Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stop to smell the roses. And notice the leaves.

It's funny how my interests twist and turn down this path of life, sometimes depending on my influences, other times I just veer off here and there for fun.
Right now my interest is in gardening.
In fact, I'm even back in school, taking an Ornamental Horticulture class at a local community college.
That's just a fancy word for introduction to gardening.
Pretty cool.

My most recent purchase wasn't clothes or art supplies or kitchen goodies...
it was a rose plant.
Not any rose--I don't even like roses much.
But it's a Green Rose (I love the weird and whimsical, even in a garden setting).
I ordered it from the Antique Rose Emporium.
I'm only wanting to grow rare, unusual, and heirloom plants.

And on a crafty note, I wanted to mention a tip.
I like to add natural elements when I make cards or other items.
I used to use a preservative that I purchased at a stamping store, but I recently discovered that painting white glue onto both services works just as well!
I have a frame I covered in leaves and seed pods to commemorate an area I was living at the time (yet another item I need to pull from storage and post later).
It's like a snapshot...freezing the moment, the character, the beauty.

Colorful Leaf
This leaf was in a grocery store parking lot.
It had been stepped on, but I thought the colors so wonderful that I tried the glue experiment.
Isn't it pretty?


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Video Sunday

Aarrggghhh. My computer crashed again, so I'm back at the library.
So posts may be less this week. Just hang in there with me.

My video choice this week is nod to a San Diego band, Get Back Loretta.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Photo Friday

Childhood photo of my grandfather
This was my mom's father.
I knew him, but not in the same way I knew her stepfather.

They didn't live close by, so he was a name on a birthday card, a photo in an album, and someone who occasionally came to visit.
Shame, really, that I didn't try to make more of a connection.
But I was young and didn't really know any better.

I vividly remember driving up to see my grandparents (my mom's biological father and his wife), and them being dumbfounded by my appearance.
I think I was in my 20's, but one year blends into the other anymore...so I'm not sure.
They just kind-of stared at me.
My mom had to explain that I looked like my dad.
I always took that to mean that I didn't take after her beauty--the dark hair and eyes, the olive skin, the perfect tiny figure.
It left me feeling inadequate, and I'm not sure I've ever gotten over it.

My mom was born in 1925, so I'm assuming this photo was taken somewhere around the turn of the century.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ooh, prezie for the New Year

I love how mail always shows up unexpectedly from Jen.
Snail mail is just about one of the best things on the planet.

Today I got this pretty package.How cool is that?!
Jen is a master of gift wrapping.

Inside...what could it be?

A note on the back of the little package said,
"Work is a little backed up at The Felt Mouse Studios this year. So, you are left to assemble your own New Year's greeting!"

Oh how fun! It's like playing a game.

Step one of the instructions called for the little star-shaped sleeves to be placed over the light bulbs.
This spells out "Happy 2008".

Step two says to pop in the batteries.

Step three, "display on a shelf, or hanging off a bookcase--be creative!"

Well, I don't have a camera still (soon...soon...), so I had to put these on the scanner where they just wanted to curl up in a ball.
But hopefully you'll get the idea.
light strand

Step four, "Enjoy some chocolate, and the New Year!"
Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
Thanks so much friend.
Such a unique and creative gift.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Vintage Weave-It Loom

Texian39 posted several items to Flickr.com that she made using a vintage Weave-it loom, including this absolutely amazing afghan.

She says, "Centers are "waffle grid" pattern woven on a Weave-It loom. Each square is bordered with single and double crochet and then assembled with a crocheted slip stitch from the back."

This all inspired me to purchase my own loom.
Weave-It Loom
This is made by Donar Products. I am not sure of the year, but possibly the 1940's.
The tag on the box says Marshall Field and $1.00.
More information about Weave-it looms here.

Similar newer products are marketed as Weavette looms, but are very difficult to find.
Weavette Group on Flickr.
Flower loom group on Flickr.

The looms come in a four-inch and a two-inch size (also a five-inch rug loom and a bias loom), and are wood with metal pins around which yarn is wound.
Depending on the size of the yarn used, the squares can come out quite delicate--much more intricate than the plastic 'potholder' looms that use fabric loops

Texian39 also made this gorgeous baby alpaca scarf
Go figure, huh? Who knew handheld looms could create such items!

Or look at this fun flower!This would be so cute as an embellishment on a jacket, purse, or even a throw.

