Friday, May 27, 2011

The Curse of the Black Thumb

Fact: I have a track record of killing every plant I come in contact with.

Back in March, I bought four lovely succulent plants at the Philadelphia Flower Show. I was determined to break my killing streak and prove that I could keep a plant alive just like any other normal person. Since March, I have been too afraid to move the plants from the containers they came in. I was worried that just touching them the wrong way would result in their spontaneous combustion. I'm only moderately joking, but I don't have a green thumb, I have more of a black thumb.

After months of reading up on what it takes to properly replant and keep a succulent alive, as well as gathering all the necessary materials, I finally put on my big girl pants and decided that today was the day for replanting. I had the four plants that I managed to keep alive for the past several months which is a feat in and of itself. There were a few times where I was a bit worried, but they all have pulled through like champs. I bought these three containers from Three Potato Four here in Philly. It is one of my favourite shops, and I am sure you will see other finds of mine from there in the future. If you are in the area and ever have a chance to attend one of their Barn Sales, GO. You can thank me later.

I bought some pea pebbles to put on the bottom of the containers for drainage, and some potting soil specifically for cacti and succulents. As soon as I finished setting up a workspace for myself in the porch, I dove in. I lost a few pieces off of one of the small green ones. (How bad is that, I don't even know what type of succulents they are...) I took a deep breath though and told myself that one or two "leaves" lost weren't going to kill it.

The whole process went fairly quickly and painlessly. I did everything exactly as all the instructional videos, step by step photos and tutorials on the internet told me. Once the plants were safely in their new planters and none of them showed any signs of wanting to die immediately I breathed a sigh of relief. I would like to think that they enjoy their new spaces. There is room to stretch out their roots, and lots of nutritious new dirt to explore.

Maybe I am being a bit too sentimental about it. I am just excited I not only kept my plants alive for three months, but that I also replanted them into beautiful new containers without incident. Trust me, when it comes to me and plants, there is ALWAYS room for incidents. I wonder if this means I am finally starting to break my plant killing cycle... One can hope!

Now I just need to find a good place to keep them. I watered them thoroughly after planting so they should survive when I inevitably forget to water them for two weeks. I think they will probably end up on my vanity dresser. They would bring some great color to it, and look really nice among the other items I have displayed there. Not to mention that it is conveniently placed next to a big window, so they will have all the sunshine they need.

So what do you think? Not bad for a first try at caring for a plant right? I'm thinking that my next project will be a terrarium. Terrariums share a lot of the same characteristics as succulents that I hope will allow me to be successful in keeping them alive a long time.
- They don't need to be watered all the time.
- They thrive when you ignore them and don't fuss over them too much.
- They travel well if you need to move.
- My dogs won't try and eat them.
- They grow slowly and don't need to be replanted often.
- They will survive the heat and the cold.

Looks like I might need to make another trip to Three Potato Four to find the perfect terrarium container.... Hmm...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My First Advertising Attempt

I just sent off the graphics for my first advertising space. How neat is that? I feel like a real business now. I don't plan on doing a ton of advertising at the moment, but when I see a place that looks like it would be a perfect fit how can I say no? You can check out my new fancy pants ads in the next issue of Spoon Zine coming out in June.

In the words of it's creator, Tina Jett:

"Spoon is a bi-monthly, digital zine project based on the little things that make life awesome: inspirations, experiences, and simplicity... a virtual pot pie of art, photography, food, travel, events, and life in general. The project will last for one year, beginning with Issue No. 1 (Dec/Jan 2011) and ending with Issue No. 6 (Oct/Nov 2011).

It is based upon the notion that...

  • the things that make us truly happy cost little or nothing
  • inspiration is everywhere
  • we should never take ourselves too seriously
  • there is beauty in the old
  • celebrating holidays, changing seasons, and life events remind us how we are all connected
  • we should never stop learning
  • we tend to get bogged down with too much excess, be it mass-produced and material goods, waste, drama, or action - simplify!"

Those are definitely sentiments I agree with and try to bring to every item I make. While I obviously hope that my first foray into advertising will turn out to be beneficial for me, I am just content to know that I have supported a creative endeavor like this and I am really excited to have been a part of it. So what are you waiting for? Go read the past issues of Spoon and get ready to read the newest one in a few short weeks!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Weekend of Fairs and Fleas

I mean flea markets of course! It is that time of year when there is something fun happening every weekend. My weekend centered around soaking up all that the Trenton Ave Arts Festival and the Punk Rock Flea Market here in Philadelphia had to offer. It definitely felt like summer with a reprieve from all of this rain we have been having. Unfortunately, the sunshine did not continue into this week because today turned out to be rainy as well. I guess we will see what the rest of the week offers. Until more sunshine appears, I will just think back on my time spent out and about this weekend.

