Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday - Welcome Home

As a general rule, homecomings are great. "There's no place like home" and all that. But this week I had a particularly fantastic welcome home after my trip to Ohio to visit my dad.

First, a nice note and a lovely impatiens plant from my sweetie graced the kitchen counter.


A package with my booty from Girl Savage's contest awaited me on the mail pile. Look at the cute little jackalope Feltidermy mirror! I'll have to save my pennies a bit longer for an actual Feltidermy, but this little mirror is super fun.

Photo 1

In my inbox, I had an email from Mortal Plush, letting me know I'd been accepted for the exhibit in July! I am so honored to be included with so many super talented plush artists. I wish I could make it out to DC for the show! Here's what I'll be sending:


Outside, my wee veggie garden had doubled in size, new flowers were blooming in the front beds, and my alpine strawberries offered up their first fruit of the season.


And today, I won yet another contest! Samaria Project decided to give away the adorable owl keychain below, and I won! If you haven't perused her adorable Etsy shop yet, you should definitely check it out.


I've had such a lovely, lucky week, maybe I should enter the lottery!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday - Quick and Dirty Edition

It's been a hectic week, folks. Work is crazy busy, and I'm going out of town for a few days first thing tomorrow morning (I have to catch a 6 AM flight. Eeesh.). I'm sorry to leave you all with such a short post this week, but such is life.



Pretty amazing shots, right? I found both of these guys in my yard in the last few weeks. The top one got into a product shot, and I didn't even notice until I uploaded the photo to my computer. Pretty cool. The second photo was taken around dusk last night. This Mourning Cloak caterpillar (don't worry, I'm no budding entomologist; I Googled it) was hanging out next to the driveway when I got home. I had never seen one before and, nerd that I am, promptly went inside to grab my camera and start photographing. I love finding beauty in the mundane, in the small, simple things. And looking at my everyday surroundings through a camera lens somehow always opens me up to things I don't otherwise notice.

It's often all to easy to miss things going on in the natural world around us. The sun shines, rain falls, flowers grow and bloom and die, eggs hatch, insects and birds sing, critters forage for food, and so on— all of it happening daily without much notice. But when we take time to look and to see, it can be a pretty amazing thing. Nature is so simple and complex all at the same time. It can remind you just how big you can be, yet how small you really are. Which can really put things in perspective; no matter what happens in life, no matter what I create or fail to create, the Earth still rotates around the sun. Rain falls, flowers grow and bloom and die. And each day, I have a renewed chance to create something.

Kind of sappy, yes. But I think it's important to remind myself of these things, so I don't get discouraged by not crossing enough things of my to-do list, or not having something turn out exactly the way I saw it in my head. Each day I get to try again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday - Fairy Tale Edition

One look at some of my stranger creatures, and you can probably tell that I get a lot of inspiration from fairy tales, folklore, legends, and mythology. I love exploring the common themes in these stories and find them endlessly captivating. I love the imagination in them, the timelessness, the hope, the beauty, the magic and, yes, even the horror.


I decided to focus on this theme this week not only because it is one of my favorites, but because I just finished reading book 4 in a series that has been filling my head with all sorts of new ideas: the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. I am adoring this series, in which a plucky teen and her brother find themselves suddenly wrapped up in a world of magic, mystery, and danger when they learn that their grandparents are the caretakers of a secret preserve for magical creatures. The story is enchanting and fast-paced and the characters are a bit more realistic and interesting than a certain famous boy wizard.

Mull populates these novels with creatures we are all familiar with (and some we are not), painting very vivid pictures of their looks and behaviors. I've been inspired to sketch some new creatures, but it will be a while yet before I have anything I can show you. So instead, here's a sampling of fairy-tale themed art that really speaks to me:

 Baba yaga
Baba Yaga's Chicken Leg House © Melissa Sue Stanley.

The Shape Shifter (Mammalius Kinesis) © Marina Bychkova.

Fairytale Forest Skirt
© Made with Love by Hannah.

Fairy Tale; Bajka © Tanja.

I wish Tanja's blog wasn't in Serbian; I would love to know more!

Gyspy Countess © Lolley.

SilverHoof IV © Indigo Ocean / R. R. Wake.

Little Red Riding Hood © Elsa Mora.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sewing Machine Meme

It's sewing machine month over at Sew, Mama, Sew! In addition to loads of great info about machines and a mega giveaway, they'll be using bloggers' reviews of their sewing machines to compile a fantastic resource for those looking for a new machine. I've been meaning to do something like this for a long time, and this meme was the kick in the pants I needed.


What brand and model do you have?

I have an Elna 3210.

How long have you had it?

Since November 2006. It was an emergency purchase—my old machine stopped working two weeks before my biggest craft show of the year.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

I paid $500.

What types of things do you sew?

I mostly sew plushies, with wool, faux fur, cotton, and flannel my most common fabric choices. I've had some clothing misadventures, but those are completely my fault, not the machine's.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I sew almost every day. When I'm gearing up for a craft show, I sometimes sew for up to 6 hours without a break. My machine is probably a little abused. I don't clean it nearly as much as I should, which gets me in trouble sometimes. I occasionally take my machine with me to a girlfriend's house for crafty night as well. It doesn't have a hard case, so it probably takes more travel abuse than my old machine, which did have a hard case.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I loved it at first, and I definitely like it more than any other machine I've used to date, especially loaner machines (you can read a previous post I wrote on that topic for the Crabtree blog). Now, though, I'd say I just like it. It gets the job done, but I struggle with it lately more than I should. See below, under things that drive me nuts. 

