Monday, July 30, 2012

Loving the Olympics!

Wow... where does time go? Can't believe it's been since May that I last posted. 

 Top left to right: Purple potato chips made from potatoes we harvested out of our garden, nori, watermelon.
Bottom left to right: macaroni and cheese, fresh peas from the garden.

Well, the family has been enjoying the first week of the Olympics and I thought I'd share our Olympic inspired Muffin Tin - the Olympic rings. You can check out lots of other muffin tins at Muffin Tin Mom.

I've really enjoyed our garden this year. We have enjoyed potatoes (although small), lots and lots of peas, carrots, radishes, green beans, various types of lettuce and many different herbs. Hopefully I'll get around to sharing some photos of our garden soon.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Inspired by buttons

Okay, so I admit I have a problem. I admit that I'm not a collector of buttons... I'm more of a hoarder. I have more buttons that I could admit to (seriously, I have no idea - I have boxes and boxes of them and I've lost count of how many because I've had to scatter them throughout the house to store them).

But I was inspired the other day by one of my doodles and a pile of vintage buttons. I need to do something with all these buttons (mainly so I don't feel bad buying more). So I've started selling them in my supply shop (Pickle Barrel Supplies). Here's a sampling of what you will find. I started listing them yesterday and have already sold many of them.

Each card has a simple original drawing (just a quick doodle) in pencil (I've used a silver pencil on back for these). I think these would be fun for a gift tag or a "just because" card to that button lover in your life. The buttons can also just be cut off and used.

I'm also going through my other supplies because there is an EtsyRAIN Craft Swap this weekend. So who knows what else I'll find to post. With the end of the school year approaching, I'm looking forward to doing some projects around the house. This means that I need to do some serious cleaning and purging. And knowing me, I can't do that without doing a little creating a long the way.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Out of the box

Have you ever felt like you just need to step out of our box of safe and normal? I feel this a lot. And right now, in my current slump, I think my creative mind was screaming for it. So I made a decision to take part in a call for artists. The show is for Barbie Altered Art and is hosted by Happy Delusions in Renton.

Really, this isn't too far out of my box. I love weird and quirky. But it's fairly out there when you look at the business I've built. But I've spent the majority of this week working on my pieces and I'm finally starting to feel more like my creative self. It's been great. None of my pieces are completely done - but they are all far enough along that you get the idea. Two of them are inspired by Alice in Wonderland (seems to be a theme for me this year) and the other one is inspired by the owner of Happy Delusions who I get the feeling, likes unicorns.

Here are some sneak peaks;

Magical Unicorn (to be mounted as a wall hanging)

Flower inspired by the singing flowers in Alice in Wonderland. Will have a stem for a stand, but is a pin (wearable art!).

My most complex piece is the caterpillar. Still needs antennae and a few finishing details, but will sit on to of one of my mushrooms (I'll post pictures of them soon - but they are left over decor from my daughter's birthday party)

It's a good thing that there is a three piece limit as I have really enjoyed making these and have tons and tons of ideas. I'll post photos of the finished pieces once they are complete... and show details once I know if I have been accepted. A little nervous though as this would be my first Art (not craft) Show.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Many years ago, I participated in a swap. A charm square swap with people all over the world. It was fun and I love the fabrics I received. I made a quilt top within a few months of getting them... and then it sat. and sat. and sat for several years.

Then I decided around Christmas time last year that I as a gift to myself, I was going to send my quilt and have someone else quilt it so that we could finally enjoy it. And so I actually did! Carrie from Georgia Girl Fabrics and Quilting did an awesome job. She had a quick turn around and she was so easy to work with.

Of course, I have had it back for several months now and just need to bind it. I bought the fabric but have been dragging my feet at making the biased tape. Not sure what since I borrowed my mother's bias tape machine.

But yesterday, I finally pulled it out and did it! Of course, that's because I need to return the machine this weekend. I can't believe I put it off for so long. This machine is magic! Once I had my strip, the machine made the tape for me in minutes! I couldn't believe the ease... and I'm definitely adding the machine to my list of things to get myself in the near future.

Now, I just need to sew the binding on... which of course, will probably take me another month or so to get to. But I'm sooooo close!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Is it here yet?

