Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas

Wishing everyone a very blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

35% off Chronicle Books, ends soon!

I've had such a big response from my post about the Haul-iday Book Giveaway at Chronicle Books. Thank you so much for your great comments! I've got something to share with you...I just found this generous offer in my spam folder (yikes!) from Chronicle Books for myself and my blog readers. Because it sat in my spam folder for a week unnoticed, this discount is only good for 2 more days. But there's still time to save on some really amazing books - so enjoy!

35% off + free shipping until December 12th! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big, juicy book giveaway at

Has anyone ever called you a bookworm? How about craft geek or cookbook freak? I've been called all three (and a few other choice names too, but I digress). I do love new books *almost* as much as I love old ones. If you're a lover of books and awesome giveaways you'll LOVE this: Chronicle Books is giving away a mouth-wateringly generous $500 worth of books this holiday season to two extremely lucky winners. They will choose one blogger to receive their very own wishlist of hard and softbound goodness and one lucky reader/commenter from that blog will win them too!
Here's my wishlist for the haul-iday giveaway: books on quirky wordsdaddy diy, crafting, family travel, urban farm cuisine, drawing journals and deep, dark chocolate; because of course, no list of mine is ever complete without the inclusion of chocolate.

They've got a unique selection for nearly every area of interest, including children's books, journals and stationery. So hop on over to Chronicle Books, check out their awesome selection and then pop back here and leave a comment. You know you want to.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A real page turner

Oak & Maple leaf garland made from repurposed vintage books
Page Turner paper sculptures made from repurposed vintage books
I have a thing for old books. I was at an estate auction this summer where I happened onto four boxes of castaway reads. This stack of lonely old books caught my attention. They clearly hadn't been touched in years. They were begging to be picked up, held tenderly and leafed through. And so I obliged. Perusing through them, I noticed these weren't particularly popular titles. They didn't contain noteworthy illustrations or interesting typography. The covers showed the scorch of sun damage and were quite dusty. I knew if they didn't sell they'd be carted off to the local dump. But these wouldn't draw much attention sitting on an antique store bookshelf I decided. So I made a deal with the whole lot: I'll buy all of you and take you home where I promise to handle each one of you to see what you contain from cover to cover. If I find anything particularly unique I'll put you up on etsy for adoption to a loving home; but if I don't, I promise to make you into something new - something that gets you noticed. Overwhelmed with emotion, the books remained quite silent which I of course took as a sign of humble agreement.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wait a minute

Holiday projects are waiting to be conceived.
Wine, leftover from a recent dinner party, is waiting to be finished off.

Thrifted wool sweaters are waiting to be felted.

Good books and a comfy chair are waiting to be enjoyed.

It's all waiting on me. My attention. Oh how I wish I had the time to spend a full day at my sewing machine; plotting, stitching, making things happen. Time to photograph it all, blog about it, post it and hopefully, sell it! Or just some downtime, that would be sweet. Instead I am making other things happen. Helping a friend in need keep her business afloat while she recovers from some pretty serious surgeries. Stretching myself between everything and still trying to keep homeschooling our top priority. It's all good but it certainly is a different plan than I had for myself and for Liza Jane this fall. Someone told me once that man makes plans and God laughs. While I personally don't believe that God is cynical, I have experienced quite alot of derailment from my plans, especially lately. Seems to be the theme for 2010. My husband's motto is adapt and overcome. I'm trying. I remind myself that we are a homeschool family that works; not the other way around. Priorities in check it's about balancing today the best way we know how. Just like you do. Just like we all do. So tell me, what's waiting on you?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lucky me

I was so excited when I saw that my new etsy shop was featured on bebeandalice this week. I hope you'll pop over to Heather's blog to show her some love. Heather runs her main etsy shop bebeandalice and the newly created go small, which features her line of adorable childrens goodies. I've got more vintage to destash and am working on some holiday handmade so I hope you'll visit Liza Jane often to see what's new, or what's old, depending on how you look at it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Introducing my etsy shop: Liza Jane

I finally did it! Liza Jane vintage, handmade & repurposed goods is now on etsy. It's been a long time coming and I'm so happy to finally have it launched. I expect I'll be a bit heavy on vintage at first because of my massive stockpile of lovely old things. I'll be adding more handmade, repurposed goods and seasonal crafts as I go. I'd really appreciate you popping over to favorite me and help me get the word out. I also have a fan page on Facebook. Please come on over and say hello!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird

After the apron fiasco, it was time for me to take on a simpler project. I decided to repurpose the rest of the fabric from the thrifted skirts to make birds. I used this loverly pattern from spool, where it's offered "for personal use only, thank you." I kicked it up an oh-so-dreamy notch by adding lavender buds to the fiberfill. {sniff...melt} Now I'm working on creating my own pattern so that I can make some for resale. I plan to post my pattern and tutorial ~ for freesies ~ once it's ready. Because sharing is good.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Try, try again

Have I really only posted 7 times in the last 8 months? That's just lame. My life got really crazy for a while and chickaboom just didn't make my flaming hot to-do list.

But life has settled down and I'm settling into my wings again. I really want to thank all of my sweet friends and family for your support, love and friendship. To all my groovy readers, thanks for your patience and loyalty. You are all 10 kinds of awesome!

This week I dusted off my sewing machine and started into some long overdue projects. Ideas I've had brewing in my mind for months, or longer, are finally taking shape. It feels so good to dive into these new projects. At the same time, I see that I've got some obstacles to overcome where my technical sewing skills are concerned. I'm thinking I would really benefit from a basic sewing class where I can relearn all the foundational stuff. Right now my ideas far outweigh my skillset which is making the things I want to do really challenging.

For example, let's have a look at Exhibit A, the white & black floral apron you see above. It's a refashion project I've had in mind for months: a thrift store skirt I envisioned as a sassy little apron. It looks cute right? Well it's not that cute up close, trust me. The picture is hiding a multitude of sewing sins. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong while making this apron. When I was ripping out the left side seam, the fabric tore - and not just a little - we're talking about a 6" horizontal tear. While trying to stitch that up, my sewing machine ate the fabric and the only way I could free it was by cutting it again. Then I decided I would round the bottom edges a bit, except that I don't remember how to do that. At least not properly. So I fudged it. It's also not lined so it's more a rough prototype than anything. I attribute the attractive photo to my daughter's general cuteness, visible even when she's photographed from the waist down. :) The natural folds in the fabric do hide the mistakes pretty well. The bottom line is it's fine for her to wear around the house but I could never sell something this flawed.

So why am I confessing a #sewingfail when I am about to launch my etsy shop where I'll be selling hand-sewn items? Because I want to encourage anyone who has a dream to stick with it. Don't be afraid to step out and try something new. If you are willing to humble yourself and learn, you can succeed at anything you put your mind and your heart into. Don't sweat your mistakes, learn from them. Do what you love and keep trying. 

I've got ideas in my head for aprons and all sorts of refashioned designs. The next step for me is to learn the skills to make them happen. How? By finding someone who has those skills that is willing to teach them to me. In the meantime, I'll stick with simpler projects while I'm building my skills. I plan to take you along on this journey, after all we're all in this together right?  *wink*

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hi Quark. BTW, you SUCK.

This is an actual chat conversation that took place a few minutes ago between myself and a Quark customer service representative. According to Quark's website they have headquarters in Denver, CO and India. My understanding is that this rep was located in India:

Quark Customer Support...You have been connected to Nimisha.

Nimisha: Welcome to our live chat service.

Leslie: Hi. Did you see my question?  I am wondering how to go about legally transferring the registration on my Quark Xpress software.

Nimisha: Yes, Leslie, as per company policy you can not save your license.

Nimisha: *Leslie, as per company policy you can not sell your license.

Leslie: What does that mean,"I cannot SAVE my license?"

Leslie: Oh you meant SELL not SAVE

Nimisha: I am sorry that was a typing error.  As per company policy you can not sell your license.

Leslie: Yes, I understand that. I'm curious as to why. I recently sold my adobe InDesign CS2 and adobe was great about helping me transfer the license, etc. They made it very simple. Why doesn't Quark have this type of customer support option?

Nimisha: Leslie. it is a company policy that you ca not sell your license.

Leslie: Okay. You keep repeating the SAME information. Can you please explain to me why this is the policy?  Clearly it's not illegal activity because other software companies allow registration to be transferred on their products from one customer to another. It would seem to me that the more people that use your product, the more exposure you get and marketshare you gain in the long run.

Nimisha: Leslie, every company has its own policy and this is mentioned in the license agreement that swelling the license is illegal.

Leslie: Swelling? I assume you meant SELLING. 

