Tuesday, December 31, 2013

let's table it

A couple months ago I found this folding sewing machine table at a local thrift store (one that supports animals in need, something near and dear to me). I mulled it over and decided it would improve the odds I'd sew more since my current setup is impractical (click here to see where I had been using the machine -- it's covered with navy fabric behind the pasta maker [for clay] and bench vice at the far right of the photo). 

To my joy, the table was still for sale when I returned a couple weeks ago, and this time, 50% off. It wasn't until I got it home that I realized it's a Pfaff table (which is why it's exactly like the one my Mom used with her Pfaff machine when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s). I have a Kenmore machine - an oldie from the 80s but it still works fine. Lucky for me my hubby is handy since my Kenmore didn't fit on the table. Hubby modified the table and I'm in business! Well, I will be once I rearrange the studio to accommodate this purchase. Woo-Hoo! I love to reorganize my craft room -- it gets me all stoked to create. This weekend can't come fast enough (grinning with eager anticipation). 

In the meantime, I want to wish you all a safe, healthy and freakin' fantastic 2014! 


Thursday, December 26, 2013

card again

The craft room didn't get much use this month due to holiday activities, so I stripped out the organizing portion of this week's post on my organizing blog (http://www.locationmatters.co/#!blogger-feed/c130bso the post could perform double duty. My apologies for the duplication if you happen to follow both blogs (and if you do, thank you!

* * * 

If you are like me, you enjoy receiving holiday cards from family and friends. It warms our hearts to know someone is thinking of us, and if they include a letter or note telling how they're doing and what's happening in their life, it’s icing on the cake. It's a simple way to stay somewhat connected.

Each year I find a new way to display the cards as they arrive, having not yet landed on the ideal location. What is consistent every year is saving the cards themselves. When the holidays are over and decorations come down, I cut the fronts off and place the backs in the recycle bin. The card fronts go in a folder for next year’s holiday. This year I used a round punch to capture images from the prior years' cards and then used the cut-outs for gift tags and embellishments on plain packaged gifts.

If you'd like more holiday card ideas, search Pinterest or Google “recycling holiday cards” and you’ll see countless ideas for other ways to repurpose greeting cards. If none of these float your boat, an alternative to recycling them is to donate them to a charity, such as St. Jude’s Ranch.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

experimenting with lava bright silk

So I'm at the Woodsmith Store with my hubby the other day and I spot this really beautiful stick of acrylic (Lava Bright Stick). Hubby tells me it's for making pens. I think it would make cool jewelry, ask if I can cut, sand and and drill it, and when told yes, purchase it. Last night I pulled out my baby table saw and dremel attachments and started experimenting. The saw blade cut through it just fine but man oh man did it make a mess and stink beyond words. The saw blade left marks so I used the baby belt sander, which also made a mess and stunk up the whole house. The belt sander left scratches so I proceeded to use a series of dremel attachments to end up with a smooth and polished product. You can see the mess in the photo below (guess you can't actually see all the plastic shavings all over, but they're there). 

Doing some research online today, I read that wet sanding is recommended when turning the acrylic for pens. Doesn't matter. At this point, the majority of the product is in the trash. The house wreaked so bad that, even though the temp was in the teens, I had to open windows and turn on fans (in case you're wondering, yes, I wore goggles and a face mask when I was sawing, sanding, etc.). Long story short, I'm hoping to salvage the pieces I worked on and make a few pair of earrings (the acrylic really is absolutely beautiful stuff) but after that, I don't ever plan to work with the stuff again. 

The shop area of the studio is back in order (smile). 

So after that little exercise, I yearned to work with something I'm familiar with and enjoy not only the process but the results. If you guessed metal & Friendly Plastic, you're right! Here's a sneak peak of the current WIP: 

So, tell me, what new thing did you try or learn about this weekend? 


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Etsy shop now open

Woo-Hoo! My Etsy shop opens today, just in time for Small Business Saturday. Come on over and check it out, won't you? While you're there, check out my husband's new shop too. I think you'll like what you see. Oh, and for my blog pals, use coupon code BLOGPAL2013 and receive free shipping through the end of this year (my Etsy shop only). 

