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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wizard Mandala to color

Wizard mandala with a blank version to color

July 31, 1980, James and Lily Potter had a little boy. James Potter's best friend Sirius Black was named godfather of young Harry.

July 31, 1965 was when J.K. Rowling was born, and I'm sure nobody ever expected at the time she would write a series of books that would get kids and parents around the country reading together, going to midnight parties to celebrate the release of those books, and just generally breaking all sorts of records and creating history. But she did.

I hope you enjoy this mandala that I drew to celebrate, a wizardly mandala with a wand and hat. Click the images below for larger mandalas to color.

Small jpg version:
Wizard-y mandala to color- also available as transparent PNG

Lg transparent PNG:
Wizard-y mandala to color- also available as jpg

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review- Decorating Eggs

Book review- Decorating Eggs by Jane Pollack

I'm always a little sad when great resource books go out of print, and then excited when they get re-released.

If you've ever had an interest in pysanka eggs, this book has almost everything you need to know about the art. So I'll start with what it doesn't have- instructions for centering a design on an egg. Those can be found easily enough in other books and on the internet.

What it does have? Tips, instructions and design help from someone who spent decades decorating eggs for sale, doing shows, teaching people how to do it, and becoming very, very good at it.

It starts with a list of the tools and supplies you'll need. Starting with how to find the right kind of eggs, and the difference between types of kitskas then explaining the wax, dyes and finishing techniques. This is not strictly traditional, because there are a lot of time saving tools used, like rotary tools for cutting, egg blowers and polyurethane. All of which help you make a better finished egg and give you more time for creating your art.

Next, a step by step tutorial tells you how dye, explains the order of the colors you use, and how to apply wax. Then it tells you how to get the wax off your colored egg and how to finish it for display.

None of that is the best part of this book, which is full of color photos and display ideas.

The best part is the design ideas, the author shows how designs can be taken from other arts, textiles like batik- which also uses wax for resisting color are natural, but the geometric quilt designs are my favorite. The examples show how color can radically alter a simple geometric design, and where to look for ideas. Lacey designs, designs that look like henna, showing how different lengths of time in a dye bath can create great tone on tone effects are all part of the ideas offered.

For more traditional designs, there is a great chapter on the meaning of the design elements in Ukrainian eggs, it explains motifs, bands and color usage with sketched examples and gorgeous photos of eggs. If you want to design an egg specifically for a person that would have relevancy and be traditional, this information is fantastic.

At the end of the book, there is information about designing jewelry from eggs. How to cut them and stabilize them to create brooches, barrettes and pendants.

It encourages you to play. That you can go traditional, but that you can also decorate an egg to fit your own personality. It takes a lot of the mystery out of these gorgeous eggs, and makes the basic techniques less scary. I recommend this book to anyone interest in egg art, but also to people who haven't ever considered it but do things like zentangles or henna. The same designs you build on paper or skin will work on these eggs for a new way to display and market your art.

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.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pom Pom Bobby Pins

How to make pom pom bobby pins with pom pom instructions

Bobby pins go by a few names, but by any name, they are pretty awesome for crafters because it doesn't take much to decorate one. This project uses standard bobby pins- the inexpensive ones that are on cards at the drug store.

To make the pom pom bobby pin-
Make pom poms, slide the pin into the piece of yarn that ties all the strands together. It's that easy. Make them in school colors for your kids, make them in sport team colors to support your favorite team, or just make them in fashion colors because pom poms are fun.

To make the pom pom:

There are a lot of methods for making pom poms. Using forms and pom pom makers, using forks, using your fingers. For small ones, I like using my fingers. This is my method for making them, and includes how to get the tying strand through without trying to poke it through fingers that are tied together with yarn.

You will need:
yarn- of course!
crochet hook- I like a size H for this, but just grab what's convenient.

Cut a strand of yarn about 8 inches long to use for the tie in the middle.
Then put the hook between the index and middle fingers on your non-dominant hand. I'm lefthanded, so it's in my right hand. The hook have the open side facing your finger tips.
Start wrapping. For a small, very full pom pom, I like 50-70 wraps with worsted weight yarn. 

Once it's full enough, put the tying thread over the open end of the hook.

Pull the hook through with the yarn.
Now tie one half of a knot around the middle of the yarn bundle, and slide carefully off your fingers. Finish the knot pulling tight.
Cut the loops open. When you do, you'll notice that because of the layers, the yarn ends are all sorts of lengths. That's okay, that's how it's supposed to look.

Flatten, then cut into a disk shape.
It still won't be perfect, but it's a lot closer at this point!

Now it's time to trim, just trim the ends that stick out until you have a nice round pom pom.

The reason you start with a larger size is both because you're going to trim it to size, but also because it makes it easier to knot the center and work a fuller pom pom.

