creativity

Spring Fever – Art Roundup Inspired by My Longing for Spring

It may be snowing outside, but I can hear the sweet song of the birds luring spring to come.

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You know when you start hearing that chirping that spring MUST be coming soon [please, mother nature, please!].  I am so tired of the color gray – I cannot remember the last time I saw the sunshine or the color green.  I do love the snow – especially untouched snow, blanketed over the streets and yards – no footprints, no tire tracks, but I’ve had enough of it and I’m ready for the melting and awakening to begin.

These beautiful and colorful prints are reproductions of artist, Yangyang Pan’s original “Blossom” watercolor series.  Originals are also available at the artist’s Etsy shop, Siiso Visual Art.

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These prints remind me of these lines from Emily Dickinson’s “A Light Exists in Spring”:

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

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This gorgeous photographic print is the work of Jennifer Simpson.  Her work is airy and has a daydream quality to it – makes me feel like running through a meadow with the scent of blooming flowers at my nose and warm sunshine all around me.

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This is a photo of one of Marie Antoinette’s hamlets at Versailles.  So romantic and enchanting … like a little secret garden or something.  I want to run away to France … ahhhhhhhh.  Find this print and more at A La Parisienne on Etsy.

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I thought I would finish this roundup with a burst of color and this “Las Guitarras” print almost jumps off of the page!  So bright and bold!  I love it.  Taken by the great eye of M. Campbell – Zurek.

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baby / tots

Cute Stuffed Things

Ava is only 15 months old and already has more stuffed animals than I have places to store them.  Most of them fit into the little vintage doll crib I brought back from my gramma’s house, but there is also a basket of puppets on the shelf and a box of furry monsters in the corner.  A majority of these stuffies were gifts – people just can’t resist buying cute stuffed things!  Who can blame them – especially when they are as cute as these …

This handmade birdie rattle [named Enid] is made from vintage chenille and is so lovable and adorable and huggable!  You can find her and many other cuddly creations at Leah’s Etsy Shop!chenille

How can you not love these little egg people?!  You can even choose faces that reflect your own family!  Made from mohair needle felted wool and merino, these little cuties are irresistible!  Available at the AsherJasper Etsy Shop.

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Vicky [from the above mentioned AsherJasper shop] also makes these imaginative rattles [made from pure wool – very eco-friendly].

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This 22 inch tall giraffe is so colorful and [for lack of a better word] cute!  Find it at Biggy Piggy!

giraffe

Move over sock monkeys and make room for these darling dollies by Chickabiddy Baby Boutique!  You can choose boys or girls and even have them made with custom colors.  The dolls are around 13 – 15 inches and also come in a smaller rattle option.

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What stuffed animal collection is complete without a bunny rabbit?  This little hopper is made from 100% cotton and available at Blonde Birdie.

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spotlights

Spotlight: Heidi Crawford of HMC Designs

I first became familiar with HMC Designs during an Etsy search for all things teddy bear [for my post, “Please Bear with Me“].  It was hard not to fall in love with the adorable designs of Australian Artist, Heidi Crawford.

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The product list includes gift cards, badges [buttons], magnets, colorful plushies, hair bobbles, and baby bibs – all hand crafted and some are even customizable!  HMC Designs started in 2005 and quickly grew from selling at local market stands to a booming retail and online business.  With the recent birth of her daughter, I just had to find out how Heidi finds the time to do it all [because there are days I can hardly find the time to shower!].  I also wanted to know more about her business and motivation …. here’s the Q & A:

How do you balance being a new mom and running your business?

“I try to find a good balance between looking after my daughter, my home and finally my business! I do a lot of my design work when she is napping during the day and after she has gone to bed at night.  I am very lucky to have a wonderful partner and a close knit family who are always available any time I need help or someone to baby sit  for a few hours when I need to fill an order or spend time at a market.
I think the key to running my business successfully is making sure that I am really organized and set achievable goals. This means lots of  “To Do” lists!  There’s nothing better than ticking the “Done” box after you have successfully completed something.”

What is your best selling item?

“My best selling item would have to be my Wedding and Graduation cards.   weddinggrad

I have found that people really love the option to customize the faces so they look like the recipient. This feature makes the card that little bit more special when compared to the generic wedding card you may find in your local store.”

Where do you get the inspiration for all of the cute little characters?


“Currently, I am finding a lot of inspiration in children’s picture books, but I have always been fascinated with imagery from Japanese Pop culture.  As a child I practised my drawing by copying Sanrio characters and cute illustrations found in Japanese magazines.  From here I became interested in Anime and Pop Art in general.  For a few years now I have been collecting lots of colourful and interesting images, figurines and treasures.  All of these provide me with endless amounts of inspiration to continue designing and creating.”

