New Years is not the time to make a resolution…

Slay the Gruncle

Anyone who loves science fiction has read about how in the future all our dietary needs will be available in pill form, or nutrient bars, or as an oatmeal like gruel as seen in the “MATRIX”.  How popular is that line; ” …Everything the body needs”? Well, meal replacements are not a thing of the future, actually they have been around for decades.  Remember when “Slim Fast” made it to the shelves?  Anyone else have memories pop up of their Mother choking down a can of slim fast, while doing her make up in the morning?  I still can remember the smell.  I know guys to this day, who chug a can of slim fast before donning their armor for a major battle in the SCA.  It is easily digestible and full of nutrients, protein, and vitamins;  “Meant” to be a long lasting dose of calories for the active body.  Other forms have also been available on the market, remember Dexatrim?  A pill form that was supposed to fill you up, giving your body the energy to power through the day.  Well with the amount of stimulants packed into those pills, you were also bouncing off the walls!

Even today there are lots of meal replacements available at local grocery stores, health/natural food stores, even at GNC.  Each one has it’s own claim on the market, and all basically do the same thing.  They all give you the fiber, nutrient, vitamin, protein, and calorie count that should equal 1 fully balanced meal.  You mix it, and go.  Viola!- your breakfast, lunch, or dinner is just a whir of the blender blades away.

I have tried many different meal replacement products, all of them tasted like ass.

Yes this is a a harsh thing for me to say, but honestly I tried so many different styles through out my adulthood.  Each one ended up going down the drain. The unpalatable powder mixes just moldered away on the shelf, being pushed aside for a more tasty option of pop-tart, power bar, luna bar, even oatmeal when I was desperate.  If these were not available (or even if they were), drive through was more delicious temptation than whirling tornado of powder mix being beaten in a blender… hoping that at least half the powder would mix in, and not just float to the top.

But another thing, none of these meal replacement products took into account the natural urge to chew, masticate, thoroughly enjoy a mouthful of yummy-delicious-oh so good FOOD.  So most people would take their shake or pill… and then end up snacking between meals.  Why? because their head would tell them they were hungry and needed to snack on something, ANYTHING.  Even though their bodies had all the calories it really needed to make it through the day.   There is a disconnect between the brain and stomach that needs to be reprogrammed. This is when people got into trouble, they’d just have a quick snack of chips, candy bar, fruit, or even veggies.  (WHOA, you may say, VEGGIES don’t have calories.  Well yes they do, not alot but they do.  And if you are supposed to be getting your complete calorie count from your meal replacement, then the addition of any more calories gets stored in the form of fat.  So unless you are pulling out the celery regularly… those sugar (and thus calorie) containing vegetables are now going to your hips.)

Now you may ask, what is the point of this?  Every year around this time people gorge themselves past fitting in their current wardrobe.  Partaking in all the wonderful and tasty goodies of the season… only to instantly decide to go on a diet come January 1st.  New Years resolutions… seriously? a starting date for a goal?  I thought you were supposed to set a GOAL and then work towards it, no matter the calender year!

I admit it, I love food.  Seriously I love good, fresh, home made food.  But I also enjoy tasty, manufactured food full of artificial dyes, salt, and ingredients I can’t pronounce (and I have a minor in chemistry…granted from over a decade ago). I believe that no one should starve themselves.  Each person is a wonderful and unique individual, and we should embrace who we are and not try to fit in the status quo boxes that media and society dangle in front of us.    But I also believe we should be happy with ourselves.

I started to not feel all that happy. I started to feel bloated, a loss of energy, and a loss of stamina. Frankly I did not want to be around me, so why would I expect anyone else to?  I found I turned to food even more, I was no longer enjoying what I ate. I just ate what I thought might make me feel better.  Well I can tell you a 20oz Coke and Twinkies before work does not fit in the “feel good” box. I was hitting the snooze button more times and running out the door without fixing a lunch… and even if I grabbed something I would still go out for fast food at Lunch Break.  It was a habit I knew needed to change.

But I love good food!  I love flavor! But most of all I realized I loved all of these while feeling full.

Now, around this time some of the girls at work had done a “mass diet” together for moral support. Lots of cleanses, water, more cleanses, and shakes.  It was interesting to watch, I have never been a big believer in crash diets, or instant fixes.  I got to see everything from a Niacin reaction, sending one of them to the ER.  To a massive line for the ladies room, because after all- all that water has to go somewhere.   I heard them boasting how the products came from New Zealand, grass fed cows.  I even listened to them boast that they got one more person signed up, so now they might actually be able to start making money!

