Thursday, July 30, 2009

8 Ball Zucchini

Have you ever seen an 8 ball zucchini? We picked this little fella up with our CSA vegetables last night. Isn't it funny? It's apparently just like the regular long zucchini, just shaped different. I thought I would be using it in some zucchini bread this morning, so I snapped a photo of it first. Turns out the one giant regular zucchini that we also picked up last night was all we needed for our bread.

And thank heavens for a cool enough day in July so I cold run my oven for an hour making zucchini bread for my husband. He's been asking for it for quite a while. And no, we don't have the air conditioner running. The fact that the weather can be this comfortable in the summer still baffles me. Oh, we'll pay for it in the winter though.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mama Made Kindergarten Wardrobe

Whew, that feels better. I've been a little stressed again & because of that I've felt a bit depressed & I've lost my creative mojo. So today, instead of going to playgroup (sorry to any of you girls that went), or doing the dishes, or taking a shower & getting dressed, I made a dress for Sadie.

Sadie is starting kindergarten this year & my plan is to make a good majority of her back to school wardrobe. This dress is made from a bright, funky vintage sheet. Sewing clothes from sheets always make me feel like I'm making curtain clothing. In the middle of making this dress, I started to feel a little ashamed & embarrassed & wondered if others might look down on this. But I am pleased as punch with the end result & had to remind myself that if I saw some kid wearing clothing obviously made from a vintage sheet, my reaction would be nothing but positive, so who cares!

I sewed in a little orange seam binding loop to serve as a tag. There is nothing more frustrating to a 4 year old, then getting dressed all by yourself just to be told that your clothes are on backwards.

Last night I made this brown skirt from a fine corduroy. Simple stuff here.

I hope to make lots more dresses & skirts for her. The plan is that when the weather gets cooler, long sleeved shirts & leggings or tights will go under these pieces. I've already picked up 3 pairs of leggings for her on clearance at Target for $3 a pair. And I'm on the lookout for a cute pair of boots, tennis shoes & mary janes for her, as well.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Show Us Your Moves

I just had to share some video footage we got of the girls dancing outside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame while we were filming Dylan's millionaire audition video. I was laughing so hard, I was crying! When they were finished with their performance, we took a look at Johnny Cash's tour bus that was sitting outside & then dragged Claire kicking & screaming to the car. For a few days afterward she kept asking me if we could go back.

I'm thinking that we may just have to do this again. Talk about fun for nothing!

Oh yeah. That billboard at the end! We drive by this billboard near our house every now & then & it just makes Dylan crazy. It just baffles him, I guess & I think it's pretty funny that he gets so agitated by it every time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Goods

The creativity has been flowing around here. We are gearing up for a few craft shows this fall & the holiday shopping season in general. Check out some of the new things we've been working on, all of which are available in our shops.

My mini flag garland that I am so in love with. It makes me happy to look at it. This would be so cute hanging over a bed frame, under kitchen cupboards, across a window, picture frame, mirror, door frame, over a desk or computer hutch. Oh, it would look great anywhere. I will be making more of these for sure.

Headbands! These really came to me as I was thinking about getting ready for back to school. Must not forget hair accessories when planning out a new wardrobe, right?

Dylan has been hard at work as well. I'm super excited about the products he's been working on, but they're not quite ready yet. He did add a new poster to his shop yesterday. Our family has been watching the BBC show Doctor Who. It's fun. Sadie is nuts about this show! She loves it & talks about it daily. Anyway, Dylan worked up this poster about the TARDIS which he elaborates on here. Any of my readers Doctor Who fans?

Anyway, we are on a roll around here & hope to continue to stay at this pace. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lessons In Consumerism From The 4 Year Old

I picked up a scooter for Sadie at the thrift store for $5.00 a few days ago. She could not be more in love with an object than she is with this scooter right now. I can't help but observe her reaction to this used, dirty scooter & take notes.

