Saturday, September 29, 2012

anniversary trip!

Last weekend (9/22) was Kinsey and I's 5th wedding anniversary!  We decided to take a long weekend trip to New York.   After much searching, we found a nice converted barn around the Woodstock/Saugerties area.  We'd never been to that area before and thought it would be perfect for a nice and relaxing anniversary weekend.

The place was really nice and open.  I especially loved the wooden beams and floor throughout!  Here's the downstairs area (complete with our mess of bags on the table!) and below is half of the upstairs area (looking across the room from the bed).  Lots of good natural light and a very quiet area.  On Saturday night, there was a fairly quick thunderstorm and it was pretty cool to look out and see absolutely no lights or rain except every so often when the lightening would light up the entire sky.  

A box of delicious chocolates awaited us when we got to the barn/cabin from the owners!  They were so good!

On Saturday, we went to see the Saugerties Lighthouse, which sits in the Hudson River.  The lighthouse is only accessible (other than by boat) by taking a 1/2 mile trail.  The trail is not accessible during high tides, so you have to plan your hike accordingly.  The lighthouse is actually a bed and breakfast as well.  I would love to be able to stay here sometime!

Kinsey and I LOVE apples, so of course we visited a few orchards in the area.  Our favorite apple hands down is the Macoun.  It's very common in New England (we had our very first at the Bar Harbor Farmer's Market...yeah!), but not so common were we live.  A few orchards have them, but they only have a handful it seems and they're just not the same taste.
We went to Minard Orchard on our way back home and loved it.  First of all, they had lots and lots and lots of fresh, great looking, perfect, crisp Macouns.  We bought a huge amount (we very well knew that these may be our last for the season!) and were so excited to taste them.  (The apples were wonderful!  We have a small handful left and are cherishing every last one.)  Then, we got Kinsey's favorite thing, cider donuts.  He said these were the best he's had.  They had the usual sugared ones and (yes!) non sugared ones (which is a rare thing to find where we live).  Of course, we topped off the trip with some freshly pressed apple cider.
Now we're wondering, is it worth a 4 hour drive to go back for more?  (Probably!)

On Sunday, we also did the Walkway over the Hudson.   It's billed as the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.  The bridge spans 1.28 miles long each way, so we got so good exercise walking across and back.  It was a beautiful and clear day and you could see for miles and miles.

View from the bridge.  The right side is in Highland and the left is in Poughkeepsie.  This was a great way to end a wonderful trip!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

suspenders and succulents

Lately, I've been thinking of different ways to sew some of my plush dolls.  I love the basic shape and parts of my typically boy plush design, but wanted a little something extra to set him apart.  Hats?  Glasses? Super hero cape? Spacesuit?  Pretzel in hand? 

I recently finished one of the ideas I had in mind.  The newly worn item.......suspenders!
I especially am loving the buckles! 
Here's Hendrik:

And here's Hansel:

Both are available in my shop.  Look for more fellows with suspenders coming soon!  (As well as some other new accessories/parts for the dolls.)

Also, just listed a mere 30 minutes ago:

A fabric soft sculpture succulent plant!  Comes in the vintage tea cup shown, but can be moved in another similar sized vessel/cup if you prefer.  I've been working on these for a while and am so happy with the results.  Look for more fabric sculpture plants soon!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

pengers and the turtle

I just wanted to share some of the new work that Kinsey has been doing.  I am loving these two new animal prints!  I've always liked penguins a lot and since reading  Lost and Found  by Oliver Jeffers, I've had them on the mind lately.  A penguin softie is hopefully on the way soon from me, but in the meantime here's Kinsey's penguin (or pengers, as we've took to calling him) print.

I really like the simpler designs and bright colors he's been using.  HINT: I'm hoping he'll print out a pair of these for me to hang my craft room.  
You can see more of his work at eager illustration.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

land of happiness

I, like many,  receive the standard Crate and Barrel catalog in the mail.  I enjoy looking through it, but usually only find a handful of really unique and interesting things that I spend extra time looking at.  Then, I started getting the CB2 catalog in the mail.  Nice, but not great great.  Don't get me wrong I really enjoy the items they offer and have bought a few things in the past.  I have a set of blue blown glass dessert/parfait cups that I love and use a lot.  

Then, a month or so ago, I was flipping through the newest catalog and saw a picture of one of their catalogs I didn't get -The Land of Nod.  I had heard of The Land of Nod (or LoN as I'll refer to it in this post), but never really checked it out.  So I headed over to their website and checked it out.  
Basically, it was everything I love in one place.  I, of course signed up for the catalog immediately. 

