Friday, December 30, 2011

A Tale of Sourdough

Hello! Before I went to Las Vegas for our Christmas family trip, I used this book to try out a sourdough starter recipe. I coddled this starter for several (eight!!!!) days, following the directions as best I could. The starter bubbled and smelled very sour - I was hopeful!

Finally the day came to make the dough. The directions said to take it out of the refrigerator (where it was in a "firm dough" stage), break it up into six pieces (no more or less :)  ) and mix it up with the dough ingredients.


After a rise, a rest in the garage overnight and another rise the next day, they looked like the above picture.


And then I baked them. They looked beautiful!


I only cut myself three times with the bread knife as it slipped over the hard crust. It looked pretty in the middle. Rather heavy, like it didn't really rise that much. And, bummer, not really sour! :(

Still, it made a wonderful soup bowl. And I'll just have to try, try again...


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Desk


Really? It's been more than two weeks?

It feels like a hundred years since I've had any time to myself. I don't mean that I haven't had alone-time; I've just not had any days without commitments - family in hospitals, family dying (Brian's grandpa - very expected), funerals, finals, grading, last-minute Etsy orders, lots of visits to the post office, making presents for family members, work potlucks (being at three different branches means three potlucks to participate in) and family vacation.



This year, Brian and I took the kids to Las Vegas for Christmas. Instead of presents, we do family trips or outings. We only have the kids for every other weekend and there is never enough time to play with their presents so we decided to start giving memories instead of things. Two years ago we did Disneyland. Last year, we went ice-skating with hot chocolate afterwards. This year we went to Vegas to watch the Condors lose to the Wranglers. It was FUN! The Vegas crowd is so different from the Bakersfield crowd. Ours is funner. Theirs is funnier.

While in Vegas, I got to see the Bodies and the Titanic exhibitions at the Luxor. WOO HOO! I spent nearly all of Saturday after the exhibits babysitting Kiff who got the stomach flu. I thought it would be fun in the hotel room all by myself, but - well, Las Vegas smells bad. I was pretty bothered by the cigarette smoke that was EVERYWHERE and in everything. Bleh.

Tomorrow night we have Brian's family Christmas and I have to make a million cookies for Brian's dad, whose name I drew this year. He's the kind of guy that you can't buy anything for because he already has it. In fact, he has a nicer one than you knew existed. He likes my chocolate chip cookies, so I'm making him a ton to keep in his freezer. Money cannot buy my cookies because there aren't any like them in the stores. ha ha.

Because we've been so busy with everything, we forgot to buy a tree. My house is a bit forlorn-looking. I think that I need to put up twinkle lights. That will make it feel Christmas-y in my house.

Here's hoping you are all well this season!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kusudama Flower Ball


I learned how to make these flowers after seeing the eight billion tutorials (here's the BEST one) put out last year but was reminded about them when I saw a fellow Etsian featured in People magazine for her kusudama flower ornaments. Part of me hates when something becomes popular because I worry the value of the object lessens. Here is a lesson for me: do what you find beautiful. Again and again, if you want.

Here's how my desk looks after working this weekend. I don't even have the finished products on it!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Pine Tree Folded Book Pattern

My favorite thing about this month's free pattern is its versatility. Pine trees are appropriate for so many themes and times of the year. If you want, apply star charms to the tops of these trees for Christmas decorations! Ink the top part of the tree green and the trunks brown. Leave it naked for a subtle look. (That's me... subtle.)

Click on the below image to make it big and print out the pattern for yourself! I'd love to hear from people who've tried it and see their results!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kern Canyon in the Fall


It's been very gray here in Bako for the past several days. We didn't let that get us down this weekend as we decided to go to the river together as a family and shoot things with beebee guns. Actually, the boys shot things. I looked for rocks. Did I spell beebee right?

The river was really low and quiet. It wasn't that rushing torrential flood that we had most of the summer and was a welcome sight. I always get worried about losing my kids to the waters. This time the rocks were so far out of the water that we could nearly walk across in some spots. Still, with it cloudy, you never know if a sudden rain is going to change everything and kill your entire family in the process. Yes, I think thoughts like that.