<  Connection closed due to network issues >

And that, my friends, is how the chat ended. For real.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When Inspiration Strikes

I'm having one of those nights. You know the ones, where your head is swimming with so many ideas that you can't possibly sleep. I love the rush of creativity but I don't care for the hungover feeling I have the next day from lack of sleep. There's no predicting when these nocturnal mindfloods will come and there's certainly no stopping them. This is really not a good night for me to be sleepless though. Tomorrow we're leaving the house with the earlybirds to be at JMU for J'daddy's finals. I was informed by my dear husband that departure is at 6:10 a.m. sharp. Ouch! It's become a bit of a tradition for us to tag along on finals day. We drop J'daddy off on campus, within walking distance of where he'll be testing, and the kids and I tool around town until he's finished. He stresses pretty hard about tests and us tagging along makes him feel all warm and fuzzy. It makes us feel more connected to his school experience. We all sacrifice alot of together-time during the semester and it's a fun little R&R payoff. The best part is when we swing back to pick him up after the tests. We usually hit a nice lunch spot, my favorite is A Bowl of Good, before we head out for more meandering.

So here I am, typing this post at 3:07 a.m. when everyone else in my house, and in my neighborhood for that matter, is sleeping. {sigh} But oh the productivity that I've had from tonight's brain-blast so far! I am so completely excited about the ideas that I've been handed tonight. You see, lately I've been feeling rather 'clogged' creatively. With our recent move and the many changes we've made as a result, I have been overwhelmed and distracted. All the details of daily life have taken the place of extra-curricular thinking and extra-curricular doing. I've also been wrestling over a new business name/brand/identity. It is time to cast off the old and dig into something new. I carry around a little notebook with me wherever I go and it's filled with page after page of possible new biz name ideas. A sickening amount really. But none that were just right. A few days ago I got so frustrated by my creative constipation about renaming my business that I tossed my little notepad across the bedroom, let out a cranky growl and said "Enough already! Lord, please give me a name so I can get things rolling - this is driving me crazy!" Apparently He heard me and decided to get back with me quickly. I have to say I like this new approach – quick response time – thank you very much. Yesterday the new name came to me so easily, so clearly. Today I sketched out my logo and checked out the name on etsy and surprise, surprise - it's available! {more details and a launch date coming very soon, stay tuned!}

I sit here now in my living room huddled under a dim lamp with the scrawled piece of paper that I had on my nightstand. The quick scribblings that I rambled down in the dark, trying not to wake my sweet scholar. Thinking that if I just wrote down one more idea surely that would be the last and I could sleep. No such luck. When I was in art school I used to say that sleep was a luxury, not a necessity. Obviously I was 20-something and could weather a sleepless night a whole lot easier then. I pulled alot of all-nighters working on art projects. After I had my daughter I had the most amazing flow of creativity that I've ever had in my life. I was up nursing every 2-3 hours anyway so that worked out well. I just wrote and sketched and dreamed away while my little one had her midnight snack. Now, at 40-something it's a whole different ballgame. Lack of sleep is one of my migraine triggers. After a sleepless night I find myself the next day around 3 p.m. feeling like I have a buzzing humming vibration coursing through me. Like when you're cranking an old wind-up alarm clock and you turn the knob just a little too far. But I guess those are the trade-offs for such types of inspiration.

I have a close friend who's an accountant and by her own admission not a creative-type. I was sharing with her about this sleep-interrupting brainstorm session-for-one. She looked at me like I had two heads. She said she'd never had that happen to her in her life. You might think that would make me feel bad but instead I smiled, feeling very blessed. I feel like I'm in on some private secret when this happens. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this stream of thoughts and ideas. Sometimes it's creative new uses for old things or concepts for products and services; sometimes inventions, acts of kindness, things I'm to do for other people, prayer reminders, and ideas for a myriad of things. I have another friend who's immensely creative. She jokes that she's given her weekly inspirational checklist while she's at church service on Sunday morning. We laugh about it because we're both in on the joke in our own way. I personally believe that creativity is divine inspiration in most cases. It's true for me anyway. Even when I didn't know that's where it was coming from. That's part of the beauty of it. Now that I accept it and welcome it, it's taken on a whole new meaning and purpose. Tonight alone I've got a list as long as my arm. There's much work to be done. I guess I should start keeping some puffy-eye cream in the fridge, looks like I'm gonna need it.  :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine Project

