Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Featured Shop ~ From Out Of The Cracks

About twice a month I contribute an article to the HandmadeMN blog featuring the HandmadeMN members' shops on Etsy. I thought it would be nice to have those articles on my blog too, as I really like the artists and shops I feature, and their wares might add a bit of class to my little corner of the blogosphere.

If you don't know Cheri or her Etsy shop From Out Of The Cracks, you're in for a real treat.  Oh heck, who am I kidding?  Even if you do know Cheri and her shop you're in for a treat.

Not only is Cheri all upbeat and down-to-earth, her jewelry is too.  Most of her inspiration comes from nature and she's just crazy for colors.

Take a look at these showy earrings...

How about a little green and burgundy around your neck?  I have a black ensemble that would make a nice, plain background for this stunning piece...

Cheri is also very talented in the art of peyote stitching.  In fact, I believe it is what she was born to do.  If you're not familiar with this artform I can only tell you it involves lots of seed beads and a big needle.  This is where the nature inspirations come to life.  I like the one named Fern...

Pay a visit to From Out Of The Cracks. I think Cheri's work will amaze you so much you'll want to own some for yourself. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

What's At The Fair?

What's at the fair?

Lots of walking with people you like...

...some scary stuff...

...sheep in bathing suits...

...and even Captain Jack...

There's so much more.  Go see for yourself!

p.s.  Captain Jack is attached to me in that last picture.  Really!  I wasn't looking very piratey so I cropped myself out.

p.p.s.  I know you don't believe me.  All right, I admit it, I cropped myself out because I looked dorky. 

p.p.p.s.  I printed out the photo in its entirety (me included) and sleep with it under my pillow.

p.p.p.p.s.  You still don't believe Captain Jack Sparrow was snuggled up to me.  I'll tell you this ~ his coat was made of wool and he smelled of cigarettes.  How would I know that if I didn't have my arm around him?

p.p.p.p.p.s.  I told him "It would have never worked out between us..."  He looked sad about that.

p.p.p.p.p.p.s.  OK, I lied about that last one. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our State Fair Is The Best State Fair

In my family the Minnesota State Fair is a more anticipated event than birthdays, summer vacations, and Christmas combined.  And what's not to love?

First stop for me is Tom Thumb Donuts, hot out of the frier. 

I know, it seems overwhelming to see all of those people, but they're really nice, albeit usually a little sweaty.  The best part about the big crowd is the fact that we're all there because we want to be.  We all have The Fair in common.

I wonder if being a year older will cause me to hurl on the rides.  It's never been a problem for me before, but my inner ears are getting kind of mushy by now.  I better be careful.

So grab your backpacks (to collect all the freebies!) and trot on over to The Fair.  It's twelve days of nonstop action, delectable edibles, cuddly animals, spinny rides, toe-tapping music and the most entertaining people watching you'll ever experience. 

Our state fair is the best state fair
Don't miss it, don't even be late
Bet dollars to doughnuts that our state fair
Is the best state fair in our state

The Fair starts today and ends Labor Day.  My blog posts may be a little sporadic during these next twelve days.  However, as a fun treat Ruthie, Ray, Husby and I will be attending Dive Night on the fairgrounds and it will be documented for your enjoyment.  Should be good!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Weekend Outing

It was a dreary morning filled with fog. My favorite kind of morning to stay in bed staring out the window at the billowing mist. Alas, Husby and I had plans to hit the road. With the rebirth of my bottle cap drink charms I am in search of wine-based venues to sell my wares. So I mixed business with pleasure and we visited the Woodland Hill Winery in Delano, MN.

Such lovely countryside, just on the other side of the Twin Cities from our home. 

We heard about the Woodland Hill Art Festival from fellow vendors at the Chateau St. Croix Winery events. I missed the vendor application deadline so I asked Husby if he'd like to join me in visiting Woodland Hill ~ for him it was strictly pleasure, for me mostly pleasure with a little research involved.

We saw our friends in their booth right away when we arrived.  They immediately commented on how the vendor count was so much smaller than in previous years.  I found it to be a nice, intimate grouping of some very talented artisans. 

And the fog began to disappear...

The setting at the winery is really relaxed.  There are lots of tables scattered about the grounds, most of which were occupied by groups of friends enjoying some live music and a nice bottle of wine or two.  It had been a long time since Husby and I visited an art/craft show just for fun.  And it was fun.  Talking to vendors as a vendor is both educational and enjoyable.  We made some purchases for ourselves and also did some early Christmas shopping. 

Of course we had a couple of glasses of wine and relaxed while listening to the music, watching the people, and talking about this and that amongst ourselves.

The winery also offers tastings and they seemed to be doing quite well for themselves in that regard.  There were many different wines to sample and the tasting bar was always busy.

I just couldn't get over how the whole feel of the event was so laid back.  Maybe I'm just wound so tight I've forgotten what it's like to kick back and simply breathe...

Yes, the fog rolled away that day and the sun shone warmly on the vineyard and patrons of this perfectly lovely winery.  I would love to participate in their Art Festival next year.  Of course I'll let you all know if that is to be.

Until then, I'm happy to have experienced the day at Woodland Hill.  They have lots of different kinds of events throughout the year, so if you're a wine lover or just like to have a good time, check out their website for upcoming happenings.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Weed

Weed -noun
1.  a valueless plant growing wild; 2. an undesireable or troublesome plant; 3. a wretched or useless animal


Do you ever feel like a weed?  Valueless?  Undesireable or troublesome?  Wretched or useless?

I think we've all felt like this at one time or another.  Sometimes we feel like the ugly among the beautiful people ~ misfit vegetation in the perfectly manicured lawn.

Look deep.  Comb through the blades of grass you wish you were, the conformed image you think is expected of you.

Can you see your imperfections among the flawlessness you perceive around you?  You feel invisible, but yet, there you are.  The weed.  The rogue plant among a sea of sameness.  The different one.  Look closely...

...for the rogue, too, can be beautiful.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


So yeah, I'm a pretty busy person.  I pour dozens of candles and make hundreds of bottle cap magnets and drink charms.  I do the business paperwork.  And I also go to a day job every day.  Busy, yes, but very, very sedentary.

I've been hearing lately that exercise is good for you.  It makes your heart beat better, your lungs breathe better, and your muscles and bones get stronger.  There's also those things called endorphins that are created or released or something when you exercise, which apparently make you be in a really good mood. 

The physical stuff is all well and good, but I'm not a health nut nor am I vain.  I believe in aging naturally (check out my gray hair!) and haven't latched on to the exercise craze simply for my aging naturally theory.  Lame, yes, but it's a good excuse for me.  However, the mental part ~ now that's where exercise grabs my attention.

There comes a point where I get so bogged down mentally that I can't ignore the fact that I simply don't exercise.  Depression, anxiety, sleeplessness all can result from lack of exercise.  I have a propensity for all of those maladies, so I really have to make with the endorphins or else.

Charlotte and I get together once a week (when she's not on vacation, which is a lot) during the summer to play some tennis.  It's one of those lifelong sports and we were both mega tennis stars way back in high school.  We went for many years without playing tennis and then were inspired to take it up again.  We've been trying to keep up the summertime tradition for a few years now.  Here's what we look like:
This is Charlotte.  Look at those hamstrings stretch!

This is me, kind of tippy-toed

Okay, so we're not really Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, but I must say in our old age Charlotte is the much better tennis player.  We don't actually play games for competition ~ we just volley the ball back and forth, sometimes even letting it bounce three times before we hit it back over the net.  But guess what?  Even if we spend an entire hour chasing rogue balls we're getting more exercise than if we were sitting at home watching TV, and that's a good thing.