They have really fun and beautiful things.  While I don't have kids, I still love this catalog.  My style of things I make is very animal/nature oriented with simple shapes and bright colors.  Just check out the colors and patterns of the bedding.  And that giraffe and other animal friends crib quilt below?  So great.  So LoN has been a great source of inspiration.  

I never really gave Yetis a second thought, but I love this bedding and the throw pillows.  The sheets with the mountains and trees (non Yeti) would be really fun for any room.  Of course, LoN is aimed towards children, so the biggest sheet size is a full.  Lucky for me, we have a full bed.  Lucky for my bank account, the closer LoN store is 12 hours away.  (I'm much more likely to buy things like bedding and furniture in person than through the internet.)

I mean really, just take a look at these throw pillows they have on their site.  Baby, kid, adult....who wouldn't want this grasshopper guy on their bed or sofa?

Kids or no kids, LoN should definitely be checked out if you want some instant inspiration!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

let's spend the hottest day of the year outside all day

Yes, that title is pretty accurate.  Two weekends ago, Kinsey and I did a local craft show in the area - Summerfair in Carlisle.  We never did the show before and weren't sure how it would go.  It was a little bit different than the shows we usually do, but the space was cheap and it was close.  

The weather was the hottest day of the year...103 degrees!  Luckily, we did have a little shade from our tent. 
While we didn't sell out of our art/crafts, this was an excellent time to try out using a canopy tent.  We never really needed one before, but knew we'd eventually need one as we were planning to do more and more shows.  What I didn't realized was how expensive they are!   After much research, I was able to find an amazing deal on and purchased ours for under $50! ( And free store pick-up.)  We wanted one that was quick to put up and didn't involve trying to fit together a million poles.  This one is the Ez-Up brand and literally goes up in minute.  So nice!  

This also was the most space we've ever had at a craft show.  We brought all the folding craft tables we could fit in our car (3!) and each had one and a half tables for our work.  This was such a huge change! We're used to trying to squeeze all our stuff on one little 8 foot table!  While I would have liked to bring more props for height, I think this was definitely our best looking set up to date.  

I made map banners to hang around our tent and on some of the tables.  Kinsey made some chalkboards for his display, which turned out really nice.  

The sun is really glaring in this picture, but I really like how Kinsey attached some of his prints on the outer side of the cube shelf.  This really caught attention from people.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

maine times six

It's been really, really hot here lately.  So of course we've been thinking of going someplace a little cooler for a quick trip.  Naturally, I thought of Maine.  (This obviously isn't a surprise if you know me.)  

I was going through some photos on our computer and found some of my favorites from our last trip to Acadia.  This one is from a slightly foggy day which happened to be our anniversary.  

We considered going back to Acadia National Park, but have never gone in the summer months and were a little worried that it would be super crowded.  When we go in the end of September, it's perfect. The days aren't (usually) sweltering and the trails and beaches aren't packed.  On our honeymoon (to Acadia, of course!), we had discussed coming back and had said we would on our 5 year anniversary.  Well, we ended up going on our 4th anniversary instead.  We'll be skipping Acadia this year as I'll be starting a new job in the middle of August.  However, we wanted to fit in a summer trip before I started.

Instead, we're going to our second favorite place(s) - Portsmouth, NH and the Portland area.  This trip will mark our 6th trip to Maine in the last 6 years.  We like Maine the best for its natural beauty, but we are so excited to go back to one of our favorite shops anywhere- Daytrip Society and Daytrip Society Jr. Can't wait.  


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

mid summer photos and new work

I wanted to share a few pictures Kinsey has taken recently that I think have a "summer" feel to them.  I love this one of the corn field and blue sky.  I didn't know at the time that Kinsey was taking this picture and thought to myself that I wish he would take a picture like this.  And he did.  The corn was already so tall for being so early in the season.  I believe this was the very beginning of June.  

This is one Kinsey took of an old barn that was torn down near when I grew up.  The barn has been torn down for a while, but they left the stone foundation in place.  It's right at the side of a huge open field.  

Here's a sneak preview of something (sort of)  new I've working.  Last year, I made a few hot air balloon pins and sold them at a few stores and shows, but for whatever reason never made more.  I found a half finished balloon in my desk drawer the other day and decided to give them another try.  Not just a pin this time....something a little different.   Look for them soon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

hello alligator!

I've been playing around with the idea for an alligator plush in my head ever since Kinsey and I went to South Carolina a few months ago.  Kinsey really wanted to see a "real life" alligator in the wild and we were almost finished with our trip and had yet to see one.  We even headed to one of the state parks that I had seen some at during a prior visit or two, but none were to be found.

