Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Hand Lettering for Everyone: a creative workbook

I've always been a sucker for a good creative book and this lovely piece by Cristina Vanko is no exception. Behold - Hand-lettering for Everyone!:

Heck - even the cover art has me sold. Could you imagine being able to make your own beautiful letters and sayings with your own two hands (well more likely with one hand since very few of us are ambidextrous)? I certainly have high pen pal aspirations for myself and although the extent of my hand lettering at the moment is attempting to print legibly I have been dabbling with more exaggerated handwriting that I stitch up with my embroidery hoops and it is all sorts of fun.  Why not take that lettering to a new level and take a peek at a whole publication dedicated to helping you hone your own pen written style?    

I really like how the pages in this book flow and (as you may know about me and my themed book reviews) I do enjoy a creative workbook.  Cristina starts off this book with the basics and moves over to more sketchbook journal type exercises - all with interesting fonts and images to draw you in, just look at that contents page:

I really enjoy the contrast and use of black and white that helps the beautiful hand written text pop and stand out for its form.  How gorgeous does this round and loop-y page look?

I may be bias for that tea reference - but you can decide what you think for yourself.

Throughout my self-taught designing years I have picked up quite a bit about the history and fundamentals of print and font but it's nice to see it all spelled out for you without being too dry or repetitive. 

I especially enjoy how the author takes each element of lettering styles and shows you how to change up little details to make your own personal font style - like she does here with the serif's:

She even throws in loads of examples and interesting facts to keep you going:

According to this I am an open, visionary, relaxed and artistic type! Oh my! Flattery clearly makes me like this book even more. Haha.

Throw all the information together and in no time you'll be lettering like the best of them!

I totally want to start using these creative techniques and inspirations in my embroidery work and will be sure to keep you posted if I come up with anything amazing (here's hoping anyways).

So my verdict? This book rocks.  It covers enough background and factual information to give you a good design basis and leads you through loads of exercises to stretch your creative bones. Good on you Cristina Vanko! 

So what about you? Do you have your own hand-lettering style? Ready to dabble into more creative font making? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

16mm glass tile love

For the first time in what seems like decades - I got bored.  How is it remotely possible that someone who is usually bursting with creativity and aspirations lands up with boredom? Illness - that's how.  I'm not sure why my immune system decided to give up on me but for the last week and a bit I came down with one heck of a cold/flu/infection which left me completely useless.  All I seemed to be able to manage was laying in bed (but not actually sleeping) and feeling beyond frustrated with my inability to do anything remotely productive.  I spent all my time focusing on being able to breathe and searching for tissues. Ugh.

Well I am finally beginning to see the light at the end of the sickness tunnel and although the stomach virus seems to be still tormenting me with being super nauseated with some nice spouts of laying on my bathroom floor - I can almost breathe from my nose now which I call major progress! Aha! I'm also furiously daydreaming up crafty ideas to work on once I am useful again and decided I should write a blog post and share! What a concept! I think is also what is known as "procrastination" since instead of actually doing something - I am writing about doing something instead. Masterful I know. 

As you may recall (if you follow me on social media) - I've been having loads of fun dabbling in the world of glass tile jewelry.  I expended my glass tile necklace selection to include new sterling silver vintage images of mammals (and kittens and pulp science fiction) as well as came up with a bunch of 8mm and 12mm glass tile earrings! Such fun!  I even recently made 200 new 16mm glass tile rings to take to my last craft show and loved all the patterns, colours and images I got to use. Take a peek:

So what is next on my glass tile obsession? Why magnets and wine charms of course!  Just what the doctor ordered! So I hit the internet to order up some more supplies (probably one of my favourite seemingly productive (but not really) things to do) and am not stocked with materials to make my crafty dreams come true! Now come in your help (pretty please)! What sort of sets do you think I should make? If you were to pick put a magnet or wine charm set what would you want it to look like? Washi tape patterns? Vintage kittens? Anthropomorphic kate drawings? Sure a giant selection is great for an actual craft booth but it doesn't transfer to online sales very easily and since I'd love these to be added to my Etsy inventory I need a little direction. What do you think? 

Friday, October 9, 2015

crochet amanitas!

