUTELY THRILLED with what I had been given. The album is one she made by hand. I loved it when I thought she recovered a premade album, I was amazed when I learned that she made it by hand. The padding is tie dye fleece. The silver beads are antique. And I LOVE the fibers. I am crzy for fun ribbons and fibers. Next was the monogram "W" that she made with her Cricut. It has all kinds of fiber and bling - and oh so purple. My favorite is the tiny needle felted bear. It is all of 2" tall and he even comes with a tiny, embellished box that Peg made. Now, I love that tiny bear, but the addtion of the box sent it over the top. I have a silly love of containers (This year my mom gave me two hat boxes just for the joy of them). The picture here does not do him justice! Tucked in the box were also needle felting needles (something I want to learn) and ultra tiny glass beads for embellishing things. Now, how lucky can a girl get?

Now I am working on her Valentine's Day package. I will be sending out two of them - one for Natalie and one for Peg.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Exciting Things Goin' On - a Partial Report

This week we have had some fun stuff going on. I got an amazing package in the mail from my friend Peg. I don't have time to give it the "Oh's and Ah's " that it deserves tonight, so it will wait until this weekend when I have sunlight for better photos and more time to compose.
Another exciting thing happened on Wednesdy evening. The American Cycling Association held a special event to raise money for Junior Cyclying in Colorado. Michael Aisner from Coors MCed the event. The cycling giants included Tom Danielson, Ron Keifel, Alexi Grewal, Andy Hampsten, Connie Carpenter, and Ned Overend. All of these folks have placed and/or won major cycling events, like the Tour de France and the Olympics. (Colorado seems to have one of the highest numbers of cycling giants living in one place - Boulder- in the world - very lucky for us.) Ellie and her friend Emily were offical greeters. Ellie became friends with Connie Carpenter and the girls got to sit with the speakers. Connie took Ellie's poster, wrote a short note, signed it and passed it around. Now Ellie has this amazing signed poster from the event. SHe could nor be more pleased. In the picture above you can see my kids, their friend and Connie (The kids were happier than they looked - it was WAY past their bedtime and were little zoombies). Ethan got to keep an eye on the silent auction goods, making sure nothing gets stolen. He loved having a very real and important job to do. He made friends with the Accelerade Sports drink guy and had a lot of fun with him. We are still waiting for figures to come out, but I think it was a really successful event.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Valentine's Day Towels

Monday was a glorious day off by myself. I had the holiday off, the rest of my family did not. I spent the day knitting and sewing. One of the things I made, or rather, put together, was this set of Valentine's day towels. They are pretty basic, but still a lot of fun. I just love linens.
The hat I am making for Ethan is my best yet. I will post about it when it is a bit more to look at.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Valentine's Day Mail Boxes - Altered Box Tutorial

As a kid, I loved the shoesboxes that we would decorate for the Valentine's Day party. Before we had kids I would make a very elaborate card for my dear husband. Now that we have kids I am back into making them. Last year I got pencil boxes and altered them. This year I found really cute mailboxes at Target. I only bought three. I got white because it would allow me to color them. I had so much fun doing them that Ethan and I went out in -5 degree weather to get more, and the store was all out of them. Ellie thought these were nice, but wished I would have gotten her a red one. Ethan says it would be okay if I made him one, but he would not show his friend! Either way , I am going to go on the hunt for more!

As I said, they all started out white. I used the Alcohol Inks put out my Tim Holtz to add color to them. The photos here do not do them justice. To do this, you will need a pair of disposible rubber gloves, a make-up sponge (the ones that look like triangles) or a good bit of gauze, the alcohol ink and the metal item. Open the ink and drip the color onto one part. For example, I put it on the edges near the door of the mailbox first. Then use the sponge/gauze to move the color around. You can get lots of different effects. I smear the color around to get it all covered, then I go back and dap. Be aware that it will dry pretty quickly. You cannot answer the phone or go to the bathroom and expect to be able to manipulate it. Also, you can add more color. Once it starts to dry it becomes a bit tacky for a short while. For this reason. I put it on wax paper, or balance it on a cup. If it is on paper, it may stick to it. I do this after I have colored all the parts that are to be colored. There are more ways to add more colors or effects, but those will wait for another posting.

Next I pick out the papers I want to use and I measure the areas where they will go. Once I have them cut out I try them out where I want them. Trying to trim paper with glue on it is not fun. Once it is correct, I glue them on. I usually use spray glue by 3M. This time I tried out the UHU Scrapbookers Pen. It worked great for most parts. I will give it a full review in another post.

Once the paper is applied I started to embellish them. I got a bit carried away, but I had so much fun doing it that I did not want to stop. I tried the UHU glue on the silk flowers, but it did not work so they are attached with glue dots, as are the sequins. The big flowers have two layers seperated by two glue dots to add dimension. The fun centers on some of the flowers are rhinestone bling, on others they are sequins (like the black and pink polkadotted one here.) I had to have some restraint on the side where the flag does down since it is flush with the box.

Some of the flowers are from "Got Flowers?," others are from Heidi Swapp and Lil' Davis. Still others are from a silk hydrangea stem I got at the craft store. The green leaves are harvested from an antique hat that is falling apart.

