Friday, August 30, 2013

Castle in the Air...

 When we were in San Francisco, we visited a number of amazing and beautiful shops...including Castle in the Air.  I had heard of Castle in the Air as a great source for crepe paper, but I had no idea their store was chock full of so much else and so inspiring to boot!  I instantly wanted to redecorate my entire  Or at least make a really cool crepe paper chandelier... 

 They have a great book there that shows how to make these crepe flowers.  And I want that fawn!!

 Funny paper mushrooms...

 German inspired cotton turnip and plum boxes...and a great paper mache bunny, not just for Easter!

 I bought a Santa face and witch face (among many other things) and have big plans for them...we'll see how soon they'll come true...

 Guess what this is made out of?  Yup.  Crepe Paper!!  Want to make one of these too!!

 Or maybe I'd rather make this!  A fairy house!  Made by John B. McRae, their resident artist who is utterly amazing!  I got to meet both him and Ulla Milbrath, who has an amazing blog that I've been reading for years.  They were getting ready for a class they were instructing and I snuck in the upstairs room and gawked at their cool hats and all the prior projects from classes past.  You HAVE to check out their classes if you're in or near SF!

 These super awesome shadow boxes line the wall of the can buy the dolls right out of them!

 And you have to check out their amazing china cabinets upstairs...filled with German miniature store displays and other awesome German goodies.

 The best part may have been the mouse house...made by Ulla and John I think.  This is just one little piece of it, but it's a tiny world built with the most amazing found objects you've ever seen.  Funny furry mice dressed in clothing hang about, living in it I suspect...but I don't think you can see any here.  

Castle in the cool!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trip Treasures

 One of the best things about coming home from a long trip?  Going through the suitcase and finding all the great stuff you've stashed along the way!

We spent a lot of time in nature and natural treasures are just as fabulous to discover as the man made ones.  Giant Redwood pine cones will be used this Christmas in holiday pieces.  There was one spot at Crater Lake that had this weird, neon green moss.  The moss was growing about 10 feet off the ground on large tree trunks, but it had been so dry there lately that lots of little pieces fell to the forest floor, where I spent our picnic lunch gathering it up.  It's so cool looking!  And the reddish brown stuff is the fibrous bark from a redwood tree.  One huge tree had fallen and slid down the side of it's neighbor, skinning it a little.  Clumps of shredded bark fell from the live tree and I grabbed a bunch.  It's really interesting, like easter grass, but made from tree.  Not sure what I'll do with it yet.

 Ben and I also collected pretty rocks from a beach in California (or was it Oregon?).  They always look better wet, so I might shellack them.  The potatoes and onions greeted me from the ground when we got home.  :)

 Crepe paper from Castle in the Air and a bundle of really cool posters that will go in the baby's room and elsewhere in the house.

 Also in the baby's room I bought some fabulous Chinese paper garlands from Tale of the Yak in SF.  The little pink turkey feet thingy's were a gift from Laurie from Magpie Ethel, who's amazing home and studio I got tour!  Thanks Laurie!  Stay tuned for a post just on that stop!

 Also from Laurie are tiny cherries and tiny birds...toooooo cute!  The mushrooms came from her neighborhood antiques shop.

 Castle in the Air also had a giant jar of tiny jointed celluloid babies...I sifted through to find a bunch that had all four limbs and faces that weren't smushed in.  I also collected tiny pinecones from a dry creek bed in the rain forest in Washington.  I stashed them together in my suitcase...Ben thought it was a little

 One thing I was hot on the trail of was wall art for the babies room.  I stocked up at Lucca Great Finds in Seattle, which also carries my cotton goodies.  Such an amazing store!!!  Stay tuned for another post just on that store!  The packet of shadow puppets was super cheap and I'd like to string them like a garland.  And the elephant is a hologram...he walks!

 I love framing cute cards and this one again will go in the baby's room.  I'll make a new banner to go over the Happy Birthday.  Tiny honeycomb garlands from Tale of the Yak and really cool metal lattice trim from Castle in the Air will probably be used for elaborate Christmas pieces or wedding cake toppers.

 We stopped at a yard sale in Berkley, CA where I bought old red markers for marking packages fragile.  China town in SF had a crab paper weight, I got two pairs of earrings at a SF art market, and also in SF...they had Goodwill's on almost every corner (I went to two just because they were there).  The large acorn candle holder came from there.

 The Halloween goodies were from that yard sale and the vegetable man postcard is another hologram.

 Near one of the Goodwill's was an amazing craft store that I didn't get to spend nearly enough time in.  I stagged this cheap pom pom yarn...again for hanging in the baby's room.

 A junk shop in Seattle boasted $2 wade england figurines, which I collect, and I found really old composition faces (a Santa and a witch), for a pretty penny at Castle in the Air, but I have grand plans for these.

 Some birds flew their way home with me...

 This one too....foil leaves are long and elegant, they weren't cheap, but again...grand plans.

 And lastly, lots of old timey tiny gift bows, dresden shamrocks, and lab tubes of cool shaped rhinestone....

What a great vacation haul!!!  Now it's time to put it all away!!  :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We're Back!

We're finally back from our trip out west!  We had an amazing time exploring the rain forests, redwoods forests, and cities too.  But we're very happy to be back in the studio and getting into Halloween!  Stay tuned for lots more blog posts about the trip, new Halloween pieces, and a give away too!!  (It's about time!)  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013


My beloved pliers have finally been all used up!  I've had these pliers since I started spinning cotton, eight years ago.  They've helped me make thousands of great pieces.  They've been across the country and back several times over and to central america.  They've even been on the Martha Stewart show...where Martha used them...twice!  They were lost for a while and then mailed back to me (yay!), but alas, they must now be laid to rest.  Thank you pliers for your companionship and many years of service.  I salute you!  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Up goes the chicken coop!

When I had day dreams of chickens, I always imagined them to be free range, like they were at my parent's house when I was a kid (and now still).  I tried, but alas, I wound up feeding the local foxes instead and my poor chickens had to pay the price.  Soooo...instead, I decided to build them a handy dandy enclosure that would keep them safe but still allow them to peck about when I wasn't around and be outside.  They don't really make pre-made chicken runs like the one I wanted, so I built it!

 I modeled it after this hexagonal one, but simplified it a lot.  I love the lines and beauty and paint job of this one...but I was on a building break and wanted to get this sucker up asap so the chickens wouldn't be cramped in their tiny coop anymore.  I still have to build the roof, which will be peaked like this one is, but again, more simplified.  I used raw untreated lumber, so in a year or two it will get a nice silver grey patina to it.  No paint needed, just patience.  :)

 First I started with 8 foot long 2x4's and built six frames, almost all the identical with angled edges so they've fit together nicely.  A very simple design really.

 Two of the frames were a little different...this one I built a frame for an old door I found in the loft of my parent's barn.  Another was framed out to accommodate the entrance into the little white already made chicken coop.

 Then came the task of cutting a stapling the wire on.  Urgh....stapling the wire wasn't so bad (I used a TON of staples), but the cutting.  I'll be happy if I don't ever have to do that again, which I probably will, lol.  I cut all the wire by hand with wire cutters but by the last two frames my hands couldn't take anymore, so my brother so graciously brought me an electric grinder.  It worked like a charm, but wore the grinding attachment right now to a nub.  Oops...oh well!  It got the job done!  Thanks Dan!!  Oh...the wire was a little tricky to find too...most the wire that was wide enough (4 feet) had holes that were too big and the wire that holes small enough were only 3 feet wide.  I didn't want to use chicken wire, because it's not strong enough to keep out many predators, although I will use it on the roof.  Finally I found some at a great price at a local farm supply store that my dad knew about...thanks Dad!!

 Finally the frames were done!!

 At this point I needed Ben to help me lift the frames up and hold them while I screwed them together.  The design of the piece is really pretty simple and it only took one full day.  Now the roof!!  This thing is so tall that putting on a peaked roof will be a challenge...but I have a plan!  Now I just need the time and motivation.  Once I put the roof on, I'll put giant branches inside for the chickens to roost on...the thought of seeing them roost and climb will be motivation enough!  :)  But so far they like their new digs!

 This is the chicken coop I bought online.  Ben and put it together right before the chickens were ready to be moved outside this spring.  The mud splashed dirt around the outside of it, so it needs a hosing off...which I'll put off until next spring when I do a little landscaping around the whole thing. 

And lastly, I snagged this rabbit hutch off of Craigslist for $45 to house the quails for the summer.  It's much bigger for them than the aviary in the dining room and keeps the dining room a bit cleaner.  I'll most likely move them back inside once winter comes, although they do just fine outside in bitter weather.  

So that the coop!  Mid progress, but getting there!  I can't wait to show it to you when the roof is on and the inside all decked out for them!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Meet all the Chickies!

Now that they are almost all grown up, I think it's time for all the ladies to be properly introduced...They are all unique and beautiful and oh so different and I'd love for you to meet them all!

First up is Pearl.  She's an Araucana and has sort of a stern look about her, but she's really very sweet and friendly.  Ben likes her best and gave her her name.  :)  She'll lay either light blue, green or pink eggs.  (They'll start laying this fall probably.)

 Like her "sister" Pearl, Jenny is also an Araucana (and was raised in my studio).  She has a stern look about her too I think and lives up to the look.  She comes over for food, but would rather not be picked up.  I'll win her over one of these days!!

 Patsy is an "Olive Egger" chicken and will lay olive green eggs.  She's rather shy and is a bit of an outcast, but she's very sweet and loving and has cut puffy cheek feathers and blue legs.

 Henrietta (also named by Ben) has her eyes closed in this photo, but she's the oldest and was from the first batch of five chicks to be raised in my studio.  Her size makes her the queen of the coop right now, but we'll see if she keeps her throne once the other catch up to her.  She's a Buff Orphington and I think will lay brown eggs.

 Sweet Flora is by far the sweetest of all the chickens.  She's white with muted gray polka dots and will lay dark red eggs.  She doesn't make a peep when you pick her up and follows me around hoping for some japanese beetles or potato bugs.  I can't say enough how sweet this little one is and she's really won my heart.  I can carry her around her hours probably without a fuss and she gets along with everyone else just dandy.

And then there was Tina.  Tina is a Polish chicken is the smallest of the bunch.  I think she'll stay the smallest too.  She has a pert little tail and is very noisy.  I can pick her up easily, although she always seems surprised when I do...I think she needs another haircut.  I'm not really sure what color eggs she'll lay...we'll see!  I'm guessing they'll be the smallest...

I hope you liked my little introduction!  My chickies are like puppies to me and you'll probably see more of them on the blog than you really want (I apologize ahead of time).  I can't wait to see what their eggs look like when they all start laying!  Rainbows!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Our Wedding on Martha Stewart Weddings!

 Just in time for our second anniversary, Martha Stewart Weddings has published a spread of our wedding on their website...whoohoo!!  I was keeping my fingers crossed for the magazine, and they thought they could fit it in, but alas it didn't work.  However they did an amazing job choosing the photos and the writing.  Ben and I are both thrilled and honored to be featured.  Swoon!!