Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Video of Flowering Jasmine Green Tea

This is my first time posting a video...it's of us (me, CJ, Mom, Dad, and Adam) at my parents' house Christmas Day brewing some flowering tea my mother gave me for Christmas.

(Forgive my Dad's commentary...he's a goof...but that's why we love him! I must admit that the thing does look rather science fiction alien-y while it's emerging.)

Here's an "artsy" still shot of the flower in the pot...

Here's what it looks like from above...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Green Monsters in Vegas

Mystery Rider (the guy that bought my monsters on Etsy) sent me a picture of the monsters in Vegas!
Mystery Rider says...

"The Nubbin should be at a new home. I dropped it Christmas Eve. I sent a email to the toy society. Which is were I first found the link to your Etsy Page."

Check out this post at the Toy Society...the Nubbin was dropped at Child Haven, "a facility in Las Vegas that temporarily houses children who have been taken away from their families due to neglect or abuse". I sure hope someone finds the little guy so he can bring a little happiness to some child who needs a smile!

Thanks Mystery Rider!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What do your roses mean?

I just found this at the Meet Me at Mikes blog.

"All roses say, I Love You, but each color has it's own meaning:
- Burgundy - Unconscious Beauty
- Orange or Coral - Desire
- Pink - Grace and gentility
- Red & White Together - Unity
- Red - Passion
- Sweetheart Roses - Darling, Dear or Honey
- White - Worthiness
- White Rosebuds - You're too young for love
- Yellow - Joy "

I wonder if "Red & White Together" means that one single rose has both red and white in it (like verigated) or that red roses and white roses are grouped together. I had red & white roses for my wedding bouquet...two red roses and one white. I had a specific reason I had that particular arrangement...the two red symbolized my husband and I, while the single white one symbolized God.

(believe it or not, this photo was not posed, my photographer just happened to catch me trying to open up the rose a little more.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Wreck This Journal" Chronicles: Chapter 1

This is so much fun! I had a ball doing a lot of "wrecking" tonight at my parents' house.

1. Carry this with you EVERYWHERE you go!
2. Follow the instructions on every page.
3. Order is not important.
4. Instructions are open to interpretation.
5. Experiment! (Work against your better judgement!)

WARNING: During the process of this book you will get dirty.
You may find yourself covered in paint,or any other number of foreign substances.
You will get wet.
You may be asked to do things you question.
You may grieve for the perfect state that you found your book in.
You may begin to see creative destruction everywhere.
You may begin to live more recklessly!"

My favorite part is doodling. I'm quite the doodler...

I got a lot more stains to go, but here's the first. It's the stain I make most often...usually on my hubby's cheek. And there's the lipstick color I use in case anyone was dying to know (it has to be 952A...the A is very important...952 is a completely different shade).

We tested all the pens in the "pen mug" at my parents' house and threw out the ones the didn't work anymore (there were less than I expected). Mom and Adam helped. I still have a lot of space left to fill though.

More coming soon!
Until then...go on YouTube and do a search for "Wreck This Journal" and see the crazy & funny ways other people have wrecked their journals. WARNING: You may need to weed through some of the videos, because some of them are kind of offensive because they're done by teenage girls who like to drop the F-bomb and/or show way too much cleavage (yeah...skip the one that's titled "Wreck This Journal. DOOO IT").

There is one that's kind of funny with this girl and her boyfriend (or brother...I can't tell) doing the page where you're supposed to throw something (pencil, markers, a ball/rock dipped in paint) at a target (they keep missing the book and hitting the person holding the book). There is also one pretty geeky guy that does the "burn this page" page with a LASER! It's kind of long and you gotta fast forward through a lot of boring geek speak about his laser (that includes big science-guy words like "nanometers"), but it's pretty cool that he did it with a LASER! I may use CJ's woodburning tool to do my burning page.

I may do a video to document the more active aspects of wrecking the journal (then I'll have to figure out how to post video to my blog). I wish I'd recorded poking the holes in the page with a pencil...I was giggling the whole time. My family thought I was nuts. Dad didn't get the point of the journal. I had to explain that it's to break the perfectionism so many people get when it comes to journals (myself included). And to enjoy the experience rather than having a perfect end product.

