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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hamsa Coloring Page and Embroidery Patterns

I've been meaning to do some hamsas for embroidery and coloring ever since researching them for hamsa bead pattterns on BellaOnline, I just keep forgetting. They have a fascinating history, and you can read more about them here.
Click the images for larger versions. The page with several hands is for embroidery and other craft purposes, and includes some blank hands in different sizes to fill in however you wish. I did the coloring page both with and without an eye.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review- Crazy for Cake Pops

Molly Bakes, if you haven't heard of her yet, is a London cake artist who specializes in bespoke cakes made with wonderful ingredients and wonderful designs. If you're lucky enough to live in that area, she even teaches classes every so often.

If you're over here in the USA though, she has a new cake pop book available. Crazy for Cake Pops: 50 All New Delicious and Adorable Creations.

It's a full color, step by step paper book that explains the tools and methods you'll need to make cake pops and has instructions for lots of decorated pops.

The first part of the book is the introduction and the equipment you'll need as well as a brief overview of the method used to make cake pops. The list of tools is very complete. She also includes a conversion table for measurements.

Then the cake recipes! The recipes have some metric measurements with the US volume equivalents in parentheses. Since Molly specializes in bespoke cakes using very good ingredients and made from scratch, the recipes are just wonderful. She suggests frosting pairings for making the cake balls for the pops and includes recipes for the frosting.  A lemon cake with yogurt for extra moistness and tartness, a toffee frosting made with dulce de leche for flavor, more traditional vanilla and chocolate cakes and frostings.

She follows that with photographed instructions for making the cake balls and putting the sticks in them as well as how to melt the candy coating for the cake pops.

If you just wanted to make simple and very good cake pops, you could add some sprinkles or crushed nuts and be done there. But then she has a bunch of designs as well. This is the part that made my daughter very excited.

Sweethearts, Tricolor and Marbled pops all start with a basic round pop and use simple decorating techniques. Then you get into the shaped pops. Lightning bolts, adorable miniature donuts, mustache pops, skulls, animals, lovely white decorated wedding pops, there are pops for every occasion. She explains her decorating and shaping methods in a way that's easy to follow. The colors and shapes are great, they remind me a lot of very colorful toys.

The end of the book has instructions for the techniques she uses to decorate in easy to follow language. She also includes a supplier list.

You can get this book directly from the publisher, Ulysses Press, or by clicking the affiliate link. 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.

Another chevron zig zag box- Sunset Palette

This pattern uses a palette from one of the sunset photos that I posted recently. I also shifted the colors a bit to create 2 more color choices for this chevron themed box.
2x2x2 inch cube, click on the images for larger versions. I suggest printing to fit a sheet of card stock. Cut, score, fold, glue!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Classic vs. Not

Yesterday I took TG to the thrift store. She was thrilled to find a nice big bag of fabric scraps for herself. She uses them to make her dolls and other things. I was thrilled to find some wonderful craft books and magazines in the era I most like. The 70s!

As I was leafing through the 1971-1972 Fall Goodhousekeeping Needlecraft magazine, my family had a conversation about classic vs not classic. How can you tell the difference? Vintage magazines are a great way. Is something still wearable today? Sometimes you have to look past the colors, and the accessories or look at things as separates to know if the lines and style are still wearable today. Other times you know instantly either way. Click on images to see larger, all images from the magazine I mentioned above.
This coat has wonderful lines for the under 25 set. My daughter is charmed by it. Not in those colors, I think if she decides to make it, she'll make it in Tom Baker scarf type colors. The soft hood and simple shape would also look good in a solid color. 
 This one, I have mixed feelings about. I love the sweep, and the lines remind me a lot of the capes my mother wore to great effect. Unfortunately, at 5'3.5" I'm too short for anything that dramatic, it would look like I left the house wearing a blanket. Check out those gloves! Aren't they great? The bobble edging on the cape adds a lovely amount of visual and textural interest. The colors, well. Not so much, maybe a medium grey with pewter grey and crimson?

