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Friday, January 29, 2010

my craft activity this week

it's been a slow week for crafting. on top of being the regular, crazy-schedule class day, running home school kids around town, my birthday was yesterday.

i had my hilarious nephews over for a couple hours. D's marble maze is just a tube. It was the tallest maze. The marble goes straight down. No bends, no curves, no frills. He thought it was "the best one."

Then we have B-man's marble maze. He took the slide and tried to make it more predictable by adding a length of tubing to the end. After many tests and "G" of GAIN's advice, he shortened the tube. They were really funny.

My boys made lemon bars instead of a cake for me. "A" of GAIN decided to top the bars with a "3" candle and nine individual candles -- it made for quite the blaze. So now I am publicly proclaiming my age for the first time ever: I am 39 years old. Still haven't said it out loud, but this is a first step.

As I look back on the crafting I did, I find that there was some productivity. I painted three more eggshells for eggshell dioramas. I accidentally gave away too many for Christmas, and when "I" of GAIN didn't find the one she chose (which I had forgotten), I figured that I could replace it with another one.

I also started to lengthen the prayer shawl started many moons ago. I picked up some yarn from my parish's fun knitting group. There was no ball band, but I'm assuming that this yarn is Lion Brand Homespun. I also read about using T-shirts to make tubular yarn (it's expensive. I bought some before Purl's closed.), and with all the Vacation Bible School T-shirts that leaders have to wear, I've amassed a collection to harvest. I've set aside a shirt (from the theme year of Fiesta!) to test.

I'll end this really long post with shots of this week's watercolors. "I" of GAIN and I like this calendar. I've hyperlinked because I'm getting questions. (Mine came from Barnes and Noble.)

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Scrapbooking takes me forever

I will never be done with my scrapbooking. We take a lot of pictures around here. Additionally, I am always out of some essential supply. Right now, that would be markers -- blue, red, and black. So I've got a backlog of layouts, waiting around for journaling or doodling.

Since joining a local MeetUp group (find or start one in your area at, I've gotten to crop twice in two months. I'm using up my paper stash, and I'm meeting new people. As I said before, crafting in a group is more productive for me. Having my eyes and hands occupied helps everyone talk more freely, too. The conversation is great -- I've learned about MOPS, where to find Archivers coupons, dental woes, and gained sympathetic mommy souls.


Savory Baked Corn Cakes

I'm reading _The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook_ by Diana Shaw, and found a fantastic recipe to share. I have no photos because, well, it's dark out, and my kitchen needs the sun to supplement its overhead light in order to make good photos. But take my word for it, these are good.

I bought my corn at Hy-Vee, 4 ears for $1. I was skeptical about the taste of the corn, being out of season and not local, but it allowed me to risk making this new recipe. If I had to spend more money, I probably would not have made these.

Savory Baked Corn Cakes (p.257)

4 ears of corn, cooked any way you like. I use the microwave for time and energy savings.
1 scallion, chopped. I used garlic powder because it was handier. Nothing like starting your side dishes well after the main dish is done. And I usually prefer sides to mains.
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
carmelized onion for garnish
sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scrape the kernels. I also scrape the cob after the kernels are off, especially if I did not make a deep cut. I also thought about my paternal grandparents cutting their corn off the cob for the freezer when I did this. Place corn in food processor. Add scallion, eggs, flour, and salt. Process in pulses until you have a fine mince. Do not liquefy.

Drop the batter, about 3 T at a time on a cooking sheet, either nonstick (like the book) or coated with cooking spray (as I did). Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip and brown, about 5 more minutes. Serve warm. Garnish as desired.

I can see this as a summer lunch. The sour cream was OK, but we preferred our cakes without. You can taste the corn better.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quilting plans

I have not really spent my Christmas money. With the weather, I just didn't get out during our usual Christmas break. Then regular, non-shopping life arose. I've bought one $30 pair of shoes. That's it. I planned to buy a walking foot in order to quilt at home. I'm sure I could just place a phone call to Midwest and get it done, but I haven't. Probably because I didn't have a project in mind.

