Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quick and Easy Elf Costume

Here is a fun idea for recycling an old velour top into a child's elf costume...  They make great outfits for the traditional christmas photo...  Why not add a little elvish fun to the photos with upcycled elf costumes.

First, you need a ladies large or plus size pullover style velour top in red or green. Cut out the sleeves at the arm holes, which should leave you with a sleeveless tank top. Set the sleeves aside, be careful to leave the seam down the arm intact. Take the shoulder seams up so the armholes are the right size for your child. From the bottom of the top, sew up at an angle toward the armpit, creating an A line skirt.. Cut away the excess fabric up the sides and in the armpit until you are left with a childs tank dress. You should have 2 triangles with seams cut from the side seams. Open them up and sew them together to create the elf hat. Sew a large jingle bell on the point of the hat. Hand sew a white feather boa around the neck and armholes and hem of the dress for a more elfish look. You can glue gun it on, but then you won't be able to wash it if the dress gets dirty, the boa won't hold up in the wash.

Turning the sleeve inside out, cut a small slit with scissors in the cuff seam insert a piece of elastic or string tied to a safety pin all the way around the cuff, gather and tie tightly. Place the sleeve over your child's shoe and use a piece of ribbon around the ankle. Let the top of the sleeve bunch up and flop over to form a natural cuff on the elf boot. Finish the look off with jingle bells on the toes, and your little elf is ready for their photo op.

Extra touches can be added for a different look... Leggings and a skirt with a turtleneck and the elf boots, or leggings and a vest for a boy elf... A womens petticoat or underskirt from a prom dress can be cut down to make a tutu to go over the whole outfit...

So next time you are in the thrift store and it is bag day, take a look at things with a different eye. There are elf clothes hiding in almost everything.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Affaire

I participated in a holiday boutique over the weekend in Costa Mesa.  I met some lovely ladies and sold a lot of candy.  I will really miss living in Orange County when we move back to the Bay Area next year.  There is a group of artists that gather together once a month and do workshops.  I missed the opportunity to join them, and now I am moving away.  I am still glad I got the opportunity to meet them, and can always visit and network with them even after I move away.

Everyone was asking how I made the fudge and truffles.  They are both super easy. 

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
18 oz of chips, (chocolate or otherwise)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract... (Use the real stuff, it makes a BIG difference in the taste)

Microwave chips and milk on hi for 3 minutes stirring after 1 1/2 minutes.  It is VERY important that there is NO water on the utensil, or the container you melt it in.  The chocolate will seize up and not melt successfully.  when chips are melted, mix until smooth, add vanilla extract, stir vigorously until smooth.  pour out into wax paper lined pyrex brownie pan.  allow to set up for several hours. Cut and serve.

Variations can include: (add after chips are melted and stirred smooth)

1 cup of chopped nuts of choice
substitute vanilla for 1/4 cup of desired liquor
add 2/3 cup chopped marischino cherries and pour shreaded coconut on top and press in
chop one bag of mini peanut butter cups and press in to top
press andes mint chips into top
make with butterscotch chips and walnuts for easy penuche
This is by far the easiest and most tasty fudge recipe ever.

Enjoy and happy holidays

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to take a few minutes to say thank you.  To my family, who continue to amaze me with their great capicity to love and care.  To my husband who works himself sick to provide for us with great love.  To my kids, who have grown into incredible young adults.  Their drive and optomism give me hope for the next generation.  To my friends in the Bay Area whom I have missed greatly, and to my new friends in OC and on line who have welcomed me with open arms and hearts.  You filled a deep void created by my loss of community after moving to a new town.  I love you all, and I am so thankful to have you in my life.  God bless you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Journaling with Katherine England

Many people know her for her beautiful mosaic art...  but Katherine is a fabulous art journaling teacher.  I took a journaling class from her at my friend Sue's house on Saturday.  Sue is the most fabulous hostess.  Her lunch spreads are always to die for... She lives in Dana Point, in the most Zen home I have ever been in.  The energy she sets in her home is tranquil and relaxing.  Her gracious and giving personality so sweet.  She was my first friend here in Orange County... I am so thankful we met. 

Katherine showed us how to draw with our right brain...  and it was a really amazing transformation for me.  I can actually draw.  and the more I draw, the better I get. 

Here are some photos of my drawings  I am just really tickled that they are beyond the stick figure drawings I usually do...  So FUN... If you ever get a chance to take a journaling class with her, do it... She is really great, and so fun..  I love taking classes from different people and learning  how to do different art journaling techniques.  It helps me stretch as an artist.  Pick up your pens and start doodling yourself and see what you come up with. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Playing with dryer sheets...

I LOVE dryer sheets.  I don't know why people throw them away.  I make the coolest things with them. My husband and daughter know I will be upset if they throw even one away in the trash.  We have a special box on top of the dryer where the used ones go....  When the box is full,... I pull them out and start playing...

Here is a necklace I made with some.  I colored them with watered down acrylic paints.  I love how vibrant the colors are, and it is very light and easy to wear.  People are always amazed that it is made from dryer sheets...  Sometimes I use Rit dye to color them, but I have found the paints work just as well and give you a lot more color options for a cheaper price.  I am all about what looks good for cheap...  Style on a shoestring is so in right now...  And these bib statement necklaces are all the rage with fabric flowers.  I love the light airy feel of the dryer sheets...  If you don't like the smell of them, wash them all together in a load of whites with some bleach.  It takes the scent out.  I have put perfume oil on mine, and the scent lingers, so I don't need to wear perfume when I wear this necklace.  It always smells like China Rain from my favorite store Body Time in Berkeley.

I would love to hear about what you like to make with them... Please comment with a link to your blog with photos of your own dryer sheet creations.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

AHS Homecoming

The whole family at the Game

my 4 babies all grown up

Zack and his girlfiend Skylar...  I LOVE this girl... she is the best girlfriend.I could ask for for my son.

kayleigh and Casey Coffman before the dance at Savannahs house
Savannah and Kayleigh, (my brother Chip's daughter)

Zack and Skylar in their dance duds...

We went up to the Bay Area for the Homecoming celebrations last weekend.  Zack was nominated for Homecoming King, and we all walked out on the field with him  He did a great job as the MC at the rally.  Everyone looked so great.  He didn't win, but he is still the king of our hearts.  At the rally, he had me introduce him, and when I finished he said "Thanks Mom, I love you.."  all the women in the crowd went "Awwwww."  Makes you feel good that your 17 year old son is not to embarassed to say it in public.  It is hard to believe that this young man, is the same adorably chubby baby pictured above just 16 short years ago.  The time flies by so fast, and before you know it, they are grown.

  I look at these pictures now, and see how little and sweet they were.  At the time, I was so overwhelmed with 3 small children, then I had a fourth, and with two in diapers, two rambunctious boys, a newborn and an adolescent, I felt like a crazy person.  I lived in my car, the mom taxi, taking kids here and there.  Plus I worked full time.  I didn't appreciate how precious this time was.  I didn't see that it would fly by in the blink of an eye.  I will never hear those bickering kids again.  Those chubby feet will never track dog poop in on my carpet again.  I will never see all of them in the bath together again like that.  The hectic holiday times, easter basket assembly and hiding christmas gifts in crazy places from curious eyes is no longer a concern.  The huge delimma of what to be for trick or treat, or what to take for sharing days are over. 

I want a do over.  I want to go back to that young mother I was...  hold her hand, look into her eyes and tell her, "These moments will past faster than you know...  Hold on to them.  Enjoy them... they are precious."  I want to tell her to hold and kiss them more, because the day is fast approaching when they won't let you.  I really want her to understand that the true miracle of motherhood,  is that the difficult parts, the tiredness, the hecticness, the irritability, all fades with time, and you are left with funny stories to tell at the holidays, and embarassing photos and movies to show future son and daughter in laws.  The rewards, if you are good at your job of mothering, are grown children who still say I love you and hug you when they see you.  Grandchildren are the ultimate gift, and opportunity to do things differently than you did as a parent.  I hope when that time comes, I will be wiser...  and be in the moment more.  Appreciating all of it as it happens, and not waiting for it all to pass, like I did when I was younger.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting ready for Christmas

With all the newly found and organized supplies I have at my disposal, I have been working at night while watching tv on a few christmas swaps I joined in... Here are the matchbox ornaments for an advent swap with the Diva's.  The purple angel is a gift for a friend.  I am making a bunch of these from toilet paper rolls.  Yes Danita, I save them too, and a good thing, because I gave a bag of them away to a friend and then didn't have enough.  So I used gift wrap tubes, paper towel tubes etc.  I am making them for a boutique and filling them with homemade English Toffee...  Now that I know how to make it like my sister in law Krissy does, (I learned her trick last year) it comes out better than ever.

