Archive for February, 2009

So you might have noticed that I’m obsessed with terrariums, and I found a great seller on etsy that makes them!

Her shop name is Made By Mavis and she has an awesome assortment of terrariums in different shapes and sizes.  Plus, the shipping is totally reasonable!  When I got mine, the first thing I did was open it up and have a little smell – there’s nothing like the smell of damp earth to brighten up your day.  I hope you’ll pay her a visit and get one of your very own!

Friday faves are coming today – had some computer issues that I can hopefully resolve.


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One of my very talented friends, Chris Yates, has been doing a photo comic on his website for years.  I’ve been forunate (?) enough to appear a couple of times, and recently he came down to visit and captured the whole thing on film.  It pretty well sums up where I live and what my life is like, so I thought I’d share it here.

Chris is pretty hilarious.  He makes all sorts of interesting toys and other things he cut out with his scroll saw.  He’s quite a ridiculously talented man and I suggest that you check out all of his goodies here, or his photo comic here.

Friday favorites are coming later today!

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I love shopping at thrift stores.  There’s so much history and so many stories contained in all of those objects.  Plus, I like discovering items that have been negelcted and undervalued that have some potential – it’s actually one of my favorite thigns on earth.  I’m not going to lie, there have definitely been a few projects that have been started with the best intentions and never quite made it to the finish, but its the one that makes it all the way that makes it all worthwhile.


When I found this sad little guy he was hidden under a thousand other things on a big table.  His legs were wobbly, his doors had fallen out, and he was all scratched up. This is one of the easier renovations I’ve done – a little bit of sanding, some wood glue and clamps, and several cans of awesome-colored paint, and voila!  A happy table.


I needed a bedside table of some sort, and I think this will do the trick!  Now all it needs is an awesome lamp and a stack of books and we will be good to go!

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I know that it’s still in the cold clutches of winter for a lot of you out there, and I don’t mean to rub it in, but it’s been in the high 80’s here all week.  My poor cold-climate conditioned body has no idea what to do!  However, it does mean that flowers bloom early


here and it’s time for me to start thinking about flowers.  Well, not really, because I don’t have a garden, but a girl can dream, right?

My gardens usually consist of some pots outside on the patio, and the other day I stopped by the nursery to see what I could find that would do well in a container.  I found a see of ranunculus!  They are one of my favorite flowers, and I had no idea that they would be so easy to find.  I bought one plant as a test, and it has shot up 10 buds in the last week!  Which is amazing.

Please excuse the terrible picture, but this is a bouquet I made for a friend’s wedding last fall.  She had chosen white spider mums, orange tulips, yellow snapdragons, red-orange alstromeria and white roses for the rest of the bouquets and arrangements, but also picked a bunch of orange ranunculus for herself and the groom’s flowers.  They were a delight to work with, with their huge heads of petals and bright color (and they have a cool striped stem as well).  I can’t get over them – I’m going to go and buy a bunch more plants at the store today so I’ll have lovely cut flowers all year.

Here’s some pictures of ranunculus to get you inspired!


If anyone happens to live in Brooklyn, I highly suggest visiting the incredibly talented Sarah at Saipua.  She always has tremendous, unusual and beautiful floral designs.  (that’s one of hers above)

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At the flea market a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a great deal – 20lbs of freshly picked grape tomatoes for $5.  I love tomatoes, but I love a deal even more, so I dutifully lugged them home and was presented with an enormous problem – what on earth do you do with 20lbs of grape tomatoes?

I froze a lot of them (which really works well – you get little tiny tomato ice cubes) but still a ton remained.  I got some recipes from friends that I have yet to try out but that I’m really excited about.  My main focus was on preservation, and finding a way to store them that would work well in the freezer and be pretty versatile so I could use them on everything and thus use them up.

I’m going to experminent later with some of the recipes that I recieved but I’d like to share a few of the ones that I came up with.  They’re just sauces, but they provide a great burst of flavor for just about any meal.  You can find them here, in my recipe section.  I hope you like them – I really did!

If you’ve got a delicious recipe that you’d like to share, please let me know at thecraftbegins@gmail.com!

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The lovely Ms. Teske set a follow up yesterday to her interview.  She had demurred from answering one of the questions, saying that too many crazy things had happened to her (!) but she came up with a story, and I think it was a good one!  Her story follows below.