With fall in full swing and winter around the corner (ack!) I've caught a wicked crochet bug and even though I am attempting to prep up for my next craft show (eep! less than 3 weeks away!), I really want to get my hook out and make up some cute things - like these (link):

Oh man - add a little wide eyed smile on these and I'm sold.  Maybe I will get ahead on my crafty prep and me able to whip up some happy little amigurimi pals to sell at my booth too! What a thought! Have you ever knit/crochet for profit? Is it ever actually worth it (other than fun of course)?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More crafty preparation begins!

Lovely news craft friends! Despite incredibly unlikely odds - I managed to get into this year's RIH xmas craft show! Hooray!


According to my vendor cohorts from the farmer's market this is the big event to participate in for the holiday season and pretty much everyone from Kamloops attends in hopes to find loads of crafty xmas presents. Sounds perfect! The show is Sunday November 1st and runs from 10am to 4pm at Riverside Coliseum (apparently now called Sandman Centre).  So looks like I am back to the craft preparation as I restock my goods for this show! Now what to make...

Monday, September 28, 2015

squid on squid tree bombing

I'm not entirely sure what started my current obsession with squid (or pretty much any tentacled beasty) - but they're just so cool.  Add that to my love of crafty goodness and behold! One amazing yarn bomb:

Why yes that is a big plushy knit squid hanging out on a squid-like yarn bombed tree! I think I will need to get my crochet hook out pretty darn soon to make my own little squid pal (even though these are knit) and see what I can come up with. In the mean time this will have to do. What is your favourite tentacled being?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My third 29th birthday

Well today marks the anniversary of my birth.  I've moved from the 25-30 age gap into the 30-35 range officially and am hoping that 31 is all it's cracked up to be!  However, I actually feel like I'm quite the old lady.  Fraser tells me that birthday shopping for  me is like shopping for a little old lady - or a 7 year old.  I think this picture sums that combo up quite well:


Watch out kids! Happy Tuesday!

Friday, August 14, 2015

What's your favourite animal?

Last night before dinner I was crayon drawing with my niece Jean. I asked her what her favourite animal is so I could draw it for her and what was her response? A fairy.  First time I've ever heard that what's your favourite animal? 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review: Start Where You Are - a journal for self-exploration

It's time for more book reviews and today I'm bringing you a beautiful and inspiring new book called "Start Where You Are - a journal for self-exploration" by Meera Lee Patel.  (Available now on amazon (link) and worldwide at awesome book stores).  I'm totally swooning over Meera's watercolours and the cover of the book is no exception:

This interactive book features all sorts of amazing full-colour inspiring quotes and sayings that on their own would be fun pinned up or framed in my craft room!  I apparently need to explore watercolours more often because these washes and lettering are just perfectly imperfect:

To be honest, the first thing I did when I got the book was flip through and read the left hand page quotes and drawings - but after that initial excitement was finished I read the right hand pages and started to work on the journal part of the book.  Although I am certainly not a novice to self-help type media, I am super impressed how much this book made me reflect on my life in a different way.  It encourages creativity and lets you explore what matters most to you.  Yep - sounds a little cheese balls...but I am all over stuff like that. Here are a few example pages:

Pretty cool hey? As with most journaling experiences the book got quite personal pretty quickly so I was feeling a bit hesitant plastering my inner thoughts on the internet - but I got over that pretty quickly.  If you're appalled at my thoughts then perhaps you should reconsider reading this? Here are a few pages I found particularly powerful:

My verdict on the book? It made me feel inspired to become a better person, more creative, and ready to conquer any challenges life faces me with. Seriously though - it was that good.  

