Sunday, September 25, 2011

Giveaway on Fair Ivy!

If you don't know about Fair Ivy surprise package subscriptions I'm here to let you know that you are missing out! If you know someone who enjoys surprises and likes handmade items then you really need to check them out. The basics of how Fair Ivy works are that you purchase a "surprise box" (or better, a subscription for a box-of-the-month) and while you don't know exactly what will be inside that box, you can rest assured that at least some of the items will be lovely handmade pieces sure to brighten up your day. They have an array of box types so you can send one to a woman, a man, a teen/tween, or even a pet. I hope that they'll expand eventually to include a crafters box with fun assortments of surprise supplies (try to say that ten times fast)! Because that would be a box I would LOVE to have.

 Each month is a whole new group of items, so another new batch of handmade crafters and artists have supplied some of the surprises. All in all, I think it is a great gift idea, plus what's not to love about supporting more handmade artists? So, to show my support I have donated a piece to the Fair Ivy blog's "sprizes" giveaway!

So how do you enter to win this lovely necklace? Head on over to the Fair Ivy Blog and click on the "sprizes" link in the top toolbar, then just enter in your name and email. That's it!

 And you won't only be entered into the drawing for my piece, because what would be the fun surprise in that? You could be chosen to win one of the many donated items given to the site by folks like me who want to see this unique service succeed and grow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Collection Time Again

My paper crafts generally take a back seat to my jewelry making, not because I enjoy the making of them any less really... but I tend to be more easily distracted by shiny beads than by pretty papers.

So it always makes me extra pleased when any of my cards or tags get noticed. It was lovely to come home today and find notification that I was included in this lovely Rainy Day Collection on

Monday, August 22, 2011

Front Page BABY!

I'm just super happy that the black and white collection I made a couple days ago (and posted here most recently) made it to the front page of and is there RIGHT NOW!!!

Just had to share. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Black and White and Bold New Collection

I found myself in a graphics, black-and-white, mod kind of mood today so I put together this collection over on ArtFire. Who needs color when you have this much style?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Zombie Awareness Collection

I'm thrilled to have one of my fun recycled domino pendants in this fun zombified collection over on Artfire!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Planet in a Pail

I realize that normal people probably don't really get what I do for a living. I am the "paint shop manager" for an events company. But unless you've worked in the entertainment field you probably have no concrete idea what I do on a day to day basis other than maybe paint stuff.

There are many daily tasks that are specific-project-related (painting the actual pieces of scenery for any given trade show, for example. Or bringing in over-hire painters to do that painting if we're busy enough to need extra hands.) but there are also the basic maintenance tasks like cleaning or ordering shop supplies. Today I did one of those odd kind of tasks that don't make sense to most people outside of my industry (or theater scenic artists, which is my background anyways).

I mixed up a bucket of back paint. And it was pretty (at least it was until I stirred it all up. After that it was just kinda brownish green)

It's okay if you're confused. Allow me to explain...

Most of the scenery we build is used in trade shows or corporate special events, often held in hotels or convention centers. The rules and laws vary from state to state, but many of them require that there not be any bare wood on any of the pieces... This usually has to do with fire codes (bare wood will catch fire much faster than painted wood, both due to properties of the paint as well as simply the fact that the splintery rough surface has been smoothed down when it is coated). So this means I paint the back side of everything, because even if the particular place it is going doesn't require it, there's always the possibility that it could be used again elsewhere and really... better safe than sorry. So any paint used just to cover the backs of things is referred to as "back paint" (crazy logic there, eh? I know.)

The way I make back paint is by recycling all the little leftover paint colors from past shows. Each time we send out a set, I put together a touch-up kit with small containers of pretty much any paint color that was used. That way if anything gets dinged up on the truck or during an install, the project manager will have any color necessary to do a quick fix. When it is all over and everything comes back to our warehouse, the touch up kit (often unused) returns as well. All those deli cups full of paint have to be disposed of somehow... I don't want to pour them down the sink or toss them in a landfill (I'd have to dry out the paint by putting sawdust in it or some other drying agent first anyways as per our local disposal laws). But since it doesn't matter what color the back paint is (nobody's going to be seeing the backs except the guys installing the show) it becomes a perfect way to re-use all that paint instead of letting it go to waste. I often use it as a base coat for some things as well, depending on the final color I'll be using.

Today's particular bunch of little paint cups was so many bright pretty colors and dumping them one by one into the big bucket kinda took on a Jackson Pollack artsy quality:

Although over the years (I used to do this as a theater painter too... then it was often as much about saving money on buying paint for the backs of things as it was about not having an easy way to dispose of unwanted liquid paint) I've realized that no matter how pretty the colors you start with are, the back paint pretty much always ends up some shade of baby-poo brown. (I'll spare you the visual on that one.)

