Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"When the age of the Vikings came to a close, they must have sensed it. Probably, they gathered together one evening, slapped each other on the back and said, "Hey, good job." '

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 30

I painted five more wine bags tonight. I did the strawberries last night, after my post, and ended up going to bed at 1:30. I'm happy with them so far and hope I can finish the second coats tomorrow night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Won a Giveaway!

I'm excited to announce that I won a giveaway! It was sponsored by fellow Make and Tell Challenge artist Cassandra, who dreamed up the simultaneously whimsical and edgy "L'il Miss Rock Star Care Kit" prize of which I am now the proud owner. It arrived in the mail today, and as I opened it I thought, how did she cram so much cool stuff into one small package? Out tumbled sheet music origami, guitar pick earrings, a keyboard-inspired ruler, and a bevy of other delightfully out-of-the-box treasures. It was obvious that Cassandra put a lot of thought and time into every detail. Not that this came as a surprise, given the level of care she devotes to her Etsy shop, and blog,, both of which are a joy to visit. Be sure to stop by for awesome products and thought-provoking reads. Thanks again, Cassandra!

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 29

For today's lineup, I painted the first coat on five of the twelve wine bags I sketched (I drew three more on my lunch break today). I'm a little disappointed because I really thought I could do all twelve tonight. But who knows; I may still have one more in me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 28

I sketched three more wine bags tonight (ten still await). This time we have flowers, fall leaves, and the ever popular grape vine.

Make and Tell Challange Days 23 24 25 26 27 28

It may seem like I fell off the face of the earth . . . but I was just having a girls' weekend with the bf's sister and stepsister in New York. A good time was had by all, but more on that later. What you really want to know is, what the hay is going on with my corner of the Challenge? Admittedly, not much. But I did manage to eke out a few sketches on the car ride up on Friday. If you can't see them too well, they're an outer space scene, a ball gown, and a castle, all go-to themes from my sketch-happy youth. Sadly, I was not able to make anything Thursday (playing hostess!) or Saturday. Yet after some much-needed rest on Sunday, I sketched five wine bags for next Sunday's Renault Winery show. Again, if you can't make them out, we have a bunch of grapes, lemons and flowers, strawberries and flowers, a large classic Tote Trove rose, and a wine bottle surrounded by grapes, cheese, crackers, and a loaf of bread. Typical Tote Trove fare it isn't, but I think these more homey motifs will strike more of a note with the wine tasting crowd. We'll see. In the meantime, I'll (hopefully) sketch the rest of the bags tonight, then plan to paint the first coat tomorrow.

P.S. I'm kind of bummed that I've failed the Challenge. But I'm trying to remind myself that sometimes life happens.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"He was a cowboy, mister, and he loved the land. He loved it so much he made a woman out of dirt and married her. But when he kissed her, she disintegrated. Later, at the funeral, when the preacher said "Dust to dust," some people laughed and the cowboy shot them. At his hanging, he told the others "I'll be waiting for you in heaven - with a gun."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 23

Tonight I jazzed up those jeans I was feeling so luke-warm about last night. I also drew my next tote, although it's hard to see. I'm afraid this may be the end of the road for me for the Challenge. As you know, I'll be in New York Fri-Sun, and tomorrow I'm playing hostess. Maybe I'll pull a rabbit out of my hat and surprise everyone . . . but I don't know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 22

Tonight I gave the pear tote a second coat and outlined everything. Then I moved on to this double-stranded black rose necklace, which I created with plastic beads and baby Faux Show gems. Finally, I began painting a pair of old jeans. Honestly, this is not how I thought they'd look. They're kind of hard looking, whereas I wanted them to be more dreamy. But they're not done yet. It would be nice if I could finish them before my trip to New York this weekend, but I don't know if that'll be possible. I'm going with the bf's sister and stepsister, and I'm really looking forward to it. Yet I don't know how I'll keep up with the Challenge, which is kind of a bummer since it would have been great to go out with a bang. I guess I'll bring my sketchbook to New York, but that seems like kind of a cop-out. Then again, it's not as if I could just whip out my paints in the hotel room, or unleash my beads on a park bench. If only my projects weren't so messy and problematic. Sometimes I feel like this little Challenge is sandwiched in a much bigger Challenge, namely "trying to craft perfection in an imperfect world." That was cheesy. But you know what I mean. I hope. Now I must go clean the bathroom. Or watch another rerun of The Office on TBS (take that, board of health.)
(Um, I was kidding about the board of health thing. My home is a lovely, clean environment in which I create perfectly hygienic goods for public sale.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hippie Chic

As you know by now, I've been sporadically photographing my outfits to post here in this wacky little blog. I don't do it every day (could you imagine the madness, what with the Make and Tell Challenge?!), but I've ended up with more photos than is probably healthy. Of course, now I have all sorts of ideas for other outfits I want to wear (or sometimes just photograph, if they aren't fit for public consumption.) Also, I couldn't help but notice that a large chunk of my ensembles can be categorized by era, focusing on styles of the 50s, 60s, or 80s. This is purely accidental. But nonetheless kind of interesting. So, here are two recent looks that seem to scream 60s. Indeed, one co-worker rated the first one as "groovy."

