Thursday, July 29, 2010

Going Mad

It feels great to get a chance to catch up again after such a long time. I have really let this blog go for the past month, which I am not too proud of. 'Life' has just been happening all too frequently lately. However, now that I have the time, I want to share a few things I have been working on in the past few weeks.

Like so many others, my husband and I have become obsessed with Mad Men. While for us it is a difficult moral and ethical watch - we love everything else about it. Phil and I were both raised in households with grandparents. We've always had older souls and retro sensibilities. Granted, the sensibilities of the show don't match ours, we are completely in love with the visual aesthetic. Everything from the costumes, to the furnishings and apartments speak to my inner style and fashion sense.

My grandmother on my dad's side, Betty Jo, was such a role model for me growing up. One summer while I was in camp I got to live with her. My grandfather 'Boompa' was already gone at this time, so it was just me and 'Mama.' The woman lived and breathed class and style. Her all designer wardrobe rivaled that of Jackie O's. She used to be a stylist at an upscale Palm Beach fashion boutique for the later half of the year. (They were sun people, and every fall they would live in the beach-front condo in West Palm Beach - until the sun came back to Chicago). Anyhow, Mama was way ahead of her time.

She refused to leave the house without her hair fully set, her face on and would never be seen without her patterned pumps. Her West Palm Beach condo was all black, white, yellow and chrome. She had beautiful, elegant and simple furniture. Everything was very mid-century modern. Her condo up here was no different. (When she and Boompa were raising their three boys in Glencoe, her house was featured in Better Homes and Gardens)!

Also in the style of Mad Men, the woman loved her cocktail hour(s). Right around the same time every evening she would have her glass(es) of vodka or gin. I think it was more routine than anything else. I only ever saw her get really hammered on a couple of occasions. One time while in Florida, she and my grandfather took all three of their sons and families out to dinner at the nicest steakhouse around, the Rain Dancer. At the time it was definitely equivalent to a 5* restaurant nowadays. My dad and his brothers made the mistake of grabbing the bill from the waiter. Mama in all of her drunken glory got up on the table in her Donna Karan suit, golden jewelry and heels and crawled across the table to reclaim the check! (I will never ever forget that. She was still the classiest drunk I have ever seen).

But getting back to the actual reason for this post, I attribute my love of fashion and all things vintage/retro/modern to her. Watching the women on the show and the way they dress often reminds me of her. During one of my many library outings I found a wonderful book of women's fashion throughout the decades. I have only tapped into a few illustrations so far, but I plan to do many more. Here are the four as of now:

Thank you so much letting me share my story with you. I really wish more people could have met my dad's parents. They were two truly amazingly modern people for their time, and definitely helped to shape me into who I am today.

These illustrations (and more) will be available as poster prints as well as cards in my etsy shop:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Simple Father's Day Card

I got a call in from my good friend Sarah ( to make a fish-themed Father's Day card. I looked through all of my stamps, books and handmade stencils and found nothing fishy. Upon my rummaging, I came across my miniature brown paper bag envelopes. They are one of my favorite card accents - as they are interactive. Once I knew I was using one of said envelopes, I looked for appropriate coordinating papers and a white envelope.

Here is what I came up with:

The striped and textured card was pre-made. I added the brown paper bag
envelope. The large mouth bass is cut from Paper Source's 'Croma Lime' paper.
(I illustrated the bass first and then cut it out with needlepoint scissors).

I also used a needle to poke a hole near the bass' mouth. Then I threaded 
some coordinating blue embroidery floss through the hole. This gave the fish that 
'hooked' look.

Lastly, I put the fish away in the envelope's pocket. His mouth and the string
stick out just a little bit to let you know there is something inside. The floss also
acts as a pull to get the fish out!

I hope you enjoyed this simple Father's Day card. This would be great for any man's birthday in general. It can be customized with lots of different fish and papers too. Have fun with it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Embroidered Cards

If it has to do with a needle and thread I love it. While I have a sewing machine, sometimes I like to get back to things like hand embroidery and hand stitching. Recently I have been working on embroidered cards.

