My Trip to Italy

I’m back! Actually, I’ve been back for a few days, but jetlag is real. It wasn’t as bad for me coming home as it was going there, but it still smacked me down a bit. Fortunately I suspected that would be the case and left myself a cushion to readjust…except for the doctor and dentist appointments I foolishly made for myself for the beginning of this week. But that’s all under the bridge, and I’m ready to dive back into my craft room. First though, I’d like to share a little of my trip with you!

We left home on April 24th and took a series of LONG flights to Italy. In our airport here in Portland you leave the secured area, and can greet whoever is picking you up, before you pick up your luggage. In Naples, we had to wait for our luggage first. Which nearly drove me crazy, and my husband kept saying “Just go hug your boy. I’ll get the bags.” I finally took him up on it. A year is too long to wait for a hug from your kid.

Our son lives in a small town just inland from Gaeta, where he works, and he drove down to Naples to pick us up. The first thing I learned about Italy is that the driving situation is insane. A one lane road is turned to three, cars will pass each other with traffic in the oncoming lane, and it feels like everyone’s bumpers are touching because they drive so close together. Fortunately, the cars are tiny. If I lived there I would have to take public transportation everywhere!

The first place we spent some time was Gaeta. Apparently it’s not a big tourist area for people from outside the country, but it is for Italians. The weather was good, and being from Oregon anything over about 65 degrees is shorts and tanks weather. We were the ONLY ones. Everyone else was wearing muted colors, heavy coats and boots. Me and my white, flowery, sleeveless top and my pasty white arms stuck out like a sore thumb.

Of course one of the first things we did was sample some gelato and cappuccino. It’s probably good I don’t live there, or that’s what I would have every day.

In the afternoon, we stopped at an outdoor bar for drinks. We were sitting at a little table, when suddenly car after car started pulling up, filled with people clearly dressed for a wedding, including the bride and groom themselves. The bar was ready for them with champagne and snacks. We just sat at our little table while an entire wedding reception was happening around us!

There’s a castle next door to my son’s apartment building (!), so we spent part of a day exploring that. We were on our way to figure out how to get in, when an Italian man that works with my son happened to drive by. We asked him where to enter, so he hopped out of his car and gave us a mini tour. He grew up in the area, and talked about playing hide and seek in the castle as a kid.

Tucker had to work during much of our visit, but he was able to get about a week off, so we planned a trip. We decided to take the train, which made for a much more relaxing trek than I think driving would have been. Our first stop was Rome, where we stayed for a couple of days.

We visited most of the things you’d expect in Rome, like the Forum, the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, etc. Being from the United States, and specifically the West coast, we just don’t have buildings anywhere near as old as almost everything there. It was surreal to me to be walking down the street and realize you’re walking by something that’s been there for thousands of years.

In addition to all the sites, you can find a café and gelato shop on nearly every corner. That wasn’t completely surprising, but what was is the number of Irish pubs. Who would have guessed?

When we left Rome we stopped in Pisa, long enough to see the Leaning Tower. I wish I would have taken a photo of all the tourists there, with about 75% of them taking the “Hey look, I’m holding up the tower with one hand” pic.

From Pisa, we continued on to a town called La Spezia. We had an airbnb there for a couple of nights so we could visit an area called Cinque Terre.  You know those photos you see of Italy with the colorful buildings climbing up a steep hillside? That’s Cinque Terre.

We took the train between each of the five villages, and each one had its own personality. They all sit on the side of a hill, so there is a lot of walking and climbing stairs. I think I understand how the Italians can eat so much pasta, gelato and bread and still be thin and fit.

 The views were absolutely amazing everywhere you looked. You can look to the hillside with all the colorful buildings, grapevines and lemon trees with the biggest lemons I’ve ever seen.

Then you can turn around and see an expansive view of the ocean. Beautiful in every direction.

We stayed in La Spezia because we’d heard it was easier than trying to find lodging in Cinque Terre, but it turned out to be a fun place to spend time also. Our airbnb was across the street from a music conservatory, so we were treated to amazing music most of the time we were there. We also visited an Italian Navy Museum and walking through the shopping and along the waterfront.

After our travels, we returned to our son’s apartment where we celebrated my birthday and Mother’s Day. He had to go back to work, but my husband and I were still able to have some mini adventures, like figuring out how to shop in an Italian grocery store, visit our favorite café for our daily cappuccino and try to decide exactly which shop had the best gelato.

On Tucker’s last day off before we left, he drove us up into the hills to a monastery. You could see all the way past Gaeta to the ocean. It was a perfect way to top off our trip.

We had an amazing time, not only visiting the tourist areas, but getting the opportunity to really experience living in Italy, if only for a short time. We were there for about four days when we decided we are definitely going back next spring!

What I Did During My Winter Break

Both of my kids started back to school today after the break.  The dog is very depressed about that, but for me it’s when the new year really begins.  As long as they’re home, I can pretend the holidays aren’t quite over, but once school is in session again it’s time to get back to reality.  Indulge me in one last hurrah while I tell you about my break.

If you’ve followed my blog, you know my husband left for a training program in Quantico, Virginia in September.  We’ve been married for 21 years and have never been apart for more than a couple of weeks, so three months and a couple thousand miles was a really big deal. 

He graduated in mid-December, so I flew there to join him.  I had never been to the east coast, so we spent a day sight-seeing in Washington D.C.

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I’d love to go back and spend more time, but the weather was beautiful and we got to walk around and see many of the popular landmarks.

After our D.C. adventure and my tour of the FBI facility in Virginia, we took a train to Baltimore, Maryland.  Before he left in September, we decided to take a cruise as our Christmas gift to each other and to celebrate his achievement, and Baltimore was our port.  Our ship was late, so we got to spend a few hours exploring downtown Baltimore, which was actually a nice surprise.

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Our cruise took us to Port Canaveral, Florida, where we spent some time at Disney World.  No one does Christmas like Disney.

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Our next stop was in the Bahamas at Nassau.  Another first for me – I’ve never been outside the U.S. besides Mexico. 

One of the interesting places we visited there was called the Straw Market.  It’s a brand-new building, full of people selling tables piled with handmade items.  There’s obviously some things mixed in that at least aren’t made by the person selling them, but the row of woodworkers actively making new items was fascinating.  If we would have had room in our luggage, there are a couple of things that would be in my house right now.

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Our last stop was at a little place in the Bahamas called Coco Cay.  It’s a tiny island that’s leased by the cruise line.  It was tough to lay there getting sunburned and floating in the Caribbean in December, but we suffered through it. 

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As you might imagine, the flight from Washington D.C. back to Oregon is a pretty long one.  I sat next to a young lady who was probably about 10 or 12 years old.  She spent most of the trip reading, but after a while she grabbed her bag and started searching for what I would later find out was a pen.  In the process, she pulled out a skein of yarn.  I was SO hoping she’d start working on something from it!

That’s what I did on my vacation.  If you’re having any bad feelings toward me right now, here’s something that might make you feel better.  The day I arrived in Virginia, my husband had come down with a cold.  Midway through our cruise, I had it as well.  We’re both still sick.  But it was totally worth it.

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Christmas in the Craft Store

I did a little shopping the day after Halloween and one of my first stops was at a department store.  I had only been there for a few minutes when I realized I was hearing Christmas music.  It wasn’t constant, maybe every third or fourth song.  This is the part where I’m supposed to shake my fist and say “Grr!  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!  Christmas starts earlier every year!”

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Yeah, well, you’re not getting that from me.  I’m that person you see looking at the ornaments in September.  I’d watch White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life on Thanksgiving if my daughter didn’t come unhinged every time I mention it.  Christmas music in November?  Bring it on.

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I know a lot of you don’t agree with me.  I see you pointing and whispering while I gleefully smell every Christmas candle on the shelf while you’re shopping for Halloween costumes.  However, I think there’s one place we can find some common ground – if you’re going to make things for Christmas, it’s never too early to get started.

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If you sew or craft, you’ve been exposed to the holidays for a few months now.  In fact, in some areas you can find things year-round.  I bought Christmas fabric in August.  And it was on sale.  But we are in full swing now, with fabric and craft stores in their full December-holiday glory.

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All the photos shown here are from my favorite local craft store, Craft Warehouse.  They just moved into a bigger building, so it’s easy to lose even more time there than before.

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Sometimes if I’m looking for inspiration, I just go there and walk around.  They always have lots of displays, usually for various skill levels.

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They’ve been carrying these clear buckets for a few years now.  Many of my daughter’s friends have received these as birthday gifts, stuffed with a pillowcase.

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Somehow, I feel like they’re putting a little more effort into decorating them than I have.