So what do you think? Do you ever dive into self-help journaling? Has it changed the way you look at things? And while we're at it - what advice would you give yourself as a child? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I usually stray away from crochet projects in the summer months (I feel like yarn crafts are more of a fall/winter thing) but this amazing hanging monster basket (link) may have to be an exception:

Isn't he adorable? Just the right amount of usefulness and quirk to fit in perfectly in my house! Plus if you add some pipe cleaner/pom pom antennae he would be surprisingly reminiscent of the yip yip aliens from 1970s Sesame Street: 


If you don't currently have the "yip-yip-yip" song in your head right now, you've been missing out on some seriously memorable muppets! I guess you'd need to add a few tentacles to get the full yip-yip effect - but if you're just digging the monster part you can also make this smaller, one-eyed version: 

Isn't he darling? I feel like they would come in super handy too! Some uses that immediately come to mind for my home:

1. put it on the back of the bathroom door to hold the hair clips I always seem to lose in drawers (especially helpful since I usually go grabbing for them when I'm washing my face and can't see a single thing without my glasses on)

2. hang him by the front door or hallway closet to hold spare keys (or a dog leash if you're a pet owner)

3. put it up inside of a kitchen cupboard to stow away the kazillion grocery bags I plan to reuse (but usually just hoard)

4. let me keep your favourite few scarves in easy reach in your closet


5. who actually cares what he is used for - he's adorable. You could find a use....believe me...

Have I sold you yet? (It's a pretty awesome deal for a mere $2.99 on Ravelry (link)) Do you at least fondly remember the yip yips? Any thoughts? 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: Fairy Gardening and Fairy Gardening 101

I'm not one to ever pass up a good book review opportunity- so for today, let me present two wonderfully whimsical books I got the pleasure of checking out for Skyhorse Publishing on the subject of fairy gardening:

 Ok, so that first statement I made isn't entirely true.  I get lots of emails from publishers asking me if I am interested in reviewing their books and I only actually agree when they are on subjects I'm interested in - and since I enjoy gardening (even if I'm not so great at it) and cute mythical little creatures (such as fairies) I figured these books were right up my alley. 

The first book we will be looking at is "Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden" by Julie Bawdin-Davis and Beverly Turner.  As the cover hints, this book is full of inspiring creative little magical gardens with loads of pictures and ideas for making your own.

Julie and Beverly outline the seven simple steps to make your own miniature garden and give loads of tips and tricks for creating focus, movement, and interest in your creation.  I really like how they give you the basis of what to look for when getting supplies but still leaves plenty of space to personalize your garden and tailor it to your taste.  I also really enjoyed all of the big bright pictures in the book that really let you focus on the details and whimsy of each idea. Just look how cute this little guy is with a puppy:    

Beyond the magical creative parts of this type of gardening, it also gives you some solid gardening tips perfect for miniature gardening including how to proliferate tiny succulents:

and a full detailed list of what types of plants work well in miniature form:

I found the plants list particularly helpful since I often try to plant things in pots that really shouldn't be grown in pots which leads to their eventual death... It also left me aching to grow my own dwarf bonsai tree! 

Once you add all of the elements up you can end up with your own mini garden perfect for some charming inhabitants like this Alice In Wonderland themed pot (my personal favourite):

Next up for review is "Fairy Gardening 101: How to Design, Plant, Grow, and Create over 25 Miniature Gardens" by Fiona McDonald.  Once again the purple glittery lettering drew me in and the images on this book really demonstrate the step by step process of making these gardens. 

This publication was excellent at outlining which types of containers and plants work best for miniature gardening and shows the steps to create many different types of gardens.  I like how this book gives you specific sample gardens to make and really spells out the process.  Of course you can always add in your own creative touches, but it is a great starting point for a novice gardener. 

I also really enjoyed the variety of fairy eden's you could make including this standard fairy garden,:

this lovely mexican themed cacti pot,:

and (my personal gardening weakness) a terrarium!:

Fiona also shows you how to create both indoor and outdoor gardens that totally appealed to my inner child (and I imagine my fairy-loving niece would be all over)! This book also had instructions to make your own fairies and fairy accessories.  After searching for my own ceramic magical friends to put in my own miniature gardens I realized that they really aren't the easiest things to find - so making your own is an awesome option.  

In comparison - both books did a marvellous job of opening me up to the world of fairy gardening and each had their own way to helping you create your masterpiece.  The first book offered loads of inspiring images and information even an experienced gardener could put to use while the second showed very clear step-by-step instructions (with pictures) on making specific types of gardens.  I personally feel that Fairy Gardening 101 would be the best choice if you were planning on making a garden with a young child (or perhaps someone who needs a little more direction with their creativity), while the first Fairy Gardening book lets you take it a step beyond and allows you to focus in on the elements to make one heck of a lovely piece!  As always, this is just my opinion - so your best bet is to buy the books and decide for yourself!