This year my son decided he didn't want to give out Valentines. I guess he thinks he's too big for all that sappy stuff. I finally persuaded him by offering to make them together. I broke out the fine point black Sharpie and some scraps of colorful card stock; he agreed to color them in with his hand-me-down Prisma-color colored pencils. I gave him my old set from art school when I upgraded to the Koh-i-noor Woodless Coloured Pencils some time ago. (I love the woodless by the way; the best set of colored pencils I've ever used) We had a great time making these together! I've been playing around with ideas for a line of whimsically-illustrated animals so this was a fun way to get some sketches flowing. I still have a few details to work out but I think the bunny and cat are nearly ready to roll. I have the dog, owl and squirrel to finish up and I want to develop the robots into a series. Then I need to get my homework done on licensing and decide how to offer them. Guess this will be at the top of my summer reading list since I am covered up right now with lesson planning, house-hunting and preparing to move fairly soon.

Hope your Valentine's Day was sweet!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweet Dreams Heat Therapy Pillow

Here's a sneak-peek at one of the new handmade products I've been working on for my soon-to-be-launched etsy shop. I'd like to introduce you to the Soothing Peppermint Moist Heat Therapy pillow. This one measures 6.5" x 13" which fits well against a tense neck, across a crampy tummy or over an achey shoulder or elbow. It's made from upcycled fabrics; in this case, a genty-used but apparently unwanted bed pillow. Inside this toile and damask bag (which has a velcro closure at one end) is a separate muslin bag filled with long grain rice infused with peppermint essential oil. Just pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and voila; warm refreshingly-scented comfort! I made one of these for my good friend Mary Beth as a Christmas gift. She called me a few days later to tell me how much she loved it and asked me to make a larger one for her. I'm also working on a softer flannel version for kids to snuggle with on chilly nights and one for pets. I need to do a little aromatherapy homework, but so far I'm thinking I'll offer peppermint, lavender and lemongrass.

I'd love to have some feedback from my readers. What size would work well for your heat therapy needs? What scent would you prefer? Having your input helps me make a better product. I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks so much!

*Yikes* Just realized I hadn't added a link to where I got the pattern/tutorial from. Thanks SewMamaSew, for all the amazing sewing ideas and info you share, not to mention your awesome fabric store. You rock!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's Hot + What's Not

My dear friend strongrrl has been putting out some great posts on what's hot and what's not on her blog over the last few months. I thought it would be fun to play along. So here's what's happening in my world lately that I'm either digging or not, and why.

What's Hot
Glassblowing. On Wednesday, Turtle and I went on a homeschool field trip to Sunspots. We saw an inspiring glassblowing demonstration by Daniel, a very talented artisan. We watched him turn one blob of molten glass into a colorful long stemmed lily, and another into a drinking glass with a multi-colored rim. It was a great introduction into an art form that I know very little about. Did I mention they offer classes? Hrm...

Math. I know you must be thinking I've lost it completely with this one. Math has always been my weakest and most disliked subject. That being said, it's really important to me that I have a strong math program for our homeschooling. Enter Teaching Textbooks Math. It's a really nifty interactive math curriculum that includes a printed workbook, teachers booklet and four computer-based learning cd's filled with fun instructive lectures and self-grading lessons. They have free demos on their website at each grade level, which is a great way for your kids to try it out. They also have downloadable/printable placement tests to help you determine which product your child is ready for. I scored a used copy on ebay last week and so far it's a hit. Hats off to these guys for developing this incredibly creative and savvy approach to learning math!

Ganache. Chocolate perfection. It. Is. Luscious. Where has this been all my life? I mean, I've tasted it before but I'd never made ganache frosting myself until last weekend. It was J'daddy's birthday and Turtle wanted to make her dad a cake. I remembered seeing the recipe on vanillasugar's blog. Though I will warn you; Dawn's blog, much like the ganache, is highly addictive but in the BEST way! I got lost in the deliciousness of this drizzly delight.

Hallelujah. If you didn't catch this performance of Hallelujah by Justin Timberlake, Matt Morris, Charlie Sexton & band on Hope for Haiti Now, it's worth checking out. I watched it live and was really moved by it. The heartfelt harmonies, beautiful arrangement and talented instrumentation are spot-on in my opinion.

