hey everyone...i've moved the blog over to http://saltyphoenix.blogspot.com please come on over! =)


“other people may be there to help us, teach us, guide us along our path, but the lesson to be learned is always ours.”

so, i DID do some sewing today. but, more importantly, i learned a few lessons. lesson #1 yes, washing your fabric before you use it is the best way to go. that way, you're covered on the color bleeding, fabric shrinkage, etc. however, if you are washing *scraps* of fabric (i.e. fabric that has already been cut), make sure to trim all edges with pinking shears, wash in a lingerie bag, or use some other preventative measure to keep the scraps from fraying...big time. lesson #2 don't get too big for your stitches...er, britches. if you haven't really sewn anything on a machine (except for sewing two pieces of felt together) in 16 years, do yourself a favor and don't start with a project that has curved pattern pieces. it is much easier to keep a consistent seam allowance if you're working with straight edges. i'm just sayin'. lesson #3 a 1/2" seam allowance does NOT mean you can get away with a slippity-sloppy 3/4" seam allowance (this lesson linked with lesson #2 above). lesson #4 if you have a tutorial but no pattern and you think you can *eyeball* the pattern because, afterall, they're just simple circles...go with your eyeball measurement and then add another inch or so. alrighty....so BEFORE i learned the lessons above, i made this little ditty... ...which is cute and all but only 3" wide and, therefore, not the most practical of coasters. but, hey, if anyone you know needs a super-cute area rug for a dollhouse, let me know. taking what i learned, i set to work again and, lo and behold... not perfect, by any means (and needs pressing)...but definitely a viable coaster. in hindsight, i should have trimmed the corner of the batting. good thing is, these little cuties whip up very quickly and don't use much fabric at all...really great for using up scraps (don't forget lesson #1!). on another note, i've recently discovered that i really love embroidering. i came across the Sublime Stitching website, which has wonderful how-to's, patterns, kits, textiles, etc. embroidery is a relatively inexpensive craft that seems to be making a comeback, which means there are now a good number of resources (online and otherwise) for non-fuddy-duddy patterns. i've purchased a few patterns from this site and just finished my first project, a tea towel. i love the way it turned out and, remember, i'm really new at this...so this is a great craft for those of us who like some immediate gratification!

project for a rainy sunday

yesterday i started working on a super-fun and easy (even for complete sewing neophytes like me!) passport pocket...pattern available from Keyka Lou. today, its on to *roller coasters!* this is a free tutorial i found at Sewing Republic, which has lots more great patterns. i'll post photos of my final product when i get there. Roller Coaster


i have been horribly remiss in my blogging and apologize to everyone who follows my randomness. :) truth is, sadly, *real life* has gotten in the way of all the stuff i truly love doing, which, incidentally, are the things i blog about! but have no fear...i'm back and gearing up again but i have truly missed posting. new posts coming soon...just bought my *first* sewing machine, about to start a sewing class, getting into embroidery, etc...becoming a fabric NUT!


courtesy of Hemal, who blogs about manifesting & law of attraction


“the man who achieves makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all - doing nothing” ~ benjamin franklin

yesterday. a snow day. i set out to needle felt a little bird. things went awry from the beginning. i was interrupted, distracted, impatient - quite the trifecta of detriments to any craft project. so i ended up with a blob of sorts and was uneasy and frustrated just looking at it. but, you know...life, lemons, and all that. i sat there and thought..."what do i need?" well, its a small thing but i need a pincushion for my embroidery needles, felting needles, etc. well, hm, nothing to make a traditional type so i started looking around. oh, hm...there is a used plastic tea light...some mod podge sitting on the table...leftover black wool roving...and, look, my formless blob looks a bit like a monster with a snout...wonder if i added some eyes... be joyful.



