After reading this post on Paper Kitty’s blog, I looked up Swap-bot, a swapping community where you can join or host different swaps. To give it a try, I signed up for one called “painted wooden box.” It was listed as an international swap and my particular partner ended up being from Malaysia. Malayasia! How cool is that?
Here are some pics during the painting process. By reading my swap partner’s profile I learned that red, orange and green were some of her favorite colors, so that is what I used on the outside. The inside I filled with red-themed items, a mixture of handmade and purchased goodies. I don’t want to ruin the surprise by showing everything, on the off-chance she somehow finds her way to this blog. This was really fun though. I can see how swapping can get addictive, and I haven’t even received anything yet!
This is the original unpainted box that I picked up on sale at Craft Warehouse. I covered the
glass on the lid with tape and then stained the box with a black walnut colored stain.
While the stain dried I printed and cut this lotus pattern on heavy cardstock.
I traced the stencil onto the box and then painted the image using acrylic paint.
To seal, the outside of the box was sprayed with a light coating of matte finish spray.
For a finishing touch, I cut a piece of stiff craft felt for the interior bottom, then filled the
box with goodies and a card, and prepared it for shipping.
Published January 26, 2008
Fun , Life
Tags: birthday, food, free, freebies
Earlier this month Marcy sent an email saying that you can sign up to get free Cold Stone Creamery ice cream on your birthday. I’m not embarrassed to say that I took advantage of that offer right away. And because my birthday is coming up at the end of this month, I did a little more sleuthing. Other worthwhile birthday offers include Baskin Robbins, Red Robin, and Noodles & Co. In the interest of not getting too much junk email, I only signed up for those, but there are longer lists if you look hard enough. Here’s to free food!
I got my haircut today. I’ve been going to the same stylist for over a year (maybe two?) which is a record for me. She is only a couple weeks away from giving birth to her second child, a baby girl this time, and I decided a while back that I’d sew up something simple to take along with me.
Lately, I’ve noticed several cute online baby shoe tutorials. I thought it would be fun to give little mary janes a try. Instructions usually call for wool felt, because it is more durable. I decided to use craft felt because a) it’s softer, b) it comes in many more baby appropriate colors and c) I already had some on hand. Since I was sewing for a newborn, she’d grow out of them in a matter of weeks anyway.
To make the strap, I used papercrafting ribbon. It’s the kind with the adhesive strip on the back, and I hand-sewed it to the inside of each shoe. This way there is no need for velcro, elastic or snaps (none of which I’ve worked with yet) because it will stick delicately over the baby’s sock and attach to the other side of the shoe. I’d like to try other fastenings in the future, but this worked fine for a first pair. Cute, huh?
See my second pair and links to baby shoe tutorials and templates here, and baby boy booties here.
A view of the cabin from the back, almost buried in the snow.
This past Friday Alex called about the four of us and the dogs spending the 3-day weekend away somewhere. We agreed it would be fun to go somewhere new, but not spend all day in the car. We settled on the Waldo/Crescent/Odell lake area east of Eugene, about a 3.5 hour drive southeast of Portland. A place where we’d find lots of snow for snowshoeing. Not surprisingly, most of the lodges and cabins in the area were already booked. Luckily Alex found a private home listed on craigslist that was still available. So that’s where we went.
The home was a charming A-frame cabin on a secluded 3.5 acre lot, not far from the national forest. Although poorly furnished (with not a shred of toilet paper to be found), it was comfortable and cheerily warmed with a sturdy wood stove. Actually, the place had loads of potential, and I couldn’t help wondering why the owners didn’t put any effort into making it a little better. A set of decent hooks for hanging wet coats or towels and a matching set of dining chairs could have made a big difference (but I’m just picky). When we arrived there wasn’t a track to be found, and in some spots the dogs would sink in up to their bodies. Part of the fun was just watching them bound in and out of the drifts.
Crescent Creek, right in the backyard.
A little snowshoeing adventure along the creek. We made those tracks ourselves.
Barkley taking a much needed break from all the excitement.
Overall, it was so nice to get away. And I’m again reminded how lucky we are to have such good friends. With Marcy and Alex’s baby boy on the way (see this pic), it likely won’t be so easy to just pick up and go, as we’ve done in the past. But it will be interesting, too, to see what kind of new adventures will come into play, and all that the future will bring.
A brief stop at Odell Lake, on our way back to Portland.
More pics from this weekend can be found here on my flickr page.
Published January 18, 2008
Cooking , Home , Life
Tags: baking, Home, Life
I made this marble pound cake from scratch out of our old Better Homes and Gardens “New Cookbook.” A little slice of cake with a cup of hot tea sounded so good to me right then. Sadly, the cake was unexceptional, as have some of the other recipes I’ve used out of this cookbook lately. It used to be a staple reference, but now I’m wondering if the flavors are just too out of date. Even the chocolate chip cookie recipe wasn’t very good. Also, it’s strange, but I don’t like nutmeg. I used a 1/2 teaspoon instead of the full in the pound cake, but even that was too much.