To say I'm anxious for Spring this year is an understatement. Normally, I don't mind all the rain (never really been fond of the cold though) - but this year, I was ready for Spring in January. And it really isn't looking good. It's supposed to be less than a week away (I think) and tonight we have a chance of lowland snow :(

Thankfully, my husband feels my pain. This weekend, despite the ridiculously cold winds sweeping through our backyard, he finished up one of my raised planter beds. It still has to be filled... but it's one step closer. We'll be shifting some dirt around from other areas of the yard so this box had to be completed before other projects could be tackled. I'm hoping to plant our beans and peas (along with a few herbs) in this box. Maybe I'll even try my hand at growing cucumbers vertically.

I did get some chives transplanted from various areas in the yard. We also planted some of the garlic that the kids brought back from their school garden. But look how sad the raised planter looks :(

So today, while my daughter slept (she's been sick for many, many days now) - I made garden markers. I'm always experimenting with different ways of marking our garden. Not all of them have worked out as well in real life as they do in my head. But this time... I'm hoping I have it right.

Took some large Popsicle sticks that I found at a thrift store for next to nothing (it's a huge box so I will not run out!) and grabbed my wood burning tool. I'm anxious to stick them outside to see how they weather the elements. I could treat them - but I'd rather not.

As soon as it warms up just a little, I hope to add broccoli to the planter with the garlic. I didn't have luck last year with broccoli as the slugs ate every last little seedling. I am much more prepared this year and ready to give it another try.

Update: These plant markers do not work :( I supposed they might if you finish them with something rather than leaving them natural. Back to the drawing board!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pinterest - Button wrapping decoration

What a crazy month February is. Not only for all the birthdays in my family... but there are so many friend birthdays as well. February is great month!

So, I thought I'd share my latest wrapping I did for one of my daughter's friends. I saw the idea of using a button on Pinterest - and any excuse to use a button is a good one. I love it and will now be wrapping gifts this way.

Well, as I was uploading it - I realize that you can't really see the button. Oops. I also used some felt flowers (obviously since they are obscuring the view of the cute pink button) that were left over from my daughter's birthday. I also used the wrapping paper that I had left over from her party. This paper from Hobby Lobby is awesome. It's not the only place I'll be going to for wrapping paper. The quality is awesome, there are grids on the back to make cutting easier and you get a ton on one roll! I used it to cover the tables, made pennants from it for decorations, and of course wrap her presents!

I also used the button to wrap a few presents for a customer. You can see the buttons a tad better here.

Still loving Pinterest!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pinterest - Toilet Paper Rolls for Starters

This week's idea from Pinterest is the genius idea of using toilet paper rolls for your seed starts!

I have been anxious to start my garden. And while it's cold, wet and windy right now, I've been dreaming all about my summer garden. So when I found out that I could be starting the plants indoors (I was trying to be patient - I'm notorious for starting them too soon and not being able to put them outside at the right time), I jumped on it!

I found this site that tells me the best time to start plants in my area. It was just the cheat sheet I needed.

Of course, because I was trying to be patient and not plant too soon... I was not prepared and didn't have all the seeds I wanted. One of my recent favorite things to do is thumb through the seed catalogs - but I haven't placed an order. I guess I'll be supporting a local nursery this week to go buy my seeds.

The toilet paper rolls (and the one paper towel roll - which is not as thick**) that I used worked great and were easy to make. I'm excited to see what happens. I put them in a plastic tray that I saved from my kid's Lego Advent calendar. I knew it would come in handy for something!

** Important update - do not use paper towel rolls. Not all rolls are created equal. They fall apart when wet. Always learning, we are.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chocolate Mushroom Tutorial

I have tons of pictures to share of my daughter's 6th birthday - and tutorials on how I did them. The first I'm going to share is the chocolate mushrooms we had on top of the cupcakes. Not only were they super cute - they were pretty tasty too.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that I didn't do this 100% myself. I was helped by Chocorooms. Found here (Seattle area) at Diaso.

Once you have the mushroom cookies - it's super easy!


Red Sugar Crystals (or whatever color you want your mushrooms)
White Chocolate Chips

Step 1 - Melt some white chocolate chips - I did this in the microwave in a glass microwave safe bowl (Pyrex!). I did it for about 30 seconds, stirred it, and then another 20 or so.

Step 2 - quickly dip the mushroom into the melted chocolate to cover the cap (top of the mushroom). Do not swirl it around - dip it and pull it out. Otherwise, the chocolate mushroom will start melting.

