Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Miniature

I think I mentioned before that all the research I did on play dollhouses before Christmas re-ignited my childhood love of miniatures. For years and years as a kid I asked for a dollhouse and one year I got it. But it was a kit and, of course, it never actually got finished. One year my mom sold the whole lot of stuff for next to nothing. I hadn't remembered much about it at all until I started building this little sofa from a kit I got on eBay. Cutting out the little pieces, sanding the wood, and gluing it together triggered all of these memories. As a kid, I'd say not even 12 yet, I started building furniture for my dollhouse from kits. As I've started browsing eBay, I recognize many of the ones I had -- an entire kitchen, a Chippendale desk, an end table. I want my loot back. I'm not sure if it will happen but I'm on the case and will let you know if we find it. I don't think the people who have it now realize how important it is for me to see the craftsmanship of my 10-year-old self -- how much that will mean to me. As an artist who is making very, very little art these days, I'm hanging on to my creativity with a single strand.

Making this sofa, which has some gorgeous lines and with the right choice of stain will be very modern, made me super happy. I really enjoy it. Now if only I could get over this disease -- probably swine flu or something like it, I could finish it and post some pictures.

I also have kits to make the matching 4 dining room chairs but instead of the blue fabric, I'll be using Liberty of London that is in perfect scale. I've found a dollhouse and it will be mine in a couple of weeks. I've been collecting miniature furniture and accessories with the rabid passion of a 19th century naturalist. And Z and I have been making lots of scenes in a roombox. She has a fantastic eye for space and detail. I added a little gadget thing over there in the sidebar that will take you to the flickr set of our work. Or, just click here. I've been encouraged to start writing posts about my minis so this, I guess, is the first.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vegan Chicken Salad

So this will be my last post in penance for saying you all should look at leather messenger bags just so someone could get $55. But $55! That's a lot. I don't sell ads on this blog* and I certainly don't make money off of this so I think it's cool that a company likes what I do enough to reward me and the people who read it.

Back to Vegan Chicken Salad -- one of my absolute favorite foods. Like I have written about before, I haven't eaten meat in a long time. I stopped Freshman year of college because dorm food was just making me sick. So I lived on a bizarre diet of pasta and cheese for a few years as I was gradually learning about being more healthy with my food choices -- learning from friends how to cook vegetarian, learning about protein. I've always loved vegetables so that was never an issue. I just grew up eating meat and all of the food I learned how to cook had meat in it so I'm very thankful to a few good friends who kept me from starving. More and more I don't eat meat for a lot of other reasons.

Ok, I'll get on with it... I first had this stuff at Teany and was immediately in love. Whenever we're in Manhattan, I try to get down there for their Chicken Salad Melt to be revived. When my local co-op started carrying this, I was floored. It must be the same stuff. Either way. You have to check it out.

Other vegan things that I love:

Venerable Bean Bakery, my husband's baking company. Everything is vegan and he has also started doing a lot of gluten-free stuff because he was getting so many requests.

Vegan Cheese Ball, a delicious party treat that I invented. Super tasty.

This video is one of the reasons why animal rights are so important to me. Watch the whole thing. It's really amazing. I cry every time I watch it; it's so beautiful.

We had over a week of sickness around here. Z is almost back to normal. She now coughs like she's been smoking only 15 years instead of 60. I'm two days behind her in symptoms so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hoping to be better soon. Super awesome stuff ahead.

*Yes, there are a few "sponsors" over there. They are friends of mine who offered to donate items for giveaways. I'm giving back with a little link love. Just in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I love my new bag

Just before Christmas my Mom and I took a girls' weekend to New York City. We cheated by having Mr. Lemon drive and drop us off in the city (Z too!). We saved on parking and I think about 2 hours worth of traffic on the way home by taking the PATH train to Jersey where we met him at a station. Easy.

Anyway, we hit up as many holiday markets as humanly possible. If you know me and my mom, that's a lot. We saved the Union Square market for last as that's one of our favorite markets the rest of the year. I saw this bag and it drew me in. I needed a new bag. My old one had literally fallen apart the week before. I thought this was leather and was so tempted. But when I saw the 100% vegan sign hanging in the back of the booth, I was sold.

They are made out of recycled fabric and very durable. Mine looks brand new after 2 months of taking it everywhere everyday. It is the bag of my ideal self. The brand is Viva Zapata and their website is really well designed.