There are times when silence has the loudest voice.” ~ Leroy Brownlow
i took this photo at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC on a very cold winter day. there was a really pretty fountain and i was practicing capturing the falling water in different ways using the settings on my new camera. it wasn't until i got home and photoshopped this one that i saw the smiling homeless woman who had been sitting on the other side of the fountain. i had seen her come in from the cold earlier in the day but didn't notice that she sat, quietly reading, while i fiddled with my new toy. there isn't anything particularly special about this photo...but, through it, this woman speaks to and humbles me.


thursday - amazing shop feature

this week's shop feature welcomes you to ladybirdland by allison strine, purveyor of ♥ Exuberant Art That Speaks to your Heart ♥ i personally own several pieces by allison and i can tell you that they really are fabulous, ranging from the just-for-fun to the truly inspirational. please check out her shop, i have no doubt you'll find something that speaks to you. and for more about allison, please read on!
  • how long have you been at your trade?
I have been selling my artwork for about 2.5 years.
  • how did you become interested in doing what you do?
After my oldest was born I became interested in scrapbooking, and that hobby turned into a full blown obsession, complete with schlepping a camera everywhere, reams of scrapping papers, and a studio. I set a goal to win an award from one of the scrapping magazines, and reaching that goal nearly did my marriage in! I realized that I needed to take a break, and quit cold turkey. Then I picked up pottery at the local arts center, and THAT became an obsession! A few months later I had outfitted our back porch with a wheel, glazes and bags and bags of clay. I threw pot after pot until our youngest came along. That put a stop to pottery. After a year or two, I started painting on six little six inch by six inch canvases. I still remember sitting at the kitchen table making these little ladies and birdies. Then I wondered what one of the ladies would say, and it was "Sometimes she goes the whole day without putting on a bra." That struck a chord with my friends, as did some of the other sayings. I don't remember why I thought it would be fun to create soldered jewelry of miniature prints of the collages, but I do know that I sat at that same kitchen table and soldered a hundred pendants before a good one came out. It was SO frustrating to learn to solder! At the same time, my daughter's kindergarten teacher told me about Etsy. It took a couple of months before I was brave enough to try to sell something, and I will never forget that thrill of the first "you sold something" email. Heck, I still get that thrill today!
  • where do you find your inspiration?
I met Teesha Moore (www.teeshamoore.com) at an art retreat, and her creativity fairly electrified me. I had never seen anyone so COLORFUL! Love! Also, there are tons of amazing artists to be found in art magazines like Somerset Studio and Cloth Paper Scissors. I stopped reading those mags, though, 'cause I didn't want to copy anyone's work, even subconsciously.
  • pick one song that speaks to you as an artist and please tell us why.
Well, the only way I could do this would be to write about a band that brings back a memory, and that band is The Beatles. I remember listening to my Paul-crazy babysitter singing ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. when I was about five. Then I remember watching the Beatles ‘65 record, with its rainbow stripe around the label, spinning around on my five dollar turntable. Later I played ‘Yesterday’ for an entire afternoon, back to back, lifting the needle at the end of the song and placing it right at the start again, while I bawled tears of agony over losing my dog. Then it was on to college, where I’ll never forget the moment my roommate walked in and told me John had been shot. When my brother died, I created a video set to “In My Life”, and we all watched Bradley on tv and cried bitter tears at the beauty of John’s voice, and the tragedy of loss. Oh, how I lived and died with The Beatles - When I moved to Germany, all by myself, I brought Paul’s voice with me, to play every morning on my cassette tape player, and comfort me in my loneliness. I’ve listened to scratchy 45s, and LP records, and eight track tapes, and cassettes, and my first compact disc purchase was Sergeant Pepper, and always the Beatles have been with me. Music is about as powerful a force as I’ve ever known, and in my life I hope I never lose my connection to John, Paul, George and Ringo.
  • what is your favorite item in your shop and why?
My favorite item in my shop is always whatever's newest. It's the one I've most recently poured my little heart and soul into!
  • what is the one thing about you and/or your art/creations that you would want someone who is about to visit your shop to know?
My work touches a chord with women who are of my generation, girls who can't believe they're starting to get wrinkly, girls who still feel that teenager insecurity inside sometimes. And they're moms - animal moms, child moms, women with a huge heart, which has probably suffered a bruise or two along the way. I want to offer a little sense of being compassionate to yourself, and a little sense of JOY!
  • are you offering any specials/sales/promotions, etc. in conjunction with this feature?
Free Shipping (US only) for orders over $25. ************************************ ok, so you've heard from the lady herself...and here are a few of my personal favorites from her shop, though it was insanely tough to narrow this down to just three! have fun, laugh, be inspired.



"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." ~ T.S. Elliot *photo by me!


"Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor." ~ Samuel Johnson

and now...for this weekend's (just barely!) frugal finds on etsy. this time i'm focusing on *useful* things to help you get/stay organized, like this too-cute owl post-it note holder from ragsnehali. some really cute stuff here...please check them out and click to your heart's content. 1) my lil' budget book 7-pocket file from MyLilBudgetBook 2) gadget keeper by janinekingdesigns 3) central park tins from ekohdesign 4) desk organizer by RuJu 5) tangerine visor caddy by ArrivingInStyle 6) damask fabric message boards from ExclusivelybyMaritza


humanity lives

want to be someone's angel? check out "sneak attack," where three days a week, at an appointed time, an Etsy shop with few or no sales is announced. As many people as possible then buy items from that shop, resulting in a frenzy of surprise business to the unsuspecting shop! such a sweet idea. feel like humanity is lost in this world? think again. *photo by me!


annnnnd the winners are...

just picked the two winners of my ♥ one world ~ one heart ♥ giveaway! the two winners are... Linda and Barb! congrats, ladies! i'll be emailing you tonight to find out which print you'd like! and thank you to everyone who entered...this was a wonderful experience...can't wait for next year!


switch it up

some of you know that i've opened a new shop on Etsy...TheInspiredPhoenix. i'm in the middle of slooooowly populating the shop with fun and unique switchplate covers at the moment, but eventually plan on adding other housewares like special and distinct coasters, frames, etc. please come check me out...i'm adding new things all the time.


a lesson

think about it...

"The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things...." ~Thomas Troward interesting, hm? this is something i have trouble with. when we want something to come into our lives, why do we always focus on the fact that we don't have it? human nature, i suppose...but it goes completely against the law of intention, manifestation, etc. SO..when i feel like there is something i want to have, experience, do, and there are sooooo many things i want to learn how to do (letterpress, crochet, knit, calligraphy...the list goes on!), i'm gonna try to remember that i have lots of time to get it all *done.* its really a movement toward being comfortable in the now, not about blind optimism or wishes, but something even MORE than that. is anyone else noticing that ideas about this stuff have really been coming out of the woodwork for the last 20 years or so? i read about this in "the celestine prophecy" and really think its fascinating.



"The dog was created especially for children. He is the God of frolic." ~ Henry Ward Beecher this is one of my hounds, Georgia...she is an amazing creature who lived the first 3 years of her life as a stray. now she's living in the lap of luxury and loves to chew on her fav chipmunk squeaker while rolling around like a hog in mud! (working on making her into a *bit* more of a lady...hahaha.)



"I don't care what is written about me as long as it isn't true."
~ Katharine Hepburn in tribute to one of the best of all time. for a list of all her fabulous films, click here. some of my favorites of hers... *suddenly last summer* *bringing up baby* *the philadelphia story*


thoughts become things...choose the good ones ™

need a bit of daily encouragement? want to smile at your inbox every morning? think there is something *to* all this manifestation mumbo jumbo? check out TUT, "a philosophical club of like-minded thinkers who believe that life is the ultimate adventure... because thoughts become things, dreams come true, and all things remain forever possible!" matrixy


"Frugality without creativity is deprivation." ~ Amy Dacyczyn

thought i'd start a new weekend routine of showcasing great buys that i find on etsy and other indie sites (like the super-fun monkey crayons above from Elizabear, who has more fantastic animal crayons here!). some of these are sales and others are just good buys all the time. check them out and show the love. ok, so what've we got here? 1) a gorgeous, professional customizable banner and avatar for your etsy shop from StorykraftKreative 2) retro-funky key earrings from cjsdesigns 3) the cutest, high-quality pet collars you can find from luckyfiona 4) enjoy-your-soup-in-style porcelain bowls from khphillips 5) versatile, eco-friendly scrubbers from RightBrainThinker
6) sweet little owl trivet from Thrush


:: needs no words ::

photo by POSTCOOL, posted in honor of the CPSC's one year stay of testing and certification requirement...and in the hope that it will become a permanent stay.


