Saturday, May 31, 2008

Playing with Picnik

I've been taking lots of flower pictures this Spring. It has been an amazing season for flowers so far! The lilacs bloomed like never before. I used to use my old Pentax 35 mm a lot. Then we got our first digital camera. It was an older-model Olympus...sorry I forget and my daughter took it camping. When I got a surprise Kodak Easy Share for Christmas, I was a bit apprehensive. My initial need for a camera was for better shots of apparel and accessories for my Etsy boutique. Although I'm still learning how to use it, I once again see the beauty in everything!

I remember carrying the clunker old camera with the big lens, taking many many pictures and finding inspiration in everything. (Singing " Everything is beautiful in its' own way-ay
Like a starry summer night or a snow covered wi-inter's day-ay")

I was fortunate enough to work for a newspaper and developed my own black and white photos for my "Reporter on the Street" job. That allowed me some creativity to work with film.
Unfortunately, I don't have the digital editing skills that I had compared to film. Honestly, I have very little desire to learn it all either. Sure, sometimes I wish I knew more of the basic photoshop techniques. I've played with gimp and paint just enough to do a few minor adjustments. Otherwise, I rely on Picasa for the basics. Flickr allows you to store up to 200 photos for free. Upgrading to Flickr Pro allows unlimited photo storage.

Editing photos in Flickr takes you to the Picnik tools. There are some fun, free tools to play with. You can add borders, text, symbols and have lots of fun playing with pictures. They have many more premium services available as well. Both Flickr Pro and Picnik Premium cost $24.95 a year. I'm planning on asking for a Flickr Pro upgrade for Christmas to continue my subscription.
What a great way to spend a Saturday! Grab a cup of coffee and play with some pictures. I will be uploading several for my parents' 50th anniversary party. I thought a digital frame would be fun!
(My Flickr)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pizza's Ready!!

So, I missed my Blogaversary! I've been blogging for over a year now - holy cow. How about a pizza party??
I've been making homemade pizza for many years. Pizza and pancakes....I could make them in my sleep! Want to try it? It's easy.

Mix together 1 tablespoon yeast, 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup warm water, and 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil. Let rest until bubby - about 5 minutes. Mix in 1 cup of flour and start to knead the dough together, adding more flour if necessary. Knead until smooth - about 3 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until double. I often preheat the oven and let it rise on top, being careful it doesn't get too hot.

This makes enough for 2 pizzas (about 12"). Grease the pan and spread the dough. You can let it rise again slightly at this point if you want a really puffy crust. Top with your favorite sauce and/or toppings. Bake in a hot oven at 450° until brown and crisp. Make sure you don't under-cook the crust in the center and, if you bake both pizzas at once, try to offset them on the racks so that one isn't right on top of the other (or rotate the pans halfway through). I have a great recipe for homemade pizza sauce around here somewhere. Let me know if you'd like to have it. It makes a huge batch for canning. I make it once a year and it usually lasts until I make it again.

Enjoy your pizza....but don't burn the roof of your mouth!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Project Frustration

Have you ever had an idea and started a project only to have to walk away from it to make dinner or get to a Girl Scout meeting on time? With knitting, or crochet, it's fairly easy to set a project aside and come back to it whenever you want to. When I'm sewing, on the other hand, I would much rather finish the item in one sitting, or at least on consecutive days, if possible. I started a tote bag design on Friday and had to put it away for the long weekend. Now I'm wishing I had taken notes on what exactly I was planning. I have some measurements jotted down, but I'm still not exactly sure what I had in mind for it. Most of my designs end up being one-of-a-kind....because I don't write things down! I do, however, take better notes when designing with fiber.
I managed to finish the tote ...only to find a slightly crooked handle and a stain on the lining material. I'm not very happy with the way the fabric wrinkled to the fusible interfacing. So, maybe I have a new tote? Ah well - I like the colors.

I'm posting my first poll! Please take a moment to vote.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Notes from the trail

I was finally able to run on the trail again over the weekend. Coco was raring to go and was pulling me all the way. I took the camera with me and stopped several times to take pictures of flowers. Here's a picture of the long, straight part of the trail. It used to be a railroad, so it's pretty flat and straight. At the top is the trail in early April. And below that is the trail by the end of May...taken as close to the original spot as Coco would allow.

We spent the weekend finishing the garden, sitting by the fire, and smoking some ribs!
The garden is in the background. We planted corn, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and spinach. All you can see now are the herbs that survived the winter....oregano, chives, thyme, and sage.

Friday, May 23, 2008

No Worries

My husband has been riding his bike to work when the weather's nice. It's a long ride at 90 minutes or so, one way. He's got lots of reflectors and flashy lights and all, but I still worry about him.

