Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reader Question: What Inspires Me?

There's a question. Probably the single most popular question readers ask me.

Where do I find inspiration?

The question actually frightens me. It makes me want to tear at my hair and run out of the room screaming. I'm only half-kidding. See the problem is this: I do not know what inspires me. I haven't looked into it. I'm lazy that way. And also. I'm kinda scared to go there because I'm afraid to mess with it! I mainly just DO. I don't consider the what, the where, the why of it all.

Is that strange? Should I be analyzing my actions and examining my motivations?


Okay well here goes... Here's where I believe my ideas come from... I guess I believe in the power of doing. I think that, for me, ideas emerge when I keep my hands busy with making and my mind focussed on the material in front of me. I think that the textures and the fabric of the things I'm using, the colours and the shapes that surround me, all conspire to inspire me.

Is that the silliest answer ever?...  Probably...

Just let me add. I believe in something greater than myself. You know? That energy that envelops us all... You know the one I mean, right? I believe in it. I'm almost certain it is involved in my creating somehow. It is the culprit. It's gotta be... Somehow.

So, thank you elusive Force with a capital F that allows me to create and make stuff. Whatever you are and wherever you come from. Thanks for being there. Because if I weren't creating, I would know little of happiness. And I would surely be a bitter thing.

This post is dedicated to Pam, and to the forces of creative inspiration. The above photos feature Brigid's Cross (named for Brigid the goddess of inspiration, fire and fertility), a little challenge Pam issued to me a while back when she wrote: "I have been wracking my brain for two years trying to think of a material other than wheat to make a Brigid's Cross. If anyone can come up with a solution, it's you!"  Since then, I too have been wracking my brain. I came up with two possibilities for the crosses Pam: 1) stiffened yarn, and 2) cereal boxes. What do you think?


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Where's Michele?

In the scan below, you may notice something familiar... Can you spy it?... Where ever could it be?... Hmm...

Did you find it?... Okay. Well just in case you didn't, here's a tiny hint...

For the first time ev-ER, I'm IN PRINT!!! That's little ol' me in De Telegraaf which, according to Wikipedia (and it should know because it knows everything), is the largest newspaper in the Netherlands. The Dutch are a very discerning people.

Let me tell you. I'm a little pleased. You figured that out, eh? Was it obvious?...

I don't read Dutch but from what I'm told, one of the articles featured on the above page is about "selling your house with superstition". It seems that wind chimes can help sell a house when placed in the correct location; it's a Feng Shui thing I guess. Interesting. The article's writer, Berber Govaars, asked me if he could kindly use my Summer Time Chime in his article. I said yes and now I'm famous. It was very sudden I admit.

Anyway, this famous person has to do the dishes and mop the floor now. But I'll be back. You have a fine day!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There's a Change In The Header...

I made a couple tweeks to the blog last week, did you see? The most obvious change being the header. It's nice to freshen things up around here every now and again, and you know, move the furniture around? So while I was doing that, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at the many and various headers that have topped this blog over the last two years. A header-rospective if you will... Chortle.

I create my simple headers in Photoshop using photos of my various projects and fonts I like. Here they all are!

Header #1. This one featured the hand-painted first page of my "idea" notebook in which I jot down all my crafty brain waves and the font Zapfino which I had a fondness for at the time. It's fun to look back through that notebook... I'm still using that very one today.

Header #2. One of the goals of this blog is to create a little corner of crafty sunshine. Hence the sun symbol of header #2.  Interestingly, this particular sun is made from a most un-sunny styrofoam meat tray... And there's Zapfino again!

Header #3. Probably my favourite to date, header #3 featured my egg carton flowers. I'm still a little bit in love with this one I admit. One day I may just throw it back up there... Oh and look. It's Zapfino. What a surprise.

Header #4. This one featured rings made from frozen concentrated fruit juice containers.  I have projects involving these rings that are still waiting for their moment in the sun. Maybe one day soon maybe possibly?... And is that a font change I see before me? Yes, it is!!! That font is known as League Script Thin. It's a good one.