I found the neatest looking rocks. At first I thought it was a white-spotted red sock, but then I noticed that all the rocks had those polka dots on them. The granite is just really weird in this part of the river. I'll take pictures of the polka-dotted rocks and post them later... I'm such a tease!


With the water so low, I was able to walk further down along the river's edge and look at stuff. This is as far as I can go in this direction because the log blocks my way. I thought the hole in the rotting wood was pretty. There was also a spot where you can tell water eddied and piled up a bunch of wood. The wood is all worn into lovely rounded shapes. I think this particular piece sums up how I felt...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flower Brooches



Using the same shapes I wrote about in yesterday's tutorial, you can also make these brooches.

I used about 21 circles for these brooches. Fold them all up into the single basic shape. I received an email from a friend today and she said it is called a preliminary base. I am taking her word for it because she is much more learned than I when it comes to origami. I don't know the words, I just fold. 


Holding one shape closed, put a bead of hot glue along one folded edge.


Put a second shape on top of the first one. Then glue the rest in the same manner. 


After you've glued as many together as you like - I did 21 for the pink buttoned one - glue the ends together to make a hemisphere. 

I have a badge maker that I bought last year to make badges for my Etsy shop (a goal for 2012?). Using that, I covered several badges with kraft paper and glued the hemisphere to the badge. Then I glued a button that matched the paper to cover the hole.

A word of caution: beware of putting pink or red buttons on old book paper brooches. They look a bit anatomical. I need to change the pink button on the left brooch. The paper is much lighter than in the picture and it looks, uh... youknow, nudge nudge, wink wink.

I wore the middle one to work today. It weathered getting snagged by my seat belt, hugged by my son and squashed by books. All in all, a sturdy piece of work, a definite keeper.

As long as I don't accidentally make any more basooma ones ...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Paper Ball Ornaments - Tutorial


I've been up to many lovely things lately. Since I figured out how to make these paper balls, I've been obsessive about trying all sizes and styles of circles. The other day at the library, I used their large balloon die-cut to make big circles. That's what I used to make that huge paper ball in the above picture. It's about 7 inches (18cm) across and would make a very nice pumpkin-like decoration for a Thanksgiving table or Halloween next year...

Here's how you make them:

Materials:

Paper (I used map paper from an old encyclopedia - it has a feel like glassine)
Circle punch (I made several different sizes of circles for different-sized balls)
String or ribbon to hang (if desired)
Hot glue and glue gun

Time:
about an hour or so for your first one. Less on all the subsequent ones.




The toughest part of this craft is the folding of the circles into the base shape. Once you get it down, it's soothing to make these while listening to a good book on CD in bed, eating chocolates and cuddling next to your sleeping husband. I'm listening to A Discovery of Witches and eating salted caramels from Costco. It's pure joy. (And the husband is nice, too. :)  )

You will need about 45-75 circles. The larger the ball, the more circles you'll need. I used 45 for the small ones and 75 for the huge one. If nothing else, make a number of circles that is a multiple of three. The ball itself uses three circles glued together to make a single half circle shape, the basic unit for the entire ball.


Here's how the circle is supposed to look all folded


Take two circles and put a blob of hot glue inside one edge of the bottommost circle. I am calling the one closest to my palm the bottom one. You can see how much glue I used in the below picture.



Do the same with a third circle onto the soon-to-be-middle circle. I put the glue on the same sides of each circle so they would all lay the same direction. You can see from the below picture that I tucked the circles in the same place both times. 

Ta da! One unit done. Have a chocolate.

Continue making segments. I just keep making them until I feel like I have enough or am just too impatient to make more. A word of caution here - the number of segments you use affects the end product. The more segments you have, the fuller your ball will be. The fewer segments you have, the more open your ball will look. Neither is wrong - they are just different.


 I then glued the segments together with a line of hot glue on the long edge which will be the middle when it opens up. I didn't worry about gluing down every single circle to the one next to it. It's not necessary to hold the shape, but you be the judge. Perhaps I'm just impatient.


When you've glued a stack together, let the stack of shapes relax open into your hand. If you are going to put a ribbon or string on your ornament, now is the time to do so. Blob a bit of glue on a length of ribbon and adhere it to the folded sides of the stack where it won't show when you glue the final shape together. To close it up, put a line of glue along the middle like you are adding another segment. Very carefully, place the open circle's halves together so they form a ball...


