Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Battle Bag

Rachel and I created a lovely, scaled down version of the messenger back for her sister, as a purse.  We dragged her with us to the fabric store, and forced her to choose the fabric which most appealed to her.  She made some fantastic choices!  But creating the bag was to be no easy task.

I ran out of thread.  Not such a big deal.  I just ran to the store to get some.  This should have been pretty simple, but for some reason, it took an hour to make a stop to a store just five minutes down the road.  It only got worse from there. I won't detail the entire evening, but it involved bad bad BAD thread tension problems, sewing pieces in the wrong place, and LOTS of seam ripping.  Thus, it is and shall forever be known as the Battle Bag.

And, in like fashion, this post has raised a number of problems.  Oy!  In any case, enjoy these photos!

The Battle Bag - Apx 9"x11"x2"

Interior of flap pocket

Inside of bag - small pockets

I'm having a small celebration here as this finally worked!

Pop Quiz!
Why do brown and blue look so nice together?

I'm also celebrating the fact that my bell peppers have finally sprouted!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bag It Up! - Part II

I had plans for adding watermarks and things to these images so that it would be harder to nab them. Then I thought that for this, there's nothing I really have to protect. Plus, I've already hooked you up with everything you need to duplicate it exactly, so what am I worried about?

Anyway, here's what we came up with:
Outside of Bag.  Note the spiral buttons!

Flap pocket, horizontal button holes

Inside of front pocket detail

Bag Open

Inside of Bag Detail: Flap pocket

Perhaps only the true geeks out there will understand the scale of this thing.  But it's big.  Measures about 4" deep, and is 11" by 16".  Big enough to use as a book bag, computer carrier, overnight bag.  We also made a smaller version of this for a purse.  Pictures coming soon!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thank You, Miss Trail!

Once upon a time, a friend of mine planted a beautiful container garden, and grew delicious things in it. I thought to myself, "I can do that!" This was particularly exciting since I live in an apartment, and there are no signs of that changing any time soon.

A dream of growing my own fresh veggies grew in my mind, and I began to notice every little thing about gardening. I drove people crazy talking about my plans. Then January became February, and the gardening books began to appear in the bookstore. Special displays dedicated to these magnificent tomes full of earthy knowledge were set up, and caught my attention. Then, I finally stopped at one such display, and picked up Grow Great Grub, by Gayla Trail. This book is specifically geared towards those wishing to grow organic food in limited space. Perfect! It is written for the gardening novice (definitely me) and is very easy to understand. By the time you finish it, you will really believe that this is an attainable thing.

Later, upon visiting my container gardening friend, I realized that she had used Gayla's prior book, You Grow Girl. I do believe this came after her website,, which just celebrated its tenth anniversary. All of these publications share the same light-hearted, relaxed approach to gardening, and love of good food!

I probably could garden without these things, but it would be a lot less fun!
Thank you, Gayla!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Color Theory: 101

Some days just don't make anything easy for you. Today is one of those days. I spent last night shrinking the pattern for the messenger bag so I could make a purse sized one today. It would have been fine, except I ran out of thread, and started feeling pressed for time. Then I started rushing and well.... several ripped seams and a huge pile of thread on the floor later, I decided to give it a rest.

I ran a few errands to help clear my head. I checked my internet things to do the same, and here I am. I think it's time for a quick lesson in color theory.

If you stop and think about it, color means a lot in our world. It starts at birth: pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Red stands for passion, and for romance, and for stop. Blue skies are good, but feeling blue is bad. Part of that is because of observable phenomena, like blushing when you see your true love. But the power of color over us has to do with the way we are built to survive. The good things in life like healthy plants, fruit, birds (another source of food) are often brightly colored. Rocks, soil, and storm clouds are more dull or muted colors.  True, there are many exceptions to these rules, but it is not hard to believe that seeing in color helped us survive.  Thus color carries a great weight with us today.

But how can a person manipulate it to get a desired effect?  Perhaps the most important rule is that complementary colors pop.  Take a look at this color wheel.

In the center are the three primary colors.  You mix these to get all the others.  Just outside that are the secondary colors - made from mixing two of the primaries.  Here, you get a basic sense of the spectrum.  Analogous colors are found next to each other on the color wheel.  Red and orange are analogous, for instance.  Complementary colors are across from each other on the wheel.  These, when placed side by side, can do some really interesting things.  Generally speaking, they are opposites, they create a lot of activity inside the cells of our eyes, and always work well together.  Now, consider this:  If you put two complementary colors which are the same value (equally light or dark), they scintillate.  Generally speaking, it works best with really bright or saturated colors, and it kind of hurts.  Observe: 

Ok, sorry I had to do that to you.  But you see how it kind of bugs you?  That's great, if that's what you're going for.  If not, all you have to do is make one color dark, and the other light, and that annoying buzz behind your eyes goes away.

Another fun thing that happens is called simultaneous contrast.  This means if you put one color, say blue-grey, next to red, and next to yellow, it will look different.  In the following example, the central rectangles are the same color in each column, believe it or not.  Do you see how some of the rectangles appear darker or a slightly different color than their partner?    Think of what you could do knowing this trick!  I use it in my makeup.  I have a touch of green in my eyes, so I wear purple or pink eye makeup.  These are close to red, which is green's complement.  So pick the color you want to bring out.  Move across the color wheel, and you can use that color, or its analogous colors to activate the color of your choosing. 

If you want to mute a color, you mix it with its complement.  Say I have a bright green paint I'd like to tone down.  Add just a touch of red, and you'll make olive.  Be careful with this last bit though.  You'll make many a puddle of grey muck mastering this skill.  Keep in mind that brown is a dark orange or sometimes yellow.  Blue is very pretty with brown!  Shadows are always a muted version of the color you see.  So if you add blue to a brown color, you'll get beautiful shadows.  It was a lesson my art teacher taught me in 7th grade, and I use it to this day! 

Alright class, any questions?
I didn't think so.  You're all so very bright.
A+ for everyone!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Burt's MAGICAL Bees

I do believe I have found a solution to my dry skin problem. We all know and love Burt's Bees. Well let me introduce you to their amazing Radiance Day Creme! This stuff worked wonders on my eczema overnight. I've now been using it for 2 days, and I'm in love with it. It goes on light, but it has the potency of a thick night creme. I would only recommend this to people with dry skin. Some reviews of it claim that it is too greasy. but for me, it protects my skin from being dried out. Until this, I had not found a natural moisturizer that worked. Now I have one, and at about half the cost of the stuff I was using before. Besides, how can it get better than stuff reserved for the queen bee?

I'm also in love with their lemon butter cuticle creme. Because I have dry skin and fancy myself an artist (constant intense hand washing required!), my cuticles are more often than not a complete wreck. This stuff helps. A lot.

And lastly, I was given some pomegranate lip balm. The flavor is kind of unusual, but if you don't mind it, it's some wonderful stuff. You don't have to apply it constantly like many other lip treatments.

Burt's really on to something.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spam, Spam, Spam, Science, and Spam

I work at a publishing company.
Sometimes I have to sort and route emails. Like I am today.
Mostly, it's SPAM.
Sometimes we get things from customers telling us that our books are wrong.
I have genuine concern for people who know that "strepsirhines" is the updated term for "prosimian," and have the time to tell us that our book is outdated. I mean, it will be fixed upon the next publication. They have people who do this. Only scientists need to know this anyway, right? Maybe they are studying to be scientists, in which case that makes more sense. Still, nobody likes a know-it all.

Once, we had an email from someone who was seriously concerned about a "pretty big mistake" in an art book, regarding the primary colors of light.
Primary colors of pigment: red, blue, yellow.
Primary colors of light: red, blue, green. TRUE.

Oh well.
At least they're trying to spread knowledge, and make sure it's correct! Props to you, science man. At least you didn't send me spam.

Bag It Up! - Part I

Last night, I began the task of teaching my sweetheart to sew. When teaching someone this craft, choosing the right project is important. It has to be something that your student is excited about, and is not too difficult. You also want to have a bit more challenge than sewing a square pillow, at least for your adult learners. We chose a messenger bag. In fact, we're making this one from the Weekend Designer. I underestimated the complexity of this project, however with a bit of my help around the zipper part (which I goofed up and had to redo, but only once!) it's turning out rather well. Also, don't start things at 9:00 at night if you typically go to bed at 11:00. That didn't work out so well for me. I had to figure out this zipper!

After a quick trip to Jo~Ann, we had everything we needed for the bag. We only spent $20 on the bag, and that got us everything but interfacing. Here's the haul:

The body of the bag is this wonderful home decor canvas. It's pretty soft and flexible, but should hold up well.

For the lining, we chose a calico print called "Retro Owl," which is pretty self explanatory. Using an unexpected color or print on the inside of a bag is a great way to inject your personality into your creation.

For our thread and zipper, we (completely by coincidence) pulled a color from the lining. This will create a little bit of contrast and detail to the outside of the bag. My Grandma (or Oma as I've always called her) told me a long time ago to ALWAYS buy G├╝termann thread, because it doesn't break in your machine.  It may just be that she likes German things.  Who knows?  In either case, it really is quality thread, and it comes in a wide array of lovely colors.  Ours is something very close to "light topaz," shown here.

