Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Easy Wall Art!

Today is my daughter's birthday, my step-daughter that is. I don't think I've really broken down our family for you. I'll save that for tomorrow though. Today I have a great little project I whipped up as part of her birthday present. Since she gave us no help at all per wish list we decided to dress up her room a bit. She's a lot like me when it comes to decorating a place ... she doesn't do it. Our two bedrooms are the only rooms in the house that don't have anything on the walls to warm it up. I can actually hear a slight echo in mine every time I cough. Sad. Anyway, we found some quick fixes in the IKEA catalog and finished everything in less than 24 hours. My favorite part was the stretch frame.

They sell these at IKEA for $4.99, but they're very popular and hard to find in stock here. Luckily, they had one returned the same day I hit the store. I grabbed it and made a beeline for their fabric bolts. The one I wanted was black, white and green and out of stock. Grrr. So I took my second choice, black and white only, and had a great idea along the way.

The actual frame assembly was really simple, took less than 10 minutes and is about 20" square. After that I pinpointed the design area I wanted and cut my fabric to size, 26" square. Then I was the uber-nerd and colored in a photograph of the piece to plan where I wanted each color. (there just wasn't time/room for a flub up)Attaching the fabric was a breeze too. I just grabbed one of hubby's utility staplers and some 1/4" staples. First center the frame face down on the wrong side of the fabric. Now starting in the middle of each side, pull the fabric taught, pull up and around the frame and drive in one staple. Then, work your way down each side stapling every inch or so. Leave 2" at the end of each side so the corners are free as shown.For the corners, trim away a modest square to get rid of some bulk. Then tuck and fold to get a nice clean corner. This isn't an exact science; just keep it neat and clean and if you need to take out a staple to fix a mistake, by all means do it. It just takes a little patience, just a smidge. ;)OK. So far we've just followed IKEA directions. Now, for the fun part. I had to make this piece actually blend in with her bedding and wall colors, lots of lime green and different shades of blue, so I decided to treat it like a paint-by-numbers sort of project. I have gads of acrylic paint in my craft supplies, which can admittedly get a bit crispy on fabric unless you know a trick or two.

If you mix it with a Textile Medium, it will "transform the acrylics into a washable fabric paint". You can find this in most craft stores and it's reasonably priced. (I also had this on hand - scary how many supplies I possess, very scary) I chose a nice bright green, a turquoise and a darker shade of blue, all perfect for her bedroom. Just mix a dab of the textile medium into your paint and then choose a nice firm paintbrush of appropriate width for the area you're painting, mine were all very skinny. Then go to town. I tried to be careful about staying in the lines, but ... no one's going to go and study it up close where I hung it. ;)Here's the finished piece and another picture of it in its new home. More pictures of the bedroom facelift coming soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Choices ... Choices ...

I get to bring cupcakes to our families annual Chimi Party. We're celebrating my nephew's birthday on the same day and a handful of neighboring birthdays. I just can't decide what to bring. I think I've narrowed it down to these three choices:Banana cupcakes, since I have 4 bunches of them in my kitchen right now.Ice cream cone cupcakes, since this is the "Ice Cream Grandma's" house. These would be hard to transport though.Or pumpkin cupcakes to help welcome in the season. Now, to choose just one ... wish me luck.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quote Book

My oldest daughter just put this great book together as a birthday gift for one of her friends. She had some really great ideas and the whole thing came together so nicely that I thought I would share it here.

She found loads of great quotes that her friend would enjoy, sorted them into different categories and then formated 6" x 5.5" pages on the computer. She color coded the quotes per section. The covers of the book are chipboard cut 6 1/4" square and covered in lovely scrapbooking paper. She added details to the front cover to spice it up. (The hand-stitching is my favorite) Then she made dividers with ribbon loops sewn on to help organize the book. The whole thing is ring bound so it can open up all the way. It's gorgeous and her friend LOVED it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reminiscing Tonight

Can't get this song out of my head today. I haven't listened to it for years and was glad to find the video tonight. I'd love to hear more music from this girl. I hope one day she'll write music again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Love that Old Lady!

I'm a few days late, but have just purchased Kara's new class "Fall in Love". I think it will be just what I need. I've been needing a pick-me-up and her ideas are always fun to play around with. Kara Haupt (17) is one of my favorite young phenoms. She writes a great blog called 'Old Lady in a Teenager' and is always creating something amazing. I'm sure you will hear a lot about her if you keep reading me. This is her third online class and here is a smidge of what she has to say about it:

"This is a class about discovering your autumn and taking advantage of this magical season. This workshop includes instructions on how to create a book centered around fall, included are journaling prompts and lots of inspiration to keep you creating!"

