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Friday
Apr092010

Book Junkie

I think I will always have some of that old-fashioned student in me, the student that wants to learn from books.  I love books and reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine.  And still today, despite the internet and instant-access to information, I enjoy reading as a way to learn a new skill.  Like most people, I usually turn to the internet to answer my questions.  When I started working on some embroidery projects, I quickly Googled a few easy stitch tutorials.  I got my answer, quick and easy, and I was embroidering in no time.  But despite the internet's ease, I love getting information from books, whether from the library or Barnes & Noble (although I enjoy the cheaper route of the library whenever possible).  To me books are the holy scriptures of whatever subject I'm interested in.  They are the experts and I put more trust in them than online sources, especially for important topics.  Of course books can be filled with as much worthless junk as what you would find online but considering someone took the time to get the book published, I feel the book should hold a little more authority.  When a new, serious idea pops into my head I rush out to find the best book on the subject (this is not always the best idea because it leads to impulse purchases which wreck havoc on my bank account).  I get all excited and start reading right away.  This is the research phase and it is an important part of my creative process.  I like to have a little background, know what I'm doing before I dive too deep into something.  Maybe I like learning from books because it forces me to slow down so that I can really process the task at hand.  Online information can begin to overwhelm me because I usually skim text and try to comprehend five different links at once.  But reading forces me to really read the words, comprehend what the author is saying, and when you are trying to learn something, this is the most important thing.

 

Today I rushed out to buy a few books that I have been wanting to purchase for awhile.  They are about starting your own handmade craft business and selling online.  I am excited to devour them because my brain is wanting to take in as much as it can on these subjects.  I have read really great reviews on these books so I am expecting to be enlightened!

I purchased:

The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online by Kari Chapin

Find the book link here and Kari Chapin's website link here

Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby Into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco

&

Craft, Inc. Business Planner: The Ultimate Organizer for Turning Your Crafts into Cash by Meg Mateo Ilasco

Find Meg Mateo Ilasco's website here and her awesome blog here.

Thursday
Apr082010

The Anthropologie Project: Paper Scraps Collage

This is my first post in a new series which I am calling "The Anthropologie Project."  I love Anthropologie and appreciate their mission because I know that when I walk into one of their stores or open their catalog, I am getting more than just a shopping experience.  Along with great clothes and accessories, I am being visually inspired to create.  Few other stores make me want to run home and start making something.  Over the years I have collected ideas from the store displays and catalogs and have always wanted to bring these ideas to life and craft my way into Anthropologie's world.  This blog is now my platform for this endeavor.

 

My first project was inspired by the "Carried Away" section of the March 2010 catalog (pages 56-62).  Paper collages were used to depict scenes of animals, insects, and nature and highlight the newest necklaces and jewelry.  There is an amazing three dimensional quality to the work because the jewelry becomes a part of the scene.  Whoever put together these paper collages had such an eye for detail and this section of the catalog is a work of art.  Inspired by the idea, I found some paper scraps and old jewelry and put together some collages of my own.  As examples, I made table numbers but the same idea could be used in many different ways (escort cards, labels, or favors).  This project is a great way to incorporate family heirlooms and make them a part of your party decor but cheaper fashion jewelry works just as well.

 

Here are a few pictures of what inspired me:



And my interpretation:

What you'll need:

- old jewelry: necklaces, brooches, earrings, bracelets, etc.

- 4-ply Mat board

- sheets of textured cardstock

- paper scraps, varying colors & patterns

- double-stick tape

- tacky glue

- foam mounting tape

- metal brads

- x-acto knife

- black paint, or any color you decide to use

 

Instructions:

1. Gather up some old jewelry.  It will not get damaged so you can borrow interesting pieces from friends and family if need be.  Most types of jewelry can be incorporated in some way.  I used a necklace, a couple of brooches, an earring, and my grandfather's old pocket watch.

2. Determine what size you want your table numbers to be.  The examples I made are 5x7.  Cut out the shape, whatever size you decide, from the mat board.  Cut out the same shape from the textured cardstock.  Double-stick tape or glue the cardstock onto the mat board.

3. Cut out whatever shapes you want from the scrap paper.  As examples, I created flora and fauna scenes so I cut the paper in the shapes of blades of grass, tree branches, hummingbirds, and butterflies.  I found images online to help create a hummingbird and butterfly template because I was not comfortable drawing freehand.  Use paper with different colors and patterns to create different layers for your collage.

4. Arrange your shapes on the cardstock.  Once you have determined exactly where things are going, glue down the shapes.  You do not need much, just a light dab of tacky glue.  For a more 3D effect, do not glue down all of the edges.  I let the ends of the grass stick up slightly to look more realistic.

5. Incorporate your old jewelry into the collage.  I used foam-mounting tape to adhere the necklace, brooches, and earring to the cardstock.  This tape has a thickness to it so your jewelry will stick up from the paper and have more of that 3D effect.  For the pocket watch, I hung it from a metal brad that I had pinned into the cardstock/mat board.

6. Using a template, write out the numbers on the mat board and then cut them out with an x-acto.  I painted my numbers black so that they would stand out but you could over them with paper.  Glue the numbers to the cardstock.

7. Incorporate your cute table numbers into your table decor.

 

And more of the finished product:

So this concludes the first in the series "The Anthropologie Project."  Other projects are in the works so check back for more.

