Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Legend of the Christmas Pickle

When I was in the fifth grade my teacher told us about an old German tradition - the Christmas Pickle.  Every Christmas a special ornament shaped like a pickle was hidden within the branches of the tree and whichever lucky child found the pickle first received an extra treat from Santa.  And in one of my favorite school activities ever, we got to make our own pickle ornaments.  We used a green air-dry clay and little, black beads for their cute little pickle eyes.  I thought they were the best thing ever.

So I proudly took my pickle home and shared the story with my family, who found it just as delightful as I did.  Mom hid the pickle and come Christmas Eve, the hunt was on.  I didn't have any competition that first year, as my little sister was not yet with us, but it was fun anyway - and challenging!  Pickles have excellent camouflage for hiding in trees, let me tell you.

And so, the Christmas Pickle became a cherished family tradition.  Alas, over the years, the mice developed a fondness for the pickle as well and ate much of his adorable backside.  My mother happened to find a glass pickle ornament, and though it certainly held up to the mice better, it lacked that adorable pickle face.  It had no pickle personality.  And I kept thinking, "I should make a new pickle!"  But by the time I thought of it, I was usually ensconced in making gifts and goodies and all that holiday madness and just didn't have the time.

Now I'm approaching my second Christmas in my new home, and while we're making our own traditions there are many that I've brought with me.  I'll soon be making buckeye balls, and I'm thinking about whipping up a cheese ball too.  We've got a ham to cook and a carton of egg nog.  And yesterday, I made a pickle.

I happened to remember that I'd bought some green polymer clay, so I whipped it out and sculpted this little guy.  The eyes are glass beads, and I used an orange stick to give him some pickley dimples and add the rest of his features.  After baking I gave him a thin coat of acrylic paint - in Metallic Christmas Green, of course.  I didn't have any red ribbon on hand, so I just made him a wire hanger for now.  

I'm so pleased with how he turned out that I'm already planning on making more - one for my family to replace their bland, expressionless, glass pickle and some to sell to pickle-less families around the world.  Ok, so I'm a little late for this year, but it's definitely on my to-do list for next year!

And now I'm just dying to know - do any of you hunt for the Christmas Pickle?  What other wacky Christmas traditions do you have?  Or not-so-wacky?  Share your stories in the comments!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Motivator: Two Heads

They say two heads are better than one, and I've got to agree.  My roommate is a pretty crafty person herself and when I was rushing to finish the last few necklaces for my big order on time this weekend, she gladly jumped in to help.  And it was wonderful.  I showed her the various techniques for the design I'd been using and we finished one necklace together.  And then, the very next day, she totally blew me away with two awesome new designs of her very own.  And I mean awesome.  This girl is a wire wrapping genius.  Just look at this:

Isn't it awesome?  Like some sort of tiny, fantastic, abstract sculpture.  I just love it.  But I digress...

In addition to making necklaces, we also did some shopping (there was a "buy one get one free" sale on craft books at one of our awesome local shops) and a whole lot of brainstorming.  There were so many ideas bouncing around between us...  Ideas about designs and techniques and somewhere in the middle of it all, the concept for a whole new shop was born.

We've already started planning and setting things up, so I'll give you more details later when things have developed a bit more.  What I can tell you now is, there will be some restructuring happening over the next few weeks.  Some of my jewelry will be coming with me to the new shop and I'll be moving my graphics to their own dedicated shop as well.  The Ash Grove will remain home to my accessories and hand-lettered goods.  I may also be moving to a new main blog, but I'll definitely keep this one and post news specific to The Ash Grove, at least.  We'll just see what happens.

In the meantime and in case I don't get the chance to post again before then, I hope everyone has a very happy holiday!  Save me some of those cookies! ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Crapton of Craftlace

What is it about the holiday season that makes time seem to fly by even faster than usual?  One minute you're thinking "Gosh, isn't it a little early for lights?  It's not even Thanksgiving yet!" and the next you're thinking "Oh, crap!  I've only got a week to do all my shopping!"  Been there, done that.  But not this year.  I got all of my shopping done early this year.  What I didn't do yet is a lot of stuff for the shop.  Like posting here!