Perfect! I even took a quick drive up the canyon this morning to really get in the mood. (Fall hasn't really hit us in the valley yet.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Baby Blanket Goodness

Ooh .... I love this so much. The baby wale corduroy is just so deliciously soft and the colors are perfect for fall. This one is a bit smaller since I bought all the fabric on the bolt, but it is still plenty big enough for a little bundle of joy to get all kinds of use out of it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Make it Stop!

OK. I'm not sure what happened with our schedule this week, but this is really getting out of hand here! Sure, my day was pretty open during school hours. I was even able to sew the new baby blanket, finish up an old project AND come up with a new tutorial ... and then I got slammed with this:

2:30 Drive carpool
2:50 Get #1 to work
3:05 Finish up games for church activity
3:20 Boys home from school/help w/ homework
4:15 Get #2 dinner before football practice
4:30 PT conferences at high school (trying to meet w/ 8 teachers)
5:15 Get #2 to football
5:20 Pick up #3 to help at church tonight
5:30 Meet at church to set up games
6:15 Pick up #1 from work
6:45 Take #1 to babysitting job
7:00 Get #4 to scouts
7:30 Pick up #2 from football
8:00 Pick up #4 from scouts and get #5 in bed
8:30 Pick up #1 from babysitting and get #4 in bed
9:00 Get #'s 3,4 and 5 through showers
9:30 Get them in bed
10:00 Breathe

We didn't finish up at church until 9:15 tonight. Thank goodness hubby was able to come home at 4:00pm to help out. And tomorrow is going to be about the same too. #3 gets her braces off so we'll get her retainer fitted at 4:00, finish up PT conferences at the high school, start PT conferences (16 teachers total) at the junior high, race to #2's Court of Honor and try to get the girls to their young women's activity at church.

Someone stop the ride. I'd like to get off for a minute to catch my breath.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Business Cards: Managed

I have this bad habit of collecting business cards when I go to different shows and boutiques. Yes, I'm one of those people. I have little piles of them stashed all over the place. It makes it really inconvenient when I need to find someone specific. So! I cleaned them out today. I sifted through them and threw out any that I wouldn't need. The lucky ones I had left have been put into this nifty little ring. It was easy-peasy and only took about 10 minutes.I lined them up and punched holes in the upper left corner. Cut a piece of chipboard slightly bigger than the cards for the covers, mod podged some pretty paper on the outsides and a plain green cardstock on the insides ... then just put them all in the binder ring. Voila! Anyone can do this quickie project.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Step at a Time

Trying desperately here to get past this blasted cold and get caught up. Ironing - check! Laundry - check! Respond to Etsy Convo's - check! Three down with about 57 to go. Oh well. I can only do what I can do, right? And now I need to kick it into gear to figure out what to do for some upcoming birthdays.

That reminds me, I wanted to pass on a great idea for those hard to shop for people on your list. I put this book together for the ACC show, since all of my products look better in the dark ... hard to portray in a well-lit showroom. It was a huge hit and everyone was impressed with the quality. What I loved most was how completely easy it was to put together and how speedy their delivery got here. Take a look:I ordered this from MyPublisher via the Costco website. My membership got me a 20% discount, but it looks like their current promotion is for 45% off. Hmm, perhaps I should put together a book for my in-laws this Christmas. I wonder how long it would take to get pictures from the rest of the fam.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Crud ...

You know, as much as I love this time of year and all that it brings: the smell of fall, yellow school busses, quiet moments while the kids are away being educated ... as much as I love all of these things, I could really do without this cold. It brings back way too many memories of last fall for me, one sickness after another after another. My sinuses, congestion, coughing, ear pain ... It feels like there is a fire burning inside my chest. I have no energy. Loads of free time and no energy? What's that about?

I'm doing everything I can think of to fight back, lots of fluids, rest as needed, honey and lemon tea and I've jacked up on Vitamin C like it's going out of style. I've disinfected everything I can think of and washed the bedding. I have the yucks and I'm not happy about it. :(

Thursday, September 10, 2009

De-stash Craft

It's that time. The kids are in school. There are quiet moments to be found between laundry and work. The crafty goddess (ha!) in me is dying to come out. It's time to do some crafty de-stashing. First up is a new batch of classy glass, magnets to be more specific.

