Archive for July, 2010

Friday Shop Update

It’s been another good productive week for me and my shop.  Still getting lots of custom requests and for the first time since opening, I have over 100 items in my shop!  Wee!  Anyhow, here are some of the goods:

Hair Pins (button bobby pins are made with vintage buttons from my mom’s and grandmother’s stash):

Stationery - envelopes seals/stickers made from recycled maps or images downloaded onto recycled FSC sticker paper:

Gift Wrap accessories - gift bows made with recycled paper/magazines/junk mail/maps and gift tags made with recycled maps/calendars/card stock :

Coffee or Tea Sleeves/Cozies - thrifted fabric sleeves to protect your hands from super hot or cold to-go beverages:

Photo cards - sets of photo cards mounted on 100% post-consumer recycled content cardstock:

I have lots of custom orders to work on in the coming week, but also have a bit more to get up on my site before my nieces come into town (yay!), so there will be more next week.  Have a great weekend everyone!

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Food as art

I don’t have much to write about today…just been busy creating eco-goods for my shop.  So I’ll share with you some yummies from our latest CSA pick-up from Grant Farms; when you really stop to take a look at the patterns, textures and colors in produce, you realize that it really is art.  Feast your eyes:

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Eco-friendly gift wrap

Wrapping paper, Gift bow and Gift Tag all made with Reused/Repurposed Calendars

My favorite magazine of all time is Green Craft (I’m sure no surprise to most of you).  It is chock full of inspiration on crafting and making art using items that are destined for the recycling bin or worse yet, the trash.  It only comes out twice a year, but I tell you, I sit there for a good 2 hours slowly devouring each page, morsel by morsel, until my creative brain is on the brink of a meltdown.  And while all the ideas and creative inspiration continues for a good week or so, I get saddened at the prospect of having to wait another 6 months for another edition.

In the back of my mind, I’ve been secretly dying to submit my work.  The publishers of this magazine, Stampington & Co., have 30 other publications, all on art and crafting, and their entire magazines are based on others work, so I knew that one day I would be ready to submit items for consideration.

About a month ago, I saw a call for submissions using old calendars; they wanted to see what green crafters could put together with the pages of a calendar and how they could upcycle the pages into new uses.  Since I make a lot of gift wrap accessories using recycled/reused paper I knew that this is exactly how I would use the images.  I also determined that a specific challenge like this would be the kick in the pants I needed to get over my intimidation about submitting.

Submissions are due this Friday so I’ve been working like a busy bee this morning to get this completed and in the mail today.  As such, there are scissors, glue and especially paper scattered around my studio as if a craft grenade had just detonated.

Working on this project and specifically using the calendars to make gift wrap and wrap accessories inspired me to put together a post on eco-friendly gift wrap.  One need not pay for and use new gift wrap for your items; look around you and find beauty in the simple things.

Newspapers (just black/white stock quotes are a good one) adorned with stamps or hearts cut out of construction paper or magazine make a great wrap, as do grocery paper bags, handkerchiefs, linens, etc.  Gift tags can be made with leftover pieces of paper or cardboard/paperboard, the inside of security envelopes, magazines/junk mail, etc.  Ribbons can be used with kitchen twine, bakers twine, raffia, even pieces of thick magazine paper neatly taped together…the possibilities are endless.

Here’s how I used calendars to make my gift wrap and accessories:

Vintage button attached to bow made out of calendar strips and distressed with ink

Gift tag image from calendar page and attached to reused kraft brown paper that was originally misprinted – I just glued the misprinted side to the calendar piece to give it some thickness and so it would be blank on the other side for a message; raffia was taken from a flower display I scored at the thrift store (flowers went on to make hair pins, raffia was saved for wrapping gifts).

A circle was punched out of the calendar, then a tree shape punched out of the circle; laid over another calendar image which was cut askew.  Tree shape that was punched was saved for the tag below.  The wire attached to the gift tag was actually from an old champagne top which I took apart and twisted back together again.