I just realized it's been two weeks!  Goodness.  I meant to post last week and show you all my newest items - craft lace zipper pulls in Hogwarts house colors.

Honestly, I was never a big fan of craft lace.  Sure, it had it's uses, but they were rather limited.  I used it a few months ago in a jewelry commission for a costume.  I only needed two colors for the project, but I was on a deadline and had to shop locally (read: at Wal-mart).  Fortunately, they had plenty of craft lace, but only in multi-packs.  And of course, the two colors I needed only came in the huge MEGAPACK.  So I got stuck with a metric ton of craft lace and no idea how to use it.

There were the obvious keychains and lanyards and such, but I really wanted to do something... different.  So I wracked my creative little brain and searched online for ideas and inspiration...  and finally wound up making keychains anyway.  I broke down one day and decided to try one of the braids that was shown in the little pamphlet that came in the box and I suddenly saw the appeal.  It was fun

I made several keychains and zipper pulls and whatnot, tried out some different patterns, and decided that I ought to add these to the shop.  They didn't take long to make and the materials were very inexpensive, so I wouldn't have to charge much.  And they're a useful item.  I know I always feel better about buying something if it's useful and not just purely decorative. 

And as I was pondering color schemes, I realized what I had to do:  Hogwarts house colors.  There was a new Harry Potter movie coming out, so the timing seemed perfect.  And besides, I'm just a big Harry Potter fan.  Plus it would be another "geeky" item for the shop, something I was wanting to add more of.  So there you have it. 

I'll soon be adding keychains as well and I'm already pondering new color schemes (if you have a specific color scheme you'd like to see, leave a comment and let me know!), so you can definitely expect to see more of these.  In the meantime, I'm off to work on some necklaces.  And I promise it won't be another two weeks before you see me again!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Freebies

Remember those printable freebies I mentioned? They're here! No need to spend your hard earned cash of gift tags, folks. You can download these babies and print as many as you need! Just click the download link below to grab the PDF file. And let me know what you think! I want to be sure my freebies are fun and useful to you, my dear readers. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Back to Business

Well, Folks, I did it.  Yesterday afternoon, around 3:30, I reached my goal of 50,000 words and became a NaNo winner.  Actually, my grand total was 50,162 words, and I did it in 27 days - not to brag or anything...

Oh, heck.  Who am I kidding.  Yes, I'm bragging.  But I like to think I've earned it.  =P

The funny part?  I had my whole plot outlined beforehand, but before I could get to the main plot, I had to do some setting up and explain some things.  In the process, I discovered a whole host of new characters and subplots, and I didn't wind up getting to the plot I had planned until a couple of days ago, about 45,000 words into the story.  So it's starting to look like I might be writing a trilogy rather than a single book.  Which would be pretty cool, actually.  I kind of have a thing for trilogies...

But I digress.  I bet you're wondering what's happening on the crafty front.  More than you might think, actually.  Yes, I've been focusing on my writing, but I have made a few things as well.  And I took a lovely trip to Hobby Lobby a couple weeks ago to stock up on supplies, so I have plenty of new stuff to work with.  And boy have I got ideas! Here's a peek at what's coming:

  • Zipper Pulls & Keychains - I'll be listing these in the next day or two, and I'm quite excited about them, so I'm keeping the details secret until then.  Suffice it to say, they're another dose of geekery for the shop, and I think they're really cool.  
  • New Polymer Clay Pendants & Necklaces - I say polymer clay because that's what the base will be, but I'm actually envisioning these as sort of a mixed media mini-collage.  They look really cool in my head, and I can't wait to actually experiment.  Hopefully, I'll be able to whip one up in time for the holidays!  
  • Monthly Freebies - This is an idea that's been bouncing around my head for a while now, and I've finally decided to do something about it.  In fact, I'm going to get to work as soon as I've finished writing this.  As a way of saying "thank you" to all the awesome folks who read my blog and/or subscribe to my newsletter, I'm going to offer up a themed set of printable freebies every month.  One sheet will be up for grabs here with a second available only in the newsletter - so be sure to subscribe!
So there you have it - a taste of what's to come and proof that no matter how busy I may be with other things, I'm always thinkin' crafty.  :)