Invisible Thread. My wonderful neighbor Bonnie introduced me to this over the holidays. It's amazing! I don't know why I didn't know about this sooner but it's really a wonderful way to put a clean top stitch on certain projects. It's a bit deceptive when you're sewing; I kept looking at the needle thinking the thread had broken because I couldn't see it. But it's really quite durable. I was curious to see if it would melt if it got hot. My sweet friend obliged; she put invisible thread on her machine, stitched a line of it on some cotton fabric and popped it in the microwave to see what would happen. We overcooked the fabric and nearly set it on fire but the thread was unharmed. You never know what we'll get into when we're together. ;-)

What's Not
Overreacting. When something happens that causes you concern and it's coming from a source that you know is usually honest and trustworthy; don't overreact. It throws common sense out the window. It's much easier to calmly ask that person what's going on and work things out amicably. Hitting people with accusations and threats does not build-up anything; it simply tears down.

Cold weather. I am so over winter. The severe cold and heavy snows are trying my patience. I wish I was enjoying it more but I'm not. It just feels oppressive. I am longing for warmer days where we can throw open the windows, hang the laundry on the clothesline and go for walks in short-sleeves.

Bye-Bye BaNilla. It seems that all my local grocery stores have stopped carrying my favorite flavor of Stonyfield Farms yogurt, BaNilla. I don't know if you've ever tried this but it's really tasty. It's funny because I'm not typically a big fan of banana-flavored anything, but for some reason I really love it! BOO to Kroger, Martins and Food Lion for not carrying it anymore.

Simplicity vacuum cleaner. My old s24 model continues to be a huge disappointment. With our house now on the market, vacuuming has become an almost daily activity. I spent months researching vacuum cleaners before we bought this piece o'crap six year ago. The first two years it worked great, but since then it continues to fall apart and need expensive repairs/replacements on a yearly basis. I decided last year I wasn't going to put any more money into it. A few months ago the hose split and after that the length adjustment on the handle stopped working. My husband taped them both up with electrical tape and we forged on. Then last week the handle section came apart while I was vacuuming, exposing the wiring and nearly zapping me. Seeing as we can't afford a new one, J'daddy taped it up yet again and I'm still using it. I really, REALLY need a new vacuum and would LOVE for a company to contact me about reviewing one. A giveaway would be awesome: one for me and one for a loyal chickaboom reader {hint, hint}. Miele? Electrolux? Oreck? Will someone please help me out here?

Friday, January 22, 2010

It Is What It Is

I hadn't intended on a disappearing act being my entry into the new year. It's been a seriously challenging time for us over the last few months; which has really intensified in the last few weeks. Much has changed and is still changing. It's hard to write creatively when you're emotionally overwhelmed and stressed out. Best laid plans and all. The short version is all that I'm ready to go into right now. For now, here's what's been happening:

We've made the difficult decision to put our house on the market. The economy has cut our family fairly deep and we, like so many of you, are having to do things that wouldn't normally be our first choice. We've got it priced to move and are hopeful a buyer will come along quickly. We've already started the process of looking for a home to rent. It's quite a different mindset after owning for many years. I'm sure we'll land on our feet but this was not something we would have wished on ourselves.

My husband started back to college (part-time), working towards finishing his degree after many years hiatus. James Madison University accepted nearly all his credits from his previous stint at UCA back in the early 90's. (Looks like UCA is still using the logo I designed for them back in 1995, huh). I am blown away by his courage and determination. Not to mention his excellent study habits. It's a new dynamic in our lives but we believe it's worth it.

About two months ago we made the decision to pull our daughter from public school. It was a decision not made lightly but was entirely necessary for her well-being. I gave her about a month to detox mentally and emotionally. I'm seeing her come back around which is incredibly hopeful. Since the new year we've been digging in much deeper with studies and it's been going well. Our son is okay where he's at right now but with a move coming up soon, we'll plan to homeschool for the remainder of this school year. We will re-evaluate for next year once we're moved and settled.

I guess it goes without saying that through all this my anxiety-level has been through the roof! Like alot of things we go through in this life, this series of lessons is pushing me back to a closer relationship with God. My faith is being renewed and for that I am most grateful. I'm working hard, internally, to see this situation as a fresh start for us. Not that we were looking for one, but here it is anyway.

January was to be the opening of my zazzle shop and the relaunch of my etsy shop. I did alot of sewing in December getting things ready but it'll have to wait until we get resettled. My blog giveaways and illustration projects are on hold as well though I will continue to work on design projects throughout the move.

Thanks for hanging with me through this very lean time. I hope to be feeling more inspired soon!
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