This also works just fine to make larger pom poms, putting the hook between the index and ring fingers, and then wrapping around all 4 fingers. You'll have to do a lot more wraps, and if you want a matched pair, count your wraps. Large pom poms can be put on bigger bobby pins and used to accent a ponytail.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Riddler, my garden, and some random photos

Some photos from this month...

Leather Magpie Barrette
 The barrette above was made by my good friend Andrea. She knows how much I love magpies and makes some of the most gorgeous fantasy leather accessories around. You can see her masks, barrettes, crowns and jewelry at her Etsy shop - Beadmask on Etsy

Real magpies!
Did you know that American magpies and Australian magpies are completely different looking birds? *waves to all her Aussie readers* I hope you're all staying warm! If you live in Australia and have a photo you took of magpies that you'd be willing to share, I'd love to share it with my readers.

Karen, another friend of mine, gave me some forget-me-nots for my yard. They look so pretty and dainty!

My sugar snap peas!
So many snap peas! I planted a bunch because we all grazed like crazy last year. We are doing the same thing this year. They taste so good.

The Amazing Turnip Girl told me she didn't have a costume for the Batman party we went to. But she dug a purple-ish shirt out of her closet, and a necktie with some green in it, and teamed it with a thrifted suede vest. Then she made the accessory that made it a costume!

This is made with cardboard, paper mache, duct tape, spray paint and acrylic paint. She didn't have a costume because she's been working on a costume for an upcoming Marvel event.

I need to get more Command hooks to use for displaying her costume accessories. She's getting so good at creating things out of minimal supplies and on a budget.

My raspberries are starting to redden, we've been fighting over the strawberries as they ripen, and watching more and more green tomatoes pop up on the tomato plants. I'm getting impatient waiting for them to change color!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Batman is 75!

Bat signal box and Funko Pop Nightwing

Batman's 75th Anniversary Celebration is underway, and DC is partnering with comic book stores around the country to celebrate. So The Amazing Turnip Girl asked me "Aren't you going to do anything on your blog for Batman?"

Check your local comic book store to see if it's participating. My local comic book shop, Bosco's will have cake, masks and discounts on Batman merchandise and books.

See, I'm a Dick Grayson fangirl, from when he was Robin in the elf booties on Superfriends, to Nightwing in the 80s with the silly wing costume and the popped collar, to 90s long haired bad boy Nightwing, the red costume and Grayson. Without Batman there would be no Robin, and so no Dick Grayson.

So I put together this quick printable treat box as a tribute to Batman. I hope you enjoy it.

Click the image below for a larger version to print on card stock, follow the instructions on the printable to make it.
Printable bat signal treat box

The figure in the photo is a Funko Pop! Nightwing that a good friend of mine got me as a present. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A new mandala to color

mandala- blank version available to color

This is the mandala off the printable box that I posted the other day. This time ready for you to print and color!

Click the images below for a larger version to print and color.
Small JPG version:
simple mandala to color, also available in a larger transparent PNG format.

Lg transparent PNG version:
geometric mandala to color- also available in a smaller size jpg

I'd like to say that I've been horribly busy, but it's not actually true. The truth is, Amazon's new subscription book service has the Harry Potter books and I'm enjoying re-reading them.  We did go out Friday for Live After Five downtown, it's a free music performance and this time it was a local reggae band. That was a lot of fun. It was a gorgeous day, there was great food available, a bubble machine blowing bubbles everywhere and great music. 

Amazon is this huge part of my day to day life. I'm a top 100 reviewer there, and a Prime subscriber. Prime offers free 30 day trials so you can see if it will suit your life. In my case it was a no-brainer. I got it for the shipping because shipping to Alaska can be insane. But it's one of the best buys we've made. We started streaming free Prime shows through our PS3, and then eventually got the Fire TV (GARY BUSEY!).
We are also all active Kindle users for reading fiction. My husband uses the Kindle app on his iPad to read comic books, I use the the app on my Android tablet for graphic novels and magazines. For novels- we all have Kindle e-readers. With the new Amazon subscription for e-books, for about 10 dollars a month, you can read all sorts of books for free. That includes my own e-books about bread baking and beading, but also things like the Harry Potter books, and there is a free 30 day trial for that too. Try them both, see what you think. - Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies & TV Shows Anytime - Start Free Trial Now

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mandala boxes to print and make

Mandala of light

I hope you enjoy these lacy mandala boxes! They are in 3 different colors and measure 3x3x1 inch. Just click the images for larger versions, print them out on card stock, cut out, score folds, fold, and glue!

A good all-occasion gift box, some people fill this size with little treats as gifts.