Now tell me, how was your November?  Did you eat too much turkey?  Go turkeyless?  What have you got planned for the holidays?  Talk to me people!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but this blog is not the only thing I write.  Nope.  Far from it.  Actually, I have a few other blogs and journals that I do my best to keep up with.  And I write fiction, which is what I really love.

A lot of times, though, it gets placed on the back burner - because there are blogs to write or because there are  "more important" things to do.  This blog and my Etsy shop take precedence most of the time.

But not this month.  This month is all about writing.  Not writing just anything, but writing my novel - the one that's been bouncing around the back of my head for months, waiting for me to sit down and really work on it.  That's just what I'm doing.

But why now?  Because it's NaNoWriMo!  What the heck is that?  National Novel Writing Month.  It's a magical event that happens every November during which a whole bunch of completely nutty people set out to write an entire 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.  Or, in my case, 27 days.  I got off to a late start.  But I've met my goal every day since I started, and I'm making great progress.  So long as I can keep up this pace, I should have no trouble finishing on time.

Of course, that means you probably won't see much of me around here.  I will, of course, stop by for occasional updates.  But for the most part, I'll be over here with my coffee and my chocolate and my laptop, typing myself silly and trying to stay remotely sane.

Click the graphic above to by taken to my NaNo profile page, where you can read a synopsis of my novel and an excerpt.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's not too late!

If you didn't know about Everything Etsy's giveaway week, don't worry. You can still get in on the action! You have until tomorrow at 10pm Eastern Time to enter any or all of their awesome giveaways. Like my favorite, the Red River Paper Giveaway, featuring 10 awesome prize packs, including a chance to win one of two printers! Talk about a prize! I've been thinking I need a printer...

But even if you don't win one of the printers, you still have a chance at one of the other prize packs, which include a gift certificate and a sample kit of Red River's printer-ready notecards. Sweet!

Regardless of whether you enter or not, you really should go visit the folks at Red River Paper. There products look to be of outstanding quality, everything is reasonably priced - especially the sample packs - and they seem to be just a nice bunch of people. Plus, if you follow them on Twitter, they'll give you a coupon!

So hop to it, folks! Go get your giveaway on!
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Cafe Handmade
Hey folks, guess what!  I'm currently the featured artist on Cafe Handmade.  How cool is that?  You can click the link or the lovely little button to read my interview and see a smattering of my goods amidst the lovely environment of Cafe Handmade (have I mentioned that I love their design?).  While you're there, if you'd be so kind as to click the little "vote" button at the bottom of the page and/or leave a comment, it would be very much appreciated!  And if you haven't already perused the rest of the lovely site, you really should.  It's wonderful - and I really need to spend more time there myself...

In the meantime, however, I've got an order to finish up and some new goodies to play with.  So off I go!  Have a great day, everyone! 
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday Threads: Happy Halloween!

Ok, so it's not quite Halloween just yet, but it certainly isn't far off.  And you know what that means...


Oh, yeah.  And costumes.  It's the costumes we're talking about today.  Etsy's full of 'em!  As I discovered when I started looking for items to feature today.  An hour later I remembered, "Oh, yeah!  I'm supposed to be writing a blog!"

So.  The usual disclaimer applies here:  there are oodles of cool costumes on Etsy, and you really should go have a look yourself.  These are just my favorites.

Now, without further adieu, here are my picks...

For the ladies...

For the gentlemen...

For the kids...

Cute take on a classic - Ghost Poncho by izzybstuff
And finally...

For the web-savvy comedian...

Get two of these, give one to a friend, and party like a double rainbow. Intense!

Now let's see your faves. Leave 'em in the comments!
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm baaaaaack!

Boy, life's been crazy lately...  Miss Kitty's father was in a serious accident a few weeks ago, so we've been bouncing around a lot - driving an hour and a half to the hospital to visit, back to their house to feed the dog, home at last, repeat.  He's improving steadily, though, and might be moved somewhere closer to home soon, so things are finally settling down a bit.

I'd have mentioned this sooner, but on top of everything else, our internet has been acting up all month - loading things veeeeeeeery sloooooooooooooowly and often only partially, if at all.  I actually put the shop in vacation mode for a while, when I had the chance.  But everything is back up and running now, and the shop is, of course, open for business again.

This forced vacation, of sorts, has actually been a blessing in disguise.  It's made me take a step back and
really look at things in a way I usually don't.  I tend to get caught up in promoting and crafting, and I've realized that there's a big step in between that I'm neglecting.  Photos, tags, descriptions... These are some of the most important things, but I probably spend the least amount of time on them.  That's going to change.  I've got some new items coming, but before I start listing new items, I'm going to take some time to work on the old ones.

In the meantime, though, I'm gonna have some coffee and sort through some more emails.  Amazing how they pile up...

Monday, September 27, 2010

News + Giveaway!

Howdy, Folks!  I've got a few announcements to make.  First off, I wanted to let everyone know that I've decided to extend my Autumn Equinox Sale for another entire week!  That's right.  You've got until Oct. 4 to get 10% OFF everything in the shop.  And don't forget, shipping is always FREE on any order of $50 or more!

Also, in case you missed it, there's a new item in the shop!  In honor of my favorite season (and true, geeky accuracy), I've done a gold version of my mallorn necklace:

And now, my dear readers, you have a chance to win this necklace (customized to suit your personal taste, of course).  How?  Simple.  All you have to do is sign up for my way cool and totally unobtrusive monthly newsletter.  In addition to being entered in the giveaway, you'll also get news about the shop, sale announcements, and exclusive discounts.  So what are you waiting for?  Sign up right here, and be sure to come back here and leave a comment to let me know you've done so.

Tweet, blog, or post a link to this post and get a bonus entry!  Just don't forget to leave a comment and let me know where I can find your link.

Giveaway ends Oct. 27.  Winner will be announced Oct. 28.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In case you missed it...


The sale is officially on!  So head over to the shop and grab yourself a great deal.  Or snag something for someone you like.  Christmas is coming up, you know.  ;)

But don't forget to come back here and sign up for our newsletter!  If you do, you'll automatically be entered to win my next giveaway!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn Equinox Sale

John Everett Millais, "Autumn Leaves".Image via WikipediaWell, Folks, a new season is upon us, and you know what that means.  It's time for an Autumn Equinox Sale at The Ash Grove!

Starting tomorrow, everything in the shop will be 10%  OFF!  And don't forget - shipping is always FREE on any order totaling $50 or more.

In other news, I've got a new item coming later today.  So keep your eyes peeled!

And if you haven't already, be sure to pop your email in that box to your right and sign up for my newsletter.  You'll get first notice of sales like this, news about upcoming items and events, and special deals and discounts.

Plus, you'll be automatically entered to win my next giveaway!  More news on that later...  

Have a great day, dear readers! ♡

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Threads: Tea Party Attire

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before or not, but I love tea. Love it. And not just tea itself, but all the accoutrements - tea cups, tea pots, canisters and tea-making appliances... And food. A good cup of tea is vastly improved by the addition of a nice biscuit or tiny sandwich. Put all these things together, throw in a sunny room or pretty garden, mix well, top with a few roses and a smashing hat and you've got... a tea party!
Now, what are you going to where? Don't worry. Etsy's got you covered.

For starters, how about this lovely tea dress by Loliposh:

It's made with a vintage Laura Ashley fabric and features hand-dyed lace trim and waist ties for a custom fit. Add a cute white apron, and this would be the perfect ensemble for any hostess!