Christmas Present Post Part 2: Fraggles, Muppets, & Wreck This Journal

It's no secret that I'm a lover of all things Muppets...including my favorite show from my childhood, Fraggle Rock.

Believe it or not, the stuffed Fraggles and the DVD were given to me by seperate people. The 3rd Season DVD set was from CJ. The Fraggle toys were from my brother, Adam, and his girlfriend, Theresa. I guess Theresa got all of them out of a claw machine that is on the boardwalk at the New Jersey shore (while Adam supplied the quarters). The only one I don't have now is Mokey, which I guess wasn't available in the claw machine...but I consider it a labor of love to spend the time getting each of the characters from a claw machine.

The other really cool gift my Adam gave me was a Muppet Whatnot Gift Kit that he said should be coming in the mail soon. Then I can go online and order it from FAO Schwartz (a store in NYC).
"Once they get their puppet design just the way they want it, they can either visit the Muppet Whatnot Workshop in New York and have it made right there, OR starting in February 2009 they can use the online Whatnot Designer to submit thair orders, which will be completed in 3-4 weeks"

Oh, and that basket is an antique picnic basket Mom got for me. Apparantly I was asking once about where to get one.

Remember back when I posted about KittyPinkStars and mentioned that I wanted Wreck This Journal for Christmas? I guess my mom went right out and bought it for me after reading that post. I think I'll be taking my cue from KittyPinkStars Blog and photographing my journal's various phases of destruction and posting it on my blog.

Take a good look...it will never look this way again.


Christmas Present Post Part 1: Playmobile Nativity Scene

We had a lot of fun last night having dinner and opening our gifts.
One of my favorite gifts was a Playmobile Nativity Scene set from my mom. I haven't had a Nativity Scene of my own since getting married, I always wanted Playmobile toys growing up, and I thought it was cool that they actually make a Nativity Scene set.

(I think the shepherd looks like a hobo...it's the bindle.)

Mom has a ceramic Nativity Scene she hand-painted, and since the kings/wise men really didn't get to Jesus right at his birth (but historically closer to 2 years later) Mom puts her 3 wise men somewhere across the room.

"Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him."
Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. "Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?" he asked them.
"In Bethlehem," they said, "for this is what the prophet wrote: `O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.' "

Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!"

After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!

They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child." That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt."

Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. "

- Matthew 2:1-16

Merry CHRISTmas!

"God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

From God our Heavenly Father a blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last Minute Gift: Bottlecap Magnets

I'm going over to my parents' house tonight for Christmas Eve Dinner and opening presents. As I was packing up the gifts to bring over, I realized that I had at least two gifts for both Mom and my brother, but only one gift for Dad. So, being the crafty girl I am, I decided to whip up these magnets as a last minute gift. The jewel of this collection is the Mountain Dew bottlecap from a special edition aluminum Mountain Dew Bottle (I have two more, but one is dented and I can't find the other one).

All you need is some hot glue, small magnets, and some bottlecaps. I also used an old mint tin covered with some scrapbook paper as the gift box. First you'll need a layer of hot glue so the magnet sticks up above the lip of the cap...

You'll need to wait for the first layer to dry, then apply another layer of hot glue and put the magnet on. (I usually work on 3 caps at a time, and by the time you're done with the first layer of the last cap, the first cap's layer will be dry enough to apply the second layer)

And voila!...Bottlecap Magnets!

If anyone wants these Boylan's Birch Beer magnets, I'll be putting one set in my Etsy shop soon...and the other set I'll do for a New Year's give-away. Stay tuned!

Not Your Typical Christmas Tree...

Okay, my mother is going to think this is awful that we don't have a traditional Christmas tree , but here is our tree for this year.