You'll need:
jumbo flat glass gems
Mod Podge
fine glitter
rub on decals of choice
something to cut fun text from
x-acto knife
glass and ceramic paint
appropriately sized paint brushes
glue of choice

1) Wash the glass marbles/gems in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly. We need to get all the dust, grease and schmutz off of them so our pretties will all stick properly. Choose a set of 3 or 4 that are about the same size that do not have big flaws.2) Decide which decals you want to apply. Cut them to the appropriate size hold in place on the flat side of the glass gem, sticky side down. Use your applicator tool to transfer the decal to the gem. Be sure to go over all areas of the decal before you move on.3) Use your x-acto knife to carefully cut around the text you'd like to use. I cut a jagged line on all four sides of the word or phrase and then push along the cut with the blade to tear the piece out. Once you've decided where to place it on your gem, spread a smooth, thin layer of Mod Podge to the side of the paper that will be visible. Carefully adhere it to the glass and press down firmly on all parts of the paper.4) Spread a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over the flat area of the gem. This is to seal the text and decal and will also hold your glitter. Sprinkle glitter where you'd like it and allow the whole piece to dry thoroughly. You can also use clear fingernail polish for this step.5) Shake your paint bottle to mix it well, then apply a generous layer of paint to the entire flat area of the gem. If you get streaks, your paint is probably too old. Don't worry, just let it dry and then paint on a second coat. Let the paint dry until it is no longer tacky.6) Using your glue of choice, attach the magnets. Ta-da! These are quick to make and gorgeous to boot! What great little gifts for friends, neighbors, teachers ... just about anyone!There are more, but you'll have to check my Etsy store in the next couple of days to see them!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FINALLY! Sprouts With Attitude ...

I am feeling so, so proud of my sweet hubby and all his sweet skills. Now, you should understand that when we bought our house the yards, front and back, were hideous. It was like someone had xeriscaped in the dark with a bunch of sample materials they'd collected from shops up and down the valley. OK, that was mean and beside the point.

Today it is official. After months of digging up and raking out rocks, after moving loads and loads of dirt around and hauling out buckets of bark ... after seeding, spreading peat moss and adjusting the sprinklers ever so carefully, our back yard is now absolutely more green than brown. I LOVE MY HUSBAND!They have a long way to go, but these little sprouts are so cute and definitely have a lot of spunk.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Fabric Lovelies!

I get to make another baby blanket! Yay! Gift giving is such a fun thing for me. I'm already turning over ideas for Christmas gifties too. I think I'll have a completely new project for everyone this year ... of course, I won't be able to post anything about it until after the holidays. Boo. Oh well. For now, I get to make a lovely baby blanket for a lovely girl. I love the fabrics too; a super baby-soft fine wale corduroy print and a great coordinating cotton print for the other side. The colors are deep and rich, perfect for a fall 'arrival'. This blanket is going to be a bit smaller than usual, since I bought all the fabric on the corduroy bolt. I'll post a better how-to this time with pictures for each super simple step. Keep an eye out in the next few days for it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Artist Crush: Crafterall

I love it when the Etsy Finds email brings me something truly unique and delicious! A short while ago it delivered a beautiful image from an Etsy shop called Crafterall. It was love at first sight and I immediately contacted the artist to ask about her perfect packaging. We got to 'talking' and she was so lovely as to answer a few other questions so that I could introduce her to you properly.Tell us a little about yourself ...

My name is Marnie, I'm a native Minnesotan, and I share my home with my hubby, our two young daughters, and a retired racing greyhound. I have waited tables at a pizza restaurant, greeted guests at a hotel, worked at a scrapbook store, and taught English to high school seniors. My favorite job is that of full-time Mommy and part-time crafter. I'm able to sneak in bits of work here and there throughout the day and then dive in at night after the girls go to bed. My husband telecommutes from home so we live a pretty darn idyllic life. It is sweet.

Have you always been a crafty gal?

Yes, absolutely. For me, crafting is the necessary and logical next step from my "Pack-rat-ism." For years, I would keep virtually anything with the firm thought that I could "make somethin' outta this someday." I've been able to cut back considerably on my collecting of stuff, but my collection itself is still too large and still too "precious" to cut into. I think the inherent re-purposing of most crafts is what has appealed to me the most over the years. Being able to either repair something or to make something new for myself using materials I have around me is surprisingly liberating and inspiring feeling. Frankly, it's a bit addictive, and I love it.How in the world did you start making art with cut paper?

