Jan 28, 2013

Motivation, Tattoos & Pie

I've got three things on the agenda today.  First of all, last Wednesday was National Pie Day! This is the perfect excuse (and only time of year) for me to make a pie.  Pie is my favorite dessert, and lemon meringue is the best, so that's what I make.  I use this recipe for Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie from Cook's Country.  This baby takes ALL day to make, which is something I forget every year.  (Note to self: make the pie crust the day before!)  It truly is mile-high meringue. And really, I believe that making meringue is akin to magic.  Conclusion: I can do magic, folks.

I was really excited to use my pie server from this shop! Jessica made this custom pie server for me last year.  Love it!

On another note, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Holly.  She writes at this blog.  We've been friends for ten years now--she was one of my college suite-mates and my bridesmaid!   She shares yummy recipes, DIYs and more.  Back in November, she shared a simple DIY for workout motivation.  I FINALLY made my own workout motivation jar (and NEEDED to have it after all that pie!), and the funds that I save will go toward a tattoo. (More on the tattoo at a later date.)

I used these things and followed her instructions:

Holly uses interchangeable tops for her jar.  Rather than making mine interchangeable, I opted to glue the photo down, glue the lid parts together and brushed Mod Podge over the picture for a pretty sheen.  Let your glue dry, then add the lid to the jar.

So, every workout earns a dollar in the jar.  And, it's a win-win.  I'll be saving money for the tattoo AND toning my buns (and other things too, of course)!

And if building a tattoo fund wasn't enough motivation to work out, I just signed up to do the Color Run in April. It should be noted that I am NOT a runner.  But dammit, I will be.  I'll keep you updated on my progress. 

P.S.  Did you enter my Valentine's Giveaway yet?? 

Jan 26, 2013

A Valentine's Giveaway!

Valentine's Day is so cheesy.  Some years I love it, some years I just ignore it.  I'm feeling a little cheesy this year...

First of all, if you're still shopping for V-Day cards, I highly recommend this shop.  She has hilarious cards---some sweet, some a little racy.  Super cute!  Last time I handed a card to my husband he asked, "Is this one of those naughty cards from Etsy?"  It totally was. ;)

For my shop, I decided to make a Valentine's Day Hippo.  What?  You've never heard of a Valentine's Hippo....well, I can assure you that they exist.  And they have a cute heart on their bums. 

Want one for your very own---or maybe for your sweetheart? 

I'm giving one of my lucky readers the cute hippo in the picture above---and not the hippo in the water.  I don't think the post office will let me ship that one...

To enter, leave a comment below telling me your favorite Valentine's Day gift that you gave or received. 

You can earn extra entries by following this blog via Google Friend Connect over there ----> on the sidebar, following Good Natured on Twitter, and sharing this giveaway on your Facebook page.  Just leave another comment for each extra thing you do!  Winner will be announced Saturday, February 2!

52 Weeks of Felting - Week 4

I've got an Australian friend for you today--a koala!!

 Koalas are so cute, but I hear they are not too friendly.  We don't have koalas at my zoo, so I don't have any first-hand experience with them.  Although, I could tell you tons of stuff about marsupials, which are animals with pouches to carry their young....like....there is only one marsupial found naturally here in the United States.  Can you guess what it is? Give up?  It's the opossum.  And yes, it's O-possum, folks.  Not just possum--that's a completely different animal.

Speaking of not being too friendly, have you ever heard of drop bears?  You should check out this site.  Or google them.  Enjoy!

As always, this koala is now available in my shop and is 25 % off until next week!  Have a great weekend!

Jan 21, 2013

Travel Stories - Lessons Learned

Pillowcases by UrbanBirdandCo on Etsy
 My husband and I love to travel.  We try to take trips as often as we can afford to do so, which means we are pretty much always saving for a future trip.  I have some fun travel stories to share, including some experiences when we learned a valuable lesson.  Today, I thought I'd share one of those valuable lessons...

Our last trip was in August 2012, and we went to Scotland and Ireland.  We typically stay in multiple cities and towns, trying to get the most out of our time overseas by seeing as much as possible.  This story begins on our last day in Scotland before we ferried over to Ireland.  We were in Glasgow--Scotland's biggest city. We navigated our way through the city to our room, which was located above and managed by the pub below.  We usually don't stay in hotels--mostly we stay in small, family run bed & breakfasts or hostels. We couldn't find a suitable B&B or hostel in Glasgow, so this was the next, best (still affordable) option.  The rooms were nice--we dropped of our bags and headed out into the city.