Picture perfect strawberries from Greensgrow Farms who had a booth set up at the festival. They were beautiful and delicious. The perfect art fair treat.

A print that was designed specifically with the Trenton Ave Arts Fest in mind by one of the printers from BYO Print Studio in Fishtown. At their both if you gave them $5 you could pull your own print from a variety of blocks they had pre-made for you! Inexpensive art that you can have a hand in making? Who can say no to that?

I bought these two handmade ceramic buttons from Miss Millie Ceramics. I thought they had a beautiful texture and color. I can't wait to figure out a project to use them on.

Earrings from Bijoux By Allison. I could not resist their bright colors and patterns. Very sweet and summery. Even her packaging is bright and fun, I heartily approve!

After an afternoon of excitement and some small purchases at the Trenton Avenue Fest I was thoroughly exhausted and almost decided against going to the Punk Rock Flea Market the next day. I was glad I ended up going though. I feel like I always find something good that was just waiting for me to find it. Like this milkglass cream and sugar set!

Aren't they lovely? I saved both of them from the depths of a flea market table for $1. Something so dainty and pretty deserves to have a new chance at being used again. I think they will make lovely pin cushions don't you?

I had to stop at the Yard Sale Press booth and use their $1 print vending machine. You know the sticker vending machines that some drugs stores, pizza places, bowling alleys, etc have in their lobbies? Well Yard Sale Press has one, and it is awesome. For $1 in quarters you can have your very own mini print. This is the one I ended up with. If I had more change I probably would have tried a couple more times because I think some of the prints would look great as a set. I guess I will just have to try my luck again next time I see them. For now this cat and dog print will keep me laughing though.

Hopefully next weekend is just as beautiful so that I can enjoy more time walking around craft fairs and flea markets. I suppose I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself seeing as it is only Monday and I am sure the rest of the week has some good weather and fun activities left in it still.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Perils of Pinterest

A couple months ago I signed up for this really fun website called Pinterest. On it's most basic level, Pinterest is just a digital pin board (similar to a real life cork board you might have in your office or studio space) where you can collect images and ideas from around the internet into one central location. Since I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to beautiful images and fun ideas, this website seemed like the best present the internet has ever given me. So naturally I start pinning to my hearts content. I pin art that I love, I pin recipes I want to try, I pin clothes and jewelry I lust after. It was all fun and games until I realized that I have been pinning many things I want to try and do, but I haven't actually taken steps to do any of them! I liked Pinterest so much because it was different than just saving an image to my computer or bookmarking a recipe for later. I practically never sift through my bookmarks, and the times when I remember to flip through the images saved on my computer are few and far between. So Pinterest allows me to constantly see and check in on these ideas and images and I can continue building on them, similar to how when I was still a design student I would make idea boards and watch my thought process grow and change. So this week, with all of the rainy weather we have been having, I decided it was as good a time as any to pick something I have been wanting to try from one of my Pinterest boards and set about making it happen.

I stayed away from my craft themed pin board because after all the craft fair prep my sewing machine and I are a little burnt out. My wallet is as skinny as ever so I wasn't going to be doing any impulse buying based on my style pin board. So as I was flipping through my food pin board I came upon the above image and remembered how excited I was when I pinned it and decided that was what I was going to do that day. Now on Pinterest, when you pin something you don't just save the image, it also links back to the website you found it. Most images link back to either a website you can buy from, or a blog where there is a tutorial on how to do something. This particular image is just a photo. No tutorial, no tips, just a link to the photographers website. The photo was set up by Tara Sloggett who is a decor and lifestyle stylist from the UK. Her website can be viewed here and I encourage you to go look at it as there are some really wonderful images on it. So without any DIY tips or recipes to help me I decided that I was going to do it my own way, and just make it up as I go along. After all, if Pinterest is just an idea board, I can just take the idea and run with it right? I don't need to follow everything exactly as pictured.

Looking at the photo I assumed they were using sugar cookie dough. Sugar cookies are fine, but they are not my favourite, and no one in my family is a huge fan of them, so I decided to pick a different type of dough that might just be close enough to work. Shortbread. I love it. It is delicious and buttery and perfect with some tea. Who can say no on a cold rainy day when tempted with some shortbread? Yes, shortbread was definitely the way to go. So I armed myself with Ina Garten's shortbread cookie recipe and got started. I washed and dried one of the many doilies that I have lying around these days and set up my work space. The project only felt a little daunting when the dough became extremely crumbly as evidenced by the above photo. After some kneading and half hour in the fridge though it came together a bit more and I keep working.