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By the way, I have no affiliation with Craft Warehouse, except for the good-sized chunk of my crafting budget that comes their way every year.  Case in point, I now own three of these pointy trees.  I just have to decide how I’m going to embellish them.

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Have you started making anything Christmas-related yet?  When do you usually start your holiday crafting?

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What I want my Christmas crafting to look like:

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What it actually looks like:

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That does it.  If you need me I’ll be making Christmas ornaments and listening to Bing Crosby.

Friday Favorites–Pinterest Finds

This week, I decided to share some of my favorites from my Pinterest boards.  I try not to visit every day, because if I did nothing else would ever get done.  Today though, I spent a LOT of time there.  My daughter called it procraftination.  Smart girl.

This canvas project from Virginia and Charlie has been popping up for a while.  I was surprised to find out when I tracked it back to the original post, she didn’t use glue, like all the pins say, and she didn’t paint it.  It’s puffy paint, and she left it white.  I still love it, and she shows some other versions she made as well.

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I think I’ve mentioned this before, but a few years ago, we took our kids on an epic, two-week, cross-country road trip.  It was fantastic.  I’d love to embroider our path onto a map and frame it, like these from Martha Stewart.

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I found this cute project recently.  It comes from a Hungarian blog, whose name, A Papír egy Csoda, Google translates as The Paper is a Miracle .  What a fun, beautiful way to fill the space under the stairs.

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I love Christian Louboutin shoes.  You know, the high heels with the red soles?  And it’s really only because of those soles.  I could have something similar and sparkly for a fraction of a fraction of the cost with this tutorial from Could I Have That.

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I like food with flavor, but not super-spicy.  Every once in a while though, I get in the mood for a jalapeno popper, and I think this Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich from BS’ in the Kitchen would be a delicious substitute.

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These bags from Jump From Paper look like cartoons, but are actual bags.  They’re pretty pricey, but kind of adorable.

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This Thin Mints sign from Etsy seller Atlas Signs is my most liked and repinned pin.  And oh-so true.

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I had to do some serious digging and searching to find the originator of this shadow box car display, which is Work in Progress Kits.  Totally worth it.  I’m digging out my son’s old Hot Wheels right now.

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We’ll wrap up this week with one of my favorite new quotes, courtesy of SomeEcards.

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Paint Chips from Photos

As I mentioned last week, we’re in the middle of remodeling another room in our house.  When we moved out of our last house, years ago, we had just finished adding onto and updating it too.  Needless to say, we’ve spent a lot of time mulling over paint chips. 

I love color, but that task always stresses me out a little.  It’s a bit like choosing a baby’s name – whatever you pick, you’re stuck with, even if you decide later that Apple is both an odd choice for a child and a bad color for your bathroom.

I happened upon a tool yesterday, which I have absolutely no affiliation with, that’s kind of brilliant.  It’s called Chip It! by Sherwin Williams and it’s almost criminal how fun it is to play with.

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It’s very simple.  You give it the address of a photo, like the one above from my homemade Salsa post, and it chooses a palette of colors based on what it sees in the picture.  At first, it gives you a smaller group of five chips, like this pic of Lavender Mint Tea.

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But when you hit that little “More Colors” link at the bottom, it expands to up to ten.

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It probably goes without saying, but it’s going to pick up the background in your photo, so the more the colors you’re aiming for fill the frame, the better.

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You can use photos from pretty much anywhere online – Pinterest, Flickr, blogs.  You can also share your chips, once you’ve saved them to your ChipBook, via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

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I apologize in advance for causing you to lose part of your day, but maybe this will inspire you to go paint something.  Somewhere out there, my husband is hoping not.

Hello, Seattle

Being in law enforcement, my husband has to attend a lot of training.  Sometimes, when he goes somewhere fun, we tag along.  I always feel a little guilty, playing all day while he’s in class, but it doesn’t keep me from doing it anyway.  Last week, the kids and I got to hang out in Seattle. I love Seattle.  Part of it is the coffee shop on every corner.  And the abundant seafood.  And the Space Needle view from our hotel.

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All of the green reminds me of home.

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But what I really love is the quirkiness.  This is one of several outdoor light fixtures.

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We spent an entire day at Pike Place Market and I still don’t think we saw everything.

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I even found a fabric store.  I know, right?  It’s called Undercover Quilts and has apparently been there for 21 years.  I bought a piece of this fabric from the gentleman that owns it.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had a man cut fabric for me before.