I also attached ribbon and rickrack. I usually run those through my xyron to make them adhere. This time I used the UHU Scrapbooker's Pen and it worked really well. What I like about the pen is that it has a flat edge where the clear glue comes out. This smears the glue as it comes out and reduces that spooge effect you get when you flatten a thick line of glue this helps you anticipate where it will spread to more easily.

I hope this is useful. If you have questions, email me or leave a comment.

I use this same technique on the lunch boxes I alter. If you search my archives, you will find lots of them.

Now, on to Valentine's Day cards...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Resolved - To Keep Up Family Memories

This year one of my resolutions was to do a better job of keeping up with the scrapbooking. In the past I have just picked up where I had left off and moved forward. I found that I was often frustrated that I could not find what I needed, say, if I did Christmas in June. This year I am going to do the pages from the last month, or so, when all the papers and fun embellishements are still available. So, here's the first few pages from last fall. As you might be able to tell, I had fun with some of the new Cricut cartridges that I received as Christmas presents. I think this new way of scrapbooking will be a nice way to get closure on one time frame, reflect, enjoy and move on to the next.
Ellie and I also finished up some other projects. I got the hat I was knitting for my husband done, but I am already thinking of redoing it. Ellie and I made a snuggly, light blue hooded poncho with a penguin on it. We tried taking photos to share them with you, but they did not do the poncho, or my girl, justice.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cowboy Up

The National Western Stock Show takes hold of Denver every January. For a few weeks we can all pretend that we are cowboys and cowgirls. People pull out their cowboy hats, their westernwear and their ranch jackets. Purses with horse images abound, even seen on women who have surely never set foot on a ranch. This weekend took part in the annual indulgance. My favorites include the livestock, especially the chickens and other birds. The goose featured here is a wonderful animal. And HUGE. I think it stood 3' tall. My husband and daughter took delight in the horses, spending time dreaming while being spectators at the horse auction. Ethan and I were on a mission. This summer the kids created cloth on Aunt Lynne's looms. Ethan wanted to turn his into a sachel. We have been looking for leather to complete this project for monthes. We were thrilled when we found a family who makes a living by making chaps. They had bundles of scraps for $5 a roll. I could not help myself - we got 5 rolls. Now we have enough leather to make all kinds of stuff. The evening was spent watching the amazing Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza (sounds best if you can roll your "r"s like the announcer did). It featured charros going bareback on bucking bronco horses and raging bulls. There was the famouse Diaz Family and their dancing horses. (They have a special place in our hearts as they met at the stock show 10 years ago and got married three years later, at the stock show.) There were precision drill teams. The ladies featured in this picture did amazing rides, and on side saddle (both feet to one side) as well. The last part was the bull fight. Rather, it was actually a bull taunting. No one, man or beast was injured. It was fun for all, partner!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Work, Work, Work

I a fantasy that goes like this: In the morning I get up to a clean kitchen. The dishes in the dishwasher are done. No one needs me to make them breakfast. I start the kettle for a spot of warm tea and lovely toast. The other rooms in the house are clean. No one needs me to play taxi. I have new papers waiting for me in the craft room. It seems like a small fantasy, but it can't seem to materialize. It seems that as I am cleaning one part of the house, another gets dirty. The washing machine is prefecting the trick of seeming to create more laundry than I would think four of us could produce. How is it that even though I clean as I cook, the kitchen is still dirty?

Wednesday I cleaned and dealt with mundane elements of life. Thursday I did deep cleaning with the kids and my dear hubbie so that we could clean the carpets. WOuld you believe that it took 11 hours? Today we awoke to MORE SNOW. By noon we had about another 7" of the white powder. I finally got some important stuff sent out. I will post pictures of them after they have arrived at their destinations. After running errands and doing returns, I shoveled the walks. An excited squirrel chattered at me the entire time. I was not sure if he was mad for some reason, or if he wanted a snow-free pathway to the next tree. Just to be sure, I plowed him a path. The afternoon finally bought some fun when the family went to the nature and science museum. We saw the rerun of the Shakelton Anartic Expedition IMAX show. What amazing men they were! It was a good way to end the day. I go back to work on Monday. I want to have as much fun and creative time as possible during the next two days - and would you believe that I am beginning to feel ill?!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Scissor, Sushi and Unagi for the New Year

Some friends of mine invited us to a New Year's Day party and we had an absolute blast. I learned how to make and enjoy California Rolls, Sushi and Unagi (Rice with smoked eel). I am not a big fan of fish, so I was surprized when I liked it. I had so much fun that I helped make a bunch of the rolls at the party. I also helped put together a lot of the Unagi (as pictured in this post). We could not make them fast enough. It was the most fun that I have had at a party in a while.
On the homefront, I continue to create items for the sewing kits. Today I got two of the four scissor cases done. I had hemmed and hawed about how to design them, and finally decided on a flap with magnetic snaps. My friend got some of the smaller magnet sets and that set me thinking. I had to be careful how it was put together. The magnets have a definate right and wrong side. I made the first one wrong and the magnets would only fight, so I fixed it and did not repeat the mistake on the other. I had been thinking of making a matching bag to carry the items in, but I am running out of the fabric. Since it was from my stash I doubt I can get any more.
Next up? Maybe an apron or some scrapbooking.