Monday, February 28, 2011

Fabric scraps: 2 ideas

If you're like me, you try to recycle/upcycle whatever you can. In my case, it comes from not having much in the first place, and really having to adopt the "waste not, want not" attitude.

So here are two quick, easy, and not terribly original ideas for using up those scraps of fabric that are just a little bit too small.

Idea #1:

Fabric necklaces.

As I'm sure you're aware, there's no rocket science to this craft. Just braid together strips of fabric that you like to a desired length. Fold the ends over, stitch, and trim. I stitched on ties (which you can't see here) in a coordinating fabric. That way, I can wear it either short or long. Then I made a little flower out of another strip of denim, and sewed a shell button to its center. Ta-da! The nice thing about this is that you can make them to suit your own tastes. You can also use a fabric that doesn't fray as much for a crisper look. I just prefer the organic, sort of rustic feel.

Okay, and Idea #2:

Fabric book-covers.

Remember when you were in school and you covered your textbooks with brown paper bags? To make these fabric book-covers, you're using that exact same method. Just take a rectangle of fabric, lay your book on top (open), and mark where you need to fold. Remember to fold the top and bottom in first, if needed, THEN fold in the sides. I used a running stitch; one straight across the top, one straight across the bottom. Remember to measure the width of the fabric with your book closed. Remember that? How you'd go to close the book and the back cover would pop out of the flap because you never measured the paper with the book closed. So close the book, and use a pencil or whatever to mark where your flaps will fold over. I went back later with a fabric pen (best things ever!) and drew a free-handed design, but you could leave it plain or embroider it get the picture. The possibilities are endless. Slide your book in and--instant style! (If you have the time or desire, making a cover for all your books looks AMAZING on a shelf. The fabric adds a special texture and dynamic that paper just cannot. You could even make them with all the same fabric, which is a great way of tying all those mix-matched covers together.)

There you have it. DON'T THROW THOSE SCRAPS AWAY!! Or I'll find you.


Sunday, February 27, 2011


I am enjoying the weekends more than I ever have. Remember how weekends used to be full of party-hopping and concerts and cigarettes and some maybe-slightly-illegal activities?

Of course I'm not talking about the weekends of my youth. I read a lot of books. I went bowling. But I sort of imagine that's what normal, youthful weekends are actually full of.

The weekends of my now are about a trillion times better. We make carob cocoa with almond milk and agave nectar (SO delicious), we pull out the paint--and the buttons, and the stickers, and the pastels, and whatever else. We collage, we hula-hoop, we dance to the Violent Femmes. I make lists for the week ahead that I may or may not actually use. I journal with Hayden, in our respective notebooks (his green, mine a collage-y mess). We read. And if it's warm enough outside, which is actually has been, we venture forth into the world and stomp on melting snow, poke the sludgy milkshake-mud with sticks, and explore strange-looking back alleys and side-streets. 

We also struggle a little bit, just a little, on these weekends of ours. Hayden doesn't have preschool, obviously, so he's home--the best place for him to be, but have HIM tell you that...I think about you mama's out there reading this, and I wonder if you're struggling with the same things I am. (His tiny, bad temper, his tiny, rotten attitude, his tiny, defiant stomps across the floor, his tiny, determined assertiveness of himself. There are days I feel that my kid absolutely hates me, though I know instinctively that it's not so.) If you fellow mama's are struggling with any of this, my heart goes out to you, as I hope yours does to me. We need each other.

The days are beautiful--beautiful!--and yet they can sometimes drag on and on and on.

But let's just concentrate on the simple: it's still early, the sun is warming the day, there is paint underneath my fingernails, and my boy is asking for peanut butter toast. Amen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

faith: inspiring words

"In darkness and amid the many shapes of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir unprofitable, and the fever of the world, have hung upon the beatings of my heart--how oft, in spirit, I have turned to thee..."

- William Woodsworth

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I am loving...

Some stuff I'm loving this week:

Jennifer Altman's  amazing collection of beautifully haunting photographs.

The habit blog and its commitment to showing beauty in the everyday.

Pixie Campbell's wonderful, colorful paintings, and her knowledge of animal medicine.

Ninety-nine cent nailpolish by N.Y.C. in Plaza Plumberry.

This couple, and their fabulous relationship with God.

This dress on Mod Cloth. :)

What are you loving this week??

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

he's FIVE.

I'm afraid I'll be too busy to post on Hayden's actual birthday, so I'm writing this now.

Five.  I think I've asked before--how did this happen?

hayden; feb 2011
And yet, my son is awesome at five, if I do say so. He's energetic and excitable and intelligent and seriously quirky. He loves trains and mommy's dark chocolate stash and going to the Salvation Army. He calls the leaves from japanese maples "tree stars".

tuckered out

For a few years, I thought a little brother or sister would be joining Hayden in his daily adventures. I know now that that might not be possible for me. But if Hayden is it, if he is my first and only child--I'll take that. It's more than enough. I am blessed to be his mother.

I also wanted to show you what I made for Hayden this year. I usually try to do that--make a gift. I find it a lot more meaningful than another plastic doo-dad from Target or Wal-Mart.


So I found this stool at the Salvation Army for under five dollars. All the finish was nearly worn away, which is perfect, and its construction is amazingly strong (I jumped up and down on it and it didn't wobble a bit). I'd been thinking Hayden needed a new stool for the bathroom, for help with teeth-brushing and hand-washing. I knew this was just right.

I brainstormed and looked at different colors for a while. Then I finally came up with this:

I sanded it lightly, painted it, applied the train image (found it in an antique railroad book), and lacquered it. I think it turned out wonderfully, better than I expected. I hope he likes it, although I'm sure he will. Another thing I love about Hayden is that he's delighted even when the gift in question isn't a toy. That and he's used to mommy making him odd things.

Off to the store I go for cupcake ingredients. <3

Monday, February 14, 2011

whole lotta craftin' goin' on...

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!! We honestly haven't partaken in much festivity here...there was a badly botched breakfast of heart pancakes, a big interruption having to do with my husband's job, and a million other issues, so let's just say it wasn't a big, squishy party.

No matter. Crafting always cheers me up. I wanted to show you all a few of the things I've been working on.

chamomile and mint salve

I made my very first batch of chamomile salve last week! This is exciting to me because a) my skin is too sensitive to use commercial products all the time, and b) buying natural products from other producers is waaaaaaay out of my budget at the moment. So I made my own. My feet, hands, lips, etc., are thanking me profusely. (I'll try to post the recipe over the next few days--it's incredibly easy!)

altered onsie

This is a onsie I made for my best friend's baby girl.  I actually made it last month but only just recently gave it to her. She loved it! The quilted circle was originally supposed to be a square, but when I placed it on the top it looked sort of strange. So I turned it into a circle instead.

onsie detail

It was still missing something when all was sewn, so I stitched on some vintage buttons. I can't resist adding them to pretty much everything. You DO NOT want to know how big my button collection's sort of ridiculous/obsessive.

free-handed painting in my kitchen

I've also been adding little hand-painted touches around the house, mainly in the kitchen.  I love folk art and would like to see more of its influence around our abode.

hand-painted butterflies

I can't stop. Really.

hayden, painting valentine's
And of course, I'm always feeling inspired by my little man, who creates with this admirable reckless abandon. We should all aspire to create like children, shouldn't we?

That's all for the moment. I hope your day was wonderful. <3

Sunday, February 13, 2011

10 random facts about myself.

1.  I absolutely, positively, friggin' LOVE elephants. (See above.)

2.  My biggest dream in my teen years was to be a back-up dancer for Britney Spears. 'Tis true.

3.  I want to one day adopt a child.

4.  I hate those super-fuzzy, thick, soft socks. Crumbs and all kinds of nasty get stuck in them and it really freaks me out.

5.  I met my hubs while we both worked in a drug-store photo department.

6.  My favorite food in the entire universe is fresh spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce.

7.  Speaking of food, certain flavors of Jello make me really nauseous. But I can always eat peach flavor.

8.  I dream of writing a book, but I'm not sure that I'm committed enough. Right now, I have app. 3 under construction, none of them are halfway done, and they all have shady subject matter. Also, I'm always getting distracted by pretty colors and paper and glue, which I like a hell of a lot more than writing. Oh well.

9.  I smoked for years. I have not smoked for almost four. :) I never regret it. I never crave a cigarette.

10.  I want to move my entire family to some awesome commune where we can all farm and sew and watch each others kids on date nights and make amazing art.

The End. <3

Friday, February 11, 2011

my baby/my boy.

You're going to be 5 next Saturday.

a very quiet moment in the living room
How did this happen?
Be still my heart. <3

Thursday, February 10, 2011

finished; the dress series

I've been in the studio. Painting, and I'll confess, crying here and there, for about 3 weeks. Because I've working on something I've been putting off for a long time: the dress series.

the dress series

 These paintings have been nesting in the back of my mind for a long time now...I'd say for about 6 years. So why did it take me so long to paint them? It's simple.

Because I don't want to go there.

the dress series - "Invisible"
I don't want to go back to that time. But I have to if I want to paint it.

I was sick for a long time. From age 14 to about 20. And I still am sometimes. I know what it's like to be rushed to the hospital again and again--because you are going to die if they don't get you there. Literally.

the dress series - "Invisible" detail
For me, the balloon has always been a metaphor. I don't assume I'm the first person to come up with that. But like the balloon, there have been times in my life when it's been THERE. It's been all there is, and I'm just this insignificant girl in its background. I am just the vessel that carries the pain.

Then there are the times in-between.

the dress series - "Backburner"
These are the times when I'm better, but the pain and sickness are always there. They're waiting to sneak up on me when I forget to look, and mess up my entire life all over again.

the dress series - "Backburner" detail
And every once in a while, I'd say for a week or two at a time, I triumph.

the dress series - "Triumph"
I am invincible. I am the mother, the wife, the daughter, the friend, the artist that I've always wanted to be because my body will let me do what I need to do. My body will let me live. The devil lets go.

the dress series - "Triumph" detail
Those are the best moments of my life.

But by far the saddest story, at least for myself, is this one:

the dress series - "Prom Night"
I was well. I really was. And then I wasn't, that quick. Prom never happened for me. I suppose a lot of things never happened for me.

the dress series - "Prom Night" detail

So yes, I painted these paintings and I cried my tears. I know the story is sad...a lot of people have at least one sad story to tell. But you know what? This was positively cathartic for me. This is the first time I've allowed myself to paint something that was about my adolescence/teen years. This is a triumph of its own kind. I'm not the worlds greatest painter, not the most talented, but what I always am is honest.

And honestly, I feel a hell of a lot better.

<3 Brit

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

to do.

my painting corner; in my "studio"      

Over the next few days I will be:

-in said corner, hopefully finishing a small series I've been working on.
-painting/collaging a wooden stool I salvaged, because...
-it will be my b-day present to my boy, who's turning five on the 19th
-which means I have to plan, yes, another birthday party
-and make cupcakes with Thomas the Tank Engine-blue icing
-trying to squeeze in time to just myself throughout all this
-busting out the old sewing machine and figuring out what's wrong with it
-sending in Hayden's papers for kindergarten. (

Whether or not I am actually this productive in reality remains to be seen. My neck is still giving me a lot of trouble, which makes doing even mundane things sort of difficult. I definitely don't want to re-injure myself, so I have to be this delicate flower for a while and do things slowly and with my pinkies lifted.

Hope you're all having a blessed week. <3

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

a birthday weekend.

On Sunday, the hubs turned 37.  Now, I'm a young pervert so I happen to think that he looks better the older he gets.  But men usually do, don't they?


I made these cupcakes at app. 10:30pm, on a heavy dose of Diazepam for my sprained neck. Challenging baking, I tell you. What we ended up with was devil's food with a white-chocolate-PB center, with a chocolate-PB ganache on top. Oh, and they're garnished with crushed Nutter-Butter's.

Hayden helped me make this garland...

and this sign. He did SO good with his letters!

And yours truly finally found a reason to wear the homemade dress. Oh, and...

purple tights. My favs.

Trust me when I say, we had an awesome time. It was just us and my immediate family. There are more pictures lying in wait on my husband's camera that I haven't gone through yet.

On another note, I've been working on a series of small paintings throughout all this sickness and injury we've been going through. I can't wait to show them to you all!

Just a little peek. Have a beautiful day!

Love and espresso shots,


Sunday, February 6, 2011


Although I already have a blog, over at good ol' Tumblr (Bee's Nest), I've created one here in order to hopefully connect more with my fellow bloggers and crafters.  So here I am, giving in to the blogspot. Don't you make me regret it people.

hearts and other nice stuff,