Headers #5 is nowhere to be found. I guess I didn't think it was good enough to bother keeping. It was quite simple and featured my TP roll pincushion. Sorry number 5, I looked for you everywhere but I couldn't find you... I liked you, I promise I did. Snif.

Header #6. The Drop-Dead Denim header was made on the back pocket of some old jeans and featured a couple denim flowers. That header was up there for the whole of the month of September 2011 when all we did was denim denim denim. Ah, what a great month that was... The cursive words are my embroidered handwriting and the other words are in Century Gothic, another extremely useful and legible font.

Header #7. And finally, the penultimate header was made from another denim flower but the effect was supposed to be that of a sunrise. Did you get that? That one also featured Estilo Script font which I've discovered in the last few months and use, like, constantly.

And that brings us to the brand new header which showcases the origami sun posted back here and Estilo Script again. Can you tell I'm fond of making new headers and fiddling with the blog? I'm certainly no expert, but I find it quite rewarding to come up with new designs all on my own.

How about you? Do you enjoy tinkering with your blog's design?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Getting His Kicks

I always watch as The Boy waits for the school bus in the morning in front of our home. Some days he just stands there. Sometimes he'll play with fallen sticks, or leaves, or the pretty keys from the maple tree overhead. Sometimes he'll sing to himself softly. Or loudly (as is his want). On this particular morning he felt disposed to practice his high kick.

First, the wind-up...

And.... BAM!

I think the goal was to get the foot above the head.

Success is sweet, isn't it?

Have  yourself a high-kicking kind of week-end.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wee Wreath with a Twist...

Took a little breather from this project to make one of my favourite-most things: a wreath.

Here's how I did it!

This wreath is made of one small cereal box cut up into twine like I've shown you here, wrapped around a large mason jar many times until you have a mittful...

Then slipped off the mason jar and twisted in and out and wrapped and twisted in and out and wrapped around itself until you have a slightly-bigger-than-donut-sized-wreath...

When done, I gave it a light covering of daffodil yellow paint, and topped it off with a sweet bow.

It will do quite nicely for Easter or the whole of spring even, wouldn't you say?

I will make a place for it in The Wreath Blog collection very soon too, can't forget.

You have a lovely day now. I'm off to chat with my seedlings, weeeee! More on them later...


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Saturday Morning Sowing

Remember my little video for making newspaper plant pots? On Saturday morning, The Boy and I actually put our pots to use by gum.

We smooshed moist potting soil into them..

Wrote-up some labels using old cut up mini-blinds...

Snuggled them up nice and cozy into a couple of deep foam meat trays...

Sowed some seed...

Sprinkled a little soil and water on them. And finally... placed them in a sunny window.

Now for the hard part... Waiting.


This is a true test of my patience. I like to cheer them on whenever I walk by that particular window. A little "You can do it! Grow babies, grow!" never hurt, am I right? I'll keep you posted on their progress...

Edited to Add on 3 Apr 2012:  Please note that I've used black and white newspaper to make the pots as black ink is made of soy and safe to use around edibles. Coloured newspapers should be avoided as the ink may contain some toxins.

You have a great day now.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Playing With Video

Guess what... I made a wee how-to test video. Eep. It's my very first. The concept is NOT original or nothing. In fact, you've probably seen this particular idea done at least 500 times in as many ways. But I needed some newspaper plant pots 'cause seeding time is like, tomorrow. So while I was at it, I thought I'd try pulling together a video to see where my video-making skills are at.

I was able to do all the recording myself which was good. But as things stand now, I'll be needing substantial practice where video-editing is concerned. I got a ton of help from Lo on that front, thank Pete. I couldn't have pulled off this cute first video project without his expert help.

Lo walked me through the basics of the "Adobe Premiere" editing software. I learned how to import my video, add music, make the title card, work with fade-ins and "dissolves", and add credits. It was fun to see it come together but GOSH, there's a lot to know! Luckily Lo is a very sweet and patient man. Opposites attract don't you know. He must've answered a good 200 questions from me yesterday, poor thing.  I kinda felt bad for him sort of but not really... Needless to say, it took a little while. At the end, he did some magical data-management-type-stuff that went in one eye and out the other too. We may have to review that section twice or thrice. But, you know? I did learn stuff. And I'm pleased with my first "solo" effort.

