Friday, December 31, 2010

new year's eve walk

I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the last day of the year than a walk in one of our most favorite places, The Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.  We (myself, my husband and my dog) spent about an hour trekking through the snow covered paths, taking in the fresh air, jumping around in the drifts and admiring how different our surroundings looked (we received about a foot and a half of the fluffy white stuff earlier this week).  It was the perfect ending to the year and gave us some time to reflect on all that has happened in 2010.  I wish you all a very happy and peaceful 2011.  

large oak tree, damaged by a storm a few years ago and later turned into a sculpture by a local artist

also part of the oak tree

What are your plans for the new year?

Monday, December 27, 2010

a little bit of snow

So we finally got some snow here on the east coast...a blizzard in fact.  The airports were closed, trains were delayed, roads were treacherous and well, basically we are covered with about a foot and a half of that fluffy white stuff.  Good thing we had no where to go.  Our new dog Mel was not so happy at first...but after a path was carved for him, he started to find the joy in the powder below his feet.  He is all white however, so we put on a bright red fleecy jacket to make sure we didn't loose him out there.  In case you don't have any snow where you are...I'll share some of mine...I have more than enough :)
very thankful for the snow blower

Mel checking out the drifts

buried garden gnome

my husband finished with the dig out  & taking a break with Mel

I hope you are enjoying your holidays...We spent our day digging out and frolicking in the snowdrifts!  How did you spend yours?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

holiday happiness

the tree at rockeller center, 2010

With Christmas only 2 days away, I thought it only appropriate to make a holiday happiness list. Things can definitely get crazy and hectic around the holidays, but there are still an abundance of things I am thankful for and they all just make me so happy...

1. Going to see the tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC.  I go almost every never gets old :)
2. Freelancing for the past 2 weeks with my old (and some new) friends and colleagues at The Martha Stewart Show.  What a great bunch of super talented people.  
3. The yummy smells of baking.  Finally got a chance to bake today and made my friend Molly's trusted gingerbread cake.  She uses this recipe from Gramercy is delicious!
4. Fresh cut Christmas trees... nothing beats the smell of a fresh cut tree...especially when you cut it yourself!
5. Christmas music...really, I can't get enough of it!
6. Gift opening with my nieces and nephews...I love watching the kid's faces and seeing them tear into packages.
8. Being warm by a roaring fire.
9. Knowing I will be celebrating the holidays with my family and friends.
10. Giving our new dog Mel a warm and loving home.  My husband and I adopted Mel about 3 weeks ago from the Yonkers Animal Shelter.  He is an amazing guy, adjusting so well and really is just a wonderful dog.  We are so happy to have him in our family.

Mel ♥
What makes you happy this holiday season?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

upcycled holiday cards

upcycled holiday card - Warren Kimble Cards

I am finally getting around to decorate the tree we got 2 weeks ago.  As I started unpacking my decorations, I found several ziplocs full of holiday cards from the years past.  They were just too pretty to throw I save them each year thinking I will do something with them...yet there they sit, away in a bin, year after year.  I did a little research to see what I could come up with...after all, I do have an empty tree to fill!

photo courtesy of martha stewart website
Martha Stewart (of course) has a whole gallery filled with Christmas card craft ideas.  Check it out, so many great ones from ornaments, to tags, to garlands.

photo courtesy of Bobbi Lewin
Bobbi @ Bobbi's Art created a really sweet green holiday garland out of holiday cards.  Her whole blog is very fun, take a moment to look it over.

After being inspired by all the great ideas I found online...I decided to try out one of my own as well.  I took out some of my bottle cap supplies from when I was making vintage bottle cap pendants not too long ago and decided to make a few bottle cap ornaments for my tree.  These ornaments are very simple to create. 
 Using a 1" circle punch, I punched rounds from the holiday cards.  I used a small dot of craft glue, Sobo works great, to adhere the circle to the inside of the bottle cap.  
Then for the hanger, I cut a piece of ribbon and used a small dot of hot glue on the back of the bottle cap.  I bet a few dabs of glue and a sprinkling of clear glitter would be the perfect finishing touch to add that extra sparkle to these sweet little ornaments!

If you don't have the time or you just don't think you are the crafty type of person...don't be so quick to throw away your cards after the holidays.  St. Jude's Ranch for Children is a wonderful organization that will accept your old cards and the children they work with turn the previous years cards into new cards!  They also accept all occasion greeting cards, so be sure to go to their website and read all about how to mail them your old cards not only from the holidays, but all year round!

Now...I still haven't finished decorating my tree or made my holiday cards this year and Christmas is less than a week away!  How are you doing with all your holiday preparations?!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

shop til you drop...

At this time of the year, just about everyone is running around looking for those perfect gifts for everyone on their lists.  If you happen to be around the tri-state area...I have a few ideas for you!  This coming Monday I will be participating in the 'Shop til You Drop' event at Lua Restaurant in Hoboken, NJ.  This shopping/charity event takes place Monday, Dec 13, from 7 - 10 pm.  Why not stop in and take advantage of some fabulous cocktail specials while picking up some great holiday gifts, all at the same time?

Looking for another idea?  Take a ride to The Putnam Arts Council in Mahopac, NY and check out the Crafts on the Hill...their 16th Annual Juried Showcase & Sale.  Open daily 12 - 5 pm (closed Mondays) through December 19th.  I am very pleased to have been asked back for a second time this year ♥

All done with everyone on your list?  Treat deserve it...
and let me know what treasures you find ♥

Sunday, December 5, 2010

martha stewart's holiday open house!

As I now start decorating my own home for the holidays...I wanted to share with you the preview for Martha Stewart's Holiday Open House...premiering tomorrow on the Hallmark Channel.  I had a chance to freelance on this production as a set decorator and I am very excited to see how it all came together.  
I will definitely be watching and I hope you will too!  
Take a sneak peak!
Tune in Monday night, December 6, 8 pm eastern/ 7 pm central - 
on the Hallmark Channel!
Check your local listings as well if you are not sure about when it airs in your area.  
I am sure you will be inspired...happy watching!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

the martha stewart holiday craft fair

The Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Fair is this weekend!  If you are in or around NYC Saturday, I suggest you go.  As many of you know, I was a set decorator on the Martha Stewart Show for about 8 years...then left a little over 2 years ago to get my Master degree in art education.  At any is a great company to work for with so many talented artists.  This is your opportunity to meet these amazing artists and see what they are all about.  When people ask me what I miss most about working there, on the top of the list is the people!  I miss working with my friends, the wonderful group I collaborated with everyday.  Many of these fabulous artists will be at the sale on Saturday!  My bff Daniele (from Sweet Dani B) who has appeared on the show numerous times making her spectacular cookies with Martha, will be selling many of her most popular cookies.  Hosanna from the tv art department will have her beautiful acorn husband bought me one last year and I have since bought several others as gifts.  Another tv crafter, Kristin, will be selling a new collection of necklaces - I also saw she has them on her etsy shop, each one has a different charitable symbolic meanings...check them out, very cool!  Oh, and for those of you who love have to try the best pimen'a cheese ever!  My friend Kelli makes it and sold out within the first few hours last year!  Also last year, the tv art director Anduin was selling these really sweet stuffed mom bought one for my niece.  I hope she is back with new creations this year! This is just a tiny sampling of what you will find at the sale.  There will be a myriad of artists there selling all kinds of beautifully crafted items.  Last year I remember seeing ceramics, felted goods, clothes, ornaments, jewelry, food items, metal works, stuffed animals, knitted/crocheted items, glass works, bead work, paper made items, wooden crafts...the list goes on and on and on!  The most creative people imaginable will be here.  One hint I can give you...COME EARLY!  The line gets really long as the day goes on.  I can't wait to see what other incredible ideas the rest of the employees have come up with this year.  I hope to see you there too!

my niece Lilah loves Sweet Dani B's cookies!

Kelli with her helper & another talented MS employee Kait....
and the famous pimen'a cheese!

one of Hosanna's acorns I gave as a shower gift this year

Happy handmade shopping...the best gift you can give is one that is handmade ♥

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

what is etsy anyway?

When people ask me where I sell my crafts I say, very excitedly, Etsy!  Often times, I have further explaining to do.  If you are not familiar with Etsy, now is your time to become acquainted...especially with the holiday season upon us!  Etsy is "the worlds most vibrant handmade marketplace"...their words, not mine, but when I was looking for a perfect description I went to one of the hosting site's pages and found that sentence, and I couldn't agree more!  Etsy is an online web hosting place where any artist or crafter can create a website for free and sell their work.  The site charges a small listing fee and a small percentage of your sales (like ebay), but it is a safe and secure way to sell your artwork and craft wares among other talented artists.  Now Etsy is a very large "community".  There are blogs, teams, chat rooms, virtual labs, forums and treasury listings (curated lists of sellers goods).  Etsy also has "featured sellers" where you can learn a lot about how to make your Etsy shop most profitable.  It definitely takes time, dedication and work...just like running any other small business or website.  

I first started my Etsy site when I was in graduate school for art education.  I needed an outlet, something to do that was fun and creative, while I was reading and writing papers all the time.  I started making vintage bottle cap pendants.  I even did a home jewelry party for someone local who saw my work at a craft fair!  After a while I grew tired of making the same things over and over, so I remembered my friend Hosanna who I worked with at Martha Stewart TV, had developed a needle felted acorn segment for a television.  She gave me a pin for Christmas, which I still wear.  I decided to make some of the felted acorn pins like she made and try selling them on Etsy.  This year, I am still making felted acorns, but I turned them into ornaments which people seem to love.  I also created some other pins which I have been needle felting.  I like to try different ideas and and always experiment with new mediums.  I have the materials for a photo transfer on fabric sitting in a box under my desk....I just need to find the time to get to it!  Here is a what Etsy calls an "Etsy mini" shows a sample of what is on your site...

Giving (and getting) handmade gifts at the holidays is so rewarding. I am also participating in a few artisan sales and events. If you are in the tri-state area, be sure to check them out! The Putnam Arts Council is having their 16th Annual Juried Craft Showcase and Sale from Nov 27 - Dec 19. If you are in Hoboken, NJ on Dec 13, be sure to stop by Lua for Shop til You Drop from 7 - 10 pm! And of course, if you plan to go to either of these events, I'd love to know...happy handmade shopping ♥

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Acorns, Acorns, and more Acorns!

acorn cookies by Sweet Dani B

While I am busy collecting and crafting with acorns, my BFF Daniele (Sweet Dani B, as she is known in "the business") is busy, well, making edible acorns!  She is among other things, a cookie decorator extraordinaire!  Check out her latest blog post about making these adorable acorn cookies.  There are step by step instructions.  Let me know if you give it a try.  Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away!  

Wouldn't these make sweet placecards, favors, or even look just fabulous on your dessert table?!  

Acorn caps drying from my last walk in the reservation...
might as well eat a cookie while I wait :)

Enjoy ♥

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Getting Organized

I can be very organized.  Can...being the operative word.  In the past, I have best used my organizational skills professionally.  I love to have everything over organized; really I feel it's the only way to work and jobs just get done better that way.  When I am at home however, I tend to forget some of my own advise and slightly fall down on the job.  I have been crafting a lot lately.  I do not have a studio at the moment, however I do have a large dining room table that serves as a great work space (I only need to move off when we are entertaining).  With the holidays approaching, I have been very busy making items for my Etsy site, as well as a few craft sales.  It has been great, but my supplies are getting a little out of hand.  This weekend I took some time to straighten up and put to use my organizational skills.  Now that I look back at how messy, disorganized, and chaotic my workspace was, I have no idea how I was getting anything accomplished.  A clean, tidy, and organized space not only looks good, but it makes working much more efficient and pleasurable.  

Acorn Tops - I sorted through them and removed the ones that were not best for the crafts I am working on at the moment (I saved them for use on other projects).  I also made a separate container with ones that were smaller,  this way like size caps are kept together.
Felted Balls - Arranged by color scheme and size
Wool Roving - Separated by colors in low baskets to be easily viewed
Product for Etsy - Items listed, to be listed, special orders, etc.  This can get very confusing.  I have each item layed out with a notation and try to make shipments as soon as possible!
Needle Felted Pins - New products I am developing!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Pumpkins...oh my!

Last year I made a trip to Jones Tree Farm, in Shelton, CT.  They have one of the best selections of pumpkins I have ever seen.  They also have acres and acres of Christmas if you do not have a chance to make it there for a pumpkin, you can try to get to the farm for a fresh cut tree!  The farm is over 150 years old, family owned and definitely worth the drive. In the "spirit" of Halloween, I wanted to share some of my photographs from last year.  Enjoy...and have a safe and Happy Halloween!

What are your plans for a spooky Halloween?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fruits of the Season

march farms, bethlehem, ct

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween.  I do appreciate the holiday and I do love all the beautiful sights and smells of's just the actual day I am not all that big on.  This year we went apple picking instead of pumpkin picking, which I was perfectly happy with.  We visited a farm not too far from us in Connecticut that we had been to in the past, March Farms.  We drove off into the fields (they also offer hay rides!) and followed all the well marked signs and filled our bags to the brim with apples.  The orchard is well layed out and the staff is really helpful in noting which apples are best for cooking and which ones are best for eating.  After, we visited the corn maze, which is fun and educational!  To get through the maze, you need to answer a series of questions where you learn about composting along the way.  On the way out, it is a must to stop by the store to pick up some fresh baked apple cider doughnuts.  We barely made it out of the shop before our bag was opened.  

March Farms does have a pumpkin patch.  We were a little early this I ended up getting my pumpkins a few weeks later at the local market.

Any pumpkin carving plans in your future?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

life as a square

I am professionally trained as a photographer (among other things).  When I spent my years at RISD, I majored in photography and was drawn to the medium format films and cameras, mainly because of the square frame and the square crop of an image.  As I explained to my students this summer, I was trained in photography before there was digital photography...something that is quite hard for the youth today to grasp.  Therefore, there was no cropping of images on a computer or instant viewing of what you shot like there is with a digital camera.  You got what you got, and dealt with it later in the darkroom.  That is actually what I loved and still do love so much about analog photography and film.  Capturing an image on film, and then the waiting, the anticipation, and surprise of what will come out, or what sometimes doesn't come out.  For my birthday this summer, Tom gave me a Diana mini.  I love it!  The mini is great because it takes 35 mm film, which can be developed at most local pharmacies and the processing isn't too expensive.  Also, even though it uses 35mm film, the camera internally crops the usual rectangle to a square, so you still get the square frame of the 120 film that the regular Diana takes!  These are some of my favorites from the summer...
tom's car climbing mt. washington

cliff jumpers...lake placid

hot dog, lake placid

earl...bradley beach, nj

feathered friend

dan, tom & spot (getting a free ride)

keith, tom, hope & spot

tent city

old truck...bradley beach, nj

I currently have my first roll of 800 speed film in the camera.  
Can't wait to see how it comes out!