I thought the scooter was a great buy! Five whole dollars for a scooter that is just her size & in good working shape. Looks like a similar scooter brand new in the store would have been $20-$30 more dollars out of my bank account.

She does not see that this scooter is a bit grungy. I notice that it's not nice & shiny, but she doesn't see that at all. She thinks it's awesome because it's both pink AND purple & it's fun. She is getting better at it & learning "tricks". She loves it. It makes her happy.

More bonuses to purchasing used:
* It's good for the environment. We support giving something used & discarded once a new life. This lowers the amount of harmful emissions caused by the manufacturing process.
* Hopefully it teaches our kids to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without".
* I believe it promotes a more simple life & can reverse our mindset that what we own defines who we are.

Any thoughts from my fellow second hand shoppers out there?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Little Plush Berries

Made as a decoration for our berry themed enrichment night last week. We talked about visiting teaching & ate fruit cobblers for dessert. I thought a summery, strawberry inspired fabric flag garland would be a cute touch as well.

The garland is available in the shop. The strawberries now reside in the kids' play kitchen. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Tunes

My husband is cute. He really likes making mixtapes. He actually makes one every month & posts it on his blog for download. His most current mix is Warm Soundz. It's cool. Perfect for summer. Download it here. It starts off with this really great song by the Dirty Projectors w/ David Byrne. Sadie has been singing this around the house a lot. She even tries to get that warbly effect to her voice. It's very entertaining & enjoyable & funny & we never want her to stop singing it over & over because we think it's so cool & cute. :)

And check out his master list of mixes here. All available for free download. You can even join his monthly mixtape brigade if you feel so inclined to make your own mix & join in the fun.

Super cool, right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This Is So My Life Right Now...

Wild kids in skirts & sun dresses constantly tearing apart my house. Wearing yellow rubber gloves, for some reason? Laundry over the back of the couch. Which, Dylan tells me is such a Duke thing. Meaning his mom never put laundry over the back of the couch & he's seen my mom do it. Got me wondering if my sisters lay out their laundry like this.

We are enjoying our summer. The weather has been incredible. We've only had the a/c on for a few days so far. It's a delightful 70 degrees in the house today with the windows open. I am feeling frugal & domestic. I hung my laundry in the basement to dry. (We don't have lines outside, but we do in the basement. Don't ask me, we just rent.) And I am cooking up some dried beans. Except I forgot about them & they burned on the bottom. Do you think all the beans will taste burnt now? Oh well. Maybe we'll have beanless burritos tonight. Or maybe I should just start a new batch.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yo Momma! Interviewing Creative Work At Home Moms

I am so loving these interviews! Today, I'm so excited to share my interview with Jennifer Casa! I am lucky enough to know Jennifer in real life (blogging brought us together) & must tell you that she is SO cool. She's a wonderful mama, writer, supporter of all things good & a handmade hero of mine. I actually learned a few new things about her in this interview & I hope you all enjoy it.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you live, how many kids & pets you have. What your business is & what you are making?

Hi Candace - thanks for inviting me to be interviewed on SparklePower.

I am Jennifer, a mama + home + maker. My husband and I live in northeastern Ohio with our daughters (4 year old twins), and a very furry orange cat. Making things by hand is something I enjoy – always have. I especially love making pretty things from pretty old things, such as cutter quilts and patchwork that is no longer usable in its current form. In the Spring of 2006, I opened JCasa – my Etsy shop – where I started off selling handmade bags and accessories combining vintage, repurposed and contemporary materials to create practical, functional pieces with a touch of whimsy. In the Summer of 2008, I began selling my original knitting and sewing patterns + tutorials in my shop as well as offering freebies on my blog. I am delighted by the warm reception my work has received and find myself constantly inspired and enthusiastic about this new direction.

Moms are super busy. When & how do you find time to create?