I attempted to take the first batch of pictures myself, as the bf was working. So, they're a bit odd. But kind of funny.

I decided not to list where I bought everything and how much it cost this time because, honestly, I think it's a little tiresome. However, I will give props to for creating the awesomely kooky tea-themed necklace from the first outfit.

Brought to You from Jell-O Fun and Fabulous Recipes

So, a week or so ago, when I made my yummy lattice chicken casserole, I also made this frozen peanut butter pie. (Yes, the photo has been haunting my personal photo archives since then, along with countless others.) Anyway, I was pretty excited about this recipe, which came from Jell-O Fun and Fabulous Recipes, one of the many volumes in my Jell-O cookbook library. It involved peanut butter, after all, as well as an unexpected and intriguing strip of strawberry jam. And it was easy to prepare (as are all Jell-O recipes), which gave it points with this busy crafter. Here's the recipe:


8 oz containter Cool Whip
1 prepared 9-in graham cracker pie crust
1/3 cup strawberry jam (I have only strawberry preserves, so I used those. But they weren't spreading the way they were supposed to . . . so I ended up using an entire jar!)
1 cup cold milk
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used smooth peanut butter, probably more than 1/2 cup)
1 4-serving size package vanilla Jell-O pudding


Spread 1 cup of the Cool Whip in the bottom of the pie crust; freeze for about 10 minutes. Carefully spoon jam/preserves over Cool Whip. Gradually add milk to peanut butter in bowl, blending until smooth. Add pudding. With eletric mixer at low speed, beat until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold in remaining Cool Whip. Spoon over jam/preserves in pie crust. Freeze until firm. Garnish with additional Cool Whip and chopped nuts, if desired (I did not desire).

So, how was it? The peanut butter section was delicious, especially with the graham cracker crust. As I ate it, I thought, oh, so this is how all those restaurants pull off that creamy peanut butter filling: just mix peanut butter, Cool Whip/cream, pudding, and milk. As for the strawberry part . . . it was a little disturbing and made the whole pie taste like a cold and incredibly sugary peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Of course, this didn't stop me from pulling the pie out of the freezer a second night (although I'm not proud to admit it.) The verdict? I'd like to make this again, substituting chocolate pudding or sauce for the strawberry preserves.
It's sort of my goal to try out all of my Jell-O recipes. Well, all the decent-sounding ones. There are few Jell-O salads involving ham, mayonnaise, and - brace yourself - tongue. Needless to say, I won't be making those. But desserts are fair game. So be sure to check back for more experiments!

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 21 Bonus

I finished today's make and tell challenge so early that I was inspired to take on something else. This tote had been hanging around my craft room for about a year, just waiting to be dealt with. When I made it, I intended for it to be part of my now-erstwhile Funky Fruits tote line (yes, you read that correctly. Last fall I thought the Funky Fruits moniker was the height of coolness. I don't mind if you're laughing. Heck, I'm laughing.) Tonight I got the urge to jazz up the blah pear by outlining it, then surrounding it with checks, hearts, stars, music notes, etc. in exciting colors. It's still a little streaky in this picture because it's not dry yet, but I'll smooth out the kinks tomorrow. Overall, I'm pleased with the offbeat, messy, and almost child-like vibe of this design. It was kind of nice to let loose after meticulously working on the Beach Day tote.

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 21

Here's the outlined edition of the Beach Day tote. The bf is a fan of this one. Lately I've been very critical of my finished products and usually end up touching them up even after they're "done." We'll see how I feel about this one tomorrow.

So what's next? Undersea scenes, beach scenes, frozen desserts, frozen drinks, flip flops, oversized fruits, and maybe, just maybe, a very large octopus. I'm really running with my summer theme here. Although it's true that I'm preparing for next season, I'm also just naturally drawn to bright, summery designs. So you probably won't be seeing any snowmen from me. Nevertheless, I'm toying with paintng a couple of splashy Christmas collages.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 20

The Beach Day Tote has a nice shiny new second coat today (well, not really shiny, but you know what I mean). Today was busy in terms of other Tote Trove pursuits. I ordered blank canvas wine bags to paint for the Renault Winery show I'm doing on Oct 4. I also compiled a list of South Jersey craft shows I'd like to consider for 2010. It includes a whopping 30 events, some of which are held on the same day. Although it's challenging, I'd really like to increase my exposure next year.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge Day 19

Today I drew and painted the first coat of the Beach Day Tote. I had sketched it first, which I do 90% of the time, and it helped immensely. I like the crispness of the colors in this one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge Day 18

I stopped by Michael's tonight and picked up some exciting new charms and beads. I was especially struck by this ornate fringed pendant and incorporated it into a striple-stranded necklace. A departure from my usual gumball-bright style, it creates a dramatic effect that will be perfect against a plain white tee or sweater.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge Day 17

I almost didn't make it this time. But I outlined the Fruit Shower Tote. Now to tackle some dishes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Bangle Collection

This is my bangle collection. I really like it. As in, sometimes I lift the top of the hat box and just stare. I also sometimes think about making a print out of this photo to frame and hang on one of my walls. Just one of my many pipe dreams.

