Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Everything. Really.

This one of those everything posts where I try to catch up on a million things as fast as I can. Ready? GO!

First off, my group of Ravelry friends designated the month of February for Finishing, so I have been trying really hard to make more progress on the projects I already have on the needles.

Noah's sweater is almost done.

Noah's hoodie waits for sleeves

This...

cap made from StarGrrl's yarn - take two

Actually got finished!

finished hat

other side

Next up is a present from my dad, who is always finding cool old things.

vintage paper cutter

He brought me this great old paper cutter the last time my parents came to visit.

vintage paper cutter

Tons of cool details and still very sharp!

vintage paper cutter

And it still has some of its original info on the bottom.

vintage paper cutter

Still on the subject of gifts...

beer soap

Beer soap. Wonderful, wonderful beer soap. Some friends came into a large amount of the stuff and wanted to give some away. I said I was interested and was told I'd get "some" soap.

beer soap

"Some" soap turned out to be a 2 lb log! I am loving this stuff and should probably share some, but I don't know... I do so love having all those little round bars to myself. ;)

And speaking of round things? (Yeah, that was bad. I know.)

Holy crap! It's the moon!

moony blur!

I do realize it is not a clear, crisp picture, but still. I have always wanted the capability to take a picture of the moon where you could actually see the surface details and by golly, I am getting closer!

The excuse-making part of me wants you to know the following: I don't fully know my way around my new camera yet, it was very windy and cold and between the tripod shaking and me shivering, I could not get a perfect shot. But next full moon I will be out there again. Well, as long as it's a little milder outside...

Oh! Did I say "new camera?" The short story is that I got a new camera last Saturday (an Olympus E-420) to replace my dying Fuji. I saw some groups on Flickr for people who use manual lenses from other Olympus systems on their 4/3 system cameras (which is what my new one is) and I thought, hey! I have an OM10 that my parents bought at a yard sale that came with a few lenses!

new camera!!!

I can use those! So I ordered a cheap adapter and oh my gosh!!! They work. I have a lot of practicing to do, but I am feeling really excited about all this. Might finally take my "photography" to the next level. Much more on that some other time when I am feeling long-winded.

But not now.

Abrupt topic change (and a plug for an awesome website I have the honor of blogging for), I recently reviewed a DIY organic chocolate kit over at Grow Indie.

ready to freeze

The actual review post is here if you want to check it out. These chocolates were so easy to make and really tasty!

And last, but certainly not least is a swap I just did with my new blogging buddy bambinosteps.

swap goodies from bambinosteps!

It all started with her awesome post on roasting your own coffee beans -- something which never would have occurred to me to try in a million years.

home roasted coffee beans!!!!!!!!

I mean look at those things!!! And they smell as good as you think they do. Anyway, I had left a comment about swapping if she was ever interested and she said yes!

And in true blogging-community swap fashion, she threw some extras in, like her personal blend of Italian seasonings:

home-blended italian seasoning

And some of her adorable, hand stamped gift tags!

hand-stamped gift tags

Thank you Kimberly!!! I had so much fun and hope you love what I sent as much as I love everything you gave to me. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Look! (almost) New Season!

daffodils

Spring is in the air! The sun is a little warmer and stays up a little longer. The snow and ice are slowly melting, revealing what will soon be tender new foliage, soft, green grass, and a few overzealous plants already poking their heads up after being so snugly insulated under the remains of last year's growth.

hyacinth?

On an especially perfect day, I can finally make out the rich, spicy scent of the thawing earth. I look forward to that smell every year around this time.

Soon. Very soon now.

In the meantime, I've been going back through my happiest, garden-iest pictures (like I do every year when Spring Fever hits) and thought you might like to join me.

Flower Shopping

rain drops on barberry 2

growing!

pink lamium

how does my garden grow?

Not much longer now!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A little self-indulgence

After all, it is my birthday. ;)

wee baby amber

baby amber

amber in the field

Such a happy child...

happy amber

sunny amber

And proof that some things never change:

serious amber

snap pea moustache

Friday, February 4, 2011

Teeny Tiny Soap Shop!