Ha, that’s a question I’m asked a lot. Back in the baby days of napping, it was simple – I would work while they slept. It was during this transition to mama + home + maker that I was reconnected with my creative soul and began writing my blog JCasa *handmade and was inspired by all the other creative souls in the craft-blog community. Now that we’re in the no-nap era, I make an effort to carve out some time each day to work on something – more often than not, it’s in the evening when things slow down and the house settles into a gentle quiet. Whether it’s knitting or sewing or simply doodling ideas upon ideas, it’s all very centering for me. It recharges me with an energy and joy that I can then bring to my everyday life.

Do you feel that your creative nature comes at all from the example of your own mother?

Without a doubt, I was introduced to the world of handmade by my mom. She was into it all and always enthusiastically trying something new. But here’s the funny part – she had been a math teacher for a while, so we grew up thinking of everyday situations as a series of word problems. I was encouraged to figure things out on my own, like considering the time of day vs. the position of the sun in order to navigate my bike to the 7-11 for a slurpee. The end result, however, is that rather getting a map handed to me, I developed an organic, free-spirited approach to life. This totally translated into my teaching career, my creative endeavors, and ultimately in how I now design.

How does your spouse support or help you with your creative ventures?

I’m happy to say the hub enthusiastically supports my crafting endeavors and only occasionally rolls his eyes at my ever-expanding fabric and yarn stash. We met in the mid 1990’s in a Cleveland rehearsal studio when we were both in bands - his a popular and successful national act and mine a much smaller scale indie-rock group. It was a very creative environment during an inspiring time. Our professional lives eventually led us in new directions, but we always had music as part of our mutual foundation, so it was only a matter of time before we started our own power rock duo, recorded several CDs and played out on special occasions. It is still a love that we make time for in our lives and enjoy sharing with others, including our kiddos. With my knitting and sewing, he is more than supportive, which includes being receptive to brainstorming sessions in the middle of the night. And though he is not fluent in “craft”, there are many parallels we have found among our businesses and creative endeavors that have allowed us to both support one another and progress individually.

What is your favorite album right now? or what are you listening to while you work?

I enjoy music of all genres, but like many people, frequently find myself putting on the old favorites. I haven’t updated my iPod in ages, but as long as there is some Sloan, Stereolab, Van Halen, AC/DC and Beatles around, I’m good. I did just get Adele because there is much to love about her style and the rich timelessness of her voice. Our newest kids’ favorite is Pop Fly by Justin Roberts which we all highly recommend. When I’m in work mode, I enjoy listening to NPR podcasts such as This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and The Splendid Table, and I’m also slowly working my way through the Craftsanity archives – in the evenings, though, I’m all about classical or jazz. How’s that for an audio jambalaya?

What is inspiring you right now?

Oh my, everything. At the moment, I do have a quite a crush on pleats and ruffles. My knitting inspires my sewing, and my sewing inspires my knitting - one thing leads to another, and I’ve come to learn many people are like that, especially with knitting and sewing.

What is your favorite household chore?

Cooking! But is that really considered a chore? The girls alternate nights helping prepare dinner, and sometimes we even pretend we’re hosting our own show.

Your least favorite household chore?

Every single one of them. Seriously. Okay, if I must then I’ll say the bathrooms. That’s just gross.

You have a very recognizable style. Do you have any tips for newbies about finding their own style?

Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me. It didn’t start out that way, nor do I think it does for many people. We’ve talked about this so much, Candace – it always comes down to doing what you love and loving what you do. Over time and with experience, your individual style will evolve and become more truly “you”.

What is your favorite nail polish color?

You silly girl. I love the rich dark colors, but when I happen to make time for a pedicure, I usually let the girls choose my color. As soon as I come home they are totally checking it out, which is immediately followed up by requests for me to paint their little toes.

Thanks Jennifer! That was awesome. Be sure to check out Jennifer's brand new knitting pattern, the Summer Crush. Which, frankly, I think would look adorable over a long sleeve shirt in the winter as well. I tell ya, I need to learn to knit!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thank You Swagbucks

I told you all about Swagbucks a little while back. Well, I finally earned $25 in gift cards & placed an order. I got a new bath rug, because we needed one...a salad spinner, because I've never had one & have been wanting one for forever...and the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred dvd, because I need to be exercising & 20 minutes a day sounds great to me.