So here's my take on an old standard. The newspaper plant pot...

Edited to Add on 3 Apr 2012:  Please note that I've used black and white newspaper to make the pots as black ink is made of soy and safe to use around edibles. Coloured newspapers should be avoided as the ink may contain some toxins.

Thanks for taking a peek!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Boy Caught Thinking

The Boy gets a look of concern sometimes. A furrowed-brow look. One that is far away. Important. Quiet. And deep.

If only I could read his thoughts... But alas I'm not allowed into his secret inner world. Here's my first attempt to capture one of these old-soul looks of his...

'A Boy Caught Thinking' is 16" x 22" (40cm x 56cm), rendered in junkmail and Mod Podge on craft paper and stretched over an old picture frame.


P.S. The March Break is here, posting may be light over the next week. Have a great one!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cereal Box Thingy Update

I started this cereal box thingy in March 2011 over HERE. Incredibly, that's almost a year ago now. At the time, I mentioned that it would be a "very very long term" project. Obviously not an exaggeration as I'm nowhere near done. At one point, "the thingy" evolved into THIS. Error in judgement. To tell you the truth, I actually gave up on the whole project for a while after discovering how unworkable it was in that form. It languished in a dark corner for many moons. One night in a fury of frustration I ripped off the base and everything that held it on, and returned it to a less complicated shape, a ball. It has since developed into a cute oblate spheroid. Very much better this way, methinks.

The thingy is made entirely of cereal and cracker boxes, cut into twine and wrapped neverendingly around itself. HERE's how I make the twine, eff-why-eye.

Some cold hard stats: 8 cereal boxes and 28 cracker boxes (we like a little crunch now and then...) have gone into its making thus far. It measures roughly 8 inches (20cm) in diameter and weighs 3-1/8 lbs (1.4 kg).

The Boy has taken to using it as a play-thing. We toss it back and forth betwixt ourselves. I've also found him standing and balancing on it with his little self. I've tried it too. Surprisingly good for the core. Personally I like cradling it in my arms like a wee babe. It has a lovely weight you see. Eventually I'm hoping to grow it into a wondrous footrest. See? Who says I don't have goals. But in the interim, I'm kinda tickled by its unexpected use as medicine/balance/baby ball.

I'm glad I didn't toss it. There's a lot of work wrapped up in this crazy project. Literally.

You have a great day now.


P.S. Oh ya. A few other things I've made with cereal box twine include THIS and THIS.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy Birthday To Us!

Oooooooooof...  Happy Tuesday! Wow. I'm back. Took an unexpected bloggy break there...

That's because I just said hasta la vista to a jam-packed birthday week and weekend.  Over the last few days, The Boy, Dia and I celebrated our 8th, 20th and um... OLDer birthdays respectively. The week started out with a whirlwind road trip to visit my girls, Elle and Dia, who share living quarters in Toronto. We spent a lovely afternoon with them catching up on life, school and work, and chatting about food and movies over the yummy vegetarian offerings at a small local restaurant. The service was great and the staff let us linger. We had a really really nice time. Despite the fact that they flew the coop a few years ago now, I still think it strange to visit these adults (!!!) that are my children, and see them living independently from us. Working. Learning. All by themselves. They seem to be handling it just fine. How does this happen, I often wonder. How's it even possible?... I guess that's just what kids do, eh?

Here's a pic of my beautiful Dia taken at the aforementioned lunch.

The next few days I spent getting ready for The Boy's Bowling Birthday party which we celebrated this past Sunday afternoon with 12 of his friends (boys only as he stipulated). The pizza meal was held upstairs in the bowling building and we only had a few minutes to spruce up the space so I wanted the decorations to be effective yet super-simple at the same time.