And for an extra touch of elegance, how about these gorgeous beaded cuffs by TianaCHE:

They're made with felted merino wool and are accented by crocheted silk lace and faux pearls. They feature a corset-style lace-up fastening, so you can also wear them as spats or lace them together and wear them as a neckwarmer. Beauty and versatility. You can't beat that!

Last but certainly not least, no tea party ensemble is complete (in this blogger's opinion, at least) without a fabulous hat. And this, my friends, is a fabulous hat:

This awesome cocktail hat by daisyhere is perfect for today's tea party - and plenty of other occasions! It's chic and modern with an undeniably retro flair. It's made with white sinamay accented with crinoline, netting, ribbon, and curled ostrich feathers. And it would look smashing with a martini.

These are, of course, but a few selections. Just a tiny-sandwich-sized nibble of what Etsy has to offer. Do share your own finds, if you'd like. I would love to see them! In the meantime, I'm off to the tea cabinet to decide what to brew next...
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Thursday, September 9, 2010


Hi, folks.  It's been a while, hasn't it?  If you saw my shop announcement last week, you know where I've been.  But in case you didn't, allow me to explain.

My grandfather died rather suddenly about two weeks ago.  He had been ill for some time - COPD and emphysema - and lately he had gotten worse.  I was trying to arrange a visit, but not rushing too much about it in the hopes that he would improve enough to leave the hospital and I could visit him while he was home.  And then I got a phone call from my mother informing me that his heart was in bad shape and they were going to try a rather risky procedure the following morning to fix it.  But there was a good chance he wouldn't survive the operation.

I spent the rest of the evening frantically searching for a way to get there that morning.  I thought I could just catch a late flight.  Nope.  There weren't any.  Anywhere.  Everyone stopped flying at 10:00.  It was already almost 9:00 and it would take 2 hours to get to the airport.  Flying was out.  And I fared no better with my other transportation options.  The bus didn't leave until 11:00 am.  The train would take 2 days to get there.

I called my mother back and she informed me that they'd postponed the procedure until the afternoon.  We were both much relieved.  Obviously, things were not quite as dire as we had initially feared.  I had someone willing to drive me halfway in the morning, and a friend willing to pick me up at the halfway point and bring me the rest of the way. It had all worked out nicely.  So I finally ate something and relaxed a bit.

Just a few hours later, I got another call.  They were doing CPR.  His heart had stopped.  I can't say I was devastated because, at that point, I still had hope.  He had always had a way of pulling through.

I don't remember falling asleep after that, but I must have because I woke up at around 3:00 am and groggily answered the phone.  My mother told me to go back to sleep and not worry.  He went peacefully and he was resting now.

I cried for a while, cursed myself for not getting there in time, and then suddenly, the pain in my chest eased up, the tears stopped, and I felt this sudden, strange peace.  This happened several times over the next week, and strange as it may sound, I can't help but think it was him, wrapping his arms around me and comforting me, just as he always did.

I went ahead with my plan to drive up the following day and spent about a week there making preparations and attending the services and then (the hardest part) coping with the calm that comes after when there's nothing left to do, to keep you busy and keep your mind off things, and you finally have to really face it.

I've taken my time with things since I got home, trying to stay relaxed and not stress myself out by trying to do 150 things all at once like I usually do.  So my postings here will likely continue to be erratic for a bit.

I've missed you all, my dear crafty friends, and I hope you're all doing well.  Now do me a favor.  Go grab your nearest loved one and give them a big, big hug.  Hold them close.  Tell them you love them.  Make the most of every moment you have.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wicked Wednesday: Eco-Goth

The terms "eco-friendly" and "goth" may not seem to go together.  After all, gothic fashion - particularly certain sub-genres - seems to focus on the man-made and mechanical.  To say that nature plays no role, however, would be incorrect.  Nature finds its way into gothic fashion in beautiful gemstones adorning elegant jewelry, colorschemes that remind us of the sky at midnight or a rose garden just after the rain.  Nature's influence is there in all sorts of ways that we just don't think about.