Monday, November 25, 2013

pendants in progress

November studio time has been spent on glass pendants. There are several separate steps to each pendant and thus, I've found it best to make several of them at once. What's involved? 

1. Select, cut and grind glass into various shapes and sizes. Once in awhile I'll use pre-cut Ranger Memory Glass -- it's thinness pairs well with thick backgrounds. Most of the time, however, I'm working with textured glass. 
2. Stencil, stamp and/or ink various metals or other materials to create the background. 
3. Attach the glass to the background with copper foil and burnish.
4. Solder with lead-free solder. 
5. If desired, grind off some of the solder for a worn/weathered look. 
6. Either make bales from wire and attach with solder or glue on a purchased bale.
7. Apply glaze and let dry. Repeat as many times as needed to achieve the intended look and feel. 
8. If desired, add embellishments such as wire, beads, charms, etc. 

The photo below shows the current set of pendants drying after the first round of glaze. 

Perfection is not the goal here - in fact - the imperfections are what add character and highlight the fact it is hand-made and one of a kind. Each piece is unique, just like each of us. 

I'm planning to announce the Etsy store opening soon, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

repurposed table cloth

What do you do with your table cloths when you replace your old round kitchen table with a rectangular one? Make napkins from the ones you love best and donate the rest! This project couldn't have been simpler and I just love the results. Oh, and a shout out to my old Kenmore sewing machine. It was purchased in the late '80s and still works like a charm. 

What was your latest 'repurposing' project? 


Saturday, November 2, 2013

5th blogiversary

country fireworks  7/3/11; photo by di-did-it
Today I'm celebrating the fifth anniversary of the day I started blogging. Looking back through the posts over the past five years, there's been a lot of growth in various areas, which makes me feel proud. I've gained friends, skills, experiences, a broader perspective, more courage and self-acceptance -- all good, wonderful things. What's next?

This month I'll be opening an Etsy shop to begin selling some of my handmade items. Instead of a give-away today to celebrate my blogiversary, look for some kind of special when the shop opens. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a quote: 

"You don’t have to be great to get started, but
you have to get started to be great." ~ Les Brown 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

life is a medley

The mixed media piece I started 9/15 is complete. It's called "life is a medley" and it was a good reintroduction to several techniques and mediums I hadn't used in quite a while. Not having done much in the craft studio the past year or two, I've gotten quite rusty. The old saying of "use it or lose it" rings true. Last night I ruined one of my favorite brass stencils using it with Friendly Plastic. Silly me forgot to apply a releasing agent of any kind first. Live and learn. If anyone knows how to remove FP from a brass stencil, would you please let me know? I've already spent more time on it than the stencil is worth, but they apparently don't make this one anymore. I searched online as well as our local Michael's and Joann's today to no avail. The local stores no longer carry brass stencils at all. It would seem they had to make room for the hundreds of new items they've added since my last shopping trip many moons ago. GEESH -- talk about being a kid in a candy store! I couldn't believe all the cool stuff the stores are carrying these days. I'm going to have to get busy setting up my Etsy shop in order to earn some spending money! 

On that note, I'm putting on the craft apron and heading to that side of the room. I hope you all have a glorious week ahead. If you're a Snoopy fan like me, don't forget "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will air 7pm CT this Thursday, 10/31. Happy Halloween, everyone! 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

kitchen remodel

If you've been following my blog for any length of time (goodness, can you believe next month will be the 5th anniversary?!), you've heard me mention our kitchen remodeling project. We started demolition in June 2012. With the exception of some drywall help (special thanks to hubby's brother and nephews for their mudding/texturing expertise), hubby & I did all the work ourselves in the evenings & on weekends, completing in June of this year. Gotta brag -- my husband and his mad skills truly ROCK -- he custom-built everything. I've held off sharing the before & after photos until I could get some evening shots, when the room is most beautiful. After putting out a few fall decorations this past Sunday night, I grabbed the camera... 

These are the before shots: 

The during shots at various stages: 

The daytime after shots: 

And some evening after shots:

And did you notice the blank wall behind the table? Looks like a perfect spot to display some artwork, doesn't it? I think it's time to play in the art/craft studio or grab the camera and go exploring [grin].