Printable mandala gift boxes in blue, orange and green

Printable mandala gift boxes in orange. blue and green

Green printable mandala box- also available in blue and orange

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cast Iron Skillet Box- crochet pattern

My daughter is a new cast iron enthusiast. It started with me getting her a skillet of her very own a few months ago, then I got a new grill pan for myself that she has been using regularly. So I decided to make her a little cast iron box for her rings. This box is very quick to make, but does take some piecing to attach the handles, and the disk on the lid so the lid sits right instead of just balancing on the pan.

You will need:
Black worsted weight cotton yarn- I used Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton
Size F or G hook (4.25 mm) - I work pretty tightly so a G hook worked for me.
large tapestry needle to sew pieces together and weave in ends

This box is made in 5 pieces.
sc=single crochet
sl st= slip stitch
st or sts= stitch or stitches
repeat ** around means repeat what is between the asterisks all the way around.

Chain 2 or make magic ring
Round 1: 6 sc in first ch, sl st to join
Round 2: ch 1 (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in each st around, sl st to join (12 sts)
Round 3: ch 1 (does not count as first sc) sc in same st, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next st, 2 sc in next st*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (18 sts)
Round 4: ch 1 (does not count as first sc), sc in first st, 2 sc in next st, sc in next st,*sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, sc in next st*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (24 sts)
Round 5: Working in back loops only! ch 1 (does not count as first sc), sc in each st around, sl st to join.
Round 6-7: working in both loops, ch 1 (does not count as first sc), sc in each st around, sl st to join.
Round 8: Reinforce the top by slip stitching in each stitch around from last round. Break off and weave in ends.

Lid part one:
Chain 2 or make magic ring
Round 1: 6 sc in first ch, sl st to join
Round 2: ch 1 (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in each st around, sl st to join (12 sts)
Round 3: ch 1 (does not count as first sc) sc in same st, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next st, 2 sc in next st*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (18 sts)
Round 4: ch 1 (does not count as first sc), sc in first st, 2 sc in next st, sc in next st,*sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, sc in next st*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (24 sts)

Lid part two:
Chain 2 or make magic ring
Round 1: 6 sc in first ch, sl st to join
Round 2: ch 1 (does not count as first sc), 2 sc in each st around, sl st to join (12 sts)
Round 3: ch 1 (does not count as first sc) sc in same st, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next st, 2 sc in next st*, repeat ** around, sl st to join (18 sts)

Center the smaller piece on the bigger piece and sew together.

Handle for the pan:
Ch 9, skip 5 chs, and sl st in 6th ch, sl st back to first ch.
Round 1: ch 1 to turn, sc in next 3 sts, sc 6 times in loop, sc down the other side of next 3 sts. Break off leaving a tail to sew to pan.

Handle for lid:
chain 5, sk last chain, sl st all the rest of the stitches, break off leaving a tail to sew piece on.

Now it's time to sew it all together, the handle for the pan goes on the top row of the pan, the lid handle is centered on top of the larger circle and stitched into place.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review- Drink the Harvest

Book review- Drink the Harvest

Drink the Harvest by Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest is a great primer for people who want to start making drinkables from their own garden produce, and things they can find seasonally in farmer's markets. This photo-rich book is thoughtfully laid out in a way that makes it easy to follow, even for absolute beginners.

It starts with giving the reasons you should be making your own drinks, and offers suggestions for what to grow in your garden for making great juices. Not just fruit juices, it talks about berries, rhubarb, things that can be grown for tea, and vegetables.

The next section discusses equipment, sterilization methods, and how to pick and wash your harvest. This is an essential chapter for beginners because have an overview of the equipment that's going to be necessary, as well as tips for optional equipment that will make it easier.
The recipes:
It starts with the basics, the juice recipes Berry juice, pear juice, non-alcoholic ciders, some vegetable juices and a great spicy bloody mary mix as well as other recipes. These can be modified to fit what you have available and processing times are included if you decide you want to can your juices instead of freezing or refrigerating them.

The next chapter is the one for adults, the ever classic dandelion wine as well as a few mead recipes, hard cider recipes and herbed, fruit and other types of wine. This is the chapter for the patient, and explains how fermentation works, how to ferment, how to rack for flavor and clarity and everything else you need to know about making your own wines, meads and ciders.

After that, the chapter for people who love to make their own sodas, or want specialty syrups for other things, it's the syrups! For this, knowing how to make juice is important, because you'll be using the juices as the base for syrups. Watermelon, herbed fruits and berries, and single flavored syrups are included as well as instructions for bottling.

The last chapter covers teas, tisanes and decoctions. This chapter has less recipes, and is more about techniques and a suggestion list for various types of flowers and herbs that can be dried to use as teas. It includes how to dry using the paper bag method, or using a dehydrator, and storage instructions. Then there are instructions for drying citrus peels which are popular in teas, how to make a rose hip decoction which can be kept in the freezer to add for a vit. C boost to other drinks and full, photo instructions for making kombucha, how to troubleshoot a SCOBY and how to bottle for carbonation.