We also included a couple of buttons for the bottom of the flap, to hold it down.  They're wooden, with spirals on them.  The genius that is my love thought to make horizontal button holes, so you'll have to struggle with the buttons less when fastening them.  Plus they will follow the line of the flap.  We're not making an adjustable strap, but this could be done easily. Pictures will come when it's finished.  See how you can use unexpected color combinations to bring life to your creations? Not everything has to be matchy-matchy. All you need is a basic understanding of color theory (you have to know the rules to break them)and your imagination!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hemming Jeans

I recently purchased a couple of new pairs of jeans.  They make my butt look awesome, I have to say.  However, I suffer from the family curse:  very VERY short legs.  This almost always leaves me with with about a mile of extra material on my jeans to look slouchy and sloppy and get all tattered where I walk on them.  Eventually the back half of the seam rips off altogether.  I heard once while watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (a slightly guilty pleasure, if I still had those) that you could somehow hem them and retain the original seam.  Determined to shake my ragamuffin appearance, I did a brief search, and turned up this wonderful tutorial by Dacia Ray.  I'm going to try this out tonight on my new acquisitions.  The best part?  You can hem the pants, while keeping the length so if you need a pair to wear with heels, just let it out again!  Fantastic. 

Now, though this has nothing to do with jeans, it does remind me of my puppy. Thanks to Autumn Blossom Knits and for providing this one!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Waffle House Fail and Modified Tee Shirts

Waffle House is made for late night eats.  We all know this.  Don't go there during regular business hours, right?  Also don't go there when you're not really hungry.  I ordered a salad.  It was not good.  It took the longest to come out (?) and tasted sour. Could have been the dressing.  Either way, lesson learned.  There was something mysterious in my coffee, like a piece of plant matter, but who knows what it could have been.  It was disgusting, and they never refilled me.

In other news, I modified my first tee shirt in a cool way.  After admiring some lovely products on etsy and various other sites, I decided I should try this out.  I made an old Invader Zim shirt into a fun tank with corset style laces in the back.  This could be an exciting business venture!  Hopefully in the coming months, I'll be set up with some stuff for screen printing and can REALLY make some custom stuff.  That's my hope, anyway.  I just need to be making some sort of art again.  I NEED it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Little Ones, and other fine natural things.

Because I know you're as excited about this as I am, here are photos of the first bitty bits of my garden!  Yeah, I know, the little starters are on a Christmas cookie platter.  Didn't have anything else handy, and this works just fine.  I started them on my dresser in a south facing window.  It's about the only place in the apartment that gets any notable sun, and I think they're doing just fine.  Also beginning to sprout are my tomatoes!  Still waiting on the peppers and cilantro, but it will come in time.  The onions are cippolini yellow onions, which can be dried and stored for the winter.  Sweet, huh?!  Got them at Seeds Of Change.  I only picked a few different kinds of veggies.  I figure I'm being ambitious enough for a first try.  Why am I starting them inside, you ask?  Simple.  Because I live in Ohio, and we had yet another frost last night.  The last probably won't be until the end of May, though we're having all kinds of record temperatures this year.  Who knows? 

But that's enough about my little plate of earth.  As you know, I am trying to buy everything as natural as possible.  This so far includes skin care products and shampoo.  Since the skin is the biggest organ in the body and the first line of defense, it seems like a big step to change just a few things. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

So It Begins

Hello everyone, and welcome!

I've been doing this blog thing for quite some time, in various forms. But now, I hope to create something useful, and insightful, while hopefully remaining personal. It will take a while for me to make this into what I want, so bear with me. It's only fair to tell you that I plan to separate some major topics, like my garden and all things organic, artwork, general life stuff. Other than that, you can expect entries about anything and everything.

I find it appropriate that this should happen in the spring. Also happening is my new garden! A friend of mine planted a beautiful container garden last year, and I fell in love with the idea. When I found myself in a townhouse apartment with a back patio and a bit of land, I determined that I was gonna try as well. Ordered organic heirloom seeds from Seeds Of Change and Sweet Corn Organic Nursery. 30 dollars later, I had seed packets for a dozen different kinds of veggies. I bought some organic potting mix at the hardware store, and planted a few seeds last Sunday evening. The first white sprouts have already shown! My onions are sprouting! I continued to stare at them yesterday when I got home, got chuckled at for it. Maybe I'm simple, but I'm just in awe of the whole process. Put little pebble like things in dirt. Add water. Watch miracles!

This is my first attempt at creating life (mwahahahaha), and if it doesn't end in shriveled seedlings or a pile of rotten vegetation I've forgotten to harvest, I'll count it a success. Naturally, I'm going the organic route. So I'll probably have to purchase netting, and various other things to keep critters away. We have a friendly neighborhood chipmunk who terrorizes Hazel, our chihuahua. That's funny, but if he touches my carrots, he dies. Ok, not really. I could never bring myself to do that. That's the downside of living in an apartment complex set into nature trails and up against farmland. But it's the only one. We're probably moving at the end of the summer anyway. Then who knows what I'll do with the garden....

We're also planting at my sweetheart's Mom's house. She moved into a sweet little house on 15 acres, with a pond, apple tress, and deer in the back yard. More critters. When we're over there, we have to watch our dogs so the hawks don't eat them. There, I'll have less control over what we use on the garden, but it's got to be better than buying stuff at the store. I'm super excited. Pictures to come soon! Ok, I'll wait until I have something more to show than little white hairs poking out of the dirt.

I'll leave you with the quote from which came my title:

Always behave like a duck - keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.
- Jacob Braude