Friday, September 24, 2010

currently in love with....

About a month or so ago, I was at work (I'm the manager of an independent bookstore), and stumbled across a pack of prints by artist, Suzy Ultman. The set was by Chronicle Press and contained 12 large prints featuring everything I love....owls, whales, bikes, apples, and more. Her illustration style is really simple, but beautiful and features a lot of nature themes.

Here's some images from the set:

This one is hanging in our living room and is one of the first things you see when you enter the door.

This one isn't in the set I have, but I'm in love with it. Evidently, she is supposed to release a fabric line similar to this print coming in December.

I picked up this stationary paper doll set at Urban Outfitters (see above post for details on their reusable bags) for a mere $2.99. Eight different girl dolls are included (2 of each design) along with these really beautiful and large envelopes and stickers. I'd like to send or give them away, but I think I may have to keep one of each for myself!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

saving trees and embroidering trees....

The other day I was in Urban Outfitters and picked up a set of stationary that was on sale. As the cashier rung the purchase up, I noticed she placed it in what looked to be a bag made from that soft reusable bag material. In fact it was a reusable bag, or tote to be more exact. I was thrilled and surprised. Has this been going on for a while? I don't often shop at Urban Outfitters much, but loved this idea!

The back of the bag is black with a dark logo of the store. Definitely beats walking around with a plastic bag!

Today's the first day of autumn (my favorite season), and I can't help but think about trees. Conifers to be exact...which are more winter like, but still. I recently embroidered a new "Study of Conifers" which is listed in our shop.

Here's a close up of two tree branches.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

our anniversary...and jellyfish!

Today is Kinsey and I's 3rd anniversary. So this past weekend, we decided to do a series of fun and relaxing things. We took a trip to Baltimore on Monday and went somewhere we've wanted to go for a while now......the Baltimore Aquarium!
In case anyone is planning a trip here, Mondays are a great day to go. We ran into zero school field trips and overall it wasn't too packed. We saw all the different exhibits and a lot of fun fish like this one.....

However, our absolute favorite exhibit was a temporary jellyfish room they have.  It's called "Jellies Invasion".  The aquarium's website has a fun section on the exhibit here.
I took some of the best pictures I ever have of the jellies.  The contrast between light and dark really turned out beautifully.  We had a good time watching them swim in the huge tanks and spent a great deal of time in this room.  

Here's some upside down jellyfish.

Looks kind of like a sun print, huh?  All the stringy tentacles just float around like this.

This one reminds me of space.  Kind of like those satellite photos you see of planets.

The last two are my favorites from the day.  I loved the tank with these jellies in.  The colors ranged from a really soft peach to a deep red.  The contrast of the background really makes them jump out. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

forest and the sea...

Lately, I haven't been posting too much on my latest art and craft projects. If you read our blog occasionally, you probably have noticed we've been focusing on a lot of home projects.
Last week, I was able to set aside some time to create a few new embroidery pieces. These pieces contain my first attempt at cross stitch lettering.

Also, these are the first pieces that I've signed. I like the idea of signing my pieces, but like keeping the color I choose for it relatively similar to the background, so it doesn't distract.

This last one isn't a good photo, but it sold the day after I made it, so this was the only shot of it I got. I'm planning a small series based on the sea. Of course, the main inspiration is from the coast of Maine.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

living room redo take two...Klobo before and after...

We recently tackled a project that has been many years coming.  Four years ago, Kinsey purchased a loveseat from Ikea (Klobo is the name of the style and is how we also refer to it.) for a mere $99.  He was living in a small apartment and only had room for a loveseat, not a full sofa.  The shape was nice and modern, but the downside was of course, it was white.  We're not really white furniture people.  Case being, about a month ago Kinsey spilled a bottle of black india ink on the arm of the Klobo.  
This wasn't by any means the first stain.  Imagine a well used piece of furniture in a white color...that hasn't been washed for four years.

