Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bursting with Happy

Good company, crafting, and "Anne of Green Gables".  It doesn't get much better than that.  Last weekend was spent with my good friend Jodi.  This is the Pinterest inspired outcome of that visit.

Bursting with HAPPY
Fabric on canvas.  24"X36" if I remember correctly.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Foodie Friday - Pho

The utmost thing I adore most about Chicago is the diversity of cuisine. I'm not just talking everything from Chili's to Outback steak house; I mean real ethnic diversity.  Within about one mile of me, I have the choice to chow on authentic Vietnamese bahn mi, Mediterranean Shwarma and falafels that are out of this world, or Ethiopian grub in an establishment that frowns upon using flatware. Chicago is truly a foodies paradise and I am soaking it all in. 
Vietnamese Pho for dinner.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Throwback Thursday - Swank Clarinet Lamp

I used to play this lamp in 6th grade. :o) My dad helped me by cutting out and routering the base.  He also taught me how to wire it which came in handy later when I installed my car stereo. It's painted black with silver edging. The shade was given to me as a gift specifically for this project. It uses night light sized bulbs. This is my favorite project yet because of the sentimental value it holds.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two Cent Tuesday- Tulsi

I've been terrible at posting lately.  Work has been a frenzy! In the evening I'm just too pooped to do anything. I'd like to sit with a cup of tea and space out.  One of my favorites is Tulsi because of its health benefits (described here). The box even says its "stress relieving and magical". :)

Organic India is the brand I always get and I think my favorite flavor is Sweet Rose.  As its name suggests its floral, sweet and mild.  There are others like Lemon Ginger and Honey Chamomile.  Its organic and fair trade certified.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Throwback Thursday - ATC's

Chalk, paper, ink, stickers

Paper di-cut, chalk, ink, sticker

Watercolor, ink

Paper, ink

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two cent Tuesday - How to get half off organics

Organic food can be a little pricey sometimes but I've learned how you can get at least half off of your organic celery and green onions if you're willing to get your hands dirty. lil fish studios demonstrated how to regrow green onions.  I've tried two methods as shown below.
Method #1-Started

Method #2-Plant root tips in soil.

Method #1-After 10 days

Method #2- After 10 days

You can keep cutting the long greens, and they will keep growing new ones for a while. So technically you can get more than double for your money.  I'm still not sure what the ones in the soil will do since this is the first time I've tried that method.

After 1 week
With the celery, I cut the bottom 2 inches off then put in in a bowl with 1 inch of water until I saw little roots beginning to grow.  then I planted it in a small pot. Putting it in the water isn't necessary, rather it was for my own satisfaction.  I like to see things happening.  Waiting for seeds to germinate is almost agonizing. Another couple weeks and I should be able to harvest round 2 of organic celery.
After 2 weeks

Monday, May 21, 2012

"One small change" Update - Don't door my bro!

Its been almost a month since I posted the "one small change" challenge.  I had resolved to commute to work once a week for the first month.  The first week went well.  we left quite early so we wouldn't have to rush and traffic was light.  The second week, it rained everyday so we didn't ride.  The third week's ride was a bit rough because of some road construction and potholes.  The fourth week didn't happen due to my brother's mishap.

He was out riding for leisure when he was doored.  He took the corner of the door in his shoulder and it left a pretty nasty gash.  It took ten stitches to close it up.  His bike is un-rideable with bent handle bars and wheels out of true. Maybe I should get this shirt for him. Though she was at fault, the lady who doored him had the nerve to say she wanted money to fix her car.

Though I won't commute by bike until my riding partner is healed and in the saddle again, I'm still riding for pleasure.  This weekend I'll be taking my mountain bike out on some trails.

I'm also adopting one more small change.  Instead of buying boxes of kleenex, I'll be using hankies, as my grandpa used to call them.  Actually I have a ton of bandanna's that will serve the purpose and they will barely take any room in the washing machine with the rest of the load.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Foodie Friday! Canning tomatoes

My favorite food as a kid was macaroni and tomato.  I thought it might be a Wisconsin thing but very few people have heard of it, in or outside of Wisconsin.  I got to eat it on a pretty regular basis due to the fact we canned our own tomatoes.  Last weekend I put up some tomatoes and ended up with 21 quarts. Tomatoes are very easy to can and its one of the few foods that is acidic enough that you can do it without a pressure canner.  Its advised that you at least use a water bath.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Throwback Thursday-Pointy Kitty & cell phone case

This is Pointy Kitty (free pattern), guarding her yarn stash. Looks like she snagged my cell phone case that I embroidered using the Urban Threads Cameo Mori pattern.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two Cent Tuesday - Creative Memories Custom Cutting System