Also, in the meantime, there’s a new recipe for Southern-style sweet tea that you can find here.   It’s starting to get warm here in Arizona and I’m dreaming of summertime!  This is the perfect refreshment for when it’s warm outside, or when you want to get start thinking about spring.

Here’s Tiffany’s craziest thing!

“In 2002, while traveling in a VW bus in Australia, which they call Kombi vans, I may have had the craziest thing that has ever happened to me happen (although I had three other stories I could have told you….). I was traveling with Andre, my then boyfriend, now husband, and our friend, Dan. If it was not crazy enough to agree to live in a van for 8 weeks with, at times, stinky and annoying boys (although I was also both of these things at time) I had no idea what we were in for. After traveling up the east coast of Aus, over about 5 weeks, we decided to head into the Outback. Here kangaroos are EVERYWHERE (3 million kangaroos are killed LEGALLY in Australia each year by Roo hunters), and sometimes it is 250 km between towns on a one lane road. When cars meet they each have to put their two outside wheels off into the ditch, or get off the road completely when meeting a tractor trailer, which can be a “road-train” with three containers! Well, on one of these lovely roads, in the middle of no where, or actually specifically somewhere between Longreach and Jundah, a truck passed us, completely in the ditch, then came back in front of us, and as it got back on the road, it threw a giant rock into our “windscreen” (or as we say in North America, windshield). Now, in vehicles made today, it may have cracked it, or even shattered it, but it would have stayed intact… not so in a 1970 something VW van. The windshield literally shattered, in a million cracks we could not see out of and then stayed that way for about 5 seconds at which point blew into the van. Dan, who was driving, thankfully had “sunnies” (sunglasses) on, but had to pick bits of glass out of himself, and even though I was the furthest in the back I had to, too. We were now in between two towns with VERY LITTLE traffic…. and we had already been through Longreach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longreach,_Queensland), gone to Jundah, had van trouble, changed spark plugs in a dirt lot in Jundah, headed back to Longreach to go to a garage, and were now headed back to Jundah to continue our trip. Since we knew there was not a garage in Jundah that could work on VWs, we knew we needed to go back to Longreach FOR A THIRD TIME. We drove something like 90 km, without a windshield, which is NOT a picnic, in fact, there is a good reason we have windshields. We had to drive really slow, and at one point we almost hit a calf which could have flipped up into the van… the sun went down during all of this… I was never happier to reach a destination. Long story short, and it is a long, funny, and agonizing story, we spent 8 days in Longreach… a windscreen needed to be sent from the coast, and they only make two types of windscreens, but we got the wrong one sent to us the first time, and needed to wait something like 6 days for the right one to arrive! In the meantime, we befriended most of the town. The first day we got there, no one would talk to the crazy hippies in the Kombi with surfboards strapped to the top, and no windscreen, in the middle of the Outback. But, by the end of the 8 days we had befriended the VW mechanic, all the kids who played in the local park, and most of their parents who hung out at the biker bar in town. I went to every little hole in the wall museum in this 4,300 person town. We had little money, but did spend one night in a motel so we could shower, eat take out pizza, and watch movies. Our last night, to top it all off, was also pretty crazy… we went to the biker bar to see a band called The Lees. The bar was crawling with locals, including little kids. And The Lees (http://www.thelees.com.au/bandHistory.php) turned out to be a family band much like The Partridge Family. Mom played bass, Dad played guitar, brother, about 14 played the drums, sister about 17 sang, sister about 12 sang, and sister about 7 sang, played, and worked the lights…. it was crazy, awesome, amazing, and when the oldest daughter sang Alanis Morissette, a fellow Canadian to the guys (I am from the states) we decided to started talking to them on a break and told them our sad story. They hung out with us into the night, and even gave us one of the rooms attached to the bar, which they were staying in as the featured band. The next day, they gave us their coordinates in the town of Broken Hill, along with an invite to come and visit AND our new windscreen arrived! It was Andre’s birthday, and Dan’s birthday the next day…. Happy birthday, guys! The mechanic installed the screen, we headed to Broken Hill, and stayed with the family band for 3 days before heading home to Canada. Steve and Tracey, and their 4 kids, Raechel, Jarod, Faith and Savannah, are still friends of ours, and have come to visit us in Canada. Nothing could quite be crazier….

