Jan 092012

A magazine I read recently polled their readers to find out if handwritten thank notes are still de rigueur, or if it’s ok to just send email thank yous.  The results were fairly evenly split.  Some thought email thank yous were tacky, others argued that at least some sort of thank you was sent.

I like sending and receiving personal thank you notes.  It’s a bit of work, but hey, somebody took the time and thought enough of me to purchase a gift or do a kindness, so it seems like the least I can do.

Anyhow, I didn’t have enough cards on hand, and had no idea what I was going to make or do, and therefore was putting off sending my Christmas thank yous this year when I saw this video by Jennifer McGuire.  (Isn’t she the best teacher?)

I may have mentioned it before, but I am a sucker for cool techniques. Jenn inspired me to immediately go make my own set of cards  with trendy chevron borders.



First, I found these embellishments hiding in my stash.

Aren’t they yummy? Since they were K & Company, I went searching for my favorite paper stack by K & Co.

Love, LOVE this paper.  And, it’s a perfect match!

The cards are from a set I got on clearance at Joann’s ages ago.

How simple is that? Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? 🙂

I only made a few changes to Jennifer’s directions:

  • I used two 8″ square bases, rather than 5″.  This gave me enough completed chevron pattern to cut nine 2″ x 4.25″ strips.
  • I didn’t cut along the diagonal peaks, but just cut strips.  (Mainly because mine didn’t line up as nicely as hers.)
  • To disguise the rather uneven edge, I used the Scallop Sentiment Border Punch on both long sides of some strips.

The “Thank You” is from the Inkadinkado Garden Flowers clear stamps set.

Happy Creating!

Jan 072012

I am determined to get through the rest of Tim Holtz’s 12 Tags of Christmas by the end of this month.

Last night I sat down with all the supplies to make the day 6 tag.  I wasn’t really loving the way it looked in the photo, but thought it might be better in real life.

Nope.  Bleah. I threw it in the trash.

When I got up this morning I pulled it out of the trash to see if I liked it better.

Nope.  Yeck.

It’s back in the trash, where it will stay.  (No, I am not taking it out to take a picture.)

The technique, however, is fairly cool.  It involves covering cardstock with foil tape, then embossing with an embossing folder.  Acrylic paint is used to color in the embossed as well as the raised areas, then the whole thing is burnished, removing some of the paint from the raised areas.  Next, you coat the entire thing with embossing ink and add clear embossing powder. After heat embossing, the painted areas look like cloisonné enamel.


It kind of neat, but I prefer the look of alcohol inks on metal.  Just me.

Anyhow, now I can cross day 6 off my list and move on to day 7, which I’m sure I’ll like much better.

In case you’re interested, here is the link to Tim’s directions and the products used:

Ranger Glossy Cardstock
Nashua Foil Tape This is 2″ wide foil tape you can get at the hardware store. If you don’t want to have to use several pieces and have a seam where they overlap, try this: Ranger Metal Foil Tape
Sizzix Textured Impressions Embossing Folders, Dots And Flowers
Pool Paint Dabber
Clear Embossing Ink
Clear Embossing Powder

Jan 062012

After discovering that I’m crafty and creative, anyone who endeavors to further get to know me will quickly learn two things: 1) I am an avid reader, especially of fantasy fiction, and 2) I truly enjoy a nice glass of red wine.

Now that I think about it, some of my most contented moments involve working in my crafting room while listening to a good audio book with a glass of wine nearby.  (Oh, and eating fudge, can’t forget the fudge!)

Anyhow, my dear husband of nearly 25 years came down from his attic lair (aka the art studio) and presented this belated Christmas gift the other night. (It took him longer than he thought it would, which I’m sure all of you creative people completely understand.)

This 16″x20″ oil painting is all about some of my favorite things.

(You can click on it to see a larger version.)


Isn’t that fantastic?  I’m just thrilled.  The paint is still quite wet  so we’ll have to wait a bit before picking out a frame.

Hubby said he had thought to put authors’ names on the spines, like Tolkein, Lewis & McCaffrey, (all of whom feature dragons) but decided to leave it to the imagination.

My first thought when he showed me the painting was, “Gee, I hadn’t even noticed the dragon was missing.” lol

You see, this is where the dragon usually lives, right next to some of my favorite books. He was gone for over a month.

I’m so unobservant.


Mr. Dragon is in front of one of my favorite author’s books and I just realized there isn’t a single dragon in any of her stories.  You really need to correct that deficiency, Robin.  😉

Jan 052012

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s been a blast playing with polymer clay lately.  Although I’ve been spending a lot of time working with ideas from Christi Friesen’s books, it’s my goal to get some ideas, new techniques and all, then branch out and do my own thing.

