Monday, December 29, 2008

Phil Hansen = Official Grammy Artist

St. Paul-based artist Phil Hansen, who I wrote this profile of last year, is the official artist of the 51st Annual Grammy Awards.

Nice work, Phil.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blog Love, Treasury Love, Gift Guide Love

One of the scarves from my etsy shop was featured on this really cute blog, On the Dot Creations.

... and a bag in this really bright Treasury West.
... and some coasters in a Gift Guide (a really handy etsy tool) ... although they were bought up pretty quickly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Should Not Be This Excited About Soap Scum Removal... But I Am

With the bathroom being the one newly and entirely completed room in our house, it gets treated something like a family member... or at least a loved and lovable pet. We look forward to seeing it in the morning. We clean it lovingly. We train ourselves on best bathroom maintenance practices. After months of using our tiny, dark temporary basement shower, the new upstairs shower is something of a jewel in our bathroom crown. The sleek new glass doors are a point of pride and allow sunlight to stream onto our carefully selected tile.

And so it has been the thorn in my side to watch thin filmy layers of soap scum build up on the glass doors as the days and weeks have passed. The thickening layer has blocked the light and generally disrupted the morning ritual of standing under the warm rain-like stream of water from our low-flow shower head. It irks me.

Before I proceed, let me say that never before has soap scum bothered me. In fact, I probably have never really noticed it. When you rent, such trivial matters are the concern of the landlord or the next renters. I'd be out of there in a year anyway, so let the soap scum build! I had nary a thought for what would happen after years of soap scum build up. But now, owning a house, I imagined the scum, five years down the road, having accumulated to a thick mass that not only block sunlight, but space and the very air we breathe.

Soap scum had been the domain of those women in the commercials with the generic but well cared for coif who clean their homes in pastel button down shirts and khaki chinos.

But here I was, fretting over a clean shower.

At first, Eric and I decided that regular cleaning was the way to go. We'd spritz the shower with a bathroom cleaner and squeegee the door every day. I was reluctant to rely on such a chemically solution at all, but was even more turned off when I saw that it wasn't really doing much to keep the scum at bay. The scum was building and I was helpless against it.

I went on-line. I researched. I squeegeed extra hard. I read message boards and eco friendly housekeeping sites.

Some of the information must have entered my subconscious because this Saturday standing in the shower, I suddenly had the urge to rub shampoo all over my shower door. I started with one corner section. I rubbed. I waited. I rinsed. Sunlight streamed in through the glass. I paused. I blinked my eyes. "What the...?" I tried another small section. Waited. Rinsed. More sunlight. "How the...?" I gained speed and momentum. I hummed as I rubbed shampoo on the other sections. My squeegee slid easily across the glass, unhindered by the scum. I rubbed and I sang and I rejoiced.

It was all so easy. It was right in front of my face the entire time.

Shampoo (or at least this Aussie stuff that I've been using) removes soap scum from shower doors.

So now once a week I will rub, rinse, and squeegee shampoo on my shower door. I will daily spritz the tiles with vinegar to prevent mildew from growing (and update you on whether that works). I will shower and I will be happy.

PS Opting for liquid soap instead of bar soap also apparently keeps the scum from building up in the first place -- but we haven't quite gotten there yet.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Has Come a Little Early

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

... this JibJab (brought to my attention by my BIL, Dane) had room for five elves... so how could I resist putting on the faces of the five Tantisunthorn kids.... it brings me back to my wedding day.

And, of course, there are five LaFaves...
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Annual Trip to the Grain Elevator

Every Thanksgiving weekend for the last few years, my sister and her family have come out to my in-laws place for lunch and a visit to the farm (and to play video games-- these kids are so deprived that they have to ride in a car for two hours to touch a game controller). The annual trip includes the feat of climbing the end-of-harvest pile of corn...

... and run-sliding back down. Gus is basically an advertisement for "Fun." Next year we have to remember to bring sleds.

Ads spent most of her time picking up and handing out kernels of corn.

The soy beans were still drying, so they just climbed up the smaller pile.

Soybeans are like little ball bearings so they're even more slippery.

The kids were nearly as tired as Bailey -- who spent most of her day being "loved" by a little 17 month old.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alternatives to Dryer Sheets

How did we get to this:


I don't like dryer sheets. I don't really know why. I think I must have read enough about how toxic and bad for the environment they are that I finally started to believe what I read. Sure they make clothes soft and sniffable, but they also give them that sort of greasy coated feeling. But Eric likes that they make his clothes not staticky and in dry Minnesota winters, static electricity can be a real problem.

As if I hadn't already read too much vague on-line information, I plunged into reading more about how to make clothes static free cling without using dryer sheets. One obvious answer is to air dry. I air dry some of my clothes but not all and not household items like bed sheets and towels.

Along the same lines as air drying is not letting your clothes get over dried. This means pulling out your clothes or turning off the dryer as soon as they are dry, thereby not giving static a chance to build up. Fortunately, we have one of those dryers with the "less dry" option.

To further prevent static and to (in theory at least) cut down on drying time, I also opted to throw a few tennis balls in the dryer. The theory goes that they keep the clothes separate and allow more air to move between them. I didn't time it, but my clothes seemed to be as fluffy and static-free as ever. Also tennis balls aren't made of PVC like typical dryer balls.
The one downside of the tennis ball method is that tennis balls have that same pungent, rubbery smell as bathroom mats when thrown in a warm dryer. Fortunately, I have a few lavender sachets around, so I threw one of those in. It nicely covered the rubber smell.
Should Eric find his clothes still too staticky, we'll move to Phase II, which includes adding a ball of tin foil to the mix. This is meant to reduce the number of electrons running errant through our synthetics.

Phase III is adding a quarter cup of vinegar to the wash cycle. Vinegar dries odorless so we needn't worry about smelling like a vat of pickles in our clean clothes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Scarves on Etsy.

... as promised in my last post. Here's a sneak preview. Check my shop for more pictures of each scarf.

Don't forget to sign up for the Lars and Addie newsletter and enter to win a $40 gift certificate to my etsy shop. (See the post below for more details!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

No Coast Redux and Giveaway

I break promises sometimes. Last week I said I would post more No Coast items and I didn't. I failed. Excuses are for politicians caught in compromising positions in seedy motel rooms and airport bathrooms but, honestly, I pretty much spent every waking (and some non waking) hour sewing last week.

My fingers didn't bleed, but my sewing machine did become possessed. On no less than two occasions, the machine started sewing on its own accord while I was on the opposite side of the room. And on one occasion, sister Laura and husband Eric were in the room, so we know it wasn't a craft-induced hallucination or wishful thinking that my bags would start sewing themselves. I think my machine was staging some sort of half-hearted protest.

No Coast ruled. Thanks to all who stopped by my table and to Laura, Eric, and Jess for manning (or "womanning") the table at various points during the two days. Doing craft fairs is awesome. It's fun just to talk to people and get feedback and to get out in the world after a long period of being holed up in the sewing room. The ideas for the next one are already flowing. Watch this space for updates.

I'll be adding more items to etsy this week. Here's a sneak preview.
Lastly, a give away to lure some of you lurkers into the light of day. Sign up for the Lars and Addie newsletter and enter to win a $40 gift certificate to Lars and Addie on-line. Forty bucks is enough to buy a Lars and Addie scarf, which I'll post both here and in my shop. I promise. Sign up by either leaving your e-mail address in a comment on this blog or (for those shy lurkers) send it in an e-mail to larsandaddie at gmail dot com by Wednesday, December 17. (If you already signed up at my table, you've already done your duty.)

The newsletter will be sent to your e-mail address and will include updates on sales, give aways, and other Lars and Addie related info. I won't clog your inbox. The newsletter will be sent out not more than once a month. I promise.

Monday, December 1, 2008

No Coast Coasters

Here's a quick glimpse of a few of the coaster sets I'll be selling at the No Coast Craft O Rama this weekend Friday December 5th from 3 to 8 and Saturday December 6th from 9 to 5.

I have some in darker browns and blues that I'll post later this week.

I hope to see you at the Lars and Addie table at the Midtown Global Market this weekend!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Feature Friday: Another Day, Another Lotion

I was once again lured to another lotion based on the packaging. Stud Bud's cute red and green tins proclaim it's contents to be "a salve for hardworking hands." I'm not sure if using my hands to knit and sew qualifies them as "hardworking" but I reckoned it was worth a shot.
Stud Bud, from Bawdy Botanicals, is a thick balm that becomes soft and spreadable on contact with warm hands. Unfortunately, my hands are very cold much of the winter. (You know what they say though: cold hands, warm heart.) With a little rubbing and digging, even my cold mitts can get this stuff going.
I found the salve to be a little thick and greasy for everyday use. It took a while to rub in completely. However, in recent days, the backs of my hands have become painfully dry and sore. I keep jabbing them with needles and scissors as I furiously prepare for the No Coast Craft O Rama. Dry skin is easily broken and tough to heal. A little of the Stud Bud rubbed on the backs of my hands has eased the discomfort and made my skin more resilient. I'm keeping the tin in my purse to rub on the backs of my hands every now and again lest they become reptilian again in this cold, dry Minnesota November.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You Should Be Jealous

Eric's lab had a graduation celebration for one of his lab-mates so he spent a good portion of Sunday evening baking a cake and some cupcakes. The cake was chocolate mayonnaise which sounds horrible until you realize that mayo is just eggs and oil and until you taste the moist deliciousness. I didn't take any pictures of the cake because by the time I pulled out the camera, I'd already ruined Eric's masterpiece with my unfortunate foray into the world of pastry decorating. Eric brought some of the leftovers home after the party. (Not that we needed them -- his parents had visited on Saturday and had brought loads of homebaked goodies with them. It's not even Thanksgiving, I haven't yet encountered those peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses on them, and I've already consumed enough sweets to put the average person into sugar shock. I'm doomed.)
The cupcakes were cream cheese filled. His mom calls them "Hostess Cupcakes" but that name really doesn't do them justice.

They should be called Chocolatey Cakey Creamy Awesomeness instead.

The recipe was included in this amazing collection of favorite recipes that Eric's mom compiled for us for our wedding shower in her impeccable handwriting. It included little notes about where she found the recipes or when the family had eaten them and my future husband's eating habits.
Here's the recipe in my mother-in-law's handwriting because it's better than my typing (and because you need to see for yourself how awesome this recipe collection is).

Eric swears it's an easy recipe and since he's the baker in our family, I trust him. Between my husband and my mother in law, I will weigh 300 pounds by New Year's Eve. It's going to be awesome.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Feature: The Search for Hand Lotion

With the dry days of winter upon us here in Minnesota, I set out on a quest to find a handmade hand lotion on etsy to soothe my chapped mitts. I ordered four different lotions and I've been putting them through their paces on both my hands and my husband's. I'll review these four over the next couple of weeks in an attempt to make up for my sadly inadequate Friday Features as of late.

First up is Least Likely 2 Breed's "Hand Job." Especially when ordering on-line, I'm all about the packaging and Least Likely 2 Breed has really cute packaging. The lotion arrived in a cute red box and accompanied by a charming freebie lip balm.

I like lotions that come in a tube -- it makes it easier to throw them into a purse or bag and carry it along. Unfortunately, I found Hand Job to be a little too greasy. My hands were shiny and slippery for a while afterward so that I wouldn't want to put it on right before I have to drive lest the steering wheel get too slippery or I leave a greasy coating that my husband might not appreciate.

When I left Hand Job unused to too long, it was difficult to squirt out the lotion - as if the tube had gotten gummed up. I had to use a skewer to poke a hole through and loosen up the contents.

The good news is that in spite of not finding the perfect hand lotion with Least Likely 2 Breed, the freebie tube of peppermint "better than average lip balm" was an unexpected hit. It goes on smooth, but feels light, has just the slightest hint of soothing peppermint, and gently moisturized my chapped lips.

While I didn't find my perfect hand lotion, the lip balm will keep me going back to the shop to try out other scents and flavors (of which there are many) and some of the cleverly named mother and child balms.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bittersweet sale...

I make and post things on etsy because I want to sell them. So I was thrilled when I saw that someone had ordered two bags the other day and happy to send them off for someone else to enjoy and use (rather then them just sitting in my stock box). Sometimes making a sale is still accompanied by this feeling of "Wow, someone really wants to buy something that I made!" But I have to admit that sometimes it's hard to send off items that I really love and put a lot of time, energy, and creativity into. It's a little bittersweet -- especially when shipping off two bags that have gotten as much love as these two.
Like pushing baby birds out of a nest or something. Hopefully it's a feeling I'll get used to. And it makes me want to get working on some new felted bags.

So, good-bye and good luck, green felted bags. Make us proud.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Demagnetizing magnets!

Back when I was young and naive and thought that ebay was a good place to buy supplies, I purchased a giant bag of these magnetic clasps to use in hand bags.

When said giant bag arrived, I realised that the magnet on them was way too strong and using them in my bags would risk ripping the lining when trying to open the bag. They sat in a magnetic and metal mass in a jar. They attraced each other from across my crafting table. It was almost impossible to separate them from each other much less from the male and female halves.

I found a work around and planted the magnetic clasps inside the lining so that there would be a piece of fabric between the two halves of the clasp. Problem solved.
But this process is somewhat time consuming and I didn't think it looked as neat as I wanted it to. So I started looking into how to weaken magnets on the world wide webs. I read that heat can weaken and even demagnetize magnets. I started experimenting with heating the magnets in both the oven and bowls of boiling water. After some testing, I found that the best way to weaken the clasps was to put them in the oven at about 300 or 350 degrees for a ten minutes or so. (I put them on a piece of foil to keep them from slipping through the wire rack and to make it easy to scoop them up. CAUTION: they are very hot when you take them out.) I completely demagnetized only one clasp during this experimentation process. They're still strong enough to clasp but not so strong that you have to dig a fingernail in between them to separate them. I'm in the process of putting some of my "new" magnets into bags, so I'll post here about how they turn out in real use. Thank you, Internets!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Front Page #2!

My red poppy felted bag made the front page! Thanks to Cork and Cotton for including me in the mix.

It's just the kick in the pants I need to really plug away at all the work I still have to do for the No Coast Craft O Rama!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween -- a little late.

I spent a good week working on my nephews' costumes this year, so I figure that even though it's late, they deserve at least a little time on the world wide web. (I had nothing to do with the creepy giraffe trainer costume on Mike in the back.)

I also didn't have anything to do with making this giraffe costume.

The hours of work, aching back, and bleeding fingertips were totally worth it when Des first tried on his costume, checked it out in the mirror, and declared, "I look just like a real knight!"

It was surprisingly hard to get Gus to do a Power Ranger fighting pose given that it's his standard MO when the cameras are off.

The kids joined a neighborhood parade -- they were waiting for it here:

Our trusty knight finally takes care of the creepy guy (aka the giraffe trainer) who'd been following us all evening. I wish I could take responsibility for the sweet, sweet cape that Sir Desi is wearing but that was a gift from Granny from many Christmases ago. A shiny, sparkly Liberace-inspired cape offers hours and hours of entertainment -- and the kids like it too.