Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Tooth Fairy

Maybe it had to do with my growing up in Pennsylvania vs. Ohio where my children have been born and raised. Regardless, when my daughter put a glass of water by her bedside several years ago I was confused. Cara had just lost a tooth and was settling into bed in anticipation of a visit by the tooth fairy. I asked her what the water was for. She patiently replied that if you put a glass of plain water by your bedside on the eve of a tooth loss, the tooth fairy would dip one of her wings in the water. When you woke the next morning, the water would be the color of your fairy's wings (apparently there are many tooth fairies to handle world tooth loss). In addition Cara had written a note to the fairy with several questions for the fairy to answer including: "Who is your best friend?" and "Do you have a boyfriend?" I wondered out loud if the tooth fairy would have time to do all of this--dip her wing, write a note and most importantly retrieve the tooth under the pillow and replace with money. In my day, the tooth fairy would leave money in exchange for the tooth and that was that. Apparently times have changed. No wonder there are hundreds of tooth fairies with different colored wings. The fairy did manage to dip her wing and replace the tooth with money, but she did not have time to leave a response to all of those questions.

Last night Brendan lost a tooth. He was quick to put a glass of plain water by his bedside. When he woke up this morning he discovered that his tooth fairy had turquoise wings. This was more exciting than the dollar the fairy also left behind. The magic of childhood. All of this great inspiration led me to create my tooth fairy. She hangs here in our bathroom. Of course my kid's know she's not the real thing--just mommy's version. ; )

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to School

I had to check my calendar this morning when my eldest daughter woke me up at 5:30 am. I'm thinking is this Christmas morning or back-to-school morning? Cara was up and cheery a full hour and a half before she needed to be awake to start getting ready for school. I had to later wake Brendan who was also excited--just not that excited. Family Fun provided the inspiration for this year's back-to-school cake. (It's hard for me to resist an opportunity to make a cake.)

With heavy backpacks--filled with all of those new school supplies--Cara and Brendan were off to start third grade and kindergarten. Cara even packed a frustration pencil (vs. the traditional apple) to gift her new teacher with. Here's to the new year!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Frustration Flashback

I had a relaxing weekend before the start of school and the mass chaos that that brings. Saturday, I got up early to embark on my very favorite Saturday morning activity that being yard sales. There's something about the often curious, always eccentric mix of items that people have pulled together to display on their front yards or garages. Garage/yard sales offer things for sale that sellers have tired of, outgrown, or in many cases items that were never used. It's a constantly changing treasure hunt. This weekend brought me back to my childhood when I stumbled upon yards of red and yellow fur (for 20 cents). Does anybody remember frustration pencils? You know those googly-eyed, silly looking pencils with the hair? You would smooth the fur all up and then when you needed to vent you'd rub the pencil between your hands and all the fur/hair would shoot out? (kind of like troll dolls--I'm not sure which came first.)
I was excited to teach my 8 year old how to make some frustration pencils with all of those boring #2's we had purchased for school. I'm sure fur can still be bought at a craft or fabric store, but finding it the way I did is what sparked the idea. That's the the thing about yard sales--when things are out of their element you notice more and often look at things differently. There's no list like going to a department store for a taupe pillow that will match the taupe sofa. Yard sale-ing has more possibilities and when little money is on the line it allows you freedom to be more creative and uninhibited with purchases. I'm sure I wouldn't be looking for fur or even remembering those funky pencils if it wasn't for this particular Saturday morning. So however you get it, find some fur and flashback to the 70's!

Supplies: pencil, approx. 10" long x 1" wide piece of fur fabric, googly eyes, pom pom for nose, felt for clothing, pipe cleaners for arms, hot glue gun.

1) Take a piece of fur and hot glue the short end to the eraser end of the pencil. Allow the eraser to show so that it can still be used. Continue to wrap the fur around gluing while you wrap. Feel free to split the fur and use two different colors.
2) Add eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc with hot glue.
3) Use a pipe cleaner for arms by twisting at the base of the fur. Secure with more hot glue.
4) Cut two matching pieces of felt in the shape of a shirt or dress.
5) Glue one to the front of the pencil and the other to the back matching up the sides. The pipe cleaner arms should fall accordingly.
6) Further embellish.

