Saturday, December 15, 2007

Walking in my Winter Underwear...

This weekend is the "stay at home and bake/craft/wrap extravaganza!!" As you can see, central Ohio is being bombed with the big white fluffies, so sister and I are both staying indoors and wrapping up our loose ends.

I have my very first cookie exchange to look forward to on Monday, and so far there will be 19 ladies in attendance; in preperation I made something very simple, yet festive, and quite nummy! Nothing is better than salty and chocolate mixed in the same bite, YUM!

I was even so thoughtful to have made a batch that was sans nuts, for my nut-allergy friends. What a gal.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Loose Ends...

Not as if Christmas is a loose end, but you know how things sneak up on you!

While sister is totally on the ball with her tree up, place decorated, and even gingerbread house frosted and nibbled, I haven't been so hip to the holiday. On the one had, this should be my last Christmas in my house--an old Victorian with high ceilings and different colored walls in each room. It's made to be decorated for Christmas. On the other hand, I won't be home on Christmas and have been so busy with work that I just couldn't make up my mind about big-time decorating or having a party or any of it!

Finally, yesterday, I had breathing room. I decided that instead of getting all crazy and preparing for a party, I'll see my "girls" for lunches. In fact, we had a craft day earlier this week, and I got to exchange gifts with the girl I've known the longest here in Ohio. I also decided to decorate my mantle. But I gave myself one rule: no unpacking any of the boxes of decorations in the basement.
So I gathered up the old books that are on my mantle all year and wrapped them in pieces of velvet and plaid ribbon found up in the craft mess. Rummaged around for lacy doilies and such. Found some candle holders hiding in cupboards and on shelves. Spent my $10 lottery winnings on a wreath (for the smell!) and cut bits off the back of it to tuck here & there among photos of me screaming my head off on Santa's lap! So, color me decorated. (I apologize for the dark pics, but it's winter and I have burgundy walls--'nuff said!)
We do have some other unfinished business:
First, we must give a hearty THANKS to TheVintageKitchen, who gave us a very nice shout-out in her VintageIndie blog! Thanks so much :)

Second, Kathy at Vintage Snaps and Scraps added us to a meme list; we've both been in the bunny hole and will add our meme soon (most likely this weekend during the storm!).

Third, we'd like to thank everyone for checking out our first extensive feature (of abibansaldesign). We're in the process of choosing our second "victim." Will it be you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Okay, I have a confession: I do, on occasion, live vicariously through my child. I know, I know, this is a big No-No in all the psych books, but I figure that if I choose something that is entertaining for both myself and my daughter, then nobody can twist anything negative out of it. Or at least that is my defense.
My sister and I grew up in a mish-mash environment, and in all honesty did some rockin' things, but also there were times when I *wished* to do some normal kid-type things. One of them was to make a Gingerbread House. daughter is now 7, and is at that age where the holidays still have magic, so I went out and bought the 8 dollar gingy kit at joanns (No, I did not Martha it and make the darn thing from scratch).
Here it is in all it's glory--Bella (said 7 YO) has announced that the eating of gingy will be done sporadically over the next two weeks. I agreed. This pic is pre-nibbles.

And let me just say, fun was had by all, and I hope that she won't be telling all her future therapists what an aaaawful mom I was for torturing her. ;)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Featuring abibansaldesign

From time to time, we'd like to feature fellow Etsians, but to make things more interesting we wanted to get to know the person behind the avatar. Meet Abi Bansal of abibansaldesign.

How long have you been designing bags?

The first bag I ever designed and made was out of paper and cello-tape with a length of string for a handle. I was trying to imitate my mum’s handbag. I remember making lots of these and they always looked the same—like an envelope on a rope!