Here is a "quick" look at the almost-completed miniature soap shop!

soap shop interior in progress

I started with another Mouse House, but decided to modify it a bit differently than the Garden Shop, just to spice things up a bit. :)

modifying

filling in some holes

After a few fills to get rid of the round door and window, I assembled the walls and began putting in the shelving, and started tiling the floor with tiny pieces of actual floor tiles I cut into wee little squares.

starting the tile

tiny tiles!

Waiting for "grout."

shelves going in

Building the little shelves.

building shelves

Floor grouted, shelves installed, and walls tiled.

walls tiled

Everything grouted or plastered and primed.

grout and primer

Painted!

painting done

Windows installed, pictures hung, and some merchandise on the shelves.

soap shop entrance - interior in progress

Little jars on the little shelf,

little jars!

and assorted natural sponge products beside the counter.

sponges for sale...

Window from outside. The textured "glass" is actually cut from a small sheet of embossed plastic intended for texturizing polymer clay.

soap shop window

A view of the window from inside the shop, and a better look at the framed prints on the walls. I picked some of my favorite soap photos from my ever-growing "portfolio" and printed them out at sizes just slightly larger than thumbnails. (Like, computer talk thumbnails. Not human ones. Unless you know someone with really huge thumbs...)

window again

And for patrons interested in my lovely soap photos for their own homes, I filled a bucket with prints for sale.

bucket of soap related prints for sale

I still have a lot to do with this one -- I didn't even start building the base for the outside area yet -- but overall I am pretty pleased with it.

I wasn't too happy with how cartoony the soap came out, but it is growing on me. And I still have to cut a little stack of brown paper and make a teeny cone of baker's twine to place on the counter for wrapping materials.

My big plans for the outside include some planters with lavender in them, and maybe some other soap-making friendly plants, and I want the front door to be flanked by two vintage style pedestal sinks with plants growing out of them.

But that's for later. :)

soap shop checkout counter - interior in progress

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I cannot believe I forgot to share this before!

All stocked up on seeds! :)

Last year, my friend Greg got me into the magical world of miniatures. I always found the process a bit daunting, but I decided to give it a go. He had given me for Christmas in... 2008? I started it before we moved down here but I packed it away and sort of forgot about it until this past summer.

It has been one of the most fun little things I have ever done! I decided to do a tiny garden shop for my first one and loved it so much I am working on a whole series of shops now.

I am almost done with a soap shop, and just started working in earnest on a yarn shop. After those are done, I'm thinking a fabric store and a whole foods/dry goods sort of store. I dunno. Wherever the spirit takes me I suppose.

Anyway. Here are some pictures of the garden shop!

First off, here is what the kit is supposed to look like when fully assembled:

mouse house

(Photo from Real Good Toys)

I did some modifications and mine ended up like this:

outside - different angle

outside picture!

better cupola picture :)

On the inside, I did some plastering, painting, and "paneling" (coffee stirrers from Starbucks):

empty inside

And built some custom shelving:

inside - experimenting with furniture placement

And started filling it up!

Putting out the inventory...

And here's the official tour!

Plenty of gardening books to peruse,

books!

a "roman shade" and reversible window sign,

window treatment

some hand tools,

tiny little garden tools!!!!!!!

and some bigger tools too.

shovels and pitchforks and galvanized buckets!!!

The counter, with some magazines and a knitting project waiting to be started,

the customers' view of the counter

the chalkboard on the front of the counter, as seen through the window,

today's specials

all the stuff on the counter,

looking down from my side of the counter

and behind the counter.

behind the counter

Plenty of seeds, watering cans, twine, terra cotta pots, and even some garden hoses!

Shelves full!

The whole room:

inside in natural light

Thanks, Come Again!

Thanks, Come again!

And here are some shots of the outside.

The path is made from actual bluestone chips from the slabs in my yard. The moss in between is wool from my needle felting stash, and the mulch is tiny pieces of twine, cut and dyed and glued in place.

mossy bluestone path and mulch

I added some planted trees/shrubs and some balled and burlapped shrubs for sale:

table, trees, and shrubs

That about does it! I still need to get some finished photos of it outside, but I think I need a warmer day for that. :)

mossy path, mulch, and shrubs

Even though the soap shop isn't quite done yet, I think I'll share that next. It's cute enough already (I think?) to show even without the final touches.