I always have a surplus of blank cards and envelopes at my disposal. The other things I used were my: bookbinding awl, embroidery floss, a cutting mat, needlepoint scissors, and a sharp needle. Once I knew what I wanted on the card I "illustrated" it by stabbing a series of tiny holes with my bookbinding awl. Then I picked out my colors and 'connected the dots.' (I used 'running' stitches for all of the cards, but there are many other methods).

Here are just a few of the latest embroidered cards:

Please keep an eye out for similar items in my etsy shop soon! :)

Lucy's Birthday Presents

Last week was one of my close friend's daughter's birthday. Her name is Lucy, and she just turned a big three years old. My friend Liz (Lucy's mom) is quite the crafter extraordinaire. I knew I was going to make Lucy's gifts, and I wanted them to impress. Knowing I had zero money for supplies I rummaged through fabric bins in search of inspiration. I knew that Lucy's parents had bought her a big girl bed recently, so I thought to make her a cute pillow for it.

I also make felt headbands. Typically I make them for women and young adults. I liked the idea of making Lucy a headband, but I knew I wanted to make her something different than the 'feather' headband. I know that she and her family are very healthy eaters. I also wanted something that would stand out and be feminine. That's when I got the idea to make her a strawberry headband. I found some amazing bright-colored little girls headbands at my Target.

So, these are what I gave Lucy:

I actually bought this fabric about 5 or 6 years ago and never used it. 
It seemed like the perfect choice for a hip and super girly 3 year old.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Some More Crochet Projects

I really have taken a liking to crochet. After finishing my first pair of fingerless gloves a few weeks ago, I quickly set in on my second. This time I have opted for a different, more intricate stitch 'shell lace.' It's a simple series of double crochets and chains. I really love the look of it - a kind of nod to art deco shapes. They're even light-weight enough to wear during the summer months as a cute accessory!

I also learned how to do some cut crochet roses. They are basically composed of a ruffle that is pun and stitched all the way around. These roses would make a cute accent on a scarf, gloves or worn on its own as a brooch.

It is my hope that within the next few weeks I can add some of these items to my etsy shop! I may even also start in on some scarves and cowls for the fall season. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Etsy Bordello Treasury

Hello. I don't have anything really clever to write about. I am in recovery mode from a looooong week/weekend. I just thought I would share this neat treasury that I was graciously made a part of:

(that is my journal/sketchbook on the bottom right)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Trail Mix Brownies

Ok, so this 'recipe' I made a few weeks back, and it got stellar reviews. I had a box of plain dark brownie mix. I always like to add in and make things my own as much as I can. After going through the pantry I saw that we had almost half a bag of trail mix left over. I figured I'd try it and see what happened.

GLORY! These brownies were incredibly rich and decadent and delicious. All I had to do was make the brownie mix according to the box. Then I floured the trail mix and folded it in. (Flouring it keeps all the wonderful chunks from sinking to the bottom of the batter). Then I just baked according to box instructions as well. I pulled them 2-3 minutes early to achieve a 'fudgier' texture. I let them sit for a good hour or so before cutting. *I cut all brownies with a plastic knife - sometimes run through a little water. I also grease all sides of my pan in addition to the bottom. It makes for perfect removal every time.

Each bite of these things were amazing. They were chock full of cashews, cranberries, chocolate chips, almonds and other little bits. I also felt like they were kind of healthy due to the nutrient-rich fillers. ;)

I actually made another batch of these today. I am hosting some lady friends tonight and figured these would be good to munch with our fruit, cheese and sangrias. If you make them I hope you enjoy them just as much!

Michael Jackson (R.I.P.)...