Any plans to bring the products to US stores?

“Up until quite recently I have only been selling my products online and at local art markets.  I have just started approaching stores here and so far I have been getting a really positive response.  So once I have tackled the Australian market I hope to venture overseas to the US.  Having said that, if any overseas wholesaling opportunities pop up in the meantime I will definitely consider them.”

What makes you laugh?

“I love this super cute comic strip called “Patchesâ” –  It never fails to make me laugh.”

What is your favorite home decor item?
roca
“My partner and I purchased some amazing outdoor “Roca” chairs from a fellow stallholder [Carey Potter] at an Artists’ Market here in Melbourne.  They have a really grungy, weathered feel – they don’t look it, but they are really comfortable!
When I have a spare moment, I love to sit out in my backyard on my Roca and relax.”

[Heidi, I just might have to come to Melbourne to get one of these chairs!  I LOVE THEM!!]

Have you been selling the baby bibs [they are adorable!] for awhile or was this something that came about when you found out you were going to be a mom?

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“I started making the baby bibs after my daughter was born. I had a lot of trouble finding good quality cotton bibs that not only did its job but also looked good too.  I gave a few as gifts to friends who had recently had babies and after receiving a lot of positive feedback from them and after my own extensive testing with my own baby, I decided that they would definitely become part of my product range.”

Thank you, Heidi!!!  Can’t wait to see your stuff in the shops, but for now I am content with buying from your Etsy store!

creativity

Rebecca Ward – My New Favorite Artist

I look at the images and am amazed that it’s tape – genius!  Intricate, colorful, stimulating, symmetrically beautiful.  This young Texan has won me over.  Hope she’ll be doing an installation in Chicago again soon.  Enjoy …

REBECCA WARD

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cooking

Cool Find! Jar Tops – Mason Jar Lids

I love the look of mason jars.  I even have one I use as drinking glass … so I was pretty excited when I saw these Jar Tops on Re-Nest!

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Available at Unica Home – Set of 5 lids for $25.00 in Charcoal or Green.

fashion

Beautiful Fair Trade Heart Pendant Necklace

I was smitten with this necklace the moment Tammy Wilson from Earthlover sent me a sneak peek.  Crafted by hand using imfibinga seeds (awesome), this pendant hangs from a 24″ hand knitted cotton string.

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This necklace is part of the Be Sweet product line, working with villagers in South African tribes  – their mission is to “bring socially and environmentally friendly products to fashionable consumers that evoke an individual style and help support community development around the world.”  A portion of their proceeds are donated to a school in the Eastern Cape, where many of the artisans’ children attend classes.  What makes a better gift than a gift that gives back? Nothing.  This necklace is available at Earthlover for $21.00 … and if the necklace isn’t for you, there is a gorgeous heart shaped pin!

creativity

Robot Love

What could possibly be more romantic than cold, metal, heartless, robots?  Well, lots of things … but for some reason robots are cute.  At least these robots I found in my weekly Etsy search are …

Robots may not have hearts, but they can give them, as depicted in this adorable greeting card by JulieAnnArt.  $4.00

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The perfect card for your very own love machine, designed by ArtbyKellie.  $4.00

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These mini art blocks are the perfect gift for the robot lover in your life.  I know they would look great on the shelf in Mike’s office.  Crafted by artist, John W. Golden.  $48.00 / set of 8

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You can customize these canbots or pick out of the many creative designs at Sage12888‘s Etsy shop.  Made from recycled cans.  Prices vary.

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Show off your robot love with this shrinky dink ring from Dillon Designs.  $8.00

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I love this T-shirt – design by Youngsun Compton, available at the Whootiz shop on Etsy.  $18.00

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Here’s something for your little love machine – a cute onesie by Give A Good Day.  $15.00

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I found this zipper pouch at Nancym4‘s Etsy store.  It’s perfect for storing loose items in your purse or in your child’s bookbag. Available in a wide range of patterns/styles.   $10.50

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These robots can get you clean.  Robot soap from LoveLeeSoaps is made from glycerin and shea butter with a fresh lime scent. 1 4oz. soap, $5.00

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Top your wedding cake with these cute creations from The Junk Bucket.  $40.00

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I had to include these guys because they are so darling [and inventive!].  Made from vacuum tubes by Justina Kochansky.  $10.00 each

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I also love this little sculpture made from various materials by Morning Bicycle.  $35.00

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And even though it’s a dog, it’s still a bot that you can’t help but love.  Available at Adoptabot on Etsy.  $195.00

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baby / tots

Simple Project to Make with Kids – DIY Feltboard

This craft is so simple that even someone with no crafting skills [like me] can do it!  It’s also perfect for little ones who can wield scissors.  As you can tell from the photo, my scissor skills aren’t the greatest, [I can’t cut a straight line to save my life] but Ava doesn’t care.  She loves taking the pieces off and rearranging them.  I also use it to tell her stories.  Originally, I glued the widows and door onto the house, but she just pulled them off [she’s 14 months] so I recommend just keeping all the pieces separate for those too young to understand the concept of “please don’t break that”.

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What you will need:

Canvas [or piece from a cardboard box]

Spray Glue

1 Sheet of Stiff Felt

1 Pack of assorted felt squares

Scissors

Spray glue the stiff felt sheet to the canvas or cardboard.  Cut out some shapes, characters, etc. from the felt squares.  That’s it.  You’re done.  You can’t really get any easier than that.IMG_9272 Send me a picture of yours when you’re finished and put mine to shame.  LOL

baby / tots

DIY Dollhouses

When I was a little girl, my grandpa built me a beautiful dollhouse.  It was blue and had a hinged roof with little wooden shingles.  He had also custom made some of the furniture inside and put carpet in the living room and bedrooms, and tile in the kitchen.  I loved that house.  I have it in “storage” [at my grandma’s] and am just waiting until Ava is old enough so I can redecorate it and give it to her.  Now, I’m no carpenter like my grandpa was, so I went looking for some DIY dollhouses that pretty much anyone can create

This felt creation by Melissa Crowe is actually a piece commissioned by the Wintergreen Arts Center in Maine, but it’s a great idea you can make for your own home [little ones old enough to use scissors can help!].  The house is mounted on canvas and decorated in felt and moleskin that can be moved around [just like a felt board].  For more photos [and more great crafts], check out Melissa’s blog, Checkout Girl.

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These adorable wooden dollhouses are made from unfinished cd houses that are then painted and decorated to your own liking.  I have been dying to make one of these for Ava, but so far have been unable to find the unfinished wooden piece [which is said to be available at Michael’s Arts & Crafts … so far I have only been to one and the hunt will continue this weekend].  Visit Angry Chicken for more info on this piece …

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…and Bright and Blithe to check out this version!

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I also found several versions of these cute cardboard and foam core board dollhouses.  The customization possibilities are endless and it’s super mobile and would be a fun project to put together with your little one.  The tutorial for the picture below is available at Cookie Magazine.

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That tutorial was the motivation for this super duper dollhouse put together by the obviously crafty Amy of Sweet Sweet Life.

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Taking inspiration from the Constantine Dollhouse from Kidsmodern, this creation was born out of a cardboard box, lots of tape, and some magazines.  Read the full tutorial from Elsie Marley.

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This tutorial for a recycled materials dollhouse can be found at Craftastica, where Kristy and her daughter Eva fashioned this house based on the above idea.

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I found this multi-level cardboard dollhouse in a feature on Ohdeedoh.  It was made by Adrienne and decorated with scrap fabric, wallpaper samples, popsicle sticks, etc.

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This dollhouse gets an A+ for creativity – it’s built on a closet organizer!!!  [via Gina2424 on Flikr]

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cooking

Tasty Cucumber & Pomegranate Salad

I will admit it – before making this recipe I had never eaten a pomegranate.  I have had pomegranate juice, but this was the first time I’ve purchased the whole fruit.  I had Mike open it up and get the seeds out for me [it kind of looked like a pain to me – thank you, honey!].  I popped one in my mouth – a little crunch, a little explosion of deliciousness!   Yum!

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This Cucumber and Pomegranate Salad recipe is adapted from my Lucid Food cookbook by Louisa Shafia.  It’s fairly quick and easy to make and should be devoured immediately.

You will need:

2 Cucumbers [halved, peeled, and seeds removed – or use little Persian cucumbers like I did and just peel and slice]

Seeds of one Pomegranate

2 chopped scallions [original calls for just the greens, but I used the whites too]

Some fresh cilantro

Feta Cheese

Salt & Pepper

Lemon & Sweet Grapefruit [or a Lime]

Olive Oil

Just chunk up the cucumbers and add 3 or 4 tbs of pom seeds, the scallions and cilantro.  The original recipe calls for lime juice, but I didn’t have any around so I used the juice of a sweet grapefruit and a lemon.

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Squeeze the juice in and add a little drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper to taste, and then toss together.  Crumble some feta cheese on top and enjoy!  This salad is super refreshing.  I’m addicted.

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