Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Do Yourself a Favor: Add This To Your Contacts

I hate paying for directory assistance. But, as we are all living "on the go", it's hard to have every phone number handy. It's also convenient to make appointments and make a few short calls as you are waiting for the kids at dance class/soccer/swim/hockey etc.

I had been using 1-800-FREE411. This service is toll free, but has become so cumbersome with ads, that I really dislike using it.

A friend told me about something new, and I just have to share here: Google has introduced a free voice activated directory assistance. It's well worth the addition to your contact list.
1-800-GOOG411. The voice recognition is great, so you don't get Bonnie's Bar when you wanted Johnny's Car.

Check out the How To Video Here:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oh, Yes, A Sweet House, Indeed

We were able to schedule in a Sweet get together with the "Sisters" last week. We met at The Sweet House Bakery. As you enter, to the right, is the bakery. The counters just ooze with deliciousness. Cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon buns, goodness in all things baked. They have recently won the Best Bakery award from Pittsburgh Magazine!

Ah, but to the left, is this incredibly inviting living room. Leather couches and a high meeting table. A perfect place to share stories, laugh, and catch up. Check out this little guy making himself at home while we sneak in a little "Mom Time". And. Yes, those are cakes on the wall.

I loved this side table. When I took a second look, I realized that the legs are full of sprinkles and jimmies and all things fun.

And here's a self portrait in front of the hearth. Do you see how we are all revived and energized after a fun morning full of laughs and stories?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Psst...Check Out My Guest Post

Beckie over at Infarrantly Creative asked me to do a Guest Post. Check it out HERE.
Some Gold Leafed Pears would be just the thing to add some shimmer to your fall table.

I Found A Treasure Trove

Doesn't this just pull you in. I know what you are thinking: What IS all of that? It's dressers, and tables, and a very scary old clown (?).

I have been driving by this Barn Full of Treasure for years. Something about the furniture out front and the half off sign got me to stop this time. Let me just say, I had no idea. Just look at all of this beautiful stuff!

I have been keeping a close eye on all of you out there that can find a dirty old chair and reform it into an amazing centerpiece for a room. I kept thinking of all of you as I roamed the tiny stacked paths that wind through this place.

I came across this crib with a beam of sunlight coming through the window. It stopped me dead in my tracks. The crib's mattress is hand sewed out of flour sacks. So sweet.

And, just look at these baskets that I found in the basement. They were all alike, and had a hinged lid and a rubber strap. They must be picking baskets of some sort.
There was literally too much to take in all at once. I saw so much potential in so many things, I was overwhelmed. If you need something special, like a chair, or a dining set, or a dresser, or a table, AND, you live near or are travelling to South Western Pennsylvania, email me, and I'll give you the exact location. The possibilities are endless at this place.

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Ring Rocks...Literally.

I don't often get "stories" about my customers. But, I got this one recently, and I thought I'd share.
I sell my items at a local shop that specializes in handmade goods. The shop has quite a loyal following, and gets many special requests. There was a lady who had requested the above ring in a size 10. Well, I don't usually do a 10. (Whole sizes, 6-9 is what I carry). I had to decline.

Then I got a call from the shop saying that the lady was begging. This woman has a form of arthritis that has caused her knuckles to become larger, hence the need for a larger size. This woman also is the lead singer for a local band. The band is pretty big locally, and opens for some big bands that tour nationally. She wants to wear my ring onstage! She just thought it would be the perfect compliment wrapped around the microphone.

I told my hubby about the request, and he made it happen. The ring is now a perfect size 10, and is ready to rock!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Terrarium Tutorial

I was inspired by the great glass jar that I found at a yard sale for $1. Last year at about this time, some friends and I collected ferns and moss from the local woods, and made terrariums.

Another friend has always admired mine, and it's still going strong over a year later.

Here's what you'll need: A glass jar with a glass lid. Taller is better than wider.
Some small gravel.
Some Potting soil.
Small ferns and moss and any other kind of petite forest find.

Look at this cute little rock I found with the little bits of moss growing on it!

So, here's what you do: Put some gravel in the bottom of the glass jar. Then, layer potting soil (a cup or two is all you need). You can just use regular forest dirt, but you take the risk of watching worms and other bugs toil away in there until they are no longer part of this world.

Then, begin your planting. Remember, you need small plants so that the terrarium is in proportion.

Tuck the moss in at the base of the fern, then any other forest goodies that you may have found.

Spray liberally with water. This serves two purposes: 1.) to water the plants, and 2.)to wash the dirt from the plants and the sides of the container.