Here is some of the latest stuff to come out of my craft room.  (Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.)

Isn’t this pendant the coolest?


The texture on the flower was done by pressing each petal into a definition stamp.


This one gets loads of compliments whenever I wear it.  It’s based on Christi’s “A Clockwork Orange” from her book Steampunkery.

This steampunk Christmas tree pendant is my own design.


I used the same stamps to create texture on the presents as I did on the flowers in yesterday’s post.  Using less pressure results in a more subtle pattern on the clay.


The ornaments are all manner of beads, gears and chains, wired into the clay.  I love using Christi’s idea of using heat-set rhinestones, because the heat of the oven sets the adhesive on the back.  Clever!


These two fantasy birds are from Polymer Clay and Mixed Media.


I can’t decide which one I like best.

I call this one “Feathers.”


And this one I call “Swirls.”


Here’s a close up of Swirls’ wing.


And a close up of Swirls’ tail.


Here’s Feather’s tail.


Now you understand the names.  🙂

I plan to list one for sale in my shop, but I don’t know which one to keep and which to sell.

I’m leaning towards selling Feathers, as she’s just a bit more graceful overall.

Which do you prefer?

For the next project I’m thinking of completely different colors, like reds, gold & black, with a different shaped head, and I’ll have a dragon!

Speaking of dragons, I just received the nicest belated Christmas gift. It will have to wait until tomorrow, though, because it’s too dark now to take a proper photo.

Happy creating!

Jan 042012

Today’s workdesk finds me finishing up several polymer clay creations by adding a satin glaze. The two Sizzix dies were on clearance.  I’ve been wanting those!

I hope the fact that those were on clearance means A.C. Moore will be getting in some newer Tim Holtz dies.  Hope, hope, hope….


I’ve been having way too much fun “claying around” lately.


I made two dozen of these funky flowers, most were for Christmas gifts.


You can find the how-to’s in Christi Friesen’s book, Polymer Clay and Mixed Media.


The main change I made was to use her idea from Steampunkery and add texture with a rubber stamp.


There are only six flowers left.  funky-polymer-clay-flower-light-blue-crackle

One I’m keeping for myself, and the others will be listed in my shop shortly. (Greedy little moiself wanted to keep them all, but seriously, do I really need six more necklaces?)


I’ll tell you more about the other creations in another post.


In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this pic of my granddaughter in the hat and apron I made her for Christmas.


Even though I made the pattern’s smallest size (3) it’s all a little big on her. That’s ok, there’s room to grow.  🙂

Happy Creating and Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday.

*****Update 3:40 p.m. Jan 4, 2012******

The following five flower necklaces have been added to my shop.  Happy Shopping!






Jan 032012

This isn’t a cooking blog, so I don’t post recipes very often, but I figure that around the holidays baking is part of our craftiness and creativity.  Right?  🙂

If you’re like me, you’ve eaten far more of this kind of stuff than is good for you.


But it was oh so good, indeed.

Here’s  how my table looked, with all the goodies ready to deliver to the neighbors. So festive.


Here’s my helper, Miss Molly. Well, she wasn’t really a helper – more like a supervisor.


And here is the promised healthy recipe:  Kale Chips.


What?!  You don’t think they look yummy?

Yeah, I was skeptical the first time someone gave me some to try.

Listen, I kid you not, this recipe has to be tried to be believed, these kale chips are amazing.  

I am in no way a veggie gal, and the sight of a pile of dark leafy greens  generally sends me running, but I could eat these all day long. They’re better than potato chips, and I feel so virtuous and healthy munching my way through the lot.

So, give ’em a try.  I dare ya. 😉

Kale Chips

1 large bunch kale (1.5 – 2 lbs)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (found at health food stores)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt

Wash and dry kale and remove thick stems. Tear into large pieces. (I like each large leaf to be torn into about 5-6 pieces. Don’t stress over this.)

In a large bowl whisk together remaining five ingredients. Add in kale. Use your hands to thoroughly coat and massage mixture into leaves.

Now you can either dehydrate the kale, or bake in an oven. I like dehydrating because since the kale isn’t cooked the nutrients are preserved.

Dehydrator method

Divide mixture between four trays of a dehydrator, if you have screens, use them. Dehydrate for 16-20 hours until crispy.

Oven method

I have not tried the oven method, but most of the recipes out there tell you to spread the mixture between two baking sheets and bake at 300° for 20 minutes.

Store in an airtight container.


Dec 302011

Twenty Eleven was my first full year of writing this blog. The goal was to blog at least two or three times a week, and I’m pleased to see that I’m averaging just about three posts per week.