Not classic. I love various elements of this, the button detailing, the hood, the striping, but it's really, really not classically wearable. Ponchos come in and out, but that one does look very much like a blanket.
 Oh the horror of knitted pants! I'm pretty sure that's always going to be a very bad idea. And the color is a mucky orange. The other outfit is a skirt and cardigan set. Taken by individual elements, I don't like the skirt or pants. The cardigan and pull over sweaters are nice. I'd lengthen the sleeves on the pullover and probably get rid of the bottom hem cables on the pullover for a straight bottom. The cable border detail with it's honeycomb effect is very pretty though. The cape doesn't work for me either. I like capes but that one isn't fitted right around the shoulders and is very boxy looking.
Oh lovely. Again, if you aren't a bright color sort, picture it with less going on for color. This dress has lovely classic lines and would look great with tights in black with jewel tone stripe detailing, or just a solid color.
Not classic. This coat is made by creating yarn loops as you knit, then after you're done, combing or brushing the loops to break up the twist and create a fur effect. It's a fun idea for a stuffed animal, doesn't work as well in a coat.
Classic- Sweater. Not Classic- those shorts!
The sweater is nice, the crocheted sash is fun, and I could totally see my daughter wearing something like that. The "funnel hood" is knit in Quaker rib and it's not really a classic design that's been wearable for the last 40 years since the magazine came out, but it *is* an idea that's come back around as a trend. The knitted gauchos though? Really didn't age well. I think maybe just any kind of pant thing knitted might be a bad idea.
Just.. wow. The colors, the lines, everything about this outfit. It doesn't age well at all does it? The great big checks with smaller checks in some of the big checks is a neat pattern. Maybe better for decorating than for clothing.
LOVE this simple teeshirt dress with it's bold graphic design. I think I'd like to make a custom fabric print on Spoonflower to make something like this dress with.  In the case of this dress, it's sewn with striped fabric and applique circles. Doing a custom fabric removes the need for applique for that same kind of bold style.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winter around my house- snowy photos!

The other day when I went down to check the mail, I decided to bring my camera with me. It's a half block to my mailbox. Click on the images for larger versions.

If you look to the east, you see the Chugach mountains. I've lived in Anchorage all my life, and they still make me breathless sometimes. The sharp edges, the weather changing there first. They aren't particularly high mountains, but they seem very high because they don't have the long slow slope other mountains have. They come up sharply and suddenly.
We call the snow on them "Termination Dust", the phrase comes from the days when people got their termination notices for seasonal jobs, and seems to be a very Alaskan phrase. When the termination dust comes halfway down the mountains, it's going to snow in Anchorage soon.
You've seen lots of photos I've taken around this wooded lot that's across from my mailbox. Well, if you had a wooded vacant lot that pretty and close, wouldn't you take lots of photos?
The lot has a path through it. From there it looks gorgeous. Unfortunately, just as you hit that clearing you can kind of see in there, you find that people dump things in there. Big appliances and the like. However, it's still nice to walk through there during the summer because it's a habitat for lots of birds. You can hear wrens sounding lovely (and hardly ever spotted), get scolded by ravens and get the gossip from the magpies. My husband and I will walk through there hand in hand, and I'll stop every so often to snap a photo of a magpie or a wild flower. Looks gorgeous all snowy doesn't it?
About a half hour later, at just about 4:45 pm, it was sunset. Check out those colors! Aren't they beautiful?

I also put the snowy path photo through Paint It just for fun. I love using Paint It on snowy photos.

Corel Paint It! Photo is only 9.99 from (affiliate link) and it only makes painterly effects from photos. I think it's a fun little graphics application.

Since we decided to give Black Friday a skip, I told my daughter we would go to the thrift store today. I scored very nicely on the 70s craft books and magazines I love, she was thrilled to find a fantastic holiday dress and a bag of fabric scraps. We also picked up shirts for William and Michael. Michael liked his shirt. It's the same basic style as his favorite black and red shirt in black and gray. William's shirt is another genuine Hawaiian shirt for his collection.  Thrift stores are so full of awesome.

11-27-11 Mandala design to color

Another simple geometric mandala design to color. This one has a few small areas, but it's not super complicated. I hope you enjoy it! Click on the image for a larger version to print. PNG format, and you can find lots more mandalas to color by clicking the link on my side bar!

Book Review- Ramen to the Rescue

Ramen to the Rescue : Over 100 Creative Recipes for Easy Meals Using Everyone's Favorite Pack of Noodles by Jessica Harlan is a cookbook filled with recipes for everything from appetizers to dessert using ramen noodles.

There are no finished food photos in the book, so it's not a cookbook for the people who love cookbooks filled with full colored photos. It's recipes. Lots and lots of recipes.

I've done a lot of what I thought was creative ramen cooking. This book showed me how much more could be done with these noodles.

When you're in a hurry, when you know you want to have a real meal but don't want to spend too much time cooking, when you're just saving money by eating at home, this is a great go-to book for recipes.

My son tried this one out for me. He went through the book and marked all the recipes he wanted to try. Then he made up a shopping list and made the family dinner.  He picked a beef and mushroom stew for the first recipe he tried. Doubling the recipe and using minute steaks instead of the flank steak called for, he made stew for the 4 of us for under 10 dollars, and it was so good that my husband went back for seconds.

We've tried a few more of the main course recipes since then. Most of the recipes take under a half hour to prepare and lots of vegetables and small meat servings make them economical.

A lot of Asian style recipes make this book absolutely delightful for my family, especially my son. The Spicy Peanut Noodle Wraps can be made with ingredients we usually have on hand, and he likes those so much more than peanut butter sandwiches.

There are also many salad recipes that would make great summer lunches.  Since most of them have minimal cooking, they won't heat up your kitchen too much.

Clear, easy to follow instructions, wonderful variety of flavors and ideas. It proves that while ramen is still a very inexpensive choice for meals, it can also be used in a lot of ways for more grownup meals, even many things you could serve to guests at a dinner party.

Recommended for anyone who is looking for cookbooks with quick and easy cooking, and as a gift to young people going off to college or to follow their dreams.

You can get this book from directly from the publisher, Ulysses Press , or by clicking the affiliate link below. The second link is for the Kindle version. 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.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Printable Paper Star Tree Topper

This is paper intensive, requiring 5 sheets of card stock! However, since I didn't mark the cut lines on the stars, you could just print 2 stars and glue them to the outside of the base on opposite sides.
To make this paper star tree top, you'll need to print and cut out 4 stars and glue 2 together back to back, then repeat with the other two. Cut 1 star from the top to the center dot, and the other from the bottom to the center dot.
Then you'll slide the stars together interlocking them. Print and cut out the base, glue along the the tab to form a cylinder, then cut on the guide lines to make slits. Slide the star into the base slits.
Click on the images for larger versions. There is the colored version as shown, and a version that you can color in. Print each image to fit pages. They are set up at 8x10 inches.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for all the nice comments and emails that I've gotten in the last year and appreciate every one of you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review- Craft-In

Craft-In : 12 Project Booklets for Your Own Crafty Gatherings is a collection of ideas for crafting parties. The projects range from very easy for people who very new to crafting to projects that will be easier either split into a couple nights or for more experienced crafters. The booklets are full color and housed in a nice slip case.

I think it rocks. Really, if you have non-crafty friends who are interested in making things, this provides a great starting point for a party of you and a half dozen of your friends. If you have crafty friends and would like to have a themed party, again, great ideas ready to go.

Each booklet is by a different artist/author. They explain how to make the project pictured in detail. Paper projects include pages you can copy and use for your guests. They tell you what supplies you'll need, approximate level of skill needed, and the time needed for the projects.

I suggest if your hosting a party, you read all the way through the booklet you choose first. You might decide to make up an example ahead of time so you can help your guests and share out the booklet. Since the sets are fairly inexpensive though, you could also buy a couple extra sets.

Great Cupcake Makeover by Jodi Rhoden has two cupcake recipes and two icing recipes. The chocolate recipe is vegan! It has lots of ideas for how to decorate the cupcakes. It explains how to ice a cupcake to look professional and has suggestions for natural sprinkles and garnish ideas, natural food coloring ideas, and how to sugar fruits and flowers. Since some of the decorations are flags for cupcakes, they seem a natural for paper artists.