Anyway. The super cool thing is that I only paid a little over $3.00 for all of this. All of the items qualified for super saver shipping, so I didn't have to pay to have them shipped & I just went over my swagbucks gift cards by a few dollars. Excellent, right?!!

If you want to start earing your own swagbucks? Sign up here. And, the tip to earning these swagbucks faster is to sign your friends up. When they earn, so do you! Okay, now I'm going to save for something big. Think I can get a free vacuum out of this? I think I'll try. :)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Evening Light

Dylan was away yesterday evening & I sat on the living room floor playing lincoln logs with the girls. The light was so pretty coming through the trees & our window. I felt at peace. It's not the way I've been feeling most days. It comes in waves, but I've been a bit out of sorts & sometimes lack the energy to keep everything going right now. I made a mental list of my priorities. I decided that I want to be busy....with my kids, with my housework & with my shop work. Everything will fall into place again. Everything is going to be alright.

I may be a bit sporadic with my blog posts. I know it's common for bloggers to have blocks & periods of time when they just don't feel they have any material to post about. I will be around. I'm just not going to worry about a daily post.

On another note, I found this doily pillow in a closet yesterday & added it to the shop. I think it photographed so lovely. I was also pleased with this garland photo & even more pleased this morning to see that it had made the etsy front page early, early this morning.

And while in the shower today, I had a great idea for a new product for the shop. I swear 90% of my inspiration comes in the shower. Does that happen to you? Anyway, it's a spark...a start...hopefully it takes me in the right direction.

Monday, July 06, 2009


I added this flag garland to the shop today & I can't stop thinking about the above image & how much I love it. It seems that stress has been eating away at me lately & I'm often having to remind myself to just be happy. When I stop to count my blessings, it's not hard at all to see that I have many. So, happy I should be & happy I am today.

This past weekend was just what I needed. The 4th of July is such an easy going holiday & the time with my family & friends was exactly what I needed. So I am pushing forward & trying my hardest to make each day the best it can be.

I hope that you are having a happy day as well. This Happy Day Garland is available in the shop now. I have a blue one w/ pink letters ready to go in the shop tomorrow. I love them.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Red, White & Blue Sewing

Happy 4th of July! We are having a really great day so far. Ohio has delivered another beautiful day for the 4th. Clear skies & temps in the 70's. We did the parade this morning & are just getting ready for a family nap before some cooking out & a walk to the park for fireworks later tonight.

I wanted to share the dresses that I made the girls for the 4th. Claire's dress is another smocked sun dress from the Weekend Sewing book. I love these dresses. They wear really well & look really great. They're super easy & really comfortable for my girls. The perfect summer dress, I'd say.

I started off with a red dress for Sadie but it just wasn't turning out & I finally decided to give up on that one. I started this cute little number on Thursday night. It was really easy to whip up & I like it much better than my original plan. Sometimes projects just don't work out. And that's okay. Instructions for making this dress can be found here.

The girls loved these dresses & that makes my heart swell. They put them on & start singing & dancing in high pitch voices (the way they do when they are pretending to be princesses) & I know I've done good.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pretty Little Presents

Well, what do you know? The mailman brought me something to blog about. Pretty Little Presents will be available next month & it has one of my projects in it!

See it there!? I submitted this quilted leaf trivet which the publishers named the "leaf it alone trivet".

I cannot tell you how exciting it was to turn to this page & see my project & my name!

I didn't make the front cover, but I feel a little like Mike Wisowski in Monsters, Inc., super proud to have made the back cover. :)

It's a really cute book. Lot's of other super cool designers. The mailman has been good to me the past few days. Hooray for happy mail & hooray for being published for the first time! :)
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