We were visiting my grandparents and went out to dinner at the Chestnut Hill Restaurant that was right on a small lake and known to be a place to see gators.  (If you go here, get the homemade chips!  Mmmm!)  We had a window table and saw all kinds of turtles swimming right by us.  This was nice enough, but Kinsey wanted to see a gator.   The staff periodically throws bread out in the water to attract the alligators and during our visit one was hiding out right below the restaurant deck's not wanting to come out.  My grandfather being the wonderful and helpful host of the "bed and breakfast" we were staying at and wanting to make his guests happy, made sure that Kinsey would get his wish.  Sure enough, the alligator appeared right in front of where we were eating and hung out for a while.  Mission accomplished!  Kinsey now believes that there are alligators in South Carolina. 

The great thing about this gator (and completely unintentional when I designed it) is that it's legs can support the body so it stands up on its own.   It's wonderful to have sitting around and fun for playing!  I have a few other alligators I made with different fabrics, but this is probably my favorite.  I love the bright green color and how it looks against the yellow back spikes.  These are now available in my shop and will be available at the Summerfair show this Saturday.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

the words and stories

Here are the two "about stories" I wrote to accompany my plushes in Stuffed Magazine's Summer 2012 issue.  

Eben and Ella (Ellie Friends)

(Picture from our trip to Acadia National Park at our cabin in the woods)

Eben and Ella are husband and wife.  They live in a small and secluded valley where no other elephants live for miles around. This is okay with them because they prefer to be by themselves.  Their house is a lovely, cozy, stone structure that is in a small grove of sycamore trees. 

Ella enjoys tending her extensive flower garden behind their home.  She spends her winters studying new plant species and in the spring, she’s always trying new varieties. She loves plants that can grow tall and are very colorful.  Her perfect way to spend a day is with a nice pot of Oolong tea, a good gardening book, and her planting trowel within reach.  She is also an avid quilter and creates her own flower motifs for her pieced designs.

Eben spends his days making furniture from trees in the nearby forest.  This forest is one that was planted by his great grandfather and Eben plants three trees for the one he cuts down.  He has a small mill not too far away from Ella’s flower garden, so they can talk and break for tea together in the afternoons.  Eben has quite a collection of beautifully made furniture and every so often, he opens the mill for a special sale, which brings in animals from all over the valley.

Olive and Ethan (Twin Boys)

(Picture from our trip to Acadia National Park on Sand Beach)

Olive and Ethan are twins that live in a small coastal village on a small island in Maine.  They come from a long line of lobstermen, starting back with their great-great-great-great grandfather. The brothers have a lot of similar interests, like the sea, flying kites, and watching seabirds.  They often spend time together exploring the island, but also like to pursue their own hobbies. 

Olive never goes outside without his lucky orange scarf, even in the summer.  He can usually be found down at the harbor watching boats sail by.  He hopes to one day have a small boat of his own and already has the perfect orange and blue paint picked out for it.  Olive often thinks of sailing around the neighboring islands and looking at all the sea life beneath the surface. His current under the sea fascination are jellyfish and he’s keeping a log of all the different species he finds.  When not dreaming of sailing, Olive can be found playing in the village park or enjoying some honey brioche doughnuts from his favorite bakery. 

Ethan’s favorite color is blue.  He can usually be found, like Olive, down at the harbor.  Ethan usually stays along the quiet side and combs the shore for beach rocks and small pieces of driftwood.  He has quite a collection and hopes to one day display his findings in the small village historical museum run by his grandfather.  Ethan makes sculptures from the broken pieces of rocks he finds and sells them at the old general store. When not at the beach, Ethan can be found at the library, reading about his favorite animal, puffins.

Hope you like them!

Friday, June 29, 2012

progress and working...

I've been pretty busy working on a variety of different projects as well as restocking more of my plush designs for online and craft shows coming up.  Our soonest craft show will be SummerFair in Carlisle, PA.  We've never been to this show before, but have heard from other people it's worth it.  It will be the largest space we've ever had...20'x20'!  Kinsey and I will be sharing a space, so we'll each have plenty of room for our things.  If you're local to Carlisle, please come out and say hello!  The show is Saturday, July 7th!

Below are some partially finished boy heads (sounds rather disturbing, don't you think?).  After I embroider the facial features, sew everything up, and right before I turn them right side out, I always like to stop and take a look.  I really like how the embroidery looks from the backside with the faces.  You can clearly see the facial details, but it's kind of in a skewed way.  It reminds me a lot of vintage embroidered dolls and how the stitches have begun to fade and warp slightly.  

