My budding photographer

23 Apr

A couple of weeks ago Rob and I took Aria to the Twins home opener at Target Field. Aria was in the picture taking mood. All of the pictures posted here were taken by her. I know when my dad sees these he’s going to say that she gets it from him, although I’d like to think I’ve fostered her interest in photography. However, his claim is probably partially true, since I grew up following his footsteps, taking countless pictures with my pink Kodak 110 Instamatic camera while he snapped away with his manual 35mm. It’s funny to see the return to mass popularity of that style of grainy photo made possible by smartphone apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same; in some ways, anyway, since Aria is learning to take pictures with a digital SLR camera instead of a grainy Instamatic.

Big screen at Target Field

Downtown skyline


Outfield seats

Retired jersey flags

Party deck





1 Apr

I’m fortunate to be able to work right across from a lake (albeit man-made) with a paved walking/running path around it. The snow that we got last week had finally started to disappear, allowing me to get my second outdoor run of the season in over my lunch break a couple days ago. As I was nearing the end of my run I noticed that the ice on the lake had melted enough to allow water to run over the little dam on the east side of the lake. After the seemingly endless winter we dealt with this year, this is a very welcome sight!!



Flower Power

24 Mar

I discovered beading shortly after I started college and visited my first bead store on the West Bank of the University of MN campus. There were so many colors, sizes, and shapes of different beads and countless things you could make from them, not to mention the different materials they were made of: metal, wood, resin, glass, stone, clay. I quickly fell in love with seed and glass beads, crystals, modeling clay, precious metal, gemstones, and the plethora of findings the store had to offer. Over the years my love of beading has endured, although it’s had to share time with knitting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery, and other crafts that have piqued my interest. My favorite bead store at the moment is The Bead Monkey.

Whenever I visit the store, I always leave feeling inspired by the items on display that the staff have made. I have purchased numerous kits from them over the years that have taught me how to make different types of beaded earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and pendants. I stopped into the store last week to check out a few things I had seen on their blog. Namely, the resulting products of the employee sprocket challenge and a beautiful necklace adorned with beaded flowers made from briolettes.

Employee-made blossom necklace from The Bead Monkey

While in the store, I noticed that one of the women working there was wearing another beautiful beaded flower necklace. When I asked her if she had made it, she said she had indeed, and was teaching a class in-store on how to make them to boot! She definitely had my attention. I had never taken a class in-store but if I could learn how to make those fabulous flowers, I would definitely sign up! The next day I registered online for the Blossoms class and received a PDF of the materials I would need to purchase for it.

Last night, supplies in hand, I returned to the store for the class, joined by 5 other women and the teacher, Katie. She showed us the basics of assembling and wire-wrapping the beads to make the base of the flower, in addition to different variations that could be made using embellishments. I was surprised at how easy it was! During the class I made three different flowers and added a pin back to one of them.

Beaded flower blossoms

I was eager to show my husband the finished results when I returned home. Needless to say, he will never share my level of excitement and enthusiasm over the by-products of my crafty adventures, but I appreciate his continued support and input nonetheless. I had materials leftover from the supplies I had purchased for the class, so I made a few more flowers last night at home.

Spring has sprung!

Bright-colored flowers

I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with them at the moment, which is why I left the long wire tails, but I have a feeling that a flower necklace may be blooming in the next few days.

Endless possibilities

Divine Twine

15 Mar

Last Friday I met up with my youngest sister who works at Paper Depot. She’s a really talented graphic designer and has a keen eye and sense of style when it comes to anything paper or print related. I had talked to her a few days earlier and asked for her input in designing and styling hang tags for the items I was planning on selling in my friend’s boutique. Immediately she had ideas about die cutting the tags and possibly creating a custom stamp. I knew I had asked the right person.

I met with her at the store. She showed me paper samples that she recommended I use for the tags and suggested I use a square template with 20 to a sheet that I could print out and she could die cut. I would then be able to use a corner rounder paper cutter (I didn’t even know such a thing existed!) to finish the tags. When I asked what she would recommend for tying the tags to the items, she excitedly said, “We’re going to start stocking Divine Twine baker’s twine in the store soon!!”. I had no idea what she was talking about, but apparently it was the best thing since sliced bread. She brought me over to the computer behind the cutting counter and pulled up the whiskergraphics website. It was exactly the sort of thing I had had in mind to use but had no idea where to begin looking for it! Even though we’re 12 years apart, my sister and I are a lot alike and have similar tastes in design and style elements and a deep appreciation for everything kooky and kitschy.

I bought my paper, a corner rounder, and a paper punch and headed back home. That afternoon I purchased two rolls of Divine Twine from the k(nots) (twine that had some flaw to it, although you were still guaranteed to get at least 200 usable yards from the spool and save $5 per spool to boot) category on the website in black licorice and cherry. That would be enough twine to last me for more than a year.

I received the package in the mail yesterday and couldn’t wait to open it. I couldn’t see any flaws in the twine. It even came packaged with a cute little paper bag tied in samples of all the different colored twine, a thank you card, and several bird stickers from the whiskergraphics shop.

Packaging extras

When I saw the stickers I showed them to my husband and proclaimed, “It’s got a bird on it”, which recently became our catch phrase after watching another unforgettable episode of Portlandia. If you haven’t seen the show, you should. In the meantime, I’ll be here hanging out with my twine, telling myself that I will never let my love of crafts and handmade things get so out of hand that I start to resemble any of the show’s characters.

Vintage Glam

14 Mar

After seeing the knit hat and fused glass pendant I made for my mom at our family Christmas gathering this past year, my middle sister jokingly asked, “Hey, when am I going to get something made by you?” True, the only person in my family to receive anything handmade from me up to that point was my mom, unless you count my daughter or husband. It was a question she had asked me the previous two Christmases as well, when my mom received a knit clapotis and the subsequent year a pair of knit socks. I love making things for people that I know will really appreciate them, so I figured it was time to make something for my sister.

I had purchased an Amy Butler pattern for Stash and Dash Bags a year earlier and had been wanting to make some for awhile, so I got to work on a toiletry bag and a cosmetic bag for my sister. I had some great fabric from Crafty Planet in my stash that I’d been itching to use, so I was all set. They were quick and easy to make and I had them in the mail to her in just a couple days. When she received them I got a puzzled text message from her wondering if I had made them and why was she receiving them? I told her I just wanted to do something nice and knew that she would appreciate them and put them to good use.

Stash and Dash cosmetic bag

Stash and Dash toiletry bag

The next day I received another excited text message from her informing me that she had showed the bags to some of her friends and that they were interested in buying some. I told her I’d happily make some to sell as it would be the necessary motivation for me to finally get my etsy shop set up. I didn’t hear from her for about a week after that and I assumed they had just lost interest. When she finally called me, she explained that the reason I hadn’t heard from her was because she was helping her friend Eryn out who was planning on opening a boutique in the Hutchinson mall in the near future. She showed her the bags I had made and she was very interested in having me sell them on consignment in her boutique once it opened. It was really exciting news and ideas of what I would make began to brew in my head.

I promptly began designing a pattern for a cosmetic bag and clutch of my own that included a few design elements that I liked that the Amy Butler bags didn’t include. I added a flat bottom to the bag so that it could stand up on it’s own, made it more rectangular in shape so it could hold more, removed the pleats from the bottom, and modified the zipper finishes on the top. I was super happy with the result and gave my sister a sample. Eryn loved it as well, so I was set!!

Her boutique is called Vintage Glam and is set to open later this month. She currently sells beautiful rings, pendants, and other vintage-inspired items through her etsy shop. The theme and the aesthetic of the boutique is shabby chic, so I decided I would make a couple different cosmetic bags in that style. I made some satin flowers with pearl accents as decorative details for the exterior of the bags. Check out Eryn’s blog post about my cosmetic bags. So exciting!

Pay It Forward

13 Mar

About a year ago, one of my friends was needing some crafting motivation, so she decided to start a crafting version of the “pay it forward” idea on Facebook. She updated her status, offering to make something handmade for the first five people who commented on her post, and in turn, each of them agreed to update their status and do the same for the first five to comment, etc. I commented on her status and in turn updated mine. Two friends commented on my status, so I had my crafting challenge laid out for me.

For the first, I made a wire wrapped bracelet with Swarovski crystals resembling flower buds and leaves, with pearl accents. I gave it to her when she visited me over the summer.

Unfortunately, the second friend didn’t receive her handmade item as quickly as the first. I had jewelry and glass pendants I had made on hand, but I wanted to give her something that she had some input on. This all coincided with the great “etsy procrastination” (it took me over eight months to finally get my etsy shop set up and open). Once I started posting pictures of a few of the items I was planning on selling in my shop, she indicated that she really liked one of the clutches I had made. I asked her to choose a fabric that she liked from a picture I had posted of an array of fabrics I had recently purchased.

Her selection was made, and within a few days I had a clutch ready to send to her. It took awhile, but I can finally say that I have completed my friend’s challenge and paid it forward.

Glass Endeavors

7 Mar

Oh, wondrous Groupon. How many new (to me) restaurants, local attractions, services, and general money-saving deals have you introduced me to? I would never have known that it was possible to take a pole dancing class or receive laser hair removal services in so many different parts of the metro area had it not been for you. Luckily I haven’t personally experienced the wonders of pole dancing or laser depilation…yet. But, I’m a sucker for a great bargain, so I haven’t written off the possibility that there could still be a Groupon for either that’s impossible to pass up still lurking out there in a future daily deal.

One of the best Groupon purchases I made last year was for a fused glass pendant making class at Glass Endeavors in Minneapolis. A couple of women friends that I knit with on a regular basis and I decided to get the Groupon and sign up for the same class. It was held in the workshop area in the back of Glass Endeavors, a store that sells all the essentials for pretty much any glass project you’d like to undertake. We showed up, along with about 15 other women, to learn how to fuse glass into unique pieces of wearable art. (Side note: after the huge success of their first Groupon offer and seeing how many people they could actually fit into the workshop space while still being able to arrange glass on small tiles without rubbing elbows with your neighbor, they decided they would limit class sizes for future Groupon offers). We were told that we could make as many pendants as we liked in the alotted two hours, but that we would have to purchase additional bails and necklace cords if we wanted more than the two that came as part of the Groupon.

They showed us how to use basic glass cutting tools to snip off pieces of glass rods and stringers and further shape the bits of solid-colored and dichroic glass shards to our liking. They gave us the general guidelines for laying out the bits of glass shards on the solid-colored tiles of glass to achieve the best results after the firing process. I learned a great deal in a short amount of time, considering I had never worked with glass prior to setting foot in their studio. In the end I put together 4 fused glass pendants that the Glass Endeavors staff fired for us after the class was over. They were available for us to pick up about a week later, which was a reasonable amount of time considering the overwhelming numbers of pendants that were made during various classes by the Grouponers. I was really pleased with the end result.

Robot Pendant

View of the backside

Abstract black and white pendant

I ended up giving one to my mom as a Christmas present last year, who in turn asked if I had any more, because she wanted to give one to her sister for a present as well. I happily obliged, and kept the two remaining ones to post on etsy. A few weeks after the class, I returned to the store to purchase some basic glass cutting tools and a few panes of various shades of glass to get started with. I assembled about ten new pendants but have yet to take them back to the store to get them fired. One of these days…