Even if your body is in the best shape ever and you have no reason to lower blood pressure or increase metabolism, your mental health depends on exercise.  Find those endorphins and make them your personal friend.  Cuz everyone wants to be happy, right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Today I've got nothing for you. 

You can't imagine how badly I feel about it.

You lovely readers are worthy of so much more.

But I'm blank.

Be assured I've picked up speed in some other areas of my life. 

For example, I don't have a stitch of dirty laundry in the hamper right at this very moment.  All done!

For another example I've been working on some really cute Halloween bottle cap magnets for your enjoyment.

Of course I don't have a picture of them in this post.

The blog took a back seat today.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday.

I'll be featuring a very regal creature.

Have a happy Tuesday.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Photography Is Not My Art

I keep trying to channel Irving Penn or some other talented photographer when it comes to photographing my products.  You see, photographs are of the utmost importance when it comes to craft/art show applications and of course Etsy listings.  I don't have a knack for the art of photography and learning how to capture true colors and providing adequate and flattering lighting has been a struggle.

A couple of things I took the time to learn have been quite valuable for me.  (First of all let me say the trick to learning these things is taking time.  For pete's sake, learning everything even a simple digital camera can do will take hours to learn, especially if one is not familiar with photography to begin with.)

One thing I discovered about my photography is that I have a talent for taking blurry pictures even when using a tripod.  The first trick I learned is to use the camera's timer.  Click the shutter after the timer is set for as short as two seconds, step back, and let the camera do the work.  No blur.  Yay!

Another thing I discovered is to pay special attention to your background.  See the following photo ~ it's lovely, except for that laptop in the background.  So sorry, but when you see this listed soon in Etsy you will also see the background, so please try to overlook it.  I'll correct it on my next photo shoot.

Another technical trick I learned was to set the white balance.  This is easy to do and makes for true colors in your photos.  I'm sure all cameras are different so I won't go into detail on how to set the white balance.  Just look up "white balance" or "custom white balance" in the index of your camera's owner's manual and you'll see how easy it is.  And it works wonders.  No need to donk around with photo editing and risk a misleading representation of your work.

I still have a long way to go, but I'm feeling much better about listing more candles in my shop.  Taking some time to set up the candles with nice little props, as well as knowing how my camera works is paying off.  If I learn any other fun tricks I'll be sure to keep you posted. 

Do you have any tips for me?

Friday, August 13, 2010

When You Need Some Uplifting Quirkiness

Unable Not allowed to flex any kind of creative muscles or brain cells at my day job I find it necessary to insert little snippets of fun into the mundane beige-ness that is government employment.  Computer wallpapers are a good way to do that (along with the Johnny Depp stick puppets from Charlotte).  It wasn't too long ago I told you about how I was sending not so subversive messages via my computer wallpaper but decided that just added to the whole feeling of negativity, and who needs that?

Enter Totally Severe.  While the name might imply something other than uplifting images, the truth is these images are fabulous in a bizarre, collage-y kind of way.  I've thrown away my snarky wallpaper for these utterly ridiculous and fascinating ones...

Sarah offers a whole bunch of really cool free downloads for your enjoyment.  These include but are not limited to wallpapers, backgrounds, and fonts.  When the day is dark and the wind is wet and the goose is flying low, Totally Severe will give you lots of visual stimulation and maybe even a few laughs.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

He's A Happy Boy

It's hard to believe I haven't seen or talked to my brother in four years.  Today is the anniversary of the last time I saw him.  He died four days later, much to everyone's shock.  Both anniversaries are almost unbearable.

There are times I think of him and feel nothing but grief.  There are other times I think of him and roll my eyes at what a character he was.  There are ways about him I strive to emulate ~ he was an example to me despite being years younger. 

So here's to Diggy.  I cry for myself and others who have tried to go on living when such a big chunk has been torn from our lives.  I smile thinking of the times we had.  I remember. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Abundant Birthday

As you may know, I just spent four days away from my day job in recognition of my birthday.  No, I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but I will say the older I get the more days away from my day job I need. 