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Now, I should take a class on how to write true life stories without rambling…”

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Today’s interview is with one of my great craft friends, Tiffany Teske.  In addition to doing some excellent Polaroid

The Lovely Lady Herself..

The Lovely Lady Herself..

transfers, she is a wonderful photographer and a great crafty inspiration.  I loved getting to know more about her – now’s your chance!

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Homemade crepes with butter, lemon, & real Canadian maple syrup. Crepes are a favorite in our household. My 2 1/2 year old likes hers with pecans, cinnamon, & syrup. Hubby likes them with just butter & syrup. Fresh berries are always nice, too. If you would like the recipe you can get it on my blog at this post, http://tiffanyteske.blogspot.com/2008/11/our-classic-crepe-recipe.html.

2. What do you find most inspiring about where you live?

I live in Banff, in the Canadian Rockies. It is a tourist mecca for people from all over the world. The mountain landscape is very inspiring in a way I can’t really pin down. You just feel good when you see all that beauty. And I love that most of the people who are visiting are on holiday, either for R&R or to work here, so they are happy to be here. And they are walking around seeing what I see each day, with fresh eyes. It is fun. There are lots of venues for creativity, galleries and shops, movies, library, plus the world reknown Banff Centre for the Arts, so we get lots of great artists, musicians, dancers, comedians, etc, who come to perform and show their work there.

3. What kind of music are you into lately?

I feel like I have been in a bit of a musical rut. I used to keep up on new music, but have always loved all kinds of music, so old music is as good as new to me. I recently borrowed a copy of a friend’s Turkish Grooves, which is excellent. I love world music. Hard question…

4. Is etsy/creating your full time business? If not, what do you do in real life?
I am a professional photographer/artist complete with an associates and bachelors from the University of Maine. I have worked for myself for about 10 years. I do portrait work, lots of pregnancy and babies, I do fine art photography for galleries and Etsy, I craft a lot. I do work outside my home one day a week at my friend’s kid’s boutique. I can bring my 2 1/2 year old and it is a fun environment. I will probably stop this in June when I have my new babe, who is said to be a girl.

5. What got you into polaroid transfers? And what are you going to
do without the film?!
Ahhhh, Polaroid transfers. I fell in love with them in University, but could not really afford the equipment of film. About 5 years ago I was able to buy all the stuff I needed, and got really into it. I have taught the process quite a bit, at various art centers and independently. It is a bit strange, because every seems to think I would be lost without Polaroid film, but from the day I found out they had ceased production of 669 for transfers, I felt it was ok. I have had a good run with Polaroid transfers. If I can never make one again, I am happy with what I have made. I have documented everything I have done. And I still have many originals. I guess I will start selling prints, which I don’t like as much, but many people don’t like the small size of the originals, so it may be a good move. I also think that if there is not anymore Polaroid film, it may help artists who have worked with Polaroid to gain a bit more respect for their work. But, I feel that this day in age, that anything can happen. I still feel like Polaroid did this on purpose, to get people to rally, to come forward and say they want the film. And if that was not the intention, that is still what has happened, which is impacting other people as to whether they should start making the film. Fuji makes a film you can work with, in a different way, so all is not lost if I was to continue to work with instant film. I will just have to adapt, which is something I love to do. I like change. It is good for creativity.

6. Was there someone in your life who was a creative inspiration for you?

Growing up it was my Aunt Helen, my dad’s sister. My parents are not terribly creative. They are both in the dental field. And my living grandparents were pretty much “buyers” not “makers”. My dad’s mom was said to be eccentric and creative but she died when I was under 3 years old. Helen is her daughter, and she never had kids, actually doesn’t like them much, but we hit it off from my birth. She took me everywhere as a kid that kids don’t go; galleries, plays, the ballet, fine restaurants. She also took me to lots of kid places, like fairs, libraries, art groups. She is awesome! However, I never really had someone who taught me anything hands on artistic. No one taught me skills. But being with Helen inspired me to learn.

7. What else do you make other than art that you’re great at?

Oh, you are so kind. I try to make everything. I love to cook and bake when I have enough time to enjoy it. I love working with papers and with fabrics, although I am not very good at sewing. It is something I want to concentrate on in the near future. I studied ballet for about 12 years, and sometime I still teach it to preschool kids.

