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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brick Stitch Earrings

I finished my how to make basic brick stitch earrings e-book! Lots of fun. I got the coding done easily enough including a clickable TOC which my bread book doesn't have (I need to fix that now that I know how!). I made mistakes uploading it though and had to correct those, which delayed my announcement. But it's all up and live now and I've bought a copy myself so I could see exactly how my graphics looked on my Kindle. They are very clear, and the patterns take up the full screen of my Kindle 2 so you could bead straight off the screen. You can buy the e-book here. I haven't made up a PDF version yet.


This is the pattern from the cover. Since it's only 2 colors, it shows up very well in the e-ink tech.
Still to do today:
Working on a pair of earrings I'll post next week on Beadwork at Bellaonline and review a really wonderful bead book.
Dinner tonight will be pizza quesadillas. My back hurts pretty badly from everything we did yesterday.
I think I also want to write a tutorial on writing Kindle books for people like me who only have very basic HTML skills, but like a lot of my ideas, it's on a list for now of things I might do in the future.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Book Reviews- two books I like for my teens.


Fairy Cooking
If you have a child who is very into fairy things, into pink and loves pretty, this is the perfect cookbook for them, or for adults who still like to wear fancy hats and have tea parties with friends.
First: Format, because I didn't read carefully because I was distracted by the cover when I ordered it. It's about the size of a large coloring book, roughly 12 inches tall by 9 inches wide. It's printed in full color on decent quality paper and has a stapled binding. The paper and printing quality is a bit more than I expected for the price.
There are no basic cooking instructions in it, so it is a book to use hands on with your children who are just learning, but there are lots of children's cookbooks that explain all the tools.
The recipes themselves are simple and gorgeous. The sort of thing that any little fairy princess would be thrilled to serve at a tea party. My daughter is 14 and has basic cooking skills down pat, but this is a great one even for her for the ideas in it. The miniature cooking and whimsical look of the recipes also makes them perfect for bentos.
My favorites:
Iced Raspberry Mousse- a sweet airy confection made with yogurt, cream, raspberries and for a nice touch of texture, meringues
Cut Out Sandwiches- A simple idea that makes a great presentation and one I will use in bentos and for tea parties myself.
Mini fairy pastries- Miniature really food is just wonderful and these are flavorful enough that even my son and husband would eat them without complaining too much about the cute factor.
Another great book for children from Usborne.

Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices by William Gurstelle
The most impressive book I've seen of it's type. The projects in it are mostly inexpensive to put together and require few special skills for great results. Caution is recommended when building projectile weapons of course, but if you've got a teen or a husband who loves these sort of things, they will find something they want to try in here. My favorite projects are the tennis ball mortars and the paper match rockets. The mortars because the section explains the difference between mortars and cannons and the project itself is a wonderful hands-on experiment for trajectory and how gravity effects it. The paper match rocket is minimal supplies and easy to put together and shows how a struck match creates energy in the form of heat which launches the miniature rocket.
The science behind each project is well explained, and there is a lot of history about the scientists who came up with some of the most pivotal theories about physics and how they tested them.
Recommended with adult supervision for middle school and high school children. It's not deeply technical and it's very accessible even for teens who aren't really interested in science.
Also recommended for husbands who like to build things that go boom and are interested in science.

The Amazon links are affiliate links and help pay some of the costs of maintaining this site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Flying Panda Bead Pattern



 I've decided to try and give my posts relevant names that make them easy for people and spiders to see what the post is about, or I would have named this post "Watch out for flying pandas!"
So.. quick version, I got me and the kids all stuffed pandas just for fun. They made me smile and I wanted to share. And while my kids are teens now, they both still enjoy stuffed animals, or at least, enjoy making me happy by always acting thrilled on those rare occasions I decide they need one.
So after I got my panda, which I named Rainbow on account of the fact it was black and white (naming a panda Zebra would just be silly) , I sat in my chair watching PBS with my husband and tossing Rainbow in the air. Then Rainbow flew wildly out of my hands and hit Mike in the face.
Mike handed it back to me without a word.
The second time it happened, he said "Really? It just got away from you twice? And hit me in the face both times?" And I said "uh huh. Can I have my panda back?"
A few days later it happened a third time. Whoops.
So now Mike's sworn that if another panda hits him in the face, all the pandas are going to panda jail.
Monday, I was talking to my son, and the panda went again. I explained to him that my panda could fly and he had to get out of the flight path because once it started, it didn't know how to steer. Mike said "It's true. I've been hit in the face by 3 pandas." and I said "No, just one. Mine. The other two are innocent non-flying pandas."
It didn't help.
So, now you know why the panda has wings.  It's a good size to use in a necklace or as a pin.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On the subject of yogurt

 I posted instructions here for making yogurt from a starter.
Usually I make my yogurt using commercial yogurt as a starter. I'll do two batches. One from the original starter and when that's down to a half cup of plain yogurt, I start a second batch. Going too many generations can lead to a manky taste in yogurt. Look for plain yogurt that's milk and cultures only. I get a larger thing of it and package it up into half cup size portions I keep in my freezer for the next batch so out of one thing of yogurt I can culture an awful lot of fresh plain yogurt. I put it reusable containers and always flavor some, we use it in smoothies and make savory yogurts that can be strained to make labneh which is just marvelous as a sandwich spread. In the summer I puree it with fruit and a bit of honey and pop it in frozen pop molds to make frozen pops for my children. Just like my mom used to do for me!  You'd use a half cup of commercial plain yogurt in place of the starter, and increase the powdered milk to 3/4 c. because otherwise it won't get quite as thick. Runny yogurt works well in biscuits, smoothies and bread. If you don't want to buy half cup containers to freeze the starter, just put it in an ice cube tray and after it's frozen put the yogurt cubes in a bag in the freezer, then pull out 2 or 3 to use as a starter. That's how mom did it!
My children are wild for vanilla yogurt sweetened with maple sugar or honey.
If you have a dehydrator, you can make your own yogurt covered raisins. Flavor and sweeten your yogurt then strain it as for labneh which mean line a strainer with a coffee filter or cheese cloth and put in the yogurt. Put that over a bowl and cover it up with a plate and put it some place cool (fridge works) for 24 hours. A lot of the liquid comes out of it making a gorgeous thick cheese. Coat your raisins with that and put them in the dehydrator for a few hours. You'll want to keep these in the fridge because they aren't shelf stable but they do just fine in lunch/bento boxes, snack boxes for long car trips. The store bought kind have waxes and such in them, these taste a whole lot better and are probably better for you.

But you know? I still hate carob.

Book Review- The Hippie Handbook

The Hippie Handbook by Chelsea Cain, Illustrated by Lia Miternique
I have kind of mixed feelings about this book.
The author who grew up on a commune wrote a humorous and sweet book with some little snippets of autobiographical anecdotes and a lot of overviews of hippie type crafts and recipes. I laughed out loud at some parts remembering my own upbringing and seeing how my current lifestyle does reflect growing up the daughter of a hippie.
The projects include a macramé belt, how to tie dye, how to organize a political protest as well as several "How to cook like a hippie" recipes such as how to make tempeh and a recipe for a vegan chocolate cake. I was a little disappointed that the sprouting jars and homemade yogurt of my youth weren't in the book.
It's very basic, the illustrations are lovely and fun, and it is kind of funny. It's more a book for "daytrippers" than for people who really want to try living a hippie lifestyle, but she does include a good bibliography if you are really interested in the philosophy and lifestyle.

Every time she mentioned Native Americans I flinched though. I know that influence was strong in the hippie counterculture and with people who consider themselves hippies now but at the same time, the stereotypical images, like on the page giving ideas for murals "blissfully content Native Americans" just made cringe.

Did this review help you?

Books I liked more on similar subjects:
Virginia Gleser's Tie Dye- The How To Book. You can read my review here
The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book by Joan Wiener Bordow and Sharon Rosenberg. Don't be fooled by the clean cut girl on the cover. The original version had a completely different cover and it's a wonderful hippie clothes making book. You can read my review of that here and get some embroidery patterns inspired by this wonderful book.
Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living- no review because I'm not done reading it yet. This thing is huge with tons of information on how to live off the grid.
The Amazon links are affiliate links and help pay some of the costs of maintaining this site.

Bunker Box for boys

 The miniature painting mistakes are my fault. No undo button with paint, and I wanted to get the photos and didn't take the time to scrape off the paint spills with my craft knife.


Like I mentioned before, my teenage son is very into all sorts of games including miniature games which inspired this box for boys. It uses the fancy box template I've been using for stained glass effect boxes. Click on the images for the full sized versions. I think this would be fun with plastic toy soldiers as well.
 
 
You can get the blank template from My etsy shop.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Valentine stained glass box

Another stained glass effect gift box. These boxes take 2 sheets of cardstock, scissors, glue or tape, a ruler and something to score the box to assemble. It's one of my favorite templates.
The base is 3 inches, the lid is 4 inches. Make sure you print both the top and the bottom at the same dpi settings. If you print "fit to page" the lid winds up being too big for the box. 
Click on the images for the full sized version.
 
 


You can buy the blank template at my Etsy store for $1.60 if you'd like the blank to decorate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pink and Gold Cupcake box


For an example of an assembled cupcake box, the first one I posted is here.
This box takes 3 sheets of cardstock to assemble and will fit one standard size cupcake.
I chose the colors because Rosemary suggested pink and gold for an earring pattern I'm working on.
Click on the images for the full sized 100 ppi pages.
 
 
 
If you are interested in the blank template, I just posted it for sale in my Etsy store for $1.60.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting ready for the game

And I'll be posting some things along those line soon, but for right now, I'll just steer you to a crochet pattern I posted in 2007 for a coffee sleeve. I made it for my husband and he still uses it.