I've been *making* bags for a few years, ever since I did them as a textiles project at school. I have always been interested in fashion and clothing, and it is through accessories that I think you can make accessible much of what is often considered inaccessible. It is only recently that I’ve begun to design my patterns from scratch. I was so often frustrated by having the same thing as everyone else; I wanted to be able to afford something unique, and part of my desire to make things comes from a selfish frustration and a desire to have things "just so," which is why I call my shop abibansaldesign. It is MY design and my style you are getting. In terms of ideas they usually arise from frustration at existing products—I carry a notebook everywhere and when an idea comes, I sketch it!

Who taught you to sew? How old were you?

I have my late mother to thank for that. From a really early age I always remember her making costumes, decorations, and gifts throughout my childhood, and I inherited her old singer, which I didn’t have a clue how to use! A lot of the actual skills were learned from books and trial-and-error, and I also took textiles at school, which helped a lot. I think I was about 12 when I first got a little mini machine and attempted to put a skirt together.

A surprise in my later life was to discover that my dad is actually fantastic at sewing. His mother taught him as an important life skill when he was younger, and, when I was completing my final projects at high school, he was able to take to the machine and piece together some garments for me. I am still learning—if there is a method I’m unfamiliar with, I figure it out eventually.

What is the first purse you remember having? What was your favorite purse?

It wasn’t really a purse but a small red circular vanity case I used to carry about with me. It was fantastic, and I used to fill it with all kinds of small toys and bits of wool. I think on some subconscious level I have always tried to replace that particular bag. Sadly it was stolen along with some other luggage when our car was broken into in about 1989! I love bags. I have so many!

Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by books and magazines like British Elle and Country Living. I love looking at other artists’ work and home life on flikr. I’m inspired by stylish people on the street ... I can imagine them carrying my designs. Film and Theatre are hugely inspiring—I love the flamboyance of a bygone era juxtaposed with the insouciance of the present. Just lately I’ve found a lot of inspiration in the work of Vivienne Westwood—the tweeds in my collection being a nod towards English eccentricity.

Very often, an idea will come from a situation, and then the bag will follow—for example, my design for a mini satchel came from the need to carry just the bare minimum, and (like the gentleman’s Scottish sporran) the mini satchel was born! I like to think of people owning "a bag to take to market," and I’m inspired by imagining where the eventual owners will use them or, indeed, even if they consider them too beautiful to use.

What music do you listen to while creating/sewing?

Anything and everythin! BBC Radio One keeps me company, but when I’m not listening to that it’s often bands like Radiohead, the Manic Street Preachers, The Libertines, folksy stuff like the Decemberists, and artists such as PJ Harvey. I’m also partial to a bit of Motown, golden oldies, and Jurassic 5—anything I can dance or sing along to.

Is abibansaldesign your main job? If not, what do you do in "real" life?

I’m an actress and dancer in "real life," but more and more when work is thin on the ground I find myself retreating into my studio.

Finish the following: "In a parallel universe, I would be _____ instead of designing bags."
Making pretty dresses! (I’m actually going to start doing that in the new year.)

Your favorite sewing tool?

THE SEAM RIPPER!!! Where would I be without it? And a pincushion!

Your favorite and least favorite fabrics?
I work with a lot of pure cottons, linens, and wool mixes. I like the way they behave and wear. I use vintage and new fabrics in equal measure and really enjoy combining the two. I enjoy using stretch and scratchy synthetics the least—sometimes they cheapen the look. Oh, and I ADORE felt!

What's your hope for the future of abibansaldesign?
I hope to branch out into a small range of dresses in the new year. I’m amassing and pattern-cutting in preparation right now. I hope that more people will get to see what I do and continue appreciating the things I make. I also hope that I can continue to build a recognizable brand and that fellow crafters will stop by my shop, not only to purchase but to look and be inspired as I have so often been by them.
Don't miss abibansaldesign on Etsy!
And thank you, Abi, for answering all of my questions!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Some Bits of Creation!

