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Friday, December 30, 2011

Argyle to color

I've been wanting to make a round version of an argyle pattern for a while. I hope you like this one. Also there is a regular argyle and a version with all solid lines for people who less argyle crazy to color. Click on the images for larger versions. Transparent PNG format.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Printable 2012 Year at a Glance Calendars

The backgrounds I used for these are from some designs I made up to get printed on Spoonflower. The idea being fabric that I could make purses out of that could be colored with permanent markers. I couldn't decide which layout I liked better, so you get them both. I think these would look so pretty colored in with markers. Click the images for larger versions.

ETA: The Spoonflower Coordinates contest, which I entered with the dots and stripes used in the background of these calendars is voting 1/5/12- 1/11/12. Please consider voting for my design!

I'm sorry that I have not made a year at a glance calendar template with the weeks beginning on Monday instead of Sunday. After trying a few ways to make calendars through different programs, the way that I like the look of them best is when I layout all the numbers in a graphics program, which takes a bit of time, which is why all my printable year at a glance calendars use the same font! If you want a Monday starting calendar, has some here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Madras pattern printable thank you card

Christmas is over, and it's time to say thank you. I hope you enjoy these thank you notes in a madras plaid. They are 5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide, and the matching envelopes are 3.5 inches tall by 5 inches wide which is the minimum acceptable for the US postal service. The cards print 2 to one sheet of card stock, print the cards, cut them out, and score down the center line to fold the cards. Write your sentiment on the inside. The envelope works best printed on paper. Print, cut out, and fold the side flaps in, then fold the bottom flap up and glue it to the side flaps. Insert the card then fold and tape or glue the top flap. Click on the images for larger versions.

For this set, I made a pair of madras style matching tiles using colors that were inspired by Pantone's spring 2011 fashion color trend picks. Here are the tiles for your own use.

I hope your holidays were wonderful! And thank you all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A half dozen snowflakes to color

A half dozen 8x8 inch snowflakes to color, use as digital stamps for scrapbooking, embroider or cut out very carefully to use as negative stencils. I hope you like them. Click on the images for larger versions.

From my whole family, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happily making myself dizzy!

Remember my drawing geometric whirls tutorial? The whirls will work with any polygon shape, but because squares and triangles tessellate so neatly, I made a triangle and a square whirl.

Then I created tessellations out them, reversing the colors for a checkerboard type effect. The resulting patterns were just so neat! Even though they are made out of straight lines, the curving effect of the whirls became a lot more interesting in the tessellations.

See? It makes me dizzy to look at them. But they turned out so nifty that I wanted to show them, I think I'll get fabric from Spoonflower in one of the prints that can be colored in using permanent markers for fun, then make a purse which I can carry markers in for when I get bored waiting somewhere.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book Review- The Cookiepedia

The Cookiepedia : Mixing, Baking, and Reinventing the Classics by Stacy Adimando is absolutely a must have cookie book.

The author sets out to create and recreate classic cookies, and has 50 recipes total and probably has your favorite. My favorite are Snickerdoodles and they are in the section with spicy cookies.

It begins with an introduction to the pans and the tools you'll need with a quick overview about what they are used for, then into "Cookie Speak" which defines common baking terms you'll see in cookie recipes. The next part of the introduction is about decorating cookies and various techniques and ideas for that.

Then the recipe chapters. Each chapter starts with a double spread of the cookies in that chapter, photographed and shown in true scale, and looking so good you wish you could pick them off the page. The chapters themselves are arranged by cookie flavor profile. Some of the cookies also have their own full page color pages so you can see nice ways to present them.

The recipes themselves start with a description of the cookie and an adorable illustrated oven with the pre-heat temperature and the number of cookies it makes. They also frequently have sidebar tips, as well as a suggestions after the recipe for ways to modify it, and lined note sections so you can add your own notes.

Buttery starts with frosted animal cookies, and has some very traditional cookie recipes in it, it also has frosted maple pecan cookies. Maple, butter, pecans, I'm drooling a bit.

Chocolatey has recipes for standbys like chocolate chip, but also has a cream filled sandwich cookie recipe which uses butter instead of grease for the cream filling and makes a cookie that will make you swear off the blue bagged cookies forever.