I know the title to this post is kind of weird, but it will make sense. Stephanie and I have been through 4 crochet classes now. We have learned so many new techniques and have definitely enjoyed it. My first project is this pair of fingerless gloves from a found pattern. I finally got one done. Now, I'm debating whether or not to make the other, or to just rock one Michael Jackson style - out of sheer laziness of course. I do think I will make the other...but the next project I do will be on a smaller scale for sure. Lol, this one got a little repetitive. I could never make one of those awesome throwback afghans. Kudos, Grandma!

Here is my *glove:

Hopefully it won't be too long before it has a mate! The bows also make great barrettes :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sew Many Projects To Do

This past Monday my sewing class started up again. I always get really excited for it. Even though I am still mediocre at best, it's a sort of therapy I get to indulge in. I get to leave everything and everyone behind for 2 hours every Monday night and make something for myself. I honestly can't remember what class # this is. It's up around 10 - needless to say approaching the nearly 3 year mark.

I have put my stretch corduroy jumper on hold for now. It's about half done, but it was getting stale. I wanted to have fun again with what I was making. This time I have opted to go for a cute handbag. It'll be nice to get some everyday use out of something I make - other than my shopping tote. Though it is a small project, it still presents its own challenges. There is pleating which I have not yet tackled before (different from a kick pleat in a skirt). I also have lined anything before or worked with satin. Hopefully it all goes smoothly.

So far I have done just a few steps. I am totally in love with my fabric though! I've had it for about a year and just needed to settle on a project for it. I give you my purse in its primary stages:

basic bag body and overall shape

close up shot of center pleat

the green shown here will be the band and strap color.

In addition to this handbag, I have many other projects in the works. I am still working on my fingerless mittens for crochet class. I think it is safe to say I have mastered the back loop only single crochet by now. ;) I also plan to make a few more summer skirts for myself. I rarely find a skirt that I love as is. I figured I would just source out some amazing fabric and create my own. Here is what I have found so far:

these two fabrics are recent purchases from Ikea. i fell in love with them immediately. even though they are canvas-based, i think they are thin enough to make cute, structured skirts with. fingers crossed ;)

Finally, I got this amazing Erin McMorris/Park Slope Birds fabric from an auction on ebay. I found it, adored it and had to have it. It is definitely next in line project-wise:

this could be the every day go-to for summer skirt

So I am very busy, but then again that is how I like to be. I'd also just like to ask everyone to cross your fingers if you would please. My friend Stephanie and I just sent our applications in this past Tuesday for Chicago's 2010 Renegade Craft Fair. We both specialize in felt and thought it would be a great opportunity to try and sell together at this year's big craft weekend. It will still be another month before we hear back, but we are still really excited that we got our stuff together and went for it. I'll definitely keep you posted as the time comes around. :)

Friday, May 7, 2010


Hey there. It feels like it's been forever since my last post. Things have been pretty hectic as of late. There are many many things on the agenda for this month. The Renegade application just came out today for Chicago. My friend Stephanie and I have been prepping and are planning to submit ours along with the hefty payment this coming Tuesday! Kind of nervous, kind of excited. Regardless of the juror's outcome, we will be attending together in September.

assembly line for embroidered bird brooches

I have also been taking crochet classes for the last couple of weeks. Having never done it before, it seemed like a fun craft to learn. They first night I was kind of mystified but then caught on rather quickly. By week 2 we had learned 6 or 7 stitches. At this point, I have started on my project which are some 'back loop only' fingerless gloves.

still in their very elementary stages

Other than that, I have been applying to a mass of jobs that have opened up recently. It feels good to see more and more opportunities becoming available. Just a few more days until sewing starts...I can't wait! This will already be my 9th or 10th 6 week session. I am hoping to make a bag and maybe a couple more cute skirts for summer.

Friday, April 30, 2010

To Die For Dark Coco-Lime Cupcakes

We got invited to dinner the other night, and I promised I would make a dessert and bring it. With no money and little options I scavenged the pantry. I found a box of dark chocolate cake mix and decided to use it for cupcakes instead of a traditional cake. I wanted to jazz it up, so I added a few extra ingredients - hoping I wouldn't throw off the molecular structure of the cupcake's integrity. Luckily, it all worked out beautifully, and the results were phenomenal.

I followed all of the instructions on the boxed dark chocolate cake mix.
Then I added the zest and juice of 2 limes.
Finally, I stirred in 1/4 cup of coconut milk.
Again, I just had to follow the baking directions on the box for 24 cupcakes.
(I finished them with a can of on-hand milk chocolate frosting).

Even though these aren't technically homemade, I swear to you these are the fluffiest and moistest cupcakes we have ever eaten. They have such a wonderful flavor and seem surprisingly light. I didn't get any pictures, but they really wouldn't do any justice anyway.

Lovely Ladies

Well, I have to kick this post off with a very heartfelt thank you to Sherri of Komoda. I met with her yesterday and now have cards and headbands for sale in her store downtown. It's an awesome feeling to be featured in a brick and mortar shop. (She's located on the corner of W. Chicago Avenue and Rockwell).

I also wanted to pay tribute to my awesome friends who sport my goods. I appreciate it ladies, and I couldn't have hand-picked better 'models' ;)

Caitlin of Saddle Stitch Studio - awesome modern stationery

Miss Whitney - actress extraordinaire

Laudina, she will kick your booty at design & in the gym

Amy of artschoolgirl - cuteness and craftsmanship at a whole 'nother level

Sam, adorable and good at math! (Sorry, fellas. She's taken).

These are just the lovelies I have pictures of. But again, thank you ladies. It means a lot to me that we are friends, and I am so happy to have you wearing my creations!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm In Go Mode

Well, today has been quite the whirlwind. I was happily pumping out more brooches and headbands. I know a lot of these posts may seem like deja vu, but I promise it is all going somewhere. I am actually meeting with Sherri tomorrow morning at Komoda:

Chicagoans, an assortment of my headbands and 
handmade cards will be available in store!

I also made some more eco friendly bird brooches. These little guys
make me happy and are quickly becoming a new favorite.

If anyone is interested I do make traditional style headbands. 
Not everyone likes the stretchy wrap around kind. I made the one
shown above for a good friend. Please contact me here or on etsy for more info.

Thanks so much to everyone! I am finding myself having to replenish stock and make more and more items on a faster basis - which is fine with me. I attribute all of the good things to the support of my friends, family and followers. :)

Into Production Mode

You will have to forgive please the lack of makeup, comfortable pajamas and Photo Booth pics. I promise a legit post soon. I have just been very busy with good things...When I get a chance I will let you in on them. For now, this is what I have been doing the past couple of days:

producing more and more assorted 'feather headbands'

making some more bird brooches since the first one sold in a day :)

There is a variety of feather headbands and bow-related head wear available in my etsy shop. I will also be adding more of the eco friendly bird brooches as I get them made. 

I would love to hear any thoughts on the aforementioned items or any other suggestions that you might have for fun animal brooches or other accessories. Thanks so much, and have a lovely day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Rain Didn't Stop Me

It was a pretty glum Chicago weekend, but that just gave me more motivation to stay indoors and create. Being that it's 2 am here, and I have little energy and could be prone to numerous typo's, this will be short and sweet. Here are the other items I made in the last two days:

eco friendly charcoal gray hand embroidered bird brooch

the 'Brig' black bow headband

eco friendly charcoal gray bow headband

eco friendly red bow headband

eco friendly red bow barrette

As always all of these listed items and many more are available on my etsy shop. If you do like what you see please do ♥ my shop. I will return the favor. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bows Are In

I wanted to try to make yet another new, felted item. With bows being so hot right now it just seemed like the logical thing, (plus I adore them). I made a bunch out of my current favorite eco-felt. For now I have headbands, but I plan to do barrettes, clips and hopefully some jewelry too. Here is just a snippet of what's to come: