31 January 2012

Doesn't every cat deserve to have their portrait painted?

Mine sure does.

So, when I saw one of my favorite artists, Katie Daisy, had painted a cat that looked *just like* Lola, I snapped at the chance to purchase a print of my own. Truth is it's a painting of her kitty, Basil, but, shhhhhhhhhhh we will just tell Lola it is a portrait of her. She's gonna be all kinds of pissed if I tell her there is another cat of equal magnificence and stature, and I don't want a pillow full of cat pee.

Gorgeous as it is, the print came on a lovely yellow-beige-cream colored paper that looked strange next to the off-white mat board. So I decided to gussy it up. Initially I was going to decoupage the mat in leopard tissue, but then I thought it would look too drag queenish and might look better in pink leopard, but they just don't make pink leopard tissue. So I painted instead.

The end result is only a sort of quasi pink leopard, but you know, Lola likes it.

Don't you, Lola?

Don't miss the oodles of amazing items in Katie Daisy's printshop, The Wheatfield.


30 January 2012

Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Badass Passive Aggressiveness. 

You guys, can we just talk about TV for a second?

I don’t usually talk about TV in an Around-The-Water-Cooler-Kind-of-Way, but it’s January and if I feel like wallowing in the jowls of sloth  (read: my awesome couch) you'd better believe I am going to enjoy every last minute of it.

Are you watching Downton Abbey? The second season just started here in the US, and like the first season, it’s amazeballs.

Like I said, I don’t usually discuss TV around the water cooler, but this show has me wishing I worked somewhere with a water cooler JUST SO I COULD TALK ABOUT THIS SHOW. Lola can’t hold her end of the conversation when I’m all, Did you see what Bates’ ex wife did? Girl, please. Who does she think she is? Imma show her where to wear that feathered stupid stump hat. Stump hat. Stump hat cow. Yeah, I’ll show her to mess with Mr. Bates and his bum leg. Yeah I will!

Cause I get really into these things.

It doesn’t matter that Bates’ wife would now be, like, oh, 120 years old, or that she is a fictional character, I’m 100% ready to duke it out ALL OVER HER FACE.

Keep in mind folks, we are talking about Masterpiece Theater here; a program based on delivering classic literature to the masses, like The Forsyth Saga, and Middlemarch, and Jane Eyre.

Oooooooooooh...speaking of crazy bitches in the attic, are you watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on Bravo tonight? I can’t wait! I know it, or any reality show for that matter, feels a little bit trashy, but I can’t get enough of it. Watching their lives makes me feel so normal and good about myself. The season reunion is today. Woot! Countdown!  Looks like it’s going to be a champagne and pizza kind of Monday. 

I made it black and white so it's all classy and stuff.

27 January 2012

Wow I'm hungry.

The best and worst thing about winter is the calmness. The quiet.

And as much as I resent the cold I appreciate the canvas. The contrast.

Sun against snow is something really beautiful, you know. Like cheese and chocolate, or pretzels and ice cream, or sour cream on a hot tamale.

Wow I'm hungry. 

25 January 2012

The Communism of Cake

Well, I don't know about you, but I could use a slice of Tom Selleck right about now.

This MOST AMAZING SLICE OF CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE cake is courtesy of  Alicia Policia, who  also created the fantabulous Muppet party I featured back in November. She made this cake TWO YEARS AGO and it irks me to think of all the time that went by without me knowing of its existence. How much cheerier would these years have been had known Tom Selleck cake was a life option?

And while I am not as handy with a frosting tube as Alicia, you can bet I will be attempting my own version soon. I feel Inigo Montoya deserves to be rendered in cake, don't you? Or Elvis. Or Cher. Maybe Liza Minelli. Oh crap, she already has a cake.

Trust me, he looks better in cake.
When I was in college my friend Joe, a cold war history buff, was obsessed with Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of Russia. Random: do we say Russia or USSR? Now it's Russia but when Gobachev was in charge it was the USSR. Anyway, you get the point--Joe was crazy for Gorbachev so we hired a bakery to airbrush Gobachev's picture on a sheet cake and lit it up with seventy gillion candles and surprised Joe for his birthday. It was amazing until someone started arguing about who got to eat the birthmark and someone else yelled IT BELONGS TO MOTHER RUSSIA and it all ended badly with a bottle of vodka catching fire from a birthday candle. There's probably some "for each according to their need" Marxist fable to be taken from the incident but that's a little too deep for this blog post. Bottom line is you can't be greedy with cake, especially communist cake, and double especially with Tom Selleck cake. His mustache belongs to all of us.