So the other week we purchased a dark brown fabric in hopes of finally making a cover for it.  We had just come home from Target with our new curtains, and suddenly the urge came to cover the Klobo.  I think the task of making a slipcover was a little overwhelming.  Neither of us had done this before and we weren't entirely sure about how to make everything fit.  
We decided that we didn't really need to make a slipcover that could be taken on and off.  We just needed to cover it, pronto.  So we moved the Klobo to the center of the room and began to deconstruct it.  The good thing about Ikea furniture is how easy it can be disassembled.  We were left with 4 pieces. 
We did a combination of of stapling and sewing.  We sewed the sides and back to give it a nice, firm fit.  The bottom edges we just stapled to the bottom, which is exactly how Ikea did it originally.  

Kinsey was the stapler guy and I was the sewing girl. 

Project breakdown: 
The whole project took about 2-2 1/2 hours roughly.  This includes a quick trip to Jo-Anns when we realized we were about 2 yards too short.  Luckily, the Klobo broke down into individual pieces which made not having enough fabric not turn into a disaster.  When we ran in the store we discovered they had exactly the amount we needed, no more and no less.   We used a total of about 6 1/2 yards of fabric which was $9.99 a yard.  We of course had a 40% off coupon the first time and a 50% off coupon the second time, so total cost was roughly $40 for the cost of all fabric.  

Paired with our new curtains, we love it.  A whole new loveseat for $40!  Our next step for the living room: Bamboo flooring.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

living room redo take one

I've never really gave much thought to curtains.  I mean, I've thought about the color they should be, but that's about it.  I've always just sewed curtains for rooms out of really simple fabrics.  I remember sewing bright red curtains for my bedroom when I was 10 or 11.  I sewed these by hand, it took all night, and it was one of the first things I ever sewed.  
When Kinsey and I moved into our house (almost a year ago), we needed curtains fast because there were no blinds or such downstairs.  I headed to the fabric store and picked up some standard brown cotton and sewed them up fast.  I for some reason decided to add small red loops to the top instead of just sewing a straight line to slide the curtain rod through.  Anyhow, they served their purpose, but weren't anything fancy.  Here's an overall picture of the set-up.  

We've been wanting to get new curtains...maybe something to brighten things up a little.  Not that it's dark in our living room at all, two of our walls are orange.  So we were at the Target today and ended up in the curtain aisle.  First of all, we were a little surprise about the price.  $25+ for one panel, which means $50 for just one complete window.  Of course, compared to other places, this may seem like a bargain.  We couldn't really feel completely okay with spending $100+ just for curtains in our living room, so we were going to pass until we found a few packages with that pretty little red clearance tag.  The curtains we chose were sort of a satin finish and a light aqua color.  At first we weren't completely sure, but after comparing the hue with similar shades from on our walls, we realized it had the potential to look really, really good.  So we got four packs.

And we put them up.  No sewing.  Just slid them right through the rod like probably 95% of America does.  

Here I am sewing up a project that we'll show off tomorrow.

Now I will say, these do need ironed.  Badly.  But I couldn't wait to get them up and we only have a terribly small ironing board.  It's a tabletop one that's literally 18 inches long.  I wasn't quite feeling up to attempting that today.  So squint and pretend not to see the folded lines, and that's how the curtains look (or will look soon).

Total price for all window panels = $36

Friday, September 3, 2010

could it be any easier...?

I love cooking dinner. But like everyone, I don't often have much time to prepare much more than boiling water for a quick pasta or making an egg. Despite this, I really enjoy checking out different cookbooks from our local library. One such book that I've gotten out plenty of times is:

It's such a great book with some really delicious sounding meals. I always have been intrigued with puff pastry, but never used it. I knew it was something similar to a phyllo dough, which is something I use every time I make spanakopita (mmm...). Anyhow, I was glancing in the book, "A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen" and stumbled across a recipe called "Easiest Roasted Vegetable Tart" that involved puff pastry.

Essentially I cut some zucchini, broccoli, and onion - roasted them in the oven with salt and pepper - tossed them with olive oil and basil- unrolled puff pastry to square- put roasted veggies on pastry leaving a small border on a sides- bake in oven.

If you never worked with puff pastry, you'll be amazed how it "puffs up"....hence the name.

See that puffiness up there? Amazing. It tasted wonderful and Kinsey and I are completely hooked on it. Next up, maybe a baked apple tart?