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I’m a born Oregonian, so I’m pretty used to the rain, but here’s proof it doesn’t ALWAYS rain in Seattle.  With everything to do and see, I don’t think we’d care if it did.

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Remembering September 11th

I hope you’ll forgive me for skipping Friday Favorites this week, but I need to write about this.  Thanks for understanding.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was getting the kids ready for school.  Codi was entering second grade and it was Tucker’s first day of kindergarten.  My husband was at work at the police station when he called me.  All he said was “Turn on the TV.”  I assumed something had happened at work, so I asked him which channel.  His reply was “Any channel.”  That’s when my heart started to race.  I watched, along with the rest of America and the world, as everything changed forever.

I took the kids to school, and sat through kindergarten orientation in Tucker’s classroom.  All of the adults just kept looking at each other, none of us really absorbing how to send in lunch money or when the first class party would be.  When I left, the school was in lock-down.  I’ve never wanted so badly to grab my kids and run.

Codi’s birthday is on September 12th, so I had to go do some birthday shopping after I left the school.  It was surreal.  There was a moment of silence called out over the loudspeaker in one store.  Although, aside from the occasional conversation about what happened and the hushed, terrified questions about what may yet happen, there wasn’t much noise to silence. 

If you happen to be or know a police family, you know that when a crisis happens they are needed elsewhere.  There is a small airport and a train track in the town my husband works in, so they were on high alert in the days after 9-11, which meant he worked a lot.  We kept the kids schedules as regular as possible, so they were going to school and their other activities.  That left me and the television.  I watched too much of it, but I was afraid something else would happen and I wouldn’t know.  I needed something else to do.

I don’t remember how I found out about the website, but sometime in the days or weeks following 9-11, I stumbled on the United in Memory 9-11 Memorial Quilt project.  They were looking for quilters to sew blocks to honor and remember all of the victims from that day. 

I was a brand-new quilter, and there were people with far more experience and skill than I had participating, but I hoped they would accept me anyway and I sent an email offering to help.  I was assigned two blocks.

I asked for a police officer if there were any unassigned, so I was given Officer John William Perry.  He was an NYPD officer and in the New York National Guard.  It was his last day on the job, and he was turning in his badge when the towers went down and he ran back to help.  I chose, as many other quilters did, to make his block in red, white and blue.

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I was also assigned Dr. Norma Lang Steuerle.  She was a clinical psychologist and was aboard Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.  A friend remembering her said she was probably calming everyone else on the plane when it happened.  I chose the pattern for her quilt to represent herself, her husband and two daughters.

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Working on those squares was therapeutic.  It felt good to be doing something positive and productive.  By the time I was finished, I felt like I knew Officer Perry and Dr. Steuerle.  Or, more accurately, I wished I had.

Once the blocks were all sent in, they were assembled into 142 panels, covering 16,000 square feet.  In the end, over 3,000 volunteers from 17 countries participated.  It took 11 months to finish, then began touring the country.  It will be shown on Staten Island in New York this weekend.

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As the 10-year anniversary of September 11th approaches, I hope you’ll hug your family a little closer, do something good for someone else, and remember those who are no longer with us.  We are better than what happened to us, and remembering the day with kind deeds is the ultimate proof.

Spoonflower

I’m a little fascinated with Spoonflower.  If you haven’t discovered them yet, you’re missing something.  Spoonflower is a website where you can upload any design you’d like and they will print it out on fabric.  The options are so limitless, it’s almost overwhelming.  I am such a fabric geek.

I don’t remember where I first heard about them, but the first thing I did when I visited their website is order a swatch book.  It’s $1, which includes shipping.

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I’m very tactile, as I imagine a lot of crafty people are, so I had to find out what their fabrics felt like before I even thought about ordering.  As you can probably imagine, custom fabric is not cheap, and I wanted to make sure it was worth it.

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Swatch book in hand, I played around with a few designs, but got busy with other things and didn’t place an order.  A few months passed, then Spoonflower sent out an email about Free Swatch Day.

Apparently, this is an annual event where they offer a free swatch, but suggest a donation of $5 (the normal cost of the swatch) to a charity.  I don’t know if it’s the same one every year, but this year was Heifer International.  My son’s school did a fundraiser for them a few years ago, and I was impressed with their program, so I was onboard.

They have an excellent help section, which will walk you right through the steps to order your fabric. I won’t go into those details here, but if you plan to order fabric, I would say it’s required reading.

