Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Grass is Growing

I wish it were the grass outside that was sprouting but I can be satisfied with a little of it right here in our kitchen. Em has been a busy bee lately. All my Brownie posting got her inspired to write a book about the Brownies and she has checked to see if I have posted it here ever since the here are a couple of pages. :-)

Yesterday on Dr. Phil they had a show about packrats--one of the fellows had 54 coats, hundreds of hats and a couple of sinks stacked in his backyard--just in case he might need them. I can't claim to have identified with him much :-) but certainly I need to go through my basement with an eye to eliminating some clutter--I can safely say that there are lots of things that can go. All of our cold gray days recently should be excellent inspiration to head downstairs and know that I'm not missing the sun. It would be nice to welcome the sun back, come spring knowing that I've cleared out some clutter. How many bags of stuff can I toss?? Anybody willing to join me in the clutter toss? :-) Check out Organized for some inspiration--see you there. ;-)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Campfire Girls & Bluebirds

Such pleasant memories of being a Bluebird and Campfire Girl. I didn't stay in it long enough to go to camp or anything but I loved all the crafts we would do at the meetings. I save all kinds of stuff, a regular pack rat extraordinare, so it will be no big surprise to find that I have all of the Campfire beads that I earned as well as my Bluebird pin and a Bluebird bracelet. The round blue thingy in the picture is for cinching up the neck scarf of the Campfire girl's uniform and the little silver charm is the trail seeker charm that is for the first level of Campfire Girls. The handbook is a used book find--I don't know what happened to mine.
The Bluebird Wish
To have fun.
To learn to make beautiful things.
To remember to finish what I begin.
To want to keep my temper most of the time.
To go to interesting places.
To know about trees and flowers and birds.
To make friends.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Brownies and Scones--only one being food

Here is an ice cream mold featuring a brownie character. I haven't been molding any ice cream but I did try black Fimo clay on just the face part. The result is kinda buggy-eyed, huh?
At Christmas, my daughter got a scrapbook sort of a book based on The Spiderwick Chronicles books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. The scrapbook is said to be put together by a character in the book that is a brownie named Thimbletack. The book is a lot of fun, with little flaps and letters to open. I have always loved lift-the-flap books anyway. :-) A movie based on the books is supposed to be coming out soon.

I made a small cloth bag several years ago that was redworked with a Brownie. I took one of Palmer Cox's illustrations and enlarged it. After enlarging I used a light box to trace it onto the cloth using a pen with water dissolving ink. This is the pattern that I used if you want to use it. The Palmer Cox images are copyright-free I'm pretty sure. :-) Let me know if you can't save the image and I'll try to figure out a different way of posting it.

On another note, I tried my new recipe for the week and this one turned out a whole lot better than last weeks chicken fiasco. This morning I made Cherry-Almond Scones. It uses dried tart cherries from the Cherry Republic in Michigan. We love eating these cherries, which two very thoughtful people have given us, right out of the bag but cooking with them is great too. The scones just were so yummy. :-)
I started with a recipe from Martha Stewart but I couldn't resist meddling with it. I made the scones a bit lighter by using skim milk instead of cream and I like almonds with cherries, this time I just added the flavoring but next time I'll add sliced almonds too. Here is the picture of the scones and the recipe I used follows.

Cherry-Almond Scones
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons salted butter-cut into pieces
1/2 cup dried tart cherries-chopped slightly
1/4 cup sliced almonds-optional
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 egg
5-6 Tablespoons skim milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, baking powder and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Add chopped cherries and sliced almonds, toss slightly.
Beat together egg and milk seperately and add almond flavoring and lemon zest.
Stir together the liquid and flour mixtures until it just comes together. If it is way too dry a little more milk can be added.
On a lightly floured surface pat the dough into a circle 6 inches round and an inch thick.
Cut into 8 wedge-shaped pieces and place onto prepared baking sheet.
Brush with a little milk and sprinkle the top with a bit of demerara sugar.
Bake for 13-14 minutes until golden brown.
Serve while warm.