Sunday, September 15, 2013

art for self-improvement

Patience is not one of my strengths, which is why mixed media is good for me. The drying time necessary between layers forces me to practice patience. Of course, there's nothing that says I have to succumb without a bit of a fight -- like a fan rigged up to hasten the drying time. 

Today is my first time getting paint on my fingers for many months. Feels good! My thanks go out to my pal Sheila who had an old board game at her altered art supply sale yesterday, which looked like an excellent beginning background to me. It will be interesting to see how this piece evolves. Heck, it's always interesting -- they rarely end up how I envision them to begin with, IF I even have a beginning vision - ha! Sometimes, you just have to start somewhere. Hey, that makes me think of a quote... 

"I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew.
Writing a poem is discovering."  ~ Robert Frost 

If you create mixed media (or any other art/craft that can't be completed in one sitting), what do you do during the drying time? Do you have several pieces in various stages so you can move from one to another? Is that tough to shift gears? I'd like hearing from you. 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

seasonal blue moon and an announcement

Did you get to see that gorgeous full moon last week? We were lucky in Iowa to have clear skies so I grabbed my camera & tripod and headed off to the local reservoir. What a beautiful evening! Too bad the park closed at 9... I could have stayed much longer and soaked in more of that beautiful summer night. 

While I prefer color photography, next year's Photography Salon for the Iowa State Fair will be all black and white (it's their 75th anniversary so they're doing a salute to Ansel Adams). Since I'd like to enter next year, I need to learn and practice black and white shooting. If you have any experience in this area you care to share, I'd welcome your input. 

On a totally different note, I'm excited to share with you that I've been pursuing a long-time entrepreneurial dream of having my own Professional Organizing business, which is why there haven't been as many creative endeavors and posts on my blog the last couple years. The new business officially opened this year and I'm having a blast helping others. If you're interested, you can find the website here and my Facebook page here. The Facebook posts won't all be specific to Central Iowa, so please, feel free to follow along. You just might like some of the tips that will be shared -- some will be specific to creative spaces. 

"We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream
to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true,
as long as we keep believing." ~ Louisa May Alcott


Monday, July 15, 2013

her crown

Enjoying a quiet moment in the garden this past Friday night, a movement caught my eye. To my joy, a pair of goldfinches had found our coneflowers and stopped for a nibble. Luckily, I was able to take a few photos before our pooch scared them off (my little protector -- always on duty). Here the female looks like she's wearing a crown. 

May your summer days be filled with unexpected delights! 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

first lily

So excited for my first tiger lily! My dad gave me some from his garden a couple years ago. Last year when they came up, the bunnies ate them all to the ground. This year, I put chicken wire around that section of the garden and it worked. This is the first of several blooms yet to come. Isn't that color rich? Do you see the ant on the stem? You can click on the photo to enlarge it. Endless life and activity in the garden -- such a delight to observe. 

My "creative" time recently has been diverted to a new business endeavor. More news to come... for now I'll leave you with a quote from the remarkable Eleanor Roosevelt: 

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt 


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


My family & I spent Sunday visiting departed family at various cemeteries throughout the state. This little fella (or gal, I'm not sure) was as curious about me that day as I was about him/her. I probably could've gotten closer, but wasn't about to take any chances with claws like those. Better safe than sorry. Squirrels sure can be fun to watch though, can't they? Especially when there's more than one and they seem to be playing tag.  

Speaking of watching, I jumped out to my blog reader yesterday to catch up on all the blogs I follow, and they were all missing. Hopefully, it's just a temporary blip with blogger -- I'm anxious to catch up on what you've all been doing. Until then, I'll remain curious. 


Friday, May 3, 2013

glass/metal pendants & glazed FP/metal pendants

Greetings! How is the month of May treating you thus far? We had a few days of nice warm weather at the end of April -- in fact I saw a couple college students tanning themselves in their swim suits this past Sunday, and today it's snowing (and accumulating). While it's a pretty snow, as I view it from inside my comfy home, it's Spring dagnabbit, and we're ready for snow to go away until Christmas.

These are some pendants I've been working on here and there the past couple months. It's been fun getting back into the swing, but slow going, for sure. Let me know what you think of these. I've been toying with the idea of setting up an Etsy store and donating all or part of the profits to an animal charity, either locally or elsewhere. Any suggestions for pricing items like this? The local animal shelter I volunteer at is opening a boutique and thrift store this month, so I might simply donate these to their cause. 

