Monthly Archives: August 2012

Crafty Guys


Crafting is not a female only sport. There are many guys out there who are creative and crafty – whether it’s rebuilding an old mustang or making sculpture from junk. Ben Venom happens to be a quilter who uses rock t-shirts as his medium and incorporates lyrics from his favorite and obscure rock and punk rock songs.

His stuff is incredible – check it out.


Redefining our Homes


Saturday I took a trip down to Huntsville, Texas, to visit Pheonix Commotion, Dan Phillips construction company that specializes in building small homes from reclaimed and leftover building materials (which I mentioned in a previous post). Basically stuff that was either headed for the dumpster because of  botched orders (“Oh, you wanted 10 ft boards, not 8 ft boards), leftover inventory or just general waste (bottle caps, wine corks, bone).

I like Dan’s philosophy in making use of these materials to build housing for artists and single moms. The construction industry has tons of waste and using it keeps it out of the landfill and costs down. Not to mention that many new building materials are treated with chemicals that out gas and cause health issues for many people. Reclaimed or recycled materials (like using old barn wood or salvaging stuff from buildings that will be torn down) don’t have that problem because they are old enough that the chemicals have already leached out.

On the tour ($10 per person – very reasonable) we got to see the inside of only 3 of the houses (as the other’s are private residences) – the Bone House, the Tree House and I don’t know if the third house had a name but the front fencing had wine bottles as part of the fence, so I’ll call it the Wine House.

Some of these homes had artist’s studios with them as separate buildings. Personally, I could never live in any of the houses. I found them too confining and with the multitude of patterns on practically every surface, too busy. I like a cleaner aesthetic. Also, I want a flat counter top surface (the counters in the bone house where done in a bone mosaic – as in actual bone). I can’t imagine trying to cut something and having my cutting board bouncing all over the place. Plus keeping it clean would not be fun. The floor in that kitchen was absolutely beautiful but impractical, from a cleaning standpoint, in my opinion. 

I found the artist’s studios much more to my liking, which were mostly one big rectangle with a bathroom. I’m thinking I need about 800 square feet and properly planned will seem spacious and be very comfortable. And most important – paid for. I don’t plan on using bottle caps for flooring (I’m going to go with a stained cement – way cheaper and less time-consuming) but I will be looking in unusual places for my materials rather than hitting up the big box stores.  

It’ll be at least a year before I can even move and probably longer than that before I get another house as I decide on where I eventually want to settle down. Being an empty-nester will free me to go anywhere I want so I am going to explore my options. But Dan’s opened my eyes to lots of options so that when I am ready to build or remodel, I can do it without taking on a mortgage and customized just for me as long as I am willing to put in some time sourcing cheap/free materials and doing some of the jobs.

Today in Health and Fashion


Came across two very interesting articles today.  This one is about fashion and recycling clothes. Apparently a machine/sorter is in the works that would be able to take those discarded clothes you either throw away or give to charity and sort them by fiber so that they can be shredded and rewoven into new fabric. The article also gives some very good statistics about the inherent waste in the fashion industry.

Here’s my question – why aren’t more people trying to embrace sustainability? From where I am sitting, this is a problem that is just waiting for some creativity and innovation. New jobs, cleaner communities, healthier workers, I mean why are people fighting this? It is so ripe with opportunity. We have the technology to put men (and women) in space, why can’t we figure out a viable economic solution to the problems that are rampant in the fashion industry? Or in any unsustainable industry. for that matter.

Thanks to facebook, I saw another article today about the link between heart disease and our current diet. Read it here. I’ve overhauled my diet a lot over the past year. I rarely eat processed food. Most of my food is fresh and homemade (the closest I come to process food is my yogurt – although I must confess to a rather long stretch of eating Amy’s Broccoli and Cheese pot pies – YUM). I’m enjoying my food, I’m enjoying cooking my food and I don’t crave sweets and I even use less salt (I was a saltaholic). For me a treat is fresh, seasonal fruit or adding dates to my morning oatmeal. Anyway, it will be interesting to see in the coming years how this all plays out with big agribusiness.


Ode to the Scarf


I’ve been busy getting ready for a craft show I’m doing in November. Now that I carpool (why I hadn’t hopped on that bandwagon sooner is beyond me – 2 out of every 3 weeks I sit in back and knit or crochet. It’s an extra 1 1/2 hours a day of playtime), I’ve been making much more progress.