It was a Saturday, so Glasgow was busy.  At some point during each of our trips, we will tire of large cities--fighting crowds constantly is just not our thing.  After getting a super late lunch, sight-seeing, and museums, we were done with Glasgow.  We stopped at a bookstore for some evening entertainment, grabbed dinner at a grocery store (salads, yogurts, and chocolate), and we went back to our room to relax for a while.

After we ate, we were lying on the bed reading, when I glanced down and saw a bug crawling in between us. Instantly, I'm thinking BEDBUG.  But, we didn't know what a bedbug looked like exactly, and we had no way to look it up.  So, I texted my mom: "Could you please message me a picture of a bedbug?"  We compared our new friend with the picture, and they didn't really match.  Still unsure, and kind of grossed out, I called my mom and had her read the bedbug description--size, color, do they come out during the day?  Still, they didn't match--our friend was too small.  Regardless, at this point I did not want to get back on the bed.  Bedbugs are the last thing we need during a three week trip to Europe. We pulled up the sheets to inspect the mattress--nothing.  Phew!  Then I looked down.  Attached to the bed skirt was a bonafide bedbug.  Turns out our little friend was a juvenile.  Ugh! SO GROSS!

Our little friend

So after we shared our discovery with the management and refused to stay in an adjacent room (which also had bedbugs--we checked), we had to find another place to stay at 7:00 pm on a Saturday night in Scotland's biggest city.  We made multiple calls and could NOT find a room for less that $250.  We gave up.  We took a cab to the town where we were to catch the ferry the next morning and stayed at a Sleep Inn.  Not exactly a quaint B&B, but we were desperate. But our fun adventure didn't end there, folks.

Once in our very cushy room, we thoroughly check for bedbugs.  Our bags did not touch a soft surface (and luckily they didn't in Glasgow either, otherwise we might have carried them with us!).  Sheets were ripped from the mattress. Pillows were inspected. Extra blankets were tossed into the corner.  Finally, after a shower, we could sleep.

Or so we thought.  The fire alarm goes off at 3:00 am!  "ATTENTION, ATTENTION.  THERE IS AN EMERGENCY.  PLEASE EVACUATE THE BUILDING."  Are you kidding me?!?!  So, I throw on a jacket, grab my purse, Brandon gets dressed, and we file out the building with all other guests.  Apparently I was the only person who didn't put on any pants.  Nope.  Just sleep shorts for me in the 50 degrees.  Thank goodness it was just an alarm malfunction, because the fire department took 10 minutes to show up.  While we were waiting in the parking lot, we realized that we didn't grab everything we should have--Brandon's glasses, our second camera---my pants! Geez.

Left: Brandon and me making pouty faces in our cab leaving Glasgow. Right: Waiting in the Sleep Inn parking lot.

So two lessons were committed to memory during these exciting ten hours abroad.  Lesson 1: Learn how to identify a bedbug (adult AND juvenile).  Lesson 2:  Be evacuation ready.  Seriously.

Rest assured, we were diligent about both of these for the rest of our trip!

Jan 19, 2013

52 Weeks of Felting - Week 3

I almost didn't make it until Saturday to share this with you!  My week 3 creation is a Hippo!!

And here's my sketch...

So, really I don't know why it's taken me this long to make a hippo.  You might already know that I work at a zoo.  But you might not know that my favorite animal there is our hippopotamus, Henry! He's actually a lot of people's favorite animal at our zoo.  Up-close encounters with him are so special, and I feel very privileged when I'm able to experience them.  I even got to do a photo shoot at the zoo in my wedding dress.
 Feeding him is hilarious...I've tossed four or five grapefruits in his mouth at once....huge scoops of grain....and even whole watermelons and pumpkins.  So cool! I am very grateful for the zookeeper help that I received to make this photo shoot possible!

I also made a pink Valentine's Day Hippo, complete with a heart on its bum! You can check it out here.

 Both hippos are 25% off until next Saturday! They are in my shop here and here.

Your suggestions for new creations are great--keep them coming!! Remember, for the next few weeks, if I make what you suggest, I'll send you one for free.

Jan 15, 2013

Locker Restyle: Home Storage

My husband and I have always liked the look and potential functional use of lockers in home decor.  I mentioned in this post that we have been redecorating our living room, and using lockers was a unique storage solution for us. 