Published January 17, 2008
Home , Life
Tags: Fun, games, Home, Life
The last time I had lunch with Christy, my boss when I used to work at adidas, she and her assistant taught me a new card game called Skip-bo. It was pretty fun and I had meant to pick up my own deck, but then forgot. I was recently reminded from reading a post on Still Life in Yarn which mentioned the game briefly. I finally picked up a box at Target. David and I have been playing multiple games back-to-back. It’s been really fun to interact with him this way. Kind of like quality time.
Yesterday I woke up to honest-to-goodness sunlight streaming through the house. What a miracle! There has hardly been even a partial day of sun since our return from the holidays, mostly just cold, rain, grey, rain, freezing, grey, overcast, rain, cloudy, dreary, rain. I’m sure it has been affecting my mood. The sun makes me happy. I like a few days of rain, okay, but weeks of it? No can do. So why do I suffer through this lousy weather here in Portland? Because the summers are phenomenal. As is autumn, and spring, too.
I ran out of the house almost immediately to snap photos of the frosty ice crystals that formed overnight on the plants and then later the three of us dressed warm and spent the afternoon along the Wilson River. David fished, Barkley explored and marked his territory, and I took photographs and read (fingers were too cold to knit, although I did bring it along). It was so good to go for a drive in the country and get out of the house.
Published January 15, 2008
Design , Environment , food
Tags: Design, green, Life, packaging, tea
Yesterday when we were at the grocery store I asked David to pick me up another box of green tea. I stayed in the car talking on the phone to my Dad. And just look at the pretty tin he came back with. I’ve never heard of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea, but the artwork and packaging is adorable. Fair trade and organic. My honey, he knows how I’m such a sucker for pretty packaging. And the tea is good, too!
So, I did a little online research and found Zhena’s story on greenmoneyjournal.com, which I found very interesting, real, and inspiring. Read her story here.
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I just completed the sweet chemise project from the book Simple Sewing with a French Twist. It was my first apparel project. The instructions were fairly clear, and had good diagrams, but I really missed not having my mother-in-law around. She was a great help when I got stuck on my last project. The neckline gave me the most trouble, but I was able to muddle through.
Overall, it turned out fine, though not as easy as I expected. I think it would not be easy for a person without computer skills to properly enlarge and print the pattern on a photocopier, as suggested. I also found the order of instructions a little strange, and the length a lot longer than it looked in the book’s picture, although my measurements did match up. I guess I thought it would be more of a shirt than a dress. In the future I’ll try making this again, but with softer fabric and maybe a tad wider around the bust area. I would guess the end product to be about a size 2-4, which is surprising, and could be really disappointing for someone with a decent-sized chest. It would have been a little looser if I hadn’t followed the directions for french seams (check out Stardust Shoe’s blog for a good example), but it was a technique I wanted to try.
I did a search to see how other people’s sweet chemise projects turned out but only found Robin at That Silly Girl. Hers actually turned out short by accident. She also shares a link to Belle Epoque’s Tie-top Tank tutorial that looks really cute. I think I might try that next time.
I asked David to do the unthinkable today and stop at Starbucks. All this grey cold and rain has made me a little blue and I sorely needed a perk-me-up. Thus the power of a (decaf) caramel macchiato.
Near our house is a really cool old building that used to be a drive-thru Coffee People until Starbucks bought them out and shut them down. I’ll admit, however, they did a really nice remodel, and managed to keep the building’s original shape. Plus, the new cafe has a cozy indoor seating area that the old one didn’t. Anyway, on our way out David noticed a bin underneath the counter that had bags marked “free.” I asked David how in the world he noticed them down there and he said something to the effect that he has a sixth sense when it comes to free stuff. I think that is true. The bags contained used coffee grounds, something that I’ve heard a lot about since learning to gardening a few years ago.
Although we save our grounds to compost, we would never be able to acquire the scale of grounds that Starbucks’ must produce in a single day. We took two bags. Here’s what the label says (although their’s is written in all caps. Someone needs to tell them that they don’t need to yell):
Used Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are a nutritional additive for your soli. During the brewing prodess most of the acidity is removed, leaving used grounds with an average PH of 6.9 and a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 20-1.
Add grounds directly to your garden…
Apply this “green” material as a side dressing to nitrogen-loving plants, including most perennials and allium plants. Balance the nutrition of your soil with “brown” materials such as leaves or dried grass.
Or to your compost
Combine with “brown” materials in your compost pile. Use grounds within 2-3 weeks of brewing to capture the most nutritional value.
For more information on usage and benefits you can also read Sunset’s Starbucks Coffee Compost Test or visit Starbucks’ Composting page.