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Thursday, July 29, 2010

One of my favorite "picture crafters", The Little Fox, is having a Summer Giveaway! Her work is worth checking out, so take a look at her blog and her shop! You'll definitely fall in love and want to take them all home. These baby animals especially make me swoon! I actually own a copy of her coloring book that me and my little seven year old girl love to decorate!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Inspiration- Trees

I have been a "tree-hugger" for as long as I can remember. Even before I knew what an Ent was, I always kind of hoped they would talk to me. I played in them, under them, with them and made any number of crafts out of their fallen ephemera. This post is for my those species of trees that I imagine would get up and walk if they could.

#1 Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) - These are the grandfathers of all Mid-Western forests. They can grow up to 100 ft tall and live up to 300 years old! I love trees that outlive humans! They house millions of animals and insects, feed that many more and are essential to the prairie ecosystem. They were even used by early settlers as sign posts to map out lands. In fact, they have been apart of Western mythology from the time of the druids until now. With hot, humid summers like this one, the Bur Oak provides enough shade for a whole family reunion.

#2 Weeping Williow (Salix × sepulcralis)- I always wanted one of these as a kid because they look like natural forts. They are literally the first tree-house! Willow branches are also great for crafting. Mostly I thought the branches look like hair, which makes them look like wise, old ladies. There is something so magical about the way they drape over the lake and rustle in the wind. I'll always long have one of these.

#3 Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)- These trees truly haunt my dreams. I used to wish I could run off like Julia Butterfly and live in one. These are the longest living organisms on the planet! They can live up to 3,000 years old and reach over 300 feet tall. There has never been and may never be anything this amazing. I find it telling that these trees are often famous tourist attractions, have names and well documented history, but people insist on cutting them down for furniture! Not only are they an entire ecosystem in and of themselves, but they can actually house other trees like the Douglas Fir in their branches. Cutting Old-growth Forests is no joke. It actually breaks my heart.

#4 Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)- This is the tell-tale swamp tree with the roots that everyone associates with Louisiana. These trees fill the bogs of my imagination. I love their roots! They look just like you expect the dinosaurs saw them. Sometimes I dream about what it might have been like to be around before the time of man, the time of mammals, the time of reptiles, they time of any mobile creature. They are spooky, mysterious and beautiful all at the same time.

Everything about trees from top to bottom, their history and how humans have been affected by them inspires my work.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tips & Tricks- Adhesives

Everyone has their favorites and I am always looking to discover better, cheaper and easier ways to get my work to stick together. Below are a few of my favorites, but please feel free to share any insights you have come across.

#1 Gel Medium- This adhesive rocks my world, because it not only holds stuff together and dries clear, but has a million other uses. My personal favorite use is image transferring. Almost every craft book you come across recommends this and for good reason. It is hard to buy in small quantities and can be quite pricey, but it is well worth it to have on hand. It's like Modge Podge for grown-ups! You'll find this with the acrylic paints in your craft store.

#2 Adhesive Rollers- These little do-dads make scrapbooking, card making and other paper decorating fast and mess-free. It reminds me of the white-out rollers that were popular when I was in school. They also make gluing really easy for children. My favorite use for these rollers is gluing down satin and other fabric ribbons! These are usually located in the scrapbooking aisle of your craft store.

#3 Loctite Gel Super Glue- I love how super glue actually changes the chemical make-up of plastics and "melts" them together, but the liquid version usually ends up more on my fingers than my work- yikes! This is easy to control and will hold almost anything together with just a dab! I find it in the adhesive section of my local craft store.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Books- Antiques and Vintage

  If you couldn't already tell- I LOVE books! I started off collecting antique books when I was in High School, which tells you just how nerdy I was/am. Then I decided to go back and collect books from my childhood or books I wish I had during my younger years. I became a collector and a connoisseur. This of course lead to my degree in English literature, which is most evident in my vast library that I love, but hate moving. Anyway, this weekend I found a used bookstore that was having a sale on children's books and an antique store with true antique classics, so I went a little crazy.

Below are a few of my favorites from this past out, but check out my shop to see all the latest.

1. A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare:
We've established my love for the satire king and stage master, but let me tell you about pocket-sized, antique classics; I love those too! Not only is this copy beautiful, but it is over 160 years old! That is a boat load of history. I love imagining who might have carried this little treasure around. Did some dapper gentleman try to woo his lady with a few verses from this tome? If I had the heart to rip it apart, it would make great scraps for all the paper art I do!

2. I Am Eskimo- Aknik My Name by Paul Green Aknik:
I had never heard of this biographical book, but it has some great story-telling and awesome charcoal illustrations by the famous illustrator, Ahgupuk. I loved Julie of the Wolves as a kid, so this really appeals to me. I might have to squeeze in a thorough read before someone snatches it up!