thursday - amazing shop feature

for this week's fabulous etsy shop feature, meet rachel, of Get Ready, Set, Go (yep, that is her shining face in the photo below, along with a few pieces of her amazing upcycled luggage). i came across rachel's shop late one night when i should have been snoozing but i couldn't be more thrilled that i did. she takes wonderful vintage luggage, bags, train cases, etc. and then transforms them into some of the most unique and fun pieces you'll ever see. after looking through the listings on rachel's shop, i quickly realized what an gifted painter she is and thats when a little lightbulb went off in my head (yeah, you should always look out when that happens!). i convo'd her to ask if she could paint a replica of my tattoo onto one of her bags! i happen to have a tattoo that isn't readily visible (to me OR others) and it is such a gorgeous design that i wish i could see it more...so i thought, hey, having it painted onto one of these bags would be pretty darn marvelous. out of that first convo, i came to know rachel as not only a spectacularly talented artist and the best example of a great etsy seller (top-notch communication, etc.) but also as a fun, funky, and inspiring person. so, are you just itching to see how my bag came out? well, here it is. it is absolutely perfect and just what i was looking for. you can see that, on one end, rachel also painted my initials! ok, well, enough rambling by me. time for you to learn about rachel from the gal herself! here are her answers to my feature questions:
  • how long have you been at your trade?
officially, i've been a shop here on etsy since june 2008. at that time i ran the shop with my dear friend rebecca. i took over the shop in the early fall and now run it all on my own. we parted amicably and still remain super close friends:)
  • how did you become interested in doing what you do? Did someone teach you or are you self-taught?
self-taught for sure! it's whatever idea comes into my crazy head that i then sketch onto paper then onto luggae if it's worthy:) to me each pieve of luggage is a blank canvas for expressing what it is i need to get out. travel holds something seriously unique, mysterious and the places you go brand you for life. i love thinking about where a vintage piece came from. i love dreaming up stories of it's past.
  • where do you find your inspiration?
it's in everything i hear and see. music inspires me, the random moments of life that i find myself compelled to photograph, the things in life we miss because we're too busy running forward, passing the scenery without looking at it or taking the time to reflect on it.
  • pick one song that speaks to you as an artist and please tell us why.
wow- HARDEST QUESTION EVER! if you saw my music collection you would understand- but i come by it honestly. my father spoon fed me music from the time of my birth. i am going to choose a song that speaks of a dark and colder time in my life. EMPTY by Ray Lamontagne (listen to the whole song here: it's unbelievable!) i will explain in specific quotes: "Will I always feel this way so empty and estranged?" this verse speaks of the feelings i could not shake as a child. i always had friends and we did have things in common but i always knew there was something different about me. from the age of 3 i began to struggle with anxiety and fear, with feeling so empty and for no apparent reason. before this song was written i was asking myself that very same question. "and of these cut throat busted sunsets these cold and damp white mornings I have grown weary" my best friend had died when i was 13 of a rare and rampant case of leukemia, a boy in the class below me drowned in a lake when i was 14 and when i turned 15 my best friends sister got into a horrible accident in which her best friend died in her lap. 16 brought me no comfort and by the time i was 17 i was just done- worn down and flat out exhausted. i lacked the will to will anything at all. "well I looked my demons in the eyes lay bare my chest said do your best to destroy me" when i was 18 i decided to get up and fight. i went searching for a cure. i kept trippin on my laces and gettin back up. trip, fall, trip, fall. found myself an answer. tripped and fell again. kept on truckin'. "I've been to hell and back so many times I must admit you kinda bore me" i went through something so hideously traumatic when i was 22. the most awful illness i've ever experienced. i literally was out of my mind for almost a week and came near death. i knew after going through that experience, after coming out of it, that i could get through anything. this next line sounded of sirens in my head "there's a lot of things that can kill a man there's a lot of ways to die yes, and some already did and walk beside me" there was a turning point. it was slow and steady, with setbacks of course. kevin kline's character in Life as a House said it perfectly: "You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don't even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don't even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away, make you something different in an instant. It happened to me." that's how i have felt these past 6 years. now, at 28, i am not that person anymore. yes, all that has happened to me has left it's marks and impacted me but no longer am i living in a constant state of fear and fragile as can be. and i don't know when it happened. i guess this song speaks volumes because it's a part of my life that has been overcome. without the severe pain that my life had dealt me i never would have been able to experience the joy that i feel now. i would never have been able to inhale the electrical intense beauty in all that i see and encounter. don't get me wrong, i will and am surrounded by sufferring on this earth that i don't understand but i've got a new pair of eyes because of my past. i wouldn't change a thing.
  • what is your favorite item in your shop and why? How does it make you feel? Does it hold a special meaning or remembrance for you?
well, after that long-winded novel i wrote about my life it feels a bit jumpy to get back to luggage and my favorite piece:) but i do have one (here). and it's because of the color and the quote. i absolutely ADORE the color red, always have, but the quote by Tolkien says it all. on the case i didn't quote him verbatim, "Not all those who wander are lost". I remember the first time i read that- it literally melted me. it applied to my entire life journey and gave meaning to my madness. and while i'm throwing out quotes here's my other favorite by the late, great, C.S.Lewis: "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." this just reminds me to keep on giving all the love i have to give- even when it hurts. it will be going inside one of my suitcases very soon.
  • what is the one thing about you and/or your art/creations that you would want someone who is about to visit your shop to know?
another great question to which i wish i had a brilliant answer. i put my heart and energy into each and every piece of luggage that i have. most pieces are upcycled but even those that aren't are cleaned up as best as i can. no matter what kind of shape a piece is in when i stumble upon it i try my best to bring out all of it's best qualities. i include customizing and any kind of artwork for free so that each piece is individual. i try to create pieces that will be with you for a lifetime. i want my customers to take joy in the fact that there isn't another bag or case out there like their's, to know that their item wasn't, and couldn't be, mass produced. i got a message from a girl this evening about a train case i customized for her mother for christmas. it sums up everything i could ever hope for a person to feel. i will leave you with her words. " Hi Rachel Just wanted to say thanks again so much for the amazing gift I got to spoil my mom with. She freaked out and cried when she opened it!!! And the quote took her over the edge. Hee Hee. You did an amazing job." *a quick shout out to the SUPREMELY talented macriphotography! a huge THANK YOU- for challenging me in so many ways- in ways that have helped me to grow as an artist and a person, for this feature- i am truly honored that you thought me and my work worthy. your support means so very much- words cannot express my gratitude. you have to put this in the feature because it's part of my answer!!! you ROCK!* *************************************************************** besides my super-cool bag, i DO have a few favorites from rachel's shop. check them out, each bag will put a smile on your face.