I don't know if it was pure coincidence or if someone secretly bombarded me because they knew it was my birthday, but I was recognized a total of four times in the Etsy treasuries on my day.  Four times!  That's a record for me.

In the same spirit I would share my birthday cake I'm going to share these treasuries with you.  Not only am I featured in them, but also a number of other very talented artisans.  You might find something you like.  If not, just look at the pretty pictures.

Click on the links to zip over to the treasuries.  Once there you can click on each item for detailed viewing.  By the way, in case there are some of you who don't know, my Etsy shop is Auntie B Online.  A new shop with the name Auntie B's Wax is in the making. 

Thanks to all the curators of these treasuries, for making my birthday four times better than it would have been without them.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Dance Like No One's Looking

Remember the movie Way Out West?  A Laurel and Hardy classic for sure, if not an all time classic.  There are a couple of musical numbers in the movie, one which is Laurel and Hardy's rendition of Trail of the Lonesome Pine.  You know...

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
On the trail of the lonesome pine
In the pale moon shine our hearts entwine
Where she carved her name and I carved mine
Oh, June, like the mountains I'm blue
Like the pine I am lonesome for you
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
On the trail of the lonesome pine

There was another number done by The Avalon Boys (portrayed as cowboys lollygagging on the stoop of the saloon) which moved Laurel and Hardy to blissful dance. 

What you may not know is that this number inspired me and Husby to perform that dance in front of my entire family during a weekend at the lake cottage several years ago. 

The memory of it makes me laugh.  I made an audio tape of the song from the TV while I was watching the movie and Husby and I practiced the dance for at least a week before we put on our seemingly spontaneous performance for the family.  There we were out in the middle of the central Wisconsin woods dancing to a bunch of yodeling cowboys in front of my entire family, who were nearly wetting their pants with laughter.

The point of this post is...be silly once in a while.  It will make other people happy and will make you feel free.  As Maude (from Harold And Maude) said, "everyone has a right to make an ass of himself, you can't let the world judge you too much."

If you aren't familiar with the Laurel and Hardy dance, I've included the clip here.  For those of you who know me and Husby, you can most surely picture us busting the moves.  For those of you who don't know us, well, you will probably be astonished at the fact that we are so incredibly talented, agile, and graceful as to emulate the ever famous Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Who's The Birthday Princess?

That would be me. 

I'm not posting a real blog post today because I'm officially on my birthday break. 

If you're wandering around this weekend, wondering whom you should adore, remember me.  Princi Pessa, as it is in the operas.  The Birthday Princess.  Yes, I am that special and wonderful.  At least for this weekend.

P.S.  If you'd like to adore me in person, I'll be at the Goose Lake Farm and Winery on Saturday. 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Get Away From The City Heat

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Come on up to the Goose Lake Farm and Winery in Nowthen, MN.  Every Saturday until the end of October they have a market open to the public, including vegetables from local growers and artisans of various talents showing their wares.

Husby and I took a little trip up there last weekend as visitors.  The Goose Lake Farm is a real working farm and is all natural and sustainable.  It's a great place to take the kids, as there are animals who love to be pet and fed by visitors. 

Although Husby and I didn't get a chance to taste any wine, we did get a good look at the grapes grown right on the farm.

There are chickens everywhere.  I found this a little odd at first, but then found out the birds on the property take care of the insects, eliminating the need for insecticides on the grape vines.  Cool!

I'll be all set up this Saturday.  You won't miss me.  I'm the one with the colorful candles (made from all-natural waxes, of course), smutty pulp fiction magnets, and fun bottle cap drink charms.  Stop on by!  (Directions to the farm are provided on their website.)