Step 3 - Push the mushroom, cap side down, into the sugar crystals and leave it there until it hardens (a minute or two).

Step 4 - Put into a bowl or something and stick in the fridge to speed up the hardening process.

That's it! I noticed that Diaso also had little cones - so I am hoping to do this at Christmas for little trees.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Alice in Wonderland party a success!

It's almost a week past the party and I'm slowly starting to feel normal again. Wow - that was a big event. We had a morning party and and evening party and while I wouldn't change anything about them, I was wiped out!

But I was pleased with how both turned out... and more importantly, my daughter had a great time (it was supposed to be about her after all).

Today, I'm just sharing a few photos... I'll share how I did a lot of it on future posts.

Tea Cup planters

Decorations, pinata and hats waiting to be decorated

Decorations and table set up for making hats for the Mad Hatter Tea Party

Decorated hats

Tea party table setting

This was probably my first party where the food was not the center of the celebration. I didn't spend a lot of time on it. I was more concerned about the activities for the kids... and of course, the decorations - which happens to be my favorite party.

I'll post more pictures soon... including the flamingo croquet. I'm still going through all the pictures!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pinterest - See Through Storage Bag

This past weekend was the EtsyRAIN Craft Swap and Gift Exchange. For the gift exchange, I decided to make something that any one could use since most of my costumes and such are geared toward kids... and I know plenty of EtsyRAINers without kids. I had seen these really window bags on Pinerest back when I first started (it hasn't been that long... maybe a month or so).

Of course, because I'm horrible at following directions, I kind of made up the process myself. And I lined mine so that there weren't any exposed edges. I'm sure doing that was more time consuming but I really love the extra finish that it gives to hide the seams.

And the bag empty didn't seem like enough. So I added a little cashmere bunny with big floppy ears. Had a great time and I think the gift was well received (it went to a gal who is expecting - yay!).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Alice in Wonderland party - the cards

Yet another project for the Alice in Wonderland party. When I give my kids parties - I don't like to spend a lot of money - but I want them to feel like it's an extravagant party. I do this by making a lot of the decorations myself and customizing the activities.

The activities at this party will be decorating a hat for the Mad Hatter's Tea party, tea cup planters and flamingo crochet. Today I tackled the cards for the flamingo crochet.

These were made with some colored paper, a deck of large cards (found at the dollar store a while back), some electrical tape (I used black because it's what I had - but would have preferred white), and some floral wire.

I was going to make red feet to weight them down (just a rock or something wrapped in red fabric) and I may still do it depending on the amount of time I have. But I think these will work just fine as they are.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mug Rug Swap

Lately I've been participating in various swaps on Swap-bot. My latest swap was for a mug rug - a coaster large enough to include your cup of tea and a small pastry. I had a few other friends joining the swap and I thought it would be a fun opportunity to get back into doing a little quilting - quite literally.

Yesterday I delivered my rug mug as my partner in the swap was someone I knew - Heidi from Haute Goat Cashmere. Because I knew her, I had a little fun with it.

First, the reject. I live this one well enough. I used one of the charm squares that I got in a previous charm square swap, paired it with one of my own scraps... and then decided to make the focus on the quilting. I love the back side. I even did real binding. But alas, it was too small for a mug rug at about 4 x 6.

So the morning that I was going to see Heidi, I tried again. This time I decided to make it a little fun and whimsical. I've been working on my daughter's Alice in Wonderland party and decided to use the same inspiration for the mug rug. I appliqued a clock on it and embroidered an appropriate quote :) I wanted it to be loose and a little crazy, although I think it may have gone too far as I feel like it looks a little beginner-ish. But whatever. It is only my second rug.

I also included a little pocket on the back in case she's traveling with it as she has to take her own tea. She does a lot of waiting around for her daughter so I thought there might be a chance that it would get some use away from home.

Had I had time (the deadline was today I believe) - I might have tried another one. But with all that I have going on right now, I had to be happy with this one... and I think I am. I hope she enjoys it too.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Alice in Wonderland party - the hegehog

Today I am working on the hedgehog (before I go back to taxes - ugh)... you know, the one that they play flamingo croquet with in the Disney movie? I think he came out pretty cute. He's no more than 3" tall. We have 10 flamingos... so I'm not sure how many of these little guys I'm going to make. Not sure I'm up for making 10 of them.

If I find the time, maybe I'll do a little tutorial too. He's a ball... although is snout gets in the way of him rolling forward. He rolls on his side just fine though.

Friday, January 27, 2012


My daughter's birthday is on the 11th. Up until yesterday, I was pretty comfortably with where I was in preparing for her party. Then I looked at a calendar. I can't believe we are only a few weeks away! This means I have invitations to get out, decorations to make, food to plan and wardrobes to make. Yep, wardrobes.

My daughter has chosen an Alice in Wonderland theme (which I couldn't be more excited about) and along with that she has asked that we each be a different character. I started with her figuring if the others don't get done, there won't be any feelings hurt.

So today I started the Alice dress. I love a good challenge and I am determined to do this party on a budget - so I am using all re-purposed materials. So, the main pieces I used are a woman's dress, a men's t-shirt, a white window valance and a remnant of tulle - all found at the thrift shop this week.

I'm about half way done and have only used some white t-shirt scraps in addition to the above materials. However, I have decided to use a 2" white satin ribbon for the apron tie (which I'll probably have to buy at the regular store - bummer it won't be all re-purposed materials) and I'll be adding a white ruffle on the bottom using more white t-shirt scraps.

The "remnant" of tulle I picked up at the thrift shop actually ended up being about tree yards (yay), but not as stiff as I had hoped (boo). But it's doing what I want in giving the dress just a tiny bit of poof. I made it a separate petticoat-like skirt for underneath so that we can use it again if we need to (who knows what costumes she'll have me make for her in the future).

Anyhow, fairly happy with how it's coming along. A little bummed that it took me a whole to day to get this far. I'll also be sharing the other elements of the party as I complete them or as the party gets near.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pinterest - Clean Windows

Okay, so I've recently been obsessed with Pinterest. It's been perfect for my new veggie obsession... and it fuels my garden dreams during this cold winter. And, it gives me ideas in all areas from organizing to cleaning and from cooking to sewing. So I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things that I find there and do (granted, most of the things I pin on there will never make it to fruition). A girl can dream though.

So today while I was at the sink washing the dishes, I noticed that the sun was actually out... but it was having a hard time getting through our window. This is embarrassing, but really I have no shame. I used to tell myself that our kitchen window is so dirty because of all the rain we get. But it had been a while (perhaps since we moved in 5 years ago) since I've cleaned it.

Enter Pinterest. I don't currently have any window cleaner. So I looked up "window cleaner" ini their search function and found a homemade version. I whipped up a batch (with a little less lemon since I only had one tablespoons worth) and gave it a try.

This mixture did a great job. At first though I wanted to just spray it on and squeegee it off. Of course, if you wait 5+ years to clean your window, that's not going to be an option even with the best window cleaner. However, with a rag and this mixture, the window came clean with not a lot of effort.

Before (no, that is not snow):

I learned a few things from this. 1 - the dirt was on the inside, not the outside as I had convinced myself. 2 - cleaning this window does horrible things for my back as you have to lean over the sink - this will be come a kid chore. 3 - I really need to do more normal house cleaning chores as having a window you can see out does good things for your mood.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Obsessed with veggies

Okay, I might be a little obsessed with vegetables right now. Even the snowman today did not escape my obsession.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Planning my garden

It's getting really cold here and all I can think about is my garden. I really want to work outside again to finish up my yard. I'd love to be able to enjoy it this year without the field of weeds (okay, a field is a huge exaggeration since we live in one of those new developments with small back yards). Last summer we started covering the lawn area with pavers. We finally admitted to ourselves that we can't maintain a lawn. And the space was way too much space for me to maintain with plants. So we used pavers and made a checker board for the kids. I put aside a few areas for some raised planter beds.

The area on the right that is unpaved will be paved this spring with larger pavers. I have a dream of having a small trellis over it covered in grapes. I might have to settle for wisteria or something though as I'm not sure what the success rate of grapes is here.

But I would like to start planning what I'm going to plant in the few areas I have. The first area is this area around my only green plant in the yard. I can't really do flowers as my husband dislikes bees. I know they are beneficial in a garden, but they will have to survive on the flowering vegetable plants. If there are too many bees (or any stinging insect), my husband (and the kids) prefer to stay inside. Besides, I'd also like to have the little planting areas I have to have useful plants - like herbs. I love herbs. They make the yard smell awesome and I love to send the kids out for herbs when I'm cooking.

So, I'm wondering what I should plant in this spot. And whatever I plan there needs to be protected or be able to withstand slugs as they come by the masses from under the deck. I'd welcome suggestions for this area... and how to combat my slugs. I have a copper tube along the other side of the deck and I'm thinking I might have to do the same thing on this side - but they are so pricey. Did I mention that I'm on a budget (really, it's that I'm cheap).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting out of our Veggie Rut - Brussel Sprouts

Our family is in a veggie rut. It has a little do with the kids and what they'll eat and it has a little to do with convenience. But now that I'm trying to work more veggies into my diet (and the family's), I'm bored with broccoli, carrots, corn and the occasional pea.

So I've decided to start experimenting with different vegetables. I'm trying to do this early so that if we find that we want to start including them in our normal rotation, we can think about growing them this spring and summer. My first vegetable of choice is the brussel sprout. I have to admit that I hated this veggie as a kid. I only had it a few times (that I can remember) but those few time left an impression of a mushy, bitter vegetable that I felt like I had to gag down.

Why chose it? Well, I know a lot of people that love them. The recipes I've read sound like they could be good (like they won't end up mushy). I like the health benefits that they offer. And I really want to step out of my box.

So I've been buying brussel sprouts. Lots of brussel sprouts. The first time I tried them was at Thankgiving and I roasted them with olive oil. They had potential (they weren't mushy and not as bitter as I remember). The second time I did it with bacon - because everything is better with bacon, right? I liked them much better (and so did my son - husband is still on the fence). But it would be great if I could find a way to make them that doesn't involve bacon.

I also learned that the small the sprout, the less bitter. I had no idea. I was buying larger ones because that's the size I remember. Of course, I also remember them being bitter. So I'll be looking for some smaller ones and new recipes. I welcome advice and suggestions - including preparation and recipes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another New Year

and another chance to get this blog up and running. I lost a bit of steam, motivation and time last year when I tried to move my old blog over (ultimate goal of deleting the old one once I get the tutorials moved over). But it's important to me and I really need the outlet again... so I'm giving it another try.

This year hasn't been like most New Years. I normally have a whole list of things I want to do, changes I want to make, new ideas I want to explore. But this year... I'm a bit unmotivated. I think I'm still recovering from the busy year. The rush of activity in my shops from September through December wipes me out no matter how prepared I am (and I have to admit, I wasn't as prepared as I would have like to have been).

I try to steer clear of the word "resolution" because I think far to often it equals failure. So I like to go with more of a theme.

Here are a few simple things that I plan on doing this year;

Maintain the blog - this used to be easy for me... it was never a chore. I want to get back to that place.

Prepare for the end of the year - I told myself last year that I was going to start making costumes at the beginning of the year... and of course, it never happened. I didn't make any until right before I left for vacation at the end of August, so it was a mad rush to finish them and keep up with custom requests (most of those costumes never got posted in the shops). Not this time. I NEED to prepare better this year. I've already started jotting down ideas.

Eat more veggies - I know I can't maintain a diet at this point. But I'd really like to start eating better again. I don't eat all that poorly... but I would like to get out of my veggie rut and eat more than carrots, broccoli and corn.

Grow our own veggies - Last year was our best year in our garden... and this year I hope it's even better. We finally gave up on having a lawn and we paved our back yard (with a giant chess board) and added a few well placed raised beds. I hope to fill them with lots and lots of yummy veggies. A friend of a friend just started a blog Urban Food Warrior and reading it has rekindled my desire to have my own vegetable garden. You know, one that produces food that we actually eat. I can grow a mean tomato plant... but we don't really eat them.

Get my health under control - I have lots of health issues. I classify a lot of them under my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. And I know a lot of my difficulties are also due to the herniated disk in my back. But I think even with these things, I should be in much better health. The veggies are one step... and exercise (I feel like there should be a "dun, dun, dun" every time I say that word) is the other. I have a dream of hiking with my family. You know, exploring this beautiful state that we live in, without it putting me in traction.

Take more pictures - I used to have an awesome camera... and I loved using it. Right now, our camera is primarily for product shots, so it's not the best on-the-fly camera. But this year, I won't let that stop me. Good picture, bad picture - I'm going to take them anyway.

Send more letters - I started the 52 weeks of mail and I'm motivated to finish it. So far, so good. My favorite is sending to people who would never expect it.

These are all things that are more for me than for growing my business. So I guess this year, my theme is "ME".


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