But one of the most prominent places you'll find it is in the wonderful array of unique gothic beauty products that is available today.  One such product is this fantastic lip balm from the amazingly cool perfumery, For Strange Women:

 This lip balm (which contains no actual poison ivy, thank goodness) is packed with natural - and only natural - ingredients, like vitamin E and cocoa butter.  And it's flavored with essential oils, including basil, marjoram, and petitgrain.  Doesn't it sound wonderful?  Quite a nice change of pace from the usual fruit and mint flavors, I think.

But if that wasn't enough, this lip balm has an added bonus.  The packaging is totally eco-friendly.  It's completely biodegradable and compostable, contains no plastic, and it holds 40% more than a regular lip balm tube.  Sweet! 

I'm totally sold.  The only problem is choosing between this and one of the other awesome flavors For Strange Women has available.  And that's not to mention the perfumes, bath salts, and candles.  You really must go have a look.  
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday: DIY Sandals

Assorted colorful flip-flops.Image via WikipediaEtsy posted another awesome How-Tuesday tutorial the other day, this one detailing how to make an awesomely comfy looking pair of sandals out of a pair of flip-flop soles and an old t-shirt.  How cool is that? 

 This would be a great way to revamp those flip-flops you bought back at the beginning of summer that are starting to look a little ragged.  Or, if you're one of those people that can't wear flip-flops because the little thing between your toes just drives you crazy,   grab a pair anyway and customize them!

 I may just have to give these a whirl myself, if there are any flip-flops on the clearance rack in my size... 

What about you, dear readers?  Ever made or customized your own shoes?  I'd love to see 'em!  
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poll Time!

Hey, folks.  Just another quick post here to ask you all something I've been wondering...

And if there's something you'd like to see more of around here, please leave a comment and let me know!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just An Update...

I know the blog has been rather quiet lately, and I apologize for that.  Life's been kind of crazy lately, and I've had a lot on my mind, lots of other things competing for attention that have won out for now.  I will keep posting here.  Just expect it to remain somewhat sporadic for a while.  I'll get back to my regular schedule as soon as I can.

In the meantime, happy crafting!

Friday, August 13, 2010

EtsyBloggers Anniversary Sale

Have you heard?? Approximately 50 Etsy shops are participating in this wonderful event...we're all celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of the rockin' EtsyBloggers team...and we're all having a SALE!!! Look at all the beautiful items just waiting for you to take a closer look:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Techno/Tutorial Tuesday: Picnik

Guess what!  It's time for another Techno Tuesday!  That's right.  Two in a row.  Exciting, eh?  It is, trust me.  Because we're going to discuss photo editing.  And all my fellow online sellers know just how very important it is to have good photos. 

But getting awesome photos is about more than just taking the photos.  The real magic is in the editing.  You can't make a bad photo good, but you can make a mediocre photo a whole lot better.

I wrote a tutorial a while ago about editing your photos with GIMP, which is still my preferred method for things that need major editing or a lot of fine tuning.  But for simple cropping and color/contrast adjustments, I have found something even better - a free, online photo editing utility called Picnik.

Picnik gives all of the usual photo editing tools - crop, resize, sharpen, etc. - but it doesn't stop there.  You can fix exposure and color with one click, add all sorts of cool effects, and dress up your photos with "stickers," frames, and text.  You can even make collages and scrapbook pages, have your photos printed, and share your photos on various social networks right from Picnik.

And did I mention how easy it is?  Seriously, it's a piece of cake.  Let me show you.

When you first visit Picnik, you'll complete a very brief registration, and then you can jump right in by uploading a photo.  Or, if you already have photos uploaded somewhere else - Flickr or Facebook, for instance - you can open them from there.

As you can see, Picnik also keeps your last five uploads, so if you need to go back and re-edit something, it's right here waiting.  Cool, huh?

Once you're photo is uploaded, editing it is simply a matter of clicking on one of the buttons at the top of the page.

