Friday, September 28, 2007

a pool guest. ribbit

Edward wandered out just now to check out the moon and found a guest in the swimming pool...

craft: cheese box gift wrap

© amy reed

For the last few years, i've been re-purposing Laughing Cow cheese boxes into gift packaging. They're great for wrapping gift cards or jewelry in.
The box always makes a great impression and recipients have fun pulling the string to reveal what's inside.
Here's how to do it yourself...
what you'll need:
  • Laughing Cow cheese box

  • Wrapping paper with a small print/pattern on it (you can use different ones for the top/bottom/side if you'd like!)

  • String (I use red for the holidays) - 18" long

  • clip art or photos to paste atop the wrap

  • glue, scissors, pencil

how to do it:
  1. peel away any unwanted, loose label paper from the box

  2. trace the box twice onto the back of your wrapping paper and cut out the 2 circles (one for the top and one for the bottom)

  3. cut a strip of wrapping paper 7/8" wide x 15" long

  4. glue the circles to the top and bottom of box parts

  5. put your gift into the box (VERY IMPORTANT) and put the top on

  6. put glue on the back of the paper strip

  7. (this part can get a little tricky) wrap the string around the box, adhering the strip of paper as you go. when you're done, the strip will have overlapped onto itself and you'll have a tail of string hanging out (for pulling)

  8. decorate with clip art or photos from your printer

**sometimes I add a little charm to the end of the string, too

happy wrapping!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

DIY: from armoire to aviary

I've had a few gals ask about how I made the aviary so I thought i'd share here. I had an old armoire or oversized tv cabinet that we weren't using. One day it clicked - I could re-purpose it into something i'd been wanting - a bigger house for my finches!

I was lucky in how the armoire had been built... it had a vertical support post in each corner. Each side board was attached to these supports, so when they were removed, I had a top, bottom and corner supports.

I measured and sketched my armoire skeleton - planning doors and hatches. I also planned for a drawer. With a drawer spanning the entire bottom area, I could more easily clean out the bottom of the habitat.

The doors and hatches were each framed with 1x1s mitered at the corners. Mine aren't as well done as they look from these photos - but their unevenness adds to the charm of it. ;-)

Once everything was built and in place, I painted. Use a non-toxic paint that won't harm the birds. I think it got 2 coats of paint.

Before I put the meshwork up, I added the large branch. I knew once the walls and doors were on, that I wouldn't be able to get it inside. I was lucky and a neighbor had just cut down their eucalyptus tree, so I picked thru their debris pile and found this gem. I bolted it to a support beam that happened to run across the "ceiling" of the armoire. This could also be hung from a large hook or hoop.

Next came the mesh. I used 1/4" mesh for the finches. For Canaries, you could probably go a little bigger, but 1/4" would be best. (I don't suggest this for larger chewing birds - parrots, macaws, etc - as they may chew at the wood?)
I used a handheld staple gun to put all the mesh into place (adhering from the inside of the aviary.) You could finish off the edges of the mesh with small 1/4-round molding if you wanted.

okay - once the walls and doors were "meshed" I started hinging the doors into place. Then added eyehook/hook closures to keep them closed.

I added some toys and accessories and tada! A great home for my winged friends.

The Finch Handbook has a section on aviaries and what to consider. Also see

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

our moon festival 07

What a great night. We started at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Red Orchids. After sharing steamed dumplings, chicken lo mein, tangerine chicken and lemon shrimp (drooling, yet?) we headed home and waited for the moon to rise. She was a beauty.

We had 4 different flavors of mooncake: lotus seed, red bean, winter melon and nut. The lotus seed and red bean were the most favored. I really liked the nut, too.
I think the kids really enjoyed this new tradition - especially since it included moon cake!

Next year you can celebrate Moon Festival, too - get your delicious mooncakes here!

Moon Festival time!

The Moon Festival is a popular Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty. Also called the mid-Autumn Festival, it falls on the 15th day of 8th lunar month. (This year on September 25)

Legend - Chang Er
The Moon Festival is closely associated with the story of the Moon Goddess Chang Er, the wife of an ancient ruler who consumed the elixir of immortality and drifted to the moon. She resides in the Moon Palace accompanied by a rabbit.

Legend - Yue Lao
The Moon is also associated with Yue Lao, deity of the moon in charge of marriages. A match is made when he ties a red string between couples. Singles appeal to him for a good marriage or to meet an ideal partner.

Moon Festival Activities:
Besides the obvious, moon-gazing, Chinese families celebrate by getting together and eating. Boiled peanuts, slices of taro, rice gruel, fish and noodles are all traditional dishes to eat during the festival, but none of these takes the place of the moon cake.

What are Moon Cakes?
Moon cakes are typically round, symbolizing the full round moon of the mid-autumn festival. They are usually made with four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon, and are sweet, filled with sweet bean or lotus seed paste.

History of the Moon Cake:
According to one legend, it was with the help of the moon cake that the Ming Dynasty established. Rebels used the festival as a method to convey their plans for revolt. They ordered the baking of special cakes to commemorate the festival. But what the Mongol leaders didn't know was that secret messages were tucked into the cakes and distributed to allied rebels. On the night of the festival, the rebels successfully attacked, overthrowing the Mongol government and establishing a new era, the Ming Dynasty.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chinese Propaganda Poster:
Make Your Own Things

Make your own things 1964
zi ji de shi zi ji zuo

One of the posters in my collection. The faces of these girls are so wonderfully painted and the red color still so vivid.

I think of the book Red Scarf Girl (a must read) when I look at this. I can picture Jiang Ji-Li mending her shoes with her friend An Yi.

thought it'd be fun to share a poster every so often... more to come...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Petoskey stones

I really enjoyed hunting for these stones in Lake Huron this summer. Wading into the cold water, scooping up a handful of rocks and sifting through them one by one. It wasn't until after I got back to SC and did a google that I realized that a Petoskey stone is actually fossilized coral.

Petoskey stones are mostly found in Lake Michigan, but we found these near Oscoda in Lake Huron. These are pretty small (1/4" -1") and are kept in a small water-filled spice jar. The patterns on the stones are more vivid when wet.
The one with the octagon shapes is the best... I named an afghan after it! :-)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

my DIY aviary and its new residents

I've always been fascinated by birds and their mannerisms, movement, flight. Several years ago I adopted a pair of zebra finches. They were fun to watch and it wasn't long before there were eggs and fledglings. The cage filled up and I couldn't bare to see them with such little flight room. Rather than get more cages, I decided to make my own larger cage - or aviary.

Using some "bones" from an old wardrobe, I added supports, mesh and even made a sliding bottom drawer tray for easy cleaning.

There are new residents in the house these days. Foster (a canary mix), a society finch we call "Cricket" because of his chirpy song, and a pair of orange-cheeked waxbills - yet unnamed. I tried to photograph them - but they're pretty quick and the mesh messes with my cam's focus.

tweet tweet

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Sweet Pea" cardigan started

After agonizing over yarn for a bit, I finally went with what I could find at the local craft store - Cotton Ease "Lime." It's not exactly what the pattern called for, but I think it will work nicely.

Still need to get buttons and finish front trim, lacey bottom edging and sleeve trim. Then there's the flowers to be embroidered (see pic earlier post).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

logo: viridian

I'm really enjoying working with Laura Kennedy on her new endeavor - viridian day spa. She is so inspiring. Tea labels are in production as are viridian candles - in the scent spearmint fern - how awesome is that?! Just 3 weeks to go before opening and still lots to do.

Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

china cabinet in the room!

I'm so happy with this piece of furniture... fits perfectly between the 2 front windows. Doesn't match the style of the bird aviary - but that's okay with me! I took this photo before I put all my china and my glass tumbler collections inside... everything fits great. I've been able to eliminate 2 cabinets out of my kitchen.


Monday, September 17, 2007

new old cabinet arrives tomorrow

Did some ebaying last month for a much needed china cabinet... it will finally arrive tomorrow!

Edward and I did a mad-dash-rearrange of furniture in the living room to accommodate. Really need some help with arranging this room... will post the room when the piece arrives...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

back issues of Interweave Crochet

YAY!!! My back-issues of Interweave Crochet arrived today from Purl Soho! Loved the package and the sweet label on the tissue paper. Ready to start the little girl's cardigan in the Spring 2006 issue.

The "Petoskey" Afghan is Finished!

The "Petoskey" afghan is finally finished and I think Mabel likes it! :-)

I haven't crocheted in years, but started this while on vacation with the girls in Michigan. Projects like this keep me from working at the computer too much.

I named it Petoskey after a type of fossil we hunted for in Lake Huron on our trip. The fossils are formed from ancient coral that thrived in the area when it was covered by sea.

The circle pattern comes from the book 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton... these are the "Big Round" block in various colors.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Monday, September 3, 2007

Inspirational fabric pattern

One of Mabel's dresses has this great fabric.... would love to mimic the pattern with crochet sometime... what a sweet baby blanket it would be.

the big girl bus

Mabel was pretty excited about riding the big girl bus all by herself. We played in the driveway until the bus arrived.