Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Really good chili!

Everytime we get cooler weather in Houston, I like to make chili. I typically take the veggies in my refrigerator that are about to go bad and use them all up. That's precisely what I did with this chili recipe:

First you will take a yellow pepper and a yellow onion. Chop up the entire pepper and half of the onion. Take a sauce pan and add olive oil to the pan. Sautee the onion and pepper on medium to high heat.Next, you'll take mushrooms and add those to the mix. You can use any type of mushrooms you'd like:I also added cilantro to the mix as well. If you don't like cilantro, just leave that herb out:Continue to sautee all the veggies until they are completely tender. Once they are cooked, remove your pan from the heat and set aside.

Next, you will brown your ground beef. You can use chili meat and/or ground turkey as well. I personally don't like chili meat because it's just a bit too chunky for my personal taste. Cook the meat until it's completely brown:Next, you will add your veggies to your meat:With the final step, you will take a can of tomato sauce, two cans of stewed tomatoes and a can of corn. Add those to your mixture. Lastly, add your chili seasoning (you can buy the pre-made seasoning packet or make your own). Let all items simmer for approximately 20 mintues. Top with cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More handcrafted items: t-shirts with vintage fabric appliques, tie cuff bracelet and earrings

Last week, I made a few last minute Christmas gifts for Justin's friend's girls. One girl is four years old and the other is nine or ten, I think. I've been buying up loads of t-shirts and making things with them. I also made Justin's business partner a cuff bracelet made from a tie and made his mother some earrings.

I made the four year old this t-shirt:
I made the older girl this t-shirt:
Here's the tie cuff bracelet:
And, these earrings for Ken's (Justin's business parter) mother:
The new year is right around the corner, literally, and I need to get to work. I've been slacking the past few weeks because I've been making holiday gifts, but it's time to get down to business. Now that my vintage inventory is gone, I need to put more focus into my children's apparel line. God willing, I will do this and will be successful at it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Out of the Box sampler: Super wonderful goodness!

I received my December handmade sampler from Out of the Box Sampler yesterday. I had been gone all day and noticed the box at my doorstep as I pulled into my garage. It's always a nice surprise to get the Out of the Box Sampler because you never know what's going to be inside. Each and every month, there are approximately 18-20 handmade goodie samples inside each box. The samples are all handmade and range from baked goodies, candles, handmade soaps, paper goods to jewelry.

Here are a few of my favorites out of this month's Out of the Box Sampler:

Little Mac’s Candles included a lifesaver's-like tube of tea light candles with scents such as: hazelnut, cinnamon stick, Christmas tree, Christmas cheer, grandma's kitchen and cranberry. Trust me, if you like candles, these smell awesome!
Bath Artisan Soaps sent a full size bar of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap as well a sample of Almond body butter.
Country Heart Blends makes dip mixes & unique gift ideas. They sent a package of tangy onion dip mix that looks really yummy!Lastly, one of my most favorite items in this month's sampler comes from
Tishomingo Candle & Soap Co.. They sent in an amazing Orange Peel & Cinnamon scented candle. This candle smells so good, I think I'm going to go and light it right now!Michelle at Out of the Box Sampler does such an amazingly wonderful job with her sampler boxes. I have submitted samples to sampler boxes as well as purchased sampler boxes from many different companies, and I still feel that the Out of the Box Sampler is one of the best, if not the best, handmade sampler boxes out there. This past month, Michelle's December sampler box sold out in just one day. If you really like sampler boxes, you definitely need to check out the Out of the Box Sampler. You won't be sorry!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

New jewelry: Necklaces and earrings

I've spent the past few weeks practicing making jewelry. Some of the jewelry was made to give away as Christmas gifts and I kept a few pieces to sell. I've listed a few pieces for sale at my Etsy shop and also at Mattie Reid Chicago (my own site).

Most of the items are necklaces made with pendants and Swarovski crystals. Here are a few of the items I listed today:

If you stop by and see anything you like, mention this post and you'll receive 10% off your final order!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Basil Pesto Veggies: Yummy!

Several nights ago, I decided to cook all the veggies in our refrigerator before they went bad. I sautéed zucchini, orange peppers, peas, asparagus and onions in olive oil over medium to high heat. Once all the veggies were finished, I took some basil pesto sauce from a jar and added it to the veggies.I added chunks of cheese to the top of my veggies when I was finished adding the pesto sauce. Here are some pics of Dominic as he was eating that night:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tribute to Randi and friend and her beloved Akita.

I forget to mention in my earlier post that my friend Randi had to put her beloved dog, Tiga, to sleep this past weekend:If any of you know anything about Akita's, then you know how it takes a certain type of person to own an Akita. They are beautiful dogs however, can be dog and/or people agressive. I have owned two Akita's and my first was a male and he was/is dog aggressive. I now own a female named Hana, and she is the sweetest, gentlest Akita I've ever met in my life.

Tiga, Randi's dog, bit Randi's friend this past weekend. This was the third time Tiga had bitten someone and Randi told me that if your dog bites a person more than twice in the state of Texas, the owner of the dog can serve jail time. She had to make a very difficult decision and decided to put him to sleep. I feel so very sorry for Randi because she is one of the sweetest, most genuine girls I have ever known. I know she loved her Tiga so very much (I know how much I love my Hana).

Randi, I am so sorry this has happened to you. I love you very much and everything will turn out just fine. Please don't be sad. Tiga's in a good place and I know he misses you!

Holiday gifts: Tweet, meow and peace!

I've been trying to wrap up my handmade holiday gifts over the past few days. I'm getting close to being finished (woo hoo!).

Today, I made my two nieces lil' embroidered tops. One has an embroidred birdie and the other has a spotted cat with a pink scarf on:
I apologize for the terrible photo's. The lighting in my house is awful and that's another reason why I have yet to post any pics of the jewelry I've made. If it's nice outside tomorrow, I'll take pics and post my jewelry.

This evening, I made my dad and step mother t-shirts with peace sign appliques made from vintage fabrics (they are total hippies at heart and I think they'll love these t-shirts). Here are the pics of the appliques:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Busy week: No more vintage clothing & lots of handmade goodies!

Yep, that's right! No more vintage clothing for me! I'll still wear it and possibly pick things up every now and then to sell, but it will no longer be my main focus. I listed my entire vintage clothing inventory for sale on Craigslist last week and Julie from Violetville Vintage contacted me about the possibility of buying the entire lot. Her mother lives just outside of Austin and found my ad and forwarded it to Julie (she lives in Milwaukee). Julie and I exchanged a few emails, I made an inventory list for her and that was pretty much it. I included an approximate cost of what my inventory was worth and she came back and made me an offer. I accepted her offer and that was that! Her mother and father drove down this past Monday and picked everything up. I was sad and relieved all at the same time. It felt really good to purge my closet and get rid of two years worth of vintage accumulation.

With all my vintage gone, I have had more time to focus on my handcrafted items this week. I've been very fortunate and my friend, Sophia, has placed a ton of orders for my handmade holiday cards. She underestimated how many cards she needed and placed an emergency order yesterday. I stayed up late last night and finished them. Here are a few of the cards from yesterday's lot:
She's also placed an order for 20 thank you cards, which I will post photo's of in the next few days. I've also made some jewelry for Christmas presents this week and I'll post some photo's of those items tomorrow.

Lastly, my vintage website, Lone Star Vintage Clothing, is for sale. I still have approximately 200 days left in my current subscription. The site comes with a shopping cart feature, which links up to Paypal and approximately 5 email addresses. I'm selling all graphics as well. I'm open to all offers!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Featured artist: Skin Candy

A few posts ago, I wrote about November's Out of the Box sampler and also posted about samples from Skin Candy that were included in the sampler box. I must tell you that after I tried these samples, I fell in love with all of the products. I tried an amazing foot scrub and the body butter is to die for! I highly recommend these products! I'm sure you will love them just as much as I did!
Q. Tell me a little about yourself:

Well, my name is Melissa. I’m originally from Minnesota but now live in Pennsylvania. I’ve been married 8 years to a man named Steven. We met on the internet believe it or not. I am a mom to one dog named Scout (he’s a yellow lab). No 2 footed children though. I just turned the big 40 but there are days I feel like I’m 60! No one ever tells you about getting old (the achy joints, the really dry skin, the smelly ear flaps…I could go on and on). My husband and I own a dog daycare in Allentown Pa ( one piece of advice ladies….never open a business with your significant other! Lol.

Q. When did you first start making skin care products?

I can’t say it better than I did on my my website so I’ll just repeat it here. This is a funny, but true story. I'm a HUGE reader and one day my husband said to me, "you need a real hobby". Yes, he really said that (men)! Well, as any good wife would do when their husband says something like that.........I ignored him. Went about my life with the dogs and my books.
I work with dogs...I can't wear make-up because it's licked off by 9am. I can't wear jewelry because I'm afraid to poke a dog's eye out with my rings. I can't wear nice clothes because hey....I work with dogs (and if I’m truthful about it…I was never a clothes horse…I was more the shop at Wal-Mart type anyway)...but dammit, I CAN smell pretty (it’s the only way I can show my “girly” side)!
So one day, after spending over $100 at Bath & Body Works (the great semi-annual sale no less) and not caring for the way it moisturized my skin (you can just call me alligator legs…seriously) I started thinking, "I wonder if I can do this better?" .... and then the husband's words of "you need a real hobby" came to me and I was OFF!!!!
I started off just making stuff for myself and gave away lots of product and people started asking where they could buy this yummy stuff soooo, I started Skin Candy. My husband just shakes his head when an order comes in and I rush off to make it-all giddy. He says; “I said to get a hobby…not a second business!”
Q. Please describe your craft in detail. What's one of your favorite items to make?

I don’t have any one product I love to make. What I love is smelling all the different combinations of things that people can come up with (my main “selling” point is that I will custom blend up to 3 scent choices for any product). When I see an order I always “ohhhh, & ahhhh” at the fantastic combinations people make. I can’t wait to see how some of them will smell.
Q. How has your work evolved from your earlier work?

Skin Candy is still fairly new (under 1 year old) so there haven’t been many changes. I have added lots of new products (lip balm and shower gel just today). But I don’t think there will be many product changes (besides additions) because I won’t sell anything I won’t use myself, that works, and that I LOVE.

Q. Where do you get your inspiration?

If you take a look at my scent list you will notice that there is a LOT of foodie scents. I am a food hound. This let’s me make yummy smelling stuff without all the calories.
Q. Where are your products sold (online/stores)?

I have a stand inside a craft store in Allentown. Sales representatives that sell via at home parties and online parties. The online parties are exciting. It gives people a chance, anywhere in the country, to earn free product for themselves! I also sell through my own website.
Q. What advice can you give other crafters when selling their items?

Don’t settle for “good” products. If you have a product you really love, it will sell itself.

Q. Describe yourself in three words:

Old, dry, and broke. But my husband says; “impatient, stubborn, & mine.”
Q. Is there is anything else you'd like to share with us?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about me and Skin Candy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Featured artist: Pippi Jewelry

Today's featured artist, Pippi Jewelry, makes really amazing wire wrapped accessories. I say her work is amazing because I've tried wire wrapping and I honestly feel it's a true art. It's very tedious to get the wire wrapped just right! Pippi's blog can be found here. Q. Tell me a little about yourself:

I grew up the 6th in a family nine children, and now have two delightful, grown daughters of my own. I have always loved making things with my hands, and have tried many different crafts through the years, but jewelry making is my passion. The jewelry we chose to wear is an expression of our uniqueness, and I love it when someone finds one of my pieces and makes it a part of themselves. I am also a massage therapist and Reiki Master/Teacher. All of my work comes through my hands. When I'm not creating, I love to ride my mountain bike, and back country ski in the winter. I have always been pretty athletic, and love playing outdoors. I also love to sing.

Q. When did you first start crafting?

I have been crafting as long as I can remember! As a child, I would play outside for hours, making dolls out of grass and twigs, and elaborate 'sod' houses for them in the roots of trees out of strips of moss and sticks, with acorn cap dishes. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was aobut 6 or 7, and I still tapestry crochet today, creating pictures with the yarn. I grew up drawing, and filled countless sketch pads and notebooks. I also do acrylic and watercolor paintings. I spent a number of years making quilts, and I still love making picture pot holders. They are so quick to make, they are like candy! Instant (almost) gratification! When my girls were growing up, we used to spend hours at a time making collages, and I made cloth dolls for them in all sizes.
Q. Please describe your art in detail. What's your favorite type of crafting/art?

As I said before, jewely making is my passion. I was first inspired to start making wire wrapped jewelry after seeing and buying some of the jewelry one of my massage school classmates made. After a while, I thought, I could do this. I took a basic wire wrapping class at the local bead store, and took off. Then, when we moved here to Idaho, I spent a lot of time online looking for more. I found some excellent tutorials and websites which expanded my skills, and my work took a whole new direction. My seahorses, which are my favorite thing I make, and my signature design, were inspired by a pair of earrings I made a while back. Everyone who saw them told me they looked like seahorses, and I thought, “hmmm, seahorses...”

Q. How has your work evolved from your earlier work?

I tend to make a lot more sculptural pieces, now that I have mastered techniques for sculpting in wire. But I still have so much to learn! My next goal is to teach myself how to make things with PMC (precious metal clay). Eventually, I will equip my work studio with a torch (all of my work right now is cold forged), and then watch out! I also want to learn how to do granulation and repousee work. I am always hungry to learn more.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration?

Everything inspires me! I am constantly amazed by the beauty of the world! I just try to reflect some of the wonder I see every day in my work. I think my biggest inspiration for my jewelry is from ancient jewelry. I often do Google image searches on ancient jewelry to get ideas. My favorite wire artists are Eni Oken, Iza Malczyk, and Magdalena Borejko.

Q. Where are your products sold (online/stores)?

I sell my work locally at The Loft in Hailey, ID, and in my Etsy store. I also do an annual holiday trunk show. And I usually have a collection of recent pieces on the lowboy in my livingroom, so a lot of times, friends and massage clients will buy things right there.

Q. What advice can you give other crafters when selling their items?

Love what you do! Life is too short to be doing something you don't love. Become an expert at what you make, and share your knowledge with others. Take good pictures of your work, if you are selling online. Look at other sellers' pictures, and notice what attracts your attention. Use what you learn from them to make your photos better. Post new items in your shop regularly, and use interesting descriptions for your work. Start a blog, and read other people's blogs. There are lots of people out there with ideas that can help you and your business, and it gives your blog readers a chance to know the person behind the piece.

Q. Describe yourself in three words: Joyful, creative, curious

Q. Is there is anything else you'd like to share with us?

Live each day like it is your last, and one day, you'll be right.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Random post: Catching up with old friends, Winter flowers, Spotted Cow Soaps

I've been on Facebook for quite some time now and it never ceases to amaze me how that site provides instant access to so many old friends. It just never seems to stop. This past week, I found several people I went to junior high with as well as my best friend from my freshman year of high school. I've also realized the more time I spend on Facebook, the less I get accomplished during the day. It's still a fun site regardless-you just have to learn to limit yourself.

As many of you know, I'm a member of the Etsy Bloggers Street Team. Every month, our team holds a blog carnival twice per month, and also chooses a featured team member. We have to participate in at least one blog carnival as well as write about the featured blogger of the month. Here are my posts for December:

Blog Carnival topic: Winter flowers

I haven't really put a lot of thought into flowers that thrive and grow during the winter, but I'm sure there must be many. After Googling, "winter flowers", I realized there are tons of beautiful winter flowers. I just so happen to love Orhids and I found out that White Dendrobium Orchids are winter flowers! Aren't they gorgeous?

Our featured blogger for the month of December is Spotted Cow Soaps . Ms. Moo is the amazing lady behind Spotted Cow Soaps . Her blog can be found here. Upon visiting her Etsy shop, I discovered that all of her soaps are handcrafted in the heart of Vermont. You can find a variety of items in her store including bars of soap, crochet bath accessories, soy candles and more!

You can get this amazing sugar scrub for $7.50. It looks good enough to eat!

and this Sparkling Champagne Body Lotion Parfait for $8.50She also has tons of crocheted bath items as well as amazing handcrafted soaps. So what you are you waiting for? The holidays are just around the corner. Get on over to Spotted Cow Soaps today! She gives a free sample with every order!

*Orchid photo's borrowed from Beautiful

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Featured artist: VinK

I came across today's featured artist a few weeks ago as I was lost in the blogosphere. VinK is a true graphic artist who designs printable designs for paper, fabric artwork embellishment, papercrafting items as well as items for collage art. Once you've finished our interview, I'm sure you'll agree her art is fabulous! Her blog is here.
Q. Tell me a little about yourself:
My name is VinK ( aka Vinca Kumala ), I am a friend, a dreamer and a living mind. in daily, I work as a freelance illustrator - full time artist and as a designer for my "design by VinK" shop. I am Indonesian and I love creativity. I always see many artist and designer around the world can survive and live by their creation and artwork, So I wanna fulfill my dream as well and dig out the creativity in me.:)

Q. When did you first start desiging?
I've been designing since I was in the college and I also worked as a graphic designer several years ago. The first time I started to made my own design and open my shop was in May 2008, so I was a newbie in this business.
Q. Please describe your art in detail.
My design in "vink" shop is colorful, a little whimsy, cute, simply, fun to see and enjoy. Children-colour always been my concept in design, bright and cheerful. I also love to create floral images / pattern. I sketch by my own hand and design it in digital.

Q. How has your work evolved from your earlier work?
I love to explore my design and style through the ideas I find. My designs have evolved from my earlier work according to the concept I use in my designs.

Q. Where do you get your inspiration?
There are many aspects of inspiration. My inspiration could come from another artist, movie, music, person, book, dream, and more, but doodling is always the best part to explore a new idea for me.
Q. Where are your products sold?
At the moment I have my etsy shop and just started to open my t-shirt and merchandise shop at Zazzle and at VinK at Etsy

Q. What advice can you give other artists/crafters when selling their items?
I'm still a newbie in this business but I'll try my best to share anything I know.
Something that always be in myself when I start my own bussines are..
- Believing in yourself, in what you do and your work. If you have beliefs in yourself you won't stop trying. We never start anything to be failure, but to be success.
- Patience and perseverance.
- Never stop learning and always promoting
- Tolerance, forgiving and be friendly, because we will meet many people from different backgrounds and character.
- Be Creative :)

Q. Describe yourself in three words:
dreamer, unpredictable, cheerful
Q. Is there is anything else you'd like to share with us?
visit my design shop at : VinK at Etsy. You will find printable designs items for embellishment/die cut art project/papercrafting. At the moment I don't have freebies to share, but I'm planning to create a freebie printable coloring pages/papercraft for kids for personal use or charity program. So if you have any chance don't forget to stopping by my blog.

Also visit Million Minds , another part of illustration by VinK :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Out of the Box Sampler: Out of this world!

For those of you who love handmade samplers, you must check out the Out of the Box Sampler. For those of you who don't know about the Out of the Box Sampler, I highly recommend you checking them out immediately! You can also find their blog here.

This year was my first year to learn about handmade samplers. I'm not only an artist who has donated samples to various samplers, but I'm also completely addicted to buying the samplers. I'm also a sucker for anything that smells or tastes good and the November Out of the Box Sampler had both gourmet cookies and lots of soaps and lotions that smelled really good.
Here are a few of the items that were included in the Out of the Box Sampler for November:

A great sample wax tart by Ugly Duckling Designs

Some tea samples from SBS Teas

Some chocolate covered Oreos from Twist of Taste. These are really yummy!

A bunch of really great samples from Skin Candy. They have the most amazing Cinnabun and buttercream frosting scented body butter and a rootbeer float scented shea butter lotion!

Each sampler comes with approximately 17-20 samples (at least mine did). The December Out of the Box Sampler goes on sale soon. Be sure to bookmark both the Out of the Box Sampler site and blog for additional details. December's boxes will have my vintage button rings from Mattie Reid Chicago.