I was tired of dusting books and vases and pottery and knick-knacky things.  I wanted something that could actually be used for storage, but keep items accessible--to make things look a little more put together. 

So we found these blue lockers at a local surplus store.  Perfect!  

Brandon added some simple shelves so we could maximize the locker space.  You'll notice that a shelf was not added to one locker--this one will be used for guest coats and purses.   In the other spaces, we have our most used gardening/cookbook/travel books, photo albums, candles and blankets. 

 I love organizing things and coming up with new storage solutions.  What are your favorite organization or storage solutions?

Jan 12, 2013

52 Weeks of Felting - Week 2

I have really enjoyed brainstorming and sketching new ideas (including your ideas from last week) for Week 2 of my 52 Weeks Project! 

This week, I decided to create something very different from my usual felted craftimals.   You might have seen my sneak peak on facebook...

I felted a butterfly!

And here's my sketch...

This butterfly is now available in my shop (click here), and will be 25% off until my Week 3 project is revealed.

Oh, one last thing.  I really appreciate your suggestions and ideas for new creations.  For the next few weeks, if I choose your idea for the following week's project, I'll send you a free one!

Jan 7, 2013

DIY Welcome Doormat

I'm currently redecorating my living room (more on that later) and was looking for rugs when I came across some really cute welcome mats.  But cute welcome mats are expensive--and I couldn't find one that I just loved.  So I made one.  And you can too!

 You'll need:

Plain coconut coir doormat
Spray paint (I used brown outdoor spray paint)
Heavy paper--like card stock
Craft knife or Scissors
Cutting Mat 
Masking tape

Decide how big you want your letters/design to be according to your mat, and make sure your heavy paper is big enough to accommodate that and have a bit space left on the edge.  I just sketched my letters onto the paper, but you could always print out your letters using your favorite font!

Carefully cut out your letters to make a stencil.  I recommend clipping your paper to the cutting mat so it doesn't slide around. Also, for any letters that have open spaces, like e's and o's, you'll want to keep that piece attached by a small sliver of paper to ensure it will show up on the finished product.

Since my words were on two separate pages, I used masking tape to attach them.  Be sure to leave the amount of space you'd like to show up between the words.

Next, center your paper onto your mat.  I made a couple little marks with a Sharpie (in the dot on the i, and in the cross of the t) to center my words again if they happened to shift.  (I'm glad I did this!)

Next, block off the rest of your mat so you don't get paint where you don't want it.  I used newspaper and pieces of cardboard.  (Center your letters again if you need to.) 

Now it's time to paint!  Make sure your paper is laying flat on your mat before you start.  Try to keep the spray of paint vertical, so you don't end up spraying underneath the paper.

I gave my mat a couple coats of paint.  The coir material really soaks it up. Let it dry a bit before you remove your stencil.  Of course, you'll probably want to peek before you completely remove your stencil to make sure that you have enough paint coverage.

All done!  If you did get a little too much paint between letters, you can rough up the fibers a bit to help camouflage the overspray.

There are so many possibilities with this!  You could do a monogram, a cute silhouette, or different colors and designs.  I'd love to do another one with a chicken silhouette and one with neon colors!  Let me know if you try this--I'd love to see what you create!

Jan 5, 2013

52 Weeks of Felting - Week 1

I have decided to make a commitment to my shop.  I was looking for a resolution ambition something purposeful.  Then I saw this artist's post about doing an illustration each week for her shop. The problem, though, is that I'm not very good at keeping long term project commitments.  A fifty-two week project, for me, is waaaay more doable than anything 365. I'm pretty sure a daily project will never happen. So, for now, this project will help me flex my responsibility muscle, and is really a good plan for me so that I keep brainstorming and sketching.  But, I know I need to do a couple things to keep myself accountable: 1) I have to tell someone--that's you guys!  2) I have to organize and keep my ideas for new creations in one place.  So, I found and old notebook and jazzed up the cover with washi tape... 

I will sketch all my ideas here.  Each week, I will pick a sketch and felt something new.  For Week 1, I made my own version of a puffer fish.


 And here is the finished, wooly product!

As each week's creation is finished, I'll post it in my shop, and it will be 25% off until the next week's creation is revealed.

Hopefully, this project will help me hone my skills and grow as a felter.
Time to sketch for next week!  Any requests?