Monday, December 17, 2012

Arkansas Women Bloggers Secret Santa Reveal

ArkansasWomen Bloggers is a group that I've been participating in. It's been fun to network with other bloggers, of all kinds, that are near by. They sponsored a Secret Santa Handmade Ornament Exchange that has been a load of fun - mostly cause I've got to know a couple of members a bit better.  I was supposed to send a handmade ornament to my fellow blogger, Gina of Desperately Seeking Gina.  She got a Christmasy Dressed version of my Noah's ark Moose. Check them out here.
But check out my loot!

This lovely box of goodness came from Esmee Lynn of Plaid Pages.   My Friends and family know the sad truth that I can make beautiful stuff but my packaging is a bit limited.  This was a party in a box! 
The actual ornament is sooo pretty and unusual.  It looks like she Modg Podged lightweight paper or tissue onto a blank ornament and then added sparkly sequins, beads and a perfect tassel!  I would do a whole tree in these.  Esmee has a Etsy Shop full of vintage goodies that I could have selected. I think we must be twins, or long lost cousins. (She's Scottish  - so am I :) ).  She said she would blog about how she made these so check her out.  I think these could be adapted so many ways and though they look fragile they are pretty tough and kid proof - something I still love.  Big hugs and thanks to her. This will live happily on  my tree.

Just for brags, here are my moose. Yeah, I had the idea to get some of these in the shop before Christmas but life interfered.  I don't know why a moose says "Christmas" to me but it does. If I had a tame moose I would so dress it up for the holidays.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Wolf Story

If you know anything about me, you know I adore children's books. One of my favorite sources for information on books and authors is the very fun blog Vintage Kids Books My Kid Loves.  I've found so many new to me favorite authors and books there. She had a give away and huzzah! I won the book that I liked the best from the ones she had. It must be kismet.
Wolf Story by William McCleary is one the New York Review Books Children's Collection. They've taken classic and out of print books and reprinted them in beautiful editions.  This was printed first before I was born (Yes, that long ago) and I wasn't familiar with it. It arrived yesterday amid the horror that's become our national morning and it was the best antidote.  This is a tale of a father who tells his son and the son's best friend stories. Not any story but a "good long story" with a wolf  named Waldo, a hen with colorful feathers, and a fictional little boy who saves his hen.  The story of the wolf winds in between the story of ordinary days and nights when a father takes his son on outings, has him wash his face, brush his teeth and puts him to bed.

 It's a perfect world when the wolf's teeth, "as long and as sharp as butcher knives",  can be banished because Daddy changed the story.  Too soon we learn of real wolves with real life teeth. This book reminded me why I, at an early age, fell in love with story books.  Today, I'm also full of love and gratitude for my school teachers. They patiently taught me to read and opened up the world so I could walk forward when ready.  Pouring knowledge into our empty heads and dealing with the ordinary bits of childishness that we all are in our early education. I recall few names or faces of these sainted ladies (for me they were all ladies) but I remember, from kindergarten through 6th grade, in 3 different states; always after lunch they read to us. I remember many of these books. They became part of me. The best stories don't just entertain or educate but light a little flame at the bottom of our hearts that keeps us company and gives us hope in the darkest of times.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Koala Changes For the Better

I'm always amazed at how my creative process works. (That sounds a bit weird and pretentious, but stay with me.) Over the time I've been making Noah's Arks and the animals, the designs have evolved and changed. Most changes have come when I have a slap your head and wonder why I didn't do this before moment.  I make the smaller animals out of a solid piece of wood but larger ones are made of at least two wood layers so that I get a realistic look. The layered animals take a lot more wood and work so they are priced a bit more.  The relative size of the animal has made the difference in which category or size they fall, but the Koalas have been a three layer animal even though they are smaller. 
You can easily see the three layers above. Standard 1" wood (which is less than 1" thick) seemed a bit thin for a chubby koala so I thought I had to layer them.  BLHubby presented me with some two by fours (romantic, huh) and the "slap your head" moment occurred. I ran a length through the planer and after cutting used my dremel to shape the ears, face and front legs.
I think they are nicer than before. More round and cuddly. And, they take less steps to make so they have been changed from the "Large 3D animal section" to the "small Animal" section and priced less.

