Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hello? Anyone out there still?

{Some of the Stuff that I am Making & Selling}
Hi.  It's me, Holly.  I'm still alive and making toys--just not blogging (says Professor Snape: Obviously.)  Well, who knows, maybe this next year will entail a return to blogging again--I do miss this space and this community and those of you who visited. Life has just gotten, well, busy and complicated.  Here's the deal...

I left my corporate job this past summer--or really, my department was restructured away.  Been unemployed now since June--and I am trying to work out what is next for me--and what I mean is, what I really want to be when I grow up.  It definitely involves this--designing and creating toys and other fun stuff.   It makes me so happy to do this--really, it is effortless and my mind just hums with ideas for new things to create at every hour of the day and night.  So, I am making more right now, putting lots in my Etsy shop, working on a proposal for a book of my designs...and trying to figure out how I can still contribute enough to the family bank account.  Damn money, always getting in the way of being who you are meant to be...
{Mangy Gators: Made from Recycled and Felted Wool Sweaters}
Anyway, here I am today.  Maybe I'll try to come back again next week and post something and ease back into it slowly because even as I am typing this I am getting a bit teary because it just feels good to be here.  I missed this place where I could always be who I have always been.

Alright then--so, I do want to share with whomever is still out there, that I am going to be at the No Coast Craft O'Rama at the Midtown Global Exchange in Minneapolis again this weekend:
Friday, Dec 2 from 3-8:00pm
Saturday, Dec 3 from 9-5:00pm
{Bitty Bebe with Fold Down Purse Bed}
For those not familiar, the No Coast sale is an annual holiday sale with over 100 artists and craftspeople hawking their amazing, cool, beautiful stuff.  This is not your mama's craft sale--it has a fantastic indie vibe going on.  You can learn more about it here:  No Coast Craft O'Rama

Personally, I have made so friggin much for this sale--I am not sure how I will even manage to display it all.  I have over 10 new designs I am introducing at the sale, and many, many old faves.  You can check out some of these new designs and the old faves in the photos here--or in my Etsy shop if you want more info or might like to do a little shopping-- but I have not had a chance to photograph and post all of it yet because I have been up to my nose in designing and making...
{Velveteen Underground Fox Plushie Made from  Recycled Wool Tweed Suit Jacket & Men's Shirts}
If you are one of the people who use Facebook (my own relationship is very on again/off again), I did launch a Beeper Bébé page a few weeks ago--find that here:  Beeper Bébé on Facebook
{Play Day Lego Accessories--Made from Reclaimed Lego Bits}
I guess I just want to say, if you're still stopping in, receiving this blog feed, or just coming past because you found me via Pinterest or something like that, thanks for visiting.  I hope we will see each other again--if not here, maybe even in person at the No Coast Craft O'Rama this weekend.

Monday, March 31, 2014

In My Shop: Bunnies and Funny Faces

Some mooshiness and a bit of felt fun has arrived in my little shop.  You can find a rainbow's worth of Mooshy Belly Bunnies here, and a short stack of my creative felt play books here.  
Wish you could make your own?  Well, you can, my crafty friend...
Find the tutorials for both over here.  
Buy it or make it yourself--the choice is yours.
(What's that?  You just want to sit on your arse and watch an entire season of Sherlock?  Well, go on then--grab a remote and settle in.  I am all about giving my readers just what they want...want me to grab you a whiskey with ginger ale too?)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Almost Springtime in Paris

I was recently in Europe for work (Geneva and Amsterdam), and decided to stay a little longer and take the train down to Paris for the weekend.  Arriving in the Gare du Nord is like emerging into some sort of old world state of grace.  To me, everything just feels right in Paris--the food, the art, the parks, the architecture, the streets--I found myself moving more slowly, breathing more deeply, looking at my surroundings with dreamy eyes.  Paris is like an antidote for the hurry and unpoetic details of day to day life.  It is a balm made up of pain au chocolat, beautiful boulevards, sidewalk cafes, french wine, teeny shops, late dinners and the art of Rodin, Seurat, Matisse and Monet.  
Here is some of the loveliness found in a weekend of wandering and lingering...
{Notre Dame}
{Sculpture at the Louvre}
{Paris Architecture}
{Rodin Sculpture Garden with Les Invalides}
{Street Lamp Detail}
{Shakespeare & Company Bookstore}
{Secondhand Books Upstairs}
{Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss at Louvre}
{Metro Entrance}
{View from my Little Hotel Balcony}
{Sacre Couer}
{Pont des Arts with Love Locks}
{Moulin Rouge}
I took all the above photos using Instagram (see all my photos here).  I did not want to burden myself with hauling around my usual camera, so I just carried my iPhone and used Instagram to edit my photos and Postale to create and send off virtual postcards to family and friends (love that app--allows you to even customize your stamp and automatically post stamps the card with your location and date--you can also have them print and send a physical postcard of your design).    
I bought little, but upon returning I wanted to do something with my collection of Instagram photos so I sent them away to Origami (an Instagram photo printing site) to have them printed into one of their charming photo packets.  I will share the results once those arrive...until then, au revoir and wishing you a bit of Paris balm in your life...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Make This: Valentine's Balms

Beat this: what's more classic for Valentine's Day than chocolate and roses?  Yep--not much else out there more classic than this pairing...but the debbie-downer-side to these things is that chocolates make you fat and lazy while roses just die and drop their sad wilted petals all over the place.  These chocolate and roses though add neither calories nor detritus to your home...
Yep--Valentine's balms--one for the lips, the other for all the places you would apply perfume.  You come out tasting great and smelling awesome.  And, as it turns out, making balms is so crazy easy.  Once you have your supplies, you can whip a dozen of these up in less than an hour.  Seriously.
Add some colorful washi tape to the tops and they instantly say love and romance and other tasty sentiments (Plus, don't you love the simple look of a strip of washi tape on just about anything?  How can a strip of tape add so much?  The washi has little bits of magic embedded in it, I think...)
Oh, and that?  Well, that is just reflective of my washi tape love....did someone say addiction?  Obsession?  OCD hoarding?  No, no--it is just love.  Plain and simple.  
Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 3, 2014

12 Projects: Lots of Valentine-y Things to Make

Just look at all those hearts--plus a couple of other things--like roses, champagne cocktails and gems--that put me in mind of Valentine's Day.   Those jewel-like soaps are so pretty--and so easypeasy to make, and I love those simply designed chocolate rock valentines.  Heart-shaped potato chips?  Beeper would die for those since potatoes are his most-recently declared fave food--and I will be trying my hand at making my own rose water as a valentine to me.  Oh, and I love a valentine handwarmer, especially during this artic Minnesota winter...

Happy Valentine's Day making and giving, friends.  Be back later this week with a little crafty Valentine-inspired design of my own from me to you...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Eat This: Polar Vortex Doughnuts

You may have heard: it's really, really cold in Minnesota right now--some sort of polar vortex weather phenomena is hovering over the state--just like a dementor waiting to suck out all of your happy.  Luckily,  I have figured out that doughnuts are the perfect antidote to happiness-sucking weather.  Makes perfect sense, no?   When a tornado hits, head to the basement, and when a besieged by a polar vortex, make doughnuts.
So, I dug out my as-yet-unused doughnut baking pan (best $8 investment ever...), toasted up some coconut and got down to business.  I actually started thinking about making something like this back when I made Joy's doughnut muffins...and through some adaptation of the doughnut recipe found on the back of the actual doughnut pan packaging, came up with this recipe.
This dough comes together in about 5 minutes, and the glaze took about the same.  You bake the doughnuts for 15 minutes and suddenly there you have it--ta-da!--cake doughnuts!  No standing over hot frying oil, little extra fat beyond what you choose to grease the pan with, and so little time invested!
I will caution you to only fill your doughnut pan about 3/4 of the way full--while I did leave a little space in mine, they cooked over and actually eclipsed their holes.   They also have what I think of as a very narrow doughnut tutu.  No matter, I just got a paring knife and cut out the holes and gobbled those up while still warm.  I then triple-dipped them in the vanilla bean glaze and sprinkled heavily with the toasted coconut.  I would recommend letting them set up for an hour so the glaze will not ooze all over your fingers, dropping a party of coconut confetti after each bite--but this did not deter my family.  We oozed, we partied, we tucked into the doughnuts with wild abandon while shaking our fists out the window at the scowling polar vortex.
So, what are you waiting for?  You do not need a polar vortex of your own to make these--just a doughnut baking pan and 30 minutes and you are on your way to world filled with warm and happy thoughts no matter the weather.  Now go on...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Christmas Plushies Made

Hey.  How were your holidays?  Mine were a cocktail of quietly happy moments (fireside reading in my fave faux-fur beanbag, mad games of Clue with Beeper, and listening to lots of new vinyl...) and random incidents of crazy frustration (water dripping from above in the dining room and subsequent tear down of half of the ceiling to get at a pipe failure, usual extended-family dramatics, last minute pre-Christmas biz trip to Brazil for my day job...).

I did still manage to whip up a couple of handmade items (and bought  a butt load of handmade from Etsy...maybe will share some of that later because there was so much goodness to give and you may want to know about it)--like the Clothtopus, above.  I actually refer to him as the Magic Rainbow Coloctopus in homage to his color-wheel legs, but Fiona calls him a Clothtopus in her book, Hop Skip Jump: 20 Eco-Friendly Toys to Sew.  I blogged about the book some time ago--here--and today, I would have to name it my all-time favorite plushie-making book.  Really.  I pretty much want to make every toy in there and plan to keep finding children to who I can give these things so I have a reason.

Anyway, I made the octopus for our friend's daughter, Zoey.  She is a curious child and I thought she deserved a little something as interesting as she is.   I used Robert Kaufman's Quilter's Linen, which I love for the color-pop selection and the linen look without all the stringiness of actual linen (am planning to make a couple of sets of my counting beanbags from this same fabric soon--watch my shop for those).
I also have been wanting to make a black cat plushie for Beeper for a couple of years now.  You see, we have a black cat--Socrates--and Beeper is mad-adoring of him so, I thought I would make him a plush Socrates who could travel with him whenever we are away from home since he always misses Socrates like he is his actual blood-brother or something.  
It is a very rustic and simple design--it came from the book, Make Your Own Toys by Sue Havens.  The book focuses on using reclaimed materials to make colorful, mismatched-patchworky-plush--all of the designs are far more colorful than my black cat plush above--which complements the simplicity of the designs.  I really like this book--it actually reminds me quite a bit of my earliest plush designs--but she uses all manner of fabrics (sweaters, tees, shirts) and designs (plaids, stripes, prints) in combinations I never would have thought to.  The effect is very clever and fetching.  I would recommend this book if you are new to plushie-making or want to begin working with reclaimed materials--the designs are simple enough and the instructions are clear with good illustrations.  

 Here's to a new year of inspiring, creating, making, and finding new ways to incorporate a rainbow of color into your life...