Sadly, I can't post the goodies that I have made for sister, since she and I share this blog; BUT, mom doesn't know about blog, so I can post HERS!!!! So, here they are: I made mom an apron out of some very happy shabby-chic fabric, and a matching pin-cushion. This is my first pin-cushion, and it is more about cutesy than useful-ness.

I also made her one of those new-fangled scarfettes (close to smurfette). Not the best, but it will be keeping neck warm, so is more useful than cutesy. It all just makes me want to go be more creative, just so I can post them here!!

So...what is everyone else making for the holidays??

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Xmas TRIP!

Although I wouldn't consider it an established tradition, there has been an emphasis on having a new purse ready to take on a new trip. When my sister (AKA Ric1) took me to Vegas (baby!) for spring break last year, she surprised me with a VERY cool bag to sport while walking the infamous strip. I still wear this tote daily (the Japanese print with the Geishas) altho it is getting a bit frayed along it's edges (Not so subtle hint to sister). So, in order to continue said tradition, I have made my 7 year old daughter her very own bag (mermaid) in preperation for our big trip this xmas to DISNEYWORLD!! She hasn't received it yet, I plan of giving it to her before we pack, so that she can have plenty of time to accumulate all the goodies she may need.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like...yeah, you know the rest of the song.

So we got our first (real) snow today! About 4 inches or so, and it's still coming down. It looks just fabulous--well, it looks fabulous outside. I'm so glad I don't have to drive to work in it! :)

Having grown up where it doesn't snow, I still get a thrill when I wake up and the light is of that "just snowed" quality--everything is brighter but muffled. It's still amazing how silent a snowstorm is; all of this business going on right outside and you can't hear it like, say, thunder.

Weather like this makes me want to light every candle in the house, make cookies, and watch Little Women. That's my "snow movie." But with so much work to do, it'll have to wait a few days.

Now if only I had time to do some serious Chrismtas decorating! I know that some of you early birds have already decorated, but growing up we didn't put our tree up until one week before Christmas. It felt more special that way. Now that I have a fake tree (yeah, I gave in on that one finally) I suppose I could put it up whenever...

In the spirit of Christmas trees, these are my newest creations! (all available on Etsy, of course ;)

The lavender one with the girl in the hood is the most holiday-ish of the bunch. But there's something of the sad Christmas in this soldier's face.

And the lady above looks like she's decorating! Plus, the frame is robin's egg blue--one of my favorites!

And this pink one makes me happy because I got engaged on Christmas day (14 years ago!).

Most of my Christmas deocrations are silver, white, and red, but making these ornaments makes me want to rethink that color scheme!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Joining in the Pay It Forward Circle!

I just signed up on Three Muses's site to join a Pay It Forward. I've never done one before, but it sounds like fun! Part of the "rules" are that I have to do the same.

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF (Pay it forward) exchange. I'm not sure what that gift will be. It will be a suprise! The only thing you have to do in return is to pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. So basically, if you’re one of the first 3 comments, I’ll send you something crafty that I’ll make! Once you sign up, I'll email you to let you know that you are one of the three. Then copy and paste the above paragraph on your blog, and three other lucky people will be recipients of your handmade work.

Oh, and don't be disappointed if you don't get your gift until after Christmas! As you other crafters know, this is a busy time of year! Us elves are working 'round the clock to keep up!

Crossing my fingers to see if this works! :)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Feelin' Overwhelmed!

So it's been at least a week or so...but lots is going on. We had Thanksgiving, and now it's on to Christmas. This year, we're making lots of gifts. Last year we had to make each other everything (except for, I think, one thing we could buy). It worked out well but was a mad dash at the end to finish things. With work hanging over my head, I feel like it's the same thing again this year! But I will get done.

One new thing this year that's different from last: Etsy. We only just discovered Etsy maybe 6 months ago or so, and it was so cool to be able to buy handmade things to give as gifts that, well, we didn't have to make (or, more likely, that we didn't know how to make!). We shopped at several Etsy stores and are eagerly awaiting our packages--I can't decide if the shopping or the waiting/getting packages is more fun!