Let's start by cropping this photo shall we?  When we click on crop, a grid will pop up that we can move and resize by clicking and dragging the dots at the corners.  Just position the grid so that it covers the portion of the image you want to keep, like so:

Click "OK" and... voila.  Your image is cropped.  Now let's resize it.  Just click "resize" and enter the new dimensions.  I want my image to be 1000 pixels wide, so I just enter "1000" in the first box and Picnik does the rest.  Awesome.

Now let's tweak the contrast.  Click on exposure and, first, let's try "Auto-Fix."  Just one click gives us this:

Not a huge difference, but the exposure was already pretty good in this photo.  If we didn't like the result of the Auto-Fix we could always click "Reset."  And if we wanted to edit the contrast manually, we could drag the sliders above until we get just the look we want.  Click "Okay" and we're back to our menu.

Next we want to adjust our colors.  There is an Auto-Fix option here, but where the Exposure Auto-Fix is usually spot on, this one's a bit hit or miss.  Still, it's worth trying it first.  Just click... and here's what we get:

Not bad, but it's a little heavy on the blue tones for my taste, so I'm going to click reset and use the sliders.  "Saturation" will make the colors brighter and more vibrant, so I'm going to increase that a little.  Temperature will give the image a cooler, more blue tone if you slide it to the left and a warmer, more red tone if you move it to the right.  I'm going to make this image just a little warmer.

Almost done!  Now we'll click on sharpen, and drag the slider to the right to make our image a bit sharper and crisper.  How much you sharpen will vary from photo to photo.  I went with 8 on this one, which gave me nice, crisp edges without overdoing it.  So here's our final image:

All that's left now is to save it.  Click the "Save & Share" tab at the top of the page, and you'll be presented with a vast array of options.

With Picnik, editing and posting do not have to be two separate tasks.  You can kill two birds with one stone.  And I am always in favor of that.  In the metaphorical sense, of course...

Now for a comparison.  The version I edited in GIMP is on the top, the Picnik version is on the bottom:

As you can see, aside from being cropped slightly differently, there's not much of a difference.  Picnik does just as well and, especially if you're not used to working with photo editing programs, it's much faster.  I'm not swearing off GIMP, but I think I'll be reserving it for design work.

What about you, dear readers?  What do you use for photo editing?  Tell me in the comments!
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday: Ribbon Roses

I don't know about you, but I love embellishing things.  It's all in the details, and I like to pile 'em on (within reason, of course).  In this day and age, there's definitely no shortage of pre-made embellishments available, what with the scrapbooking craze and all.  And it's certainly convenient to be able to buy all sorts of little thing-a-ma-bobs and doodads and whatnot, but do you know what's even better?  Making your own, of course!

And one of the most versatile embellishments to make or buy (in my opinion) is the rosette.  Ya know, those teeny little roses often seen adorning dresses and lingerie, that would look just as cute on a greeting card or accenting your latest piece of embroidery...  They're pretty easy to come by and fairly cheap, but the range of colors is rather limited.  What if you wanted purple roses to match your favorite purple dress?  Or black ones for your latest gothic creation?  What if you needed really big ones?  Or you only needed one?

My point is, they're a handy thing to be able to make.  And guess what.  They're a piece of cake.  Believe it or not, all it takes is a piece of ribbon and few minutes to make a little lovely like this:

Cute, no?  And so simple!  Here's how:

How to Make Silk, Satin or Ribbon Roses

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Silk roses have many possible uses; as decorations, as enhancements on clothing for special occasions, such as a wedding, and for craft projects.  This tutorial will teach you how to make your own roses out of ribbon, satin, silk, or other fabrics; in fact, any long piece of fabric at all will work - even shoelaces.  Once you get the idea of how to make them, you will quickly be able to make instant roses in 30 seconds or less!                                       