1) Smooth the pencils hair.
2) Now scream "Summer's Over!" while rubbing the pencil between your hands

note: these instructions are just to get you started. My frustration pencils back in the 70's never had clothes...My daughter Cara and her friend came up with that!

update: due to an overwhelming amount of mail I received about the frustration of finding craft fur I've gone and put together my very own Frustration Pencil Craft Kits. Visit my etsy store at for more details.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back to School Supply Bag

We're exactly 5 days away from the first day of school for my soon-to-be third grader and kindergartner. Most of the school supplies are checked off of the list. For me having this bag in the closet is the equivalent of having a bag of Easter candy tucked away. Too tempting.

I had purchased this rather plain switch plate at a thrift store a few days ago for a quarter. In the store I heard it calling to me (as many objects seem to do) begging to be transformed. Nothing too special about can purchase plain switch plates (for full price) at home stores or craft stores. Back to that school supply bag--here was my excuse to pilfer a 20 cent box of fresh crayons.

I decided I'd use the crayon wrappers to decorate the switchplate. With curious kids looking on ("Mom are those my crayons?"), I proceeded to carefully strip the crayons of their wrappers using an x-acto knife. My favorite part of the crayon wrapper is the name especially now that three languages are included. How cool is that? Nora didn't care one bit that she was using naked crayons, but I can't say that the older back-to-schoolers were too happy about Mom's latest project. I assured them I had more unopened boxes of intact crayons to bring with them on their first day of school. Next, I took scissors and cut the crayon wrappers to create a sort of starburst design. I used Mod Podge to adhere and let the switch plate dry. Then, I added a decorative border with black and white acrylic paint replicating the swirl found on the crayon wrapper. I also added some details to the middle of the plate. After that I mod podged again (love that stuff) and let dry overnight.

Here is the transformed switch plate for a mere 45 cents including the cost of the plate itself. This plate has replaced a boring white one and is living in our basement office/arts and crafts room. The once dreary thrift store switch plate is much happier now and I've had my back-to-school crayon fix.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Daley design

I'm back in the office today. Daley design is my freelance graphic design business. I have the luxury of working at home which is something I've been doing now for eight+ years. Having my first child was the push I needed to realize that a 9-5 job wasn't working me. It hasn't always been a piece of cake. I have the photo to right posted on my bulletin board. It makes me laugh now. This is me (8 years ago--please forgive the hair) and my eldest daughter Cara who was a little over a year at the time. We're actually on a photo shoot together. The photographer had us test the light (way back in the day--no digital photography then) before the real subject of the photo stepped in. As you can see, Cara is not too happy to be on a photo shoot in the school president's office testing light. And even though I have a smile on my face, I can assure you I was NOT smiling on the inside. The president sat in this spot moments later. This is where I have to say a sincere thank you to all of my client's that overlooked my slightly underage, very unprofessional design assistant and stuck with me. It is definitely a juggling act. I've learned a lot along the way, including hiring a sitter, so that most times when I need to be out of the office for meetings or photo shoots I can be a solo act.

I design a wide variety of stuff including logos, magazines, posters, newsletters and brochures. Some weeks are busier than others and I admit to putting in some crazy hours. There is definitely no 9-5 and no routine schedule. The best part, besides being my own boss, is that my days are never boring (having three kids helps with that too.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Clean Sweep

Guess what I'm doing today? That darn cleaning lady called in sick again. I was thinking about how uninspiring my Friday was going to be with this task ahead when it suddenly hit me. While the process of cleaning lacks a certain artistic merit, the end result of a clean, uncluttered living space allows your mind to relax and focus on more inspiring avenues. So with that thought, I'm a bit less grim about spending my precious time scrubbing, dusting and sweeping. A funky broom doesn't hurt either. Have a spotless Friday!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stop and Smell the Flowers

So that's what my little Nora does. And it doesn't matter if all the flowers look the same. She has to stop and smell every single one. This was at my parent's house where the flowers go on forever. I'll admit to growing a tiny bit impatient, but Nora did make me think about how I need to slow down every once in awhile and appreciate the beauty around me.

