Adventures in Pottery

this is what happens when I do it myself
As part of my adventures in art, I took a three-week pottery class. It was my first pottery experience since high school. I made three things - a mug, a handle-less mug/bowl/thingamajig, and a secret present for Adam.
It was my first time throwing pottery on a pottery wheel, and as you can see, my solo attempt (left) didn't turn out so well. It's a bit lopsided. I didn't put a handle on it, because I didn't have time and because I think I'll use it as a catch-all cup. The glaze is awesome on this cup-thing - it goes on clear with little tiny red and blue speckles and ends up with big splotches of color. I painted the inside of the cup a matching red. Very patriotic.
The second mug is pretty nice, mug-shaped and complete with a (slightly wonky) handle. The glaze on this one is similar - it went on orange with big speckles of mixed colors, and ended up with yellow and green spots of color. I painted the inside black for maximum contrast. The glaze has a cool texture to it.
this is the result when I have help
Overall, I'm pretty pleased for my first attempt. I don't think I'll pursue pottery as a hobby - it's too messy for me. And I'd have to take more classes because it's not something I can just do at home. My instructor offers courses at the community center of a local town, so that is always an option. I like the end result, but I don't really like the process. And I don't really need another hobby!
The third piece, my present for Adam, is my favorite of the bunch that I made. I'll post about it after Christmas.


Star Cookies

Last night Adam and I made star cookie and chocolate sandwiches! The recipe came from the same holiday magazine as all of our recent baking trials. The cookies have melted chocolate-and-sugar frosting sandwiched inside each pair of stars.
We both took a box to work with us today (or in Adam's case, last night). My co-workers said they were delicious (and they were) but Adam's coworkers said they were dry (and they were).
We may have to alter the recipe for next time! But the dough was pretty easy to work with and the cookies turned out tasty, so I consider this a success!


Sneak Peek Project Completed - Advent Calendar

excuse the lumpy appearance, it's on my couch
The sneak peek project is revealed! It's an advent calendar!
This one is for my in-laws, who I've heard enjoy advent calendars. 
It is basically just a quilt with pockets, so it was fairly straightforward. Assembling the pockets was a bit of work, and of course quilting the whole thing together took some time. It was a pain trying to get all the pocket squares lined up nicely - but I think it was well worth the time and effort it took to rip out failed seams and do it over again.
Each pocket is lined with a contrasting or coordinating color, and little chocolate treats and activity cards are tucked inside. The activity cards are just little suggestions - "make hot chocolate" and the like - printed on colored cardstock.
I (painstakingly) cut out all the numbers for the pockets out of white felt, and glued them on using my new pink hot-glue gun. And that glue is for sure hot. I definitely burned myself a few times. The numbers are arranged in a random pattern to make 'opening' the advent calendar a little more fun.
It has been received positively, and my mother-in-law even said it helped her feel the "Christmas spirit". Huzzah!


Whose shapes return, some frequently, some seldom, some by night and some by day...

Last night, I decided I wanted to make a little cross-stitch for a friend (who almost certainly doesn't read this blog) that I haven't seen in a long time. I chose an appropriate quote - "life is but a dream whose shapes return, some frequently, some seldom, some by night and some by day" by James Thompson - and chose black and grey variegated thread. Today, flushed with victory after the Scrabble game, I sat down to cross-stitch. Some time later, I finished it and framed it in a 4x6 black frame I happened to have. Voila!

I won!

did you know dicho was a word?


I lost by 88 points... The rematch ended badly for me.

lazed is not a word, but I got away with it
closeup of one of my many stellar words

Never had a chance in this game. Adam dominated from the beginning. We'll have to have a re-rematch so I have a chance to come back from this ignoble defeat.

Ginger Snowmen

After sitting around crafting and playing scrabble for most of the day, I felt like getting up and doing something. So I suggested to my dear Adam that we make some cookies, since we're planning on making huge batches for Christmas. We picked out a few recipes that we're interested in making, and then chose one to test out tonight - the ginger wafer recipe.
When we first started mixing the ingredients, I put in a tablespoon of ground cloves instead of ground ginger. Oops.
Luckily, Adam caught my mistake, and we started over. Those cookies would have been a disaster.
As you can see, the cookies we made (in an adorable snowman shape) didn't turn out very wafer-y. We didn't roll the dough out thin enough to achieve the crispy texture we were hoping for.
This may have been partially due to the fact that we don't own a rolling pin, so Adam and I rolled out the dough using a giant Barefoot wine bottle. It worked pretty well - although not well enough!
The cookies are very tasty, so the recipe is a success. There are just a few things we need to do differently next time. Like invest in a rolling pin.

I lost by 49 points...

all of these words are real words... unfortunately.
"Tinglers" got Adam about a bazillion points, exactly enough to win over me. I challenged so-o fast on that word, but alas, it really is a word and means "one who tingles". Ridiculous.