So what was my take home message after reading these books? I clearly need loads of creatures in my plant pots at home!  With market season in full swing I haven't found time to make up lots of fairy items (which I'm thinking would be awesome to make our of polymer clay), but I did land this darling little brass deer who seems right at home with some of my succulents:

Ok. I've got a ways to go before I've mastered this art - but as soon as I find some extra time I will be sure to update you on my miniature magical gardens!

So how about you? Did you always try to make little fairy havens when you were a kid like I did? If so - it's probably time to revisit that magic and get crafting! Happy gardening everyone! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hen Hair

If you know me (at all really) I'm sure you know why I just had to share this project (link) with you! Gimpy smily faces + craft project + (potentially hard to kill) succulents! Ah! Check these dudes out:

Oh my these are darling! The instructions look easy enough and although I've never actually mixed concrete before I doubt it would be that hard. The hard part of this project would be 1) to not make a million of these and bombard all of my friends with little planters and 2) not killing the plants in said planters.  Hen and chicks are nice hearty plants when you have them in the ground, but as soon as you move  them into a planter (like the ones I try to grow on my deck) their chance of survival goes down dramatically.  I even had a few in my living room as part of some succulent arrangements but they strangely ended up being covered in little bugs so I had to get rid of them. I'm not sure what it is about them that attracts those little flies but I prefer insects to stay outside thanks...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

but seriously

I have always been pro-equal rights, but lately my feminism has turned up a notch with a line of feminist embroidery hoops I've been selling at the market. The best part? They stir up all sorts of positive feedback! I am a little unsure if there are that many amazing empowered women and men are in Kamloops or if the farmer's market just attracts those types of people. I'd like to go with the first and keep pushing for equality! Yeah! 

With that in mind - I really enjoyed this:

Now that's what I call a fairy godmother! How about you? Do you feel enthused about anything to the point of being an advocate? 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

hoop-tastic happenings

As I mentioned in my last post, my life seems to be all about prepping for the market these days! I finally got back up and running for the last Saturday in June and now after my second week I am totally in love! The Kamloops Farmer's Market is full of friendly and talented artisans (as well as loads of veg and food vendors) and brings in loads of people for a morning of local shopping! I was a little hesitant how my booth would do at the market as my past experience of selling in town wasn't very lucrative - but I was pleasantly surprised with some awesome customers who decided to shell out their hard earned cash on my plethora of geekery! Hooray! 

I've been trying to spread out my brand a bit and make a wider selection of goodies in different price ranges and one project I have fallen for is making embroidery hoop art. I made a few back in my Bastion Square Victoria market days but figured I could ramp it up a bit and do a wider range of hoops.  I really wanted to take great pictures of them to show you each one in detail - but as I said - I've been a busy girl - so instead I will just share the snap shots I took of hoops displayed at my craft booth.  Yay! Here we go!

Here's the basic set up of my hoop display. A few pegged onto a white rack I bought from Diaso and two baskets holding the rest to peruse. I tried to go for variety a bit (so not ALL anthropomorphized creatures) and really wanted something sassy out front (that didn't actually offend anyone).  This also gave me a perfect chance to start using up some of my vintage fabric stash too!  Take a peek:  

I put another white rack with some hoops on it on the other side of my table to get a little extra height in there and (as always) a bit of extra colour! One lady stopped by my booth and told me that, "Your booth is a hard one to walk past and ignore!" Yeah! That's exactly what I'm going for! Rope you in with colours and cuteness and hope you enjoy what you see! 

With all the compliments I got from my first market I decided to make a few more hoops for my second go - and did a similar set up again (with a few of the new hoops in there). Here is the end of the table: 

and the main hoop display (with an emphasis of feminism apparently):

I've now sold ten of these lovelies and am excited for them to go to their new homes! Best of all - I'm not feeling like I'm super ripping myself off by selling them for too little either - and priced them based on how long they took me to make (so small ones starting at $16 and going up to $38 for the big babies).  Yaaayyy! I'm on cloud nine with embroidery hoop excitement and even got around to listing four of the duplicate hoops I made in my etsy shop! Oh my! 

