Thursday, December 31, 2009

A home for the gnome

My husband had a special surprise for me on Christmas Eve, come to think of it, it was actually the 23rd because he couldn't wait to give it to me. He often finds the most beautiful pieces of wood in the wood pile for some of his larger bowls but this time he found a piece of wood that reminded him of something else. It turned into a Gnome Home! It has a carved sign and carved door with a bucket and doorknob that he turned on the lathe. Once the Christmas tree is out of here (possibly tomorrow) it is going right next to my jewelry making corner. Our daughter has already made it clear that she would love one too, not for a gnome but for Tinkerbell. I included some photos of our very own snow angel.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Going somewhere?

So maybe you're not going on a month long hiatus to Bermuda but we all need something to put our "can't live without items" in for a day or weekend trip. Here are a few quality bags to chose from that will hold your wares in style.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spotlight on The Barefoot Weaver

I first came across Cait Throp's shop on Etsy this spring and fell head over heals in love with her woven magic. She has the ability to capture rainbows and glowing rays from the sun and weave them into a scarf or cuff. Here is Cait's story. Enjoy it and make sure you pay a visit to her shop that is filled with her beautiful creations.

About me...

Grew up in southern Connecticut--third oldest of 8 (5 girls, 3 boys). My Dad was a woodworking teacher in our High School and my Mom (now 88yo!!) stayed home. One of my favorite memories is of sitting on a stool in our cellar watching my Dad create furniture, toys, whatever—feeling privileged to hand him a tool or just sit quietly listening to classical music on his radio while he worked. There were 8 of us, remember, so parental attention was prized!

I don't remember having a choice about making things...It is such a part of me I can't imagine not being able to work with my hands! I've been making things for as long as I can remember—in grade school I had an entire room full of paper furniture inside my desk—dresser drawers that opened, refrigerator with working door, table, bed, etc. (we didn't have tape in our desks but we did have scissors so I had to put everything together with tabs and slots). This was peopled with my own tiny paper dolls with clothes. I found school very boring and my imaginary home in my desk much more alluring! I've worked with quilting, batik, drawing, collage, macramé, knitting, felting, crocheting and sewing and wood turning during my life and now weaving and dyeing for the past 16 years. I first saw a girl weaving in Brattleboro, VT in the early 70s and fell in love with this discipline immediately! Though it took until 1993 for me to actually get a loom and learn to weave!

I live on an old farm in upstate NY shared with my wonderful husband, Gary, any or all of my three boys (Noah 18, Alex 20, Adam 29), two beloved horses, 4 cats (ok, one cat belongs to Adam and fiancée Alicia—but they are in Hawaii for a couple of years), and a dog!! I have to say I grew up without pets of any kind—I think my Mom thought we were quite enough! So I have made up for that lack!!! My youngest brother used to entice dogs to follow him home but Mom always made him bring them back!! :)

My favorite piece?

—hmmm. That changes depending on my mood but right now I think I would pick the Red, Red Rose Wrap. It has everything I love—that WOW red, wonderful texture and drape, fits everyone, and gives a soft glow to the face!

How did I learn to weave...

I learned how to weave at our local museum in one weekend but my weaving education will never be over! There is no end to the different texture and color combinations you can achieve with weaving. While I now have many, many bookshelves full of cones of thread and weaving books and boxes of novelty yarns in my workroom, I started out with very little. I bought a 22” Norwood loom and a box of various colors of cotton yarn on cones from Webs in Northampton, MA and I was in weaving heaven! I wove cotton towels (among other things) for 15 years and used them also as color studies. I have also woven with sewing thread creating tiny, miniature, overshot coverlets and rugs most of which I have framed. I love weaving and dyeing and the warping process is magical to me—For the most part I'm designing somewhat spontaneously on my warping mill and weaving in plain weave and I love seeing my looms all dressed and full of potential!!! Looms multiply so be careful—I have 4 and they have totally taken over the house!


Wow, anything can inspire me from someone's garden, our beautiful sunsets, an unusual color combination in magazine pictures, TV, what people wear, Etsy treasuries!! I am always looking at color, anywhere, anytime! And then I look for the texture in my yarns.

Materials of choice:

I love working with rayon and cotton. I started weaving with cotton instead of wool (don't remember why) and I like rayon because of its' sheen, weight, drape, and the way it takes dye! Over the past several years I have been adding more and more novelty yarns to my work. They have yummy texture and I love mixing all of these up in my pieces!