Now I have to work on my 12 days of christmas swap with the Gilding the Lily thursday night gals...  I got 11 pipers piping...  and I have an idea...  It seems to be coming out well, will post pix soon.

What things are you working on for Christmas?  I would love to hear.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Moving, packing and more purging

There is light at the end of the purging tunnel.  Man does it feel good to get rid of things.  I am so happy that the art community here in Orange County is as diverse as it is.  I have met a lot of lovely artists at my sales.  People who have become friends, art pals, and shopping buddies.  I can see the floor in my studio.  I can actually do a project start to finish and I can find everything I need to do it without a trip to Michaels.  I have been making things for boutiques, and putting together class proposals for art retreats. 

Hours spent at the scanner scanning old photos and ephemera have produced a hard drive full of images that need to be burned to a CD.  Yards of fabric donated to the Fullerton School District for their ren faire, art journaling supplies donated to my friends Mel and Katherine for their kids art journaling programs...  I feel good about where the stuff went...  like a mother hen watching her chicks leave the nest. 

We are moving again...  Where?  We don't know yet...  An apartment here in OC, up to the Bay Area,... Maybe to Europe... China... Singapore... Australia....  Wherever my hubby can find a job.  We are blessed in the fact that he is employable internationally.  We aren't stuck in the LA or Bay Area job markets.  I do want to find something here... My daughter loves it here... I have made a life, friends... I love the weather.  But we just don't know at this point.  Downsizing and getting our stuff contained to a manageable amount that can be moved and stored easily is not only prudent, but necessary at this point...  So the packing and purging and going through boxes has no end in sight... I think it will be going on for a while now...  I know God never takes you anywhere but up... It is we ourselves that hold us down....  so we are going where God sends us...  Just wish we knew where that was...


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Confessions of a hoarder

Has it really been since June that I last posted?  Man, where has the time gone?  I have been busy purging the art studio, selling off a ton of my hoarded supplies, making my life simpler and easier to manage...  It is so difficult to let things go... I am getting better...  I empty 5 boxes of stuff and save 1/2 a box for myself.  Then when my keep box is full, I go through it, really think about it... Do I have an immediate need for this item, can I make something with it in the next 90 days?  Have I touched it in the last year?  2 years?  Longer?  If not,. I pull it back out, put it in the sale box and off it goes to a new home.  Recovering from a hoarding addiction is difficult.  I have always been a saver...  but it has gotten worse since I started doing altered art... or should I say collecting altered art supplies...  It is pointless, when you have so much stuff that you can't find what you need to even do a project... I found 5 different rolls of fusible web from different times that I needed it and went and bought more cause I couldn't find it... How ridiculous is that... ? 

I am starting to realize I am NOT actually emotionally attached to the stuff per se... It is my attachment to the creative process and ideas I had when choosing that particular item.  I am attached to the creative energy generated from that object...  When I get rid of something, I feel like I am killing my creativity.  Like I won't create ever again if I can't make that thing I have been saving that lace for ...  Nevermind it has been in a box for 15 years, and now it truly IS vintage.... and I have not used it in all these years...  I still have the idea...  So...  evaluating my need for the stuff... constantly comparing my stuff to my family and relationships... is this stuff more important than a happy family.  Does it replace time with my family... does it hug me, make me a better person?   If someone... say the police... came in my house tomorrow and said "Choose now, the stuff or your family."  I would like to think that I would be able to let all the stuff go... but if I answer honestly, I don't think I could get rid of EVERYTHING.  I get sick to my stomach when I think about it... I can't even have the discussion with my husband, because it stresses me out so bad I get a horrible headache and can hardly function... 

I bring this up, because so many people I know are like me... Houses chock full of stuff, and yet it is never enough.  Is it the creative process?  Is it the need to collect and surround yourself with ideas?  What is it?  I would really like to know....  I struggle so hard with this....  I want to be better...  I am getting better... I am getting rid of so much...  and yet at the same time, it feels like it is not happening fast enough.  I can't just throw it all in a bin./.  There are tax records and memorabilia and family photos mixed in with the stuff.  It is fairly organized, but so packed full it is difficult to find things...  I am finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel....  I think after this sale coming up on Sunday,  we will really have a handle on it...  It feels better already.  I feel lighter and happier.  I have been creating more... Making holiday gifts, and participating in swaps.  Completing projects for class proposals.  Spending time with my new art friends.  I am happy.  And all of this stems from a lighter load...

My mom does a meditation in her class, where you have to picture yourself getting on a train to take a long trip.  You can never go back to where you are coming from.  What will you take with you?  You picture yourself filling large black trash bags with all your stuff and tying it to your belt.  I had about 70 bags.  I was pulling a freakin' train of bags... huffing and puffing along... Telling people, "I'm coming... I will be there in a minute...  I just have to drag these bags along..."  It looks so ridiculous when I think of it, that I laugh out loud...  Who would really do that?  Pull 70 garbage bags of crap around with them?  Well, I guess I do.  The stuff I have is my 70 bags.  It weighs me down and keeps me from really moving forward in my life.  Thanks to therapy, and some life challenges that have required downsizing... I am finally doing it...  I think I will succeed this time....  I feel different.  I imagined myself throwing the bags into the incinerator on the train, and fueling it for a long trip.  Then I went and sat by the window, next to my hunny, and enjoyed the view...This is the only ride I get with him... This life... and I really want to make it count.

To those of you who struggle with hoarding or addictions of any kind... You can conquer them.  You can overcome them and have a more fulfilling life... It just takes time, patience, and determination.  Be kind to yourself in the process.  Honor where you are at, and celebrate the little steps you are taking to attain your goal.  You will get there.... and the closer you get, the more you will start to see,
life on the other side looks pretty dang great!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mediterranean Panini with Heirloom Tomato Gorgonzola Salad

Here is installment number two of the cook with what you have recipe list.  We got a Panini Grill from my Brother and Sister-in-law a few years ago, and we LOVE it.  It is the Griddler Gourmet. They carry it at Costco.  If you don't have a griddler, try a George Foreman grill (I see them at thrift stores for cheap all the time), or a regular frying pan will work, you just won't get the grill marks. 

Panini Recipe

1 chicken breast split flat to make thin flat pieces of chicken
or 6 tenderloins split flat to make 12 pieces
Montreal steak seasoning (or salt & Pepper is fine)
8 large basil leaves
1 1/2 cups shreaded Mozzarella cheese
1 large heirloom tomato sliced thin
2 thin slices of onion of your choice
4 slices of sliced sourdough.  I usually use San Francisco style, or Shepherds Bread

Brush 1 side of each piece of bread with olive oil and set aside.
brown chicken with montreal seasoning until cooked
place 2 slices of bread on heated grill, sprinkle light layer of cheese, then add chicken, basil, onion and tomato in layers, top with more cheese.
Place top breads on sandwich and grill until golden brown

While sandwiches are grilling, cut up various style heirloom tomatoes to make 3 cups, chop 6 basil leaves, add to tomatoes.  Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to your liking, we do a 3-1 ratio 1 tsp balsamic 3 tspns olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add 1/3 cup chopped Gorgonzola cheese, toss together, serve with hot Panini.

This is a quick easy dinner for a hot summer nite.  We are enjoying all our tomatoes fresh from the garden.  And keep experimenting with new recipes.  Lets see what we can come up with next week.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Funky 80's party dress re-do

I bought this dress for $2.92  I don't get the pricing system at this store, it is the wierdest thing... Bit I figured the fabric alone was worth $3...

First thing I did was remove the top and pick it apart carefully.  That gorgeous purple sparkly fabric is going in my secret for Karan only stash of purple fabrics to make a purple crazy quilt with one day when I have enough fabrics.  I have been collecting a while, but still don't have enough to make a whole quilt.

I was left with a lovely flirty little skirt that I was going to make an apron out of.  Instead, I decided to put a waistband and a zipper on it.  I added this cute hot pink jacket I bought in the dollar bin a while back,  and it looks darling.  I am on the hunt for some black silk to make a halter top that can attach and detatch from the skirt, making it a dress and jacket, cocktail dress or skirt and jacket.  Talk about getting to most bang for you $3,92!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Who do I admire most

I made this piece for the Creative Therapy website in 2008 when I was a contributing artist. You can see the post here.

The person I admire most is my mother. She has gone through so much in her short 62 years. Married at 17, a mother to 3 kids by age 24. She was my everything growing up. My best friend, the one I told all my troubles to, the one who was always there for all my personal triumphs. Like the time she came to see me get an award at a color guard awards ceremony the same day she got out of the hospital after a month in there for major abdominal surgery. She was weak and pale, and I had to make the fruit salad, but she was there, cheering for me and smiling from the crowd with big tears in her eyes.

She is the go to person for many people. She learned in her 40′s that she has the gift of empathy. Before she thought it was a curse, but when she learned that she had the ability to feel other peoples pain, and show them how to heal it, she became a minister and spiritual counselor, and started exploring her psychic gifts. Now she teaches classes and does readings by appointment for people, and really helps them. She is not one of those crystal ball carrying, chime ringing, patchouli wearing hippie psychics. Just a normal lady with an incredibly abnormal gift.

I love this photo of her. She does a lot of inner child work in her classes. This little girl went through a lot, lost a mother to a nervous breakdown for a year, was sent to live with different family members, had all her hair cut off by an aunt who didn’t know how to fix “girl” hair because she only had boys. She didn’t see her parents or siblings for weeks at a time, in fact they had all moved into a new house, and she found out about it from a kid at school who asked her why she wasn’t with her family, and she said because they don’t have a house, (they had lost it in foreclosure) and the kid told her, “Yeah they do, they live next door to me, and your sisters and brothers are there, how come you’re not?” She was molested, and abused, and forgotten so many times by people. Put in the trash can upside down as a freshman and everyone saw her underware. She was picked on and teased for being little, and sensitive… the list goes on and on… Knowing these things about her, and seeing that in spite of all these horrible things, the beautiful look of bliss on her face in this photo. Wearing her older sisters bikini 3 sizes too big, her smile and dimples lighting up her whole face as she beams and radiates pure joy.

The things she experienced turned her into the person she is today. She says they were all gifts. All these experiences have enabled her to help so many people. The mother in me wants to take that little girl and protect her from all those hurts, but I know that like a fine tapestry, all the threads of all our experiences make up the sum of who we are as beings on this planet. She wouldn’t be who she is today without those experiences. I am so proud to call her my mother. I am so proud that she has passed on some of her beautiful gifts to me. Every day I strive to be more like her. I ask every day WWJD? What would Judi do? The answer usually comes to me… loving and gentle, just like my mom… “Just focus on the love. Let the love in, and the rest will work itself out.”

This was made with a recycled chipboard letter box and wood circles from a placemat. Photograph popped up with recycled foamcore.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fun in the garden

We planted a vegetable garden in March.  It is really growing, and we are learning in the process.  We planted a lot of things, but only half of them grew.  We have a holy ton of Zucchini, and other squashes that are the size of watermelons.  The tomatoes are coming in great now, and the lettuce and other things have grown and gone to seed already and need to be replanted.  I keep telling Pascual, "We need to plant more seeds".  He gives me the look that all husbands give their wives when they use the Royal we.. so I say, "well, um.. the YOU part of the WE team needs to plant more stufff. " 

We have never planted a garden before.  This is all an experiment.  A couple of years ago our next door neighbor took out her lawn in the front yard and planted a garden.  Everyone would stop and talk to her, and say what a great idea.  Her thought was, if she was going to water something, she would rather it be something she could eat.  She provided the whole neighborhood with veggies, adopted our cat Persephone who hung out in the garden all day, and generally brought a sense of community to our little neighborhood.  I have had a dream for a long time of creating a community garden where people can come and garden and plant things and share in the harvest.  Maybe some day in the future we will have a yard large enough to do that.  I find if kids participate in planting and caring for a garden, they have more interest in eating what they have grown.  They become more adventurous eaters, and try things just because they grew them. 

Here are some photos of the things we have picked.  Even if you just plant a few herbs in a container, there is nothing like the taste of home grown.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kayleigh's Easy Enchilada Soup Recipe

So here is the deal.  I am in a sling, and my family has been cooking, which doesn't happen often.  My husband and daughter are both good cooks.  Kayleigh is a baker and Paskie likes to do home style cooking.  I usually do all the cooking, cleaning and shopping.  Limited as I am right now with my mobility, they are pitching in.  We decided to see how long we could go without a trip to the grocery store for anything other than milk and bread. Like most people, we have a stockpile (AKA pantry) full of dried foods, boxed foods, canned items, and sauce mixes...  I will be posting recipes here for things we invent as we deplete the stockpile and save $$$ in the process.

I have been teaching Kayleigh how to cook with leftovers and what we have in the cupboards...  so she made this with my supervision and it turned out delicious.  It was supposed to be tortilla chicken soup, but it was thicker and tasted more like an enchilada, so we called it enchilada soup instead.

3 cans chicken (mine was the large cans from Costco) or 3 chicken breasts cooked till tender
1/2 large bottle spicy v-8 juice *
1 tbspn powdered chicken broth
1 white onion chopped
4 stalks of celery chopped
8 green onions chopped
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tbspns dried or fresh cilantro
1 can black olives
1 can mixed veggies which contain carrots, peas, potatoes, green beans (or 2 fresh carrots sliced)
8 corn tortillas
4 cups water

Break chicken up into shredded chicken.
Add to pot with V-8, water, taco seasoning, garlic powder, chicken boullion and simmer.
In frying pan, cook onions and celery (and fresh carrot if you use it) until tender.  Add to pot. 
Add olives and canned veggies.
Slice tortillas into thin strips and throw into pot.  Let simmer for 1 hour.  Tortillas will cause soup to thicken.  Can be served immediately without simmering 1 hour, but will develop more flavor if cooked longer.  Tastes delicious the next day.  When serving, garnish with cilantro and cheese.  If soup thickens too much, thin with water to desired consistency.
Makes 12 cups of soup.
* you can substitute the spicy v8 for a couple cans of tomato sauce, tomato juice, or 1 lg can of stewed tomatoes that you puree in a blender.
You can easily cut this recipe in half for a smaller batch.  We freeze it and it holds up well.

Sorry there is no photo.  We forgot to take one.  Will post one soon.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kids Garden Apron

I made this darling apron from 2 pieces of baby clothes I got for .25 cents each at the thrift store.  You will need a pair of overalls with adjustible straps and a heavy weight baby dress with a flat a line skirt.

First, cut the pants off of the overalls.  I cut below the side snaps so she could put the whole thing over her shoulders and secure it easily herself with the side snaps.  I serged the back part, but you can turn it under if you don't have a serger. 

Cut the bodice of the baby dress off.  This dress buttoned down the back, often times you will have one that doesn't and buttons at the shoulders.  Eiter way, cut the side seams open,  Trim the front of the skirt to fit the overall bib.  Then take the back of the skirt, (I buttoned mine up) and cut a shorter piece to make the front pockets.. Turn under the top edge of the front pocket, and then sew it to the skirt, both good sides facing up.  Then run stitches down the pocket to create 4 pockets, (I reinforced with backstitches at the top of the pockets for durability).  Fold back side seams of skirt and stitch down.  Sew skirt to overall bib front and you are done.

This is a super easy and fun way to reuse clothes your kids have outgrown.  Althought my niece is a 3T, these overalls were 12 months and the dress was 9 months.  The apron fits her perfectly.  So next time before you donate those outgrown clothes, look at them in a different way and ask yourself, how could I make this into something else?  Check back here often for more kids upcycled clothing tips.