Again, please let me know what you think, and have a spectacular day! 


Monday, April 15, 2013


When I told my husband last night I didn't have anything to share on my blog this weekend because I hadn't created anything this past week, he suggested I share a picture of where I'd spent my time. So, here is a photo of some of the custom kitchen cabinet doors he made that I've been applying polyurethane to. It's exciting that after all these months, our to-do list has less than 10 items now. It won't be very long before I can share before & after photos of the kitchen. Woo-Hoo! 

"Winning isn't always finishing first. Sometimes, winning is just finishing." 
~ Manuel Diotte 


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gandalf the Grey

Meet Gandalf, aka Gandalf the Grey (my husband has been a Lord of the Rings fan most of his life and got me hooked too when we met nearly 20 years ago). We adopted Gandalf and his brother, Avatar, from a shelter in May of 1999. Avatar left us in 2011, but this guy is still healthy as ever. At some point we'll adopt a brother or two for him to play with but for now, he's quite content being the sole feline here, as well as being my model for photo-practice -- I'm taking a few photos everyday to get familiar with my camera as well as train my mind to be more observant and see things from a different perspective.  

I hope you all have a good week ahead! 


Sunday, March 31, 2013

color my lamp

Sometimes our plans don't go as we'd like and we just make the most of it and enjoy what we can. My schedule this week and weekend was like that. Had just a wee bit of time in the craft room last night and my muse was no where to be found so...... I looked around, saw this little lamp in my least favorite color (it was a gift many years ago) so I grabbed the markers and drawing inks and instead of pink, it's now blue & orange (my favorites).

"Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time."
 ~ Erma Bombeck

"Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation."
~ Michael Jordan


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Well, friends, I must have overdone things last weekend. A bug caught me and held me captive this week. I'm on the road to recovery, but very fatigued so no crafting was done other than a little practicing of the half double stitch -- and I'm pleased to say the result was a square rather than being shaped like Iowa or some other state or object - ha! Rather than share a less-than-exciting picture of that, here's a snapshot of a deer from our state park outing last Sunday. I'm still learning this new camera so the photo isn't terribly clear, but aren't this girl's eyes gorgeous? 

It's snowing in Iowa again today. Mother Nature is laughing heartily at the calendar this year, for sure. I'm ready for Spring but the extended winter has kept the bald eagles around longer than usual, so that's been nice. I love to see them soaring overhead or sitting in the trees along the rivers. 

Have a great week everyone. Stay healthy & safe, and.... HAVE FUN! 


Saturday, March 16, 2013

peek a boo

Last night my husband took me out to a local state park so I could play with the new camera he gave me for my birthday (a tad early, since tomorrow is the day). These three sweeties were timidly hiding behind the branches next to the road, and scattered soon after I snapped a couple photos. They are such beautiful animals. 

We're heading to a St. Patty's Day party tonight so I've gotta scoot -- will post again soon. In the meantime, have a keen & green weekend!  


Saturday, March 9, 2013

crochet Iowa

It's been over ten years since I crocheted anything. Before I quit, I made two afghans -- one large enough for a king size bed. I burnt myself out with that project so sold my supplies. Lately I've had an itch to pick it up again, so I enrolled in one of the crochet classes through Craftsy. The photo above is my first attempt at double crochet stitch. Would like to say I planned for it to look like the state of Iowa, but haha -- nope. It was supposed to be square. Looks like I've got lots of practicing to do. The first project I want to tackle is making a tote bag for my ultrabook.

And yes, I know I'm all over the place with my crafts. I enjoy them all so skip around a lot. Would be good to land on one long enough to get good at it. That will come at some point... for now, just having fun. I hope you're having fun too! 

"If you're not having fun - I don't care what you're doing - don't do it. Move on. Find something else, life's too short." ~ Jerry Doyle 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

first WIPs for quite awhile

In case you're wondering if I'm actually creating, since my posts so far this year don't show it, here are some current WIPs as well as the chaotic state of my studio. Fun is being had here ^smile^ and I hope it's occurring where you are too.