Turn to Stone ~ New Work for 2009

An epiphany occurred during the process of sculpting my new miniature paperclay figurines...

...They are a synthesis of my most sacred and dearest inspirations, all rolled up into one. A tiny one at that! And perhaps in a hat! Resting in my palm is yet unnamed, little bearded figurine based on my bearded Buddha bear I created for Witneys a few years ago.

As individual as a pebble.

Small, hand held objects have always fascinated me, it's the mainstay of why I enjoy working small. Though a tedious scale to work in, the outcome delights me. My studio houses many diminutive, precious objects like my rock and crystal collection, miniature Buddhas, porcelain figurines, Zuni stone animal carvings, a small ancient brass bell.

Teddy bears, animals, nature, spirit, small. It was a natural progression, don't you think?

Can you find the little bear in the photo above?
Look again...below.
There he is!

Wabi-sabi (simply translated as the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature), is an aesthetic I've long admired and try to live by. I'd like to think my new mini "bear" sculptures reflect a little of that :)

Each figurine is definitely one of a kind, and is signed and dated on the bottom. I plan to have these available in my Etsy shop fresh into the new year... and that's really soon! And more exciting news, I will be offering original drawings/ artwork (bear-themed and other-themed) on Etsy as well. Lots of fun things to anticipate!! Hope you enjoy where the new year takes us :O)


A Gathering of Softies... and Friends!

By last night, I had just about given up hope that the mail was gonna come. My soggy outgoing Netflix was still flapping in my mail box by 5pm. Then Rob arrived home from work, with mail in hand, and lo and behold... my anxiously-awaited debut issue of STUFFED! Published by the talented crew at Stampington. Like all of Stampington's publications, Stuffed Vol. 1 is a hefty mag, more akin to a softback book than a magazine. Lots to pour over in this, so grab an issue and a hot beverage... and a few cookies too.

Many moons ago, P alerted me to the call for entries, which she heard about from Danita. It was all very last minute, wasn't even sure if my singular entry would arrive by the deadline. Thankfully my Antiqued Sock Monkey "Fancy Clancy" was received and accepted~ I'm thrilled to be featured on my own whole page (that's page 125)! It includes, in my own words, inspiration and instructions to make your own sock monkey. And I'm so proud of P, she has a glorious 6 page spread (I called her frantically to tell her the news). It's nice to be in the same publication together :) And of course, with all the other talented artists in Stuffed. It is really quite a gathering of artists and inspirations. A wonderful way to begin the new year!


Morning Funnies

Hmmm, I don't think boiled OJ would be a good idea. I gave myself a good chuckle when I did this! See what happens when I go 2 days without coffee? I can't drink coffee black, so for lack of rice milk I drank black tea. But today, my "MVP" was back in action with some Italian roast. As a friend once said, tea is for when you want to feel zen and peaceful, and coffee for being productive~ this is why she swears by coffee in the AM. Though I love good quality tea, as evidenced by my "tea drawer":

Well, I finally finally did grocery shopping yesterday... after missing a week. Yesterday morning I was eating the last pack of instant oatmeal out of a Pyrex measuring cup so things were pretty desperate, LOL. Snow storm be damned, I was determined to get out of the house and feel human again. Rob called me twice (he tried my cell which I turn off during aerobics class, and the land line) all concerned if I was driving around in the snow storm, and how the power steering was working (it's on the fritz). He is a sweetie to check up on me :) I made it home safely, basically sailing the truck into a snow pile/ parking spot (it's a pick up truck, no 4 wheel drive). Now I can relax knowing the kitchen is stocked, and we are good through Xmas.

Saturday forecast is calling for 50 degrees! FIFTY!! I pray that's no mistake. It'd be a perfect time to transport some Home Depot tropical plants. Just don't get the tall palms, they always die. Believe me, I've tried. Maybe some little pots in the kitchen, and my studio could use some greenery. I'm thinking positive here, 50 degrees...50 degrees.

If you've read this far, pat yourself on the back for not being bored to death! Groceries, snow storm, the weather (yawn)... guess it's due to being in 'survival' mode, that's what frigid temps do to me. I promise more exciting posts in 2009!

Oh, I used up the whole pack of Paperclay that she gave me. I am lovin' the stuff! About a year ago I bought a block of (stale) Paperclay, the expiration date on it only gave me a week to use it.. duh. So I didn't do much with that. But I had so much fun using a new medium, I think I'm addicted. After Xmas, I will reveal what tiny sculpted things I made. Something to look forward to :)

enjoy the day!


'Tis the First Day of You-Know-What

Happy Winter Solstice! It feels more like the 99th day of winter than the first, yes? We're in complete sub-zero, frosted-over, where-have-all-the-animals-gone Land. It's so artic cold that we didn't go grocery shopping tonight... and I would love to thaw out in Whole Foods heated indoor parking lot. Really, driving in there is like an underground tunnel into Florida. I'll take whatever heated environments I can get.

Does Santa drive a big brown truck? Look what the UPS man brought me from dear Pam! An ellie charm necklace and a cute octopus pin to add to my collection. Both were Etsy finds. So sweet :) She also sent me a fresh block of paperclay. I can't wait to open it up and knead and smush. I have some ideas for sculpting, and will show you what I come up with!

Hubs is patiently-impatiently waiting for me to get off the computer and "wine-down" (that's our term for winding down with a glass of wine) and pop in a DVD. Gotta go! Have a nice evening!


Happy Holidays~ New Adorables!

Violetta: Limited Ed of 2 (as shown). 5" tall, hand dyed mohair (fab combo of black on purple backing), fully jointed, wobble heads, milk glass google eyes, waxed noses on mohair muzzles, excelsior/ poly/ encased steel BB's for a nice tactile feel. Violetta fits perfectly in her vintage crochet pouch (hand dyed), with ribbons & bells. You will love holding her. $235 each. Both SOLD

We'd like to wish all of you a Very Happy Holiday Season! Be sure to do a little something special for yourself. Peng Peng Bears would not exist with you :O) Big hugs to you and yours!


New Adorable Bears Tomorrow!!

We're expecting an avalanche of snow tonight, 10+ inches! I picked up some emergency provisions to get us through the storm.. and when I say "provisions" that means cherry turnovers, orange juice, and a jar of honey so I can make chocolate chip cookies tomorrow. But the real big event for tomorrow is NEW BEARS to be posted here on my blog! Horray!

I know it's a last minute frenzy, but there IS still time before Xmas with USPS priority mail (that's my usual method to ship anyways). So I hope you can join me tomorrow!

I will post the new adorables sometime in the morning...and will send an email out when that happens. Have a lovely night with teddy bear dreams!



Curry in a Hurry

Since Rob got back in town Sunday, days have been flying by. He's got vacation time this week and we're trying to "get stuff done". We had a huge snowfall yesterday (wasn't expecting that, yahoo.com weather!) and last night folks were out with the snow blowers, or like us, the primitive (greener) way with a good old fashioned shovel.

Cos I'm a nervous driver on the highway, plus since it snowed, Rob was super kind to drive me to my orthotic appt today to pick up my custom arch supports. These babies are gonna change my life. My feet have always been problematic (wearing ill fitting shoes & heels just for fashion sake never helped) and after 15 yrs or so of procrastinating, I finally did something about it. Mostly cos I was tired of only wearing 2 pairs of shoes: Asics sneaks for the gym and Earth shoes for casual. Ok, I left out my Keen sandals and puffy snow boots. But now I'm armed with insoles and can get some decent / cute shoes, and spare Rob my panic attacks when I'm trying to dress up to go out ("gee, this skirt looks good, but I have NO shoes! Guess I'm wearing my unflattering jeans... Again.").

So anyhows, after my orthotics appt, next thing on the list was Blick Art store and lunch. We were jonesing for Thai since it'd been months (we banned ourselves from our neighborhood Thai restaurant, long story). Revisiting our old hood, Wicker Park, the "curry in a hurry" craving was satiated. I always imagined if I had a Thai restaurant, I'd call it just that "Curry in a Hurry". And my imaginary hair salon "Zen Bangs" (just for bang trims. I'll leave that story for another post!). Oh, my fortune cookie said this: "Versatility is one of your outstanding traits." I'd like to think it true :O) Which leads me to a *hint a bit of my new creative plans ... (see what I bought at the art store below)

We picked up art supplies at Blick. Rob was ready to checkout in like 2 minutes with 2 tiny jars of gesso, meanwhile I'm just taking my gloves off. His philosophy is, the longer he's in the store, the more he'll spend :) So thanks to my presence, he also ended up getting a few small glass jars with lids for his paints and I got things to *draw with. Then across the street to Whole Foods 'cos we were out of wine and carrot juice (gotta have that), and my sorely missed Peets Coffee. Why is there only ONE Peets in Chicago? We're a major city, for Peets sake! (sorry, couldn't resist). And a free cup of coffee with every bean purchase, that's what I call civilized. Starbucks, are you reading this?

Well, that was our day. Plus an hour or two typing this up :) See how time flies?
Sorry 'bout the lack of pics in this post.. still getting adjusted to the new camera. And does anyone really want to see my orthotics? Didn't think so. They'll be plenty of Chicago snow to take pictures of in the coming days :) :( that's a smile or frown, depending how you feel about snow.
If you're wondering about my take on cold weather.. I'd rather be here:

....than defrosting my truck. (that's me, Bermuda 2001)

Tonight it's a glass of wine with my husband and second husband.

Stay warm!


Swiss Miss Syndrome

All this pie is making me feel tubby. Winter hibernation foods like said pies, cookies, hot cocoa, etc, combined with lack of sunlight and inertia equals to what I call being a "Swiss Miss". You know what I'm talking about. It's a winter thing. I think just the act of making the pies made me feel full. I'm not overeating or anything, it's just that I only worked out 1x last week (Turbo Step), and nothing the week before, and I barely got through the class. Even afterwards the instructor asked me if I was alright. Pathetic I know. So, I'm determined to get back to the gym 3x a week like I was doing (until it got cold out). Gotta give me some credit though, cos two different occasions I was en route to class when the truck decided to die in the middle of the street (I learned the hard way it needs like 20 minutes to warm up first, no joke).

Okay, enough about my Swiss Miss. In my studio I came across a tiny jar filled with 1" pins, and a solitary 1.5" pin. Just thought it interesting how I can recall how/ when I got each pin, so I will bore you with it here:
  1. Busy Beaver Buttons: came with my pin set I ordered from them. Chicago's finest!

  2. Stay Analog: if you know what's good for you. Given to me by Elliot (or "Uncle Elliot" as my cats knew him when he cat-sat for us), a sound engineer/ drummer for these guys and notable others.

  3. Lula: from the cafe. They have a portion of a wall covered in pins!

  4. Powered by Tofu: I ordered from Peta

  5. 65 Grand: from a friends art opening at the art gallery

  6. Love me, don't eat me: again Peta

  7. Dead Moon: if you know who they are, we have a lot in common. Got it at their show

  8. Pierced Arrows: if you know who they are, we really have a lot in common! From their show

  9. Jens Jensen: I jumped for joy (mentally) when I saw these pins here. I love JJ! The proceeds of the pin purchase went to some botanical charity.

  10. Nerves: my husband gave to me (his former band. Our bands is how we met :)

  11. a bunny rabbit: an (unknown to me) artist designed button from Button-O-Matic dispenser at Lula (see #3).

  12. the Red Romance: Herschel is/ was lead guitarist. We go waaay back from our Philly days. He invited me & hubs when he was in town opening for the Killers at this huge place in 2007. I rarely go to arena shows (let alone, in heels), but this was an exception.

  13. the Red Romance again.

I wonder what happened to my enormo Duran Duran pin collection from the 80's? Yikes, did I say that? A girls gotta start somewhere. Hey, and speaking of.. here's a good place to start :)

Have a nice Sunday evening! I'm thinking hot cocoa (I AM going to the gym tomorrow) and that Bette Davis Netflix sounds about right.


And No One's Stopping Me

Call me crazy, but this makes my third pie this week! And what's crazier is I only own ONE Pyrex pie dish! And even crazier than crazier? (tell us, you say?) I've been cooking for one all week! Yup, just me. Hubs left town a week ago to visit his folks back east. He comes home tomorrow (yay!) and there will be pie-a-plenty in the fridge. See what winter-time isolation does? I really gotta get out of the house. Well, I mean really really 'cos I'm down to my last tablespoon of coffee!

How to make three pies with one pie dish (don't try this all in a single day!):

I transferred pie #1 "Old Country Pie" (a Moosewood vegetable pie) to a casserole dish, then pie #2 (the Sweet Potato pie) to a dinner plate. Had to make way for todays inevitable "Apple Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crust" (Moosewood again). The edge got a little burnt, but that's no biggie since it's so crumbly. I'm just letting it cool down before I fix myself a slice. Care to join me? P.S. Bring over some vanilla rice dream!


I'm in this! 1,000 Handmade Greetings

Hot of the presses: 1,000 Handmade Greetings: Creative Cards and Clever Correspondence (Paperback) by Laura McFadden. It was just published this month by Quarry Books. I'm thrilled that my little hand stamped holiday card made it in the book!

This pic is courtesy of Melissa who diligently got her copy right away! Thanks girl :) Her cute cards are also featured in this book. And whatsmore, I found out about the call for entries in 2007 from her blog, which she found out about it on Etsy. So double thanks!

Here's the card that was published. Buddha bear and Elephant wishing you *Happy Holidays*! And me too :O)

Have a fun Friday!


Thomas & Thomasina ~ the Sweet Alley Cats

'Twas a cold snowy night, a pitch black wintry night~ 'cept for the lonely glow of a street lamp and the twinkling golden lights from within warm & safe houses. Oh, how a bowl of food and a nap by the fireplace would be a dream come true for our little noble alley cats "Thomas" and "Thomasina".

Though their fur coats are distressed from seasons past & hardships untold, Thomas and Thomasina remain gentle felines~ for once long ago a kindly old woman took care of them as she would her own children, that is, until she no longer could. You see, the cats didn't understand exactly why they have nine lives and she only one. So they each hold a little perfect flower to remember how sweet life can truly be.

Through good times and bad, Thomas and Thomasina have never given up hoping, wishing for that special forever home. If not by each others side, then they would love to stay close by yours. A loyal friend each would be!

*Their details: Both are one of a kind. Hand-dyed/ distressed mohair, hand painted glass eyes, embroidered noses on mohair muzzles, polyfil/ encased steel BB's (nice tactile weight), fully jointed, claws/ tails/ whiskers. Thomas is 6" tall, has hand dyed wool felt ear lining. Thomasina is 5 1/4" tall, has vintage hand dyed velvet ear lining, wired tail. Both wear vintage velvet ribbon with gold jingle bells and holding their little flowers. $225 each. Thomas & Thomasina are adopted!

On behalf of our sweet alley cats~ Thank you and Happy Holidays!


Mission Accomplished!

Finally! My craving for pumpkin pie has been fulfilled (note the empty plate, which will soon have a second helping... just a sliver). I have craved it nonstop, ever since the last *two* trips to Whole Foods in which I passed up buying their $6 pumpkin pie. I really wanted a homemade version, and said to myself "just make one"! A week elapsed, and I'd be sitting after dinner thinking "you know what would be really good right now...". So today I made the darn thing, with sweet potatoes and a crumbly nutty-oat crust (I used almonds, I'm not allergic to those).
Now if I only had some vanilla rice dream, just a dollop...

Well, pies aside.. I did accomplish some other things today. I put the finishing touches on *2* new mohair cats, my largest size so far (which is still small compared to 'regular size' bears). These cats are super special if I may say so, and ready for new homes. I will post them on my blog tomorrow afternoon (and send an email out to my mailing list when that happens)!

Here's to pumpkin pies and kitties!


French Toast Sunday

So what does James Cagney have to do with French Toast Sunday? Well, read on~ it will all make sense by the end (in a round-about way at least).

Every Sunday I have this little ritual, I make French toast. Hence, French Toast Sunday. My favorite way is with "French Peasant" bread (does that make it extra French?), topped with warmed fruit sauce, a good dollop of plain organic yogurt, sprinkling of ground flax seeds, and naturally it would not be complete without real maple syrup (I remember as a kid pouring that clear Karo corn syrup on my pancakes, ewww! What was I thinking? And furthermore, why was it even an option as pancake topping, mom?!). Todays French toast had Soy Egg Nog in place of rice/ soy milk and I omitted the vanilla extract... but I couldn't really taste any egg noggy flavor.

At any rate, I was glad that FTS went off without a hitch, considering hubby laid the first coat of floor paint in the kitchen yesterday morning. And boy, it stunkified the whole house (yes, we had windows partially open in 15 degree temps and the heat on). The clothes I had spinning in the dryer ended up smelling like kerosene. Why paint now, in December? Are we insane? Well, the floor was just installed, and bare sanded wood needs protection from even a droplet of water (speaking of, the roof is leaky directly over the new floor...yet another project). Despite our well-intended efforts, we couldn't find any eco-friendly/ non-smelly options for floor paint, one that would be really durable and high gloss. Good ol' fashioned oil-base paint was the experts opinion. So hold your noses. But we can tell it's gonna look fantastic!

Anyhoo... to escape the noxious fumes, we braved the single digit temps and went out last night to see the 1947 b/w movie 13 Rue Madeleine, starring James Cagney (brilliant as always). He's one actor that's on our favorites list so it was a nice coincidence it was showing last night.
It's a real treat that Chicago has theaters that still show the golden oldies on the big screen... and $1 popcorn!

And that, my friends, completes the circle from James Cagney to French Toast Sunday.

P.S. Warmest thanks to those who ordered my newest "Wasabi" bear pattern in my Etsy shop! Have fun with it!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday evening :)


*NEW* Peng Peng Bears ePattern #3: Little Wasabi!

Ta-da!! At long last, I present to you my very latest, and may I add, simply adorable "Little Wasabi" teddy bear ePattern. Just in time for holiday crafting! The pattern is available now in my Etsy shop.

*Happy Sewing*
~stay snuggled and warm~