Tree shape glue onto this skewed circle cut out of a calendar page.  This was then glued to recycled kraft paper and vintage button sewn in middle.  Reused raffia finished off the tag.

The circle in the middle of this gift tag was punched out of calendar page; another punch was made in circle and vintage sheet music attached behind heart opening and crumpled and added to back of tag and distressed with ink.  Thrifted hemp twine and a vintage button completes the look.

This is an envelope that I folded out of a calendar page and with those inter-office envelopes in mind, I attached a vintage button and wrapped some jute to close the envelope; makes it a little more interesting that double-sided tape (though would never survive in the mail; more for gifting in person!)

Now those were the items I quickly put together for my submission, but here are some pics of items I’ve used for displaying items in my shop:

These items were either wrapped in fabric or used fabric as a major component; simple ribbon/twine and a gift tag are all you need.

The top two pictures are using tissue paper (try to use reused tissue paper or eco-friendly/100% post-consumer recycled fiber tissue paper as I did – disclaimer, I sell it in my supplies shop hence the reason I used new).  The bottom two pictures show paper that was taken out of magazines; sometimes you can find entire sheets with little writing but beautiful colors that work great for wrapping small gifts.

And sometimes you don’t need to wrap the package at all; just a simple bow or ribbon with gift tag keeps it simple and neat.

What things have you tried?  Any ideas to share with the group?  Please comment and for those who see this as a foreign concept, I challenge you to rethink your wrapping and come up with eco-friendly ways to do so!

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You drink it!

I found myself today, like many people do during the summertime when watermelon is abundant and affordable, with more much more of the fruit than I could handle.  Sure, I could have purchased the “personal-size” watermelon, but it was twice as expensive as the one I bought which was 3 times the size.  We ate it by itself, we ate it in fruit salads and frankly it was starting to get a wee bit mealy which is when I no longer want it.  Furthermore, it was taking up space in our fridge and it was another hot, stagnant day and I was craving a cool refreshing drink.  DING – lightbulb moment!  So off I went to find beverage recipes with watermelon as the main ingredient.

Because I combined a couple recipes and reviews, I can’t point to any one recipe, so I’ll just list what I did:


  • 8 c. chopped watermelon
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 tbsp. simple syrup/honey/maple syrup
  • dash of dried mint (I’m sure fresh is awesome, but rare is the moment that I have some on hand, so I used dried and it blended just fine and added a nice flavor element)


Blend watermelon in blender.  Add ice and rest of ingredients and blend to a slushy consistency.  Enjoy!

I’m sure adding alcohol could be a nice accompaniment, however, this alcohol-free version is perfect for cooling and hydrating you on a hot day.  I’m sure this could also be frozen and brought out at a later time.  No more watermelon getting tossed!

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Friday Shop Update – finally!

Hoo-wee…it’s been over 2 months since I posted a Friday shop update.  Originally I took a couple weeks off to regroup, then I posted new items here and there, then I had a string of custom orders that took a lot of my time and then there were a lot of repeat posts (after something sold) and new items to my supplies shops (no one really cares to see envelopes, right?).  However, I’ve been cranking stuff out and because I am a co-editor of my Etsy team business tips blog and just wrote a post on time management, it helped kick my butt and get me back in the game.

That being said, here are some of the new items I’ve posted in my shop the past couple weeks;  feel free to peruse (clicking on photos will take you to the listing if you want to see more pics of the item) or feel free to skip altogether.  It’s all good ;)

Hair Pins (button bobby pins are made with vintage buttons from my mom’s and grandmother’s stash; flower pins are made with silk flowers that were previously part of a flower display in a former life):

Stationery - envelopes seals/stickers made from recycled maps or images downloaded onto recycled FSC sticker paper:

These are recycled address labels using leftover paper scraps from card-making projects

Gift Wrap accessories - gift bows made with recycled paper/magazines/junk mail:

Coffee or Tea Sleeves/Cozies - thrifted fabric sleeves to protect your hands from super hot or cold to-go beverages:

Coming soon: photo cards from my latest trip to Crested Butte, CO, more handmade envelopes and more mixed media art & paper goods – yay!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Expanding our veggie vocab

I love veggies.  Even as a kid, I never had a problem eating them.  And even today, my favorite type of pizza is one loaded with veggies.

And although I grew up in a meat-n-potatoes kind of family I’ve expanded my produce repertoire over the years to include things I never even heard of as a kid.  For example, it was only a couple years ago I decided to go all out when making a hearty winter stew and developed a profound appreciation for new found foods like parsnip, celeriac and garnet yams.

But belonging to a CSA this year has introduced me to a whole new variety of veggies that are new to me and my husband; and I have to say, it’s been kinda fun learning about new foods and incorporating them into our meals.

A couple weeks ago, we got kohlrabi in our bag which is like a turnip meets a cabbage meets a daikon.  Slightly sweet and perfect when cut raw into our salad.  And this week we received two new items to add to our veggie vocabulary like:

  • Chioggia beets (which are a wonderful candy-cane color and incredibly sweet; pictured at top)
  • Garlic scapes (which we haven’t tried yet but are supposed to be the stalk above the garlic bulb and a mellower version of garlic) 

We also received kale, which I must admit I’ve never cooked with and am looking for some good recipes (please let me know if you have any)!

And finally our fruit share has started though all that is available at this time is apricots, so we received a hefty 3lb. bag of them.  Apricots were also something I never had until maybe 5-10 years ago (fresh, that is).  I always associated apricots with their shriveled, dried versions, so going fresh was a new experience.  However, I’ve never been able to time them right and usually they taste a bit tart.  These, however, were ripe and oh-so-sweet.  With 3lb. at full ripeness, I was a little nervous that we’d be able to finish them before they turned, so I decided to make a apricot cobbler from a recipe I found on AllRecipes.com:

A nice ending to the day…

(please send kale recipes ASAP!  :) )

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Eco-friendly ways to beat the heat

It’s hahtttttttttttt (said in nasal-Paris-Hilton-tone).

In all fairness, I’ve got nothing to complain about.  It’s relatively mild here – dry and for the most part, cool and comfortable during the summer.  The hottest it has ever been up where we live is about 85 degrees (which usually means it’s close to 100 or 100+ “down the hill” so it’s a nice respite compared to the folks living in metro Denver).  However, everyone down there has AC and many houses also have swamp coolers which act like AC’s but instead humidify the dry air.

No one that I know of in this area has AC and for good reason.  Even on the hottest days, it dips down into the 50′s at night.  However, since we’ve had such an increase of bears in the area lately, I no longer fling open our two sets of patio doors wide open at night meaning it can get downright stifling in here.  It also doesn’t help that our house has full blown exposure in the sun on the side of the mountains pointing West SW.  When our house was being built, I pleaded with the builder to leave up the most amount of trees, but lo and behold, he cleared most around us making our house a sun oven at times (which works awesome in the winter due to the passive solar heating).  And that’s the other thing – the side getting all the sun also has lots of windows to capture the beautiful mountain views, but this can also add to our solar gain.

Thus, I’ve been trying different things this past week to try cool things off as we have been approaching new highs of nearly 90 degrees up here.

  1. Use shades: we have always had standard roman shades to shield the light but when I first bought them 3+ years ago, we were heading into winter and I was more concerned with style than functionality back then.  Over the years, our brown wooden roman shades have turned black on the inside (the side facing the window) from the wicked high altitude sun exposure and that black is now attracting the sun even more.  We have one picture window in our main room that is 6′ wide and brings in a lot of heat, so a couple weeks ago I bought a standard white sun-blocking vinyl (I know, not great) shade.  On it’s own, it would look hideous, but tucked under the roman shades, you can’t see the roll and it does an incredible job of blocking the sun when pulled down.  Cost = $40 and now our house stays cooler than outside for most of the day.
  2. Draw in cool air in the a.m.: since I can no longer keep the doors open at night to cool off the house, I do it in the morning.  I try to get up around 6 a.m. and open every door and window in the house.  I take our fan and keep it at the front door to draw in cool air into the house and to also push the stagnant air out through the other doors.  By 10 a.m. all windows/doors/shades are shut tight to keep in the cool air
  3. Use ceiling fans to cool you: though they don’t cool the air, they make you more comfortable by helping to cool and evaporate any sweat on your skin; I have to be more mindful of turning them off when I’m not in the room
  4. Cook in the morning or using alternative methods:  I try to cook our dinner in the a.m. when the house is cool allowing us to do a quick reheat in the microwave in the evening; this prevents us from heating up the house more when it’s already hot; we also grill a whole lot in the summer and even the crock pot is a great tool to use (though most people associate slow cookers with fall/winter cooking, it’s a great way to get a hot meal without heating your house).
  5. Stay low: our downstairs is considered a walk-out basement, that is one side is completely sunk into the ground, the other side brings you out to a level part of the yard; this, by default, means a cooler area and it really is a good 10 to 15 degrees cooler down there (which totally sucks in the winter, but is great for times like now).  Since my studio is down there and I work during the day, I stay pretty cool down there.  There is also a bathroom and a guest bedroom down there and another set of patio doors, so on really hot days, we just stay down there the whole day, only coming up to get food and then running right back down and the dogs go in/out as they wish (though they’re pretty hot lately and prefer to stay inside as well).
  6. Shower at night:  I know this is a personal preference thing, but I’m one of those that needs it to be cool at night to sleep comfortably.  In the winter, we set the thermostat to only 59 degrees at night (we have thick blood, hence the reason the heat bothers us!), so when it’s around 75 degrees and I’m going to bed, I’m pretty  uncomfortable already.  I find that taking a cool shower at night helps to cool down my body temperature.  I grew up in humid CT and didn’t have AC as a kid, but we did have a pool which was a godsend for cooling down at night and helping to ensure a restful night of sleep.
  7. Eat cool foods: though we eat mostly hot meals, we are eating a lot more salads and fruit (thanks to our CSA) which is soothing on a hot day, I’m making chilled soups, we’re drinking lots of ice water and iced coffee and sometimes we’ll even eat cereal for dinner if we’re not feeling a warm meal (who says you can’t?!)
  8. Plug in the humidifier – I know this sounds crazy to those who live in humid climates, but for those of us in arid spots, humidity is a good thing.  The thinking is the same as swamp coolers or evaporative coolers; a cool mist humidifier makes the body feel cooler, especially when tied in with a fan.

Though not good to have all these electrical items operating all the time, they can really cool you off during those heat waves without breaking the bank or the grid for that matter.  And even if you have/use AC, using the techniques above will allow you to raise your thermostat and be a bit greener while saving green.

What other tips do you have?  Anything that you or your family do to keep cool that is eco-friendly and cost effective?  Please do share!

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Church, part II

As I mentioned in my last post, I signed up for two photography classes for the Wildflower Festival in Crested Butte, CO and yesterday’s class was a 4×4 adventure whereby we accessed a rough road accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles only.  Although beautiful, the location was not very good for early light and I could really only take close-up shots, but I was still down for that.  Here are some pics from that excursion:

After class, David and I were able to enjoy some down-time in the cafe for the afternoon and then took off for another photo opp. that a photographer informed me of.  We almost didn’t go because it started to rain heavily, but we decided to stick it out and go anyways in hopes that it would clear up.  Although I didn’t get the reflection shot I was looking for of Mt. Crested Butte, I was even happier to catch this scene of a menacing cloud passing overhead on a nearby mountain):

Although we planned to go back to Maroon Bells this morning, I was frankly photo’d out.  I had already taken over 1,600 shots and I needed a photography break.  That and I was wiped out from running around and getting up at the crack of dawn several days in a row.  So we slept in ’til 8am, had a nice breakfast and made our way back home.

Although way too brief and compact, it was still a great trip.  My only complaint is that I can’t call this place home…yet.  Still, I’m feeling extremely lucky to live in Colorado and grateful to have spent time out seeing some of the great places this green Earth has to offer.  Makes me want to protect it that much more for future generations.

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Back in October, I wrote that “if nature is my religion, then I’ve been in church all week” when speaking of my then recent trip to Crested Butte, CO and Maroon Bells S.P. in Aspen, CO.  Spending time in these beautiful natural landscapes is like a religious experience and every trip is like a pilgrimage to my mecca – Mother Nature to the highest power.

Now, I’ve never been to Denali or have visited Alaska for that matter and perhaps I’ll think differently once I do.  For now, this area goes down in my book as my favorite place in the world.  And sure, there’s more to it than that: the small, communal town is beaming with artists, photographers, eco-friendly folks who ride their cruiser bikes everywhere.  And the food is incredible, the air not pretentious in the slight and the activities and spirit of this place is unending.  We will make this home some day.

Room with a view!

We come every year to Crested Butte for the fall foliage, but never have we visited in the summer.  As if this place couldn’t get any better (did I mention that a couple miles away is a well-known ski resort and this place gets like an insane amount of snow in the winter!), CB (as the locals call it) also boasts the proud title of being the wildflower capital of Colorado.  We’ve always wanted to come up for the Wildflower Festival, so this year, we made good on that wish and came out for a few days.

We arrived on Sunday, crashed at our favorite lodge with gorgeous views and walked into town for dinner.  Most restaurants have patio dining, so we enjoyed our Thai food under a cool umbrella, enjoying the sweet breezes followed by a bike ride around town.

There are hundreds of old, vintage cruisers all over town and most lodges/inns offer their guests free use of their bikes; our place was no exception.  Riding these old school bikes that brake only when you pedal backwards was very reminiscent of the huffy bikes of our youth.  We sped around as if we were kids with tassels on our handlebars and cards in our spokes, weaving through the streets with legs outstretched.  We looked and felt like careless kids again.

During the week of the Wildflower Festival, you can sign up for photography classes and local photographers will take you to some of the best wildflower sites around town.  I signed up for the Wildflower landscapes class for Monday and the 4×4 Jeep adventure photography class for Tuesday.  As you can image, I was pumped. 

Monday morning was the first class and although the class wasn’t instructional, more of a “this-is-a-great-wildflower-field-have-at-it” type of class, I was still happy to be knee to waist-deep in lupines, monuments, cow parsley, and daisies.  Throughout this post, you’ll see shots from that class (I’ll save pics from today’s class for tomorrow’s post!).

After class, lunch and a leisure stop at the coffee shop/bookstore, we decided to take a road unknown to us to see where it would lead.  We had no idea that it would take us on a treacherous 30 mile, 2,000+ feet climb, 4 hour tour.  Since we thought we were taking a leisure ride through the “hills”, we had no idea what we were getting into and didn’t have anything packed.  Thus we had no water, no food, no cell, no maps (um, were we looking to be featured on a Discovery Channel documentary of “How I Survived?”).  Luckily, once we got to the peak of Paradise Divide at 11,000+ feet and saw regular cars camping up top, we knew the ride down would be much easier and it was.  And the views?  Worth the perilous journey.

However, next time we decide to play the “what-would-happen-if-we-took-this-road?” game out in the big country, we’ll remember to pack accordingly.  Lesson learned.

Enjoy the scenery and check back tomorrow for more shots!

I think Hyundai should pay me for this pic for their ad, don't you think?

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Queue cowboys!

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