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Archive for May, 2008

I’ve been running into some serious computer problems lately, but it looks like I’m back for a bit at least!

So I’d like to share with you all a really, really easy recipe. I love fresh herbs in the summer, and buy way more than I could ever possibly consume. I dry a lot of them (upside down in a paper bag) which works like a charm, but I wanted to find another way that I could preserve those yummy summer flavors.

So I settled on infused olive oils! I thought that it would be really difficult, and that it wouldn’t turn out, but they ended up being wonderful. Now the kind of oil you makes really depends on your tastes, but some of the ones I made were: blood orange; citrus (orange, lemon, and lime); herbs du provence (rosemary, thyme, garlic); lemon dill; and green meanie. Green meanie is the most delicious – every fresh herb I could find, including garlic, thyme, dill, rosemary, and basil. All you have to do is pick a flavor combination that you love (I made my mom some straight basil oil) and then find a clean, pretty bottle. Place the herbs in the bottle (the more the better, I say!) and then fill to the top with olive oil. Let it sit at least a week – the flavor will be nice and intense by then. It keeps indefinitely, or at least so it seems. And the best part is, when you use some of it you can just refill the bottle with more oil and that way it lasts forever!

I like to use these oils as an easy salad dressing, as a marinade for chicken or fish, to dip bread it, and pretty much anything else you can think of that needs a bit of light herb flavor. Go crazy! Add peppers or flowers or anything you want. The possibilities are endless (and I use this in a lot of my recipes so it never hurts to have some on hand).

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It’s that time of the week again! I’m pretty sure that I waste WAY too much time every week looking at all of the fabulous things there are to find on Etsy, and I can at least make myself feel a little better about spending all of that time if I can share my favorites here!

First off is Stacey Winters. Her photography is fun, playful and colorful, and involves lots of cute kitschy little creatures, and tons of different little deer! She has a great aesthetic and tons of different cards so you’re sure to find something that will fit your stationary needs.

Then we have Carnival. I bought some of her stuff earlier this year, caramel nut crammers, or something like that. Let me tell you, that was some of the best sweet stuff I’ve ever had! I don’t like chocolate much so it’s hard for me to find sweets that I will eat, but these were great. She’s got stuff for just about every taste, fast shipping, and generous portions.

I can’t say enough good things about chewingthecud. The shop has a great aesthetic (and a gorgeous banner) and all sorts of paper goodies. Would be good for the hipster or the minimalist in your life!

Last we have Swallowfield. She has some outstanding artwork. It’s truly rare to find such a talent, let alone have the opportunity to own such amazing work for such a fair price. She’s had tons of sales so far, and I’m sure that she’ll keep it up with the quality of work she’s been presenting. One of her prints might have to be the next thing I buy.

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This week I got to interview amazing artist (and creative friend) Robayre. I really, really love her work, and would have bought everything in her shop already had I managed to scrounge up the cash. It’s really just too hard to pick, everything is amazing! She also always has some great fun project going, which I always think is fun to follow, and is inspirational as well! She was nice enough to answer some questions for me, so here goes!


1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Um, truth? Well, I’ll have to admit it was marshmallows, but this morning was not a typical morning. Normally I’ll have cheerios in a cup on the way to work, or a raisin english muffin, or something portable and on the go. This morning I didn’t have to go to work, so I went to my best friends house where we made homemade marshmallows.

2. What is some of your favorite music of the moment?
I’m a huge music fan! I’ve been to way more concerts than I can count, and I have a very large music collection. Sadly, ever since I bought my first ipod I mostly listen to shuffle. BUT, there has been a CD in my car that I have been listening to constantly for about a month, and surprisingly I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. That CD is Sia’s Some People Have Real Problems. I bought the CD at the beginning of the year when it came out, but didn’t really get into it until I saw this video and thought, “Oh my gosh, that is totally me when no one is looking, and I’m singing along to music by myself!” I had to break the CD out again and have been obsessed ever since.

3. Of all of the creative things you’re doing at the moment, if you only had to choose one, which one would it be and why?
This question is like asking a mother to chose their favorite child, and those who know the way I work would understand. I have my hands in EVERYTHING. As soon as I start working on one thing my eyes roam and I want to be working on something else. I always admire the type of person who works strictly in one medium. But I’m just not like that. I always want what I don’t have.

4. Do you prefer watercolors over acrylic paints?
Hmmm, this is hard to say. I guess I gravitate toward using watercolor more often than acrylics.

5. Is etsy/creating your full time business? If not, what do you do in real life?
With 42 sales in my shop, I’m far from supporting myself with etsy, but wouldn’t that be wonderful? I work as a graphic designer and have been in the field since 1994 at the beginning of my senior year in high school. I love what I do, but as wonderful as the dream is, I fear that my artwork may not feel as special if I was forced to support myself on it.