Here you see my old, dirty Nokia, of which the inbox is filled with 20 or so messages saying "Made it - no worries." Let me tell you that it is quite comforting to hear that beep around 8 am or so and I'm very releaved to see that message again.

Oh and see cool felt cell pouch that my friend made. Stop by and browse SeatOfMyPants at Etsy to see more of her great designs. I love the colors of this Seeing Spots Run Tote!

I finally finished this knit fabric strip purse that I have been working on for a long time. I had the two pieces knit, but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the handle. I opted for a shoulder length strap that's crocheted with brass rings. I love how it turned out!

Also Also New!! Upcycled Jams!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Follow your instincts.


I love Dove Dark Chocolate! This is the sixth one in a row that says "Follow your instincts." Do you think they're trying to tell me something?
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Heeeeee Shoots and Scores!!

"You can spit shine your shoes. The Penguins are going to dance with Lord Stanley."
"Michael Michael Motorcycle!"
"Buy Sam a drink and get his dog one too." ~ Mike Lange, voice of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Eastern Conference Champions!

My friend made this Detroit Red Wings Octopus for a Michigan fan. Isn't it cute?? Great job on the logo. It is awesome! I'm sure they're going to love squeezing it when the Pens sweep the Finals!! Check out the fun things minimeg has for sale in her Etsy shop too.

I found these cute Penguin jersey wooden ornaments on Etsy. Here's #87 Sid-the-Kid Crosby. Check out craftsbyjodi for more!

"Look out Loretta!" Here's a site with lots of Mike Lange calls.
Check out the official Pittsburgh Penguins website for over 60 Playoff Wallpapers, awesome screensavers and more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I rescued the hillside from my husband and the lawnmower. I wanted to get a picture of these flowers that grow among the grass and creeping phlox, but they just blended in.
Here's the best close-up shot I could get.

After doing some research, I found that these are probably Pink Pussytoes or Pink Everlasting Scientific Name: Antennaria rosea Family: Asteraceae (More information here.)

My Mom always called these Pussy Feet, but I really wasn't sure. I am still not sure whether they will open up or change color any more. They are usually mowed-over by now. There is a flower called Pussy Foot, but it's slightly different and low to the ground. These are stalky with 6 -1 0" stems.

They do look like cat's toes, don't they?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Speed Blog

I'm on my way out the door to meet my Mom. We're shopping for decorations for their 50th anniv. party! It will be nice to spend the day with her.

I'll have to finish this purse tomorrow then, but I wanted to show you what a difference an iron made for me this morning. I love to iron. I remembering ironing baskets full of sheets, shirts, and more when I was little. I've been ironing so much lately that the ironing board has been in the living room for over two weeks! You can see how nice and flat the pressed piece is while the other has the typical knitted curl. I need to figure out the handle and finish the lining, but I think it will be a nice purse!

Aren't these Lily of the Valley pretty? My kitchen smells wonderful! Check out this blog post I found about Lily of the Valley. It will make you LOL.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I have Mario Batali's autograph! My Mom and Dad were lucky enough to meet him. He signed it in me!

And look! That's an eel.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Custom Design

Here's a sneak peak at what I'm working on. Having just finished a custom shrug for a new customer, I wanted to share the design. I'm going to make a listing for a custom shrug - made to your specifications. You choose the color and style. I have a few gorgeous colors of Vanna's Choice yarns, with more available. I hope to finish this Olive one soon with 3/4 sleeves. Also shown is Mustard, Pea Green, Antique Rose, and Chocolate. Some of my other favorites are Honey and Brick Red. You can see all the available colors here. I love this yarn. For acrylic, it is soft and the colors are beautiful! This custom listing will be available soon! Stop by and browse.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Use what you have.....Garden Edition

Last winter I joined a crafty Flickr group entitled "Use What You Have" with the original intent of using up some of my yarn stash before I purchased any more. I went the entire month of February without buying any yarn! That was difficult for me, especially when I went to the craft store with my sister and didn't buy anything!

Little did I know how this small effort would affect all aspects of my life. With rising gas prices and a tight budget in general, I have expanded on the "Use What You Have" idea in order to cut back on spending, making fewer trips to the store, and to make due with what is available here at home.

I was finally able to get the garden started yesterday. I planted lettuces and spinach and cleaned up the herbs that survived the winter. One of my favorite Spring herbs is Lemon Balm. A member of the mint family, lemon balm spreads itself out in the garden just like mint. I like to use it fresh in the Spring because it tends to get stalky, dry, and sometimes buggy later on in the Summer.