I have always enjoyed working with paper. For a while I was obsessed with origami, then it was on to making my own cards to send to pen pals. My high school art teacher, Mr. May taught me the proper techniques for using an X-Acto blade and it was like I was given a new drawing tool. I learned how to hold a pair of scissors and move the paper to cut more intricately, and, working at a paper store allowed me to experiment on paper styles and thicknesses. The topographic designs of much of my work began as a happy accident that gained a decent following. Even though I've cut through nearly a million layers of cardstock over the last two years, each piece has been different and that has afforded me enough creative freedom to maintain that delicate balance between art and business. Still, I continually strive to make my designs more intricate, interesting, and innovative.

What things inspire you?

I'm inspired most by little masterpieces, natural or designed. I love finding little interesting details in nature: the tidy little hands of a squirrel around an acorn, the perfect symmetry of an emerging seedling, the curve of the long whiskers over the eye's of my dog. I also get inspired by the work of others: artist Andy Goldsworthy, composer Gustav Holst, and so many of my colleagues on Etsy. I tend to carry a big "net" with me at all times, and mentally capture little details like this as often as I can without being too "spacey." I love my little camera and bring it with me practically everywhere for this same reason.Where is your 'happy place'?

I try to make any place my happy place. Life is way too short to be grumpy about anything. Still, there are a few places that I suppose are a little more sacred: a certain little glen in the woods on my parents' property up north, being sandwiched between my daughters with a book on my lap, my bedroom on a sunny Saturday morning, a moonless night in February while walking the dog, and my studio downstairs when it's way too late and I'm just getting my second wind.

Where have you found your biggest financial success so far? (Etsy, wholesale, craft shows, etc)

Over the long run, Etsy has been a steadily growing source of success for me. I've made some great connections and contacts through it and I sincerely value the entire setup of the program. It is an increasingly complicated system to learn, and each step has helped me understand more of what it takes to be a successful independent artist. It is because of Etsy that I have had wholesale orders, invitations to craft fairs and other business-related ventures.

Marnie, it was an absolute pleasure finding you. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm a wiki-How Hero!

Do people often say to you, "You should sell these on Etsy!" or "Are you on Etsy yet?" If the answer is yes, then it's time to get off your keester and set up shop! It's easier than you think, trust me.(my intro)

It's official, I wrote my very first wiki-How article this morning. It took just a smidge of planning and I had to organize my thoughts, but I got to write about something that is part of my day-to-day ... Etsy! There was actually a request posted for "How to sell crafts on Etsy". How had this not been posted yet? Lucky me. It's pretty straight forward with the necessary tips and small details. I hope it makes sense to other readers out there too ... but it's done. Wow! What if I could accomplish any goal in less than 24 hours? Wouldn't that just change my whole universe?

And now little old me, MariposaAvenue, is on the Charity Leaderboard with my own literary contribution. I am responsible for 1 more book going to Africa. I wonder how many more articles I can come up with this month. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Goal: Write a wiki-How

I've been toying with the idea anyway ... and what better motivation than to become a wiki-How Hero and help send books to Africa!This month wiki-How is sponsoring a book for a child in Africa each time a registered user writes a new article. Registering took about 5 seconds tonight and you can even find lists of requested topics. You can track the programs project at the Charity Leaderboard. Tonight the count total is 139 books earned by the wiki-How community for children in Tanzania, Africa. I'll have to zip through the site's introductory tour if I get some free time tomorrow and narrow down my possible topics. I'm really excited. My dear hubby reads these all the time and has talked about me writing one for a long time. I guess it's my turn to peek around and see what they're all about and put myself out there. How about you join me? Go register. Write your article and post a linky-do here to share with my readers. (haha!) Now that brings me to another issue here ... I would love to know who's reading and what you think so far. I'll admit I lurk in and out of a lot of blogs without leaving comments, but as the blog writer I will definitely have more motivation to keep improving if I know for sure that I'm reading any kind of an audience out there. I've had a couple very sweet readers post a comment here and there, but let's get a shout out from the rest of you too. The more we've got, the easier it is to get contests and giveaways put together too. (throwing the bait out)

Hope to hear from your soon.