I'm in love with them. Change is good. I just wish I could figure out things sooner.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shop Update

I've been shockingly absent here, but working my fingers off making. When I would think "you need to update the blog" I then would thing "you need to make stuff" and the "making stuff" won out. I decided I was a "maker" first and a "blogger" 2nd.  Here's some of what I've been covered with paint for.

Bunny Bookends
I've got a new set of bookends and the first pair were sent to Singapore. I'd love to have traveled with them.
Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf Fairytale Play Set
A new version of Little Red and the Wolf. This one is not as dark and I'm so happy with how Red returned out.
The whole crew looks great.  Hope they find a good home.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Late Thanksgiving Recap

We traveled over the rivers and through a lot of woods to the greater Atlanta area to share Thanksgiving with a branch of the BestLoved family that relocated there this year. Haven't been to that area of the country for a decade or so since the BL Son-in-law graduated from UGA. We were joined by one of the BL son's and his kiddlet for turkey, pie and lots and lots of carbonated juice drinks. 
Mom with Friend
Hubbys Mom went with us. She's fun to travel with and a great sport. We did get to check out the emergency room Thanksgiving morning (Mom had a bad cold that got better then much worse and we were worried about pneumonia but all was well.) What's a family get together without a trip to the emergency room?
The "Bigs" and the "Littles"
Mostly loving spending time with these rug rats. "The Bigs" are getting so big - in shoe size (can you say 15's!), height (6 feet and growing) and maturity.  B, our oldest BLGrand is actively making plans to "get out of here" as he says, and college, mission, life are in spitting distance.

The "Littles" were pure fun. I have to brag about our girl, K.  She's newly 10 and quite the kiddlet. She was so sweet to her 4 year old cousin. She spent LOTS of time with him doing things he would like and she never complained.

 In fact, she was the one planning things for him to do.  I found her making him booklets to color in, playing computer games he liked and generally looking after him.  Her mom says she is a natural organizer and general caretaker. A few weeks ago their childless neighbors had a death in the family and lots of family visitation with quite a few children. Miss K had organized games in the back yard for them and was keeping everyone happy.  She does it without being bossy.  I don't know how.  I think we should elect her to congress right away. She would have everyone in line and loving it. Proud of her.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Zombie Invasion

You don't have to wait until tomorrow for Zombies to invade.  I got to witness an invasion of  small zombies last night.   On arrival, we hit the make up booth.

The Zombie helpers did a great job.  Behold, the Best Loved Zombie:
There were many Zombies, though they were short.  They did have a tall leader. With a bucket on his head.
I'm so sad that I didn't get a good picture of this preschool teacher with his real life Zombiefied baby. What terrible purpose brought these together? They formed lines.
And then, they danced!  (To the tune of "Thriller", what else).
All were satisfied. Especially the adult units associated with the short Zombies. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Real Life Halloween Goodies

If you aren't ready for Halloween yet, you're (I'm) running out of time. I'm amazed at how many Halloween activities have already taken place.  A costume can get a big work out these days.
Look at this family costume done by a sweet talented young friend. They are "Swamp People" with little baby Abram as their little alligator catch.  This is so my kind of costume! How? Clever idea but not a huge amount of time or money.  This busy mama is in medical school so you know she needs to study more than do craft projects. They went off to our beloved "Boo At the Zoo". An unexpected joy that comes with having a child is that you have an excuse to do this kind of stuff.  I don't know if the kiddlet cared, but I loved seeing them.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Cooking

I'm participating in Arkansas Women Bloggers Blogtober Fest who want us to post about Fall cooking today.  I love to cook and I love to bake even more but I've never posted a recipe on this blog before.  It's only fitting that I'm going to link to one that I never make. (Stay with me on this.)

Mid 20th century didn't just give us cool modern furniture, there were food trends.  Chiffon Pies were all the rage.  They are tricky things with egg white meringue folded into whipped cream and gelatin.  Pumpkin Chiffon was the one and only pumpkin pie I ate until I married into a non-chiffon pumpkin custard pie family. (Custard pie is the one on the Libby pumpkin label.)  I tried to convert my new husband and relatives but my attempt at pumpkin chiffon was a flop.  Instead of light, airy and delicious, my pie was kind of lumpy and flat.  I converted to pumpkin custard and have never looked back.  Recently, one of the BL Girls visited with her Grandmother (my Momma) who regaled her with tales of how good and how easy pumpkin chiffon pie was to make.  She promptly went home and made one. 