The project came to my mind this week. The wonky house blocks, combined with leftover and new crazy quilt blocks, will make a nice wonky quilt. My son began his second sewing class at school on Friday (insert dual enrollment love here) and I know that crazy quilt blocks for a pillow are on the syllabus -- my inspiration. Since the house blocks CREATE a lot of scraps, this should be an easy project.

So now I've got a reason to call Midwest, and new project to work on, and another shared thing to share with my kid. Life is good.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Music, Watercolors, and Scrapbooking

Well, I've gotten used to using my husband's old laptop. I'm sort of accustomed to Google Chrome. Not the best with WordPress blogs, but I can deal. And I've had a very busy week. I always have one very busy week each month, and this week was the one. With a home school suport group meeting at my house and home school programming in Ames and West Des Moines, added to Boy Scouts and regular life, my week has been a whirlwind. The ice storm didn't really slow me down, contrary to popular thinking.

Thankfully, the HSAP in WDM has a J-term that is a manageable 3 weeks long. This was our last week of running to book making class. It was cool, but I'm glad it's over. I have a hard time thinking that once-in-a-lifetime programs can be passed up. We saw Musica Antiqua, and I keep thinking that some day, one of them will leave, as in pass away. They've been together for 30 years. My kids HAVE to see them. Such a special special group to have very close to home. And Japanese Tea? We did pass it up, but the presenter will hopefully be here another year or two. Luckily, I have a partner who can cover when I'm gone. So my week was full.

I still have a scrapbook crop (fun fun!) to prep for as soon as I'm done blogging.

I had 50-50 success with the watercolors this week. I still need major practice with cool colors -- violets, greens, blues. Browns and oranges, not a problem.

My yo-yo necklace is a keeper. I've worn it twice this week and like it bunches.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yo-yo necklace finished

OK, I was hoping for a better photo........

Spurred by a comment from Marigold at Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!, I finished the yo-yo necklace last night. The one I took so long to finish. If I were to do it again, I would have attached the chain at the highest points of the yo-yo arrangement rather than the outermost points of the yo-yo's. It buckles slightly with the current points of attachment.

I think it's cute. It looks fab against the black velour tank I'm wearing. I'll put this in her flickr pool tomorrow. (Still hoping for better photos, even with the four day fog and now an ice storm coming) You can visit for your own inspiration.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beverly/Bibay wins the bag giveaway!

I was touched by all the entrants for my organic sateen bag giveaway. It's got lovely floral handles and a fresh pastel color to make it distinguishable from everyone else's bag. chose comment 88 which was

"I always use my cloth bag whenever i am shopping =D"

Beverly/bibay will have an email to confirm. I just visited her weblog, which you may also want to do -- it is full of giveaways (and The GoGo's!).

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Watercolors and Paper Snowflakes

The watercolor calendar is everything I'd hoped for. I find that working on one in a few small sessions works really well. Taking breaks helps me look back with a new, usually needed, perspective on how to approach my next step. I still want to add a few things to the ones I've done, like the aspen grove above, so I'm saving all the pictures in the easel-container they came in.

And it is "that time" of year again -- paper snowflake time. The girls cut some nice shapes. "A" of GAIN Academy suggested we hang them from the windows again. When we hang them from the ceiling of the entryway, we get breezes and the heads of tall people tangling the flakes, so having them in the windows is a good idea. I would still like to have some flakes in the entryway, so I'm considering a garland of sorts around a doorway. Haven't decided yet.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crafting in a group

(sorry, michelle and pattie. i didn't ask your permission. i think six years time gives me rights, doesn't it? LOL)

Last night, I stopped in at our church's Prayer Shawl Ministry. I hadn't visited in a while and it was wonderful. There is something soothing about the monotonous, mindless knitting pattern, and it is very conducive to quiet praying and chatting. Praying for anything and chatting about anything. It gathers men and women, young and old, from different backgrounds. Even if you are not working on a prayer shawl (yarn supplied!), you are welcome.

I also enjoy scrapbooking as a group. There is something about the social aspect that makes me more productive. It could be the creative energy, inspiration from other people's photos and work, the rush you get when looking at supplies, I don't know. But like knitting, I feel that there is no judging of ability or person if you're with the right group. I've been in a few groups, the most active one at the moment is a meetup group.