I will be selling mostly jewelry, bags and scarves. I love making scarves. First of all, one size fits all.

Second, a scarf is the perfect winter accessory. With our mild Texas winters I find that as long as my neck is covered, I stay warm.

Third, and most importantly for me, scarves are an opportunity to play. Scarves are the jazz of the knit/crochet world. They are perfect for improvisation because they don’t take a lot of time. It’s a time to explore stitch patterns, play around with techniques and use up odd bit of skeins left over from other projects. And the end result is always fantastic.

For the purple/green crochet scarf above, I had a bunch of scraps from a miter block project that I abandoned so when I unravelled it, I use the pieces for a simple circular crochet motif and joined them as I crocheted rather than sew them all together (what a pain – I’ve done that before). I still ended up with scraps so I tied them all together to create a large ball which I will use to – you guessed it – make another scarf.

The second scarf is actually two in one. One is a deep tan and the other is cream. This is my own pattern which mimics leaves on a vine.

Scarves are little works of art and I think that they can be beautiful as well as functional.


Sweet Potato Enchiladas


I love sweet potatoes and have made sweet potato bread, sweet potato muffins, sweet potato waffles and they are were all good but I wanted something different.

I came upon two recipes, one for sweet potato enchiladas and one for sweet potato burritos and decided to create my own version of the two.

First of all, I already had homemade enchilada sauce and corn tortillas in my freezer. One recipe called for black beans and the other for cream chesse.

Here’s what I did. I baked the sweet potatoes and mashed them. Then I grated some Mexican cheese (Queso Fresca?) and added some cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder to a drained can of black beans and semi-mashed them together. I took my corn tortilla and put a spoonful of sweet potato on it, then added the black bean mixture, some of the cheese and topped it off with some of the sauce. Then I rolled them up, put them in a dish, poured more sauce over them and added more cheese and baked in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour.

They were yummy but here’s what I will do different next time. I will only put the enchilada sauce on top of them, not in them. The sauce was too overpowering and hid the delicate sweet flavor of the sweet potatoes. Also, I will add the cheese to the top AFTER they are baked.

But overall, a very satisfying dish.


Blue (or green or purple) is the new black


I came across this post on my internet travels today.

While it seems more geared toward the graphic design crowd I thought the concept of not using black was very interesting and wondered how I could apply it to my work. If nothing else, I am going to be looking at shadows a lot differently. And maybe just observing color, actually trying to pinpoint what it is, might be all I need to learn.

Bloggers and Copyrights


I just came upon this article at Huffington Post about some e-books that violated copyrights. Apparently these were recipe books and all the recipes and pictures were taken right off of blogs but the true authors were not credited, nor did they get any money from the sales. Blogs with recipes were the main target but in this day and age of the internet, it could happen to anyone.

This reminds me of a passage I read in Carl King’s book (which I read on my Kindle) So, you’re a creative genius…now what? He says:

“It is my belief that in a Creative Career, product-based selling is worthless. We have to evolve beyond “product-centric” thinking.” 

He goes on to talk about how “In this new world of copy-everything-with-one-click” that anything that can be downloaded is free. Let it go, give it away. Don’t try to get in the business of selling something that everyone can get for free.

While I don’t condone what happened in the article (these titles were hit with tons of comments damning the books and they were eventually pulled), I think King’s advice is spot-on for those of use who are trying to carve out creative careers for ourselves.

Unlike these copyright thiefs, we are blessed with wonderful new ideas everyday, so use your creativity to come up with different methods to bring in revenue.

Hand Knit Wedding Dress


I came across several stories about Lydia Taylor, a yarn shop owner in England, who knit her wedding dress.

This story appealed to me on several levels. First of all, SHE KNIT HER WEDDING DRESS! And it’s gorgeous. As an avid knitter, she has my admiration.

Apparently the couple did a handmade wedding. I think this is such a wonderful idea and I am glad to see that so many more couples are planning smaller, more intimate affairs that are about family and friends rather than seeing who can bankrupt mommy and daddy the quickest.

Sites like and pinterest have made it much easier to get an elegant look at discount prices. Personally, I would love to be able to plan and execute these affairs for a living, but most people that do it are pretty crafty and don’t need my help.