I uploaded a very simple, text-only design.  It’s photography-related words, so I can use it on some of my Etsy shop items.  The swatch is 8 inches square, so it’s actually large enough to see how the fabric will turn out and use to make something with when you’re done looking at it.

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I made at least one mistake, but it’s my own fault.  See the gap between the first and second line?  All me.  I just realized, this looks like a big Polaroid photo.

Another aspect of Spoonflower that I’ve really been enjoying is their contests.  Not entering them, but voting.  They have different themes from week to week and some of the talent displayed is amazing.

Which brings me to another Spoonflower plus – you can buy fabric designed by other people.  If they’ve uploaded it and made it public, you can buy it.  I can’t show any of the photos here, but there are a few artists whose work I really like:

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That’s not to say there isn’t about a million others.  The whimsical category alone could keep me busy for days.

Now that I have a swatch in front of me, I’m anxious to try other designs, and maybe order something from another designer.  I like the idea of unique fabric you can’t just walk into any store and buy. 

If you’ve tried Spoonflower, I’d love to hear about your experience!

I have no affiliation with Spoonflower – just a happy customer.

Camping and Crafting

We’re back from our weekend camping trip.  We had a couple of relaxing days of sitting by a campfire and hanging out with some friends.  It wasn’t very warm, but it didn’t rain and, around here, that’s a win. This might not come as a big surprise, but Codi and I brought along some craft supplies.  I’ve learned it’s best to bring something to do because my husband, or Joel-Gyver as he’s known around the tent, will inevitably start building something.  Last time we went camping, he spent hours working on motorized boats using empty Arizona tea cans, rubber bands, and I-don’t-know-what-else.

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This time he was a little less obsessed.  The only thing I caught him making was a cup holder for my chair.

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In the meantime, the girls broke out the box of paint and decorated many, MANY rocks.  Ellie and Emma’s parents may have been cursing at me under their breath when it was time to load up to leave.

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I may also be responsible for Caitlyn’s shirt being demoted to pajamas.

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Codi brought along a big box of beads and helped everyone make beaded key chains and critters to hook onto zippers.

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We found out Joy is an amazing artist and I can tell you, that notebook in her lap is full of some gorgeous fairy drawings.

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We went on a camping trip a few years ago near the river, and found stacks and stacks of rocks when we arrived in our campsite.  Underneath one of the stacks was a note, explaining who had made all the rock towers.

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We thought it was so awesome, it’s become a bit of a tradition for us.  We don’t always leave a note, but there’s usually lots of stacks of rocks by the time we pack up.

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This one was particularly impressive.  I was afraid to get too close.  Yes, that big rock is barely touching the one it’s sitting on.

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I also made rainbow macrame bracelets for all the girls and Tucker made a couple of paracord bracelets for the boys.  I didn’t get a photo of that.  Sometimes trying to get a photo of a boy crafting is like getting a photo of Sasquatch.  It’s blurry because they’re running from you.

We managed to squeeze another weekend out of the calendar so we can go one more time before school starts.  I’ve already packed the paint.

Pinterest

We all know, there are plenty of ways to kill time online.  Social networking, media, research, education, work, play…if it exists in the real world, you’ll find some form of it on the internet.  One of my recently discovered toys is the digital equivalent of driving around looking at other people’s inspiration boards and gathering stuff to add to your own.  Because we all have those, right?

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I’m still getting to know Pinterest myself, but so far I enjoy playing with it once in a while.  There are ins and outs I'm not familiar with yet, but the short version is this:  it’s a collection of photos you like.  Each photo is called a pin.  You put your pins on a board.  Others can like or repin your pins.  You can follow others and they can follow you.  Sounds simple, right?

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I have a few boards started and I add to them in a sporadic fashion.  If I visit the home page and continue to scroll down, when it runs out of stuff I’ve added it switches to “The Best of Pinterest,” which appears to go on forever.  That’s where the loss of time happens for me.

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You may be wondering what the point of a website like this is.  I don’t know the creator’s intention, but, for me, it’s a place to collect inspiration.  Not all of my pins are craft-related but they are all things I like to look at.  I find that sometimes the best way to come up with new ideas for things to make is to look in a completely different direction.  Pinterest allows me to keep track of the path that lead me there.