Without a circle cookie cutter at my disposal, I decided to go with a heart shape. It was that or a kangaroo, which would have been funny, but wasn't the look I was going for. (Note to self: buy more cookie cutters in a wider variety of shapes.) When the dough refused to be rolled out with a rolling pin, I had to resort to rolling out small balls of it. I also found that I got a better impression from the doily if I rolled the dough onto the doily, as opposed to rolling the doily onto the dough.

As I rolled each small bit of dough out and cut out each heart I become more excited about this baking adventure. The doily prints were turning out lovely and I couldn't wait to see the finished result.

I had just enough dough to fill up two cookie sheets with hearts. I felt a little bad for the last small ball of dough which was too small to be rolled out into a heart, so I just pressed it into a doily and decided that it would be the first one I ate in order to gauge how well they turned out.

I was a little disappointed when I took them out of the oven because when they puffed up from baking they lost a bit of the doily pattern. It really wasn't that big of a deal though. They still looked like the cutest cookies I had ever seen and I could barely keep myself from eating the small scrap dough piece before it had completely cooled. Luckily for my tongue I restrained myself. Those little suckers were hot!

After cooling for about an hour, I melted some chocolate in a double boiler and dipped them in it. I figured if I was going to make a cookie with this much butter in it, the least I could do was go whole hog and pack as much sugar into it too. Plus, I think the little dip into chocolate makes them look like they belong in a cafe that much more. They taste glorious with a cup of tea, just like I knew they would. I am glad they came out so well. They definitely brightened this stretch of rainy days for me.

So what do you think my readers? Better than the original photo from Pinterest? Of course now I am even more anxious to try another Pinterest project, but I think I might have to pick a slightly healthier recipe this time!

If anyone is intrigued by Pinterest you can check out my pin boards here and just leave a comment below with your e-mail if you would like me to send you an invite. It is still in the beta stage so you have to get an invite to participate. It is a lot of fun though and is my newest internet addiction. If you are already on Pinterest please leave a link to your boards so I can follow you. I love finding new and interesting boards to follow, and of course getting new followers. ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Art Star Recap

It has been quite rainy here in Philadelphia the past couple days, and it promises to keep being rainy for a few more. Luckily, the pups and I have enough work to keep us busy indoors.

The Art Star Craft Bazaar this past weekend was wonderful as always despite the rain. A rainy Saturday proved who the diehard craft fair shoppers were. All of them walking around with their ponchos, rain boots and umbrellas. Nothing could stand in their way when it came to bringing handmade goodness home!

Here are a few photos of my booth setup as it looked on Saturday before I had to put my walls up. I forgot to take photos again on Sunday. I like to set my booth up a little bit different each time I do a craft fair. Since I am still relatively new to doing craft fairs I am still trying to figure out what looks best and what sort of displays people seem to respond to more. I think I have finally started getting most things right. I am still figuring out how to display my aprons and scarves though. They can be a bit tough.

Now that Art Star is over I have to play catch up and make sure I steadily put all of the inventory on my etsy shop. So while I might not be sewing and working like I'm competing in a crafty marathon anymore, I still have my work cut out for me when it comes to making sure my items get to go to new homes.

My mom and dad had a good time wandering around the Bazaar and picked up this lovely packet of fat quarter fabric pieces for me from Sara Lee Parker. Her print designs are beautiful and of course I had a textile geek moment where I just stared at the fabrics in awe of her impeccable printing and beautiful line quality.

I especially like the print with pups on it. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before. I am very excited to use these fabrics to make something special. I am not sure exactly what that is yet, but when I figure it out I know I will share it with you all here!

This weekend when it wasn't raining it was busy, and when it wasn't busy, it was raining, so I did not really get to walk around and check out the other vendors until about 5:30 on Sunday. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to check everything out right? So I ended up not being able to do the shopping I was hoping to do, but I got to chat with some other lovely vendors and I encourage you to go check out their shops!

I talked vintage fabric with Gretchen Miller of Dahling Accessories. Her purses are beautiful and I swooned over this lovely blue clutch made from a vintage blue ditsy floral fabric. Too cute!

I got to chatting with Caitlin Phillips of Rebound Designs. She makes these amazing purses from old books with beautiful covers. Since she always keeps the inner pages, she is constantly looking for people to use them and graciously offered to send me some to use in my cut paper pieces.

Rebecca Harkin of Chirp and Bloom took some lovely photos of the banners in my booth set up and featured them on her blog Threads and Snippets! I love her use of vintage fabrics and I was drooling over photos in her blog from a trip she took antiquing. I am sure you will see why when you go check it out!

So while it may have been rainy, it was still a good time all around. I got a few offers from local shops who want to carry my items and I was happy to see some of my favourite items find new homes. The rest of my inventory will be posted on my etsy shop as the week continues, so keep an eye out for some of the new lines of products I have been busily working on and be sure to let me know what you think!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sneak Peek at Art Star Craft Bazaar Items!