I'll most likely be showing my wares at the Goose Lake Farm Winery more this fall.  Those dates will be posted on my sidebar under Upcoming Events as they are planned. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Featured Shop ~ Palettepassion

About twice a month I contribute an article to the HandmadeMN blog featuring the HandmadeMN members' shops on Etsy. I thought it would be nice to have those articles on my blog too, as I really like the artists and shops I feature, and their wares might add a bit of class to my little corner of the blogosphere.

One of my favorite accessories is the scarf.  They're so flowy and elegant ~ or hip and funky.  They're even better when you know they've been hand-painted.  Jodee does that, and her shop is Palettepassion

She's got every color of the rainbow covered.  Just look at this billowy piece of sunshiny goodness...

How about throwing this around your neck?  It would be perfect with my grey sweater!

A really cool thing about Palettepassion is that the products are arranged by color.  That makes your search so easy when you're looking for just the right shade for that one particular outfit. 

Accessories like these will not only spruce up your own wardrobe, but they also make great gifts.  Hand-painted silk scarves from Palettepassion would make anyone smile!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Dive Night - Dean's Tavern

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either.  See a list and links to the previous dive night posts here.

Husby and I had the choice of dives this month.  Dean's Tavern has a history (established in 1909 I believe) and I heard rumors the food was pretty darn good.  So we dragged Ruthie and Ray over to Rice Street to check it out.

Let me just say from the get-go, the rumors were only that.  At least that was our experience.  Our waitress came to take our drink orders, and silly me asked if they had any pinot grigio.  Her response was, "what's that?"  I should know better than to ask for something like pinot in a bar like this.  White zinfandel was the best they could do, and I've never seen a wine glass filled to the brim like that one was.  Tasted like juice.

Dean's is know for their coney dogs, but none of us ordered one.  We probably should have.  But I'm jumping ahead of myself.  Usually each couple orders an appetizer, but this time Ray and Husby wanted jalepeno poppers, which was just too much for Ruthie and me.  So the guys got their peppers and Ruthie and I ordered Tater Tot Nachos, just because it sounded interesting. 

Interestingly, our soup and salad were served before the appetizers.  When asked if our appetizers were forgotten the waitress responded, "the appetizers take longer to cook, so I brought these out first."  I guess we must have looked really hungry.

Finally our appetizers came.  The poppers were reported by the men to be fine.  The Tater Tot Nachos consisted of tater tots, taco-seasoned hamburger, "spicy" cheese sauce, and a dollop of sour cream.  Unremarkable.

We must have been feeling pretty fancy when we ordered because none of us got bar food.  Husby, Ruthie, and Ray all ordered a steak of some kind.  I ordered the meatloaf.  Husby ordered his steak medium well, Ray medium rare, and Ruthie rare.  They all came as medium well.  Despite the cook's inability to cook a steak to order they were not chewy and tasted fine.  My meatloaf was actually quite good and there was lots of it smothered in gravy.  We all got corn (canned, of course) with our meals, which was luke-warm to cold, depending on whose plate it was.

So there you have it.  Mediocre at best.  As for the ambiance, well, it's a dive.  Here's what I found in the lady's room...

And there was a poorly-worded, very ambiguous notice for an activity in which you could participate.

What's a 6-pound monster?  Rosemary's baby?  *Shutter*

To top the night off we were all invited to spend some time at another dive, The Easy Street Bar.  We shot some pool and took our chances drinking out of glasses without straws.  We were fortunate to be in attendance as it is now closed forever.  You can just imagine how the regulars were partying.

Dean's Tavern was a little disappointing and if I ever find myself there again I'll certainly order something more bar-like, like a hamburger or coney dog.  The Easy Street Bar?  Well, let's just say it made me feel like I was twenty-two again ~ and grateful I can afford to spend my leisure time at more civilized places if I so choose.  Boy, don't I sound like the perfect snob? 

Fun night with Ruthie and Ray, as always.  These adventures wouldn't be as much fun without them.
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