8. When did you first start creating things?

I think I have always had that in me. My daughter is the same, she always asks “what are we making today” or do we have a “project”. As a kid I was given lots of kits for making things, and took a lot of classes. My mom didn’t really do the things with me. As for photography, I was bit by the shutterbug at 7 years old. I was given a 100 camera to document a family trip. I have loved making photographs ever since.

9. What is your creative process like?

Hmmmm, this is a difficult one to put into words. I spend a lot of time kind of brewing or percolating… ideas come to me like breathing. I can come up with millions of things I want to do. But then I need time to think on them, to process them. It is not even a conscious thing all the time. Sometimes I feel like I forgot about an idea, but then it comes to me all ready. Poof. A lot of my process is mental. Living with the idea. If it is photography, I may then make the images, and then work in the process I have chosen for printing, displaying, etc. Or I may have made the images years ago, so I find them, then work with them in mixed media. Most of my artwork is photo based. As for something I am making that doesn’t use my photographs, I may collect the materials, then experiment. I am not really much of a planner for making art. I just kind of start making. The exception to this would be if I am using some kind of technical process for printing, something that needs to be done an exact way, such as some darkroom processes.

10. What’s a cool thing that you think everyone should know about?

Etsy. And Spoonflower is pretty darn cool. You can design and print your own fabric! How cool is that? I want to try it sometime. http://www.spoonflower.com. Ah, so many cool things in this world… I also like the Craft Daily newsletter, because it keeps me up on art, craft, food… sign up here, http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2007/02/get_craft_daily.html. I also think blogging is a cool thing everyone should know about because everyone has something to say and that they are interested in, and you can meet amazing people via blogging.

11. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Well, I have traveled the world so many crazy things have happened to me…

12. Where’s your dream vacation spot?

Everywhere, no seriously… ok, I will try to pick. Fiji, Alaska, Scotland, Italy, Greece, Belize, The Galapagos, Kauai, Egypt, Morocco, Japan….

13. What’s the last thing you bought online?

A hardbound photobook of a photo essay I worked on.

14. In a perfect world without the constraints of reality, what would you be doing?
Great question. I would be doing lots more of everything I love, which I try to do a lot of anyway. I would be traveling with my family, creating, collecting all things vintage, cooking, taking workshops, reading, and I would have like 6 kids. As it is now, I will soon have two, but we will probably stop at 3. However, if life bent to my every whim, I would have more kids.

15. Do you make a signature dish? What is it?

If you can’t tell by now, I am more scattered than focused and embrace change, so I cook all the time but can’t really come up with a signature dish. They are always changing. When I think of things people request for me to make they are crepes, veggie burritos, and these oatmeal ginger cookies that people go CRAZY for.

16. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Listen to your heart, follow your dreams, trust yourself, you can be anything, but you need to work for what you want, nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter.

17. What’s your most treasured possession?

Is it weird that I had to think about that one? I would have to say family photos and books and cameras. But, I strongly believe that as much as I love objects, that if I lost everything but still had the people I love, I would be fine. No object can last forever, and I think maybe I am a bit supersitious that if you hold on tightly to something you will lose it.

18. Do you have any pets?

No but have had fish, a bird, a gekko, a turtle, a hamster, cats, and dogs. Never trust someone who doesn’t like kids or animals…

19. What’s your best garage sale find?

Oh man, I am a collector, there have been SO many. Between garage sales, thrift shops, and Freecycle, I have found some amazing things. I guess the things I love to find most are very old photographs and slides, cameras, and vintage books with illustrations.

20. What are you most passionate about?

Making art, helping others (I have been to Haiti and Nicaragua on humanitarian missions, as well as working in the communities I have lived in), for all women to have the choice of natural child birth (I gave birth under the care of a midwife in a birthing center with my daughter and have a planned homebirth with a midwife for the second daughter), our environment, good health.

If you’re interested in learning more about this lovely lady, you can check out her etsy shop here.  She’s also showing on trunkt, and has her own website for her photography business here.  If you want to get more in-depth, she has two great blogs – one about “going green” and one about art and her life.  They both feature awesome ideas, great recipes, wonderful pictures, and awesome insights.  So stop in and say hello!

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