24 January 2012

You can't procrastinate sequins

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed right now.

It's temporary. Nothing to worry about, although, it is enough to make the world seem a little heavier than usual.  It feels like my head is going to explode.

Yes, I should combat this by making lists of priorities and remember what is important. Quit procrastinating, set my head down and get the work done. I should also remember to take time for myself...take a quick winter walk, make a friendly phone call, or enjoy a delicious bubble bath...

Instead, today, I have chosen to spend nearly an hour arranging silver sequin sprays in a sculpted head.

And now it officially looks like my head is exploding.

Anyone out there have tips for combating procrastination? Feel free to share. I'm all ears (and sequins).

20 January 2012

Here Come The Sloths

Sloth Eating Spaghetti by Joe Havasy, $16.00
My love of cat videos has some new competition: sloth videos.

A sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica had the genius idea to document their residents on video and upload them to youtube.

Oh. Em. Gee.

This has sent me on a week-long sloth crusade, learning everything I can about these curious and delightfully strange creatures. Of course, my first instinct is to want to bring one home as a sibling for Lola but apparently that is the least helpful thing you can do. Sloths are not domesticated. And despite the wonderful rendering above by Joe Havasy, sloths do not eat spaghetti. Sloths are mighty jungle dwellers who feast on hibiscus flowers and bathe in gungy green tea. Don't believe me? Watch this!

The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica has oodles more videos to keep you busy this weekend. If they successfully suck you into their web of cuteness (as if you had a choice), you can support their efforts by making a donation, or adopting a sloth for as little as $25 a month. You can even spend time volunteering at the sanctuary! Seriously, how cool would it be to tell the neighbors you spent your vacation potty training baby sloths? WAY COOL!

Happy weekend :)


19 January 2012

Attention handmade valentine lovers!
Last year's Valentine swap was such a success we are doing it again. Are you in? In a nutshell, this is how it works:

You send three handmade valentines to total strangers = You will receive three handmade valentines from total strangers.

Sounds great, right? 
So, you in? 
Send me an email with your address: emailauntpeaches@gmail.com subject "valentine swap." It's easy! Please note: you need to send me an email. Comments are great but I can't count you in the swap unless you send me a direct email.  

UPDATE: The swap signup deadline has now past. See you next year!

Knitty Gritty
Here is what you should expect:
  • You make three handmade* valentines.
  • You send me an email with your address before 5pm CST on Sunday, Jan 29.
  • You receive an email from me on Wed, Feb 1 with the addresses of three total strangers.
  • You send one valentine to each address you receive, no later than Sunday Feb 5.
  • You receive three valentines sometime around Valentines Day. 
*Handmade is an open term. No one is expected to produce a masterpiece. If you are saying "But I can't make anything nice!" then you are *exactly* the sort of person who should participate. I want hear from YOU! Construction paper, paint, paste, macaroni, crayons, collage, glitter, pipe cleaners....sky is the limit. Only requirement is that it fit in a standard envelope.

Please Keep in Mind...
  • This exchange is open to anyone, anywhere, any skill level. No one is expected to buy anything except stamps (heads up: people who read this blog are scattered around the world, so we all might need to double up on stamps!)
  • You are welcome to include a note inside your valentines with information about yourself, your blog/website/etsy business etc...but it is not required or expected.
  • This is not an advertising opportunity. This is just a simple way to exchange random acts of kindness and send some love out into the world. No Debbie Downers, please :)
  • If you feel weird disclosing your name and address, I assure you I will not compile and use this information for any other purpose besides sending you valentines! Please be sure to include your name. Last year, some folks omitted their names and the post office refused deliver the cards, so just include your initials or nick name if you are uncomfortable with everyone getting up in your business.  
Send me an email before 5pm CST on Sunday, Jan 29.: emailauntpeaches@gmail.com and include your address!

 Update: Thank you to everyone who signed up. As best I can tell, nearly 200 people will be swapping Valentines this year. Look for an email with further info on Feb 1.

18 January 2012

Despite the fact that I own eleventy thousand reusable grocery totes, I always end up with a pile of plastic bags. 

Crunchy, flimsy, entirely eco-un-friendly plastic bags. 

What to do? 

Hey, I know, here, let’s make a festive garland. It will look like those nifty crayon hearts but more gruff and tumble. Let’s make some hearts with rock n’roll soul! 