All The Hoopla by MelMac Pink has full instructions for making your own hoops. This is absolute win for a summer party, especially for tween and teens. It takes about an hour and half to make the hoop and it's fairly simple. Then hours of enjoyment learning how to use it.

Crochet Cactus by Katy Yellen is one I really suggest at least one person who knows how to crochet. The pattern and instructions makes a very cute cactus with a button center flower that's set in a store-bought clay pot. There are full illustrated instructions in the booklet on how to crochet, so if you want to teach yourself ahead of time, you can. It's full of cute!

Jar Lid Masterpieces by Julie Armbruster is a very simple idea that would be just a lot of fun with a group and it's an idea that works for adults or younger people. It's playful paintings based off a scribble of ink that fit in a Mason jar type lid.

Stupid Sock Creature Social by John Murphy can be done using either a sewing machine or by hand. This project includes some soft sculpture to create a mouth which adds character to the toy. A nice collection of buttons, and lots of orphan socks would make very unique dolls with lots of personality.

Culture Club Pocketbook Logs by Alli Good starts with store bought notebooks that you can create lists in with art and ideas to start. I love this as a collage project and a way to enjoy suggestions from friends.

Retro Paper Doll Party by Suzie Millions combines scraps of fabric, paper, buttons, beads and embellishments with vintage images of heads to create cute little works of art. Easy and just a lot of fun.

Little Ireland: Awesome, Mossy Terrarium by Maura Okuley is both creating simple terrariums and beginning needle felting for the ambitious. Rolling hills of green are the pasture for a tiny felted sheep. If you're not feeling ambitious enough to felt, provide guests with the supplies and moss for the terrarium and a selection of miniature plastic animals. Include tips on how to find live moss for terrarium and how to keep just wet enough to grow.

Strawberry Fields Forever by Jeanette Lim is little hand sewn felt strawberries, with a variation for chocolate dipped. It also has a sushi recipe to serve your guests.

Shrinkable Adornment by Alisa Wagner Poage made me think about my friend Katie immediately with it's wing necklace. Shrink art has come a long way since I was a kid!

Mint Tin Fairy World by Debrina Pratt is a great reason to have a "potluck" style crafting evening. Tell your friends the theme, and ask them to bring buttons, scraps of lace, favorite papers and other ephemera. You supply mint tins, paint and wings and vintage images.

Pet Portrait Embroidery by Cindy Steiler uses simple embroidery techniques and can absolutely be done with beginners. If you don't want to do pets, you could substitute other simple line art or even children's art.

These are just great ideas for a craft party in one easy package.

You can get this set from the publisher, Lark Crafts, or by clicking 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.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Angel printables 2011

Every year, I draw a new angel. This year I decided to go with something cute. I hope you like it as much as I do! This one is on a 3x3x1 inch printable box, as well as being a coloring page. As usual you can use all my coloring pages for embroidery patterns.
Printable cute angel box- click on image for a larger version. Cut, score, fold, glue.
Printable cute angel coloring page- click on image for larger version.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review- Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2

Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2: Build a Secret Agent Arsenal by John Austen is the sequel to Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction.

If you haven't read either of them, they contain instructions to build all sorts of neat weapons that are meant for "office warfare". I've never worked in an office with that kind of office warfare but I really like both books.

I really don't recommend this at all for kids or adults who are liable to shoot the weapons at each other.

I'm a fan because of interesting projects built out of easy to find office supplies. The emphasis is firmly on safety. You are reminded to wear safety glasses and given ideas for targets to fire at instead of firing the projectiles at people.

As a firm believer that fun examples make it easier to remember basic math and science principles, these books go hand in hand in my family with discussions about things like Newton's Laws of Motion, and how they apply to projectiles. We get to build things and compete with each other for accuracy shooting at targets.

In this sequel, the guns and weapons are powered by balloons and rubber bands. They are made to look like models of real guns. Not realistic looking enough to be scary, but realistic looking enough to make most young men and women who are interested in such things happy. Most of the projects call for hot glue and craft knife use, so supervision may be necessary.

The ammo for these is creative and inexpensive. Candy, mini-marshmallows, pennies and even cotton swabs.

In this book, other than the weapons, there are also projects for spy equipment like projects that can be used safely by kids or adults. A periscope made from CDs and toothpaste box, cipher wheel are some examples, lots of ideas for concealed storage. All of it built from inexpensive components. Those projects alone make this book well worth it to me.

Everything is well illustrated with good diagrams, and while you're building, you can see the principle behind how it works. Lots of the supplies can be garnered from things you'd ordinarily throw away.

It's a hit with my whole family. My daughter likes the Concealment chapter, my son thinks the whole book is wonderful and is already planning modifications of some of the designs in it. My husband and I appreciate how clever the designs are, and how much fun we have as a family with making them and competing with them.

The last chapter is full of wonderful target ideas like a laser shark, a fake security camera, some regular paper targets and a cute octopus target made from a balloon.
My favorite projects in the book are the soup can safe, the gift card coin launcher, and the code wheel.

You can get this book from IPG Books or use the affiliate link below. affiliate links don't affect your cost, and provide extra income to me personally, which helps support my book addiction.

Christmas Tree coloring page

I hope you enjoy this coloring page. As usual, you can use this for any crafty use. Coloring, embroidery, etc.
Click the image for a bigger PNG version of this swirly Christmas tree coloring page.

I also posted instructions for this pressed penny bracelet on Beadwork at BellaOnline. I also opened a topic on the beadwork forum to trade pressed pennies. You do have to make an account to leave a comment on the forums.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some favorite gift ideas from

I always plan to make a list of things that I think will make good present ideas, and always get so busy I forget. These are all things I've used, read and enjoyed.

Mr. Coffee BVMC-EL1 Cafe Latte -This coffee maker brews a strong 8 ounces of coffee while heating and whipping non-fat or low-fat milk into a thick froth. Also works very well with soy or almond milk. Serves 2 drinks. I love this because it uses standard small basket filters with your own coffee, and because you can also use it for tea lattes with 3 tea bags. My teenager daughter thinks it's fantastic, easy frothy, foamy drinks at home.

The Button Factory: Everything You Need to Instantly Create 25 Fabric-Covered Pins! (Craft)- Pieces and instructions to make 25 covered fabric buttons. Great for crafty tweens and adults. It makes small, cute buttons that are very cool.

Made to Play!: Handmade Toys and Crafts for Growing Imaginations- Toys! I loved the stylish, simple toy ideas in this book, they really encourage imagination.

Leifheit 3086 Vario Board Cutting Board- I love this cutting board, but it's definitely not for everyone. It's really big. What I love about it is the colored plastic foils make it easy for my family to remember which is which. So they aren't using my bamboo boards and mixing them up. It's really 9 different surfaces, both sides of each foil and the base. When I'm making soups I'll just pull up the whole foil after chopping and dump the ingredients into the pan.

Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking- LOVED this book. It's all about the science behind why certain things work the way they do when you're cooking. Knowing the science behind it can make you a better cook. It also includes a nifty table about bread baking and possible ratios of ingredients to bake bread. If you know someone who loves science and cooking, this is a great book for them.

The Manga Guide to Physics- I actually love all the Manga Guides, but this one, along with the one listed below are my favorites. Cute wraparound stories that are engaging, with pages of text that explain the concepts in more detail. These aren't just for kids. Any layperson would get a stronger understanding of the topics by reading these. This one explains Newtonian physics very well. Written by experts for very accurate information.

The Manga Guide to the Universe And here's the Manga Guide to the Universe, which gives a lot of information and explains a bit of the history of astrophysics.

I'm going to do a specifically craft book list and a specifically bead book list later.

All links are affiliate links, which don't affect your cost and help support this

Gift cards from make a very green gift for your favorite Kindle user. You can have them delivered digitally. My email address is on my side bar. You know, if you're really wanting to get me something. *grins* The balance also gets applied to MP3 purchases and MP3 purchases from Amazon go into cloud storage so you can listen to your music from any device.


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