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You have to be invited to join Pinterest.  That said, all you have to do is ask for an invitation.  The only hitch is that, while you’ll definitely get one eventually,  sometimes it takes a while.  The good news is, I seem to have six invitations I can hand out.  I don’t know if I’m limited to six, but I can promise that the first six to ask for one in the comments below will get one.  Make sure your email address is linked to your comment so I know where to send it. 

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If you’re already on Pinterest, or you become addicted, I mean join, as a result of this post, let me know and I’ll follow you.  You can find my boards and their pins here.  I’m definitely ready for some new inspiration!

All of the photos here are from my Pinterest boards, but I’ve linked to the original post they came from whenever possible.

Las Vegas Inspiration

If you’ve never visited Las Vegas, you may be surprised that I find a lot of creative inspiration there.  This trip, it started as soon as we had cleared the clouds of Oregon.

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Las Vegas isn’t all showgirls and slot machines. In fact, I’m not a gambler, I just love walking around and taking it all in.  We visited some amazing art galleries and saw a Cirque de Soleil show.  Needless to say, no photos of those.

I always see lots of things there I can’t find at home…like pirate ships, the Eiffel Tower, New York, ancient Rome, Italy and, of course, lots of neon.

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We also took the kids to see the Fremont Street Experience.  A show is displayed on a four-block-long canopy over the street and is comprised of 12.5 million LED light bulbs.  I don’t think my children blinked.

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We’ve been to Vegas many times, so while I love to explore, much of it I’ve already seen.  However, no matter how many times I visit, I’m always surprised by something.  I don’t remember which hotel this was in, and I couldn’t tell you what any of the clothes looked like that they were selling inside the store, but there were three large windows, all full of antique sewing machines.  This is just one of the windows.  Pretty much the last thing I would have expected to see there.

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There’s an area in the Bellagio where they always have some sort of seasonal display, usually involving plants.  This time they had the cutest little sunflowers.  The largest of these is no bigger than my hand.  It’s too late this year, but you can bet next year I’ll be hunting for tiny sunflower seeds.

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They also had this picture on display, made from living flowers and plants.  It reminded me of some of the floats you see at our Rose Festival Parade.

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Since you don’t usually see much of me, and I actually like this photo, here’s one of me and my sweet husband on our anniversary, waiting to ride a gondola through the Venetian with the kidlets.

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We made sure to book our flight back after dark so we could see the city lights from the sky on our way home.  Just so you know, they weren’t actually blurry in person.

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Out of everything we saw, my absolute favorite was the sunset on the flight back.  I couldn’t get a photo that did it justice, but here’s just a hint of some of the many layers of color in it.

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Now that I’m rested and inspired, it’s time to get back to work!

A Big Thank You

May ended this week, and with it my April/May fundraiser for Officer Kellogg’s family through my Etsy store.  So many of you have been very supportive through spreading the word and placing orders.  I’ve heard from lots of you, both publicly and privately, and I’m thankful, inspired and amazed.

I’m happy to report I was able to write a check to the Mike and Holly Kellogg Fund for $600!  Well, technically it was $595.42, but there was no way I could write it for that weird amount.  My goal was $500, so I’m thrilled!

While my Etsy fundraiser may be over, the effort for the Kelloggs continues.  If you’d like to make a donation, please visit the fund’s website here.

From the bottom of my heart…

Thank You

Friday Favorites - Art

Personally, I have a pretty broad definition of art.  I’m sure some people would find it too simplistic, but that’s the beauty of art:  it’s in the eye of the beholder.  It’s about the creativity of the artist, not some museum-worthy narrow view.  Sometimes the attempt or the story behind it is more impressive than the finished piece, but I think that adds to it and makes it greater than the sum of its parts.  There is no medium out there that can’t be turned into art.  Today, I’d like to show you some unusual ones I’ve found.

Saimir Strati is an mosaic artist who has broken (or probably created) several world records by creating mosaics from things like paint brushes, toothpicks, screws and this DaVinci portrait made from nails.

Saimir Strati

Diem Chau is another favorite.  She does a lot of work with porcelain plates and silk thread, which you have to see to understand, but what I really love are her carved crayons.  She’s currently raffling the opportunity to receive three custom carvings and donating the proceeds to relief efforts for Japan.

Diem Chau

Who would have guessed toilet paper rolls could be pretty?  Anastassia Elias makes you forget what you’re looking at with these fabulous transformations.