We've rearranged the living room since last year and there's a bookshelf where we put the tree last year, so we really had no room for our regular artificial Christmas tree this year. Now I'm not really into all the crazy Christmas tree alternatives you see on sites like Apartment Therapy, but I had the crazy idea to put our Christmas lights on our artificial bamboo tree, which has a smaller footprint and is in the room anyway.
We might not do it every year (I have a soft spot for tradition, and would like to get a thinner artificial evergreen tree for next year), but for this year it was fun. Plus we're having Christmas at my parents' house this year, so it's not like anyone is coming over here for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Brown paper packages tied up with string...

I wrapped and packed up the presents for my in-laws in Ohio yesterday. We'll be shipping them off today. I wish I'd have taken pictures of the kids' wrapped up presents before I taped up the packing box (I have pictures of some of the presents themselves, but I know my sister-in-law reads my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise! Ha!) But I don't feel like ripping off the packing tape off the box so I can just take pictures, so here's a picture of a similar package that I gave away.

And of course a tag. The snowflake is rubber-stamped, but I "cheated" on the words...they're printed from the computer. It was a last minute thing and I didn't want to spend time on stamping all the letters. I'm a big fan of Jute twine (I'm quickly running out!), but I love this ribbon/yarn too. I've been using it a lot this year (you can see the blue version on my last post about the Oyster Crackers). I have 4 different colors of it...green, blue, orange/yellow, and red/pink. I've become a big fan of the "brown paper packages tied up with string" style of wrapping presents. I obtained a bunch of brown paper that was used as padding in the Pampered Chef boxes when the stuff from my party came...and I couldn't bear to throw it out and knew "I'd use it for something" (a phrase I know sadly contributes to the disaster area status of the office/craft room.) But a lot of times I'm glad I didn't throw something out...in this case I got brown wrapping paper for free rather than having to go out and buy it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers

My mother originally discovered this wonderful snack at a craft fair when I was little, buying a baggie of it for my brother and I before we got too hungry and cranky. Hidden Valley Ranch seasoned Oyster Crackers. It's been a favorite snack of mine over the years and my mother included the recipe in a recipe book she gave me for my bridal shower.

A little Christmas tradition I have had ever since is making some to give to my friends at church. Our church is very small, a lot smaller than most churches (about a dozen families), but I still can't afford to buy everyone a gift. But I enjoy giving a little something to every family, so I make these crackers to give away every year. They are always a big hit. Last year when I worked at the elementary school I made some for my co-workers too.

I finally finished making enough to fill 12 1 quart mason jars tonight so I can bring them to church tomorrow. Here's the recipe so you all can share a little of my holiday tradition joy. I warn you though, they're addicting!

*Most recipes you find now for these only have the Hidden Valley Ranch mix as the seasoning and leave out the dillweed, lemon pepper, and garlic salt, but those three extra spices add a lot to the taste! This is the old school recipe!

Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers

- ¾ cup salad oil (canola oil or veg. oil)
- 1 envelope (1oz. or approx. 2 tbsp) Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
- ½ tsp. dillweed
- ¼ tsp. lemon pepper
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder or garlic salt
- 1 bag (12-16 oz.) plain oyster crackers

Whisk together first five ingredients.
Pour over crackers, stirring to coat.
Place on baking sheets.
Bake at 275 F for 15-20 minutes.
Makes 11-12 cups

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Wonderland

~Sings~ "Walking through a winter wonderland...."
I offered to shovel the rest of the driveway for Rachel this afternoon. She originally had called me to see if I could watch her kids while she did it, but I know she always does it, so I figured it would be nice if I did it for a change.
I'd only been out there for a few minutes when her oldest son, David, came out to help me. I thought Rachel had sent him out to help, but I found out later that he'd come out to help me of his own accord, just because he wanted to. Rachel thought he was going outside to play in the backyard! He was quite the little helper. It made shoveling a lot more enjoyable than if I was doing it alone! Rachel took these pictures just as we were ready to come in.

Yay for snow!..phew!

Feelin Festive

I keep thinking that my windows are fogged up, but it's just all the SNOW flying outside. I hope CJ gets home safe from work today.