Take a dry paper towel and wipe the inside of the container just to make sure it is sparkly clean.

And, this little bit of forest floor will be just what you need come January. If you keep this little ecosystem on your kitchen table, like I do, then you can be constantly reminded of the lush, green summer. And, be sure to take the lid off smells just like the woods too.

Here are the Care and Keeping Instructions:

Place your terrarium in indirect light; direct light will cause too much heat to build up.
-Most terrariums won't need watering for 4-6 months. You'll know it's time when the plants look wilted, or the water stops condensing on the sides of the container.
-When you are ready to water, mist the sides of the terrarium, with water, rather than the leaves.

-If the sides of the terrarium are always fogged, or large droplets of water form on the top, there is too much moisture trapped inside. Remove the lid for a day or two to dehumidify.
I made a few of these as Christmas Gifts last year, and they were a favorite. You may want to get some started right now for a few special people on your list!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm Thinking About Keeping Bees

I've been reading this book by Sue Hubbell, and I'm feeling so inspired. Sue describes being a beekeeper in such a romantic, yet rural way, that you really can't help thinking about it yourself.

Bees have been a source of fascination for thousands of years. In every culture, they have been viewed with respect and honor. And, even though bees have been studied for so many years, there are still so many questions yet to be answered.

Sue describes how a bee sees flowers. For example, nearly all early spring flowers are white. To a bee's eye, white glows an iridescent blue. She also explains that bees never pollinate red flowers, they are always pollinated by hummingbirds, or butterflies of something else.
The pollination work of Bees is often undervalued. Lest we forget that nearly every fruit and vegetable that we eat was once pollinated by a bee in order to grow.
Sue describes how to join two hives. I think the method that she uses is a model for joining rival groups of all kinds: First, the beekeeper disposes the queen of the weaker group (I'm not sure this the part I'd like to emphasise in my metaphor.) Then, the beekeeper places the weaker hive on top of the strong hive with a sheet of newspaper in between the boxes in which they live. All bees HATE any kind of foreign matter/dirt in their hives. So, both hives will work at removing the newspaper, the weak group will work from the top, the strong group will work from the bottom. By the time the groups meet, they have become united through their work towards a common goal. Isn't this a beautiful metaphor for how many different groups could set aside hate and become partners?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fabulous Flower Belt Tutorial

I made some flowers out of boiled wool, a bit of thread and some buttons. See my post yesterday for the tutorial. These flowers are sweet on their own, but something struck me, and I just had to give in.

I found this nice thick brown leather belt in my closet. Pretty plain and utilitarian.

Then, I sewed one of my boiled wool flowers to the buckle.

Take a look at this belt!

I love a side-slung belt, and this little flower at the hip was just the thing to make this belt something special. I absolutely adore it!

Boiled Wool Flowers Tutorial

So, If you all boiled a wool sweater yesterday, then you are ready for today. Here are the things that you'll need: A nice pair of scissors, pinking shears if you have them, some pins, paper, various buttons, and colored threads.

My sweater shrunk up very nicely. I drew several flower shapes onto paper. Then, I pinned the paper to the wool, and cut them out. Sometimes I just eyeballed a circle and cut a few of various sizes. Sometimes I used the pinking scissors, sometimes not. I was working with a friend who had some great ideas, and a great eye for color. So, we came up with some pretty sweet flowers:

I liked the layered look and the monotone wool. The added color of the thread and the buttons was just what this little adornment needed. If you cut 3 shapes and sew a button to the center, be sure to pull your thread tightly so that pedals will flare a little, and the center will be indented slightly.

On some, we sewed a pin to the back, so that they could be easily attached to a hat, or a sweater.

Stop back tomorrow to see what I did with mine! It's fabulous!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm Adding 3 Things To Your List Today

I've got this awesome project to reveal tomorrow. But, If you'd like to do it with me, there is a small bit of prep work.

I have 3 easy things to add to your list today:

1.) Find a wool sweater that you don't care about. Your closet, your husband's closet, Goodwill. We're not picky. It can be pilling, or worn. Doesn't matter. It can be lambswool, regular wool, etc. The color/pattern should please you.

2.) Toss your sweater into a pot with lots of water. Boil it. For awhile. 10 mins. maybe. If you boil it longer, nothing bad will happen.

3.) Dump it out of your pot, and dry it. You should end up with a very shrunken version of the original.

4.) (I know I said 3!) Meet me back here tomorrow!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Easy Basil Labor for Labor Day, You'll be Glad All Winter

I followed Marzipan's Recipe for Pistou: Basically Basil, Garlic and Olive Oil blended in a food processor. (It's a little lighter that regular pesto, because you omit the nuts and cheese). The smell in the kitchen as I was making this acted as a lure for the whole family. "What are you making?, Smells Good". I made a big batch, and put the pesto-like paste into mini-muffin cups, then I put them in the freezer.

Once, frozen, I ran the underside of the cups in hot water for a few seconds to release them from their molds, then laid them flat and put them back in the freezer. Now I have individual sized Pesto (er, pistou) to drop into pastas and soups all winter long.

Friday, September 4, 2009

2 Things You Can Do With an Empty Tissue Box Plus a Surprise!

I always use an empty tissue box to store all of those plastic bags from the grocery store. I keep one under the sink in the kitchen, and one near the cat's litter box. I just pull them out as needed. It's an extremely convenient way to conquer the plastic bag jumble, and an easy access way to re-use them.
My girlfriend always keeps one in her car. She uses it as a trash can. All of the bits of wrapper and straw paper pushes nicely through the plastic hole at the top, but won't come out easily. Once the trash receptacle is full, it can be disposed of. It's an ingenious way to re-use and re-purpose.
And, now for the surprise:
Did you know that you can design your own Tissue Box? The Beautiful people over at Kleenex let you Design your own. How fun! Now, you have a new gift idea for the person on your list that has everything! (for a mere $4.99).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Did You Know That You Can Make Your Own Shoes?

No, of course I don't mean from scratch...although some of you can probably do that too.

Check out these Joy Beadworks shoes that I made online. You can upload your own pictures, graphics, and text. They even have tons of fonts to choose from.

I especially liked the Women's Slip-On's. Now, I know the shoes I designed are a bit self-promoting (don'tcha think?) and I didn't actually order them. But, it was fun to play.
How about for the kids? They have 2 styles of keds, slip-ons and lace-ups. I can just imagine my little guy with his favorite Lego guys all over his shoes (pictures courtesy of Mom). How about some cupcakes for my little girl? Don't forget you can add text, too. How about song lyrics for your teenager? The possibilities are endless. Check out the site HERE. Have a great time. If you "make" something fun, be sure to send me a link!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Wonder Why Wednesday: Why Does The Air at The Post Office Suck The Life Out of Me?

There are very few errands that I dislike more than the Post Office run. Our post office is always busy, there is always a line, a long line.

I know what you are thinking, why doesn't she just buy one of those scales and print postage from home? Well, I have one, and I've tried it, but for whatever reason, stuff gets returned. There seems to be some mythical definition of parcel and package and letter that eludes me. Due to thickness, or size, or weight, or color (ha) I don't classify it right, and it comes back.

So, off to the Post Office I go. The place is "government green" and "make my eyes glaze over" blue. I wait in the long line, and when I finally get to the counter, I say: "Nothing liquid, perishable, fragile or potentially hazardous. 1st Class, Please". And the guy who apparently hates me behind the counter responds with: "Is there anything liquid, perishable, fragile or potentially hazardous?" AND, he waits for a response! (Did I also mention how s.l.o.w.l.y he says this?) I say "No" (Very annoyed, but I know what's coming). "And how would you like to ship today? We have Next Day for $24, Priority for $10, First Class or $3, Parcel Post for $2". He, again, waits for an answer. I re-state "First Class" . Then he starts to offer me "Shipping Products". I sigh and say "No, that's all please". THEN he asks if I'd like to buy some stamps. ARGH! NO! I just want to get out of here! NO! It's like this every time.

I always leave annoyed. I'm sure Mr. Post Office gets his kicks from people like me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

For The Love of Woot: There Has Been a Birth

Those of you out there who know me, know how much I love Woot. For further explanation, click HERE.

Woot is a one day, one deal web site that is constantly starred as one of my favorites. The items that Woot sells are posted at midnight, and once the item is sold out, you have to wait for the next day to check the Woot again. There are usually some incredible deals on some incredible stuff. Mostly electronic in nature, but not always.

If you are anything like me, I start my holiday shopping right around now so that I can spread out the expense over 4 months. Woot is a great place to start.

The Woot family has grown. It used to be just Woot, Now there is sellout.woot, wine.woot, shirt.woot and their LATEST EDITION (born August 18th): kids.woot! Go check it out...I'm sure you'll find some incredible deal on the best Christmas gift ever (maybe)...better check at midnight!