Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Angelo is helping to plant lettuce and carrots in the top picture. His sand toys served as gardening tools since ours are probably hiding in boxes in the basement. The organic potting soil and big pots are from our local hardware store. The rest of the pots are what we had around the house. By the way, if you are ever tempted to do mosaic tile work on your flower pots and use joint compound instead of grout, never let your husband put them out in the rain. Moving fatigue made me ignore the dangers and then it was too late. :( Oh well, it was really fun putting them together and the tiles are already broken, so maybe I'll find a new indoor project...
We came back from Blackstone Raid on Saturday and found lettuce sprouts!!! So exciting!! This is the first time I've planted anything in about 9 years and the first time I've ever planted lettuce. *satisfied grin* I opted for a container garden since our deck is so conveniently located off the kitchen and thought it would be easier than raised beds. All the work I'm putting into the attic means I wouldn't be able to do both in time. We have seeds for other plants, but this is our start. I am so pleased that I actually got seeds in dirt this year and did it early enough for lettuce! That's one more step to depending less on "the man". Whoo Hoo!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Creatures and Monsters

Remember when I told you I would tell you what we did with Angelo's dried out play dough? That time is now. :) Though I tried to be diligent about asking Angelo to put his play dough away when he was finished playing with it and put it away myself at times, the inevitable happened and we ended up with lumps of crusty play dough. Inspiration hit after our wonderful friend got Angelo the Melissa and Doug "Decorate Your Own Wooden Airplane" and we were left with this wonderful box. Some googly eyes, glitter glue and Aleene's Tacky Glue later and we have a creature-scape. I had fancy dreams of adding a background, but that may never happen and I've accepted it. ;)

Angelo and I went to Handmade Arcade and really enjoyed ourselves. There's something really peaceful and inspiring about being around that many hand made pieces and the artists who made them. We especially loved the monsters! This one is at the Friend or Foe booth (sorry, there's no website listed for them).
This cute little guy by Cutesy but not Cutesy came home with us as an "Easter basket" present. Angelo insisted I hide it until he got his basket so it could be a surprise. This color combination, I've decided, is one of my favorite.
We were so excited by the monsters, that we decided to make our own. This one is made from craft felt and buttons (from a craft kit my sister-in-law got Angelo), stuffed with poly-fill. His name is Fred. We used glue to attach the facial features so Angelo could participate more and he helped a lot with the cutting and stuffing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Josephine's Dress

I came home with this beautiful dress when Angelo I went out looking for shelves at the consignment store a couple streets over. It's really more like an antique store, and I should probably not go back ... because it's just too awesome! :) This dress, including the underdress, was only $25!! It is still white and only has one minor hole. It is hanging in my attic right now and I smile every time I see it... which is pretty often these days.
I also came home with this printer's tray for only $18! It could not not come home with me. I knew I'd find a use for it, and am thrilled with how it is holding jewelry findings and letter stamps. The letter stamps in the printer's tray is pretty exciting; I also print with them and they were always so disorderly before, it was a pain to use them.

The soul that these two items add to the atmosphere in my 130 year old attic is priceless to me. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pancakes and Pizza

This could also be called "we made creepy looking food". :) But, we both had fun. Making faces on food is probably great for all kids. Angelo requested a face for the pancakes- George used blueberries, but we only had blackberries. We made gluten-free pancakes, which turned out to be more crepe-like (if crepes are heavier and thinner, I don't know.)

Zombie pancake.
Monster pancake (berry juice poured in randomly).
The only recipe here is for the pizza sauce- one can tomato paste, one can tomato sauce, Italian herbs, garlic powder, and mix it up. We have left over sauce for pizza bread later. The crust is Glutino (gluten-free, of course) frozen crust. This is not exactly made from scratch, but we did have our hands in it. :)
Mushrooms for facial features.

I love Angelo's Cyclopes! :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Books and My new Endeavor

Do you have a pile of books that you know you "should" read? If you do (and I'll bet most of us do), you are not alone. On those library shelves are plenty of books I've not read and there are several floating around the house waiting for me to pick them up again. As SARK reminds us in one of her books, "Books do not have to be finished to be beneficial." So, it's OK that we haven't finished all those books, but I really was feeling nagged by myself to dive further into them. Remember "Radical Homemakers"? Every time I ran out of lotion and hadn't made any, I thought of this book. I also looked through the book my Mom got me in college after I'd started buying bulk herbs at the co-op for colds, stress relief, etc. (A massage therapist who took my belly dance classes let me borrow one of her herb books and the rest is history... :) Make Your Place also showed itself and it is so straightforward that I could see more clearly how I would try making my herbal teas, lotions, etc.