Jackie--thanks again--I enjoy hearing from you! :-) My daughter is a Brownie right now--a part of the Girl "Scouts" here in the states. I never was one--Girl Scout or Brownie that is--I was in the Camp Fire Girls when I was young which had a Bluebird group for the little girls. More on this next time...... :-) Take Care!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Brownies galore

I know you are all thinking of the chocolatey, yummy dessert but I am thinking of the little sprites made so popular long ago by Palmer Cox. I found pictures on the web showing the bowling game with Brownie "pins" to knock down--very cool.

Palmer Cox was best known for his books detailing Brownie adventures. Dover reprinted at least two of his books in the 60's.
Here are two timely quotes featuring Palmer Cox Brownies.......

I've got to remember this when the roads are crunchy with snow because it is only 2 degrees outside. :-)

How is everyone's week going? I'm glad it is almost Friday--as always. :-) I forgot to tell you all what new recipe I made last week. It was a cheesy chicken noodle, a recipe that I sort of made up because I didn't have all the ingredients for any recipe. It didn't start out very well--the chicken that I was going to cut up didn't smell right so I tossed it. My Mom assured me that canned chicken wouldn't be noticeable in the casserole--wrongo--sorry Mom. It was edible and that is being kind. Yuck! I have a couple of days to come up with a new recipe to try this week--not tonight tho--it is leftover spaghetti because of a late school meeting.

Thanks Jackie for being so very kind. Yes, I am thinking about selling a few things here or on Etsy. It will no doubt take me some time to get things together tho.....thanks again :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Warm Inside

I painted these two little dolls over the very cold weekend that we just had. It was much more fun than freezing my tootsies outdoors. Now, we have very pretty snow again but the subzero cold is still around and I wish I could take my dollies and fly to Florida for some warm weather. :-)
I want to thank Nicola and Jackie for leaving me really nice comments. It sure is a funny thing-sharing what I make and all here. I never know what to say about my own stuff and it feels so weird to say that I like what I make or have--how do I avoid sounding braggy while still sharing my excitement???? Anyways........
I hope you all have a great week, I'll post again once or twice before its over. :-)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some of my favorite things.....

I photographed a Navajo doll this morning on a solid background and then photoshoped the background away. I did the same to two little doll dresses below. A couple of days ago I laborously erased away the whole background from another picture by rubbing around with the mouse. I knew there had to be an easier way, so I dragged out my manual that had gathered considerable dust and lo and behold there is at least one easier way--the "magic" eraser. It erases similar colored pixels in one click. That took care of my backgrounds in no time. Meg has promised to show me what she does with Photoshop this afternoon. She is in two different computer design classes at the moment--good news for me! I can tell that I will not ever be a whiz at this but so far so good.

Perfect doll dresses--rickrack-always a favorite of mine and dots--I can't get enough of these.

Another favorite thing now--hearing from you! :-) Thank you so much Delphine and Sweet P for commenting.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Balancing Act

How do you balance the things that have to get done and the need to create? I am always tipping the scale too far one way or another. My day is all broken into tiny bits of time which works against my natural tendency to dive in and immerse myself in a project-work or creative time. I'll have to think about this.......

"You will never find the time for anything. If you want the time, you must make it." Charles Buxton

"Take heed: you do not find what you do not seek." English Proverb

On another note--I have been on two walks in two days. Today is really cold--eeek, but I will, I'll get out there.

UPDATE--Oooo baby was it cold outside but the sky was blue and it was much better than walking at the gym! :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Winter blahs........

Here is a corner of cheeriness in my house--all pink, red and blue. :-) My husband wanted to know what I was doing with all the cupcakes all over everything. Just one of those things, I guess. :-)
Anyway, it is always about this time of the year that I start feeling the length of winter. Spring is not near enough and the days are cold and dark. Whatever I can do to be cheery is a good thing. I am bound and determined not to let the typical lethergy of winter settle in this year. One of the ways I am going to combat this is to learn something new. I am going to work on learning Photoshop--with the help of Meg and a manual for right now. I am also going to go for a walk each day, so if you see me strolling around the block, listening to my favorite tunes, give me a wave . :-) I also want to try one new recipe per week. My family and I are not very good about trying new foods so we'll see how that goes. This is my plan--I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Old stuff and Playing

I just opened a treasure trove :-) of stuff from the art room in my last home. I had forgotten about this little mixed media picture I did in 2004. It makes me happy and reminds me of kindergarten. Playing with clay and wooden blocks, singing simple songs together while my teacher Mrs. Richart played the piano. :-) I love the old all-cotton rick-rack that I used on this, it really zig-zags.
Following this whole play theme, I fooled around on Photoshop yesterday--we only have Photoshop Elements but I thought what the hey, I'm only playing. Anyway, I made this little chicky--I know, a bit wonky-all pixellated like early computer graphics, BUT it was fun!
By the way, I want to thank Sweet P and Delphine for leaving comments here on my blog. Delphine--go figure-shared kokeshi love! :-)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Beautiful Blog!