My machine does not have a name. Now that I think of it, though, I should have named her. Let's call her Lady.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

The triple seam stitch. I LOVE this stitch and use it almost exclusively. I also like the built-in thread cutter.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

The automatic bobbin winder isn't so automatic anymore. The bobbin
cover plate release button sticks. The thread sometimes gets stuck in
the bobbin area while I'm sewing. I haven't done any research yet to
find out if this because my machine sees a lot of wear and tear and I
don't care for it as well as I should, or if this is typical for Elnas.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Maybe. I think it's a good little workhorse machine for those who don't want anything fancy (though my machine certainly came with more bells and whistles than I want or need). I am concerned about the wear and tear it's showing after only 2.5 years, though, so I would recommend further research.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

The most important is knowing what the machine's primary purpose will be, and which features you absolutely need for it to fulfill that purpose. When I chose my Elna, the only things I was looking for were simplicity and ability to sew through several layers of faux fur at once (my old machine hated doing this). It was surprisingly hard to find a simple machine! Everything is computerized these days.

Do you have a dream machine?

Is there a sewing machine on the market that can add more hours to my day? Because that would be awesome.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June Goals

(image: Modish Biz Tips)

As with May, my goals this months are going to be pretty sparse due to a crowded day job/personal schedule.

  1. Sit down with an accountant/tax advisor and talk about best practices. Solicit advice about accounting software. 

  2. Make 6 pieces of inventory; 3 for the Etsy shop, and 3 to start a
    stockpile of readily available inventory.

  3. Start new weekly feature on blog. I admit that this is a bit of a cheater goal, as it's already done! It's all about small victories, though, right? 

Once again, three simple, hopefully attainable goals. Good luck to everyone in June!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday

When life gets busy and stressful (or even when it's smooth sailing), I think it's important to make time to stop, reflect, and regroup. To remind yourself of not only everything that you're thankful for and the things that are going right, but to acknowledge all the little things that make you smile. To help myself (and others) do this, I wanted to start a new weekly feature: Thoughtful Thursday. This idea is not original to me; many other bloggers have similar features. But I thought this would be a good weekly motivation exercise for me, as well as a good way for you to glimpse my inspirations and favorite things. Plus, it means I'll be updating this here ol' blog at least once a week! So, without further ado, here are some things that I love:

Ludwig the Lemur God © Jessica Fortner.

Jessica Fortner's sculptures and 3D illustration. Jessica's work is at times disturbing, other times cute, but always thought-provoking and totally amazing. I would love to own one or three of her sculptures.

Common Garden Cephalopod © Kit Lane.

Kit Lane is a fellow Minnesotan who makes wonderfully weird needle-felted critters. Her work always makes me smile, and I'm happy to own one of her Jacabob-like creatures, who keeps me company at the day job. Plus, Kit's just an all-around nice gal!

I've been super into vinyl toys lately, and the customs out there are simply stunning. Here's just a few of the artists whose work I enjoy:

Woody IWG © 64 Colors.

Swampthing © Leecifer.

Chief Kijani © Lunabee.

Dorado Night Walker © Kat Brunnegraff.

Yuri crushes

And finally, my pooches. Really cheesy, yes, but there's honestly nothing better than a snuggle from a loyal furry friend when I'm feeling low. Plus, it's darn near impossible to be in a bad mood when Yuri (the red one) is around; he's such a goon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May Goal Status

Giraffes standing

Oh, hey, blog. Remember me? The prodigal daughter? I'm sorry I've been so neglectful this month. The day job has kept me soooo busy that by the time I get home at night, the last thing I want to do is turn on my computer or sewing machine. This is really the first time I've felt this way; crafting is usually a release for me, and very relaxing. But for some reason this month, I kept shying away from it, preferring instead the brand of escapism offered by books and movies.

At least I take comfort in knowing that I'm not alone. I know many small business owners go through similar phases. So to those who have been in this position before: Got any tips? How do you manage to stay focused and productive on your small business when life and your day job have you feeling overwhelmed? How do you motivate yourself through these slumps?

So, as I'm sure you've surmised by now from my lame excuses, er, lengthy intro, I didn't do so well with my goals this month. Let's recap, shall we?

  1. Build a light tent/portable studio. Status: Partially complete.
    I made the box itself, using Drawing in Motion's awesome tutorial to make a 20" x 30" box. All that remains is for me to purchase some clamp lights. At least we've been having perfect weather, and the longer days mean I can always squeeze in an outdoor photo shoot when I get home from the day job.

  2. Sit down with an accountant/tax advisor and talk about best practices. Solicit advice about accounting software. Status: Incomplete.
    Unfortunately, I never made an appointment due to my hectic schedule this month. This will be on June's goal list for sure!

  3. Make 6 pieces of inventory; 3 for the Etsy shop, and 3 to start a
    stockpile of readily available inventory. Status: Partially complete.
    I completed 2 pieces for my Etsy shop and 2 pieces for my stockpile. A third piece is cut out and partially sewn. And I have a crafty lunch break scheduled later this week with my friend Isara, so that will help.

    Total accomplished: 1 (two halves) / 3.

I'm a little embarrassed by my progress this month. And even though June is threatening to be even busier month—with weddings and
baby showers and an out-of-town trip already on the calendar—I remain hopeful that I will accomplish more of my goals in June.