Shhh! Don't tell anyone my dear readers, but I am going to give you a sneak peek at some of the items I am bringing to the Art Star Craft Bazaar this weekend! I am very excited to be debuting some new products there and I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I have enjoyed making them!

Remember, if you are in the Philadelphia area this weekend to check out the Art Star Craft Bazaar. It is on the 14th and 15th from 11-6 on Penn's Landing. There are over 100 wonderful vendors and you are sure to go home with something fantastic, even if you are on a budget!

Here are some of the vendors I am excited to check out:

- PidgePidge - I am a sucker for a good hand woven scarf. I can't wait to see all the beautiful colors and textures!

- Chez Sucre Chez - Beautiful cross stitch work. I have admired their booth at a few craft fairs, and I think think this time I will go home with a piece from them and maybe even one of their kits so I can try it myself.

- Hello Bluebird - They are actually a store from West Reading, Pa and their booth always looks fantastic. So many wonderful artists and pieces to choose from! I bought a print from them last year, and I think I will probably walk away with something from them this year too!

- Twig Terrariums - I have the opposite of a green thumb. The other week I thought I accidently killed the small succulents I have. It would be funny if I were joking but sadly it is true. That being said, I still love greenery, plants and little bits of life that you can place on a desk, bookshelf or anywhere else that might need a little brightening up. I am really interested in seeing what Twig Terrariums has to offer and maybe if I am feeling brave and up to the challenge of more plants then I will be bringing a wee terrarium home with me.

That's all for now kiddies! I will be back on Sunday night or Monday with photos of my booth set-up and of course photos of the items that found their way home with me! Hope you enjoy your weekend no matter where you are, and if you have the time, please do an anti-rain dance for us here in Philly this weekend! It's looking a bit stormy...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recipe for a Puppy Spring Surprise Salad

I have been keeping myself more than a little busy with preparing for the Art Star Craft Bazaar this weekend. So in lieu of a blog post from me, my pups have put together a post on their current favourite spring snack. I guess we will just call it the Puppy Spring Surprise Salad. Mostly because I am still surprised that they eat this sort of thing...

You will need:
- A handful of maple tree seeds. (You know, the crunchy helicopter kind)
- A pinch of onion grass (The smellier the better)
- The heads of 3 dandelions (for a garnish of color)
- A cup of clovers (for good luck)
- A smidgeon of regular grass (for texture and nutrients)

Toss all ingredients together until well blended. Season with some dirt to taste and add a few bugs if you are in the mood for a more exotic tasting salad. Serve outdoors in a free range manner. Serves two small pups. Mieze and Biene recommend doubling the recipe if you expect company.

I am not even remotely kidding when I say that my dogs eat these things every time I take them outside. I have looked up what it means when dogs eat this much greenery and usually it just means that they are about to be sick. My pups never get to that point, and yet they still keep eating these things. I would venture a guess that they are vegetarians, but the way they lick their chops when we are grilling chicken tells me otherwise.

I would complain about their affinity for these things, but I know that as soon as it gets colder again they will just start trying to eat the leaves that fall off the trees. When it snows they will try and eat their weight in snow. To my dogs, the outdoors is like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, everything is edible.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

One Week Until the Art Star Craft Bazaar!

For the past couple weeks I have been working on some new and lovely items for the Art Star Craft Bazaar on May 14th and 15th here in good old Philadelphia. This will be my second year as a vendor and I am very excited to be a part of it once again. It continues to be my favourite craft fair not only as a seller, but as a buyer as well. I get a pretty good haul of items every year there, and I am looking forward to the hand made goodies that will be making their way home with me this year.

Here is a sneak peak at one of the items I have been working on to sell at the bazaar. I've been making some tea cup pin cushions and this is one that I dropped off at Art Star yesterday for their raffle. So make sure if you stop by the craft bazaar next weekend, that you take a chance on some of the fantastic hand made items that myself and other vendors have donated!

Just look at that strawberry button, how could you deny yourself the pleasure of having a pin cushion with a strawberry button on it? I know I couldn't. I am making a couple others with the strawberry buttons since they are so adorable. The rest of them have vintage buttons and all are made from old tea cups and repurposed fabrics. Giving an item a new lease on life never looked cuter! If only I had the space in my sewing area to accommodate as many cute pin cushions as my heart desired. *swoon*

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Can I interest you in a margarita?

In honor of Cinco De Mayo, and my love of Mexican art and food, I thought I would bring you lovely blog readers a treasury. With any luck I will partake in some guacamole and margarita goodness later today. I hope this treasury inspires you to do the same! Enjoy!