I decided to start with one step: look for emulsifying wax, which I knew was in every recipe I'd seen for lotion. (Including this one.) The next time I went grocery shopping, I was keenly aware of how much I was spending on herbal teas, laundry detergent, etc. So my one little ingredient turned into a pretty big order. I have been thinking this over for many months, and am relieved to finally have the means to save money and depend less on industry. Even if I only make these supplies last 4 months, I will cut my expenses (for facial and body care, baby wash, supplements, pain and stress relief, etc, etc.) by about half. Plus, I will not have to run out every time I'm out of lotion, laundry detergent, green clay mask, and more (or at least can spend much less time at the grocery store.) Also, instead of giving my money to Giant Eagle and Target, I'll be giving my money to a small company that focuses on the earth.

When I did my initial search for emulsion wax, Mountain Rose Herbs came up. Angry Chicken recommended this company and they had most of what I needed. I tried looking for companies that were more local who sold organic, fair trade herbs, but didn't find any. What Mountain Rose didn't have, Starwest Botanicals did.

I have the ingredients out on the counter and am posting here to encourage me to get creating. :) Boxes are left to be unpacked and shelves to be built in the attic and we have seeds to plant, so there's lots of work ahead, but I'm sure that Angelo will enjoy being my helper and I'm looking forward to it, really. :)

Books and Books and Books

Last week or so, I was doing yoga in our guest room/library and got very distracted by the disheveled, disorganized books. So, I thought I'd straighten up a couple shelves of books that Angelo had put away (after pulling all the books out and Mommy asking him to put them back. I guess even at 4 that is still fun.) A couple hours later I was finishing up re-organizing _all_ the shelves into nicer stacks and categories. In the middle of it, I was grumbling at myself for even starting it because Angelo woke up at some point and I really needed to get our usual day started. Fortunately, he managed to get fed (either by helping himself to something or Daddy helping him, I can't remember) and all was well. So pleased was I with the work, that I kept re-visiting it all day and now smile every time I walk in (which is fairly often since the door to the attic is in there.) Just about every magazine article or diy home design show you ever see that addresses shelves says to vary what's in the shelves for a more pleasing look. Until I decided to fully group my books, I just didn't see how that was going to happen; but it all came together... for the time being. Now, there's a pile of books that were in the attic waiting to be shelved, but at least it was a good start.

Another reason I'm sure I felt such a need to organize the books is that I had just bought some new art books. Though they won't be living in the library, I knew there were others elsewhere waiting to go in and 3 more books... well, I know it will be OK and how could I resist such lovelies at 50% off? Yes, I have a problem- one I'm just going to have to live with because I love books! :)

These new books I picked up... I thought I would save myself some angst and buy subjects I "knew I wouldn't get into for a while" because the attic is still not ready (but getting closer every day) and 2 books used materials I don't own and have vowed (at least for now ;) not to buy. If you know how I can get, losing sleep because of the ideas in my head, driving myself nuts, making things in my head before I can actually get to the project, you may already be laughing. Who was I kidding? I came up with ideas substituting materials I already own, and was nearly breathless with inspiration. Sounds dramatic, but really, I'm not kidding. Sometimes I wonder if I should name this blog, "I must make things". ;)

Here are the books that drove me nuts (in a good way, truly):

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gluten Free Shopping Around the Corner

I was trying to check out an Antique store that I pass all the time, but it was closed. I was disappointed, but I really don't need to be buying anything I don't have a place for. I was further soothed when I looked across the street and saw the sign for Eden's Market.
Honestly, this is the sign I saw first and that's what drew me in. When I got inside, the man behind the counter told me the whole store was gluten free and were run by a group dedicated to educating the public about Celiac's disease. I told him I was gluten free due to an allergy to gluten (secondary to Hashimoto's) and he seemed to think that even though I didn't have digestion issues, my symptoms still pointed to Celiac's disease and he gave me a lot of literature to read. Apparently, left untreated, Celiac's can lead to Hashimoto's... so, which came first, the chicken or the egg if I do in fact have Celieac's disease? I really don't think it matters to me personally since I'm already gluten-free, but it makes me wonder. (Having Hashimoto's disease makes it more likely you'll develop an intolerance/allergy to gluten and both Hashimoto's and Celiac's have similar symptoms.) Anyway, it's really awesome that this store is about 3 minutes from here and I don't have to search labels for gluten. Goitrogens and meat, sure, but not gluten. :) And, they have organic cheese that doesn't come in slice or shredded form. Not that those are terrible, I have just missed the economic block of organic cheese. :)

More Attic Progress

Another couple of weekends, a few nap times and morning sleep times later and here is how I've progressed on the attic. DH helped me move the rest of the boxes over to the other side and then painted the trim and ceiling for me while I was out at the Social Hafla. (oh, and he did the priming too...) Yay!