A more important goal was to give YOU inspiring tutorials and helpful information. Judging by the number of kind comments and photos of completed projects you’ve sent me, I think I’ve succeeded, at least some of the time. 🙂

In fact, I just received these pics of two adorable dollies made with the directions from the Topsy Turvy Doll tutorial. Judy from Israel made these as Hanukkah gifts:

judys-topsy-turvy-dolls-3 judys-topsy-turvy-dolls-2 judys-topsy-turvy-dolls-1 judys-topsy-turvy-dolls

Cute, eh?  Let’s hear it for Judy!

The Ghost of Projects Past

Many times over the years I’ve thought it would be a good idea to keep some sort of craft and sewing journal, tracking of all the projects I made.  It just never seemed to happen… until I started blogging.

Knowing that I can reach out to others with my ideas and inspiration is a great incentive for taking the time to document my crafty doings.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my little blog even half as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together for you.

As we look ahead to 2012, let’s take a look back at my 12 personal favorites from the past year.

(The links will bring you to the original post, many with tutorials, pattern reviews or helpful hints.  Clicking on the photos will bring you to the full size version.)

1.  Mug Caddy

I made these for gifts for Christmas 2010. Mine is now an indispensable part of my crafting area (you’ve see it in just about every What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday photo.)  Everybody that I made one for tells me they love it and use it all the time.

mug caddy organizer-Simplicity 2450

2.  How to Make Zipper Flowers

I never guessed that this would turn out to be my most popular post ever, by far.

If you don’t feel like making your own, I do still have a few for sale in my shop.

teal and gold zipper flower

3. Faux Leather Sketchbook Tutorial

This was a birthday gift for my son. Don’t know what he thinks of it, but I’m sure pleased with how cool it came out.  It’s still on my to-do list to make one for myself.

faux leather sketchbook close up

4. Altering a Too-Big Jacket

After losing a fair amount of weight this past spring, I did a closet purge.  This jacket went into the garments-I-like-enough-to-take-the-time-to-alter pile.  Every time I wear it I’m thankful I took the opportunity to size it down.

lavender moleskin jacket

5. First Mother’s Day Scrapbook Layout

No, I have not forgotten that I promised to share these techniques with you.  It’s on my “to blog about” list, and if it’s on the list it WILL get done, eventually.  🙂

first-mothers-day two page scrapbook layout

6. Knotted Bead Necklaces – Video Tutorial

I LOVE wearing all of these necklaces.  Not sure which I like more, wearing them or making them.  ***grin***

knotted necklace and bracelet set blue ceramic brass

7. Snowman Ornament Tutorial

It’s hard to believe it’s been five months since my quilting group made these in July.  I do still have several kits available  in my shop, by the way.


8. Black Jeans Jacket

Another project that I suspected would become a wardrobe staple, and it has.  If you plan to make this jacket, make sure to read the review, this pattern has lots of problems.


9. Faux Shrug Top

I had a feeling this top would be perfect for the fall, and I was right, it got LOTS of wear.


10. Felted Tote Bag

I’ve gotten far more use out of this than I thought I would when I started the project.  I just wish I’d made it a tad bit bigger.


11. Steampunk Chameleon out of Polymer Clay

He’s still one of my favorites to wear.


12. Distress Crackled Elements on a Valentine’s Day Scrapbook

I LOVE how these came out!


Here’s to a crafty New Year!

Dec 282011

Even though I don’t have anything too exciting on my workdesk today, I didn’t want to miss out on the final WOYWW of the year!


Really there’s just a lot of post-Christmas debris, you know:  leftover gift labels & cards, tape, pens, tissue paper and such.

In the bowl is my MP3 player which I gave to my son last night to repair and he managed to finish off completely, lol.  Ah well, I may use the parts for some steampunk art or something.

My serger is on the table because after trying for months to get a new thread guide ordered from the manufacturer, I finally just had my brother-in-law weld it for me.  Yay, Dave.  Woot!

I’m a little annoyed with the guys at the sewing machine repair shop (they’re the reason I’ve been months without my serger) so I’m going to try to get the part adjusted to the correct angle by myself, rather than bring it to them.  (That I am post-Christmas “broke” is a contributing factor, as well.)

You can also see that I’ve been taking apart the purple coat in preparation for cutting a new pattern out of the pieces.  The coat itself has come apart quite easily, but the lining is serged, so that’s been a bit more work.

Oh, and the jury is no longer out on which Peanut Butter Bon-Bon recipe is best.  My grandmother’s wins, hands down.

The recipe I gave here is way too sweet, in my opinion.  It also doesn’t have enough peanut butter flavor.   Finally, while the pretzel does make it easier to dip the bon-bons into the melted chocolate, the pretzels get stale quite quickly.