If you do anything on game day, what do you do? My daughter and I usually plan a special slider recipe. Last year we used smoked Gruyere and sun-dried tomatoes on our sliders. I think this year the tentative plan is for a mini-pizza sandwich with homemade mozzarella, artichoke hearts and some good sausage or ham of some sort.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thrift store happiness


I love thrift stores, vintage craft books and other things. One bags up fabric remnants and sells them for 4.99 which is very handy when you have a daughter who can spend hours hand sewing little dolls and other things.
I found the above amazing sheet of sweetness Saturday after we got the car back. My darling husband actually flinched when he saw it.
I've been debating what to do with it, I think I'll make grocery bags, but on Facebook, my good friend Rebecca suggested I hit it with glitter and turn it into my battle flag. My Naet refined the idea further with this suggestion "Haha, I love that idea ... glitter the fluck out of it and add a pink skull & crossbones. A sparkly rainbow unicorn jolly roger flag :)"
I love that idea too. But it will probably wind up being very cute grocery bags.
My daughter, The Turnip, makes handmade dolls. She's too impatient mostly for careful tiny backstitching, and doesn't follow or make patterns despite my pleading for patterns I could post here of her amazing creations. She embroiders eyes on them or she uses permanent markers to draw them on, occasionally she uses buttons. Most of them are fan based somehow, but some are just creations. For Christmas, she made all of us except Dad, dolls. She made Mike one based on one of his favorite comics, she made me a green witch, and she made William one based on a video game he likes. For Dad, she made him a cell phone case designed after the uniforms worn in ST:TNG. She loves to sew. She loves thrift stores for sweaters to make things with, her own wardrobe (she's fond of suits, ties and button down oxford shirts) and fabric for her dolls.
This is the doll she made me for Christmas.

I love it so much.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hugs and Kisses bracelet project


You can find instructions for this bracelet on Beadwork at BellaOnline. It was an adventure making it. I don't like 2 needle techniques. I like them even less when the phone rings, I go to answer it, come back and find out one of my needles has mysteriously disappeared. Then later in the project,  no idea how, I lost a second needle. Oh well, Mike will probably find it.
Sally says my cookie boxes are good for bracelets. Wouldn't that be fun? I can make my daughter one of these and package it up in one of the hugs and kisses cookie boxes I posted earlier this week!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hugs and Kisses Cookie Boxes

A set of cookie boxes with a simple hugs and kisses design. I hope you like them!
Click on the images for the full sized versions. 100 dpi on cardstock.

 
 
 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Review- Button and Stitch


Button and Stitch: Supercute Ways to Use Your Button Stash by Kristen Rask is a collection of button themed projects.
It's really a wonderful collection, the projects are all pretty easy, but require different skill sets. There are 24 projects total covering a wide range of techniques.
The basic materials explains what you'll need for most of the projects, and buttons by type describes types of vintage buttons but having a great vintage button supply isn't necessary for the projects in the book.
The first project is an easy pearly button frame that uses a strong glue and buttons on a purchased blank frame.
The final project in the book is a lovely soldered ring that would be a great use of buttons from your grandmother's stash or very special buttons.
The projects in between are sewn, felted and wired. My favorites are the recycled sweater handwarmers which use a used sweater to create pretty fitted mitts with cute button accents and are very adaptable. I'm hitting the thrift store today for sweaters to use for this project. The pincushion-topped button jar is so cute I can't resist it, and the kanzashi-style hair clip.
Lovely book. The projects are varied enough that I found a few things I loved in it, and so did my 14 yo daughter.
You can order it from My Craftivity or from Amazon.The Amazon link is an affiliate link and helps pay some of the costs of maintaining this site.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Candy Box- pink and brown


Since Valentine's Day is coming, it's time to put up some some heart stuff right? This is a template I made last night. It's fussy to cut and fold so scoring and pre-folding is really necessary. I used double sided tape to assemble it, and a craft knife for the inner cuts. After you tape the tabs for the middle and the ends, if you pre-folded it, you can press down lightly on the end and it kind of collapses in the right shape to tie the ribbons, twine or yarn to close it up.
I posted the blank template in my Etsy shop. Later I'll put together another collection of templates.
I hope you enjoy this project! Click on the image for the full sized printable.
 
ETA: The link for my Etsy shop was messed up, I should have double checked when it didn't autosave correctly. It's fixed now!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Forget Me Not Set- printable boxes and recipe cards



I used to do a lot of sets, not so much anymore and I'm afraid I lost a lot of the old ones in a computer crash about 8 years ago. This is a mini set. 2 box types and a recipe card set with a simulated offset silkscreen forget-me-not. Click on the images for the full sized versions. Print at 100 dpi on card stock.
Forget-me-nots sum up the feeling of For Old Long Since (Auld Lang Syne) for me.
I hope 2010 brings everything you wish.

 
 
 

Last night was my eldest child's b-day. Since our car is still being repaired we had to postpone a lot of what we had planned. We ordered Chinese in and the kids got to use their new Chop Sabers. E and I plan to make him my mom's favorite apple cake this weekend. It's a German apple cake recipe that I modified a bit for my mom's 39th birthday that became her favorite pretty quickly.
I still need to write up the nano pouch I made for E this weekend for her new nano.

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