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

This one's a personal favorite.

"The memories of my family outings are still a source of strength to me. I remember we'd all pile into the car - I forget what kind it was - and drive and drive. I'm not sure where we'd go, but I think there were some trees there. The smell of something was strong in the air as we played whatever sport we played. I remember a bigger, older guy we called "Dad." We'd eat some stuff, or not, and then I think we went home.

I guess some things never leave you."

Make and Tell Challenge Day 16

I can't believe I've been doing a this Make and Tell Challenge for sixteen days already! I also can't believe I've spent most of that time painting the same three totes! Tonight I hunkered down and painted the entire second coat of the Fruit Shower Tote. That means outlining tomorrow, and then the finished product. What, no rhinestones? Yep, that's right. I'm taking a break from the sparklies to accommodate those customers who crave a simpler look. But that doesn't mean that I'm forsaking rhinestones entirely; it's all about creating options.

I've noticed that several of the other Make and Tellers strive to create something different each day. I sort of envy them that; the element of surprise is definitely on their side. Nevertheless, the Challenge has been a great motivator for me in terms of churning out totes, especially because I'm working on creating a summer-themed line to market to local shops. What's more, seeing everyone else's creations has inspired me to think of other (non tote-related) things that I'd like to make, including but not limited to:

Repainting and rhinestoning (yes, I told you it would be back) an old sun mirror that came with our rental (Our landlord said we could have it. Although he may cringe if he knew about the rhinestones. . .)

Painting big cartoon jewels and pearls on my trusty old Gap denim jacket.

Painting a pair of my old jeans.

Making a Faux Show necklace to match the blue leopard dress I bought the other day.

Making some bright, jungly paintings to hang in the living room and some kooky fruit ones for the kitchen.

Finally finishing my decoupaged candy box. And perhaps creating another from old magazines.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One Day Sale Spree

I did something bad last Saturday. After putting in a few hours with the Fruit Shower tote, I felt like going shopping. To be fair, I did need to go to Wal-Mart for paper towels, shaving gel, and other boring essentials, but that wasn't the kind of shopping I had in mind. I had an Annie Sez coupon, and Macy's was having one of their famous one day sales (of course, I had Macy's coupons too. Every good cardholder does.) Now, I'm not an Annie Sez regular. I'd popped in for the first time in years a few weeks ago and ended up spending enough to qualify for a coupon. This time I was surprised to find two dresses and a funky tee. When I got to the register, the sales associate complimented me on my necklace (I was wearing my pizza eraser creation), and I told her I made it, as well as my tote. She asked me if I was a fashion designer, and I said, well no, and told her about my day job, adding that I made and sold accessories on the side. Then I gave her my card. It was very unlike me; I'm usually shy about that sort of thing. But I thought, I bothered to get the things printed, so why not? Besides, I need to become more assertive if I want to grow my business.

So, on to Macy's. This was where I struck gold. Racks of gorgeous, colorful clothes greeted me in the junior's department. I greedily snatched up three fabulous dresses and headed to the fitting room. I ended up taking them all, plus two long-sleeved tees (white and black) so I could wear the dresses (and others) over them to work. Bolstered by my bargain-hunting high, I dashed off to shoes. As always, I went straight to the clearance racks. They were pretty bare, and at first I was dismayed. But a closer look confirmed that they were still there: size 7.5 white Betseyville pumps decked out with a red patent heel and little red hearts. And they were 70% off, marked down from $100. Needless to say, I made them my own. I'm not usually big on designer labels, but I LOVE the extreme flashy kitsch of Ms. Johnson.

Okay, so here's my take: the pictures, the stores, the prices. It's this sad little obssession, I sometimes think, that prevents me from living a true artist's life. I did go to Wal-Mart, in case you're wondering. I spent just a little less there than I did at Macy's, which I found slightly depressing. But I did pick up five boxes of movie-size candy for my decoupage project. I chose them based on color, not flavor, as evidenced by the Good n' Plenty, which I loathe (but such awesome packaging!).
Tee: Annie Sez ($12)
Long brown/multi dress: Annie Sez/La Belle ($30)
Light floral dress: Annie Sez ($6)
Black/blue/purple dress: Macy's/kensie girl ($19)
Orange dress: Macy's/City Trianges ($14)
Leopard dress: Macy's/XOXO ($17 - this one is my favorite, as well as the bf's.)
Shoes: Macy's/Betseyville ($30)