How do I promote my shop?

I am still somewhat new to Etsy and grateful for the amazing Etsy friends I have made for putting me in their wonderful treasuries and blogs!!! And I love making treasuries, too! I have also advertised in the Accessories Showcase, though haven't done that in a while and I have a blog. .

My favorite shops?

KnotOriginal, theBeadAerie, SeaPinks, KneeDeepOriginals, loveartworks, theNightjar, Studio Serra (my oldest!!) ImagineStudio, mistflowerphoto, moonovermaize, birribe, katsaraYarns, Sigmosaics, GollyBard, joojoo, merritthyde, humblebea, fancypicnic, warpeDesign, pidgepidge, catherinereece, aforfebre, bstudio, ginnyhuber, NiuTaller, taylorseclectic, alibi, amberalexander, crankbunny, Geninne, penguineandfish, vilte, bellstudios, lauratrevey, barbdunshee, lori411, XannasJewelryBox, betsybenson, MagpieMagic, WildWomanJewelry, LaTouchables, 3squares, RoughMagicCreations, kathiroussel, PianoBenchDesigns, jennreese7 and of course lauraslocumpainted and the whole Etsy Project Embrace team!!!

Would I buy handmade?

YES, yes, yes!! Please buy my weaving so I can buy more handmade! I am constantly amazed (wow'ed really!) at the expertise, creativity, professionalism, craftsmanship and sheer beauty displayed by Etsy artisans! Plus I am totally dazzled by the photography on Etsy!!!

Thank you so much Cait for sharing a little bit about you!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday - Cyber Monday Deal

I figured I'd do my part in helping you avoid the mall this weekend by offering a great deal.


Among the almost free items are my Live, Love earrings

My husband is offering free shipping on all his key chains and many of his pens
If you haven't visited his shop yet, this is the time to do it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We have a winner!

This was such a difficult decision to make but in the end I picked Rebecca's nomination for my jewelry giveaway. I will do anther giveaway like this in the future so you can still nominate the same person the next time if you'd like. Thank you to all who participated and shared your heartbreaking nominations!

Rebecca has a beautiful shop named KneeDeepOriginals on Etsy. Please pay her a visit!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Giveaway time!!

This will be my first giveaway on my blog and I would like to try something different. I have absolutely nothing against traditional giveaways and LOVE winning them but for this one I would like to focus on those that have hit a real rough patch in life and need a little cheering up.

What I want you to do is think of a person that may be a friend of yours, someone in your community or even a family member. Just make sure you have their address as I will need this if the person is selected. Then without going into too much detail (unless the person approves of it) tell me why they should win. Please do not give out names as everyone will not appreciate this, but I would love to know how you know them. This giveaway is open until 10 PM EST Monday 11/23 so get your entries in and please spread the word through twitter, your blog and forums. If there are many entries this may become a reoccurring giveaway.

So what will the winner end up with?! Well these sterling silver wrapped Amethyst earrings and a matching necklace of course!

Now hurry up and nominate someone.
If you have a twitter or etsy account, please leave the user name. If not, you can write your e-mail. No spamming, I promise.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rough Stuff

Perfectly faceted beads can be amazing and I do thoroughly enjoy them but there is something about imperfection that makes my heart skip a beat and beads that are rough cut or shaped with a hammer usually capture that raw look that I am after. Well, I just received the most amazing hammer shaped beads and simply had to create something so here is the result, three of them being a series of the same design but with a very different feel due to the stone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Winter getaway

So you may have heard of the Ice Hotel in the northern part of Sweden, but did you know the hotel is 20 years old? Living in an abode of ice is nothing new. The Eskimos have done it long enough to prove it makes perfect sense in an arctic climate. However, you may not find a home as luxurious and artistically carved in an igloo as you do in the Ice Hotel located in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden. They offer accommodations for those that want to sleep on a bed of ice as well as the adventurous at heart but in need of heat, who can stay in regular heated rooms. During the day you can experience dog sleding, raindeer sleding (yes Rudolf is alive and well in Sweden), ice course driving in a brand new Saab or checking out the Norther lights on top of a horse. Life is too short not to plan your next adventure and this should definitely be on the list! By paying a visit to the hotel website you will find all the hotel has to offer.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Busy hands