Fancy Cookies are the cookies you impress adult friends with your mad baking skills. Buttery alfajores sandwich dulce de leche, French macarons with a classic almond filling are a lot of people's favorite cookies are two of my favorites from this chapter.

Fruity is fruit filled or flavored cookies. My favorite kind of store bought cookie are fig bars and there is a recipe for those, also for pretty Linzer cookies, thumb prints and homey classics like oatmeal raisin (another personal favorite!)

Spicy is my favorite chapter, with molasses spice, gingersnaps and my favorite, snickerdoodles. It also has a recipe for a cracker like savory "cookie" seasoned with salt and pepper that would be excellent on a cold day with tomato soup.

Finishing up, we have Nutty and Seed, which is cookies with nuts or seeds. Classic peanut butter cookies with their familiar fork pressed hatch marks, almond biscotti and pistachio butter cookies are my favorites in this chapter. The pine nut studded pignoli cookies are just lovely to look at and simple to make as well.

The photographs and illustrations in this book are very well done, and give it a contemporary crafty look and feel that make it a nice gift book as well as one for your personal library.

I do have one minor quibble with the binding, it's spiral bound, then cased in a regular binding. It opens flat, but if you aren't careful to close the pages before the outside binding you can bow the pages that were opened. It's a very minor quibble for a great collection of recipes.

Published by Quirk Books, you can get this book from using the affiliate link below. affiliate links don't affect your cost, and provide extra income to me personally, which helps support my book addiction.

My reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

 If you click the cookies tag in labels, you'll find lots of printable cookie boxes!

Swirly Wreath to Color

A swirly holly decorated wreath to color. It's in transparent PNG format for digital scrapbookers and can also be used as an embroidery pattern. Nice open space in the middle to use it either as a photo frame or for a holiday message for friends. Click on the image for a larger version.

I hope you like it! I think I'll be using the base swirly wreath for other things in the future. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holly wreath to color

Click on the image for a larger version. Transparent PNG format so it can be used a digital stamp for scrapbookers.

I love holly, it reminds me of my grandmother. Her given name was Gladys, and her sister's name was Mildred. Both ladies hated their names and referred to each other as Sis. As kids, her son called my grandmother Aunt Sis, and my brother and I called her Aunt Sis.  Their maiden name was Hollinger, and so Grandma went by Holly her entire adult life. So much so that my dad thought her given name was Holly!
When my grandfather and she bought their last home together in California, he planted holly shrubs all around the front of it. The waxy dark green leaves with their spiky edges will always make me think of summers with Grandma, trying to catch lizards that occasionally darted under them, and ginger snaps. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vintage Inspired Crafts- Felt Ball Ornament Project

This super simple ornament is one that my son said was "Pretty cool". It was inspired by a paper ornament in Christmas Crafts for Everyone by Evelyn Coskey published in 1976.
This is the original project. Click on images to enlarge.

The original project calls for 9 layers of paper, however, felt is thicker than paper. 4 wound up being perfect.

To make the ornament, you'll need:
green craft felt
red craft felt
yellow 6 strand embroidery floss
Tapestry needle
something round to trace circles
pen to mark felt

I used a bottle that was 2 inches in diameter.
Mark 2 circles on each color felt and cut out. Thread needle with 3 strands of floss. Stack them in alternating colors and stitch a line down the middle. 

Match one green edge to a red edge, and blanket stitch through both layers to a 1/4 down the length (the length being just that circle half, so 1/8th of the circle), then blanket stitch through one layer only until you're a 1/4 of the length away from the bottom. Match the circle half from the other side to the layer you're stitching, and sew through both layers to the bottom. Continue around, then after all the segments are made, weave your needle through the stitches, being very careful not to pull, or just stitch back through the stitches, and finish the stitched edges. Knot off and hide knot and thread in center seam. 
Cut another length of floss and thread needle with it. Put through the top of the ornament and tie in a loop.

Here's the cover of the book if you're interested. My copy is a library discard. It distresses me that libraries discard such books, but I'm happy to give them a home!

