Thursday, December 26, 2013


This year I signed up for an ornament exchange thru Aunt Peaches' Blog, the theme was something pink and fabulous - Flamingos - how could I resist? I kicked around a few ideas of how best to create a one-leg-standing critter, and settled on felted wool.

Needle felting is time intensive (and a little dangerous!), but it offers lots of control and a chance to add little details.
First I had to find a good inspiration image, the typical flamingo we all wish to have on our lawn. I then started the body with a wet-felted ball. Just took some roving and dipped it in soapy water, then rolled it in my hands. It looks like a hair ball? Good, that means you're doing it right.
I decided that felting skinny little legs would be futile, and I want them to be posable! I used a paper clip to make leg wires...
And thinner jewelry wire for posing the neck. One wouldn't want to have a flamingo without that perfect neck curve! I wrapped the roving around the wire to create the neck, fortunately it doesn't seem to hurt the needle to graze the wire inside the wool.

Adding the feet to the wires was trickier, in the future I would use sheet felt for that. Finger stab count was still only one!

Finally I added little details - The beak and eyes, and some streaks of lighter pink and white on top. I tried to leave the ends un-felted for a 'feathery' appearance. I also added a little bit of pink yarn for hanging - All ready for the tree!
And I was rewarded for my efforts with an ornament for my tree! This girl has sparkles and marabou feathers, plus pink wire legs! I'm not the only one who solved the leg question this way. Here she is hanging with the sacred rutabaga...

Merry everything readers! And a Happy New Year as well!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Embroidered Tree Skirt

Last year I was inspired to create an heirloom piece for our Yule tree. This is, in fact, a big step for me. I have long despised the holiday season, mostly because it starts in September. I am the 'bah humbug' shouting obscenities at holiday decorations that go up before Thanksgiving, and shoving headphones in my ears as soon as the bad Christmas music is heard in stores.
But, like the grinch, I am softening back to the season. I have always loved snow. I have always loved fire. Now that Yuletide means a gathering of friends with good food around a fire on a long cold night... it's not so bad. So, for the first time, we cut a real tree in the mountains and decorated it with my odd collection of ornaments. Such a tree is worthy of a good skirt!

I decided on several traditional winter symbols - Holly, Ivy, Pine, and Mistletoe. All are noted for staying green through the winter, and thus are considered signs of rebirth, fertility, and heralds of spring.

I chose a different color for each plant, and a simple arrangement of three leaves for each. the backdrop is a linen blend trimmed in red bias tape. I had a heck of a time getting it round!
The happy kidney bean likes it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Picture Perfect

 After much dithering I finally shelled out the big bucks for some prints of my graduation photos, and when you've paid $30 a pop for a picture, it deserves a good frame! Let's ignore for a moment, the price of the actual college education...

Since I earned a fiber arts degree, it seems only fitting that the frame should reflect that. Plus, I wouldn't want it to look all stuffy and professional! So I got into the bowl of small scraps and warmed up the glue gun.
The tricky bits - I started each scrap by gluing down the inner edge where the glass will press against the frame, then I spread the rest with glue and smoothed it down. Also, I cut mitered corners in order to get a fairly neat look at each corner. Then, I trimmed all the excess fabric from the back edge of the frame.

After an hour and some brand new blisters, the first frame was ready to go. The base is a cheap IKEA frame, simply because my trip to the thrift store was fruitless.

Pow! Now doesn't that match the decor better than a plain old white or some stuffy wood-grain thing? Yep, that's what my college education got me, a desire to cover things in fabric using my glue gun...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Soups for the Cold Season

 It's that lovely time of year when everyone learns the true meaning of sharing... germs that is. This year's new evolutions of ick are floating around, so it's time to gird your immune system and prepare for impact.

One of the things I make each year is comfort in a jar - a simple hearty soup for when you're too sick to make yourself something proper. Junk food and take-out will tend to make things worse, but when you're running a fever you don't want to go out shopping for the healthy stuff.

Throughout the year I dehydrate foods. Anytime I got the 5 lb. bag because it was on sale, or the garden floweth over, or I forgot that carrot in the back of the crisper and it's starting to dry out on it's own; I chop it up and stick it on the dehydrator.  Pictured is celery, mushrooms (from our farm share), and ginger. I use these for easy backpacking food year-round.
 Here's the options assembled, a variety of veggies. After veggies are totally dry one can place them in jars and they keep indefinitely.  Besides offering up nutrients, many of these foods can help treat you! Members of the allium family (onions, garlic etc.) are often used as immune boosters. Mushrooms offer protein, and are also traditionally used to treat fevers.

I also add ginger and/or hot peppers as a stimulant to promote sweating and good circulation. Sage, thyme, and rosemary are antimicrobial and assist the immune system.
 Simple starches will cause blood sugar spikes which hurt the immune system, so I use brown rice in small amounts. These are bullion cubes, but simple salt is sufficient. Hopefully the sick person is drinking tons of water and will thus need plenty of salt to maintain mineral balance.

 Here's the finished soups! One has carrot, green onion, leeks and celery for the traditional chicken soup experience. The other is southwest style, with tomatoes, corn, zucchini and hot peppers. Both have mushrooms. They are ready to be tossed in a pot with some water and spooned into a miserable flu victim!
 I also prepped some preventative medicine. Elderberry syrup and an immune booster (which involves whiskey, yum!), and some garlic infused honey. Garlic and honey are both wicked good for the immune system and surprisingly tasty together. I peeled and scored all the little cloves that get passed over for cooking and placed them in a jar.
Covered with honey and left in a warm place (here, on my stovetop) the garlic will seep it's goodness into the honey. A spoonful of this will keep your immune system strong, vampires (and friends) at bay, and freak out your exchange student.

Here's to hope that you won't get sick this season, but like a good scout - Be Prepared!