So, just in time for your New Year’s celebration, here is my grandmother’s recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bon-Bons

3 cups peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, your choice)
1 box confectioner’s sugar (3.5 cups)
3.5 cups Rice Krispies
1 stick butter
2 – 14 oz. bags chocolate chips (Have you noticed that they now come in 12 oz. bags? Betcha they were 16 oz. bags before that. Huh.) Anyhow, it’s about 2 cups of chips per bag.
3 T. vegetable oil

Melt butter, stir in sugar. Mix in peanut butter and Rice Krispies until combined.
Roll into bite size balls, refrigerate until cold.

Melt chocolate chips with oil in double boiler. Use two forks to roll cold peanut butter balls in melted chocolate. Place bon-bons on waxed paper lined baking sheets. Chill in fridge until firm.

Try not to devour all at once. 🙂

Happy New Year!

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I posted a boring photo of my workdesk, go here to see LOTS of workdesks from around the world.  I’m sure many of them are far more interesting than mine.

Dec 222011

Every year around this time I do my annual baking for the neighbors. Usually, about a week ago you’d find me saying, “Oh, no way I’ll have time to do the baking this year.” But after all the gifts are bought or made, labeled and wrapped, and mailed off or tucked away, I find it’s time to bake.

Here are a few of the things I plan to make today:

This recipe has no redeeming qualities healthwise, it is just utterly delicious.  My quilting friend made some for our get together last weekend, and sent us all home with a baggie full.  I can tell you that mine only lasted the ride home because I could not safely get into that baggie while driving.  :-0

Saltine Cracker Brickle

Time: 20 minutes, plus overnight freezing

48 saltine crackers
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan or large cookie sheet with sides with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Arrange the crackers side by side in a single layer on the foil. In a small saucepan, melt the sugar and butter, stirring constantly until they bubble, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla. Pour evenly over the crackers and, using a spatula, spread to cover evenly.

2. Bake immediately. After 7 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crackers. Return to the top rack of the oven and bake for 2 minutes more. Spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers with a clean spatula. Cool for 20 to 30 minutes before transferring the tray to the freezer. The next day, peel off the foil and break the brickle into pieces. Keep frozen or refrigerated.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bon Bons

These remind me of a treat my grandmother used to make for the holidays.  As she got older she got tired of doing all that dipping and the balls got bigger and bigger every year.  🙂

I like the idea of the pretzel in there, it gives you something to hold while you dip.  Her recipe had Rice Krispies mixed in for crunch.  The jury is still out as to which is better.

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup softened butter
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 cups miniature pretzel twists
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 T vegetable oil


In a mixing bowl, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar until combined.

Shape into 1-in. balls; press one on each pretzel. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until peanut butter mixture is firm, about 1 hour.

In a microwave-safe bowl or heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips and oil.

Dip the peanut butter ball into chocolate. Return to baking sheet, pretzel side down. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Store in the refrigerator.  Makes about 5 dozen.
Zucchini Pineapple Bread

I’m making this because I have a) lots of grated zucchini in the freezer, b) two slightly overripe pineapples on the counter, and c) four cute little loaf pans that make 1/2 loaf each.


Finally, I plan to make some fudge.  I may use this recipe:

Peppermint Chocolate Fudge


Or this one:

Cookie Cutter Fudge


I’ll take pics of the final results.

Hopefully I won’t do so much taste testing that I gain back all 60 lbs at once, haha!


Dec 212011

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!  I hope today finds you not too stressed out, even though it’s only four days until Christmas.  (What is What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday you ask?  It’s only a great time to see what’s on the workdesks of creative people from all over.  Take a little time out and travel with us. It’s fun!)

I’m doing pretty well in the preparation for Christmas front, there are just a few little things that still need doing.  Though, for some reason, I’m feeling quite cranky and out of sorts today.  I don’t know why.  There’s absolutely no logic in it.  It’s just the way it is.

Think I’ll go have a piece of chocolate, maybe that will help.  ***grin***

Since I’ve finished all the handmade gifts for this year, I thought I’d tackle resizing this purple coat.

(You can click on any of the photos to see a larger image.)


It was given to me a while ago.  It’s a gorgeous boiled wool, quite warm and cozy.  However, it was big on me even before I lost 60 lbs.


As you can see, now it’s just ridiculous.   A very good problem to have, in my opinion.  🙂


I’ve picked up two patterns that I’m considering for the remake.  My first choice is Butterick 5425.  It’s got a very feminine silhouette.


There’s LOTS of spare fabric in that purple coat, but I’m not sure there’s enough to accommodate the very flared skirt.

If that one won’t work, then I’ll use Burda 8292.  Its styling is very similar to the original coat, so there should be no problem.

Burda 8292

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Happy Woyww and Merry Christmas!