I hate pyramid schemes. Always have, always will.

I am a skeptic.

But one thing I did notice, the binges to McD’s and the Bell had come to a sudden halt.  I noticed that many of the girls were ready to go, as soon as they walked through the door. Instead of hauling around an over full cup of crappy coffee.  I started to notice that lunches were slowly trickling in that had GREEN in them.  I was reminded how much I miss green in my food, heck how much I love COLOR in my food.

I needed to change something… Now.

But mornings come too early, days are too long and many times “LUNCH BREAK” was just written on the schedule tantalizingly close but not a reality.  I started to talk to my dear Hubby about doing some breakfast and Lunch shakes.  Not protein shakes but meal replacement shakes.  Now, remember back to Slim fast?  That was not what I was thinking… nor would ever settle on.  I decided to go to the local “health food store” and see what their selections were.  Walking in the door I found an entire WALL of meal replacement shakes.  Everything from gluten free, to dairy free, to hemp based.  I spent a good hour reading all the labels and comparing them.  But in all honesty I knew, for me, it would come down to the taste.  So picked up some individual serving packets to try.

I was so excited that first morning, I blended up my breakfast shake… had the lunch one packed up and ready to go. Got in the car, turned on my audio book, and took off on my 45 minute commute.  3 minutes and 5 sips in, I stopped the car and dumped then entire shake out on the side of the road. IT WAS DISGUSTING. Hemp based something-or-another, completely unpalatable and horrendous.  I just gave my self the shivers remembering it!  I stopped at fast food and was “fixed” for the day.

Round two, three, and four.  All failures.

I was getting upset.

Now, back to the girls at work, one day I was super hungry and even had a headache started because of it.  A coworker handed me a “snack”.  It looked like a giant chalky mentos.  She told me to chew two of them up and make sure to drink plenty of water.  I cocked my eyebrow at her, but heck I WAS HUNGRY!  I popped them into my mouth and chowed down, add some water and it was like a chocolate smoothie.

Isagenix.

I was hooked.  I had never had a pick me up snack nor a meal replacement taste anything like that. It tasted like creamy chocolate.  Now, as a caveat, it did not taste like Truffle pig, Ghirardelli, Hershey, Cadbury, or Green and Black- now those are CHOCOLATE.  This tasted like a chocolate snack.  There is a difference, and there will always be a difference… it’s called fat and sugar content!  I was curious about the meal replacement shakes… She stated they tasted the same as the snack, even better.

Next she gave me her card and sent me to their website. It was a little confusing, since I was starting off with only minimal knowledge, had only over heard somethings about it from others at work.  But knowing I liked the “snacks”. After sorting through all the weight loss testimonials, and “Isagenix Millionaires” crap, I finally found the products and all the ingredient listing. And yes they are proud about their New Zealand cows (a little secret folks, there are grass fed hormone free cows raised in your very own state!  you just have to pay a little more for the meat and dairy products. Because guess what, it takes more time and energy to raise them… but lowest price shopping does not always give you the best options).  What I did notice was the cost.  Especially if you are an “associate”.  The cost for all their products was comparable to the foul tasting stuff down a the “health food store” and even at GNC.  Now this, I could handle.

Again you have to wade past all the weight loss challenges and packages. All the youth and vitality in a bottle. But you can buy individual items and NO you do not have to invest your life savings to try them out.

Not everyone is on a diet.  Not everyone is looking for a quick fix for wrinkles.

If you are, great!  They have some wonderful, easy to use programs.  GO FOR IT.

I talked it over with my husband, and though he was listening through half an ear, he seemed to be game.  So I placed my first order.  Two shake canisters, one Dutch Chocolate and the other Vanilla.  I also wanted to try their “get more energy” drink powder  (I always loved the taste of Vit B drinks… I think I am the only one. AND it’s cheaper than Vitamin water). And some of the Snacks  in chocolate (the snack tablet my coworker had given me, that fateful day).

My husband was not happy the day the package arrived in the mail.  He did not think I was going to actually go through with it. But that night, when he got a late night craving he tried the “Snacks”.  He kept trying them again day after day after day… you get the idea.