BLGirls actual pic of her actual pie
Then she posted  (bragged) about it on Facebook for all to see.  I don't know why my Mom told her it  was so easy but failed to teach me how.  If you want to be brave and make one All Recipes has the skinny here. I noticed that Food Network had a Paula Dean recipe called Pumpkin Chiffon Pie that looks like a it takes some serious shortcuts.  It uses melted marshmallows and Cool Whip to replace the egg whites and whipped cream and gelatin. Looks much easier to make. Would Paula Dean ever let us go astray?

Am I the only one that has trouble with prized family recipes? Is there a beloved family dish that you just don't care for?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall Traditions

Fall is my favorite time of year.  Maybe because I was born in the fall? (I was also married in the fall.) For a long time I lived in Southern California where there isn't really a "fall".  They have a hot dry season (Summer) and a cooler, sometimes rainy season (Winter) but the differences are slight.  Living in Arkansas for 19 years, I love having four distinct seasons.  Fall comes earlier in the north but it arrives here for sure in October.

For me it's Fall, not Spring or New Years, when you start fresh and make new plans, do something different or visit a new place.  Weird?  Hear me out. I came from a farming family.  Summer was nonstop work.  Hay had to be put up. Lots of crops tended and harvested.  We might take a half day off for 4th of July but there was so much work that needed done we didn't do much else. In the Winter cows had to be fed every single day. No time for going or doing anything else.  Spring is for new baby calves and that was also a round the clock job.  It was Fall when we had time for trips or new projects.  As farmers my parents also got paid in the fall (when crops and cows sold) so we might have more income to be able to do a little something.  Add to the farm cycle the fact that school schedules always started in mid September (I know now they start mid or early August for most).  So, Fall makes me want to redecorate, start a new exercise program, make lists and travel a bit even though I'm not bound by a farm or school schedule.
Some of the family this summer
Our family trip in July to Old Faithful really made me remember going to Yellowstone National Park on day trips when I was in High School.  I  remember walking on the board walk around Old Faithful Geyser on my 16th birthday, sporting my best outfit.  October in Yellowstone is beautiful and usually only visited by folks who live near by.

Go ahead, rake leaves, go to the fair or a pumpkin patch to celebrate Fall.  I'll be making Christmas lists, deep cleaning the pantry and learning yoga.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Best Part of Halloween

I adore Trick or Treating.  It was the best thing about Halloween when I was a kid. It was the best part of Halloween when my children were young and I still love seeing kiddlets at my door.  Dressing up is just what you had to do to get the loot.  Halloween became less fun when I aged out of  Trick or Treating. Parties or other activities are a poor substitute for going door to door begging for sweets. It was so exciting to anticipate what you might get and going door to door in the dark gave Halloween a delicious bit of danger.

My favorite Halloween Candy
I would come home tired and spread out the loot on my bed. I was like a mythical dragon surrounded by gold.  The best thing to get was anything chocolate. Hershey Miniatures were the most desired and most often swiped by my Dad.  My Trick or Treating was in an gentler era. We knew everyone in the neighborhood and no one worried about tainted treats. Because of this, homemade treats would be received.  I liked getting iced sugar cookies, cup cakes and sometimes I got fudge. Unfortunately, I always had at least two popcorn balls.  Popcorn balls were very popular but I was never fond of them.  They were fun to make but after they hardened they were tasteless and stuck in your teeth.  I always got more bubble gum than I ever wanted.  I was never a big gum chewer but when you've consumed everything else, a sweet is a sweet.  My parents let me and my sibs keep all our candy and do with it what we would.  I would eat too much the day afterwards but then the "good stuff" was gone so my candy consumption slowed to a crawl until the next year. Does your neighborhood still Trick or Treat?

