Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

Art Print by Jaime Best, BestArtStudios2 available on etsy

It's been 20 years since a blue moon fell on New Years Eve. I remember it well. My husband and I went on our first date that night, New Years Eve 1990. I remember us looking up at it on that very chilly night and remarking about how especially bright it was. I understand scientifically it really wasn't any brighter than any other full moon. I'm guessing it was the company. ;-) Now here we are on the brink of closing out the first decade in a new century. It all seems more than our romantically-inclined minds could have comprehended back then. But for us, a blue moon will always be magical, especially when it falls on the last night of the year. This is two for us love. I'm looking forward to celebrating it with you the next time it rolls around in 2028!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fabulous Friends: Pesky Cat Designs

Oak Leaf Shoulder Bag by Pesky Cat Design

I have met so many wonderful people in my first year of blogging. One of the most special to me is Elisa of Pesky Cat Designs. I am so flattered to call Elisa my friend. She has been incredibly supportive to me! I think she holds the record for the most consistent visits and comments to chickaboom. How do you thank someone for taking such an interest in your life and your pursuits?

The Harris Tweed Wayfarer Purse by Pesky Cat Designs

Elisa is so creatively driven. She's always working on ways to take what she's already done and make it somehow even better! Her ability to combine color, pattern and texture amaze me. I love the sophisticated style of her purses. She's got a little something for everyone in her etsy shop. She blogs about her latest designs and her adventures around NYC. Seeing pictures of her sweet cat Anni always makes me smile!

The Harris Tweed SemiCircle Purse by Pesky Cat Designs

As a seamstress wanna-be, I am in awe of Elisa's incredible sewing and fabric design talents. I have hope that one day I will visit her in NYC. We'll hit an outdoor market and all her favorite discount fabric shops, like this one. I'd love to be her apprentice so I could learn all her mad-wonderful sewing tricks. But for now, our friendship will continue to grow through our blogs and through our words of encouragement to one another. I only hope I can be half the cheerleader to her that she's been to me. Thank you Elisa! May the new year bring you peace, good health and great success!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

O Holy Night

While you celebrate this special night with family and friends, please take time to think of that little baby born so very long ago. He was, and still is, the most precious gift of all.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowstorms & Giveaways

I've made the decision to postpone my blogiversary giveaways until January. While looking through my giveaway items yesterday, it occurred to me that people are a bit saturated with gifting right now, so my gifting would just be white noise. Add to that the snowstorm we've had here in the mid-atlantic and mail is not moving. When it does move, it will be backed up. All things considered, I think it's a good choice to push the reader rewards to the new year. Wow, it's refreshing to make an executive decision so early in the morning! I wonder if I can get away with dragging my wedding anniversary out an extra month too? ;-)

Gift Box image by ©Budda, courtesy of Dreamstime free images. Sign up for your free account today!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowbound Wool Felting 101

What an amazing surprise to have 29" of snow this weekend! Apparently that hasn't happened in central Virginia for 4o years. It came down so fast that many people who were commuting home on Friday evening were stranded on the roads; my husband being one of them. He now has a new nickname for our minivan, "the minisled." Thankfully he was able to get it off the road safely and a friend of ours with a 4x4 braved the storm to bring him home. The local news stations put a call out for locals with 4x4's to volunteer their time to rescue all the people who were stuck. I think it's the perfect entrance into this week of Christmas. A reminder to all of us not to get too comfortable, to help someone else in need and to hunker down with family and ride out a storm.

Being stuck inside most of the weekend offered a lot of time for projects that have been piling up. Saturday my daughter and I felted wool for the first time. This is a really fun project and science experiment all rolled into one. It was a much easier process than I'd imagined. We used 100% wool-content thrift store skirts and sweaters. I really like how the skirts felted, they came out very similar to store bought felt. The sweaters are chunkier but will be nice for other projects. At 95¢ per thrifted clothing item at the local Salvation Army, it's much less expensive than felted wool at the local fabric store which sells for $6 per fat quarter.

If you decide to try felting, keep in mind that different thickness and weaves will felt differently. My advice is to felt colors separately. I felted red, green and natural together. Not a good idea. The colors didn't bleed so much as the felt fibers coming off stuck all over one another, especially the red. I also felted these in the washer though I suppose you could try it in a stainless steel pot on the stove and use a wooden spoon for agitation. I may try that another day. I do want to mention that this process got a little stinky; wet dog stinky. Felting will leave stray fibers behind in your washing machine too, but they can be easily removed by wiping out your washer with a clean rag when you've finished felting. It's also a good idea when you're switching one color felted load to another.

Felting Wool: the Doughty girls’ method

Prepare the recycled garments by cutting out seams, collars, waistbands, wristbands, lining, etc. Leaving the seams in will cause the wool to felt unevenly. *Place the wool, separated by color, into an old pillow case, securing it with a rubber band. Machine wash the wool in hot water wash, cold water rinse with a small amount of detergent. Machine dry it on high heat and steam press. You may have to felt some pieces repeatedly until you get the feel you want. And then you're done! Ready to craft, sew or whatever you plan to do with it.

I found these adorable felted wool trees on the long thread. Hop on over for the tutorial if you're interested. I'm thinking these trees would make a really cute gift for our wonderful weekend rescuer and be a fun project for us to start with. So I'm off to felted wool's such a soft and fluffy place to be.

*note: Janet, who blogs at empty nest, sent in this helpful tip in her comment. I didn't notice my wool shedding much but I sure don't want to risk frying the washing machine. I've updated the instructions above to include your pillowcase hint. Thanks Janet!