So now I'm hoping to hear from you. What are your thoughts on embroidery hoop art? Do you have any hanging in your house? Which ones do you like best? and (most importantly) any ideas of other hoops I should make? I'm trying to come up with cute or witty phrases to put on them but apparently my brain has been tapped out. What do you think? 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Too much

You know what happens when I try to take on too much? This. No blogging on my front.  I'm still desperately working on stock for the farmers market and after my first week of selling I have a better idea of what to stock up with! So - I will be back at it this Saturday - and hopefully next week will be a bit quieter (with more posts!)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

taking doilies too far

As you may already know, I am a huge fan of doilies.  I have a few tastefully placed around my home and even have my fair share of doily themed items.  That being said - I think this doily-esque item is taking it too far:


I'm not sure about you, but toilet seat covers (especially ones that go on the seat) gross me out.  How often do you think people wash those? Who decided they were a good idea? Not me. But if for some reason you think they're great the lacy teal one I just showed you has a free pattern online (link)...just make sure you throw it in the wash often please...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

to market to market to buy a fat pig!

Well - it's official! I am taking part in the Kamloops Farmer's Market this Saturday from 8-12! Now I will frantically finish up some stock for the show and then (eep!) try to figure out a creative way to display it all! I will be sure to take lots of pictures to share with you once I'm all done - and in the meantime I will be working my buns off! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

going up a crazy level.

Just in case you aren't following me on Instagram or Twitter - here is what I was doing Monday night:

What is this you may wonder? Why it was my birthday celebration for one of my favourite Instagram cats - Seamus! It was also a perfect excuse to get an ice cream cake and enter the Seamus and Angus birthday contest - which I ended up winning! Looks like my cat loving craziness has moved up to a whole new level. I'll keep you updated with what my mystery winnings is when it arrives. What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

all the hoops!

My preparation for the farmer's market season isn't quite going as planned.  I was hoping to be up and running a few weeks ago but apparently it's taking a bit longer.  I still have a bunch of set up pieces Fraser is working on making for me - and when attempting to make new tablecloths for my tables I royally broke my sewing machine.  Seems like it will be a few weeks until I get my darling Pfaff back - but in the meantime I'm working on stocking up a storm!  I've been wanting to make more embroidery hoop art pieces for a while now so no better time than the present! Check out my stack:

Oh my! I'm now working on finishing off the edges and then tagging and pricing! So exciting! Once they are all finished I will do a reveal.  I really tried to appeal to different types and ages of people so hopefully you will agree! What have you been working on? Are you as terrible at estimating time to do things as I am? 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Happiest of Mail

One of my favourite parts of crafting is sourcing out and buying new supplies! Ok - so I actually really enjoy pretty much every aspect of the crafting process but buying things means I get to go shopping and (in most cases) get mail when I order online!  Sometimes I luck out and can find what I'm looking for locally but in most cases I end up on the wild world of the internet looking for unique and high quality parts I can use to create wonderful things! I've been especially busy loading up on supplies to prep for the summer and fall craft show season and since I order from all over the world (ok, mostly the states) I need to plan quite a bit ahead since shipping and customs can hold up my parcel by a good 4 to 6 weeks. Oh my! Time for me to plan ahead and invest a little money so I can make some money later on.

One parcel I am particularly pleased about getting is this baby! Any guesses on the contents? 

If you guessed pinback button machine making parts then you are right my friend! I finally (after years of searching) found a great button parts supplier and loaded up on three snazzy new products including:

1) 2.25" bottle opener/keychain backings! 
2) 1" zipper pull/keychain backings!!
3) retractable ID badge holders (that are just asking to be personalized with 1" buttons on the front!)!!!

How fun! I also got some more 1" regular button making parts since my stash was getting low too. Can you tell how excited I am? Looks like my homemade illustrated buttons are expanding from just pinbacks, magnets, and mirrors into all new and exciting territory! Now I just need to decide which of my drawings will be most sought after in which form and then find time to get making! Any thoughts? What anthropomorphic pal would you want on a bottle opener/zipper pull/ID holder? 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pond Watching

A few weeks ago when my good pal Jim was visiting we spent a few mornings down at the park playing with my aerobie disc (which, unlike most objects I can successfully throw and catch).  The park we went to was the one by my parent's house which has three great baseball fields and a nice nature reserve pond to check out.  After a few hours of aerobie-ing I'd always want to go look at the pond and try to identify all the birds (which I'm pretty sure Jim finds annoying) and check out any babies that may be swimming around too! To my surprise this visit involved identifying more than just bird species! Take a peek:

Do you see him there? That adorable little furry mammal creature? Here's a more obvious picture:

Haha! Hello little swimming muskrat! The picture really doesn't do him much justice but let me tell you - he was ridiculously adorable (especially as far as rodents go)! What fun! I will have to keep going back and seeing if there are any new species to spot as the spring and summer months go on. So how about you? Do you ever dabble in wildlife identification?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Craft Show Progress

Well the summer market season seems to be sneaking up on us (or at least me)! I have applied (and been accepted) to do the farmer's markets here in town but am still working on getting my booth set up worked out (and making enough stock to actually have a decent table).  My goal was to have my first market be June 13th, but that is actually scarily close since I still need to:

1. Make a cazillion crafts to sell
2. Sew up new table cloths since my old ones are extra sad
3. Have Fraser make me 4 or 5 new displays (ok. so that isn't really something I have to do...but I can't really do the market without a proper set up).

I suppose I could go unprepared but that isn't in my personality so an attempt at perfection will have to do and I will hopefully get it all going by the end or June at least.

In other market-y news I've applied to the Kelowna Etsy Made in Canada show for September! Last year they had 3000+ attendees and I would love to get in on that action! Look how thrilling that poster is:

That being said - if it is such a hot event I really hope I get chosen to be a vendor!  I have been on Etsy since 2008 and have a pretty unique line of products (science goods aren't the norm at these things) but I don't want to get my hopes up too high incase I don't get chosen.  Actually - if I don't get chosen I think I'd want to go to the market anyways and see why I didn't make the cut. Is that some level of self-torture? Potentially. But here's to hoping I get in...

In the meantime I will keep slaving away on crafty projects to build up that inventory! Anyone want to come help me? 

Monday, June 1, 2015

My poor nails.

I have always been someone who has thin nails.  I've taken different supplements and altered my diet to try to strengthen them up but nothing really seems to do the trick.  I've come to the conclusion (with research of course) that my weak thin nails are just a lovely part of having an autoimmune disease and I will forever paint them with strengthening nail polish to try to keep them together.  This doesn't always work out for me and I often end up with rips and cracks in them like this lovely one on my middle finger:

Gah! This picture is actually about a month old now and that nail is finally almost back to normal but it has certainly been a pain in the bum during the grow out process! I also quickly realized that I use that finger (and nail) a heck of a lot while working on crafts and when it is split that far down it is super painful and annoying to work around. 

So now I will pass the conversation over to you (you lovely readers you) and I'd love to hear any tips or tricks you have to keep your fingers looking their best.  Do you ever get rips in your nails? Do you just attempt to superglue them and cover them in nail polish in hopes of them surviving long enough to grow out? Do you ever dabble in the fake/gel/manicure upkeep some ladies do? If you paint your nails a bold (not neutral colour) do you look down at your hands and not recognize them like I do? Inquiring minds (well mind) want to know! I figure the secret to amazing nails is out there...I am just yet to find it... 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

my high tech photography studio

I've had friends ask me how I manage to take all of my product and blog pictures so I figured today was as good a day as any to reveal my ultra high tech photography studio. Behold:

Pretty fancy eh? Here's an even more in depth labeled picture:

The secret it out. I take pictures on the floor of my living room with my iphone camera. I've tried all sorts of different set ups and equipment since I started selling online in 2008 (wow that was a while ago), but this seemed to work the best for me.  I have a stretched panel of light cotton fabric (that is actually part of a lightbox Fraser made me) as my backdrop and use the lovely light source of our giant front room windows. Throw in a cushion for my bum and you're set! There it is in all its glory. Oh, and yes, I do have quite the jungle of plants hanging out in my living room...