  • Plastic bags
  • Parchment paper
  • Tin foil
  • Iron (and a flat surface or ironing board
The amount of bags will depend on how thick you want your hearts. I started with 20ish (later  divided into stacks of 3). First, cut of the handles and trim off the bottoms --the end result will look like a big flopsy tube. Important: turn them inside out so the print faces inward and away from your iron or you will end up with a big ink mess.
Cover your surface with aluminum foil then sandwich three plastic bags between two sheets of 
parchment paper. 

Get your iron hot and go to town! Keep your iron moving around for about 15 seconds then lift up the parchment to see what you find. It could be melted to bits with tiny, lace-like holes; it could be thick and solid—results vary widely depending on the grade of plastic bag. 

Give it a minute to cool before you peel it away from the parchment. The end result will feel like a big plasticy potato chip.

*Note: I use the hottest setting on my iron because I like to get it good and melted. If you want flakey biscuit looking hearts, use the lower settings and check more frequently.

Cut out your hearts. Lots of them. It's the same as cutting paper and it's easy. Read: Get a kiddo to do it for you. I think they look pretty nifty as is, but if you want to string them into garland, read on!

Sewing the hearts by machine is super easy --just lay down a strip of tissue paper and stitch a solid line, randomly inserting a heart every few inches (the tissue paper will prevent the machine from snagging between the hearts).

Tear away the tissue paper from the hearts. I find this part oddly cathartic. 

If the tissue paper snags when you tear it away, try tightening the stitches.

I chose to tie my garlands on to an old tension rod and hang them in the window, but I think, after Valentines, I might try restringing them onto a lampshade or something. Or maybe cut them up further and string them into a necklace. Something funky.

Random: throw some tinsel bits in between the bags before you iron. The end result looks like confetti. Or spaghetti. Or something...
This is one of those projects that was a snap to make but difficult to photograph. My camera skills struggle to capture the light coming through each one of the hearts, each more red and luminous than the last. Winter mornings can be a real downer--these hearts are a welcome sight.

17 January 2012

The House of the White Buffalo

Kiki gave me a giant white cardboard buffalo for Christmica.

This is awesome because
  1. I adore taxidermy. It's weird and unfashionable and it creeps out my guests, but there is something about creature parts that make me feel at home. Is that weird? Yeah, that's weird.
  2. It's cardboard and feels like a modern twist on Montana Cabin Chic, which, btw, when is this look coming back? I for one am anxiously awaiting the return of the bolo.
  3. He looks great hanging on the thin band of pale pink I have in the dining room. Buffalo + Pink = Fabulous. Who knew?   
  4. He's a buffalo. Enough said. 
  5. I can now fulfill my childhood fantasy of living in a home with a cool name like Green Gables or Twelve Oaks or Netherfield Park; my home shall be called The House of the White Buffalo. You like? It's very Dances with Wolves minus the scene when Kevin Kostner shows his butt.  Holy crap that was a good movie.

13 January 2012

Yellow Snow

There was a crap ton of snow yesterday leaving everything blanketed in downy puffs of white.



One of the neighbor's statues got her self a hair hat, and, for a moment there, she looked like a Victorian princess.

I remember when I used to rat my hair like that.

Because you know what they say: The higher the hair the closer to God.

But what you don't see in this picture is the following minute when an Australian Collie decided to use her as his morning fire hydrant. 

Moral of the story: Not even princesses, even the Godly ones, can avoid yellow snow. 

11 January 2012

Pink Kitchen

Images: Inspire Bohemia via Absolutely Beautiful Things ; India Knight's Kitchen featured in Living Etc Magazine

This is it.

I have reached new heights in spangled frivolity. 

I am seriously considering painting my kitchen pink

I have made a lot of changes and updates to my place since moving in last fall but have yet to touch the kitchen. At all. And it could use some work. I have been avoiding it because the kitchen is used so frequently and I don’t want to be tripping over paint brushes and tile grout just to make a piece of toast….but now I realize it will never get done unless I crack down and do it, so, this week I find myself with kitchen d├ęcor on the brain. Despite a plethora of amazing ideas out there, I keep circling back to the idea of a pink kitchen. 

My Grandnanna had a pink kitchen (not Pumpkin, the otherone) so the idea is not exactly new. But it’s a little scary. Not that I have ever been scared of color, you know, it just the thought of stumbling out of the bathroom each morning to say, WOW THAT’S A PINK KITCHEN!

  • I like pink. A lot. Hot pink especially.
  • Pinks walls will distract from the dingy, outdated, 100% paint resistant melamine cabinets.
  • Pink walls will distract from the continual mess that generates in my kitchen (only tidy cooks can have gleaming all white kitchens – I want something where clutter looks at home!)
  • Pink walls are a nice, feminine, foofy counterbalance to a room filled with sharp, masculine, metallic, and dangerous objects; in fact, if there ever was a room that could handle pink –it’s the kitchen.
  • It’s only paint. If/When I have the time/money to do a thorough renovation I can do something more classic, but for now it’s fun. 
  • I will be known as The Cat Lady With The Pink Kitchen.

Yup. So that seals it: I’m getting a pink kitchen.

09 January 2012

List of Valentines Gifts I have received over the years:
  • One gallon drum of lighter fluid
  • One pair of purple Japanese fighting fish (OH, THE IRONY)
  • One rumpled lunch bag of stolen batteries, size C
  • Two second-hand corsages taken from a nursing home cafeteria
  • Three pairs of red satin banana hammocks, shaped like roses, thoughtfully purchased from the lotto counter at the all-night 7-11.
*Note: Banana hammock is slang for a certain kind of mens underpants. They are, apparently, easy to mistake for ladies underpants, especially when balled up like roses and thoughtfully purchased from the lotto counter at the all-night 7-11.
With this in mind, you can see why I don’t mind being single come Valentines day. Why, with all the banana hammocks and lighter fluid laying around the house, who needs romance?
*Semi-Related Odd Fact: If you have pesky adhesive residue stuck to, say, a glass knick-knack or car bumper, you can swab it with lighter fluid and set it one fire. The crud will burn clean off. No more pesky residue! Just make sure someone stands by with a fire extinguisher. Safety first. This is a great way for a couple to spend a quiet, romantic evening at home.  
Despite my personal history with Valentines Day, I do miss the idea of valentines. Real valentines. You know—beautiful little notes and cards expressing beautiful little thoughts, perfectly packaged in tiny red envelopes.

A few years ago, some single (and not-so-single) friends and I realized that we were never going to be on the receiving end of real valentines, so, we just started making the for ourselves. Cards, that is. We started swapping handmade valentines.

Then last year I expended the circle. I invited all of you to join in the valentine swap and send me your addresses. In the end, 73 people participated! That’s 73 people who sent and received three Valentines to/from total strangers. That’s 219 lovely, handmade valentines bouncing all over the globe. Huzzah!

I put myself in the mix too. Look at this tricked out Alice in Wonderland style valentine I got from Lacey in Vancouver, BC. (Citizens of Canada: your girl done good!)

As if the cover (top image) wasn’t amazing enough, it contained a series of 3 smaller and smaller valentines. The final note is so teensy, I could barely make out the words. It was pinned up in my studio until I moved, and now it’s pinned up at work. It puts a smile on my face every time I see it. And way, way better than any bannana hammock, that’s for Hell Sure.

Now that I have presented you with Lacey’s act of wonder, I’m hoping y’all will put your doily trimmed thinking cap on and consider sending out some Valentines of your own. Maybe you already know someone who deserves a special card. Even better if you don't because I’m going to orchestrate another swap! Stay tuned. Just trying to figure out the logistics before I start taking names. Details to follow...

06 January 2012

Happy Weekend

Don't know 'bout you, but I intend to spend the weekend belly up and taking it easy. The holidays are over and it's cold as shit. So let's have a good time. Here, Lola is going to show you how it's done :)

Happy weekend.

05 January 2012

Pinterest: Pronounced pin-trist (like a cross between "pin" and "interest"): a social networking site that allows you to figuratively "pin" pictures of your likes/interests in a simple, organized fashion.

Best Thing About Pinterest: It allows me to tag, or pin, all the nifty stuff floating around on the internet. It’s like an online version of an inspiration board or a scrap book used to organize all the interesting blog posts, magazine articles, recipes, photographs…any nugget of information worth retaining. It’s easy to use, easy to organize and I can follow what other people are pinning too. I have even made a few pin buddies. It's also a great resource for tips on sales and awesome coupons. In fact, if Pinterest wasn’t already free, it would have paid for itself ten times over.

Worst Thing About Pinterest: It’s ruining my creative mojo. Ever since I started pinning I have cut way back on my notebook entries. You can see some of them in the picture above. I used to sketch and store ideas in these floppy, dog-eared journals and notebooks all the time—carried them with me everywhere. But most of it stopped last year when I joined Pinterest. I still sketch for work and specific assignments, but it’s not what it used to be. Now I just pin what other people have already done. Yes, these are good ideas on their part, but not exactly creative thinking on my part. In short: Pinterest is making me lazy. I used to see an article or a product and think “How could this be better?” “What is another context?” and illustrate it all out in my books like Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings; now my first instinct is not to sketch, but to pin it for a rainy day.

Le Sigh.

Still, there's no way I’m giving up my Pinterest account any time soon. 

I just need to make more of an effort. Maybe force myself to swallow some “unplugged” time to get back on track. Anyone else out there feel this way? What do you do to get your creative mojo going again? Ideas welcome! 

PS: Now that I have convinced you that Pinterest is like crack for creative types, you might want to check it out yourself. If anyone out there needs and invite, send me an email (emailauntpeaches AT gmail.com) I'll be happy to send one your way :) Here is a quick demo video for anyone who is curious what it looks like.


04 January 2012

I don't like to set a new year's resolution.

I like to set many new year's resolutions.

And it's not because I'm an over-achiever type, (which, if you know me, is a laughable concept at best).

No--the fact is, if I set one big goal like "give up chocolate" I'll fail before February. Guaranteed. But, if I make 20 or 30 small resolutions, a handful might actually work out. And you can't fight math like that, people.

So, in addition to my typical personal goals to loose weight, live healthier, get organized, and find the perfect  possum shaped rhinestone brooch, I thought I would add a list of blog goals for 2012. Then maybe next year at this time I can check off a few and y'all can hound me to get working on the rest!


1. Learn to properly use my camera's manual mode. See the blurry shooting star images above? Bethcha thought I was all sophisticated and stuff, right? Betcha'd never guess this was my 57th attempt to manually shoot Christmas lights last week.

2. Get a handle on video editing software. So many of the things I want to share don't lend themselves to simple photographs --some simple videos will speed things up big time.

3. Open an online store (ie. Etsy, etc). This has been on my mind for years. This is not likely become a major source of income, but I know how good it feels to make a dollar off of something made with my own two hands. I want more of that feeling. And I like money. So there is that.

4. Take on select sponors. Emphasis on select. As you can see, over in the sidebar, I joined the Blogher ad network last year as a way to underwrite supply costs. But there are a lot of small businesses that could never afford to buy into a major ad network like Blogher. Rest assured, this site will never become some annoying flashy pop-em thing with posts about crap I got for free, BUT, I also know that keeping sponsors will mean I will be obligated to post on a regular basis --instead of my current twice-a-week one week, and ten-times-a-week the following; taking on sponsors will mean this blog turns from a Hobby Thing into a Part-Time Job Thing. This is not something I take lightly, and there may be some bumps in the road, but I'm hoping you will bear with me. 

5. Post on a regular basis. I posted gift wrap ideas every Monday in December and it worked out surprisingly well. Now I'm tinkering with the idea of scheduling regular column or two. Let me know if you have any ideas or requests --I'm all ears.

6. Get better at Twitter. I have been on Twitter for over a year but I never really understood what I was doing. I just saw it as a fast-paced, chaotic version facebook. Then I sat down over the holidays and maybe-sorta-kinda figured out the language. Talk about Pandora's box...

7. Get to know you better. This is a big one. See, I have always shied away from meeting people through other blogs for fear they will think me weird and stalkerish. But then I met a few people through my own blog and realized it's not weird at all. If anything, it makes me feel better because then I don't feel like I'm in a one-sided relationship with myself. Fact is, blogging can be narcissistic at times, especially when I realize there are people walking around who know all sorts of ugly personal crap about my life and I don't have any dirt on them at all. It's awkward. It makes me feel like I should just keep my ugly crap to myself, which would be fine, except sometimes I need to let the ugly crap out or I'll go crazy. Literally. So I'm hoping to do a blog conference one of these days, or maybe a smaller-scale craft night closer to my home a little sooner. I'll keep you posted. But in the mean time...

Anyone in the Chicago area want to join me and some awesome folks on January 12? I'll be demonstrating a craft or two at the official book launch party for "FOUND IT: A Field Guide For Mom Entrepreneurs" by the amazing Jill Salzman of Founding Moms, with illustrations by John Hartzell (if you follow me on facebook you'll know John's work from Middle Aged Riot). The book is, "50 chapters brimming with practical advice, tips and tricks to help a woman fine-tune her self-starter skills and raise a successful company."

Thursday | Jan 12 | 2012 | 6 to 10pm
Maya Del Sol | 144 S Oak Park Ave 
Oak Park | Illinois
No RSVP required. Click here for Details.

You should totally come!

Founding Moms is an amazing organization with oodles of resources and for Moms and entrepreneurial types in general. I know a lot of you are running small businesses from your home or are wondering how to get started. Well here you go! 

Can't make it on the 12th? Founding Moms have meetups all over the US. Check it out!

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