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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Coloring books, yogurt and avocado oil

The mandala above is watermarked with a big peace symbol because it's part of a coloring book I'm working on for my absolute favorite coloring book publisher. This is so huge, so amazing that it's been hard to talk about because I'm afraid I'll wake up and it will all be a dream.

However, getting a nasty flu bug twice in 6 weeks wasn't a dream, so now I'm trying to catch up and make the preliminary deadline which is why there hasn't been a printable calendar this year. If you don't mind getting one in January I could do it then.

My kids have been cooking dinner every night while I work on this deadline. My husband is my best cheerleader and he MOSTLY helps keep me on track. Last night though he decided I needed a break and we watched RED 2 together. I adore Helen Mirrin so much, Helen Mirrin with big guns and lots of things going boom is even better.

One thing I haven't mentioned in here is that we've switched to mostly avocado oil for cooking. It handles high heats beautifully and we had been mostly sauteing in it- then we were out of oil and TG was making Tator Tots as part of dinner. Instead of baking them, she decided to fry them. In avocado oil, which I might have been annoyed about because it's a bit more expensive but they tasted so good. She was also careful to only use a little oil. Perfectly crispy, brown and gorgeous with no smokey oil.

Anyway, I'm hooked on the stuff. If you've been thinking about trying it, do. For cooking it's great. But it's also been a life saver for my seriously dry skin in the winter. I keep a little in a small glass bottle and apply it straight from the shower. It just takes a little bit. It's thick and viscous and feels just a little sticky when it goes on, then it absorbs and my skin is loving it. Because it takes so little, it's been more economical than the lotions I was using and works better.

The other big thing in going on is that I ordered some mesophilic yogurt cultures. I've written about yogurt before but always made it using thermophilic methods in the past. So after this deadline- expect a post about making yogurt. The starter batches are currently culturing.

Well, that's it. Back to drawing mandalas for this coloring book.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas was lovely

The last few weeks, between being sick and then trying to get caught up on this coloring book, the holidays and pretty much everything else got away from me. My kids have been cooking gorgeous meals. My husband has been calling to remind me to take a break and there have been insane amounts of coffee drank.

Still behind on that. But slowly starting to catch. Today though we took a break for Christmas.

If you've lost someone you love very much, you know the holidays can be hard. So for everyone out there who was missing someone this holiday season- I hope your memories bought you more joy than sadness, more laughter than tears and more blessings than pain.

My family spoiled each other. My daughter finger knitted bracelets for all of us. I asked her if she would be willing to do an instructional video later to show how she made them. They are soft and fun.

Everybody except my dad and I got something game related- and the only reason he didn't was because William couldn't find the game he wanted to get him! They all loved them.

The stand out gifts?

My dad and son gave me a pair of Wonder Woman sneakers from Journeys.
My husband got me THIS!

Oh yes. There will be foams in the future. I will do foamy light microwave cakes, then top them with whipped yogurt. I will foam all sorts of things because it's shiny and new and wonderful.

My husband got his gifts early because they were things he needed for work. But last month I was sent a video game to review and he was certain he wouldn't like it, but was willing to try it to give me his opinion as well.

From my Amazon review-
 It's like reading a book and being able to put it down after a chapter to get other things done. My son thinks the mini games are too simple and prefers more rpg based games. My daughter likes it for an hour at a time then switches to something with a faster pace and more action.

My husband was the person in my family who was most convinced he probably wasn't going to like it much. Then he started playing. To use that same book comparison- this is the book you stay up all night to read and spend the next day bleary eyed, drinking coffee to come back home and read some more.