The next day was a Saturday.  Pointless for a work shake, but I was so curious I just had to whip one up.  Mixed a chocolate scoop with a vanilla scoop.  My husband had a full vanilla shake.  I had mine about 7 am.  I was not hungry again until 12-ish.  Seriously NOT HUNGRY, not thinking about what I was going to make for lunch. NOTHING.  When my stomach finally told me it was empty, I was startled to see what time it was.  My husband on the other hand, was ready for something about 3 hours after his shake (viola’ a “snack” was there waiting for him!).

I did not make shakes again until Monday.  For breakfast I made my husband and I shakes, then I took one for lunch.  I was not hungry until Lunch, when I sat down for lunch I was not ravenous like usual but slightly peckish. I drank my shake.  That afternoon my schedule got super hectic and I was running around like a chicken… so about 3 hours later I started feeling some pangs of  hunger. Popped a Chocolate “Snack” and some water.  I was able to go home, have the time and energy to make my family a GREAT dinner and have a movie night.

I have done that every work day since.  With the exception of  one day where I worked 10 hours, and stopped for dinner pick up on the way home (even then I craved an awesome antipasto salad!).

I find on the weekends, I crave a shake. Just the flavor.

I have also found I no longer “need” my caffeine fix in the morning.  I am an avid Earl Gray drinker, going on 15+ years DAILY.  I must admit I no longer finish my tea in the morning, rather it’s drained on way home from work as I drive relaxing to music.

That was one month ago that I did my first order.  The day my last shake canister ran out, my new order arrived.  Honestly  I was as excited about it, as I am about my fabric orders.  This time I added a new shake flavor, and switched up the snacks.

I for now am happy.

That is what all this has been about.  Finding that happiness again.  I am excited about food again. I am excited about cooking again.  I am excited about going to dinner with my hubby again, whether it is burger n’ fries or Sushi.  I am excited to get up in the morning- not because I get to have a shake (HAH!)  but because I have the energy to get up. I feel good. I want to do stuff. I want to be…

Now if I had decided to start juicing instead, would I feel the same. Probably.  If I decided to go vegan, would I feel the same. Probably.  If I decided to start exercising daily, would I feel the same. Probably.  What I did works for me, and that is why I am sharing.

I have slayed the Dragon.

If you would like to learn more please visit the Isagenix website. For those of you wondering; yes, they have a facilities in the continental USA.  Remember, you can do as little or as much as you like. Everything is available for individual sale and you DO NOT HAVE to join a program.  But if you do join a program, enjoy your personal results!  I use my cheap Kitchen Ninja set up (you know the $60 one and not the $200 one!) to blend the shakes.  I tend to blend my lunch shake in the morning at the same time I do the breakfast ones, I store it in the fridge at work so I can have a shake and run if needed.  But just know, the probiotics in the shakes are best consumed within 10 minutes of initial mixing.

Personal Isagenix recipes: I don’t always stick to their recommendations… surprise, surprise!

If using a blender; add 1/2 banana to your shake no matter the flavor. It adds a little somthin’-somethin’ to the whole experience.  Add some ice to the blender to get a true milk shake effect.

I like to mixed my shakes using Milk, instead of water.  Gives a bit extra protein and smoothness.

Mix 1 scoop vanilla + 1 scoop chocolate to get a chocolate milk shake like flavor

Mix 1 scoop chocolate + 1 scoop Black Sesame  to get a dark chocolate (even slightly mocha) flavor.

Mix 1 scoop chocolate + 1 scoop of Berry to get a chocolate raspberry flavor

Mix 1 scoop Vanilla + 1 scoop Berry to get an earthy flavor (not super sweet…)

Take 1 berry snack with 1 vanilla snack to get an interesting creamy flavor burst in your mouth

My last recipe is the BOMB!  While taking your morning shower steep your shake WATER with 1 chai tea bag.  Once you are ready to mix, take out the tea bag and add 2 scoops of vanilla.  You have a VANILLA CHAI flavored shake.  Mmmmmmmnnnnnmmmm!