If you've never tried lemon balm, don't be fooled by the pungent lemon smell when you first break up a leaf. The flavor mellows a lot when you use it in cooking.

So, what's for dinner after a day in the garden? How about marinated chicken breasts on the grill?

Lemon Balm Marinade/Vinaigrette

Mix together 1 tablespoon minced shallots (green onions or chives will work too), 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon balm leaves, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 6 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar would be good too), 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Mix well and blend in 8 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil). Use as a marinade for chicken or fish, or as a vinaigrette salad dressing. Discard the leftover marinade just in case.

I got a great price on whole chicken breasts and they took longer to cook on the grill, but were delicious. I didn't get a picture because the kids were too hungry!

The first time I ever saw lemon balm used in food was at a folk festival in Pennsylvania. A lady was selling lemon balm cookies and they were delicious. Try adding some chopped lemon balm to your favorite butter or sugar cookie recipe. The last time I tried it I didn't use enough. The lemon flavor is very subtle, so if you want lemon-flavored lemon balm cookies, add some lemon zest or lemon flavoring also.

I'm looking forward to more good things from my garden, less running around and a great way to "Use What You Have!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Old World Style

I was browsing Old World Shoppes on Etsy and came across these beautiful hand-embroidered felt rings by Waterrose. There are so many beautiful colors and designs to choose from. Each one is unique.

I love seeing vintage embroidery style on newly-handcrafted designs. This Antique Morning Glories Cuff Bracelet is a fine example. Working the intricate vines and textures of the flowers, along with the botanical textbook-like illustrations, Waterrose's free-hand embroidery adds an old world style to a modern accessory. Needlework designs like this are truly exceptional!
Check out the Embroidery 101 video tutorial on Waterrose Handcrafted Obsessions blog. And sounds like there's more to come!
Search OWS on Etsy for more nostalgic, traditionally handcrafted goodness from Old World Shoppes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Treasury Pledge

I hereby pledge to include Vintage and Supplies as often as I can when curating Etsy Treasuries!!

Here's a yummy list I made this morning. I have Creamsicles in the freezer. I never know whether they are called Creamsicles or Dreamsicles. There are probably both. Which is your favorite?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Fiber Friday - Vegan Bamboo Handspuns

Look what I found! I went in search of my Friday Fiber Fix and came upon these gorgeous handspun yarns. These are both worsted weight yarns of vegan bamboo fiber.

JenniferJoyCreative spun this silky blend of rust, brown and green called NEW SHOOTS. Stop by and browse her shop. She also makes handdyed hemp fabric and clothing! Beautiful!

This Goldfish handspun is from folktale fibers. I love the shiny colors mixed together here! Beautiful vegan bamboo! There is also a Vegan Yarnclub membership available. Check it out!

Spring Blossoms

Would you believe that when we were looking at houses 11 years ago, we picked this one because it had gorgeous lilac bushes? (Well, that's part of the reason anyway LOL.)
There are actually four different colors of lilacs here and it seems to be a great year for them. There are some that are very light, a slightly darker version, a white, and a gorgeous dark one. I was going to look up the names and see which varieties we have, but there are so many that it's impossible for me to tell. I have this pitcher of lilacs in my dining room now and I love how they smell! The close-up shot of the darker variety is now my screen saver.

On Sunday, May 11th, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Lilac Sunday, an annual event in celebration of lilacs for garden enthusiasts. Visit their website for more information and a gallery of beautiful lilac photographs.

I also have beautiful creeping phlox in various colors along the bank in front of the house. There's also an unknown pretty blue flower that grows among the grass in the Spring. They only last until my husband mows them over, but the flowers bloom every year nonetheless. If you have a clue as to what it is, please let me know!

When I saw this beautiful yarn, it reminded me of fresh lilacs! It's not quite cold enough here to wear this set now, but I just thought I'd share with lilac lovers everywhere!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Shawls make me happy

It's been pretty hectic around here lately, so I decided to take today off...and knit! I started a shawl in this gorgeous Fiesta color from Lion Brand Homespun. Shawls are one of my favorite things to make. I have sold several different colors and styles over the years. I was saddened to hear that Marjorie, the recipient of the Blue Skies shawl from last Christmas, recently passed away. I'll always remember that shawl and the picture of how happy Marjorie was when she was wearing it. Shawls make me happy. I'm glad they can make others happy too!