Book Review- The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting

Recently, Lisa Maliga of Everything Shea Creates wrote to ask me if I'd be willing to review her e-book, The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting. I said yes, I'd be thrilled to. As some of you know, I'm a big fan of cold process and hot process soap, so why the interest in melt and pour? Because my best friend was just as adamant about glycerin soap as I was about the other kind and because it is a wonderful art form.

Glycerin soap, originally, was made using real soap, alcohol and sugar and a long cooking process. Some people still make it that way. Melt and pour glycerin soap is made using surfactant chemicals that behave like soap does in cleaning and foaming, along with alcohol and sugar. It has a high amount of glycerin in it, which is hydroscopic which means it attracts moisture, which makes it a non-drying option for people who have issues with soap drying their skin too much.

So, science and explanation out of the way, the e-book is very detailed about the process of melt and pour soap. The author cares a lot about the topic and wants to share that with you.

 If you've seen the kits, it's some blocks of clear soap, sometimes some coloring and stuff to include in the soap, fragrance oil and short instructions which say to microwave the soap. Not very satisfying for crafty minds that want to create. This is a lot better.

The first half of the book is about the process of melt and pour soap. She explains what you can mix in, with lists of the attributes to different oils and herbs. She also includes some information about additives you might not think of, like tapioca pearls for a gently massaging soap. She explains how to use colorants, liquid, mica, mineral and natural. She also explains why using a double boiler or a crock pot is a better option than microwaving your soap.

A chapter of tips that she's learned to tell you things that won't work and things that work well, then you get to the recipes.

The recipes include a lot of techniques in themselves. How to do layered soaps,cake soaps,soap embeds and my favorite section, shampoo bars!

She finishes up with a lot of information about labeling and selling your finished soap products.

One of the best things in my opinion about melt and pour soap crafting is that it's a very friendly craft. You don't need to be a kitchen chemist. It's a craft that's ideal for parents to do with children as gifts or as the start of a home based business. Because of the nature of melt and pour soap, any thing that doesn't work out is still usable in your home.

My daughter was interested in this book because she's looking at ways to make extra money this summer and she loves crafting. I love the ideas in the book, but I prefer hand-milling soap and a lot of her tips and ideas can be used in hand-milled soap as well. I plan to try some shampoo bars both ways, using melt and pour and hand-milling.

A lot of great information in this book if you've ever had an interest in melt and pour soapmaking. If you go to the author's blog (linked above) , she has some free projects, recipes and articles there to read.

You can get the e-book in Kindle format on (affiliate link)

My reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Photos from this past month

Earlier this month, we stayed at the hotel my husband works at for the weekend. I took some photos that weekend. Click on the images to see more detail.

Alaska's flag. I flipped this photo to show it with the North Star in the upper right hand like it's supposed to be. Alaska's flag against all that snowy white!

This handsome raven was just perched up there yelling for attention. So I took a bunch of photos! 

Thanks to one of the people on my Facebook friends list, I know this is a a gray-crowned rosy finch. The little sweetie also seemed to love the camera.  I took a bunch of photos, and really love the contrast between the bird's coloring and warmth and the frost on the tree. It was munching those berries like a frozen treat!

If you ever come to Anchorage, on the corner of 4th and Barrow is a used book store that's been there since I was a kid. The owner, Cathy, has told me she's not going anywhere because she doesn't want to leave her books. The books! 300,000 or so books in this shop that's been there for so long. They are on shelves with narrow paths between them, in boxes next to the shelves and just stacked by the shelves. Stacks of books surround the front counter area, piled on, behind and in front of the counter. You have to reach across these piles of books to pay her, and she's always ready to talk to anyone who comes in. It's called C&M Used Books, and it is the very definition of used book store in my mind. It's the prototype. 
Other than the signs, one old, one new that say C&M Used Books,  look for ravens and magpies. She and her assistants toss out their leftovers for the birds, and there are lots of fat, happy ravens and magpies around the store waiting for treats.

These two photos weren't taken that weekend, but I wanted to share them anyway.

Sunset, at about 3:30 in the afternoon!
Trees all lit up at Anchorage Town Square.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chess Piece mandala coloring page

At one point, probably about 7 years ago, I was working on a dingbat font with chess figures. It never got finished and the project was shelved, but these designs from from what I had done on that font. I hope you enjoy the mandala! Click on the image for a larger version.

Book Review- Cutie Pies

Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory and Adorable Recipes is a collection of miniature pie recipes and techniques written by Dani Cone who owns Seattle's High 5 Pie, which specializes in classic and new pie recipes in various shapes and sizes.

It starts with an introduction to the author and her love for pie, then explains how to use the book. The chapters are separated by pie shape, however, each recipe also lists options for shapes and how many pies it will make in those shapes. So if you don't find the exact pie you want in the shape you want, you can look at the other shapes and see if one will suit. Full color photos of the pies in a hard cover volume.

There are 4 crust recipes, with instructions for rolling out and making crusts and tips for a perfect pie crust, and a recipe for a crumb topping at the beginning of the book.

Then we get to the good part!

The shapes are cutie pies, baked in muffin tins; petit-5s, baked in mini muffin tins; pie jars, made in little mason type jars; flipsides which are handheld pies; pie pops, adorable tiny button pies on sticks; and full sized pies.

The recipes include a few classic favorites that are true to your memories of the pies your grandma use to bake if she baked pies. Coconut Cream, Key Lime, Sweet Potato Pie, but also other sweet pies like the classic strawberry rhubarb updated with a kick of ginger or mango-raspberry-lemon pie.

Where the book shines for me isn't in the sweet pies. While sweet pies are my daughter's favorite, I love the wonderful little savory pies which make wonderful finger foods for dinner parties or made in a slightly larger style like the pie jars or flipsides make a wonderful lunch or breakfast option.

Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill; Three Cheese and Onion; Ham, Gruyere and Onion are just a few of the savory options available.

Favorite sweet pie- Peach-Ricotta and Honey
Favorite Savory- Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella for it's colors and fresh flavor.

These little pies are fantastic for entertaining, and the recipes cover a broad range of tastes.
The recipes are well written and I like the fact that the pie size/type options are listed in each recipe. The ingredients are listed in U.S. volume terminology, but there is a conversion chart at the end of the cookbook if you cook by metric.

You can get Cutie Pies from the publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing, My reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Snowflake Cross Stitch Pattern

Mrs. P, of Sew Phat said that she would add quarter stitches for the more detailed lines anyway to a basic cross stitch pattern and that I should probably use whole stitches. I'm not giving color suggestions for this pattern because it's only 4 colors and a geometric design. I do think that it would look lovely in DMC Light Effects Pearlescent colors.
On 14 count, this design works up to 10x10 inches
11 count just shy of 13x13 inches
18 count just shy of 8x8 inches
Print at fit to page settings. Click on the image for the larger version.

In other news, I'm out of ink! Rather than buying ink this week, I'm going to be switching out printers.

I have almost all my holiday stuff done, except the hat I'm making for my husband (which hasn't even been started yet! eeek!) I'm going to try cables on it and have never knitted cables before. So he might get it for Valentine's Day instead.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poinsettia coloring page

Well, a poinsettia like coloring page, because it is radially symmetrical and poinsettias aren't. I think it was the birch leaves that made the idea of a poinsettia coloring page stick in my mind. They look so cheerful and flowery with their brightly colored bracts. Click on the image for a larger version.

The flowery look of poinsettias is from bracts, which are specialized leaves that are meant to make the plant look like large flowers in order to bring pollinators to the tiny flowers in the middle. Since they are actually leaves, you can pick and choose which leaves on this design will be pink, white or red, and which will be green.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Girly Speech Bubbles to print

These speech bubbles were inspired by small ones that were in the book Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share which I reviewed earlier. To make smaller and therefore cuter bubbles, print them at 50% instead of fit to page.  To make a cupcake topper with it, tape a toothpick or skewer to the tags after cutting them out. As you can see, I left a smooth margin instead of trying to cut all the scallops. The black and white versions are transparent PNGs and can be used for digiscrapping (digital scrapbooking) as well. Click on the images for larger versions.