Anastassia Elias

I realize I’m reaching with this one, but re-read my opinion of art above.  What I find interesting about this pixelated art by Andy Rash is that you can tell who these people and icons are and he only used a few squares to create them.  Do I have to tell you to think “breakfast cereal” when you look at this one?

CerealMascots

I don’t know who the artist is that’s responsible for these, but they are pictures created by smashing an entire movie’s worth of frames into a bar code and can be found at moviebarcode on Tumblr.  It’s funny to see how the colors play out here.  You can see the forest fire in Bambi and where The Wizard of Oz changes from black and white to color.  Would you have expected the Matrix to be anything but predominately green and black?

moviebarcode

Willard Wigan is a micro sculptor.  And I mean micro.  This sculpture of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is inside the eye of a needle.  When you sell magnifying cases for your work to be displayed in, you know it’s small.

Willard Wigan

Dalton Ghetti is another artist who works in tiny, but this time using pencils.  He carves the tip into various designs, sometimes adding still attached but free moving shapes like this heart.

Dalton Ghetti

Many artists work in paper, but Peter Callesen takes it to a different level.  He starts with a piece of paper, cuts a shape from it, then turns that shape into a 3D sculpture while it’s still attached to the original piece of paper.  This hummingbird and flower is one of his simpler pieces.

Peter Callesen

What do you consider to be art?

National Craft Month 2011

I live in Oregon, land of the free, home of the creative.  I’m a native webfoot, but I’m starting to think they must issue a glue gun and a blog address to everyone who moves here.  It seems like one or two of every dozen new great blogs I find are my neighbors.  It’s inspiring to know you’re in that kind of company.

Speaking of inspiration, how many of you out there read craft-related blogs, like this one, to get ideas for things you can make yourself and you complete every one of them?  My hat’s off to you.  How many get the ideas and once in a while finish one?  Welcome to the club.  Now, the big question.  How many of you read the blogs, get the ideas, but never quite pin one down and make it?  Don’t feel bad, I’m not calling you out.  I’m issuing a challenge. 

ncm_logo_cmyk

This is National Craft Month.  The 17-year-old brainchild of the Craft and Hobby Association, its purpose is to promote crafting and its many benefits.  To celebrate, my challenge to you is this:  find one project, even make it a super-easy one if you’d like, to finish this month.  When you’re done, tell someone.  Post it on Facebook, tweet it, give it away, blog about it, put it up on Flickr, show-and-tell it to your book club, whatever makes you happy.  But show someone what you made.  The feeling of accomplishment is tremendous and addictive.  And, for the rest of the year, you can say “I made something.”

If I’m going to put a challenge for you out there, I better stand behind it, right?  If you send me a photo and info about what you’ve made before the end of the month, you’ll see it here in a post on my blog.  If you’d like a link back to your blog, Etsy store, Flickr photostream, Twitter, whatever, send me that, too.  My e-mail address is craftystaci (at) gmail (dot) com (curse you, spammers for making me write it that way!).  The only rules are that it has to be something crafty you’ve made yourself this month, and I have to hear about it by midnight on March 31st.  If you used some else’s tutorial or pattern, it would be nice to include that info as well.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

March Inspiration

If it’s possible to have a calmer time of the year with teenagers in the house, ours is usually around March.  The holidays are behind us, track season is just beginning and the weather is so iffy we don’t make a lot of other outdoor plans.  I usually get quite a bit done in March.  I thought I’d share of few of the things I’m drawing inspiration from right now.

I would love for this to be a better picture, but it’s a photo of a photo from Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine.  According to the magazine, you can find this dress at Target, but I haven’t had any luck, in the store or online.  My daughter and I both love it, so we will probably try something inspired by it.

Inspiration 1

I don’t know when I will stop being fascinated with rainbows.  I hope it never happens.  This one appeared behind my house a day or two ago.

Inspiration 2

I love Fiesta dishes.  I started buying them a few years ago and this cupboard is just one place I keep them.  My daughter likes doing the dishes (I know, right?) and can’t stand it unless the dishes are in color order.  That, and they just make any food look better.

Inspiration 3

It’s time for me to make the girl a new quilt to match her room (and probably so she can take it away with her to college in another year and a half.  Sniff.)  These are a few of the potential candidates to be included.

Inspiration 4

Last, but not least, I love seeing brand-new flowers popping up around the house.  These poor things were covered in snow last week.

Inspiration 5

Inspiration 6

Inspiration 7

What are you inspired by right now?