I was bumping around today looking at images and blogs and found this beaut-i-ful blog! I am blown away by the artwork. All done by Delphine Doreau or Del4yo at Non dairy Diary. I am so far behind the power curve when it comes to what can be done on the computer now. Delphine tells me that almost all of her work is done on the computer. It sure looks like old-fashioned watercolor to me, how cool is that! :-) I love how she adds the viney things and flowers onto the top of the sketchbook above. You have got to check out her blog for tutorials and freebies, too.

Please know that all of the images in this post are the property of Delphine Doreau...please contact her for more information. :-)

Kokeshi again :-)

Emily and I have been doodling on the whiteboard in our kitchen. The Kokeshi family are now having fun watching us put away the last of our holiday decorations and enjoying the fresh breeze from a few open windows. We are in the midst of a January thaw that feels so good. :-)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Birthday box

Emily and I made up this stationary box for her friend Isabella's birthday. This most excellent idea came from Amy at Angry Chicken (12/11/07). She is always coming up with the most clever idea's.

We painted a box from the craft store red and used a rub-on of Hello Kitty to decorate the top. For the inside we cut a piece of cardboard to fit in the lid and then I cut a piece of fabric an inch and a half larger all round to glue onto the cardboard. I roughly sized up the items I wanted to make pockets for and cut little pieces of fabric a little larger than the items and ironed the pockets seams down before sewing them onto the background fabric. Then we fired up the glue gun and glued the edges of the fabric to the back of the cardboard, one side at a time, making sure the fabric stayed taut and smooth on the right side. After this I put a daub of hot glue in each of the lids four corners and fit in our fabric-covered cardboard. Waa-Laa! :-)
We filled this box with a bit of ribbon and stuff to make valentines as well as a couple of little blank booklets that we stapled together.

Friday, January 4, 2008

More Russian Dolls

I get such a kick out of Russian Matryoshkas. I've only posted a *few* times about them. :-)

These little beauties are toys from Japan called Unazukin by Bandai. Santa found these for sale on and they arrived in record time. They nod or shake their heads to any question that you ask them. That is thanks to a little battery that was already in each doll. The set that we got are all named for flowers, the ones above are Rose, Dandelion, Hydrangea, and Poppy. Check out this flickr group, here, to see lots of Unazukins. (cupcake background is a dishtowel from Target)

My Little Matryoshkas, a book by Tanya Roitman is way too cute. Each page is card-covered foam with a punch-out doll in descending size. It is all about a different Russian/Eastern European food for each day of the week. Thursday's doll has a basket of apples in her arms for apple dumplings. :-) Yum!
This is the last page and you can see Sunday's doll is popped out of her page. I love all the patterns that decorate the entire book.
You would think that since I'm playing that I'm done putting away all the Christmas decorations and have the house cleaned, laundry done, etc. Well, it just ain't so--I have a dining table covered with decorations and I need to vacumn all the stray needles--even the fake trees shed! (I do have my laundry all caught up and Em and I saw the movie Enchanted on Wednesday--really charming.) No worries!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A New Calendar

I'm posting again, but with barely enough energy to tie my shoe. We just got back from a trip to see family-all good. We came back thru a snowstorm tho that made the trip last forever and we had to shovel out the drive before we could pull up to the house. I am just getting over a heck of a cold which didn't make me a very popular house guest. I apologize right now for keeping everyone up with my coughing. I checked out some of my favorite blogs a couple of times near Christmas and I was amazed that lots of them had time to post. Kudos!!

The calendar page above is done by the poet and artist Gwen Frostic of Michigan. She died in 2001 but her block prints are still available at her studio in Benzonia, Michigan or on her website--here. I love the simplicity of her work.