3. Fawn Baby by Gladys Baker Bond:
This is a truly beautiful picture book with my favorite color combination of blue, green and brown. I am almost inclined to frame the illustrations and decorate my craft space. I find it so adorable that the fawn has long, thick eyelashes!

Do you have a favorite children's book you've held on to all these years? I love to hear people's stories about stories!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inspiration- Fairytales

  Most of my work, imagination, life, poetry, dreams and desires stem from fairytales. I don't mean the "happily ever after" bit, but the other-worldliness. As a child it was often easier to daydream about being somewhere else, making friends with the forest animals, dreaming of faeries, and making-up names for the flowers because I never quite felt like I belonged anywhere. I also grew up in the country, so my childhood memories are mostly dominated by the outdoors.
  Unfortunately, I had many struggles learning to read because of early hearing loss and lack of phonic processing. It took a long time for me to appreciate the escape books provide, which means that I still treasure being read to, but once I did I was voracious. I discovered many stories in my teens and college years that most people discover as a child. I went on to get my degree in English Literature because of my love for books, escaping, discovering the little secrets inside and creating a whole new landscape for which to rediscover my childhood.
   I wanted to share with you my favorite fairytales that inspire my work and my life. Keep in mind that while I was first introduced to the Disney version of most of these tales, I am largely inspired by the gory originals, cross-cultural variations and modern satires.

1. Bambi- This was my generation's first experience with life and death. I learned that tragedy has no preference. It also opened my sensitivity for all things furry and started me off as I an avid animal enthusiast and advocate early on. Growing up in the country also meant that deer, skunks, rabbits, owls and all manner of forest creatures were a part of every day. I quote the movie to the kids I nanny all the time and they look at me clueless. I see this as regrettable but likely inevitable.

2. Snow White- Most kids these days are not aquainted with even the tame version of this story let alone the harrowing original, but it was not the horror I identified with as a child. I really just wanted to be friends with the animals. I wanted to sing and have the birds sing with me. I wanted the little forest people represented as the Seven Dwarfs to come out of the woods and reveal themselves to me. I used to think I would love to grow up and live in a secluded wood.

3. Jungle Book- I would have given anything to be raised by a pack of wolves as a kid. I used to think I might grow up to study wolf behavior, so "Big Bad Wolf" stories didn't really appeal to me. Mowgli was another one who could commune with the animals and seemed so in-tune with nature. I had a deep sense of desire that if I tried hard enough I could grow up to be just like him.

4. Cinderella- I know what the feminists say about this story, but I don't care. As a true American, I loved stories where the underdog won in the end. I could also identify with her brand of outcast as a black-sheep in a seemingly stable home. Again, it was all about the animals for me. I always found cruelty in trapping and poisoning mice as a kid, so being friends with them seemed ideal. I even dressed up as Cindy for Halloween one year.

5. Fern Gully- This doesn't really count as a classic fairytale, but it is based on the traditions of faeries and other wee folks. When I was little I really wanted to believe in faeries. I grew up in a secular household, so having faith in faeries, shooting stars and garden gnomes was a close to having faith in the unknown as I knew how to get. Not to mention that these little Rainforest pixies were fighting for the environment! I couldn't imagine anything more cool than that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inspiration- Flowers

  There are several flowers that feature prominently in my imagination and creation. I really do love flowers of all kind and the few times I have worked in a florist's shop gave me true euphoria, but by far the most rewarding is in environmental restoration. Not only did I get to work with native flowers, but I was able to see first hand how they interact with the larger world. Anyway, here are a few of my favorites both native and not.

1. Snowdrops (Galanthus)- These are my favorite little ephemerals and I eagerly wait for them to mark the end of Central Illinois' grey, slushy winter. They are also very easy to press and use in all kinds of crafting. Thanks to Neil Gaiman's Stardust, they now feature prominently as a flower of promised love and protection.

2. Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)- Not only are they native to most of the Upper Midwest, but they are a great flower for attracting all kinds of helpful pollinators. They also grow really easy and their seeds are fun for children to collect to plant the following spring. With all the awareness for Prairie Restoration I see more and more highways nodding with their beautiful pinkish-purplish heads. If I were a pixie I would definitely live under the umbrella of these beauties.

3. Orchids- These are at once beautiful in simplicity and complexity. The unique relationship they have with their pollinators makes them all the more fascinating. Of all the highly cultivated flowers, these are surely my favorite. I just can't help myself but imagine little faces in the spots of their petals.

4. Sunflowers- This is probably on everyone's list of favorites, but I collect unique varieties of sunflowers not just the standard yellow. Last year I planted Firecracker Sunflowers which are shorter, bushier and red. They fill in much more and add tons more color. This year I planted Velvet Queen Sunflowers which have just started blooming. These are just such a brillant red that I wouldn't be surprised to find a hummingbird out their sucking away.

5. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)- This is probably the most unique native plant that exists. It doesn't even look real it is so whimsical. I just wish it was easier to find and grow. It adds great texture to any garden.

Note for Lilac Lovers- There is a new cultivar out called the "Bloomerang" which blooms almost continuously all season. It doesn't get as big as the standard version, but it sure is worth it for those beautiful blooms and delicious fragrance.

*Look for future post on trees, grasses and mushrooms. Nature never ceases to inspire me!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another Way to Show Support...

  Do you want to show your support for The Market in the Glen, but are not quite sure how? Perhaps I don't sell what you're into or it doesn't match your well planned home decor? Don't worry because there are many ways to show support without spending very much time or money. Below is a list of things you can do to show your support for me, my shop, the handmade movement and all the independent business people at Etsy.

1. Word of Mouth is one of the best forms of advertisement for online shops as well as brick and mortar stores. Pass on my blog, shop or photo website information to anyone you think might be interested. This doesn't mean spam your friends and family, but if you know someone who might like what I sell then send them a friendly note.
  You can also copy, paste and send along the following information:

 Check out The Market in the Glen!

2. Join and create an Etsy account. This is easy, free and has no strings attached. They won't sell your information or send you lots of junk in your email. This is required to buy anything from an Etsy seller and it is to protect you in case the seller doesn't make good on the sale.

Personal Testimony:
I can personally relate that I have had one experience with a product I paid for never reaching me, so I filed a grievance with Etsy. I was refunded my money and that seller was shut down.

3. I have also created a Wish List through my shop's Favorites to allow for you to donate items I need to help my business grow. These items range in price and necessity to allow you to make a donation you are comfortable with. You may have it shipped directly to me or we can meet locally for coffee and some catch-up.

4. Let the world know how much you like my shop. If you have an Etsy account you can add me as a Favorite or "heart" one of my items. You can click the buttons on the sidebar of this blog to follow my journey through email allowing you to get the most up-to-date information. If you have a Flickr account you can also comment and favorite my photos.

5. Send an encouraging word my way. The hardest part of starting a business is all the obstacles and pitfalls that one encounters in the very beginning. This is largely because it is always a learning process and it takes a bit to get the swing of things. Any kind words, advice, gentle criticism, etc. are always appreciated and often the kind of thing that leads to inspiration.

For those of you who have already been showing your support- Thank YOU! I really do appreciate all that you do!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


  Today marks yet another dream come true with my very first Etsy sale! I am officially an independent business woman. It's only been three days and already it is hard to sleep at night from all the excitement. The coolest thing is that I set up Google Analytics my first day, so I have been able to track how many visitors, what they view and for how long, where they come from in the world and how they found my shop. It is an awesome tool for learning what the public really wants and it is all for free from Google!
   While it is only the very beginning there are already advertising trends that have proven to be worth the effort. I sent out personal emails to all my friends and family thanking them for their support and inviting them to my shop, I updated all my pictures and tags on my Flickr, and invited everyone through my Facebook status to my shop. I know these have been the most effective because of my Analytics Reports  I get every 24 hours about my shops activity!
   I have also worked every day to edit my pictures with Picasa (also free!) and update my tags to attract more relevant searches. It seems like a lot of work, but it is worth it because I have put a lot of my heart and soul into developing my creations, my shop and my web presence. I look forward to all my future milestones!

Projects in the Works:
-The Snow Queen's Palace: a miniature house fit for the iciest royalty
-The Rookery: a homage to darkness and sure to be a Halloween favorite
-Country Mouse House: still working on the concept of this one but I want it to be very farm rustic
-Cinderella's Carriage: also still in the planning stages but sure to be lots of fun

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crafting Trips- Nashville, IN

  This past weekend I spent sometime haunting the local craft stores and art shops in the quaint, little town of Nashville, Indiana. I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite shops there in case you live nearby or were looking for an excuse to take a road trip.

Favorite #1- Papertrix
Not only were the owners artists, extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but once they heard we were into Steampunk they went out of their way to show us all the fun stuff they had in-stock. It may look tiny on the outside but they had more papers, stamps and embellishments than any big-box craft store! It was all nicely organized too and they were more than willing to help us look around. There were also tons of examples of how they used the products they sell to make wonderful works of whimsy and art! They even offer classes and have guest artist come in from all over the world! This should be a must-visit for anyone in the Upper Mid-West.

Favorite #2- The Purple Fig
This lady is an exquisite fabric artist and fabric bead maker. The wall hangings and art dolls really stole my heart, but she says the fabric beads are her top seller. She is also looking to offer classes when the tourist season is over and I can't wait to hear how they go!

Favorite #3- Jeepers Miniatures
This is one of the last mortar-and-brick miniature stores left and I was lucky to find it! I love being able to touch and closely examine what I am buying first, so this is the place to get your scale model accessories. On display in the store is a miniature version of Diagon Alley with The Leaky Cauldron and Flourish and Blotts, which will blow you away whether you are a fan or not! I bought a stove kit that I can't wait to put together to show you!

There are many other stores, galleries and artists to see there, so this is only a small sample of what really caught my attention this time around. I look forward to spending more time there hunting through antiques and learning new ways to improve my crafting!

Monday, July 12, 2010


  Today marks a dream come true for me as it is the opening of my very first shop selling my handmade crafts and some of my favorite vintage finds. It has taken me many months, hours, paint brushes and trips to the local craft stores, but thanks to the support of friends and family I am finally open for business! I am so excited to see where this adventure will take me.

  Promotion Heads Up: Everything is marked down 10% from now until September 21st to celebrate my Grand Opening and give something extra to those who help me get started.

  You can purchase my one-of-a-kind wonders at The Market in the Glen or view more photos on my Flickr Site. I still have several projects in the works, so check the shop often for more handmade whimsy and other exciting creations.

  I would like to give a shout out to the Etsian responsible for my very awesome, beautiful storefront. Check out Oh Me Oh My Design! Not only does she do great, professional work but she was excellent to work with. She even made my business card design, which is off at the press as we speak!

Cheers to Dreamers!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tips & Tricks- Getting Clean!


 Over the years I have worked with many different mediums from oil paint to polymer clay with a love of getting my hands muddy in the garden, so I know messy. I have tried everything from lava soap to turpentine, but have never been very happy until I found Handmade Soap by Laurel at my local farmer's market. The Nitty Gritty soap is my favorite! It has just enough grit to scrub the dried on paint, dirt and clay off, but it gentle enough on my frequently washed hands. I have also recently enjoyed the Scrubby Too Two and the shaving soap she sells. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a website yet, but click on the link above to email her or contact her at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Home Again!

  Whew! I just got back from spending two weeks in London and I am exhausted! I have never walked so much in all my life. It might not have felt so arduous if the weather had been more typically English, but they are currently experiencing unseasonably warm weather. It was quite the adventure though. I saw and did things I have only ever dreamed of doing. For a peek at my pics, take a look at .

Top Five in London:
Note: Buy an Oyster Card to use on tube, bus and river ferry. It saves money if your stay is longer than a few days and saves a lot of time standing in line to buy a ticket. You will still do A LOT of walking, but this way you will do less.
1. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre- We saw by far the best rendition of Macbeth to every grace the gory, smoke filled stage. It was not only the best rendition of Macbeth, but the best in authentic stage effects for a Shakespearian play. It was probably the best performance I have ever witnessed on a stage. I can't say enough good things about it. There isn't a bad seat and you definitely get your money's worth. The Swan restaurant was excellent too and has a pre-theatre special. 
2.  Hyde Park- This was by far my favorite park there. It has the Diana Memorial Playground, which is modeled after J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. It even has its own Pirate Ship! It has the Diana Memorial Fountain for "paddling" or wading on hot days, as well as The Serpentine for swimming, boating and watching curious water fowel. It has flowers, trees and the Peter Pan statue. It is also right next to Kensington Palace. We spent a lot of time here.
3. Visit Portobello Road Market for antiques, crafts, vintage and retro clothing, good eats and a festive atmosphere. Saturday morning is a good time to go but remember to bring cash as many vendors don't have card machines. You can also visit Greenwich by river ferry/cruise if you have time. It is a good way to get to know all the sites on the river and it is less crowded than the tube. The Greenwich Market is full of good food from around the world and true artists. It is an adventure all in itself.
4. Visit Covent Garden for performers, colorful characters, the market and the shops. There is a gourmet cupcake shop that makes little works of art in edible form. It's a great place to take the kids.
5. Take a day trip to Dover to see the Castle, the Wartime Tunnels and the White Cliffs. If you don't go on a tour you will have a lot of hiking ahead of you, but it is worth it! You can even take the Chunnel to France if you like.

I went to several markets and shopped around for antiques, paper goods and ogled all the art. 
These are three of my favorites:
1. Blade Rubber Stamps is a must for local stamps and paper crafting ephemera. It was bright, festive, close to the British Museum and had friendly customer service (not a given in London). I got papers, ink and embellishments I can't wait to use.
2. Dorka is an artist I discovered tucked away at the end of the Portobello Street Market. Her stuff is fresh and modern, but a definite nod to the Hollywood vintage pin-ups and rouge I like.
3. Sass & Belle was one of the first shops I stopped in and really I could have walked away with many suitcases full of all things adorable. Not only is the shop a feast for the eyes, but it too had the rare friendly customer service I take for granted in University Town, USA.

Well, it was an inspiring trip to a world of huge buildings older than my own country, with tea pouring out their ears, no A/C, fountains galore, literary references everywhere and lots of magical moments to be had.