Ta da! You can see that I didn't use that many segments for this example. It has a much more open texture or pattern on it. I forgot to put the ribbon on this one, too. Pretend it's beautiful.


Here's a selection of ones I've made. You can use different types of circle punches for different effects (duh). I used a scalloped circle punch for the mid-sized balls. I think these would look beautiful on a tree, in a bowl or in a display. If you live in a non-snowing place like Bakersfield, you can also throw them at your loved ones.

Not that I've ever done that. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trading and Bartering


I am a big fan of bartering. There are times when handmade objects are worth more than money and they feel better when you trade for them. I am making this book for my friend, Julie, in return for the beautiful cake she made me last week for my son. I've learned how to make prettier letters (lower case) that wouldn't be hard to translate into a whole alphabet. Hmmm....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Paper Ball

 

Look what you can make with a bunch of paper circles while you watch three different Shakespearean plays! I've seen Phiona Richards at Rare Notions use these shapes to make jewelry. After the amount of time and effort it took me to make this ball, I'm leaving the rest of the making up to HER. I see why it's worth buying some things!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Free Pattern


Happy November to you all. Here is a tutorial for all you book folders out there for an acorn. I hope you enjoy making it. It was a lot of fun (and hard work) to put it together.

Hopefully this will get easier over time! I have to keep relearning things!

Friday, November 4, 2011

We Have a 14-year old in the Family


This past weekend, Brian's eldest son turned fourteen. I have been around this kid for nearly seven years and it's been an interesting time. We're still getting to know each other and sometimes don't know what to make of the other. He's sooooo into sports and I could be happier scratching out my eyes than listening to endless rehashes of past sporting events. Still, I wanted him to have a happy birthday. A friend of mine from the library traded me a book for her mom (oops - I need to finish that!!!!) in exchange for the cake. I definitely came out the winner...

 

Here's the birthday boy in all his silliness. He looks a lot like Brian when he was fourteen. Except for the eyes - he has his mother's eyes. (ooh, how Harry Potter!)


Here's the rest of the crew. Kenneth was keeping a steady eye on that cake. He wanted to eat one of the decorations very badly.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sneak Peek for November


Here's a little peek at what is in store for all you book folders in the next few days... I finished folding up the prototype this morning and it turned out better than I'd hoped! Now I just need to fuss the pattern up and it will be ready to post... (December's is in the works, too!)



Here's another sample of my crocheted stones. I am trying very hard to allow myself to use the types of rocks we have here in Bakersfield and not seek only for the smooth, flat river stones I've seen others use for this craft. The rocks here are rough and crystalline. They are also mostly browns in color. Isn't it hard to see how you slavishly copy others because that is "the right way to do something" and fail to do it either the way you have at hand or allow yourself to do it the way that is "you"?



With that thought I asked myself why I was copying crochet patterns at all - why I was insisting on doing uniform rows or rounds. I prefer asymmetrical and freeform sometimes. At least, I did last night... Here's my first foray into a more organic crocheted rock. The shape of the rock is more triangular and it is sooooo smooth. I love touching the back of it. I experimented with crocheting on top of other stitches, using long threads to connect (I guess you could call them really loose stitches) sections and mixing up the lengths of everything. I rather like how it turned out. I'm not sure the picture does it justice - it looks a little bulky, but it isn't at all...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Free Tutorial Coming!

Don't fret - I haven't forgotten doing a free pattern for folded books this month. I just haven't been able to finish it yet to take a picture to give to you. Puh-ray for the Heather... to get her act together.


In other news, I've been taking it easy in the evenings by working on crochet therapy. Here are a couple of lovelies that I've finished. The blue one is going off to a very sweet little girl who keeps taking her momma's rock for now...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November!

October went out of my life very quietly. I was not feeling well for a couple of days and slept as much as I could. Alas! No art was finished!

Still, the Eddys celebrated Halloween for the first time in their own neighborhood and we enjoyed watching the parade of trick-or-treaters all evening. Last year we weren't home for some reason and Kiff still didn't understand the concept of it all. The other two kids were a little old for trick-or-treating so we didn't encourage it for them - we'd had a church function where we let them gorge on candy.