Hey Leslie,
I felt sweaters on a regular basis for my Etsy shop and I have a helpful hint for you and your followers. You are right to sep colors and
you should also be putting the sweaters in an old pillowcase or lingerie bag..I prefer the pillowcase. Just imagine..for all the fibers you can wipe away..that much is also going out the rinse and will kill your machine motor eventually. Close up the pillowcase with a rubber band. I also keep my cashmeres sep from my wools..they are much more delicate and felt into pillowy clouds....divine!
Happy Felting (technically 'fulling' is the correct term..I've been corrected by experts ;-)
your friend,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fabulous Friends: Bebe + Alice

One thing that came as a total surprise to me when I started blogging is the strong friendships that have grown from it. It's an incredible experience making connections with amazing people from all over the world that otherwise I would not have known. I thought it would be fun to honor a few of the wonderfully creative people I have met over this last year. Living authentically, blogging authentically; like Bebe + Alice's Heather Payne Baker:

Junie's Picnic Table half apron available at bebe + alice

The funny thing about blogging is that it's hard to remember exactly when and how you met most of your blog pals. Early on, I found most of the blogs I follow by going to a blog and clicking on that persons blog roll to see who and what was out there. From there, you click on that blog's blogroll and before long you don't even remember where you started. What a sweet, tangly web to weave right? I'm pretty sure that's how I found Heather...or did she find me? It really doesn't matter, I'm just grateful we found each other.

Coffee Lovers Scratchbook recycled papers available at bebe + alice

Her upcycled fashions are dreamy! I love her creativity; she's always inventing new ways to combine castaway objects into brand new yummy things. Her chic-vintage, eco-friendly style comes through in everything she does. We became friends through corresponding, encouraging each other both personally and artistically. She is always touting other etsy artists, artsy friends and anything that inspires her. Heather has an incredibly positive attitude and a luminous spirit. You can find her wares online in her etsy shop, bebe + alice. She also has a trunk show coming up in Olathe, Kansas on Monday, Dec. 21st from 6-8pm. The trunk show will be at 10375 Hollis Lane in Cedar Creek subdivision off of K-10 Hwy. If you live in Kansas City you should definitely check it out. For the rest of us, etsy will have to be our portal to all things bebe + alice.

Renew half apron recycled fabrics available at bebe + alice

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eye Candy

The new banner is up as promised! I had a lot of fun coming up with the new look. I wanted something playful and approachable all wrapped up in candy colors. That's very different for me. I'm a basic black and dark grey kind of girl usually.

I guess I've had candy on the brain lately (and on the hips, and on the...). With the holidays fast approaching my mind is always swimming with baking and candy making ideas. But recently an unexpected surprise showed up in my mailbox. This delectable stack of Seattle Chocolates Truffle Bars. These things are pure danger – tasty, delicious danger. The fab folks at Seattle Chocolates read my post Dear Seattle Chocolates and sent me these amazing samples. They even took the time to tie them up with this smart little grosgrain ribbon; nice touch. I enjoyed each and every one of them. I shared them with my family and they each had their favorite. Mine is still the Coconut Macaroon, dark chocolate truffle bar with coconut and sea salt. It's almost not right how much I love the way this chocolate bar tastes. I figure I'm pretty easy to please really. No matter how tough things might get, the appearance of a tempting stack of deep, dark chocolate somehow makes everything feel right again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shiny Happy Moments

Mother and Child Vintage Inspired Ornament by pieshopgirl

My kids have been listening to Christmas music since late September. Yes, you read that right. Oddly enough I am not sick of hearing it yet. It seems instead to be sinking in. The words, at least to the more meaningful songs, are almost like a balm seeping under my skin. Just now I hear one of my favorites, Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Canon. I wish I could imbed the song to play while you read this but if you open it in a different tab you can avoid the video and just enjoy the music while you continue reading this post.

I found this wonderful vintage-inspired ornament on etsy today that makes me feel the same way. It reminds me of how much I love to be a mother. That precious and fleeting moment when our babies are small and full of wonder. When being a mother was all shiny and new. With my kids now 11 and 8, that time seems like a vapor to me now. But hearing this song and looking at this beautiful ornament brings it all back to me for a moment.

This Christmas will be different for us in so many ways. Intentionally different. I mean to love more and give more, in real ways; not in ways that come in a package. We are going to start some new traditions this year that take us to a place of deeper happiness, appreciation and love. I hope you'll join me by stepping away from the material and into a space where you allow yourself time to really enjoy the moment, the season and the people you love.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December. Seriously?

Can it really be December? It's hard to believe there are only a few weeks left in 2009; staring us in the face on one single calendar page. How sobering. I see on the grid before me holiday parties, field trips, doctors and orthodontist appointments and the like. From my experience, the more activities you have in a given month, the faster the month zooms by. I also see a new entry on the calendar; my one year blogiversary. On one hand it seems like I've had my blog forever, and on the other it seems like I just started blogging yesterday. November turned out to be an especially busy month with some unexpected distractions and I just didn't have much time to blog. Having my blogiversary this month is exactly the kind of kick in the touche I need. So get ready, December is upon us and I'm ready to rock! I think I'll start with a new banner; some fresh eye candy for all you lovelies to enjoy when you visit. Then, I think some contests are in order, and some fun cameo posts in honor of the wonderful friends I've made through blogging this year. It's amazing how the creative juices start flowing when I force myself to sit down here and get going.

photo credit ©Elen Dreamstime
Blog Widget by LinkWithin