so perfectly put

i am reading this sweet little book, *the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society* (what a title, i know!), a work of fiction comprised of entirely of letters. only a few pages into it, i came across this amazingly-phrased explanation of what a good relationship should be. of course we can all expound endlessly on what comprises a solid, successful relationship, but doesn't this quote, from a woman lamenting to a friend about her history with men, say so much? ... "Oh, there's no need to recite the dread rolls to you, but Sophie - what is the matter with me? Am I too particular? I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with." really, despite all our wanderings, stumblings, and fumblings through relationships, i feel like this is what it all comes down to.

ever feel this way...?


Just because I'm losing Doesn't mean I'm lost Doesn't mean I'll stop Doesn't mean I will cross

Just because I'm hurting Doesn't mean I'm hurt Doesn't mean I didn't get what I deserve No better and no worse

I just got lost Every river that I've tried to cross And every door I ever tried was locked Ooh-Oh, And I'm just waiting till the shine wears off...

You might be a big fish In a little pond Doesn't mean you've won 'Cause along may come A bigger one And you'll be lost

Every river that you tried to cross Every gun you ever held went off Ooh-Oh, And I'm just waiting till the firing starts Ooh-Oh, And I'm just waiting till the shine wears off Ooh-Oh, And I'm just waiting till the shine wears off *************************************************** i think this is just the coolest song. not only is it musically interesting but the lyrics are something we can all relate to at some point in our lives. to me it is about change...good to bad or vice versa, change is always a constant on this roller-coaster we're on. hold on tight and enjoy the ride.



"I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (i was inspired to post this after reading #21 of barb's blog post today)


♥ one world ~ one heart ♥

it is so interesting how things happen, isn't it? within an hour of my last post (see below, joy to the world), i came across "one world ~ one heart," an amazing worldwide event that connects bloggers who will have a one-day synchronized giveaway. really, what could be better? this event is in the spirit of "pay it forward," which i feel very strongly about. so...on to the good stuff...for my giveaway, i will pick TWO winners (using random.org) on february 12! what will you get? well, a choice of any ONE of the following prints in a 5 x 7" size (12.7 x 17.78 cm)*.
1. offering 2. neigh 3. let there be light
4. vertigo 5. jolt
how to enter? simple. just comment on this post! PLEASE make sure i have a way to get in touch with you if you're one of the winners, so if you aren't a blogger, please enter your email address or some other way for me to contact you! have fun. here is a list of participants ... visit their blogs to enter more giveaways. * the print will be 5 x 7" total, including a white border for easy framing!