I do recommend this book.
The part above is what I'm posting on Amazon, so here's the rest of the story...
 For me, canning and other preservation methods are about putting away a bit of summer to taste in the cold dark winter, luckily within walking distance I have wild chamomile and wild roses, in my own yard, I have clover, chickweed and dandelions for "weeds" and of course, my thicket of raspberries which look to give up even more than they did last year.
So I'll be making a raspberry syrup to use on a dessert on Winter solstice. I think that's a grand tradition to start, putting up some of my favorite of summer to have on the longest night as things start to turn back around.

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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.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lattice mandala to color

Lattice mandala to color

I hope you enjoy this simple mandala to color. It's very simple, but it's a good one for playing with colors.

Click the images below for a larger version to color.
Small jpg version:

A simple mandala to color- also available in transparent PNG format

Larger transparent png version:
A simple mandala to color- also available in jpg format

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Birds, melted car wires and other things

The last week has been busy. I wrote to the editor who I worked with on my coloring books with an idea for a coloring book, and working on preliminary sketches. 

The 4th of July weekend was a non-event around here because our car broke down Thursday night. EEK! Fortunately, it was only a few blocks away from our mechanic, but it took all weekend to get fixed. So we had a simple bbq, and my husband grilled asparagus just the way we all love it. Our family mechanic said that some of the wires melted, and it was a problem with our car model. He also said out of all those cars that were made, we had to have the best one because it was still on the road. We told him having a great mechanic helps! 

My garden is looking fantastic. Sugar snap peas are flowering, and I saw tomatoes!
Those are the only two I see so far, but there are hundreds of flowers on my 8 whippersnapper plants. If you're in a short season area that's cold, these are some of the best tomatoes I've seen. One of them snapped in a windstorm and it's got branches and flowers now too! It's container friendly, sprawls and grows grape sized tomatoes. I'll let you know how they taste!

Pollinators like bees and the occasional wasp are all over my yard. The other day I counted 4 kinds of bees around my raspberries. 

I also took my new camera out to try it for distance at the end of last month. Click the images to see full size.

Up in one of those trees is a Bald Eagle. Here's the cropped version of the above photo to show you where.
See the arrow? That's the eagle. 
Zooming in as far as my new bridge camera will go- that's the eagle. 
Here's the crop of that picture-
None of the photos are retouched or recolorized. Just resized and cropped, and an arrow drawn in, and all were taken using auto-focus. 

So far, I like it, but I like my Fujifilm bridge camera better. It doesn't have as much zoom, but it handles macro shots a bit better. 

That said, I really like how this photo turned out with the new camera-

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Galaxy Print Cookie Boxes

Printable boxes for sandwich cookies in 2 different sizes

I hope you enjoy this set of printable boxes- one size makes a box that will hold 2 sandwich cookies (Birthday Cake Oreos shown in photo), the other box will fit 4 cookies. With the Birthday Cake Oreos, which are a tiny bit thicker than regular Oreos, the lids bulge slightly. All the boxes in the photo have cookies in them, so you can tell it's not very visible.

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

Galaxy print printable cookie boxes- they hold 2 sandwich cookies each

Galaxy print printable cookie boxes- it holds 4 sandwich cookies each

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Raspberry White Chocolate Mocha MILKSHAKES!

Raspberry white chocolate mocha milkshake recipe

So the first thing that I thought of when I saw the Ball® Sip and Straw lids is "Those straws are big enough for thick shakes!"

Then discussed with The Turnip Girl the best kind of shake to make. She's wild for frozen coffee drinks, ice cream and as you know, anything chocolate. We talked about the popularity of Raspberry White Chocolate Mochas, so there it was. The perfect shake.

She used a BELLA 13984 Rocket Extract Pro Personal Blender .

You will need:
1 oz of white chocolate- or 7 squares of a Lindt White Chocolate Classic Recipe bar (those are the ones that break into 30 pieces)
3/4 cup cold milk
2 Tbs. instant espresso powder- I like Medaglia D'Oro Instant Espresso Coffee , and keep a jar for adding to baking and other things.

Put those in your blender and blend until the chocolate pieces are completely broken up. If you're using a Rocket Extract Pro, this happens really quickly

Add in 1 cup of vanilla ice cream, 1/4 cup frozen raspberries and blend for a few seconds more to incorporate it.

Pour into a cup and serve.

Soo good! The espresso powder makes the coffee flavor nice and strong, and the frozen raspberries taste so much better than raspberry flavored syrups.

The photo above was taken by the Turnip Girl, the flower in the photo is one that a little girl in the neighborhood gave her, and she decided it should be in the picture. Isn't it pretty?

Like Ball® Canning & Recipes  on Facebook for lots of recipe ideas and links.