Sunday, February 22, 2009

Camera Necklace Featured on Autumn Olive Blog

More and more sellers are discovering Etsy lately, so due to a number of factors it's getting harder and harder for anyone's items to be seen. Imagine my surprise when I signed on today to discover that not only had one of my items been seen, but also that it had been featured on the Autumn Olive blog.

The blog is written by Melinda, from Vivid Texture, on Etsy. This shop has been one of my favorites for some time due to the fresh approach she takes toward upcycling wool and other goodies for you and your home.

My favorite item currently in her shop is her Spring Green Fingerless Gloves (also great wrist warmers) pictured below:

These upcycled lovelies offer a fresh take on being green!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Steampunk Meets a Cracker Box Mixed Media Collage

My Steampunk designs have been a natural evolution of the Victorian style I am so drawn to and allows me to incorporate many of the things I love: Victorian imagery, recycling, and quirky items that are off the mainstream.

I frequently repurpose food packaging, such as cereal boxes or cracker boxes, for inserts while packaging to stiffen envelopes, or as a basis for a gift tag or collage. For some of my collages, I cut a shape out of a cereal box and then build my collage over the shape, such as an egg for Easter, a Shamrock for St. Patrick's Day, or a heart as the basis for my original poem "Key to My Heart" mixed media collage.
The latest venture took me into the world of ACEO's and thanks to a tip from ArtSnark, I discovered a fabulous blog called Paper Mischief. This blog led me to the fabulous images I used in my ACEO's which I built on a cracker box piece, cut to the requisite 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 size. Her Past Portraits group on Flickr provided a fabulously generous source of images and inspiration.
My favorite of these is my piece I entitled Steampunk Fairy. His wings are made of brass stampings that I antiqued (using a process I'll post a tutorial for in my next blog post), and his thought bubbles are made from vintage watch gears.
Please share your comments about other uses for upcycling food packaging, such as cracker boxes. I look forward to reading your ideas.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Warning! This Bag May Bite!

Last year, while at Zombiefest, I had the pleasure of meeting Justine, from Bags That Bite. She is, hands down, the nicest seller I met that weekend and many of her bags feature openings that are also monster mouths. All of them are adorable and I found it impossible to choose just one.

After thinking about it for a few days, I purchased the Skull Zipper Bag for the rare evenings when I get to go out for an adult night out. I finally got a chance to use it and wanted to show just how very many things fit in it. In addition to all the items pictured, I also had my digital camera in the bag. It easily held all the essentials for a night out and then some. We'd gone out with friends to finally celebrate my 40th birthday, a week and a half after the fact, but the wait was worth it. We had a fabulously fun night out at Pipers Pub for dinner and then dancing at the Lava Lounge. We're already planning another group night out dancing to 80's alternative and wave, so hopefully Skully will get to go out again soon.

My boys have both been bugging me to buy each of them one of her bat packs for awhile now. One of these days, I'll just have to surprise them with one. I have a bat crazy (crazy about them, not crazy like one) nephew who'd love on too!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pesky Punxsutawney Phil Prognostication

How's that title for a mouthful of alliteration? It's official, that pesky Punxsutawney Phil prognosticated another six weeks of winter. On a positive note, in honor of the prediction, the Etsy Trashion Team blog featured one of my items.

As many of you know I live in Western PA, not too far from Punxsutawney and the home of the famous groundhog Phil. Sadly, despite cold, cloudy skies here outside Pittsburgh, Phil saw his shadow, thus forecasting six more weeks of winter. Sometimes it feels like spring will never come! But, as there's nothing any of us can do about the weather, I try to make the best of it.

Groundhog Day is celebrated annually, in the United States and Canada, on February 2nd. According to folklore, if the groundhog emerged from his burrow and didn't see his shadow he'd leave the burrow signifying that winter was about to end. However, if he did see his shadow, he'd retreat into his burrow for another six weeks of winter. Wikipedia has a lengthy entry about the history of the day.

My favorite explanation of the history is as follows: "In the United States the tradition may also derive from a Scottish poem:
As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If Candlemas be cloud and snow
Winter will be gone and not come again
A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop"
Photo by Carolyn Kaster, AP
Ben Hughes, handler of the weather-predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, holds Phil in the air after removing him from his stump at Gobbler's Knob on Groundhog Day, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009, in Punxsutawney, Pa. The Groundhog Club said Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Taste of the Past (originally intended title was Home for the Holidays)

My brother, Jon, was very happy to see me!When I was growing up, my Gram and my Uncle Mack were part of every holiday. The year after I graduated from high school, Mack passed away and six years ago, shortly before Christmas, my Gram did as well. As I'm sure is the case for many of us as we age, Christmas is bittersweet and causes us to miss them all the more. While they may not be physically present, they remain with us in spirit.

I moved from Seattle, WA to Pittsburgh, PA in January 1997, the day after my Gram's birthday, so I wasn't anywhere close to home for my birthday that year. After moving here, it became increasingly difficult to make it home for Christmas. The next two years I literally couldn't afford to go, but Christmas 1999, when my oldest son was just past 1 year old, we made the trip. This would be the last Christmas I would spend with my Gram. Until this past Christmas, it was also the last time I'd been with my family over the holidays.

My husband is an only child, so it's especially important for us all to be here for Christmas and our boys, especially our youngest, have always celebrated Christmas the same way. Given all of these factors, we opted to fly out of Pittsburgh the day after Christmas and my sister convinced my Mom to wait to celebrate Christmas on Saturday. My sister, Ann, and her husband were the only ones who knew we were coming so everyone else would be surprised (and also so they wouldn't go overboard on gifts). I can't even begin to tell you how nice it was to sing along to "I'll be Home for Christmas" without feeling sad for the first time in nine years.

Ann intercepted packages for us under the guise that she'd mail everything to save on shipping, so we got to open our presents along with the rest of my family. One of my presents was decorated with a package tie Mack had made. His presents were always beautifully and artistically wrapped and his stunning gift wrap was as much an anticipation as what was inside the package.

In honor of our visit, Ann made several of the Christmas goodies my Gram had always made, especially Gram's Lane Cake and Pound Cake. The pound cake was always her favorite so when Gram passed away Ann naturally inherited the cake pan Gram always used along with her tin cake keeper. Eating a piece of lane cake, and then later the pound cake out of Gram's container, evoked many memories. It made me feel, if only for a moment, as if she was there. Perhaps she was, watching, and smiling at how I've grown since I was a girl of 12 and still sitting on her lap.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Birthday Presents Rock!

As many of you know, I turned 40 this past Wednesday and the day was relatively uneventful. We had planned to go out to dinner, but the weather, and consequently the roads, were too bad for us to be able to. My husband absolutely gets a huge gold star for the evening as he stopped at the grocery store on his way home from work and made an absolutely phenomenal dinner. The menu consisted of spicy crab cakes for an appetizer followed by Filet Mignon (topped with mini sliced portabellos that had been sauted in garlic butter and blue cheese all of which was warmed and melted under the broiler), asparagus, and twice baked potatoes. Dessert was a divinely decadent chocolate torte and champagne. To top it all off, he got me the lovely Victorian hot chocolate set pictured above and...the best birthday present EVER...a portable lighting studio.

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