  1. Begin with one long piece of ribbon or fabric (see first illustration).  Make it about 8 inches long.  If it is shorter, it is harder to work with, and if it is longer, there will be far more ribbon than is required for a rose.  Although, it doesn't matter in the end, because it is possible to make it out of as much or as little material as you would like, as long as you are patient and nimble at working with your hands.
  2.   Note the color arrangements in the diagram above.  For this tutorial the steps are illustrated in "paint" colors.  They show each half as a different color: One as red, and one as aqua.  These colors are just to assist the demonstration for this tutorial - your ribbon will be one color obviously.
  3.   Hold the ribbon at a 90 degree angle so that it has a corner halfway through the ribbon (step one).  Step one begins by folding the aqua half over the red half, and pulling it down horizontally.
  4. Do the same thing for step 2, except this time you fold the red half over the aqua half.
  5. Repeat this process in steps 3, 4, and 5.  From now on, you will be pulling the aqua half vertically every time, and the red half horizontal every time.    Continue folding vertical, then horizontal, vertical, and horizontal, over and over again until you run out of ribbon.
  6. Flip your ribbon the other way around, so that you are holding the two ends of the ribbon between your thumb and index finger.  Don't worry about letting go of the other end (the original middle of the ribbon) because it is folded into itself.
  7. Hold the two ends of the ribbon, and use your other hand (index finger and thumb again) to pull the bottom-most end of the ribbon out from underneath your thumb and index finger.  Pull straight down.  The speed at which you pull does not matter, because either way the rose will begin to take shape and you will not be able to pull any further after a certain point.  There you go! You have a rose!


  • The stiffer the fabric, the more pointed the petals look in the end.
  • The thicker the ribbon, the bigger the rose.  The thinner the ribbon, the smaller the rose.
  • To finish off the rose, you can attach a thin wire and wrap the two ends of the ribbon (and wire stem if you choose) with floral tape.  This will give a finished look.  Just be sure that the stem is proportional to the rose size, or it may look funny.

  Things You'll Need

  • Ribbon or other long piece of cloth. (You can practice on a shoelace if you would like.)
  • Floral tape (optional)
  • Wire for stem (optional)

  Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Silk, Satin or Ribbon Roses.  All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Featured EtsyBlogger: Sykin

Happy Friday, Folks!  July's been a busy month, and I'm running a bit behind, but I'd like to introduce you to this month's featured EtsyBlogger, Sykin.  She's a busy little beaver with two shops, a blog, and a website

Sykin is a multi-talented Etsian, too.  She makes jewelry, like this lovely inspirational bracelet...

takes beautiful photos, like this breathtaking Pacific View...

Makes me wish I lived closer to the beach!

and creates pretty paper goods, like this Twilight-inspired card:

Did I mention that Sykin is a Twilight fan?  Yep.  And she has a whole shop full of Twilight-inspired goodies, including more cards and beautiful jewelry.  So if you're a fan or you need a gift for one, be sure to check it out! 
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blog Carnival: Summer Inspiration

Howdy, Folks!  It's Blog Carnival time again!  This week's carnival is hosted by BW:Silver, who says:
It's Summer time! Tell us about your upcoming or current Summer inspired designs!
Well, my most important summer-inspired design is my current banner and avatar.  I redesigned them back at the very beginning of the season, using my Official Summer Color Scheme™--sky blue and grass green.

Right now, I'm waiting for some extra cash to come in so I can buy the beads I need to complete my Official Summer Necklace™, which will feature lovely blue and green fire polished czech glass beads and, of course, a pretty little tree.  This is to be the first installment in a seasonal series.  Each will be a limited edition design, available only through the given season (though, I may offer the summer design a bit longer as I've gotten off to a late start with it). 

As for current summer-inspired designs, I think my mallorn leaf necklace counts.  I've been reading Tolkien all summer, and that is definitely inspiring!

There are more pieces like this on the way--including a more accurate gold version!  And I've decided that I would really like to make literature and fantasy-inspired items a major focus of my shop.  They are certainly the most enjoyable for me to create, and I think they stand out from the crowd a bit more.

Now if I can just figure out how to translate Star Wars into jewelry...  Wire-wrapped lightsaber necklace?  Tiny Death Star earrings?  Hm.  This one is going to take some thought...

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