If you are a lone ranger crafter, I encourage you to seek out a group that fits your personality.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Following Monet at the Train Station

I didn't take time Friday to paint my watercolor, so I spent time this morning on it. I definitely am challenged by dark colors and washes. I get wet on wet (plenty of tips from my four kids with their public school art experience), I get layering and color mixing. I think my browns are quite exceptional. Except for the dark colors.

In other crafting news, the kids have carved snow caves and turned huge snow balls into snow cubes and blocks. We've been entertained by Calvin and Hobbes-esque snow creations that the neighborhood kids created -- a snowman cut in half the tall way. We're inspired to tap our inner Calvins. If we could only get a wetter snow, rather than dry, drifted and compacted snow. Or not. The frosted trees look great right now, I just can't get a good picture of them. Too much background crap. That's what we get for living in a neighborhood.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Work in Progress

I spent some time this afternoon buying supplies to make these earrings. They are my samples before I decide on "real supplies," should I end up liking the patterns. The pattern: Bijouterie, found at, Earring 1 (foreground) and Earring 3 (background). I didn't make up a sample for Earring 2 yet. It looked like it would take more concentration that I could give at the time. We were trying to watch "Old Yeller," and I can't concentrate that much AND watch a classic movie at the same time.

I didn't quite get all the supplies right. Lots of substitutions -- I used 28 gauge wire (32 gauge suggested), used size 3 needles (size 2 suggested), and didn't buy pearls (there were none, nor were there buttons in 4mm). There were no thimble beads (I bought crimps), and I'm not sold on the pattern quite yet (that's why I didn't spend much on beads). BUT I am very intrigued. Our local bead store, Artistic Bead, has great service. Having a frequent buyer card also helps make the experience great. And the fact that it is housed in a funky old bank building with a vault also contributes. Shopping for beads is usually fun, even if I don't have an end product in mind.

I knit three wire bracelets a few years back with great success. The store that created the bracelet pattern has sadly closed. Like Artistic Bead, it was located in Valley Junction. Bijouterie Earring 3 looks like it may be a good companion to the bracelet pattern. I still have some beads left from one particular bracelet, and I may count them to see if I can get a matched jewelry set.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010


Here is today's painting. I should have started with a wash of yellow over everything. I think I'll need to strategize more before starting all of my future watercolors. In the end, I quit working on this piece because I didn't have the dark areas dark enough and the paper was falling apart from all the water I was using.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

wordless wednesday


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I am having a hard time finishing just about everything. I started a yo-yo necklace back when my mom first went into the hospital mid-Dec. My grandma introduced me to yo-yo's, not as a shared experience, but as a show and tell. She's always got some craft going. For some reason I think she had a yo-yo form. I could very well be wrong, though.

Mom and I laid my yo-yo's on the hospital bed to look like a Y-necklace (turn your head sideways), but needed some different colored fabric. And I was concerned about the weight/drape/spinning yo-yo's not staying where I wanted them. Then I saw a bib necklace, and thought I should change to a bib of yo-yo's. See second picture. I liked the stabilization that the bib offered. I already decided not to use hot glue as another blogger, but stitches with thread. But looking at it on the carpet shows me that something is not right. Gotta lose the red. I had a nice dark color from my travel purse, but it's just so stiff that it doesn't work well for yo-yo's.

And is that yo-yo's with a hyphen and an spostrophe proper English? I can't decide what's right, so I'll think some more. I may end up in a fabric shop soon (gasp).

I have a new "watercolor-a-day" calendar to say that I have finished something. I chose it because of its small (finish-able) sized works and to have something artsy and new every day. This cow painting is from today. I didn't really finish it. Yesterday's painting was really good, but I can't find it. If I did, I could scrapbook my works. Or not. That would be one big scrapbook, because I get a new work to paint each weekday.