6. Was there someone in your life who was a creative inspiration for you?
Well, both my parents are hobbyists. My mother is a quilter and crafter, and my father is like myself, having his hands in many areas of interest, from collecting saki cups to being a ham radio enthusiast. I feel like their parenting brought me up to be a person that wants to make and create and do, do, do. As a kid I was constantly desperate to be making something and I think my mom did a great job of feeding that fire by providing supplies and ideas. I often hear people my age and generation say that they grew up without crafts because their mothers were against the typical “womanly crafts”, and I can never relate to that because my parents were very much DIYers back in the day.

7. When did you first start creating things?
I’ve been making stuff since before I can remember. It’s just part of me. I know as a small child I loved art and it was probably when I was in second grade my grandmother paid for me to have private art classes.

8. What is your creative process like? Where do you get your inspiration, and what do you do to keep yourself inspired?
I keep a sketchbook, which gets filled with about 25% sketches and about 75% ideas and inspiration. I feel like I am a font of inspiration, so much so, that I unfortunately struggle with finding time to execute most ideas. Boredom is rarely a word in my vocabulary. I think I can thank my art group (The Makers http://www.themakersargroup.blogspot.com ), my blog and my online communities (flickr, Create A Day, etc.) for keeping me inspired. These things keep me driven to create and share what I am working on the most.

9. What is one cool thing that you think everyone should be checking out right now?
That would definitely be Found Art Tuesday ( http://rosamurillo.squarespace.com/found-art-tuesdays/ ) which just recently started it’s own flickr group that can be seen here ( http://www.flickr.com/groups/foundarttuesday/ ). I’d like to encourage and invite all readers to join there. I feel this project, started by my online friend Rosa Murillo, has so much potential to become something huge. It’s like crossing the idea of pay it forward (doing something good for others without asking for anything in return) with street art. Everyone has the opportunity to add beauty to the world and just imagine if each person participated once a week how exciting life would be. Easter egg hunts all year round.

10. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Well there was this one time when I was supposed to be watching my baby brother and he was kidnapped by the Goblin King. I had to maneuver my way through this enchanted world to save him, meeting all sorts of strange characters along the way. Finally I defeated the King, who happened to be David Bowie, and brought my brother home safely where I then had a huge party with all my new friends. Oh wait, that didn’t really happen to me, that’s the movie Labyrinth, lol. -That was totally my sister’s idea, she is a bad influence on me, lol.

11. Coke or pepsi?
Thai Iced Tea. I don’t drink pop, it burns my throat and makes me hiccup something fierce.

12. Do you make a signature dish, and what is it?
Well, my boyfriend and I have a favorite meal that we make frequently. It is like the Tuscana Soup from Olive Garden. We got the recipe from that book of famous top Secret recipes and we make a huge batch in the crock pot.

13. What is your favorite thing about where you live?
If you mean in northern Illinois then it would be that we have four seasons, although I wish that the spring and fall seasons would last just a little bit longer. I am definitely in the minority here, and can feel the glares burning holes in me when I state I love snow. If you mean in my city, then I would say that it is because of its relative closeness to one of the world’s largest, greatest cities (Chicago) and yet it is a pretty safe community. If you mean my new house, then it would be that I finally have my own studio room where all my supplies are and all my artwork is made.

14. What is the last thing you bought online?
A felted necklace from artmind.etsy.com

15. In a perfect world where you didn’t have to pay bills or do anything you didn’t want to be doing, what would you do?
Haha, this is funny and deserves a bit of a back-story. A couple weeks ago my family was playing a game where a person asks a question and everyone else has to guess how you’d answer. My question was exactly this same question. It was surprising to me how unanimous it was that everyone knew my answer would be “nothing”. I guess I’m pretty vocal about how if I weren’t required to do anything I wouldn’t do anything. Let me clarify.

You know how you hear people say if they won the lotto and didn’t ever have to work another day in their life they would still get a job? Well, I’m not one of those people. I think those people are people who are easily bored and I am not. I can always think of plenty of fun things to do to entertain myself and that is exactly what I’d do. If you want to get specific, doing nothing equals a lot of artwork. Not that artwork is nothing.

16. Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a house rabbit named Theo. She is a blonde dutch and is litter box trained. You can see some pictures of her here ( http://flickr.com/photos/robayre/sets/785357/ ).
17. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Everything will be all right. Time to get some Bob Marley in this interview. I get stressed easily and frequently and I try to remember when I start to feel that way how my mom would be able to calm me down. She’d let me know that everything will be okay, especially if you can share what you are stressed about with others.