I have seriously never spent this much money on a bag before but the last few years I've been making some changes. I haven't worn leather in over 10 years but I also don't really like all the poorly made synthetic shoes/bags that are out there. It's hard to find something that's sustainable and fashionable. I don't consider myself remotely stylish but I also don't want to look like I've stepped off the commune either. Instead of buying cheap plastic crap, I've been doing research and buying quality stuff that is a little more expensive. The result is that I'm buying a whole lot less because my stuff is fitting better and lasting longer. So in the end, I'm actually spending less.

I will take a real photo of this bag and edit this post as soon as I have time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Giveaway winner announced and Valentine Schmalentine

Well Happy Valentine's Day! Just got the wild beast down to sleep for the night. I don't know what they put in the water at her school but the kid was a maniac this evening. Geesh. We are exhausted after that one.

Above is a sample of the valentines we made to give to all her little friends. I bought the pdf from My Paper Crane, printed them out on glossy photo paper and cut them out. Some I used special scissors for but that was taking forever so most I just cut like this. Z glued them all down herself and embellished the red card stock with stickers. She also drew on each one with markers. It didn't take long and I felt bad that they weren't as awesome as I had hoped until I got home from work and saw her loot. Aside from one of her teachers and one other kid, everyone else had just bought cards and taped candy to them. One of them was branded with those Bratz whores. These kids are 2 and 3! Geesh again.

So anyway, it's been hectic around here and I have a slight case of self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder (learned how to diagnose myself in Ab. Psych back in college, hellz yeah). But like I promised, I'll post about some of my favorite vegan stuff this week. Hey, Danskso! Feel free to send me a pair of those new vegan sneakers in a size 37 (sand, please). I'll get right on reviewing those.

And the winner is #4, Jonnie! I sent you an email but if you didn't get it, let me know.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Giveaway Reminder and the End of Book Reviews (for now)

That's all the books I have to review for now. I'll do another series again when I gather enough together. It seems like a good time of year so maybe next January.

Don't forget about the CSN stores gift card giveaway. No, they don't seem to sell books but they do have millions of other things and were very generous to provide such loot to a reader.  $55!

You have to leave a comment on this post to enter. I'll pick a winner on Monday.

Over the next couple of days I'm going to write about some vegan things I love in penance for mentioning leather. I don't eat meat or use animal products but I also don't want to be preachy or judgmental about it so I don't usually talk about it at all. I plan to write a couple of posts on some things I have that are awesome so you can check them out too.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Book Reviews

This post will contain links to all of the books I review on this blog.

Bias: All of these books I have bought (usually used on Amazon or with gift cards I have gotten for my birthday from Barnes and Noble) or they were given to me as gifts. So far, no one has been giving me free books to review. If something changes, I will let you know.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Book Review: Every Day's a Holiday

Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane brings this little set of book reviews to a close with Every Day's a Holiday: Year-round Crafting with Kids.  As you can probably guess, it's organized chronologically following the holidays month by month. There are a ton of projects from crazy hats to stenciled totes. These crafts are targeted to kids of all ages -- some you'll need to help out with and some they'll be able to do on your own. There's definitely a good variety and a full dose of her uber-cute signature plush style.

All the templates are in the back and easy to photocopy as you need them. There aren't a lot of  illustrations to the steps but there are plenty of photographs of the crafts at different angles so if something's difficult, you'll be able to figure it out. And while the crafts are all attached to a holiday (and some really bizarre ones at that), you can do most of them at any time.

Overall, this is a great book for you to pick up if you have kids. You should have picked it up last week before you got buried in all that snow. Then you would have actually had some cool stuff to do instead of watch at that TV.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Book Review: Wee Wonderfuls 24 Dolls to Sew and Love

Hillary Lang has really outdone herself with Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love. I have long been a fan of her blog and patterns and was extremely excited to hear the news of this book.  It has gotten nothing but good reviews and for good reason. Her patterns are exquisitely drawn and her instructions clear and concise. I have bought several patterns from her shop and have never been disappointed. The book is very well done. I was pleased that all of the projects are new and not repeats of patterns she sells in the shop or offers on her blog.

The book cuts right to the projects and puts the primer of sewing/tool information in the back right before the patterns. You can photocopy or trace the patterns you want (enlarging/reducing as you wish). The projects are of varying levels so that even beginners will find something that suits their skills. But really, the instructions are so detailed that if you take your time, you'll be able to make any of them regardless of your experience. The important thing to remember that there are very few quick fixes with Lang's work. She adds a lot of detail. You're going to have to hand stitch something. That's just the deal. That's why our toy bin houses a naked Christmas elf with no hair, hat, or face. The details did me in on the first go and this Christmas I didn't get around to finishing it. Ahh, maybe next year.

I highly recommend this if only to look at the gorgeous photographs. It's a work of art in itself.