Jolly Green Giant

The asparagus is up in our garden. Boy is it up! We have so much of it that we have to give lots away. We eat so much of it that we have a constant "Eau D'Asparagus." (Check out this WebMD article for more information.)
I like my asparagus crisp. If it's mushy, I can't eat it. This includes soups, unfortunately. We most often sauté it in olive oil and sprinkle it with lemon pepper seasoning, or just lemon juice. It's wonderful fresh, chopped up in a salad, or blanched with pasta (just add it to the pasta water when the pasta is almost done).
Victoria Island Farms has an online booklet with over 60 asparagus recipes to try!
I think the Alpine Asparagus Quiche will be served up for Mother's Day.
Do you have a favorite asparagus recipe?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cozy Crochet

Did you notice that Cozy is the featured blogger for May as chosen by EtsyBloggers?
Her crochet trimmed fabric headbands caught my eye. I have always loved the look of crochet and fabric together. Cozy did a wonderful job with the dainty trim on this headband. Beautiful colors too! Do stop by her shop and blog to see what she's up to next!

I need help! I don't seem to have enough time to knit and crochet these days. I've been so busy with spring cleaning, getting the garden started, fitting in a workout, dinner, kids, shopping, etc. All I want to do is work and build up a bunch of Fall inventory, but it seems that I can't! I have stash enough and I really feel that I'm behind already.
Any suggestions??

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How 'bout a beer?

Certainly! (insert Stooges laugh here)
We thoroughly enjoy our Three Stooges talking bottle opener, especially when it goes "whoop whoop whoop" all by itself in the kitchen drawer LOL.

It was a beer-loving weekend at our house in commemoration of my husband's birthday.
He shops the local beer store (LBS) like I shop the local yarn store (LYS). His picks for the beer fest included this one pint 6 oz. bottle of Organic Barleywine Ale from Bison Brewing. At 9.5% alcohol by volume, this one was rich and colorful. A strong English ale. I tasted it, but didn't share this one. He admitted to not noticing that it was organic when he bought it. Their website is

He followed this with an "Arrogant Bastard Ale" of which the label boasts "You're Not Worthy." Well, he proved himself worthy. At 7.2% alcohol by volume, this is another strong ale. They themselves say "This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it." You can check it out at

While he enjoyed his large bitter ales, I stayed with a local favorite - Great Lakes Brewing Holy Moses White Ale. It is a lightly spiced ale with chamomile. I like mine served with an orange slice. Great Lakes serves up several delicious brews. Check them out at My other favorite summer suds are Blue Moon and Hoegaarden (both best-served with an orange slice).

Too many people for the party? I suggest picking up a mini-keg of Heineken. These kegs are perfect for a weekend. They fit in the cooler and the tap system keeps it fresh for as long as it lasts. (I think the package says up to 30 days, but ours never lasts that long!)

And check out this gorgeous beer stein that I found on Etsy! This large textured brew mug is from

Friday, May 2, 2008

Run for the Roses - Derby-Inspired Gifts for Mother's Day

I've always been fascinated by the lavishly decorated hats worn by the ladies at the Kentucky Derby. The art of millinery or hat-making is one that I would love to know more about.

Here are some Derby-inspired gifts that any Mother would love.

BoringSidney's designs are anything but boring. Her designs were recently featured in "Elle Accessories" Magazine! Although she has many styles of hats from Vintage, retro, Gothic, and bridal, to name a few, I thought this cloche would be perfect for Derby Day or Mother's Day. Stop by her Etsy shop and see which one would match your Mom's style.

For a Victorian or Edwardian flair, visit eastangelharborhats. There are so many lovely Kentucky Derby and vintage designs to choose from as well as hats for the Red Hat Society ladies. I chose this Edwardian Style Tea Hat because my Mother would love that beautiful cabbage rose.
Stop by Running With Scissors blog and take a look at her Derby Hat......WOW!

If hats aren't your Mama's style, then perhaps she would like this Kentucky Derby Time - Mint Julep scented soy wax candle from soapwerks? Or there's one called "Phenomenal Woman."

I also spotted these beautiful vintage brass Mint Julep Earrings from HeatherlyDesigns.
Any of these gifts would make any Mother feel special, wouldn't you say?

If you'd like to make Mom a Mint Julep, here's a recipe that I found. (I picked this fresh mint this morning!)
First, make a mint syrup. Bruise (crush with the hands) a “whole handful” of mint leaves and combine them with 1/3 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Boil for five minutes, then strain. You should end up with about 2 tablespoons of mint syrup.
Pour the mint syrup into your glass (preferably a sterling silver julep cup), Add 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of bourbon and mix.
Now fill the cup with crushed ice. Rub fresh mint around the rim of the cup and garnish with fresh mint dipped in powdered sugar.

**And the winner is Big Brown. Rest in Peace Eight Belles.**