Friday, January 25, 2013

The Craft Room Door

On the door to my craft room is a bulletin board I pin things to all season. I've gotten in the habit of making state shapes for lists of animals I need for each show. Geography, ftw! (oh, also! I'm a nerd!) Just the other day I cleared it off to start fresh for the new year. It's really helpful reminder as I'm sitting in my sunlit living room, enjoying a nice relaxing [insert activity] that it's probably time to get back to work. There are animals to make! There are ALWAYS animals to make! It's also become a place to hang inspirations and aspirations.

[singlepic id=50 w=640 h=480 float=left]1. Porter Flea!
2. Big Crafty!
3. I want to make a raccoon.
4. Maker Faire Detroit!
5. Handmade Promenade Pop-up Shop!
6. Collection of Craft Show Hotel Keys
7. RCF Chicago Holiday!
8. <3 Letters (no greater inspiration needed!)
9. Pen Pal
10. Etsy Orders
11. Guide to my sweet Owen County home
12. dumb-dumb-dumb....The $240 speeding ticket I received in Detroit on my way to Maker Faire!








As I stood staring at this cork board, I was forced to remember all I'd accomplished this year. (Or in the case of number 12, screwed up. haha) Sometimes as creative people, it's hard to feel pride in our work. There's always something you could have done better, places you could have been stronger. "If I'd just had one more day to prepare." I say this a lot to myself. But standing and staring, I had a real sense of pride of what I'd accomplished, the people I'd connected with, the places I traveled.

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2013 is already filling up. 8 stores to fill, and a show coming up the first of March. (and of course, I had to leave one love letter up.) I'm excited. Let's sew!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

14 days of Valentine's Day!

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The Fourteen of Valentine's Day begins in one week! Starting February 1st, there will be fourteen projects to inspire love and craftiness! Outdoor crafts, a tote, a torte and so many more! Get ready to show your love! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cabin Fever Lemonade

The weather has turned so chilly that may face hurts when I go outside. Like my 3 year old nephew, I want to yell at the wind to stop blowing, "stop blowing on me, you mean wind!" Because of this, I've been finding ways to remind myself that spring is mere weeks away. And if I close my eyes I can smell the sun warmed earth and feel the cool new grass beneath my feet. I can also whip myself up a batch of homemade lemonade to remind me that soon I will be sitting at a picnic table sharing a warm sticky evening with the boy I love. More than likely complaining that it is yet again too hot.

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It is really easy to do. Grab yourself a large vessel, such as this pretty mason jar, squeeze a whole lemon inside, cover with a little simple syrup and ice. Then fill the rest of the space with seltzer water. Screw on the lid and give it a sexy James Bond shake to combine. A little lemony fizz can chase a huge cloud of cabin fever away in mere seconds. You can also make it with limes, which just happens to be my favorite. Happy Winter Survival!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Hearty" Beef Stew

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There's been a good bit of stress in my life the past couple of days. So, with the sun shining and the breeze of a 63 degree January day blowing through my screen door, I set out to clear my head by cutting vegetables in the kitchen. There's nothing really as stress relieving as spending time hearing the chop on the cutting board, or feeling the heat from the stove top as you gingerly stir something bubbling in a pot, or my most favorite,  dancing around in your kitchen while something simmers. Being a crazy creative person, there's no "just" making something. You need to make it with pizazz. I set out today to make "hearty" beef stew.

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Pinterest is filled to the brim with valentine's day ideas, and while perusing the endless pins, I came upon one that showed how to cut carrots into hearts. "YES!" I exclaimed to an empty room, "this is perfect!" But, why do carrots get all the love? Why not the potatoes too? I dug around in my cookie cutter drawer and found the smallest heart cutter I had, sliced up some potatoes and voila! heart potatoes. The rest is just normal beef stew. I love stew because you can put absolutely anything you want into it and it is going to be awesome. All the root vegetables you have on hand can go into a pot and with a few herbs and some spice, you have a soul warming dinner. Below is the recipe I stick to on a normal day, but feel free to tinker with it to suit your tastes or to clear out the fridge.

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 "Hearty" Beef Stew
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 potatoes, cut into hearts if you are feeling creative!
4 carrots, carve those things up!
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole tomatoes, chopped with juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon rosemary
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
chuck roast (amount depends on how meaty you like your stew)
flour, just enough to coat beef
olive oil

Rinse and pat dry beef. Cut into cubes. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven (or other heavy bottomed pot). Place beef in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Toss to coat. Once the olive oil is hot, place flour-coated beef in pot. If it doesn't sizzle, your oil is not hot enough, let it heat a little longer and try again. Let beef brown on all sides, turning every couple of minutes. Once beef is browned, remove from pot and place on a plate. Deglaze the pot using a splash of red wine or water, however you see fit. Scrape up all the chunky beef bits from the bottom. Toss in the onion, celery, garlic, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is tender and slightly translucent, 5-10 minutes. If the onion starts to stick, add a little more red wine or water. Add tomato paste, stirring to coat. Once the tomato paste is heated and fragrant, add potatoes, carrots and canned tomatoes. Heat the mixture thoroughly. Pour in the beef stock and bring to a boil. Next, stir in browned beef. Add lemon juice and fresh parsley. This will really brighten the flavors. Cover and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes. Add more beef stock or water if needed. Enjoy!

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Carving vegetables tends to create a lot of waste. I ran my scraps through the food processor and will have amazing carrot and potato hash browns in the morning. You'll be amazed at how good they are.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Let's Dance! 2012 was awesome.

I have to admit that 2012 was a hell of a year. I quit my day job and became the full time crafter I'd always wanted to be. In all, I visited half of the states in the union and enjoyed (almost) every one. I swam with dolphins, stood on mountains overlooking the Great Salt Lake and drove a whole bunch of miles in a 17 day cross country adventure with my best friend. I learned the ins and outs of being my own boss, which has become a daily lesson with homework. I packed and unpacked craft show supplies so many times I felt I was living out of a box. I met innumerable amounts of people and sold my animals and rattles to happy craft show attendees. Speaking of! Here are my top five for 2012.

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#5: Handmade Arcade-Pittsburgh, PA
I loved this show because of the venue in which it was held, most of all. Lots of natural light, lots of fun vendors, my road weary mom and a really amazing soft pretzel. The people were friendly and I had GREAT booth neighbors. I stitched a lot during this show and it was fun to answer questions about my product and the process that goes into making them. Also, driving the highway system of Pittsburgh always makes me feel like I'm in a real life video game. I'm glad I got out with all of my lives.


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#4: Bloomington Handmade Market-Bloomington, IN
The Market is held really close to my home town near the campus of Indiana University which always makes the crowd really diverse. I love this show mostly because it gives me a chance to look at the new products so many of my art friends are putting out. It just feels like home walking into the convention center and seeing smiling, sleepy faces ready for a day of selling.


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#3: Porter Flea-Nashville, TN
The Porter Flea is AMAZING. There, I said it. I loved this show. It was packed most of the day. I sold everything I took. My mom got to squeal while meeting the infamous Mike from American Pickers. (He really was a very nice guy.) And the venue. Oh, the venue. I almost cried when I walked into Marathon Music Works. It's this beautifully renovated, yet still industrial, warm well-lit space that you just felt like a cool guy walking into.  The Porter Flea Team is the sweetest; super organized and helpful and really, really beautiful. I can't wait to go back!


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#2: Art Star Craft Bazaar-Philadelphia, PA
This was my second year vending at Art Star Craft Bazaar. Everything about this event is just such a joy. It's held at Penn's Landing in South Philly right along Delaware River. This past year the temperature was perfect, the sun was shining and I got to chat with Phil Barbato, whom I obsess over on the internet. Louis always drives me out and we get to spend some time in the Lehigh Valley. Overall, just the perfect May event.


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#1: Renegade Chicago-Chicago, IL

Chicago is one of those places I find people either have a love affair with or they can't stand it. I'm one of those love affair people. There's something really exciting and accessible about the city itself. But the Wicker Park neighborhood where Renegade Chicago is held? It's like walking into someone's home. You feel invited and in good cheer. The craft fair itself is all hustle and bustle and cool kids doing what cool kids do: making awesome things. I always feel on top of my game at this show. I sell a lot of animals to a lot of nice people and I have SO MUCH FUN! Plus, there's the world's best tacos in Franklin Park.

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My goal for 2013 is just to grow bigger and stronger. Both as a person and a plush designer. I want to go to more craft shows and test new lines. I want to make new art friends and eat at more taco stands. I want to drive to new places and take pictures. I want to learn how to actually keep receipts together and not just in a glad container. (yeah, I'm THAT girl.) But mainly, I just wanna dance. I want to throw out all of my inhibitions and just let go and enjoy myself.

Let's hit the floor like Robyn. Are you with me?



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