This year Kiff DID understand all the hoopla. For the last week, he's been asking how many more days until Halloween. He's been learning the days of the week and it's been fun to watch him do the weekday song and add in his own bits. Anyway, here are the Eddys celebrating in the ways they do best:


Brian is so uncomfortable in front of the camera. He can't help striking a pose!
Brian has a fog machine and a ton of glycerine he got for free at work. He made his own fog juice and played with it all evening. We sat in the front yard eating pizza at a card table. He turned on the fog just as people would start walking up to our house. The kids would go to the front door and Brian would put on a deep voice and say, "Happy Halloween."  from the gloom. Scared some kids silly.

Balloon Boy! Everyone thought he was from Up. Oh well.
I took Kenneth out trick-or-treating. As we walked up to the first house, I quizzed him on what he was supposed to do: knock on the door, say "Trick or Treat!" when they answered, say "Thank you" and "Happy Halloween" as he walked away. I was a bit choked up as I watched him walk up by himself (he's not afraid of anything!!!) to the door and knock. My baby is growing up!

When the woman answered he launched into song: "Trick or Treat! Smell My Feet! Give me Something Good to Eat! If you don't, I don't care, I can see your underwear." I froze. He said 'underwear' to a complete stranger.

After a hard night of begging for candy. He's pooped.
We cut off all the balloons when we came back. Then we attached glow sticks to them and let them go into the night. We hope they scare people into thinking they see UFOs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Once Upon a Time There Was a King

 

Donations at the library are funny. When a new rabidly-awaited title comes out there are HUGE waiting lists for the very small number of copies we have in our system (we're poor - don't ask). After the requests have all been filled or canceled due to people buying their own copies, we start getting those best-sellers as donations. First they trickle in and are madly added to the collection to fill holds. Then a few more come in and we use them to replace the too-soon dead copies we have. Then we get in millions.

This happened with John Grisham's The King of Torts. A few years ago we began noticing that we were getting several copies of this book in donations.  Just when you thought you'd gotten rid of the three or five just put on the table, another dozen would show up. We were starting to send them to Goodwill and then my co-worker began piling them secretly in my office. I was out on the reference desk one day when I came back to my office to find a stack of seventeen of these babies teetering precariously in the middle of the floor.  I think we got up to over thirty before the floods eased...

Since that idyllic time, both that co-worker and I have been transferred to other branches and departments. Marcus (said co-worker) is now the bibliographic librarian for our system. I felt his office needed a little spiffing up. At the last big book sale by the Friends, they had a cart with books marked FREE! This little gem was there and I grabbed it quick and made a present for Marcus.

I quickly made this up for him as a reminder of those fun times before we grew up and had the responsibilities we each enjoy now.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Latest Work


Tonight I was able to get in touch with an old friend of mine from college. It was great to talk to him about art and find out what he's been up to. One of the things I remember most from my experience in art school was that something like 90% of all art school graduates never do anything with their art.

I like to think that art, while not a full-time vocation for me, is a way of life instead. Everything I do seems to be done through the filter of beauty, simplicity and truth (I hope). It's very close to my testimony of God, too, I guess. I'm lucky I have talents that make me so darn happy and can make others' happy,too.

Good to hear from you Paul and I can't wait to see your work soon!

Monday, October 24, 2011

It Depends on Your Perspective


I'm working on a few pieces for a company who is putting together an online boutique of sorts. They originally asked for three different patterns. I worked on them all last week and took quick and dirty pictures of them to send for their approval. Their responses were great. They liked the top of this one and the front of another one.

When I looked at the top of which they spoke, I saw their point. I guess it all depends on perspective!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Bedside


This is what it looks like right by my bed. I usually take over Brian's dresser because it's closest to my bed. He's good about it and never complains. I need to remember that when I see his socks out in the living room each night.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Changes


Heads up! I'm turning off comments on my blog!

It's been a growing sensation for a while now, but I'm feeling a little too exposed to the world with everything and need a bit more privacy. Blogging will continue, but if you need to talk to me, please email me. At least the whole world won't see what you have to say - just us two. It will be cozy, just you and me.

This is all the result of a lot of in-depth soul-searching and reflection. Hopefully, I will be able to focus more on ... I don't know, but I'm hoping it's good, whatever it is...