Cutting circles is such a pain sometimes when you're running around trying to find bowls or glasses that are the right size, to trace onto your paper.  When scrapbooking with friends, I've really enjoyed using the Creative Memories Custom Cutting System. Its templates are easy to use and making different sizes for matting is so convenient.  The blade sets in a groove on the template and you just guide it around. It keeps the blade straight, the way it should be, so it cuts nice and clean, unlike the Fiskars circle cutter that I have.  They have oval and fancy frames templates too and also sell replacement blades and a self healing mat. These are great for any paper craft.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kool-Aid Swap

I follow Happy Daisy's blog and she was saying that in England they don't sell Kool-Aid but she likes to use it to dye wool.  We decided that I would send her Kool-Aid in exchange for something she handmade. She sent this lovely dream catcher as well as a painted fabric heart with an inspirational quote on it.  The dreamcatcher is already on my wall but I still need to find some materials to frame the heart. They actually both match my bedroom rather well. I love swaps!  Its so fun to get some nice handmade surprise in the post.

This weekend I'll be canning tomatoes, so a tutorial on how to do that will be up for next week's Foodie Friday!
You don't need a map to follow your will take you where you need to go.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Throwback Thursday - Paintings

Acrylic on canvas 12x24
 For both paintings I tried to replicate pictures I saw online.
Acrylic on Canvas 18x24

Bike painting for trade or sale

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two Cent Tuesday - Soap Creations kit

I got the Innovations Soap Creations soap making kit and one weekend my mom, roommate and I tried our hands at melt and pour soap making.  The kit comes with a melting pot and warmer, a chunk of glycerin soap, and a mold.  The instructions are very simple.  Cut chunks of the soap, melt it in the pot, and then fill the molds.  The pot is like a hopper with a valve on the bottom so you can easily stop the flow while filling the mold.  However the melting pot was a major disappointment.  As the soap was melting it began to leak, unknowingly to us, all under the warmer!  We thought maybe we got something in there that didn’t allow it to seal completely so we cleaned it up well and tried to melt some soap a second time.  Again, it leaked out of the pot onto the counter.  We manage to make 4 little soaps with what didn’t leak out and added some essential oils and lavender flowers to fancy them up.  I would not recommend this particular brand to start your soap making adventures.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Foodie Friday! Kombucha- My fizzy refreshing soda pop alternative

Because of all the great things I’ve heard about kombucha (a detoxifying, immune boosting, cancer fighter) I really wanted to like it.  The bottle of kombucha I bought at the grocery store was very vinegary though and expensive.  I decided to try making it at home where I could control the flavor and now I can’t stop drinking it.

Kombucha cultures, called SCOBY’s, can be purchased online or nutrition stores or sometimes found on Craigslist.  I learned from Bonzai Aphrodite how to make my own from a bottle of store-bought, raw, kombucha. 

Once you grow or procure your SCOBY, these are the directions to brew a gallon of kombucha:

Things you will need:
1 gallon sized glass jar
6 teabags or 4 tablespoons of loose tea
3 quarts of water
1 cup sugar
1 large spoon
1 medium/large pot
1 strainer (if using loose tea)
1 cloth or coffee filter to cover jar
1 rubber band or tie

Bring the water to a boil in the pot then add your tea.  You can turn the burner off and just let it steep for a couple hours.  You want the tea to be strong.
If using teabags, I stir in the sugar while the tea is still warm to help it dissolve, then let it continue steeping until its room temperature.

If I’m using loose tea, I let it steep until its room temperature; strain the tea leaves while pouring the tea into the jar, then stir in the sugar. 



Once you have basically sweet tea in your jar and its cooled to room temperature, you can put your SCOBY in.  Now you can’t use metal utensils because metal doesn’t react well with kombucha.  I like to put it in gently to try to make it float at the top.  It tends to do that usually but it’s okay if it sinks.  The new culture will still form at the top.   Then cover it with a towel, cheese cloth, or coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band.  You want to cover it with something that breathes that will keep any pests out.

Now set it aside for 3-10 days, depending on how strong or sweet you like.  The warmer your house is, the faster your kombucha will turn from sweet to vinegary.  Taste it every day to find out where you like it.

At the end of the week, you will notice that your SCOBY has 2 layers.  They can be peeled apart and you can use both to make more batches or you can store extra SCOBYS in the fridge in a glass container with a little bit of Kombucha covering them for later use or share with friends.  You can reuse a SCOBY several times but if it ever turns black or the taste is off, throw it out and use a new one.
If you want to add flavors, like fruit juices, do it after you remove the kombucha from the jar.  I usually add it in my glass.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Throwback Thursday! ATC's

Here are some ATC's I've made and traded.  For those of you who don't know, ATC's (artist trading cards) are miniature pieces of art that are traded but never sold.  The only rule is that it has to be 2.5inches by 3.5 inches.  They can be drawings, paintings, stitched, paper, tin foil, wood; anything goes.

The person I made this paper collage for requested a personal haiku.  This is the short story I based it on:
     A five year old giggles while waving a jar in the evening air.  Her bare, little feet, dance on the dew laden grass.  Grandma’s house has fireflies that come out at night to fly to the moon.  The little girl swoops to scoop a firefly into the jar and covers the opening with her hand.  She proudly carries her mystical lamplight to Grandma, who puts a lid on.  The girl asks to keep it forever.  Grandma said that if it stays in the jar it will be sad and won’t glow.  The little girl took the jar and unscrewed the top, watching the firefly flicker up, up towards the starry sky.  That little girl was me but memory is hazy now like a scene from a fairy tale.  

 This is buttons and colored pencil on paper for a "tree" theme.

 This stitched felt card was to help the recipient to spell out "kitchen"
 This is Warhol's Marilyn done in accrylics on canvas board for the recipient's "mini works of art" theme.
This little guy in his cute hat was embroidered on cotton for the recipient's "owl" theme.

Thanks for looking!  Let me know if you'd like to swap.  I'd love to have an ATC made by you! :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Foodie Friday! Candied Orange Peels

My friend's mom grew up in Sweden in the 1950's.  At that time, importing fruit wasn't that common and at Christmas the kids would receive an orange in their stocking as a special treat.  So as not to let any of it go to waste, they would candy the peels so they could eat that part too.  I love chocolate covered orange peels and there is a store in the neighborhood that sells them for $25 per pound.  That seems a bit steep for part of a food that most people would consider garbage.  So in attempt to reduce waste and have delicious snack at a far reduced price I set out to make my own chocolate covered orange peels.  Here's how:  
Clean oranges and cut off ends

Score sections of the peel

Cut narrow strips, about 3/8"

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch peels. Repeat 3 times to reduce bitterness. 

Simmer 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and peels for about 40 min. Stir occasionally.

Place peels on a rack to drip and for the glaze to dry.

It was getting sort of late so I was going to let my peels sit over night and cover them in chocolate the next day.  I sampled one a few before bed and they were delicious.  In fact, they were so good just as they were, that they all ended up getting eaten before getting their chocolate bath.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Throwback Thursday

For over five years I've been a volunteer with Adopt-A-Pet. Now, I'm a webmaster, but in the early days I was able to foster.  I miss the kitties.  They were great victims subjects for my photo shoots.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dyeing Handspun Yarn

With a vacation interrupting my craft time for the Fiber to Fashion challenge, I wasn't able to get my project done in time to enter it.  I was afraid to have my knitting needles confiscated at the airport, which prevented me from taking it with to work on.  So, since then, I've been taking my time, and working on other projects in between.

I pre-treated both of the skeins by soaking them in a vinegar solution. Then I dyed them one at a time in Kelly Green Rit according to the box directions.  The first skein was spun thicker and turned out a darker teal green and the second was thinner and turned a sort of light mint green. After I was done using the dye for the wool, I put some cotton in and it turned a vibrant Green.

I don't have a good place to hang wool to dry at my place, so I just wrapped it from some seats to the china hutch.  When it had dried over night, I spun it into a ball and got to knitting a hat.  My inspiration came from the book boutique Knits, but I'm making it up as I go, rather than following the pattern.  I've never done that before so I'm nervous about the outcome.  I'll post pictures when I've finished it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

One Small Change

I love nature.  I've even been known to literally hug a tree once in a while, though its unlikely I would be considered a hippy.  I’m not one to obsess over carbon footprints and such.  You don’t need all that jargon to know that polluting and wasting is bad and conserving is good.  I firmly believe in being a good steward of resources.  I found this list of changes you can make to be more environmentally friendly.   I already do some of them like recycling, carpooling, and turning the lights off when I leave a room.  I plan on challenging myself to adopt some new practices from the list as well.

The first challenge I’m going to take on is driving less.  My brother just got a bike so instead of carpooling to work we’re going to try cycling to work.  It’s about 10 miles round trip.  We’ll probably start off with at least one day a week and moving up to 2 or three times a week.  I love bike riding, but in Chicago traffic, it’s more than a little intimidating.  I’ll keep you posted on how that commute goes.

Today is Earth Day.  I want to challenge you to change one thing.  What are some other changes that should be added to the list?  Are there changes you’ve already made that are working well for you?  I’d love to hear about it!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad rocks!  He's always been like my best friend.  The kind of best friend that likes everything you like and can finish your sentences.  He's always ready to help out. He has ingenuity, wisdom and a sense of humor.  He was "the cool dad" that all my friends liked. Just want to give him props because today is his birthday. I love you Dad!