We needed balloons o' course... So I concocted these balloon trees which The Boy dubbed "balloon supernovae". That name rocks my socks so it stuck! I made the trees two days prior, and the day of the party we just plunked the gravel-filled plastic jugs down in the center of the tables and stabbed in the stems. Nice and easy!

The Boy is a huge fan of airplanes so I rummaged through my garland box for the colourful paper airplane garland from last year (he digs it) and divided the lengths into two batches. Then I hung the lengths with bread wrappers onto two wire hangers. When we got to the bowling alley I simply hung the hangers lickety-split on an overhead beam.

For cake, The Boy requested chocolate. I chose to do the chocolate cupcake thing and I'm so glad I did because they were tast-EE! I baked the cupcakes the day before the party and iced them the morning of. I topped them with piped buttercream frosting and finished them off with one upside-down red candy wafer (used as is) and a Smartie. Delicious and do-able (even for a non-cook like me)...

The little personalized handmade goodie bags Lo and I put together (using this template) for each guest went over well too. I made the bags a few at a time over the two weeks prior to the big day. We filled them with candy, notepads, pencils, erasers, hockey cards and one of my all-time favourite origami gizmos.

When we sent out invitations we specified "no gifts" because our little one has more than enough. We were overjoyed by all the lovely handmade cards that each child brought instead. Reading through them at the end of the day was definitely a highlight for me. They were just so sweet!

I can't say the day wasn't without its challenges. Kids playing catch with 10 lb bowling balls, for instance. Kids running down bowling lanes. And there was that one tiny injury too. Small hand caught in swivel chair... Oooooweeeee... But after the obvious pain and the gush of tears, the little guy bucked up and kept playing. Kids are amazing, aren't they?

But on the whole, the party was a success, I think. We're not used to having 13 boy-children in tow, you know? But they had fun and Lo and I managed well in my opinion. We stayed pretty relaxed through it all. And The Boy had a blast which was the ultimate goal!

So the week of birthdays is taken care of for another year, can't believe it. Everyone's happy. I know I am. Happy Birthday to me!

Well, you have a lovely day now. I will be back!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Drop-Dead Denim Flickr Group Love

Do you remember the Drop-Dead Denim Event of last September? At the time, I established a corresponding Flickr Group where people could upload their denim crafts, and to my surprise, the Drop-Dead Flickr Group lives on... Isn't that neat? I just love seeing what kind of jean-ious other people are creating and sharing, so I thought I'd take a moment to showcase some of the goodness that's been uploaded since September. Let's see what we got!

Oh yes... well, you've seen Sherry's stuff here before, but I just had to show off this notebook of hers as well. It's just as cute as a button and so well-designed. Sherry infuses such lightness and fun in her work. She writes about this sweet project over at Sherry's Simple Blog. Check it out!

Fabric Covered Notebook

On her blog, Green Issues, Agy details how she went about making this super-cute back pocket wristlet from her husband's jean pockets. Wouldn't it be fun to make one of these? I get excited just thinking about the embellishment possibilities. Think felt or french knots or freezer-paper stenciling... Joys! Thank you for sharing Agy.

Back pocket wristlet

Marcia paired old denim shirts and dresses with some plaid shorts to make this great tone-on-tone quilt which she then machine-quilted using a lovely ribbon and daisy pattern. The full step-by-step photo tutorial can be found on her blog, Marcia's Crafty Sewing and Quilting Blog.

"Up Cycled" Denim Quilt

And finally... As I was writing this post and researching the various Flickr photos, I discovered the delicious blog of Monika (MonaW) the creator of this gorgeous creation below. I adore every inch of this bag: the stitched branches, the felt leaves, the denim strip of course...  Her blog is called Sewing With Love and it is a treasure to behold. Monika also has a Dawanda shop where she sells her beautiful wares. Dangerous information which I advise you to use at your own risk...

The bird´s house no. 4

So there you have it! Thank you so much for all your crafty contributions. I will continue to monitor The Group, so if you're ever inclined to re-craft your old jeans, upload those photos! And one day perhaps, you'll find yourself featured here...

Well you have a happy day!



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