Anyway, I've been feeling like the quintessential Christmas housewife the past few days, making gingerbread cookies while it's snowing outside and listening to Manneheim Steamroller...my favorite Christmas music...it makes me think of Christmas morning with my family since it's Dad's favorite Christmas music too, and he always plays the CDs on a loop on Christmas morning. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "Still Nacht (Silent Night)", and "Veni Veni (O Come, O Come Emmanuel)" are my favorites.

I always say I don't enjoy cooking, but I do enjoy baking when the mood strikes me. Mostly cookies though, nothing fancy like cake or bread...CJ is my bread-making man. Here's the first batch of cookies I made (can you tell which one was for CJ?)...

A lot of them got eaten...

A special sign language "I love you" cookie for my Mommy...

And a dog cookie for Luna. Well...not really, I'm not going to let her eat it, but it looks kind of like her. I guess this one I'll give to Dad...he's our big dog lover.
Gingerbread cookies are addicting!...making them as well as eating them. I wanted to make some more, but didn't have enough molasses left from the first batch, so I looked up online what substitutes I could use...honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, or brown sugar. So my second batch I made, I used the rest of the molasses and honey...and look how much different they look from the first batch...but they taste just as good. I want to make another batch with maple syrup so I can compare.

And what, you may ask, am I going to do with all these cookies? Well, I already gave some away to Rachel downstairs, since she was kind enough to let me borrow her ground clove (I didn't have any) and her cool cookie cutters. But the rest I'm planning on bringing to church on Sunday and then bringing some to my parents' house Christmas Eve.

I got my recipie from Maya*Made's blog and found info on the substitutions from Yahoo Answers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Making Vinyl Record Bowls

The hubby, the puppy, and I had dinner at my parents' house tonight. After dinner, we got to talking about White Elephant Christmas Party Gift Exchanges and somehow got talking about making those melted record bowls in the oven. Mom made one out of a Sesame Street record she randomly had hanging on the wall...
...and then she was hooked. So the menfolk stayed home with the dogs while Mom and I went out to the local Goodwill to find more vinyl to creatively maim.
We found lots of Carpenters (which I found funny because Mom loves the Carpenters...and I hate them). We also got some Barry Manilow...making sure only to pick out albums that had yellow tags (this week, yellow tagged items are 50% off) since Goodwill has overpriced their old records. They used to be 25 cents, now they're $1.99. Goodwill Industries have gone all corporate and overpriced. It's a THRIFT store for goodness sake! One record we found still had the original price tag, and it was only 77 cents when it was new!...(yay for inflation). But Mom and I had a lot of fun. I think part of our fun was due to the fact that I used to work at this particular Goodwill (as did my brother), and I know the old ins and outs of the store...plus I remember the good old days when it felt like a family, before it got all cold and corporate.
Plus, we would see funny things like this...

Can anyone tell me which one of this things is not like the others?...the gargoyle (that I wish I'd bought for my garden) randomly amongst all the Christmas stuff.
I found a pair of turquoise Old Navy courderoy pants that fit nicely, and bought them along with a Goodwill reusable shopping bag to give to my brother for Christmas as an inside joke. Then we went home and had fun with heat and vinyl...

Monday, December 15, 2008

My First Etsy Sale!

I made my first Etsy sale today! Hooray! These two green guys are going to a new home!

I'll be shipping them off to Vegas tomorrow...(seriously...the person who bought them is in Las Vegas!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act may be death of independant toymakers...

Okay...this stinks.

"Crafters are up in arms over a seemingly disastrous unintended consequence of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which will require lab certification that lead and phthalates are not present in toys or clothes -- sounds good, but crafters warn that this means that "a toymaker... who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA." The law takes effect on February 10th and the toymakers and small clothing designers are getting very worried indeed."

"For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatory testing, to the tune of up to $4,000 per toy, will likely drive them out of business. And the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US."

Not sure what this could mean for me and my fledgling business making plush toys. I hope SOMEONE realizes how much this new Act SUCKS for independant crafters and makes some sort of amendment or clause or whatever before it goes into effect.

I just joined the Handmade Toy Alliance on Facebook and signed the petition. If you care about independant crafters and toymakers (like me!) you can go sign it too! http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/handmadetoys

Friday, December 12, 2008

Seeing my girl again...