As you can tell, lighting is an issue here, so that's something we're working on. (I had to play with the exposure so you could see what I was photographing in most of these.)
The shelves are behind the boxes on the right.

I couldn't wait to put the sewing table back up, so had to get a strange angle on this one too. The details around the windows are influenced by paintings in the chapter "The Rural Dwelling" in "Indian Style", Henna patterns and some lovely decorations in "Enchanted Adornments". This last window ended up being more Fey-like and less Henna like. :) (Partly due to the wondrous nature of Enchanted Adornments and partly because of Spring, I believe.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Plant Impossible Gardens

These are images from my altered book, "Plant Impossible Gardens". It started with the "flip" book I put on the cover. The flowers are made from book pages and vintage buttons. When I started preparing the book, called "The Dream Maker's Magic" (which looks like a great book... I obviously planned on reading this book before I altered it, but had to let go since I was preparing for the altered book workshop. Another time, perhaps.), all the references to dreams and the flowers I'd already put together made me think of this quote by SARK. It's about taking steps towards your dreams no matter how far out of reach they seem. At least, that's what I can remember it meaning and what it means to me now. I love SARK's books. I don't remember what book this quote was from, but I have found all the ones I've read so inspiring.
Page 2 of the book on top of the book.
Page 3 of the book on top of the book.

This is an insert in the altered book. It began as a part of 3 pieces that I intended to be a "pull out", but the other two pieces kept getting worse and worse the more I did to them, so I will use the pieces I cut up from them in other pieces. I don't even think I originally intended the pull out to be a part of this book, but when the theme came together, it worked so nicely. :)
This last page is still in progress, as are the rest of the pages in the book, but you can see the drawers better in this picture.
I have this book sitting out in my dining room now and it's nice to be reminded of Spring and Dreams. :)

I'll be teaching another Mixed Media Collage Workshop- this time in Pittsburgh!! It will be at Sterling Yoga, which is nicely right around the corner from me. I have a Facebook event up for it. Hope you can make it!! :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

More Hand Made Birthday Fun

The first photo is Angelo playing while wearing the elf hat I made him using Amy Karol's pattern in her book "Bend the Rules Sewing". I posted about a sewing miracle a while back on Face Book. This was one of those miracles- I ran into a lot of obstacles due to my sewing stuff being packed up in the attic. I spent many hours looking for the (thankfully already cut out) pieces, and the book, which I eventually checked out from a "not as local", but still pretty darn local library. Once I had the book, material, the right color of thread and my sewing machine finally corralled into my kitchen, the actual sewing went pretty smoothly. It is made of wool felt, so I didn't have to finish the seams or anything! I made it a little bigger than the template so he would be able to grow with it (per the book's clever suggestion.) This is the only hand made item I actually was able to sew him for his birthday. I wish I'd been able to make more, of course, but I know that without a dedicated and organized sewing space, the obstacles were just too annoying for me. I did manage to draw some very simple pictures and staple them between some construction paper for a hand made coloring book. I didn't scan those, but they were largely based on the types of drawings they teach you to make in one of Angelo's books (so, it is for very young children and the drawings are very basic.)

Here, you can see that he is wearing a bow tie. A super-adorable, bow tie made from vintage material that I got at Baby By Stevie's Etsy store. This is the least blurry picture I got since he was so engrossed in play. :) He asked for a bow tie, by the way. Insisted it be a bow tie, when I thought he was talking about a scarf when he referenced a picture on a book. I was pretty happy to oblige. I also went to Etsy and got him some Mama K's Aromatic Play Clay. It is all natural, gluten free, and made with organic essential oils. It is now a lovely blend of colors and scents, of course. :) We all enjoy it even if only Angelo is playing with it. I'll show you what we did with his dried up play dough later. :)

I found some very yummy all natural gluten-free cupcakes in our Giant Eagle's gluten-free freezer. They are made by French Meadow Bakery. As you can see, Angelo really enjoyed them. :)