February 28, 2012

Sew Into Butterflies

The arts organization I work for, WheatonArts, is having a butterfly event for little kids, age 4. A woman who raises butterflies will be there with a large tent for the kids to stand in while butterflies flutter around them. Pretty magical, right? In order to enhance their experience and bring art into the event I am conducting a butterfly symmetry/painting activity for the kids. While they leave or wait for their turn in the tent they can come over and create art with me.

Of course this means I have been so into butterflies. I have a plan for the tent decor but that is an entire subject on its own. I always loved when teachers dressed up for the theme (not in a predictable way, but in a creative way) so I am following in those foot steps. I am sewing a butterfly apron!

I have to state my disclaimer. For all of you who are pro or semi-pro sewers, I am not. I love fabric and the properties of the medium and I totally improvise. I've made a couple things on the sewing machine before and always walked away with something decent. However, my stitches are totally sketchy and unprofessional...but I love it! I like the playfulness that results. That is my story and I am sticking with it. :o)

My original idea was to create a lino or wood block and print the fabric. Turns out that would cost way too much money and take too much time to figure out. As an alternative, and not a bad one at that, I went to my local art/hobby supply store and picked up these lovely fabrics.

Both are 100% cotton. One is a duck cotton....semi-heavy weight. The other is a lighter weight fabric that I am using for the straps and the pockets. Here is the overall apron. Cute, right? I think so. :o)

These are the lovely pockets. Apologies for the water mark on the pocket...I just steam pressed them. They are functional and I think add a nice element of "playful".

The next step is to take that lovely orange fabric and create a border that goes around all the edges of the apron. That must wait for another day. It is too late and I know myself. I will totally mess up because I am tired and my apron deserves better than that. :o)

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines day! I read in another blog that no one quite knows the exact history of why Saint Valentine's day became a romantic holiday. Supposedly there is little to be know about Saint Valentine. Here is a little blurb I found online while researching the holiday. It comes from a Catholic-based website:

"Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini."

"The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned."

He is the patron saint of love (which I am in), young people (I still consider myself young) and happy marriages (yes, I have one of those). It is fitting, then, that I celebrate this holiday to the fullest. Baking the cookies pictured above was wonderful. I stuffed the handmade card with three coupons for massages. Yes, my husband has already redeemed one of them. In fact, he is fast asleep on the bed as I type after his first massage. I am pleased he enjoyed his gift.

I am pleased to say that my husband knows me well. No chocolates (I can't eat much of that anyway) and no flowers (come on...we can grow tons of those in the appropriate season!) That is not to downplay those gifts, they are nice but I am just not that kind of girl. I love quirky, unexpected gifts. He bought me two wonderfully fragrant candles and a new, very fun, very sea foam green lamp with a beach-sand-toned shade for our living room. The candles are agave lily and tamarind lime. Again, he knows me well. I love herb and fruit based scents. They are magnificent.

February 13, 2012

Soap Studio Progress

I am excited to report that the soap studio is almost up and running. I've developed a wonderful base formula that uses unsaponified shea butter for an ultra moisturizing effect. While I will offer unscented soaps for those with sensitive skin, I developed a variety of aromatherapy-based fragrance combinations. Some are inspired by the herbs and flowers we grow in our garden while others are simply my favorites that I've been using in one form or another in lotions or soaps I've purchased.

I first decided to make soap because I love the look and feel of handmade soap. I am naturally a 3-D artist so a transition from ceramics to soap was not a far stretch. Soap making combines two great loves, baking and 3-D art. Making molds for soap is not unlike making molds for slip casted ceramics. Mixing oils, lye, fragrances and herbs is much like mixing batter for baking. Creating soap formulas is much like creating recipes for ceramic glazes.

My anticipated open date is early May, although I might have items listed before that. I plan to test one bar from every batch of soap before posting it for sale. To read more about my soon-to-be-open shop visit the "Pam's Soap Studio" page link under the blog banner and visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PamsSoapStudio.

February 10, 2012

Delicious Vietnamese Cuisine at Saigon

Saigon in Millville, NJ is the most delicious Vietnamese cuisine I've ever had.

Although I have only been to this restaurant a handful of times it is one of my favorite places. The food, the ambiance and the healthy menu make it a total sensory experience. It is located in a strip of businesses...most of those being other eateries. As soon as you walk in your spirits are instantly lifted by the vibrant orange walls. Yes, to some vibrant orange my not seem like the most appealing atmosphere; but I assure you it is wonderful. For those unfamiliar with color theory and interior design (of which I also have a limited knowledge) orange hues do wonderful for skin tones. Ladies, you will absolutely glow in this place (great for making a great impression on a first date). The tables and chairs are nice. Not the most comfortable but not uncomfortable.

The beverage options are excellent. Here are a few that I think paint a picture of the eclectic mix: premium jasmine teapot; vietnamese coffee, lemonade, young coconut juice; assorted bubble teas and smoothies (including an amazing avocado smoothie). This time I ordered the Frazzle-dazzle smoothie, which is banana and strawberries. My husband ordered the avocado smoothie with tapioca in it (those "bubbles" that give bubble tea its name).

The menu is equally fantastic. Vegan, vegetarian, meat eater; all will be happy. This last visit I had the Tofu Vermecelli. It was absolutley delicious. There was a minimal amount of tofu but it was cooked perfectly. The rice noodles were also cooked perfectly. This dish was wonderful when paired with the hottest sauce from the table top sauce selection they provide. The serving size was enough that I was able to take some home for lunch the next day.