October 31, 2015


It's NaNoWriMo time! This is the third year I've planned to participate, but things are always so hectic this time of year that I've never finished. This year is going to be crazier than ever before, but I'm determined to do it this time. I've been preparing for a couple of months now so hopefully that will help.

What is NaNoWriMo? Well it stands for National Novel Writing Month. You write 50,000 words in 30 days...the month of November. That's right at 1,667 words each day. Not an impossible number by any means.

The other thing is that I'm doing it all by hand. I've already got the notebooks and pens prepared. Believe it or not, handwriting is easier on my hands than typing these days.

But, just to make this really hare-brained, we have a school trip the first week of November. The second week of November, I have to go to the US. The third week, there's jet lag and a lot of things to do and, oh, wait, that's the fourth week, too. As you can imagine, fitting in time to sit down and write 1600+ words every day for the entire month of November is going to be nuts. That's another reason for handwriting...I can take it anywhere.

Plus, this year, I already know I can do it. Earlier this year, I decided to see if it was possible and ended up writing 50,000 words in 10 days. So, 30 days should be a breeze, right?

Additionally, I've got an outline, character sketches, scene sketches and other notes. I am so full of ideas just waiting to get put down on paper. Waiting to actually start writing has been hard, but no more. Tomorrow is the first day of NaNoWriMo. Let the writing craziness begin!

October 29, 2015

Crocheted Charger Cord

 If you have some scrap fingering weight yarn lying about, why not use it to decorate a charger cord. I didn't have enough to cover the cord, but it does make it readily identifiable. Plus, it was fun to do.

October 28, 2015

Woven rug

 I've been working on this weaving for several months. I used strips of old t-shirts and tied them to the drying bar on the balcony. For the bottom, I used a cut-off wooden broom handle to weight the strands and to tie the ends to. 
 Throughout the summer and into the fall, I added a few strips at a time when I would hang laundry to dry. I finally got all the strips added and untied the ends to take it down. Then, I tied two strips together at a time to finish the edges and cut the ends off more or less even.
It's the perfect size for Mochi who decided it was the best sleeping spot for getting her afternoon nap in the sun.

October 27, 2015


Well, it doesn't look like I'm going to finish my Granny Stripe Afghan this year after all. Still, all that colorful yarn is lovely to look at, isn't it?

October 26, 2015

Plastic Canvas Mat

 All you need for this mat is a large plastic canvas circle, a needle, and colorful yarn. I started with the outside leaving the very edge for last. The blue-green is done for 5 rounds. The fuchsia for 4 rounds. 3 rounds of medium purple. 2 rounds of light green which I also did the very edge with. 1 round of orange. 2 rounds of rose. 3 rounds of pink-purple. 4 rounds of lavender. And, finally, the middle in yellow. The stair-stepped colors balance each other out well, don't you think.

This could be done in Christmas colors or fall colors for a holiday flair.

October 23, 2015

Cute Monsters!

 Earlier this year, we found these out in the square downtown. We found out later that they were advertisement for a Chinese movie.
 I'm not sure what they are supposed to be, but they are just so cute.
 All the legs make me think of a spider, but, even so, he's still kind of cute.
And, just look at this one with the fish tail! How adorable!

October 22, 2015

Needle Book

 I made this needle book with two pieces of linen and one piece of batting cut in the same rectangular shape. Batting on the bottom with linen on top right sides together with the pocket (top already hemmed) in the middle. A pony tail elastic was included to wrap around the button. I sewed around leaving an opening before trimming the corners, turning it right side out and sewing around the edges.
 The pages were cut out with pinking shears and then the needle pocket, rickrack and ribbon were added. The rickrack and ribbon make it easier to stick the needles in. Also, the needle pocket was for larger needles.
Finally, the yo-yos and leaves as well as the button were added. A quick, cute, and useful project.

October 21, 2015

Peppers, Pipa, Pears

 Here are a few of my kitchen sketches. The pepper was drawn life-size and almost didn't fit on the page. I love the bright red against the deep yellow background.
 I cannot seem to remember the English name for pipa. They remind me a little bit of apricots, but are not quite the same thing.
This sketch was the first drawing I had ever done that actually looked like something and really got me started with drawing. I drew this after watching Jane LaFazio's From Art Journaling to Art video from Interweave. If you're interested in learning to do basic sketches, it's a great place to start. Jane makes it look so easy.

October 20, 2015

Moroccan Salad

This is one of our favorite salads pretty much year round.

Moroccan Salad

1-3 tomatoes, diced
2-4 cucumbers, diced
1-2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 TBSP flax seeds/chia seeds/hemp nuts
2 TBSP olive oil
2-4 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1-2 TBSP lemon juice (optional)
1-3 cloves garlic, pressed
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Combine the ingredients in the amounts you have or according to how many people are eating and according to your own taste. Each batch is a little different depending on what I've got on hand. This is a very flexible recipe.

October 19, 2015

Thrifted Sweaters!

When the weather gets chilly, this is my favorite way to stay warm. My wooly, thrifted sweater blanket with a flannel backing. The last few days have been cold enough that I've piled a few more quilts on top, too!

October 16, 2015

Patchwork Pincushion

 One can never have too many pincushions. This one was a mini sewing project for a class. The back is a single square and the front is a four-patch. Very simple. Very cute. And, quite handy to have around. No more loose needles on the coffee table!

October 15, 2015

Paper Circles


I did get the start of this idea from someone else, but I've no idea who since I can't find anything anywhere. I would imagine many others have made similar items. The originals used black ink on the edges, but I don't remember what else.

Anyway, if you decide to use your sewing machine and sew paper, do yourself a favor and dedicate a needle  or two to paper only and label them. Paper dulls the needles quickly and you wouldn't want to use them on fabric afterward. And yes, my sewing machine is held together by rubber bands. I'm out of duct tape. I also couldn't figure out how to lower the feed dogs, but that would probably be a safer pursuit especially if you do smaller circles. 
 The first step is to take a sheet (It was so much fun that I made 3!) of watercolor paper and tear a few sheets from an old book up. Glue the old book papers down, overlapping them, with gel medium. Let it dry overnight. Trust me, you don't want sticky scissors.

The next day, cut out a bunch of wonky circles and ink the edges. I used some of Tim Holtz Distress Inks and Distress Paints. Just remember, if you wet Distress stuff, the paint/ink is going to move. If you don't want that, use something more permanent.

 I hate threading bobbins, so I used up some of the tan thread already on the machine before switching to black. When sewing these, it would be smart to lower the feed dogs and go slowly. As mentioned before, I've no idea how to lower the feed dogs and I don't usually do slow. So, these were stitched with great care at top speed while trying to avoid sewing my fingers.
As you can see, I sewed around several times. I'm very much looking forward to using them in some art projects or on some cards. These were so much fun to make! I'm wondering if fabric scraps could be glued down instead?

October 14, 2015


 Crafter's Workshop 6x6 Gingko Leaves stencil is great. I used it in this black and white art journal page.

Then, I took a piece of muslin and dyed it with turmeric. I'd gotten a set of Inktense blocks on clearance a few years ago and used a wet paintbrush to add gingko leaves with the stencil. I'm still not sure what I'm going to use it for.

In the fall, yellow gingko leaves cover the sidewalks since gingko trees are planted all over here. I'm always picking them up, fascinated by their shape. So, this will probably eventually become part of an art quilt.

October 12, 2015

Making Wire Flowers

 As a writer, I go through quite a few notebooks. I prefer spiral bound for working in and when one is full, I tear the pages out and file them according to what type of writing they are.
 However, it seems a shame to throw away the wire from the notebooks. I usually save the covers, too. They make great paint palettes or homemade stencils. But, the wire usually becomes flowers.
 Unfolding and stretching out all the kinks takes a while.
 Then, I start shaping petals one at a time. As each petal is made, I wrap the wire around the center a few times as the center starts to form.
 I shape the first layer of petals as the largest and then add smaller petals.
 The smallest petals are in the center and are folded inward somewhat.
 More petals are added as long as there is still wire left.
 The very last pokey bit of wire is inserted into the very center that has been built up and the petals are shaped to make them more realistic.
Now they are ready to be glued to a canvas or used in another project. You could also cut a wire shorter with wire cutters or occasionally I've connected another wire. Usually though I prefer to use the wires in their original lengths.

October 6, 2015

Hot Air Balloon Painting

I finally finished my hot air balloon painting. It took quite some time because I had to think about the effects I wanted to create and how to make them.

I custom mixed the sky colors so that I could get the exact shade of blue I wanted. I used gesso and even some iridescent blue to get just the right blue.

The clouds were the most fun to make. I used brushes and my fingers. At the bottom I made fields of camellia in bloom which Yunnan is known for.

The baskets on the balloon were the hardest. I painted one layer first and then added some woven lines and then painted over that to get a hit of basketry.

As for the balloons, several of them are highlighted with iridescent paints and two of them are stenciled with the Tim Holtz doily stencil which is my absolute favorite stencil. The lacy effect is just perfect for so man applications.

This was a really fun painting to do.

October 3, 2015

Cabled Mug Cozy

I wanted to try a simple cable and found this coffee cup cozy by Jessica Biscoe. The pattern was easy to follow and I loved watching the cable take shape.

Check out my Ravelry page here.