Some of you know that I used to work as a one-on-one aide for a sweet little kindergarten girl with autism. Well, her father called me out of the blue yesterday and asked me if I could go with his wife to help with the kids (Angela, her twin sister and her little brother) when they went to a Christmas party at the elementary school I used to work at. A family member was originally supposed to be going with them, but couldn't make it, so they thought to call me. I'm so glad they did! Even though little Angela seemed very confused (she goes to a different school in the district now, and hasn't been to Ivan Green since last school year, and I think was searching her mental data banks, trying to figure out where she was), I was still very glad to see her again and glad to be able to be a blessing to her mom.
Last time I saw Angela was 5 months ago in July at her birthday party. I'm not really sure she remembered me tonight (she wouldn't say my name without her mom prompting her). I didn't see that look of recognition she gave me when I saw her in July. She pretty much wouldn't look at me at all. I actually think she was too distracted by all the stuff going on and trying to remember when she'd been to this place before. I did see a few kids from her afternoon classroom last year that remembered me (which surprised me) and I got to see the principal and a few of my old co-workers. They were thrilled to hear about my craft show and the consignment shop.

Here's Angela with Santa...
The poor thing ended up falling asleep after we had a snack in the cafeteria, and so I held her and let her snuggle up to me while her mother took her sister to the book fair.

It kind of felt just like old times (the familiar picture of Kira and Angela...always together...practically attatched at the hip!), but it was different. It was very nice to be there as a friend of the family and not just as "the aide". It felt good to know I was there simply because I love her and not because it was my job. I'm so glad her parents have decided to keep in touch with me. I guess I'm sorely missed, and the aide she has now (in her dad's words) "pales in comparison"...although I'm not sure how true that is. I don't think I was anything special. I just loved her...tried to do what was best for her, and listened to the more trained induviduals around me.
But as much as I know they wish I had stayed and been her aide again, I knew it was time for both of us to move on. I know God has me where He wants me to be. And He has her where He wants her too.
Although I really wish my mom could have ended up being her aide...she would have been wonderful with her. But she's an aide for BOCES 1 now for a 5-year-old who is at the cognative level of a 9-month-old.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sharing the Love with the Toy Society

I came across the Toy Society a while ago and have been wanting to do a "toy drop" myself.

I knew I was meeting an old friend at Spot Coffee tonight, and I figured it would be a good place for a drop since it's usually a pretty artsy place (although the artwork seemed very sparse tonight compared to other times I've been there). So before we left I went into the restroom to make the drop. Of course the bathroom was empty when I dropped the toy, but then two ladies came in before I could take a picture. So in order not to seem weird, I had to leave and come back a few minutes later to take a picture. One of the ladies did see the toy, but didn't take it...which is just as well, because I was afraid it wouldn't be there for me to take a picture of later.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tag Making for the Household

On those days where I didn't get around to hanging/folding/ironing the clean laundry the night before (which ends up being more often than I'd like to admit), my husband always asks me in the morning when he's getting ready for work which basket is clean laundry and which basket is dirty. So I used this as an excuse to make these pretty tags today for easy identification without relying on sniffing the laundry...or asking a sleepy, semi-coherant wife at 5:30 in the morning. ;)

I've been on a tag-making spree lately. I went to a Creative Memories open house a few weeks ago and my mom bought me a nice tag punch.( I bought the little alphabet stamp sets for $1 each at AC Moore).

And I bought this magnetic alphabet stamp set at a craft store in Ohio called Pat Catan's when I was visiting my in-laws over Thanksgiving weekend (using some of the money my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas). I love the little symbol stamps that came with it...especially the leaf and the snowflake.

I have a thing for alphabet stamps lately. I like them for card/tag-making and scrapbook page titles. It's time-consuming to spell something out with rubber stamps, but it's pretty. I tend to get picked on for my semi-illegible cursive handwriting that my mother describes as "jagged". So I save that for signing my name and/or personal notes and try to type or stamp the rest.