I've been participating in Arkansas Women Bloggers Blogtober Fest. Check out the fun.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I've Been Paralysed by Pansies

I don't usually do much seasonal decor, other than Christmas Decorations.  Our house is in a semi-rural area and I think that the great outdoors does a pretty good job of changing the decorations on the trees and I have nice windows, so I just watch.  One exception is the containers on my entry porch. I like to have flowers in a ever changing group of large pots by my front door and my Impatiens and Coleus will not survive the freeze that will come in a couple of weeks. So, I've been shopping for cold weather plants.  We're lucky that we live in Arkansas where plants can live through the winter. When my Momma was in Montana she arraigned  pine branches in her empty containers to look like shrubs.  The cold kept them fresh and green until spring when she could replant.
The choices for winter planting are limited compared to summer plants. Pansies (and their relatives) and Decorative Kale, Cabbage, or other cabbage relatives.  This year choosing the pansy varieties to plant is overwhelming me. Normally I'm a person who knows what I like and I love to make color combinations of plants. I think the problem is - I've got too many choices.  Maybe I've spent too much time reading decor magazines and on Pintrest and I'm overwhelmed with ideas.  I've been advised by the nursery expert on the morning TV show that pansies need to be planted early or they won't bloom very much, even come spring. One choice is bright warm fall colors such as orange and yellows.  I even saw a grouping of orange and dark, dark purple pansies that shouted Halloween. The nursery expert (again on morning TV) suggested you could put them in your containers now and after Halloween find another place for them in the ground.  I assume that you then need more pansies in different colors to fill the now empty containers.  I"m already feeling bad for the poor sad pansies that are shunted to some corner of the garden to live their lives hidden because they don't "match" the current holiday.
I think it is the holiday thing. Pansies will bloom until spring. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day and Easter will all pass with the same pansies at my front door.  I've just stated that I'm not concerned with seasonal decorating, but, I must be worried about clashing holidays.  Why I'm worried this year? You never know when you will just up and loose your mind.

Maybe an all white color scheme will be best.  It will go with my Christmas lights.  Only problem is that my summer color scheme has been all white with green. I'm tired of it.
In years past I've fallen in love with the variegated pastels. Maybe not fallish, or even Christmasy, but pretty.  In desperation,  I just decided to go and grab something.  My local big box orange store helped me out by having very a limited selection. I resisted the urge to run to every plant outlet I know and just took what was available.
My flowers waiting to get plopped in a pot
They had white and blue and purple violas. What a way to overcome Pansy Paralysis. Sometimes it's better to not over think things. 

They did have the cabbages and cabbages make me happy regardless of  the season. Christmas lights look great with anything. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by choices?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Shop Update - New Bunnies

I've done a couple of new bookends but they didn't make me happy. It's hard to make the idea in my head look good in real life. Finaly, success! Meet the newest bookend:
I love these bunnies.  They are similar in size and shape to the Piggy Bookends

The Bunnies aren't identical.  One is sitting up,
And one is crouched down.  But both are sweet. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween Aspirations

Halloween can be a bit of a competition.  We want to out-do our friends, neighbors and total strangers.  I'm a bit envious of these over the top bikes I found on Columbia Missouri Cycling Cooperative blog.  I bet no one else would have as great of a decorated bike. Does anyone actually decorate their bikes?
Nothing like decking your ride out to become a "Skelly Bike". Those handle bars might be a bit hard to use.  Want to add a bunch of glow in the dark accents. 

The fish bike is a bit silly, but impressive.  You need a Halloween parade or event to show these off.  Maybe fun to accompany the kiddlets while they trick-or-treat. Shame to use these just on Halloween.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On the Work Table

If you stopped by yesterday you could have had this view of the work table.
Lots of camels for Nativity Scenes in the background, some tiny bunnys for Noah's Arks and the black on the way right are skunks.  Sorry there isn't anything closer, my camera decided to run out of batteries and only took this pict. Oh, the piggy's! In Red! 
I had a request to do a set of Piggy Brothers in red for a little boy's room who's family is a huge fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks.  Easy Peasy.  Note, if I put the Arkansas logo (or any other licenced NCAA or NFL team logo) on the pigs I would be in trouble.  But you can't licence team colors.  Arkansas does have a licencing program for crafters where for a not too huge fee you can get permission to sell a limited amount of Razorback specific crafts.  Not all teams have that program. My emphasis is more fairy tale than sports so I don't think it's for me but  I love these brothers in red. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thrift Brag!

Confession, when I just want something to do to rest from working, I go find a thrift store.  I always check out the pictures, mostly for frames, but I can't buy any more frames.  I have a frame problem.  Don't look in my craft room closet.  I still look at the art, though.  Yesterday I scored.  I paid a whooping $2.99 for this lovely.