WIP: Christmas Cross-stitches

 Today I am working on Christmas presents. Surprise, surprise.
These skeins of embroidery floss are the raw materials for a few cross-stitches I'm aiming to complete today. (Well, a few might be a bit ambitious... I want to complete at least one)
Aren't the colors pretty? I am willing to wager that you cannot guess what the cross-stitches will portray.
I've been working on both Aida and evenweave linen lately. I am beginning to prefer the linen, even though it is more difficult to see the holes and count the squares in the linen. It's prettier in the end, though, so that extra difficulty seems to be worth it. I wish I could buy linen in different colors, though - I can only find it in cream. Which is a lovely color, but a little variety would be nice.
It's a nice lazy Sunday today, and I'm glad to be working on something pretty for someone else.


I lost by 23 points after being ahead all game...

zion is not a real word

Sneak Peek Project is Done!

sneak peek of the back
Hooray! My sneak peek project is done done done!
I started it on the 25th of October, and finished it just now. Not bad, not bad, since I've been doing my practicum and going to school and going to art classes and various events. I haven't worked on it everyday or anything either.
Adam helped me by giving me his opinion on several matters, and assisted me in the finishing touches. I'm going to mail it out soon, and then you will get to see a reveal photo!
I can't wait to see how it's received!

Merry Signage

Today I volunteered at a craft fair (which was super boring because I was working the gift wrap table, and no one seemed to desire my services). Then when I came home, I made these "merry" signs at my husband's request. I think my mother-in-law is going to use them in Christmas cards. They would have been cuter if my Sharpie pens had lasted longer. Alas.
After I finished that little project, I worked on my 'sneak peek' project, which is 95% done. Yay! I am slowly but surely working down my Christmas projects list. The question now is just whether I can do them fast enough...
I guess we'll see!


I love my husband

Message left for me by Adam

Practicing Free-Motion Quilting

So today I decided to mess around on some scrap fabric and see if I could embroider names using my free-motion quilting skills. Judge for yourself - can you read the names? (Ignore the fact that I clearly need to work on my cursive "n"s). It's super hard to make it straight and even, but I think I did alright for a first try!


I'm dreaming of a black Christmas...

isn't it pretty?
Here is my (undecorated) black Christmas tree! I haven't touched it at all since we assembled it this afternoon, but it looks pretty good as is. You have no idea how much grief I went through trying to track down one of these trees - Adam and I decided we wanted it Friday, and then I spent the whole weekend looking online and calling stores trying to find one. They are apparently very popular. And then on Sunday, the display was available at the local Wal-Mart and then I went back - poof! - it had been sold. I didn't even know you could buy the displays!
In the end, I got lucky - I stopped in another Wal-Mart on my way home from my practicum, and they still had the display. So I snatched it up, stuck in my car, and here it is!
It is very early to have a Christmas tree up, but Adam wanted to see it put together, so we decided to assemble it, and so... here it is!

Edible Bark

Last night, Adam and I tried out some chocolate bark recipes that I've collected from here and there. First, we made white chocolate-pretzel-peanut bark. That was relatively straightforward, so we moved onto semisweet chocolate-pistachio-cranberry bark. It was supposed to be made with cherries instead of cranberries, but I bought the wrong thing. The bark was also supposed to be marbled with white chocolate, but we accidentally ruined the white chocolate so...
Both versions turned out delicious. And the recipes made a fair amount - I filled up five containers!
Adam took the fruits of our labor to work with him last night, and handed out samples to all the guys at work. Apparently both were a hit, although the semisweet-pistachio-cranberry option was too chocolate-y, and the white chocolate-pretzel-peanut was more popular.
We're going to make more bark closer to Christmastime and hand it out to friends and family. I was glad to do a test run with a sample audience to see what we need to change for next time. Also, it was a fun time with Adam! All in all, good. Except I wish I'd kept some of the bark so that I could eat it now!


More Christmas Prep!

Here's another "scrap shot" - I bet you can't guess what I was cutting out here! It goes along with my "sneak peek" project from a few posts ago.
Like I said before, I'm really getting into the Christmas spirit - I even bought a Christmas tree today! It's a super cool black artificial tree. I haven't put it up yet (it seems a bit early) - but I will soon! I don't care if it's early, I am loving the holidays!
Here's the star-shaped wreath Adam and I bought. I put it up already on our front door. I love it - we bought it at Tarjay for like ten dollars. It's all artificial too, so I can use it again next year.
I used to be very against artificial wreaths and trees - but they're so cost-efficient, and in the case of my black Christmas tree, so very unexpectedly cool. So I've changed my mind on that issue. I can't wait to decorate more!


Christmas Fabric

Here we go again with some more Christmas fabric! I bought these four fabrics today for the next pretty substantial project I'm going to work on. I had a 25% off total purchase coupon for Jo-Ann's, so I had to get these fabrics while the coupon was in effect.
I'm still in the finishing stages of that "sneak peek" project - hopefully I'll be finishing it, sending it off to the lucky recipient or recipients and posting a photo!
I know it's super ridiculously early, but I'm really getting into the Christmas spirit while making these presents. Adam and I looked at Christmas decorations yesterday and today (and bought lights and a pretty star-shaped wreath door decoration thingamajib). it was fun! I love Christmas.


Sneak Peek

Here is a sneak peek of my current Christmas present project! It's a secret, so I won't tell you what it is exactly, but you might be able to get a bit of an idea. I love the fabrics I'm using - they are Christmas-y without being too cliche. And I love the white-on-white fabric patterned with snowflakes - it was a great last-minute Wal-Mart find!