As I'm typing, there is a row of earrings in front of me waiting to be listed. There simply are not enough hours in the day but they will hopefully be in the shop by the end of the week. I feel as though I am finding myself through my jewelry and my shop is now evolving into something that is more me. To be honest with you, when I opened the shop there was no clear direction for where I was going other than to create jewelry that I hoped others would appreciate too. These days, my pieces have become darker, more earthy and I believe they carry a part of me in them. Funny how soul searching can happen through jewelry making! Here are a few of my latest additions to the shop.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The perfect crop

If I can make my mother in law go "How on earth did you make this crust?" I must be on to something and luckily for you I am sharing my recipe for this amazing apple pie. This is the perfect time for apple picking and I hope you have the chance to get out there and harvest what is supposed to be the best crop of the century, at least up here in Maine. We went apple picking as a family and my daughter ate more apples than she picked, which is fine with me! The orchard we went to had more apples than the branches could hold and it was a treat for the eye. Unfortunately, you have to take my word for it as the batteries in the camera died right before we arrived at the orchard. I will however share with you the view from one of the hills in the area overlooking the White Mountains of Vermont. Fall is a breath taking time in Maine and I hope everyone has a chance to make it up here in their life time. This pie recipe may take up at least an hour of your time but you won't care when you taste it.

The Perfect Apple Pie

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup chilled shortening
8-10 tbsp. cold milk

Blend the ingredients together with a pastry blender or a knife. Make sure the shortening is cold and place the mixture in the refrigerator until the filling is done. Divide into two equal parts and roll out to two circles slightly larger than the pie plate. Line the pie plate with one pie circle.

10-12 golden delicious and cortland apples or any of your fresh favorites
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla concentrate
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom (if available)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp. butter cut into slices
1 egg
sugar for sprinkling on the pie crust

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Slice the apples thinly and put them in a bowl. Pour the lemon juice on the apples and mix. Sprinkle the dry ingredients on top and mix well. Pour the mixture into the crust lined pie plate. Place the sliced butter on top of the apples. This is a large pie with apples piled up as high as possible. The more apples you can pile on it the better. I make mine 5" above the pie plate! Carefully move the second pie crust on top of the apples and pinch the edges together. Cut a hole in the center and little slits all around the pie. Brush the pie with an egg and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Bake at 350F for 1h 20 min. If the pie turns dark, turn the temperature down to 320F and bake a little bit longer.

Let cool for at least an hour and serve with vanilla ice cream or custard.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A time of inspiration

It's that time of year when we no longer want to wear the summer designs and for most that means switching to warmer, richer colors and textures. Autumn happens to be my favorite season and the trees in my backyard are already turning golden and fiery red. It's a time of inspiration and a time of frustration. Frustration because I have more supplies on hand than I have minutes in the day right now. Also because I am learning the ins and outs of ordering supplies from suppliers I don't know and learning that some don't have very high standards. Don't worry, you won't see any chipped beads or stones in my shop but lately, dealing with returning damaged beads has taken up a lot of my time.

There will be plenty of new designs in the shop in the next few weeks including many more wire wrapped pieces and a few with gemstones I am very excited to share with you. I am fairly sure we will have another summer next year but to make room in my limited work area, I have decided to have a $10 sale of some of my summer designs. Grab them while you can!

Also, when you consider making a purchase of any kind of handmade goodness on Etsy, search for items involved in Etsy Project Embrace. All or some of the proceeds of these items go to the American Cancer Society. This project started in support of fellow artisan Laura Slocum who is battling ovarian cancer. She is now in remission so let me hear a big ol' Yahoooooo from all of you! For me it is also personal, in memory of my beloved father who was a fighter but lost the battle.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

He had it comming...

A dog is a dog is a dog. Well, this dog is THE dog. At least to our family and I had to share some photos of him. Bullseye is the son of my parents-in-law's boxer Annie who is now half his size. He has been part of our family from day one and my husband even saved his life as the umbilical cord broke off and he was about to bleed to death. He was born with a big brown dot smack on top of his head, surrounded by a large white ring. Hence the name Bullseye. His markings have since changed but the name remains. My daughter is four months older than him so they have grown up like sister and brother, playing dress up, horsie, and sharing ice creams whenever mommy's legs couldn't move fast enough. He truly is a man's, woman's and kiddos' best friend!

Click on the first pic to see the facial expressions of my son at 6 months and Bullseye:-)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Essentials for fall

I constantly come across amazing items on Etsy and wonder why anyone would ever need to go to the mall with so many handmade goodies available online. Here are a few of my current favorites that are oh so perfect for fall. Enjoy these shops!