The next picture (sorry it's a little fuzzy) is of a massive pile of half finished pieces and well, body parts of dolls and animals.  (See the random arms?)  I have a lot of pieces like this around my work space.  I'm starting to try to get it a little more under control and have cleared this pile down significantly.  

This last picture I wanted to share, does NOT include random arms or heads removed from their body.   This is Thomas the Sailor.  He's the newest plush doll in my shop.  I finished him today and not to play favorites, but I like him a lot!   Instead of my usual felt buttons I sew on the shirts, I opted for a hand embroidered anchor emblem.  The colors really pop beautifully!  I actually have done this anchor emblem before on a handful of plushes, but have only sold those at craft shows or at brick and mortar shops.  

What kinds of projects have you been up to lately?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

published in stuffed magazine summer 2012!

Back in this post in February, I talked about sending my box of plush toys to Stuffed Magazine to be considered for an issue.  Well, the Summer 2012 issue is finally out!    

Near the beginning of the magazine (pages 14 and 15 to be exact) are Olive and Ethan.  These two were my first ever "good" attempts at making plush people.  I literally made these two days before I sent off my package.  I wanted to try out a doll, but was having a hard time getting it perfect and finding a good fabric for the faces.  I hand embroidered the facial features and need a fabric that can handle being poked with a needle and doesn't show through.  I actually have since making these two, changed to a different face fabric.  Very similar in color, but the new fabric is much softer and easier to work with.  (FYI: All the plush people in my shop are made with the newer fabric.)

When your work is chosen for publication in Stuffed, you are responsible for writing everything in your article.  This was really fun and gave me a chance to really personalize Olive and Ethan.  My article about them was centered around the coast of Maine (surprise, surprise) and even mentioned one of Kinsey's favorite treats we had in Maine: honey brioche doughnuts! (We get them at the best bakery in the entire world, Morning Glory Bakery in Bar Harbor. )  

A little further back in the magazine, are my plush elephants.  This story was about Eben and Ella (husband and wife, of course) and included all kinds of things I like: a house in the woods, gardening, drinking tea, reading, making furniture, and drinking lemonade with your husband.
I love how they posed Eben and Ella in this shot! 

Here's Ella (very similiar to the one featured in Stuffed- same name but slightly different clothes) checking out her relatives in the magazine.

I'm thrilled to be included (twice!) in this issue and am looking forward to submitting again!  If you have any interest in soft toys or plush sculpture, this is a wonderful magazine to check out!  
(I'll be posting the small stories for each I wrote in the next few days.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

quick flower tutorial project

I recently made these lovely flowers for my sister in law's birthday.  They are super easy to do, fairly quick, and involve supplies you most likely already have.  

You will need:
*yarn of any color you want for your flowers
*glue gun and glue sticks
*small twigs, dowel rods, or other type of "stem" for your flowers

Choose your yarn and wrap the strand around two of your fingers as shown.  You can use three fingers if you'd like - this will make the flower head bigger.  I used two fingers for all of mine.  

Continue wrapping the yarn around your fingers, but not too tightly!  You don't want to lose feeling in your fingers.  I wrapped the yarn about 50 to 75 times around.  Experiment with what outcome you like best.

After wrapping the yarn around your fingers the number of times you want, slide the whole thing off.

Cut off a piece of yarn from the skein that is somewhere between 5 to 8 inches long.  Place the piece of yarn directly under the wrapped yarn pile.  Try to center it the best you can.

Next, tie the piece of yarn tightly around the wrapped yarn pile.  I double knotted it.  

This will pull the yarn together and you will see all these little loops.  Take your scissors and cut through all the loops.

Cut, cut, cut.

You will be left with this crazy looking pom pom.  Take your scissors and keep trimming off pieces of the yarn, making it even all the way around.  You can make it as long or short as you want.  Although, you won't want to cut too much off because you might show the center piece of yarn you knotted. 

Here's a finished example.  

Now you're ready to attach the flower head to the stem.  Twigs, dowel rods, whatever you want.  I used twigs for mine because that's what I had and I liked the idea of mixing the soft yarn with the rustic sticks from nature.  

Here's the finished set.  I displayed them in a glass Ball jar with pieces of brown felt for "dirt".  I wanted the arrangement to look like it was still growing in the ground, although the flowers would look just as good without the felt base.  I just tossed scraps in the bottom and arranged the flowers.  Finally, I  found two vintage buttons and tied a piece of ribbon around the top.  

Perfect, easy, and looks great!  
Now of course, I need to make some for me!