Tuesday
Apr062010

Pink Mason Jar Photoshoot

Ok, so I have been promising to post the rest of this photoshoot for over a week now...yes, I am late but here it is in all its glory!  I styled this table out in my backyard and despite a few minor challenges (the ground is uneven so the table wouldn't sit level), I am happy with the results.  This was the first thing I had ever styled on a larger scale and I had a lot of fun collecting the right odds and ends to create the desired look I wanted.  Although this small table is set for two, I could easily imagine this theme being enlarged to accommodate any size party.  All of the decor was stuff I had around the house, mostly antique pieces that I got for cheap, so the look could be achieved without a huge price tag.  One of my favorite pieces used in the shoot was the quilt covering the table and ironically enough, it wasn't originally supposed to be there.  I had wanted to use a plain white tablecloth that I knew we had but as I was lugging everything outside, I discovered that the white tablecloth was really a bunch of white napkins.  I got frustrated, assuming that I would have to bring everything back inside, find another tablecloth alternative, and do the shoot the next day.  I frantically searched my house to see if there was anything else I could use that would work.  My  Mom pointed out the quilt and I realized it was the only thing that would come close.  But since it wasn't my original intention it was hard to shake the old idea from my head.  But as I set up the table with the quilt, I realized that this mistake was a good one and that I loved the new look.  The quilt also has special significance within my family because it was handmade by my great grandmother.  

 

Another great find, of the edible variety, was the French macaroons that I got at Trader Joe's.  I wanted to use macaroons in the shoot because they are adorable  and delicious but I am not aware of any bakeries in my area that sell them.  After a little internet searching I discovered that Trader Joe's carries them.  Run to your nearest store to get them because they are amazing!  In my opinion, the vanilla are better than the chocolate.  They are not as good as the ones in Paris but until my return to France, these will do just fine.

 

And finally the pictures:

 

Monday
Apr052010

My First Seder

Yes, I haven't written in about a week, very bad I know.  It is not really my fault though so I will plead my innocence.  My brother was home this last week for spring break and he confiscated my computer to load Pro Tools on.  I cannot be too mad at him because over a couple of days he was able to mix some awesome sounding stuff.  He was working on a school assignment and working on some recordings he did for his band Mojo Stone.  (Find awesome stuff on my brother and his band here, here, and here....seriously, they are ridiculously talented...and my favorite is this video of a newer song that I'm obsessed with right now) (Ok, this post isn't about my brother...I'll leave that for another day).  I just got my computer back so that is why I didn't write last week.  To make up for my absence, I will be posting all kinds of fun stuff this week, pictures, DIY stuff, and inspiration boards.  YA! 

 

This post is about my first Seder dinner that I got to experience this last Saturday.  My good friend, and former roommate, Elysse invited me and a few other friends to her family's Seder.  I was so excited.  I love spending time with her family and because it was a holiday, a Jewish holiday, I knew I was in for even more fun times.  Elysse told me that she wanted to create cute, crafty place cards and she asked me to come up with something we could make quickly before dinner.  After pondering for awhile and searching through my database of inspiration, I decided to incorporate apples.  Why apples?  Well, two reasons: (1) Elysse loves apples and (2) Elysse's last name has the word "apple" in it (which probably makes her partial to them, therefore reason #1).  The rest was simple.  We stamped text onto manila cards (I love rubber stamps...nothing says crafty like stamps) and adorned with yellow fabric.  Easy!  Here are some shots of our place cards:

The last shot is of our Seder table.  We ate off of plates that had been decorated by Elysse and her sisters when they were kids, adorable, and the tablecloth had the family's hand drawn illustrations also.  So cute!  I loved the family casual atmosphere.  My favorite had to be that big lamb bone hanging off of the Seder plate.  The food was really delicious, minus the gefilte fish.  I guess it could have been delicious but I didn't try it because fish is not agreeable to me...meaning I loathe it.  We read from the Haggadah, sang Passover songs (some are really goofy, like this one about a cat eating a goat?...wah!?), and we ate matza, matza ball soup, and hard-boiled eggs.  I particularly enjoyed the symbology of the different foods on the Seder plate.  The yummiest was the charoset, an apple, almond mixture that was sweet.  Even though we ate things like horseradish and bitter herbs also which aren't as delicious, I enjoyed the whole ritual behind it.  Overall, I had a great time and I cannot thank Elysse and her family enough for including me.  

 

Another thing I must mention and post pictures of are the crazy animals that Elysse's family decided to get...alpacas.  Yes, they have mini llamas, in their backyard, in a residential neighborhood.  It is a crazy sight but one that always gets plenty of attention (good or bad?).  On Saturday we spent some time outside with the alpacas and despite their oddities, everyone agreed they are strangely cute.  Introducing Pacho and Nacho, the alpacas:

 

My first Seder experience was a good one and I hope it was not my last (hint, hint Elysse).     

Wednesday
Mar312010

Phoenix Weekend

This last weekend, my Mom and I traveled to Phoenix to celebrate my uncle's 60th birthday.  It was a quick trip but super fun because I got to see my aunt and uncle, my two cousins, and my cousin's new wife...all whom I love.  This branch of the family is always a blast and after just a couple of days with them, my jaw was sore from laughing so much.  My uncle is a lucky man.  He had a great party and was surrounded by his friends and family who love him.  We enjoyed a yummy catered dinner, a beautiful tiered cake (which was absolutely delicious), and plenty of drinks for all.  

 

Before the festivities started, some of us took a leisurely hike up to Pinnacle Peak, a Scottsdale landmark.  I enjoyed the hike and being able to look out over the desert landscape.  Although it is different than what we recognize as traditional beauty, the desert is gorgeous, especially in Arizona.  When we have visited before it has always been in the winter, around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Visiting in spring was a real treat because all of the wildflowers were in bloom.  Even along the freeways, huge bursts of yellow, orange, and purple lined our path.  Below are some pictures from our hike to Pinnacle Peak.

I believe Pinnacle Peak is on the right...maybe he's a double Peak though.

Marigolds do not just grow in California.  Sadly, I have probably seen more marigolds in Arizona than I have in California.  And then of course there is the cacti.