This 8 x 10 oil painting snagged my heart. It had to come home with me.  The frame was trashed.  It even had a tiny bit of termite damage.  I baked the frame in the oven at 225 for a bit just to make sure there wasn't any lingering wildlife then I scrubbed the frame down with rubbing alcohol.  A light coating  of Liquitex Burnt Umber acrylic paint and the wood grain still showed through and the frame looked new again. 

I loved the picture.  This so reminded me of growing up in the west on a ranch.  Most original paintings you find at the thrift are some one's hobby and pretty bad. This is a decent composition and full of my favorite blues and greens.  Is it worth anything?  I don't think so.
It is signed Dick Powell and then has those strange red marks below.  There was Dick Powell who a movie star from the first part of the 1900's.  When I search the Internet I can't find any other Dick Powells doing painting.   I think it's from one of those places where they have Chinese art students crank out thousands of oils and then they sell them in the US at traveling shows located in hotels.  There is a store in Hot Springs, AR near us that sells these, also.  They are original but pretty formulaic.  They're very affordable and they can be good for decoration if you find one you like.  They have bales of canvases in the back and you pick one and they staple it onto a stretcher and pop it into a frame in about a minute.  The canvas, stretchers and frame seem very modern and the red bits in the signage are, I think, the sure give away.  It's hanging in my entry right now.  Happiness.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Star Wars Love

The men I know who are in their 20's and 30's all love Star Wars. They grew up with the videos. My own BL Middlest Boy fell asleep for his nap every day for about 18 months watching rreturn of the Jedi.  He's tried to get his own boy kids to love it with mixed success.  Oldest BL Boy has tried similarly to interest his own offspring.  Maybe they didn't start early enough. They could have hung this Star Wars 6 Ships Baby Mobile over their crib.

Felted Custom Star Wars Mobile
You can request up to 6 Star Wars figures or ships. The contrast between felted wool and Sci-Fi is mind boggling.
via imgfave
 One of the BL Son-in-Laws has said that he would love to name a son Luke, because it would be so cool to say "Luke, I am your father".  That boat may have sailed because his brother already took the name for his own son.  Nobody names their kiddlet Yoda.  By the way, when I searched on Etsy, I found 233 versions of a Yoda hat similar to the one above.
Star Wars Print Set via Print Chicks on Etsy

A wonderful man and good friend of my daughter (married to the above BL SIL) does have twins. You guessed it, named Luke and Leah.  That may be going too far, but the prints above are so geeky graphic that I might gift someone with them.  The Print Chicks have quite a few graphic prints with Star Wars Themes.  Of coarse, for the truly geeky here's the ultimate baby shower gift.
Via Geekling Designs on Etsy
How far do you go to introduce your larva to your favorite childhood movies?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Resuable Halloween

BestLoved Hubby recalls with some envy that his aunt made his younger cousins pj's that doubled as their Halloween costumes.  Aunt Leslie was ever practical, loved to sew and found the double duty costumes very satisfactory.  I went in search of some clothing that could double as a Halloween costume and be used often afterward.
This onesie by Stitch Baby + Kids at Big Cartel is cute for every day (maybe I'd lose the cape) and perfect for the big night.  It's on sale now for $12.
The same shop has a Superman onsie, also. I just think it looks more like Wonder Woman.
Below is a hoody tricked out to double as a bunny costume.  What toddler wouldn't want to wear this all the time?
Bunny Hoody $46
It also comes in gray so pink adverse boys could be bunnies, too. The same Big Cartel Shop has hoodies in Fox, Raccoon, Owl and Deer designs.

Cheeky Dinosaur $155
 This beautifully constructed wool jacket is by Little Goodall.  Molly, from Texas, designs and sews coats for little ones that are truly future heirlooms.  Check out her version of a Wild Grey Wolf Coat.

There are lots of other animals and most are perfect for either boys or girls.

This Etsy shop below, WildthingsDresses, was an Etsy Featured Shop but they had been in my favorites for several months.  Don't you love it when that happens? It makes me feel soooo... in the know.
Little Girls Fox Character Dress $60
This dress makes me wish that the BLGrandaughter who's last name is the same as the dress was still little.  She's firmly a tween and this would be way too babyish.
Mouse Character Dress $60
Check out this Mouse version.  It makes me squeak!  She doesn't neglect the boy kids either.
Brown Bear Boys Dungaree Overall $60
Practical can be beautiful, don't you think?