With all of the craziness, myhampsters won't shut up! (for those of you who don't know, my "hampsters" are those little voices in my head that scrabble around and don't. shut. up. ) I've come up with this amazing idea for a Christmas-themed thing to make...but I won't have time until January! And no, I'm not sharing my idea's like telling someone about a story before you've written it: the thrill goes bye-bye.

But in the short-term, I'm hoping to finish a few little shabby-chic style Christmas ornament/gift toppers. Yanno, pink, robins egg blue, lavendar, yellow with LOTS of glitter! I hope to list them before too long...but if not, they'll be just as good for other things (Easter, Valentines, just plan ol' spring!). Oh, and the Sales Fairy "Competition" that starts this Sunday. Are YOU in on it?? (List a "sales fairy" that you've made in whatever medium you work in--list it between 7 and 10 a.m. Eastern US time and then visit the Promo forum and look for the titled thread and chat with the other Etsians--visit one antoher's shop to check out their sales fairies!)


Monday, November 12, 2007


I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes me want to make something. Sometimes it's seeing things that other people make. We do this a lot: Go into a store, see something cute, and say "Oh, I could make this." Me, Dena, Mom--we all do it. I'll stand in a store and mentally take something apart and put it back together to figure out how it's done. However, I don't always end up going home and making it--but I feel as if I can!

Sometimes it's movies--Out of Africa, Sense & Sensibility, Gone with the Wind--anything with a feisty woman in fabulous clothes does it for me! Lately I've been thinking about historic women. There's Gertrude Bell, who was sort of the female Laurence of Arabia. She doesn't look that dashing in this pic, but she was. She was out there riding camels, talking to heads of state, living in tents--she did it all! And she wore linen skirts while she did it. She was real...
and because of her I've been messing with linens and vintage buttons, old photos, leather goves, and shadowbox art.

Then, of course, there are those fictional women that you can't get out of your head. They flirt, act ridiculous, make scenes, and do it all dressed to the freaking nines! I don't know how many times I've seen GWTW. It's mom's favorite, so it's become a sort of touchstone. I even remember checking books out of the library so that I could read about the costumes. Did you know that the actresses wore real embroidered and flounced underthings? The director and powers-tht-be decided that the women would act more like Southern Belles if they were dressed from the skin out like women from the time. These women are ribbons, ruffles, flounces, flowers, corsets, and hats. I'm still not sure yet what to do with them!

And then there's just the dangerous mixture of fact and fiction, the legends that bloom out of tidbits and second-hand stories. Mary Reade and Anne Bonny, the most famous (infamous?) female pirates from the golden age of piracy. I imagine that they became the terrors they were because they were born in the wrong time--no simpering and taking abuse from any man, waiting at home for someone to own them. They did what they wanted, took what they needed, and when they were caught? well, they pleaded their bellies! These women? They inspire fantasy--looking the girl while kicking ass!
It's all still cooking. We'll see what comes out of it!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Show us your Lair! OR: One Woman's Craft Room is Another's Mess :)

I thought it was high time to record for posterity my craft room when it's all pretty for company. It won't look this way for long.

Sewing, scrapbooking, painting, making odds & ends, putting vintage things together in new ways--there is too much stuff going on in this room to hide it away from the world any longer!

There's the sewing desk on the right (was once upon a time the husband's school desk--it was necessary to make it purple) and the scrapbook table on the left. Notice the pile of "stuff to finish" on the chair? Yeah, there's a tree skirt in there for an xmas tree....uh, I've only been working on it for 3 years!

This is the table in the middle of the room. I tend to forget that it's only a few feet across and try to do 4 things on it at once! (oh, and are those projects oh-so-subtly hidden beneath? :)
Behind the table is the fabric dresser--I finally got rid of all the rubbermaid totes and have one place to keep all of the collection.

