March 27, 2011

An Ever-lasting Orchid

For Christmas my sister Sara gave me a cd of sewing patterns from Sweetie Pie Bakery that she picked up at an Ohio craft show. The pattern cd, Sushi Dining, includes several patterns for sushi, a teapot and cups, even chopsticks. It also includes a pattern for a potted orchid. When I first moved to Portland and needed some items to decorate my apartment, my step-sister Remi turned me onto the beauty of the potted orchid. So when her birthday came around this year, I decided to try my hand at crafting her a felt one.

The pattern called for a brown felt layer around the stem, but since orchids don't thrive in dirt, I decided to needle-felt/wet-felt some pebbles.

March 25, 2011

Cocoa Beach Surprises

The third and final part of our Florida vacation took us back to Cocoa Beach. We left Sara and Bobby in Orlando to catch their flight home to Ohio, and Mike and I added a couple days to our vacation to see Grandma Betty. We got a couple of surprises when we arrived.
First, there was going to be a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral ('bout 10 miles North) on the day we arrived. Mike grew up here, so he's seen this before, but this was my first experience and it was pretty cool.

Mike and I headed down to the beach around sunset to watch the launch.

The birds took up position facing the launch pad.

As did many people.

The setting sun caught the "rocket smoke" and made it look like a giant, rainbow churro.

The second wonderful surprise showed up Saturday morning in the form of Lorie (Mike's sister) and our four nieces! They had driven down from Pittsburgh, and we only wish we'd had more than a day to spend with them.

But we did spend the time we had well - on the beach. While Mike ventured into the cold surf, Lorie and I sat on the beach watching the girls get wet and sandy.





March 21, 2011

Orlando, Magic Kingdom & Epcot

The second stop on our Florida vacation was Orlando. After almost 3 days on Sanibel Island, we jumped in the rental car and drove 3 hours NE. After checking into our hotel we headed into the city to meet up with Walt & Lee for some Fat Tuesday festivities in downtown Orlando. I had no idea it was Fat Tuesday, but I was happy to benefit from the $3 Abita beers.

The next morning, bright and early, we boarded the bus for the Magic Kingdom.

I was struck by how much smaller the castle was than I had expected. However, realizing that their target audience is not 31-year-olds, it was probably considered pretty big by most of the people around me.

Sara is a big fan of amusement parks and rides, and this part of the trip was created at her suggestion. She had been to Disneyland as a teenager, and was anxious to see how it compared to Disney World. I had never been to a Disney park, so I was excited to see what it was like. The boys were along for the ride.

We didn't waste a minute - jumping in line for Space Mountain while the wait was short, then grabbing fast passes as often as we could. We spent the bulk of our time at the Magic Kingdom between Tomorrowland and Frontierland, with brief forays into Adventureland (had to see the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, and there was no wait for Pirates of the Carribean) and Fantasyland (teacups? gotta...). There were several highlights to the day: Thunder Mountain (twice) and the very fun animations in Splash Mountain and the Country Bear Jamboree. The last two are going to be great inspirations for future craft projects.

Though not thrilling, never underestimate the beauty of the People Mover when your feet are tired and bench space is scarce. The same goes for the Carousel of Progress.

We had a similar experience the next day, at Epcot Center, though instead of sun we shivered through the day under gray clouds. The wonderful thing about Epcot was that the Flower & Garden show was on display in various forms throughout the park. My favorite were in the Fairyland area.

There were several highlights to the Epcot adventure, including the GM Fast Track and Soarin' rides, the fabulous architecture in the World Showcase (including the very tasty patisserie in "France").

"America" was also offering up some tasty treats in the form of smoked turkey legs. I had been eyeing these for two days. Free-range, organic turkeys? I think not. But man they were good.

For more Disney fun, check out my music video below.

March 17, 2011

Sanibel Island

Mike and I have just returned from a 1-week, 3-stop vacation in Florida.

First stop - Sanibel Island!

Sanibel Island is located on the Southwest coast of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico.

View of the condo from the beach

The weather in the Sunshine State is just lovely in March (a great escape from the terribly rainy Beaver State) and it provided a much needed reminder that the sun still exists. This trip was also made exponentially better by the fact that we were joined by Sara and Bobby!

Bobby's parents own a condo on Sanibel Island, which naturally influenced our decision to visit this part of the state. It was not a choice I regret, and I can't wait until we're invited back again. Sanibel Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, and a good chunk of the island is a national wildlife refuge (however a larger chunk is devoted to condos). The island is also known for their beaches of shells, which were plentiful.

"Shell" bar washed up on the beach

We were only here for 3 days, but we spent the time wisely - on the beach.

There were many sand/shell sculptures on the beach - Bobby felt a special attraction to this one.

In addition to throwing the frisbee and football, playing cards, and drinking, we spent a wonderful amount of time reading (even Mike!). Out to dinner one night we discovered a local author, Randy Wayne White, who writes books that take place on the island. I devoured two of his books, Sanibel Flats and Heat Islands, on this trip, and can highly recommend them.

Shells ranged greatly in style and size - not surprisingly I was drawn to the very small ones.

This part of our trip was considered the relaxing part, and it was, it was.
Part 2 was a little more adventurous...

For a slideshow of more photos, click here.

March 14, 2011

Game Time!

A few months ago Sara commissioned me to make a baby mobile for her college roommate, Missy, who recently gave birth to a baby girl. She didn't put any parameters on the theme of the mobile and let me do whatever I wanted. As Missy is very into basketball (player and coach) I decided to combine the age-old barnyard animal theme with a basketball theme.

Since it was a gift from Sara, I also wanted to include an element that spoke to Sara's style, hence the colored converse. Sara is a big fan of the ol' chucks (even wearing a pair for her wedding). I found a pattern for converse on a cake decorating website, adapted it and scaled it down until they fit my animals. They are cut, sewn and fabric-glued out of flat felt.

Instead of crocheting this mobile, as I did here, here, here, here, and here, I decided to make another needle-felted one. I added a little bit of crochet in the net, just for ol' times sake.

The center basketball is also needle-felted, and the black lines are embroidery thread, soaked in clear glue and then carefully laid on the orange ball. This was the hardest part - if any glue got on the ball, it left a mark that looked horrible. I had to do this a couple of times before it looked okay.

All of the animals, ball, and hoop are suspended with white ribbon. This is a new approach for me, as I've always used yarn in the past. I liked the look of it, so I think I'll use this for future projects as well.

Missy is a particular fan of Duke basketball, so I added a little Duke blue in the pennants around the hoop, and the "D" logo to the top of the mobile. Mike was a particular help on this mobile, as he offered great advice on how to apply the finishing blue touches.

Congratulations Missy - game on!

March 2, 2011

Jump! Jump! Chucks make ya wanna...

In addition to the magnetic pool of the Smelt Derby, there was another reason to head north last weekend - to celebrate Susanna's birthday! We did so with lasagna, 50 games of Mexican train dominoes, and this little 6-inch fellow:

After hearing about a baby mobile that I recently finished, Susanna requested "something" with converse - not that a Kangaroo really needs converse to jump high, but they can only enhance her game really.

This pattern was my first attempt at handsewing since I was a kid. I tried to make a joey for the pouch as well, but the pattern for it was lacking in detail so it ended up looking like a squirrel. For the converse I improvised a design based on a cake decoration, custom fitting it to the size 20 Kangaroo feet.

Kangaroo was such a hit with my nephew Aidan, that he has requested a Penguin in Converse for both he and his cousin!
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