She has lots more ideas, inspiration, and tutorials on her weaving site, Eloomanator.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Video Sunday

I'm loving Carrie Underwood's new song, "So Small".
Great message.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Memory Jugs

I dabble in several forms of art and crafts rather than specialize in one.
I am always trying to learn new techniques, new styles, new mediums.
But what I am drawn to in all forms, is memory crafts.

I appreciate art that incorporates photographs, or trinkets, or clothing from a loved one.
When art celebrates the life of another, or one's past, or illustrates a recollection...that to me holds more meaning than something more esoteric.

My love of both memory crafts and folk art explains why I adore memory jugs.
Too, there's a whimsical quality that just makes me smile.
Memory Jugs
(click on image to enlarge)
From the book, By Hand: 25 Beautiful Objects to Make in the American Folk Art Tradition, 2001

Folk Art is defined as everyday household items that were decorated by common folk who were untrained in art.
Memory jugs were popular in Victorian times.
Some people believe the craft was not only a hobby for women, but originated from African mourning vessels--a ritual slaves brought with them to the United States. History here.

The jugs were ceramicware first covered in some sort of putty, then completely embedded in mementos--buttons, charms, trinkets, shards of china, seashells, pieces of jewelry, and all forms of personal paraphernalia.
These were memory-laden mosaics...three dimensional scrapbooks.
Memory Jug
The jugs were not always painted one color like the examples I have pictured here.

This jug is "built on a molasses jug, it is covered with an extraordinary assemblage including old buttons, an onyx mourning cross, shells, marbles, keys, a belt buckle, broach, stones, English coins, bottles, ceramic people, metallic objects,screws, chains, jewelry, a wishbone, and more. It is topped with a glass finial. It has a pencil eraser holder with a date of 1886 on it. The three coins are all Victorian."
It is pictured on this antiques site.

In essence, these are time capsules.
"In a time when more and more of our everyday objects are mass produced, these very personal pieces hold great intrigue: they might have been intended as memorials or grave markers, or as a way of honoring family or friend, but whatever the purpose, these fascinating pieces link past to present as poignant narratives. Each of these vessels is encrusted with favorite bits that are too interesting to throw away but are too personal to reveal their meaning. What tale can be told by a vessel encrusted with a pipe, a toy deer, miniature china dishes, a glass doll, beads, walnuts, and upholstery tacks? Did it honor the memory of a dead relative, celebrate the living, or simply make use of attractive found objects? Could it be that making memory ware was a common handicraft of the day, with no sentiments attached?"

Today, of course, present day jugs are also considered a form of recycling.
But I like the more personal approach--to make a work of art that also creates a memory, a way to salvage bits of your childhood that would have been tossed aside.
I have a frame, for example, that I covered in trinkets from childhood.
I'll have to find it in storage and post it later.
But I always thought that would be a fun way to commemorate a year in the life of your child, and see how the trinkets changed every year.
You know, the McDonalds characters in the Happy Meals, the tokens from Chuck E Cheese, or the jewelry from Disneyland.
I think it's a craft worth knowing about and trying--worthwhile in so many ways.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Photo Friday

Photograph at the carnival
(click on image to enlarge)
Nanny and Gramps (my beloved grandmother and grandfather).
Gramps has written on the back
Saturday, April 20, 1968. "Coronado High School carnival--boy were we 'TOOKEN'!--There wasn't one honest game! (I'm the one with the muscles--HA!). Gramps"


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Grapefruit Cake

Jen gave me a cookbook as part of a swap, and it just rocks.
(sorry some of the original pics are no longer appearing on my blog. I think those are on a former computer. Not sure what the deal is with the disappearance though).
Anyway, everything I have made from The Los Angeles Times California Cookbook (1983) has been excellent.
Most of the recipes are tried and true favorites from local Southern California restaurants and hotels.
Honestly, the fact that Gullivers Restaurant's creamed corn recipe is in there, is reason enough to love this book.

Last Spring, a co-worker gave me some grapefruit off someone's tree, and I took the opportunity to use them in this recipe.
So when grapefruit season is in full bloom soon, consider this.
I live close enough to Borrego Springs (the desert) that I'm able to purchase super sweet fruit...so sweet no sugar is necessary.

This cake is light and refreshing.

Grapefruit Cake
"The historic Brown Derby at Hollywood and Vine numbers among its many legends a grapefruit cake recipe that has been circulating in Los Angeles for years."

1-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
3 eggs, separated
3 Tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned, or one can (1 lb) grapefruit sections

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 to 8 drops yellow food color (optional)
reserved grapefruit sections

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Make well in center and add water, oil, egg yolks, grapefruit juice, and lemon peel.
Beat until very smooth.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff but not dry.
Gradually pour egg yolk mixture over egg whites and fold in gently until just blended. Do not stir.
Turn batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until top springs back when touched lightly with finger.
Invert onto rack and cool thoroughly.
Loosen edges of cake carefully and remove from pan.
With a serrated knife, cut cake crosswise to make two layers.
Reserve a few fruit sections for frosting.
Fill between layers with part of cream cheese frosting (see below) and grapefruit sections.
Spread top and sides of cake with frosting and decorate with additional fruit sections.

to make frosting:
Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Beat until fluffy.
Add lemon juice and peel.
Gradually blend in sugar and beat until well blended.
Stir in food color if desired.
Crush enough grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons and blend into frosting.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Video Sunday

Here's a nod to a San Diego band, The Beatfarmers.
I was somewhat of a Beatfarmers groupie back in the day.
This is from the late 80's or early 90's.
R.I.P. Buddy Blue and Country Dick...we miss you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Things I Love

Some blog posts have a way of lingering...making an impression.
They stay with me like an itch, until I must scratch.

One beautiful post by Floresita caught my attention.
First a list of things she loves.
I love lists.
But within the list, a video to a song by Hope Sandoval, formerly of Mazzy Star.

As I said in the comments, that video took my on a journey to
You Tube, and hours and hours of exploring videos by Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval, Jesus and the Mary Chain.
Then onto other bands, other voices.

I adore music.
It's odd that I have never played music or explored its impact
(other than a recent brief stint writing CD reviews or band interviews, there was only my 5th grade introduction to piano that was botched by a teacher I just plain ole did not like).
But her post is what inspired me to start Video Sunday--something I do mostly for my own enjoyment, though I do hope some of you investigate my findings and are moved by them.

So, with a nod to Floresita (who has an amazing collection of vintage embroidery patterns, by the way), here is my own list of things I love:

-the smell of freshly cut grass, or ripe apricots

-the soft sound of lapping waves at the shore

-sun on my face. The way it dapples and plays on water

-when men wink

-the Sea World Tower

-the way some books send me into another time. To quote a passage in The Thirteenth Tale, "It was like falling into water". I love when a book takes over like that--when you can't put it down. You have been captured, enthralled, embossed.

-the way my breath catches when I see a certain piece of art, or an architectural element that stirs me. It is inspiration and motivation at once--a wondering if I too could do something like that. It is hope in 3D.

-when dogs smile at me. Like they just know I'm a kindred spirit.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Photobooth Friday

Mom as a girl
My mom in the 1930's.
She thinks she was 12 at the time, but she looks younger to me.
I love the way photos used to be tinted--they looked like little oil paintings...little works of art.

Photobooth Friday is the inspiration of the lovely Andrea at
Hula Seventy.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

What do your keys say about you?

What do your keys say about you?
It's funny how some of the items we use or surround ourselves with offer the world certain clues to our inner workings, our values, our personality.

For example, shoes say a lot about a person.
Are your shoes saying you're vain, frugal, trendy, sloppy, or???

And how you decorate your home says volumes.
Hopefully, your home is a window to your soul.
Hopefully you surround yourself with elements that scream your name.

But what do your keys say about you?
Wow, this is kind-of meme like.
Mine are huge because I carry multiple house keys (well, duh, I'm a house-sitter) for my regular clients, and it's a pain in the ass when they're not all together.
I've tried having several, lighter sets of keys. Doesn't work.
One, regardless of weight, is better for me.

I tend to leave my keys laying around places, and they are forever getting lost.
I try to remedy this by having a big poofy item on there--something easily visible.
For a long time I had a pink plush starfish. It had a little zippered pocket for quarters or whatever little goodie I wanted to carry. Super cute.
I just replaced it with this silver crocheted star from the Etsy shop of Recycled by Hyena.
Isn't it gorgeous?

The paw print bag is a holder for my MOO mini cards (my business cards).
I love MOO cards, because they are an unusual size, so people tend to take notice.
Also an Etsy purchase, from Splatgirl. It is beautifully made.

Support DIY crafters and your fellow bloggers--shop Etsy!

(explanation for the items on my keyring is notated on Flickr. Clicking the image will take you to my Flickr page. Flickr is fun, because I get a whole other set of readers there. God bless blogging and Flickr!)

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bring back peace to OB

Sunset Cliffs
(click on image to enlarge)
I posted about the peace sign atop a rock in Ocean Beach, back in September of 2006.

It was stolen last weekend.

Sign On San Diego reported about it, but the OB Rag had a disheartening update.

Turns out the stained glass sign was an art installation by
Peace Rocks.
It lasted 18 months before someone either stole or dismantled it.
(gallery of photos)

The point of art, really, is to create a discourse.
If the work is successful, it will cause a visceral reaction, both positive and negative.
The peace sign most certainly has done that. (see reactions)

Personally, I loved it.
I thought it whimsical, fun, unexpected.
Others thought the natural seascape was beauty enough, and should not be embellished.
My thought is art by God's hands is magnificent, but art created by man's hands is also often divine.

Thanks to Beach Blogger for making me aware of this turn of events.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Holly Jolly How-To: Recycling Old Neck-Ties

OMG, a necktie project I hadn't seen yet!
It's a garland.

Who says it has to only be for Christmas?
How about a Valentine's Day garland?

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Two fun apron patterns

I just bought two more vintage apron patterns that I thought I'd share with you.
The holster-type one reminds me of the hipster bags I recently posted about on my purse blog.
I mean, really, how fun is that?! Dated 1999.
Hipster apron pattern, 1999
(click on image to enlarge)

Also, this killer find that combines my love of aprons with my love of sewing with towels. Dated 1967.
Apron from towels pattern, 1967
I can hardly stand it, it's so good!

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Suzie McNeil - Soul Life

I love this song so much, I had to share it.


Tied Down Rug

Tied Down Rug
Originally uploaded by texian39

Wow. I am so inspired by this.

It's a woven rug, made with NECKTIES!
She left the ends loose on either side, to act as a fringe.
(click on image to zoom)

Made by Texian39.
Note the fun weaving blog she contributes to, eLoomanator.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Video Sunday

My beloved Barenaked Ladies.
This band just rocks live.
If you ever have a chance to see them--go. Great energy.
And bring a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese...


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Photo Friday

Christmas with friends, 2004
(click on image to enlarge)
I spent Christmas with these girls again this year, but this pic is from (I think) 2004.
We've been friends since the early 80's.
They're more family than anything else.


Should I????

I want to ask those people that know me well if I should cut my nearly waist-length hair to something like this style (that's the lovely Kate Walsh from Private Practice)


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Mosaic for Tracie

I think she liked it!
Tracie with her mosaic

I started a mosaic project for my friend Tracie a couple of years ago.
I got this idea to do a glass-on-glass using shards of stained glass scrap.
I chose greens and reds because Tracie loves jewel tones, but when I started gluing these...they just seemed over-the-top.
I wanted to start over with amber-colored glass, but I couldn't get the pieces off that I had already glued.
Too, truth be told, amber is something I would like, but the project wasn't for me--it was for Tracie, and she likes the bright colors.

Anyway, initially I was going to use a vase, but I found this pretty clear crystal bowl at the thrift store for only $3 because the rim was chipped.
It seemed the perfect foundation.
So, I started gluing, didn't like what I was seeing...
and it sat in my garage for over two years just gathering dust.

This year, I really needed a birthday present but was limited on funds.
It just made sense to use what I had, so I pulled it out and started gluing again.
Initially, it was just too muchy much, but then it somehow just got better and better.

I grouted it in black to simulate the lead on stained glass, which toned it down beautifully.
I added rectangular black opalescent tiles to the top edge to cover the chips.
I took the irregular, organic glass shapes and arranged them on the bowl using a glue that dries clear so the bowl can be illuminated and the flame will shine through.
But let me tell you, irregular shapes on a curved surface...whew, what a puzzle!

Here's the back:
Back of Mosaic
(click on image to enlarge)

Here's the right side.
I made no attempt to form designs on the whole, though that would have been nice.
I did, however, form a flower on this side since I had these teardrop-shaped pieces.
Right side of mosaic

Left side:
Left side of mosaic

And for the front, I followed a section of the bowl that was frosted, and I attached all sorts of charms that represent Tracie--karate girl (she's a black belt), coffee and wine lover, Viking ship (her husband's heritage), a Greek coin (her dad), US Airways button (she used to work there), cross and sand dollar for her Christianity, swimsuit for her former beauty queen title, her love of baseball, pilgrim pig (joke between us), etc.
My mom's comment to this was "wow, it looks like a real artist made that!". Uh, thanks (I think).
close-up of charms on mosaic
(you can click on the image to zoom the detail)
Mosaic on glass for Tracie

For her birthday cake I usually make a German Chocolate, but since we combined Christmas with her birthday this year, I thought it more festive to make Red Velvet.
Red Velvet
I posted about this before. Recipe here.

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