One thing I am tidy about, however, is the fabric dresser! A good friend gave me this antique dresser when she moved away--and now I get a thrill out of folding fabric and displaying it all nicely in the drawers (Hey, we all have to get our thrills somehow!)

So, show us yours! C'mon, the world wants to know what dirty secrets you're hiding in your houses....closets full of boxes of fabric? baskets stashed beneath couches full of yarn? Let it all hang out! :)


It's time to give love to other Etsians/Crafters! BabyAnneQuilts

There are some great blogs out there, connected to some fab shops on Etsy. Some are stateside, others are flung to the ends of the earth!

Babyannequilts is an inspirational shop (hey, anyone who takes pics of a quilt with the Eiffel Tower in the background is my kinda girl!) Her quilts have a modern sensibility without losing the traditional emotional warmth that we love in the art. Go check her out!
Tiffani & Dena

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crafts, Christmas, and other Craziness

Well, it's time for my inaugural post to this, our shared blog. Sister got new bed (finally!) and new sheets (always a fun time!). And me? I'm trying to figure out how to juggle writing, work, crafting, checking Etsy every 10 minutes, the oncoming holiday season without going nuts, and, oh yeah, the glacier that is my house. It's in the 50s outside and it's already freezing in here. That's what happens when you live in a 110+ year-old colossus. This means that I will soon have to move my office upstairs to my craft room. And I'm afraid that that is going to open up a whole other can o' monkeys! Because, seriously (SRSLY), having the 'net at my fingertips is bad enough ... but having half-finished crafts just feet away, looking all cute and forlorn? THAT, my friends, will be bad for business!

I've been freelancing for a little over 3 months now, and so far it's going great. Except for the loneliness thing. I have lots of other freelance friends, but I don't have anymore close-by craft friends (or sister!). So I've been crafting solo these past months. It's been OK, but I've also felt myself sort of falling into it--it's my "buddy" when I need a break from work (and logging onto Etsy!). So having craft materials on the very next table is going to be an internal struggle. Perhaps I'll look at it that way: to path to inner peace is through the acceptance that not all crafts must be finished post hast.

That's just your moment of Zen for this evening.

p.s. I think the next to-do is to take a pic of my clean craft room. It doesn't get cleaned very often or stay like that for long.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007


So, boy and I finally broke down and decided to buy a new mattress. Remember when you were first in love, and sleeping side by side (snuggling, I think it was called--this was so long ago, I don't really remember) comfortably--in our case, on a single (yes, a SINGLE bed). Then, we upgraded to a queen many, many moons ago. My sister and I discussed the snuggling/spooning at night issue, and both agree that there is no way to get to sleep if someone is touching us, even if it is a small little square centimeter of skin touching skin. We figure spooning is something that one only sees on TV.

Mattress just came today! It is a King size with the pillow-top, and I will have to climb my 5' frame happily into bed every night because it is so tall! But the most exciting part? NEW SHEETS!!!!! And Target has the Xmas ones on sale right now, any size for about 17.00--totally worthy. I got the brown ones with the blue snowflakes (in pic). Isn't it amazing how something so simple as new sheets can make a person happy? (The new bed doesn't hurt either).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Heart Etsy!!!!

Let's face it: crafting is not a money maker! Yet, there is nothing more exciting than thinking of that next project, or working out a new idea into something SICKLY, my sister, mom and I decided to put our ADD crafting heads together (I picture one of those 80's kid/superhero shows, "activate!") to create our home away from home on etsy. If you haven't yet checked out etsy, you MUST--there are literally thousands of amazing crafts and arts listed for sale from normal peeps, all at great prices. It isn't like ebay (which I had thought at first); instead of auction, the "shops" list their goods, and they stay up until it sales (one hopes) or until the listing expires (fat chance, since one can renew listing for .20 cents).

So, if you are a crafter, artist, or just love to buy homemade, check out Here are some of my personal faves:

and of course, our very own shop: