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.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Making History

The pictures pretty much tell the story of our morning from about 6:45 to 7:45.