18. What’s your best garage sale find?
I’m not sure what my best garage sale find is, but I might have just bought it this morning. I scored a Polaroid Color Pack II, Land Camera from my best friend’s grandma’s estate sale. Oh man, it’s so beautiful and almost brand new. I was a little cautious in getting too excited because of Polaroid’s announcement that they are halting production of instant film. BUT, I just found out that Fuji still makes instant film packs that can fit this camera and just ordered some right now.

19. Fill in the blank: if I couldn’t be creating, I would….
probably be dead. I just watched the Diving Bell and the Butterfly ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401383/ ) and the premise is that the main character has a stroke and is fully paralyzed aside from the ability to blink, he then proceeds to write a memoir that is transcribed through blinking. I’d like to think in the most hopeless of situations I’d still be able to create as well.
20. What are you most passionate about?
New projects. When I get really into a new project I want to tell everyone about it.

This was a really great interview! I really enjoyed hearing about someone who’s creative instincts are similar to my own, as it makes me feel as if I’m not totally crazy. Thanks again to Robayre for her patience and for her enlightenment, and happy creating!

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I recently bought this hand-painted silk handfan from Gilbea. She had one in her shop that I coveted for ages, but as soon as I got up the nerve to buy it, it was gone! Luckily she had a few more in stock that hadn’t been listed yet and she promptly put one up for me. I haven’t quite received it yet (checking the mail every day!) but it’s starting to get warm here and that puts me in a summer kind of mood.

So it’s no secret to my friends that I’m in love with all things Spanish. On previous trips to Spain, I was always enamored with the beautiful fans but thought them too ornamental for every day use (plus, can you imagine how much you would get made fun of in the states?). However, after spending some time there in the summer, which is, shall we say, muy caliente, I started to realize the advantage of the hand fan. Plus, all of the little old ladies in the subway seemed to fan themselves constantly, and it was pretty adorable. I managed to find a simple, pretty white one that I used at every opportunity. What a difference they make! It makes summer bearable, pleasant almost! So now I believe that this age-old tradition needs to be brought from Spain to the rest of the world. Plus, not only does it keep you cool, you can even send secret love signals! Any object that does that is OK in my book. There aren’t too many sellers of hand fans on etsy yet, but that just means that you’re ahead of the curve on this trend! Of the few there are, they seem to have a lot of selection and nice quality so you’re sure to find something great!

(from top right, across): mtuent, gilbea, ninadinoff, spanish fans, amy b’s jewelry, rlinesdesigns,
(pretty cool, it’s made from an old record).

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I’m sure some of you have seen the Scribbler. If you haven’t, please run, don’t walk, to this site. Seriously, it’s that amazing. I could sit here all day, drawing lines and then watching the program go to work. The end product is impressive enough on it’s own, but if you take what it had to start out with and look at it from that perspective (and think about the amazing coding that has to go into creating something like that) it becomes all the more amazing. I can’t really draw to save my life, so this makes my mouse-driven scribblings look awesome, and who am I to argue with that?

(I tried to put an example picture here, but to no avail. You’re just going to have to find out how awesome it is for yourself).

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Many of you may have seen Erin Tyner’s work on Etsy. Frequently in a spot on the front page, her works are very unique and identifiable. She approaches photography with a sort of painterly style and a touch of whimsy. Her photographs are like still lifes from a childhood dream long forgotten. She does some work with a macro lens and water droplets that are very impressive in their own right, but the Half Awake series is much more compelling (at least in my opinion). I also like that she is a self-taught photographer; you can tell in the way that she approaches her subjects, it’s very fresh. I can imagine these being stills from a stop motion film or something equally wonderous. Plus, I think that things are more fantastic when they are in miniature – I think that it reminds me of when I was younger and read far too many fantasy books. Anyway. Her prints are also very affordable – an 8×8 print will run you $24. A small price to pay for such wonderful, original art!

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My mother has always been at the root of my creativity. She was very creative herself – growing up, we always had great birthday parties that she would devise, and great meals she would cook, and our class projects were always the best. Immensely complicated and over the top, but totally awesome! She gave these projects as much effort as she gave everything in her life, which was as much effort as she had in her and then some. I used to think that it was too over the top, but I realize now that it was how she showed our love for us. Plus, I think she genuinely enjoyed it. I get excited now at the prospect of getting to make a Valentine’s Day card box or any of those other seemingly silly school projects. I just wish that I had a reason to make them now!

So today, I will continue to be creative, working on projects around the house, making something tasty for dinner, and cleaning up as I go, because I know that it will make my mom proud. And I think (and hope) that that’s what mother’s day should be about! And PS – isn’t she pretty?

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