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Lessons with Refined Pallet, Making Wood Beautiful

Over this last holiday weekend I was privileged to visit the studio of a fellow artisan.  I am going to introduce you to Jef (yes, it’s with one “f”) he is the proud owner of Refined Pallet, Making Wood Beautiful .  Around 10-15 years ago Jef started playing around in his garage, at the time he worked at a furniture supply store and had plentiful access to higher quality moving pallets.  He started his journey in woodworking  by making custom boxes; jewelry boxes, storage boxes, even traveling bar sets.  Over the years his boxes went from simple construction to dovetail joints with exotic wood inlays.  I really don’t know what inspired his venture into lathe work, but once he started turning wood, he started producing even more unique and amazing pieces of art work.  I know his first item made on a table lathe was a wooden chalice, Jef said he made it for a wine tasting party (I told him it was blasphemy to waste good wood on wine and needed to use it for Mead sampling… he just smirked).  What inspired him to make pens, razors, and tablet stylus?  Seriously I think it’s his obsession with Harry Potter… he started making wands, and that’s what did him in.

So when I had elbowed my way into the garage to get a tour of his studio, I managed to talk him into showing me the ropes on a custom piece for my Husband.

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Of course I had to my camera with me… Now many of you who personally know, or *gasp* live with an artist, knows that any space becomes a studio.  And honestly it is amazing what comes out of this small space.

The first thing I had to do was select what exactly I was going to make, so we started at the center front desk going through all the hardware Jef has collected through out the years.  I chose to make my hubby a double edge safety razor.  For those of you who don’t know what a safety razor is, here is a link.  Next I needed to choose a wood.  This was the hard part, and honestly his stash was to extensive to get in one photograph.  He had everything from marbled acrylics to black palm.  These woods were amazing, but I knew my husband would like a wood with lots of grain to it, so I chose a bocote blank.

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After the initial stages of cutting the wood down to a relative rectangle, I had to draft out the shape I wanted in my head.  Now I will be honest with you, I have never been an artist that can think spatially.  I have always had an issue with 3-D sculpture, and when I looked at the wood in postition on the lathe I was very intimidated.  I did not want to waste this beautiful piece of wood!!!  We looked through Jef’s stock of finished razors to give me a goal to shoot for.  I knew I wanted to give the handle some curves, beautiful shape, not only to help bring out the textures in the wood but also to assist in a good grip.  After all this was going to be a sharp razor against my beloved’s neck.

I decided to make the razor  handle follow the feminine form, or the more “PC” term would be… I wanted to make it look like a voluptuous mummy.

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But first, I had to master the tools to make the handle round!  I asked Jef at this point how long it takes him to make one razor handle… start to finish.  He nonchalantly stated 20 min.  GAH!  20 minutes! In that amount of time I was still trying to get the rectangle to have round edges.   Jef even had to resharpen his large turning tool for me.

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FINALLY!  I was starting to get a round shape to my “mummy”  Now I got to move onto the smaller turning tool, allowing for greater ease of movement and design.  The entire time Jef was patiently coaching me through, reminding me to keep the tool positioned “just so”.

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He even managed to snap some shots with out my notice… the best part is my camera was set to full Manual mode, and he managed some great snapshots (see Jef you can take photos not in auto mode!)  You can see in this set up how small his work space really is, yet if you take a stop by his facebook page you can see the diversity of his work.

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Okay I will admit it, he took over on some of the more delicate parts.  But you can see the “mummy” started RIGHT?

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After about 1 hour of shaving millimeter by millimeter off, I was finally happy with the shape.  I was proud that there were not large discrepancies or gouges in the beautiful wood.  Now Jef walked me through the finishing stages.  There are so many finishing steps, from applying 15-20 layers of Acrylic to sanding through an ump-teen amount of grit.  I thought the coolest stage was buffing the finished product with the self-same wood shavings I had so diligently piled up under the lathe.

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Isn’t my “mummy” BEAUTIFUL?  Now comes the really fun part. Adding the double edge safety head to the handle.  But before that one last picture of just the handle…

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Look at that shine and grain.  Hipnotizing.

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First things first, Jef made sure that the hardware fit flush. Then onto the final stage of placing the sealing epoxy to make sure the head and handle become one.

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1.5 hours of handwork, and the steady yet patient coaching of Jef made this piece possible.  I could see why Jef likes to loose himself in making so many wonderful items.  There was something so soothing, and almost meditative about watching the wood shape under my hands.  Not knowing what it would truly look like in the end, the surprise at the very end once everything was joined.   It made me want to get back on the lathe and see what the next piece would look like, how it would turn out, and what it would become. Wood working is almost as seductive as pottery… almost.

I do want to thank Jef for a wonderful experience in his little studio. It was a pleasure to learn about a new craft, and I can say my appreciation of what he does daily has multiplied exponentially.  I hope all of you who took the time to read this have enjoyed the steps we went through, and if you want to learn more or see more please follow these links to Jef’s shop(s) and facebook fan pages.  If you get a chance tell him Ursula sent you.

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<——-  can you believe this

 

turned into this  ? ————->

 

 

Refined Pallet, Making Wood Beautiful ETSY STORE

Refined Pallet, Making Wood Beautiful FAN PAGE

Refined Pallet, Hollow Book Safes  (his other hobby)

 

 

How to turn the proverbial “lemon” into Limoncello….

We have all had those time pop up in our lives.  Times where no matter how hard you try to move forward, things just keep popping up that create a backwards slide.  It’s at these times, we generally have two choices.  We can choose to wallow in our misfortune; to bemoan the fact that our car died, that our hours at work were cut, AND and unexpected trip to the doctor all popped up at the same time.  Or we can pull up our big girl panties and realize that our car will now get better gas millage, we get more time to enjoy with our children, and our family is now healthy and happy. Yes, at these times it may seem over whelming but each and every day it gets a little easier until we look back and say “what was I truly stressing about?”

Each time this happens in my life, I admit I succumb to those dark moments of grief and regret but I also realize these moments are getting shorter and less dramatic.  Age has it’s perks.

So one of the perks of learning from the past is planning the future.  I have decided to follow a dream.   Each day I take one step closer, sometimes it’s baby steps other times I feel like a Kangaroo.  At this moment and time I feel like a hibernating Zombie toad, waiting for the warm rains to stimulate some movement.   There have been alot of recent obstacles popping up that need to be overcome.  The latest in my line of “what now’s?’ is this:

Compounding patchwork... computers should not be quils.

Compounding patchwork… computers should not be quilts.

My primary work station, the one I am delicately writing this little dialogue on, has lost it’s ability to open-close-even stay upright.  It’s one of those wonderful malfunctions that can not be fixed…  The screen of my laptop completely snapped off and is no longer attached to the base… it’s a 5 year old computer and is still running like a champ.   Luckily my absolutely wonderful husband rigged up this snazzy “cast” for my computer.  A wooden base to prop the screen up, complete with a little bit of Sugru and a rubber-band to keep the screen from falling forward quickly (my poor fingers sometimes get caught).

Now my husband is a master at building computers, but pre-fab laptops were not meant to be “fixed”.  He has put together a list of the parts he needs in order to build me a fully functioning desk top, that will not only allow me to expand my photography hobby- but will also allow me to have the ability to set up my own web store front!  I AM SO EXCITED!  I have been designing my web store front in my head for years, and I finally get the chance to do it.

Here’s the hitch(es):  Hours were cut back at my full time job AND we are in the slow season for etsy sales.   Among other things…

Here’s the solution:  I have yards and yards and yards of awesome, amazing, unique, colorful, and completely-ready-to-be-made-into-custom-awesomeness fabric and supplies.  AND at the beginning of august I have 1 full week off of my full time job.  You ask, so what does this mean?  If you would like to help me make my goal of getting a new computer built for my business, by my wonderful husband of course, and stock up your swag bags for the upcoming holiday seasons at the same time, this is for you:

  1. first: contact me to discuss what you would like to have made, it can be an existing design or a custom one.
  2. select fabrics from existing stock
  3. expect your item to ship by 8/11/13
  4. RECEIVE 35% off the price.

* as an extra perk if you order an outfit including a piece made from our wonderful ruffle fabric, receive an extra 10% off that ruffle item.

All items will ship first class, unless priority shipping is cheaper.

This discount is not available for orders through etsy, unless you would like to use a credit card (prearranged custom listings only).  All orders will be done via email,  payment with a paypal invoice.  Our email is ursulaglassgoddess@gmail.com.

Please contact me today to get your order started!  And thank you for helping us reach one of our goals!!!

Bringing Handmade back into chic!

Ba hum bug.  It was August 30 when I saw the first Christmas decorations being stocked in the stores!  Labor day bar-b-ques had not even been lit, let alone their labors been digested.  The consumerism in the winter holiday season has just become ridiculous and unfortunately taking the magic out of the season.  I LOVE fall.  I LOVE harvest, pumpkins, apple cider, chilly evenings, the passing of mosquitoes, frost, costumes, CANDY, and enjoying family.  This is all being drowned out by that which is around us.

I understand there are a couple things that need to be done really early for the winter holiday season.  I mean you can’t take pictures for holiday cards on December 5th and have them sent out in time… hello!  I am not crazy. Also unless you are INSANE you probably can’t quilt an entire blanket in a couple days either.  There are things that take time… but buying ornaments, trees, or tinsel in August? Really?

Okay, so now off my soap box.  I know there are many of you out there who are in agreement.   But as I was walking through a local big-box store today, I was inspired:  my goal for this upcoming holiday season; is Once a week (atleast) I will share an awesome Homemade project that would help make some wonderful and thoughtful gifts.

The economy is slowly starting to turn around (it is really!!! look at the non-syndicated numbers!), ever so slowly, AND you have a choice where your hard earned money goes!  All I ask is that you be conscious of where your money is truly going ~ whether you buy local, support small business, or standard industry.  Just be informed.

The first homemade project that I am passing on, this is truly a fun one and you have plenty of time to make different versions.  How many of you have a loved one with an American Girl Doll?  Here is a FREE tutorial on how to make her some clothes!!!  http://www.libertyjanepatterns.com/2011/04/free-american-girl-doll-dress-pattern.html

Happy projects, and even merrier gifting!

MUAH

Ursula

A continuation of mini-top hats and other fascinators

I love hair accessories, I always have.  Unfortunately up until recently I had always worn my hair short or slightly past short.  It was practical, easy to care for, easy to style, and the biggest factor was my hair just did not grow long.  Though with the shorter styles all I had to do was wash and go, being blessed with slight body and interesting coloring, it was easy-peasy.  During my pregnancy my hair grew, fast and thick, not uncommon for a gestating woman.  But it was incredibly uncommon for my hair to actually grow past my shoulders.  You see, no matter how I tried, no matter how long I waited, my hair would never go past my shoulders… it just stopped at that length.  It has been two years since the birth of my daughter, and I have only trimmed my hair twice.   It has managed to make it just level with my shoulder blades.   I don’t expect much more length, but that is fine. It is the perfect length for adornment!

Mini-top hats have come back with a vengeance, helped in part by the interest in Steampunk.    But, luckily, most people who take part in Steampunk are also incredibly intelligent and love to learn.  So not surprising mini-top hats are just one facet to all the fun hair accessories finding a revival.   A while back I posted a tutorial on how to make fun little mini-top hats, actually that tutorial comprises 70% of the hits on my site.

I love the fact that so many people have seen it, and many have implemented the techniques.  I have written this fun little post to encourage divergence and imagination.  Take what you learn from that fun little tutorial and transform it into something new and exciting!

Facinators can take many forms, from a flat round base decorated with feathers to a fun embroidery headband.  Heck I even have the sweetest crochet octopus with fun googly eyes.  You can even make them into mini-sculptures.  Let your imagination run, and find fun materials to make them with!

Recently I have been having some fun, and I just wanted to share some inspiration with you.  This amazing pillbox hat, has a unique design.  you would think it’s just the mini-top hat shortened with out a brim.  If you made it that way you would end up with a fez.  What makes this design sit perfectly round on top of the head?  It is an oval.  Simple as that, a human’s head is not round. It is misshapen, oblong, oval, and protruding.  The secret to a well fitting hat: expect the unexpected!

Now, onto some less structured inspiration.  Facinators do not have to stick out of the head. They do not need to provide shade or protection.  Their main function is to keep hair in place… either helping the hair to frame the face, or to pull it out of the way.  So to make this most utilitarian of functions more pleasurable we can add a bunch of sparkle and pizzazz.    Here is a fun example of a simple facinator adhered to a metal headband.

Simple, elegant, and incredibly useful!  Again making this fascinator uses the same basic steps as outlined in my tutorial.  There is a buckram base to help with stiffening the glitter fabric (yes. FABRIC not glitter foam from walmart), and giving a great base to build on.  Another example of a flat fascinator, but this time it is attached to a hair comb instead:

This piece has a couple layers to give it’s unique shape. Underneath the glitter fabric, but right above the buckram base is a couple lines of millinery wire. Strong , flexible, and yet incredibly resilient material.  This wire can be gently formed and re-formed without breaking.  It will hold any shape, for as long as it’s allowed.   And it is resistant to corroding.   Granted if you want to frame large top-hats or Bowlers, you will need to invest in some basic crimping tools. But for simple facinators, a sturdy wire cutter is sufficient.

I hope that these pieces can give you some inspiration in your projects!  The age of elegance is sorely needing a comeback.  Bring personality and style back into the world.  Just because everyone else has a certain piece, does not mean you have to have it too, join me in standing out in the crowd!  I’d love to see what everyone is up to.  Please feel free to post links to your projects below, find me on pinterest, or stop by my facebook page and drop a line.   Happy crafting!

You never know what’s next!

I am always trying something new, there are so many wonderful things out there… how could I not want to?  Most of the time I am just curious about how something is done, made, designed, or constructed.  This also means that I usually end up with alot more respect for an item and artist, just because I now know how it’s done and all the time it takes!  This is one of those times.  There is an artist that I absolutely adore, from her house to her travels!  Katwise!  Take a look at her Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Katwise/320233446531

Incredibly AWESOME, huh?  Well if you take a look at her etsy site, you can see her stuff flies off the digital shelves.  Literally gone in 15 minutes, and she only posts sales once a month.  If you are lucky enough to catch the right day and you are quick at the “purchase now” button you MIGHT be able to snag one.  But just a forewarning:  Her large jackets go for $600+, her arm warmers $60+.   But in the end it’s not the price that attracts me, because frankly they are way out of my price range.   It’s the fact that she changes the most gawd-aweful sweaters into such amazing creations.  So last year Katwise decided to start selling her patterns.  In the first day, I had snagged my very own pattern.  Whoop Whoop.

Humboldt Fog

Now all I needed to do was find lots and lots of wool sweaters.  Well guess what? I live in Florida.  Not to many wool sweaters here… So I expanded my search to include 50% wool sweaters, it only took a year but I finally found the requisite amount needed for the jacket I wanted to make.  My mom even helped by donating some of her “moth” eaten ones…  I know there are some places online that sell reclaimed wool sweaters, but I wanted to do it the “long way” first.  If you want to let someone else do the sweater hunting for you, here is a great site: http://resweater.blogspot.com/ .  After all the sweaters were compiled, it was time to felt them down.  My greatest suggestion is to take them to the laundromat, let them deal with the smell… and the fuzz.  I did 2 super hot cycles, 1 cold rinse, and then dried them out thoroughly in the dryers.

Cutting out all the pieces was the easiest part, and kind of fun.  BUT then… came the sewing.  Granted all you are doing is surging the pieces together, but it took alot of muscle work and concentration.  I started at 8 am and finished at midnight.  Just to give you an idea, the finished jacket is between 5-7lbs.

Full Circle Skirt

Full Circle Skirt

I wanted mine to have a fun hemline, so I made it have a “train”.  The back is about 5″ longer than the front,  it has some fun flow and flounce as I am walking.  Make sure to follow the guidelines on the hood… 4′ is perfect.  My first one hit the ground and kept pulling the hood off my head. Also I do suggest you double stitch all areas with alot of pull- the waistlines, hood, and arm holes.  Otherwise the over-lock stitch is sufficient.  Another suggestion, make the body of the jacket out of the most comfortable sweater (not itchy or pokey), and end at the wrists with your softest fabric.  This hits skin directly.

Will I ever make these sweater jackets to sell?  Only on a custom basis, with lots of caveats.   Katwise is the master, and I bow down even farther after this experience.   Ultimately I think I will stick with my fun fleece pixie jackets… maybe even make a couple for us big pixies?

Ursula’s Mini-Pixie

Here is a direct link for some more fun pictures of the Mini-Pixie Cuteness! https://www.etsy.com/listing/91057894/pixie-jacket-polar-fleece-add-a-little

So Congratulations to Amanda Capps!  You guessed correctly in my little Facebook mini-giveaway.  I look forward to dropping off your sweet “little” prize! MUAH♥

Fashion Fabrics… now they are in, ooops- now they are out!

So I love finding all kinds of new fabric, stuff I had never tried before, and just want to make something… anything with it!  I am lucky enough to have a well loved hospice resale store close by, this is where I find most of my “vintage” or one-of-a-kind finds, but I admit I do most of my fabric shopping on line.  Granted each and every computer screen has a little different color set up or resolution, so it is very hard to fully trust what you are looking to purchase is good quality.   But through a couple friends, I learned that most of these online stores are more than happy to send  you samples (usually bolt ends or seconds) for a big $ discount, samples that you can actually experiment with.

But I am going to let you in on a little secret, your best asset is your network.  Most small seamstress businesses are more than happy to share their thoughts on a particular fabric, or even better yet a great source!  I love it when someone gives me a “lead”, even though 90% of the time it is a dud.

This brings me to my point.  When we found out we were pregnant, there were many decisions to make.  Luckily we were both in agreement that she would be cloth diapered.  Not only is it truly cheaper, and incredibly easier than disposables but it also is good for our daughters health and the environment!  So I went looking for supplies, at that time none of the big box stores carried any of the items I needed.  I came across a couple COOP and bulk buy Mom’s blogs, but ended up getting my FOE (fold over elastic) and industrial sew on velcro off of Amazon.com.  The PUL (Polyurethane Laminate fabric), which is waterproof and incredibly durable was a little harder to find… but I lucked out. I used a little secret: go to the clearance section.    PUL, which normally goes for 8-15$ a yard online, can be found for $2.50-4 if you can handle a non-popular color… I ended up with a light silver and a peach.  If you want to have a fashion PUL, you can use it on one side and the cheaper on the inside.  Easy peasy.

Recently I was tipped off that Joann’s fabrics had started a whole “cloth diaper” section, complete with patterns and matching FOE!  So cute.  Until I saw the price.  WHOOOOO  they are banking in on the home movement to cloth diaper!   For $15 a yard you can get PUL with dinosaurs printed on it, matching FOE for an additional $7 for 3 feet,  Velcro for an additional $3.5 for 2 feet, and if you want to use snaps instead you can get the set up for $12 + $5 for refills.   One diaper cover comes out to approximately $25…. for a do it your self!  OMG’s   THIS DOES NOT EVEN INCLUDE THE ABSORBENT INSERTS. This is just for the cover!

Would you like to know some good, reliable, suppliers for diaper cover materials?  Fabric.com (they have a whole section just type in “cloth diaper”), amazon.com, hartsfabric.com.

Secondly, fabric comes and goes out of fashion, we all know this.  Look at corduroy, was in in the 70’s back in the 90’s and now making a resurgence.  All the classics make the cycle.  This last year, when I was looking to make some fun Bellydance outfits, I went looking EVERYWHERE for stretch ruffle knit!  Do you know that in September 2010 there were only 3 American suppliers of the stuff (that was not back shelf clearance)?  One was rufflefabric.com, fabric.com, and of course MOOD in New York (but they have flippen everything!).    Even then, the color selection was increadibly minimal.

Recently ruffle fabric walked the catwalk at New York Fashion week, bringing back the fun that had been around years ago.  Now you can find ruffle stretch knit fabric everywhere… even saw a dress design at K-mart.   Super cute!

The problem?  Ruffle fabric is not cheap.

I walked into Joann’s today and guess what I found?  Ruffle knit fabric, the project runway name brand.  They have a few colors, mainly for Halloween.  I picked it up and tested the material, MY FINGER WHEN THROUGH IT!!!  The best part, they are charging the same price for this crappy material as the higher end suppliers!  Another attempt at banking in on the latest fad.  I have already warned many prospective clients against fabric.com and hartsfabric.com as a good supply for ruffle fabric.  I have purchased lengths from them and have not been happy with the quality.  Now I am adding in Joann’s and Hobby Lobby.  If you really would like to play with this material, stop off at rufflefabric.com.  Not only do they have great customer service, but they have high quality material.

I am looking forward to some of the more natural fabrics to come back into vogue, even though I do already have some good suppliers for hemp-silk, bamboo, and wool fabrics.  I just look forward to when these are sought after again by the average consumer.    BTW these good suppliers are hemptraders.com, dharmatradingco.com, and ecofabrics.com.

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Last thing to note and this is pure semantics.  When an abbreviation is used, it is not pronounced out as a word.  ie:  USA is not “uh-sah”, PUL is not “pull”,  FOE is not “foe”, SCA is not “skah”, and NAOH is not “no-ahh”.    So when you go to the store and ask for PUL, FOE, or silk for your SCA outfit please keep this in mind….