I thought I could probably talk my youngest daughter into using her tubes of watercolors and paint with more than five colors and have less blending. The calendar comes with blue, red, yellow, green, and black cakes of paint. I haven't gotten the tubes out yet. Maybe I want to suffer like artists of old. And feel the temporal nature of the work. And I wonder how my great-grandma mixed her colors, if she did at all. One of her paintings would make a nice gift. Maybe my  daughter'll join me tomorrow, because she doesn't have classes out of the house on Wednesdays. We could paint side by side. Home schooling is cool like that.

The last item in this post is the pannetone. Yeah, I thought about making one, then ran away. I'm an unfinisher lately, remember? Special Christmas dish or not, I couldn't visualize myself making this thing happen. Then I went to Walgreens (love the coupon stacking and register rewards). 75% off pannetones, and chocolate chip pannetone to boot! Woot! $1.74 for dessert. My younger son dished it up tonight.

Sorry I don't have photo editing software on my laptop. You gotta turn your head to the side a lot today. OK, just twice, but hey, I can act like a baby sometimes.

At least I can purposely say that I have not finished my bag giveaway! Entries are being taken until Jan. 16, 2010.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Bag Giveaway

I've spent a good amount of time with the Green Bag Lady bag that I was gifted. Here is my Green Bag Lady bag to giveaway. I've signed this one, just like the Green Bag Lady does. Read on if you'd like me to give this bag to you.

The bag is light blue with blue floral handles. Fabric by Harmony Art (organic design). It is roughly 18 x 18 x 3 inches plus handles.

I will give this bag away by choosing a random comment. The writer of the comment wins. Easy!

For a chance at this bag, you will leave a comment here. You must include your email address or have a blogger account so I can tell you that you are a winner.

You can leave up to four comments -- which increases your chance of winning the bag. Comments will close on Jan. 16; I'll choose a winner by random on Jan. 17, 2010.

1. Read my article on reusable cloth bags. [Leave a comment at the article site if there are other stores that offer monetary credit for bringing your own bags.] Leave a comment here telling me if you use cloth bags.

2. Subscribe to my Examiner column or follow this blog -- your choice -- for a second chance. If you currently or newly subscribe or follow, tell me in a comment here.

3. If you are willing to pay it forward, leave another comment. If you win, I will supply you with pre-cut fabric to make and then give away _another_ bag . It is truly the easiest bag I've made. [I'll post instructions soon for anyone who cannot wait to make their own. It takes very little fabric.]

4. Tweet about this giveaway for another chance, then comment here about it: RT @threesisjulia Win a handmade shopping bag! visit

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Friday, January 1, 2010

My first etsy purchase

I took a small amount of my PayPal earnings from my writings as the Frugal Family Examiner at to buy myself an apron. A cute, un-Christmas apron from Aprons and More. I was impressed with the service and the fabric is just as cute in person as it was on the website.

It came gift wrapped.

There was a thank you note and business card.

Washing instructions attached by safety pin and sewn in.

One pocket contained a recipe. I felt very cared for with this purchase.

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Crafting revelations

Photo to the left is the Kool-Aid tie-dye for Christmas.

As the new year starts, I have reflected some on my crafting. Leave me a comment about the list after you are done reading it.

1. I cannot craft a gift for someone unless I have good thoughts. Thoughts about the world, my life, the person getting the gift, everything goes into my creative process. Progress can halt, slow, increase madly, or move along at a good pace all because of my state of mind.

2. Some people see crafting as work; I see crafting as a celebration. It's a happy process. My sister-in-law celebrated Christmas in her youth, but did not make crafts or bake cookies. Her family went to the store for gifts and cookies. I could not explain well enough that my celebration of the holiday included the process of making things. Making things is how I express care; it also prepares me emotionally and mentally for life and the holidays. It puts me in a good mood.

3. I appreciate people when they make genuinely nice comments about my crafts. If someone makes fun of me for crafting, I'd prefer they look at it as something constructive and give me a non-sarcastic compliment. Crafting gives me something constructive to do. I don't sit still very well, and crafting allows me to sit still. I do not craft for competition, to out-do people, or to make myself look good. I craft because it fills a need -- to see that I am making progress at something (somehow, sweeping the floor after kids doesn't fill the need), reducing my tendency to move around enough so that I can sit on the couch with my husband while he watches TV, always having a gift ready for emergencies, etc.