The other day I thought of this sweet photo (above) and treated myself to fresh cut flowers. I only wish these came from my garden, but instead I have Trader Joe's to thank. Today, I took an hour or so with my morning coffee (before any little feet were up) and painted. It's been a long time since I painted something as simple, yet complex as flowers. This was a good reminder to me that I need to stop and look at nature's color palette, textures and patterns more often. And maybe slow down a bit too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Miss Marie

Presenting Miss Marie...and I swear she started from legs up! I'm thinking even fairies have rough days which is this gal's story--waking up with a bent wing and her hair a mess. (My wings are bent every morning until coffee!) I'll be working on more friends for this fairy so stay tuned. Now you know where those dancing feet came from.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pegs to Legs

inspiration-n. 1,any influence, esp. supernatural or intuitive, that inspires thought or action; thought so suggested.

I stumbled upon these old wood pegs at an estate sale. I had no idea what I would do with them at the time, but I loved the shapes not to mention those cool boxes that they lived in. I carted them off for $1 a box. Weeks later as I was staring at the pegs, I started to see lots of tiny legs. I began sketching and before the pegs knew it they were being transformed into funky fairy legs.

So this is how my fairy "Miss Marie" was born. I'll post Miss Marie's photo tomorrow. She can also be found on my website.
Good junk (especially old junk) makes for great inspiration.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Utensils Revealed

Here they are! The culprits include a potato masher, pastry blender, meat tenderizer and apple corer. The idea--like my favorite 3-D mixed media art--is taking an object and using it in a way different from what was originally intended. According to my kids, each cookie pattern tastes different making it necessary for them to have one of each. hmmmm.....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oven Alert

I admit I had no business even going near my oven in this heat, but I couldn't help it. The problem is we're going to a family picnic and I'm signed up for dessert. I happen to have storeboughtcookieitis which (if you're not familiar) is the condition related to one's inability to purchase or consume cookies with elves on the package. I contemplated driving my car to a bakery which is slightly less disturbing to me than elf cookies, but I couldn't do that either. I had to make cookies in my oven regardless of the mercury outside. Baking is creating and therefore something I find fun. Dozens of peanut butter cookies (PBC) are now happily cooling on racks. Most are familiar with the PBC crisscross pattern on the top created by pressing the tines of a fork into the dough before baking. I like to experiment with different kitchen tools to get more unusual PBC. See if you can guess which everyday kitchen tools lended their patterns to these cookies. Stay tuned for "Utensils Revealed" tomorrow!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Surf's Up

It's 99 degrees today in Ohio and I'm thinking of changing the girl's room theme from beach shack to igloo hut. While I contemplate painting ice bricks on the walls, I thought I'd share a personalized, wall hanging, surf board project from the current room. I cut a piece of 3/4" pine wood 32" long by 9" wide tapering the ends with a band saw. Then, I sanded the edges of the board and prepared my design. I cut an oval for the center out of paper to make a pattern which I transferred on the wood. Next, I free handed the flower and the girl's names. I used painters tape to make nice crisp straight lines. After painting with acrylics, I sprayed with a matte finish and attached a hanger on the back. The room has a hula skirt border stapled along the top of the wall purchased from a party supply store. As for the igloo idea, I just ran it past the eldest daughter.... Turns out it's a no-go so we'll be basking in the sun (inside and out) for a while longer!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Starting Something

Today marks the first official day of my blog. It all feels like blank canvas. Making the first mark is always the hardest so here it is. I'm dipping my brush into paint without worrying about which color to choose or where it should be placed. I can't promise daily or even weekly posts, but I've started something. Today starting is enough.