This time I was inspired to take photos because it reminded me of a lush green planet. The magic of photoshop makes it even more so:

This is certainly not the strangest job task I've done. (That would probably be back when I built theater props for a living and my answer to "What did you do today?" was "I painted fake carrots to look more like real carrots then attached them to sticks as spear heads." Extra credit will be awarded to anyone who can name the show I was making those for). But it is certainly something the average office worker doesn't do. And that my friends, is why I love my job.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Truffle FAIL

Let me begin by saying that this was NOT my first time making truffles. I consider myself a fairly seasoned truffle maker in fact.... Oreo-Cream-Cheese Truffles have been a staple of my gift-giving repertoire for several years. But I now realize that I always make those to give out at Christmas. They are most certainly a winter baking treat... and that's where I ran into trouble.

It began with my wanting to find something to make out of the insanely prolific patch of mint in my garden. The internets led me to this recipe for fresh mint chocolate truffles and I instantly thought "Oooh, sounds tasty! I can totally make those. No problem!" (this is in fact exactly how I talk to myself in my head.) If you go look at the photo on the recipe link you'll see what I was aiming for. As you'll see shortly... I missed. By a LOT.

Things started out well. I cooked up the cream and added the mint, mixed everything together and happily came out with a tasty right-amount-of-minty ganache.

It cooled in the fridge for a full day before I was able to take the time to roll the balls and prep for dipping in melted dark chocolate. I even made the little candied mint leaves to use as a cute garnish. (Did I mention that I'm trying to use a TON of mint? If swear the stuff grows so fast in my yard we can almost sit there and watch the sprigs forming).

Perhaps I should have been more concerned when even after "lightly dusting" my palms with cocoa powder as instructed I still ended up with gooey melty chocolate all over my hands after each little truffle was rolled. But I just chalked it up to this being a different type of recipe than the drier cookies-and-cream style that I normally would make and soldiered along.

After the rolled ganache was set hard in the freezer for a few hours I got everything set for the dipping. This is where things went terribly, terribly wrong for me. The first few went fine, but at around piece number five I realized that the candy coating was suddenly seizing up and now had the consistency of thick frosting. I quickly realized that because the room was warm (this has been a rather hot and humid summer in new england, like it has pretty much everywhere in the US) the truffles were collecting condensation... and by putting that water into the chocolate I had ruined the bowl full.

I probably should have stopped and let things cool all over again and re-thought my whole "finish making these right now" concept. But I'm just not that kind of girl. Once I get started I'm pretty much going to muddle through the mess as best I can regardless of anyone's better judgement. First I kinda used the thickened chocolate and tried to basically frost the balls of filling... really not so attractive. I believe my husband rightly compared them to something our dogs would make. (And trust me when I tell you that we don't have some special breed of talented crafty baking dogs.)

Then I figured that since my first few came out okay I could just melt some smaller cups of white chocolate and if it seizes after a few dips, at least I won't have wasted as much, right? Wrong! I got one truffle done kinda okay in the white. And I even had one of my tiny cups seize right out of the microwave as soon as I tried to stir it... Maybe the fork was wet? Maybe the air was so bloody humid it just soaked in from there. I have no clue.

Still unwilling to give up on tasty mint-chocolate treats (I was making these to bring to my sister-in-law's baby shower, by the way. So I really wanted them to look pretty and presentable in front of my mother-in-law, not to mention the aunts and cousins and everyone else.) I tried spooning the white chocolate on top of the horribly lumpy things I now created. I also tried rolling un-coated ones in powdered sugar, but it mostly just turned to mush from all the moisture sweating off of them. Here are some of my assorted attempts in all their glory:

In the end I decided to roll the most horribly lumpy ones in cocoa on the grounds that moist, sweaty poo-looking balls were more unappetizing than anything with a powdery cocoa look to it. I think that worked out okay. They were at least not a total waste of time, effort, and most importantly, chocolate!

At least I was able to present the nicest, least poo-looking ones I could to my SIL

I sorta stuck the rest on the end of the dessert table (I ended up filling about three of those tupperware containers you see in the pics) and thankfully people did find them to be yummy. I was even asked politely if I made them myself... I don't know if it was worse to admit that yes, I made something that ugly. or that someone might have thought I would actually purchase such unattractive candies. I suppose either way it was a good thing that they turned out to be so tasty!