Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Halloween - The Movies

If you didn't notice, I love Halloween. And part of this is Halloween movies - I'm not talking about horror movies, here. I'm talking about silly Halloween/creepy/witch-themed works of cinematic genius.

1. Hocus Pocus. A childhood favorite that I must watch every year. When the three main witches are played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, you cannot go wrong. The dialog is priceless - 90's cultural references spoken in "ye olde English" - and the historical elements always intrigued me as a child. This movie is funny, smart, and still enjoyable 17 years later.

2. Teen Witch. Before there was Sabrina the Teenage Witch, there was Teen Witch. My sister and I used to watch this movie on the Disney channel (where it was vigorously edited) and it is completely ridiculous. Quick run down for those of you who >gasp!< haven't seen it - A nerdy girl named Louise turns 16 and becomes a witch. She uses her powers to become popular, but then discovers she just wants to read a book! The cliches are endless, the songs are so terrible, but somehow it all adds up to something awesome. Extra memorable: at one point Louise uses her powers to give her friend sweet rap skills, which Kenneth paid homage to on 30 Rock:

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas. If you haven't seen this brilliant movie, get thee to a movie store! One of Tim Burton's most famous, TNBC is suitable to watch any time from October til Christmas. It's truly creepy ("I am the clown with the tear-away face" is a lyric in the opening song), but strangely vulnerable. And the songs are great. Did you notice I love a good song?

Do you have a favorite Halloween movie? I would love to know about it - I have Netflix, people! 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It is Halloween! (halloween! halloween!)

Oh, man, it's hit me hard: Halloween. I get so excited - the costumes, the decorations, the candy!

Luckily, I am not the only one:

Elsie from A Beautiful Mess is having a Halloween blog celebration (with guests!) - including crafts, recipies & giveaways! A lot of giveaways! My favorites so far are these cute ghosties:

And these yummy looking Spiced Caramel Buttons:

More yummy treats - Pumpkin Bread Pudding from Emma at From Scratch.

And Meringue Bones made by Amy of Angry Chicken.

Adorable costumes are popping up already, including this Ever After giveaway from Kathleen at Grosgrain:

Yes, she is giving this away!

Dogs in costumes at Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade, via Gala Darling

Mena from Sew Weekly turned her daughther, Penelope, into a miniature Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. 

And Emily Martin of The Black Apple has been working on some awesome costume-inspired prints. I like this one - "Arrow Head." 

We are having a party on Saturday, and there is much to do before then: finish costumes, make delicious treats & carve pumpkins!

(all photos linked to original owners, please visit them and tell them how lovely they are)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Crafty Wares - Now Available in Stores!

Exciting news!

brooches ready to go!

My work will now be sold at Sacred Art here in Chicago. Sacred Art is a shop that carries art from local, emerging artists. I'm in good company - Ork Posters & Spinal Fusion are two of my favorites. 

coasters ready to go!

I spent Sunday afternoon tagging & pricing - very professional!

set of two - yellow

I made two sets of stacking Felt & Fabric Boxes especially for Sacred Art. Let me tell you - I had a hard time letting those yellow ones go. 

set of two - green

So if you're local or visiting - stop by Sacred Art at 4619 N Lincoln Ave and check it out.

Ps. I've been tweaking the blog layout a bit, so you can also click on the "Shop" link above for this info. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fois Bois Book Case - the eternal diy project

Whew. This project. I thought it was going to take a Saturday afternoon - and it ended up taking two weeks. Whoops. 

I started with a basic bookcase that my dad made when I was about a year old. I took it with me to college and painted it yellow, which does not fit in with my current decorating scheme.

It all began with stripping the yellow paint.

stripping the yellow paint

After spending a million hours scraping old paint off while crying and sweating, it was ready for the new coat of paint. I painted the whole thing a basic light brown. I believe it is called "Hazelnut."

After the Hazelnut was all dry, I drew a basic fois bois pattern on a piece of contact paper and then started cutting. I didn't bother using any "negative" space in my drawing - I just spaced the contact paper out on the bookcase. This made for a nice stencil.

the contact paper "stencil"

Then I painted two coats of dark brown paint, and topped the whole thing with a matte sealer. It probably would have been faster to use spray paint - but it is ILLEGAL in Chicago. Lame. 

pretty much finished

And finally, two weeks later, here it is in my entry way (note the mail basket - very helpful!):

finally in place!

Only took two weeks. Sigh. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The fruits of my screen printing - Felt Coasters

grey & yellow coasters

In addition to the Girl Scout totes, I screen printed these coasters. You may remember them from a few months ago. They've been done for awhile - but I wanted to reveal all the screen printed stuff at one time - so "Ta Dahhh!"

pink & grey coasters

They're backed with vintage fabric, and even though they suggest eating, I'd say they're pretty good for drinking (please don't eat felt). 

gold & green coasters

I bought the grey wool felt with this project in mind, but didn't know how it would work, so I bought some acrylic felt for the test run. Ahem! I mean "recycled" felt. Both variations worked great!

coasters all tied up

Why the "Eat Me" design, you ask? Well, #1 - cake is delicious. And #2 - I originally came up with this design when my theater company did an Alice in Wonderland - themed fundraiser. I had big plans to sell Alice-themed crafty wares, but that didn't really pan out. My screen printing class gave new life to the old idea!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Music of the Month :: Sufjan Stevens

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the enigmatic Sufjan Stevens

I would say he is one of my top-10-favorite musicians of all time. I'm highlighting him now because his brand new album, The Age of Adz, was just released on Tuesday. I've been listing to it non-stop for the past two weeks, courtesy of NPR. I heartily recommend it.

Stevens is mostly known for a folksy style - he plays the banjo a lot (do you see a trend with my musical preference?). But on this new album, he explores a more technical sound, to great success.

Although I can't stop listening to this new album, I think my favorite is still Illinois. I used to listen to it while biking around Chicago - perfection.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The fruits of my screen printing - Girl Scout Tote

Remember that screen printing class I took this summer? Last weekend I finally got everything together and sewed up a few tote bags out of the Girl Scout fabric.

the mushroom girl scout tote

There are two colors - mushroom and magenta. I must say I'm kinda partial to the mushroom. 

the magenta girl scout tote

They are lined with vintage material (sheets, my favorite), with a little patch pocket that matches. And I finally remembered to use my new woven labels!

inside of the mushroom tote

I really went for an easy construction with these - note the webbed handles. I knew I didn't want to screen print on pre-made bags, but I also didn't want to spend a ton of time sewing. A fine balance. 

I am sooo happy with how these turned out - I want to start using one immediately. However, I will resist - they will be in the shop sometime next week!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Provincial Sweater Vest

Oh, this sweater. This dumb, dumb sweater.

the vest

I thought this was going to be an easy project to use up two skeins of Cascade 220 I had laying around. I certainly used up the yarn (to the last 3 feet or so), but I cannot give this pattern a shining review. 

The pattern is Provincial Waistcoat (Rav link) from Interweave Knits Winter 2006, and it did not live up to expectations. The fit is kinda terrible, but I probably only have myself to blame for that - I was worried I was going to run out of yarn, so I knit the size medium while following the length for the size small. So, yeah, if it was longer, it might be more flattering on me. It just makes me look a bit chubby as is.

In general, this pattern is not well written. It's vague, and assumes you can magically infer shaping from photos or something. Also, the pattern on the back does not line up for any of the sizes larger than small. I was extremely confused while comparing the magazine photo to what I was knitting. After reading a few reviews on Ravelry, I know I'm not alone. Frustrating.

the vest in action

And I did run out of yarn, hence the edging in a nice grey. Not the worst thing to happen to the sweater. Luckily I had the perfect matching vintage buttons, which pulled the whole thing together nicely.

the front of the vest

Check out my snappy photos! Rae - who also lives in the Midwest and suffers from perpetual darkness from September to May - posted these great tips for taking photos, and they have totally changed my life. 

the back of the vest

At least it looks nice laid out!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Traverse City - The Gift

Ok, finally a bit of crafting. For wedding gifts in general, I like to do something handmade, especially for my friends. Most of my friends know that I am a crafty lady,  and I think they appreciate the special gifts, like this memento I embroidered for my friend's wedding in January. 

So for Brooke & Michael's wedding, I knew I wanted to make them something, and I decided on washcloths. They're a bit nicer than store bought, but still useful for a new couple. Now, Brooke is primarily Chris' friend from college, although she and I have become good friends. So when I told Chris that I thought knit washcloths would be a good idea, he immediately said "I want to  help!"

Yes, this man is dreamy. A dreamy- knitting - man. So I refreshed his basic knitting skills, and we made four washcloths total. Let me tell you - he is a damn fine knitter. 

My washcloths:

my feather & fan knit washcloths

The pattern is this basic feather & fan pattern.

And Chris' washcloths:

Chris' garter stitch washcloths

Very nice! A basic garter stitch cloth, which I finished and crocheted that little loop at the end. 

For that loop - just take the last loop on the row after casting off, and crochet about 8 chains. Crochet through the row below the cast off row and weave in. 

Everything all wrapped up!
Check out that motel room carpet!

We supplemented the washcloths with some fancy dish soap, hand soap and surface cleaner from Target. All wrapped up in a bamboo bowl, it makes for a nice presentation. I attached little tags to our washcloths telling Brooke & Mike that we had both knit the washcloths.

The couple that knits together... 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Traverse City - The Adventures


So although it was beautiful in TC

it was COLD

It was freeeezing!

But the real story here is this hay:

hay & a case of wine

Check out this trunk full o' hay! 

Ok, so part of the bunny's diet is UNLIMITED HAY. And unfortunately, hay is expensive in the city. Like $7 for 3lbs of hay at Petco. So when we stopped at a diner by the side of the road, right next to a "western store," we asked if the owner knew where to get a bale of hay. I mean it was a rural area - so why not! He pointed us toward a feed store, and we set off. 

When we got to the feed store in a very small town down the road, they sold us this giant bale of hay for $5 total! We were so flabbergasted that it was so cheap - and the guy working at the feed store was not impressed. I tried to explain that we were from "the city" where hay is expensive, but he definitely thought we were crazy. Our trunk looks like a barn, but we won't need to buy hay for months! Huzzah to that!

Oh, yeah, and a case of wine. It's "Witch's Brew," for our Halloween party.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Traverse City - The Apples

After the wedding last weekend, Chris, our friend AJ, and I drove up the Old Mission Peninsula in search of an apple orchard. It was a gorgeous day, and we found apples...

orchard in the front yard

in a front yard! It was pretty adorable - they had a tube for money and bags, but no one was out there. So we left our money and picked some apples. 


A brief struggle over the apples between Chris & AJ


After the apple picking, we drove back down the peninsula and stopped at a winery. A lot of grapes in Northern Michigan! The views were absolutely beautiful - at one point you can see Lake Michigan on both sides. How long til retirement - 2 years? 3 years?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Traverse City - The Wedding

Chris and I had a great weekend in Traverse City, Michigan. It was absolutely gorgeous. 

BARN - Traverse City is gorgeous!

Brooke & Michael, the lovely couple, put together a really sweet, homegrown wedding. Even though it was a bit cold, and it rained for a minute, it didn't ruin anyone's spirits. 

Lovely couple!

There was some crazy dancing (talk about sweaty), ending with an hour of 90's hits. Nothing more fun than being surrounded by your friends, belting out songs you loved in middle school.


I wore a vintage 60's dress, and it was almost a huge wardrobe disaster. The night before, I went to iron the dress with steam, and the minute water touched the dress, the fabric puckered up. I maybe freaked out a bit - luckily Chris is the most patient, and came with me while I drove around in a panic, looking for a back up dress.

It all ended well (with a good stiff dry ironing), and was a wonderful night all around!