I don't recommend it for anyone who has issues with profanities or violence, but he loves it. So Dad and William gave him more of the AC games to try out.
The Amazing Turnip Girl- being the perfect geek got and loved a SuperWhoLock gift set The Geek Studio on Etsy (currently on hiatus until after the New Year). The set includes a laser cut necklace inspired by each show. For Sherlock it's a silhouette of his head inscribed with the words "I believe in Sherlock Holmes", Supernatural it's Rule #1, and a TARDIS for Doctor Who. It also has 4 silicone bracelets, 1 that says SuperWhoLock and the other 3 inspired by the shows and 6 buttons for each show. She was thrilled and showed them off quite happily.
William loves his Threadless shirts. He wants to have as big a collection as mine. He got one with Tesla and Lovecraft on it, and one that's book themed.
Dad was happy with his tool set and happy that I didn't forget the chocolate kiss that's been his traditional gift every year since I was 8. He counts on that great big piece of chocolate.
It's never about the stuff though is it? It's about time with family. 
And I love my impossibly geeky, incredibly funny and always interesting bunch of left-handed geeks! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chunky Soft Bobble Bangles- Crochet

I love making soft bangles! This pattern was supposed to be posted yesterday because the one on the far left was done day before yesterday. But then I decided it would look good with 2 colors of yarn and my geeky daughter picked the yarn. She decided on Portal blue and orange

So after I finished one, she also decided she needed one with the opposite colorway. Fortunately they are very quick but that's why the pattern is being posted today instead of yesterday. My examples are in Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn. The bottom is Psychedelic Ombre, the top two (Portal!) are in Hot Orange and Hot Blue.

You will need:

  • Worsted weight yarn in one or two colors- a small amount will do.
  • Size H hook (5mm)
  • Scissors
  • yarn needle
Stitches used: 
sc=single crochet
bobble= 3dc bobble

To make the bobbles- yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over, pull loop through stitch, yarn over, pull through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yarn over, insert hook in same stitch, yarn over, pull through stitch, yarn over, pull through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yarn over, inset hook in same stitch, yarn over, pull though stitch, yarn over, pull through 2 loops, yarn over, pull through all loops. 

To work with 2 colors- the contrast color is carried along the main color after the first chain. Pull out some of the contrast color and lay it over the chain with a tail to weave in- crochet over it as you work the first row of single crochets. Then for the next row, the last yarn over of each stitch is done with the color you will use for the next stitch. This is an easy color change here since the color changes with each stitch, so for the single crochets, you'll insert the hook, yarn over, pull through stitch, yarn over with the other color and pull through the 2 loops on the hook. For the bobbles, you'll work in that color until the last yarn over then switch and pull through all loops. Then the final round, work in the main color working over the contrast color across the top of the stitches.

Chain 28 loosely, slip stitch to join, being careful not to twist the ring.
Rnd 1: ch 1 tightly (does not count as first stitch) single crochet in each stitch around. Slip stitch to join.
Rnd 2: ch 1 tightly (does not count as first stitch) single crochet in first stitch, bobble in next stitch, work that way around alternating single crochets and bobbles. Slip stitch to join (14 bobbles)
Rnd 3: ch 1 tightly (does not count as first stitch), single crochet in each stitch around, slip stitch to join. 

Break off, and weave in the ends!

If 28 is too small or too big, you can increase or decrease the size by working any even number of stitches.

These are so fast! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Snowknot gift box to print and make

This month I got two different kinds of flu! One from my daughter, one from my husband. It's been a fun month. So there hasn't been much in the way of arts, crafts or cooking. Mostly just watching Red Dwarf, Doc Martin and reading books on my kindle with the font size made huge so it wouldn't give me a headache.

So that's why there hasn't been much for the holidays. I hope you enjoy this gift box! There is a black and white version for people like Libby to color, and a colored version to put together for last minute gifts.

Click on the images for larger versions, print on card stock, cut out, score folds, fold and glue!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I Am The Pipe Cleaner Master | INDIE ALASKA- video

I'm a huge fan of Kenneth Sterling William's work. I posted about him in 2009 here- Pipe Cleaner Master when I got this lovely Wonder Woman figure from him.

Yesterday at the Mall at Sears, I picked up two little Minion figures (I'll post a photo later- my camera batteries need charging!) for 5.00 each. It was pretty nifty. One of them was already made and in his hands was the second with the body done and the face being added. I asked him how long it would take to finish it and he said "about 3 minutes" and talked to me steadily through it. He really, really is just as nice as he seems on the Indie Alaska video. 
You can read more about him (and his transforming figures!) here- 

Please, share this- or at least share the video. He's so nice, and so talented. He should get a broader audience for his work. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reusable Duck Tape® Pouches for Small Gifts

This post brought to you by Duck Brand provided by ShurTech Brands, LLC. All opinions are 100% mine.

Duck Tape pouches

Duck the Halls time again! When you find all sorts of creative uses for the fantastic holiday prints from DuckBrand®

Some of my own favorite uses are:

  • Stealth gift tags- A great way to keep people guessing, pick a print for each person on your list and label their gifts with just a strip of tape. On Christmas morning, tell them which print is theirs. 
  • DuckTape® Gift book - a notebook to keep track of sizes, preferences of the people you buy gifts for
  • Chains, bows and all sorts of things you can make with paper work great using DuckBrand® tapes as well (and have you seen their fabric tapes?)
  • reusuable pouches (tutorial below)

These pouches are super easy to make, inexpensive and can be re-used or be a gift as well. Because DuckBrand® makes so many great prints and colors they are easy to customize. 

You will need:

  • Sliding zipper sandwich bags
  • non-stick scissors
  • Duck Tape®!
  • optional- hole punch to make hangers for the pouches

Duck Tape pouch supplies

To start with, cut off a piece of tape the same width as the bottom of the bag and tape the bottom. If you want to cut off the bottom to make a smaller sized pouch like one for a cash gift- do that first.

Trimming pouch

Taping bottom

Now cover both sides of the bag with tape! I made it a little long, then trimmed it. 

Covering sides

Last step is to cut 2 pieces of tape as long as the pouch, and tape the sides so it's all nice and neat. You can also add a small tape tag and punch it with the hole punch for a hanging hole.

Final Duck Tape pouches

I was discussing this with my son, and we talked about other things we could do with the finished pouches. They would be great for kid's wallets for example. DuckTape® comes in so many great prints that it's easy to make these just perfect for anyone on your list. 

Follow @TheDuckBrand on Twitter for lots of ideas, tutorials and tips and create your own #DuckTheHalls project and share it on Twitter and Pinterest using the #DuckTheHalls hashtag!

One final quick gift idea- If you get really pinched for time- rolls of Duck Tape® make a fantastic gift. Include a pair of non-stick scissors for crafty friends! 

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Crocheted Pendant Pouch

This pouch is super easy and fairly fast to make. It uses single crochet, chain and double crochet stitches.

The small pouch can be used to hold rocks and crystals, or with a smaller chain- used as a gift bag for a ring or piece of jewelry.

You will need:

  • size 10 thread
  • size 7 or 1.5 mm crochet hook (size 8 if you use Boye hooks)
  • tapestry needle big enough to fit the thread
  • scissors
sc= single crochet
sl st= slip stich
dc=double crochet
ch= chain
st or sts= stitch or stitches
repeat ** = repeat the instructions between the asterisks 

American terminology used throughout.

Chain 2 or magic ring
Rnd 1: 6 sc in first ch or ring- sl st to join (6 stitches)
Rnd 2: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in each st around, sl st to join (12 sts)
Rnd 3: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in first st, sc in next st, *2 sc in next st, sc in next st*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (18 sts)
Rnd 4: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in first st, sc in next 2 sts,  *2 sc in next st, sc in next 2 sts*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (24 sts)
Rnd 5: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in first st, sc in next 3 sts,  *2 sc in next st, sc in next 3 sts*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (30 sts)
Rnd 6: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in first st, sc in next 4 sts, *2 sc in next st, sc in next 4 sts*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (36 sts)
Rnd 7-9: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), sc in each st around, sl st to join.
Rnd 10: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), sc in first st,*ch 3, skip 1 stitch, sc in next st,* repeat ** 16 times (17 loops made), ch 1, dc in first sc (18 loops total)
Rnd 11: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), sc in top of loop, *ch 3, sc in next loop*, repeat ** 16 times, ch 1, dc in first sc.
Rnd 12: repeat Rnd 11
Rnd 13: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), sc in top of loop, ch 1,* sc in next loop, ch 1*, repeat ** around, sl st to first sc to join.
Rnd 14: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), sc in each st and space around, sl st to join. 
Rnd 15-16: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), sc in each st around, sl st to join

Repeat Rnds 10-14

Rnd 15: Ch 2, dc in next 2 sts, ch 3, skip 3 stitches, *dc in next 3 sts, ch 3*, repeat ** around, sl st to join in 2nd ch of ch 2 (6 spaces made)
Rnd 16: Ch 1 tightly (does not count as first sc), sc in each st around. 
Break off, weave in ends

Chain a length long enough to slip over your neck, or 6 inches long if you are using it for a gift bag instead, sl st back down the length of the chain. Break off leaving ends long enough to weave in. Weave strap through the chain 3 spaces on Round 15, then tie off ends and weave them in. 

More pendant bag projects-

Friday, December 13, 2013

FrogTape®- Quick Gifts for Gardening Friends

This post brought to you by FrogTape provided by ShurTech Brands, LLC. All opinions are 100% mine.

Gift Pot

If you've ever painted a terracotta pot using tape- you know that the textured surface can make less than perfect lines. But wow. Look at those nice clean lines! You can get those kind of perfect lines on all sorts of surfaces like stucco or cinderblocks using FrogTape Textured Surface

It takes a couple extra steps, but the end result is so gorgeous and clean. 

For this project- you'll need:

  • a terracotta pot- I chose a medium sized pot
  • a saucer for the pot that will work as a lid
  • FrogTape® Textured Surface Tape
  • Latex paint- I used a high gloss interior/exterior paint
  • brushes
  • a wet cloth

Pick a pot and a saucer that the saucer is the right size to fit into the top of the pot as lid. Base paint both.

Base painted pot


I chose a close to TARDIS blue color and a light apricot. I also bought enough extra paint so this summer my daughter can paint her room door (it's a little cold to take it off the hinges and paint it now!) - She'll be using this tape when she paints her door. 

Let the latex paint dry for 3 days before taping according to the instructions. Then tape like a present. You'll tape the pot and lid separately.

Taped pot

Now it's time for the part that makes this tape work so good. Take a wet cloth and go over the edges of the tape. That activates the edge sealing. Then use the bottle of edge sealer and scrub over the edges with that. Let it dry and paint with your second color.

Nearly immediately after painting, remove the tape. Let dry.

What I'm doing with this pot is filling it with seeds that I know are reliable here in Anchorage, and including a page of notes about my experiences growing them. First I'll put in a pair of gardening gloves to block the hole at the bottom- then make up individual packets of my favorite seeds.  Tie a small garden trowel to the top of the pot with a piece of jute string and it's a perfect gift for a novice gardening friend. So she can use the pot immediately, I'm also putting in some herb seeds. 

Follow @FrogTape on Twitter for lots of great #TexturedSurface ideas.- Create your own projects and pin them using the #TexturedSurface hashtag to share them. 


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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December Birthstone and Flower Mandala

The last of the birthstone and birth flower mandalas- December!
December actually has a few options for a birthstone. Blue zircon has been traditional in the USA since the 50s. Turquoise, tanzanite, blue topaz and lapis lazuli are all used as well. Think blue! The flower is narcissus, which you can find all over the place in December as a bulb you can force indoors.

Happy birthday to everyone born in December! Which includes my son who was born on New Year's Eve.

This is part of my Birth Flower/Birthstone series of printable mandalas to color. You can see the rest of the series here-
The Birthstone and Flower series of Mandalas

Click the images for larger versions to print and color-
Small JPG version-

Large transparent PNG version-

A couple gift ideas for December birthdays- (Amazon affiliate links)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Making a fun LEGO minifigure holiday card

This post brought to you by LEGO. All opinions are 100% mine.
LEGO has this fun part of their site called LEGO Minifigure Family where you can create minifigure versions of you and your family to use as a holiday card.
Minifigure Family
It's really easy to use. You get to add people and pets one by one, and customize them. Starting by picking out skin tone, then faces- which includes several expressions and some of them have glasses. Next step is hair or hat style. After that, click on torso to pick a shirt, then legs to pick pants. Or if you want play a bit- you can randomize the outfit.
It was a lot of fun picking the outfits, faces etc that best reflect my family. My husband does wear sweater vests, our daughter does wear suits. I'm kind of a hippie so the finge and tie dye work out well for me. My dad dresses plainly, but likes to wear caps and does have a full face of hair. It was so easy to pick the outfits for each one.
It's all very easy to use and after your done you have the option of sharing the finished image, or downloading it.
Minifigures are so nifty, and creating your family in minifigures makes for a memorable, fun greeting. Go try it out!
LEGO Minifigure Family
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Book Review- Snowflakes, Sunbursts and Stars

Snowflakes, Sunbursts and Stars- 75 Exquisite Paper Designs to Fold, Cut and Curl is one of those books that just excites me down the core of my paper crafting soul.

The reason is because it's kirigami (cut paper designs), origami (folded paper designs) and quilling (coiled paper designs) to create all sorts of gorgeous mandala like designs that can be used for home decoration, on cards or made tiny, as jewelry.

It's a nicely made hardcover book, with tons of projects. Beautifully photographed double page spreads in the beginning show you all the projects. Then the introduction covers tools, techniques and paper types- so if your a complete novice to any of the techniques, you can start just with this book. The introduction covers basics of paper quilling, how to read origami diagrams and how to follow the kirigami instructions.

Each technique is in it's own section, and the projects are all marked by shape- sunbursts, stars or snowflakes.

First is the quilling- these are gorgeous, lacy designs that are diagrammed very well to show how to glue together the components to create filigree shapes. The technique is wonderful and finished pieces are good for jewelry and ornaments.

Origami explains how to make different shapes to work with, starting with cutting a square from a rectangle of paper, then making other shapes. It also shows how the same basic base will look completely different according to the number of sides your base shape has. The bases by themselves are attractive, but then it gets into the projects which develop on those bases for intricate models. Some of those have a lot of folds and are a little bit challenging for me- I'm an experienced paper folder but not an expert.

Kirigami is my favorite section. It explains how to fold the paper to cut 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 sided shapes then shows a bunch of gorgeous snowflakes, stars and sunbursts to cut. There is something so satisfying about opening out a square of folded, cut paper to see the delicate snowflake appear.

I absolutely recommend this book- it's one of my favorite books of 2013! affiliate links don't affect your cost, and provide extra income to me personally, which helps support this site.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review, I received no other compensation, and my review is my honest opinion of the book. You can read more about my review policy here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sunny Christmas Coloring Page

Remember when I posted the Sunny Christmas printable box? This is especially good for people in places that just don't get snow at all for Christmas and was inspired by a lady in Australia.

Here's a coloring page for you all. I hope you enjoy it!
Click on the images for larger versions to print and color.

Small JPG version:

Large transparent PNG:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunny Santa Mandala

When I posted this sunny Santa the other day, I said I'd be doing a coloring page soon. Actually, I'm doing 2. The one I'll post tomorrow will be a lot like the one above. The page today is a simplified version as a mandala. I hope you like it.

I'm pretty envious right now of people who are in warm places for Christmas. It's snowy and gorgeous here, but bitter cold. Click on the images below for a larger version to print and color.

Small JPG version:

Large transparent PNG version: