Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We had a beautiful Florida Christmas with temps in the 80's. Snow is pretty to look at but we like it warm. We spent the day eating chocolates we had given each other and trying to paint our front door red. I had no idea how many coats it would take to cover a white door. Getting ready to put another coat on now. Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Makin Fudge

I'm not sure where or when I had fudge for the first time but it is one of my all time favorites. I like it so much I only make it around Christmas. One year, when I had a little thrift shop, I thought I would make some fudge to sell but ending up eating it all and gaining 4 lbs!

fudge in square pan
In my 20's I searched for the perfect fudge recipe and found this one. I tweaked it a little by changing vanilla extract to almond extract. I consider this my secret ingredient.
almond extract
Align Center
My nieces and nephews don't just ask for fudge at Christmas time, they expect it. One of my nieces family thinks the almond flavor makes it taste like cherries. I have been known to add a dusting chopped pecans or even red and green sprinkles on top. But mostly I am a fudge purist. I made a batch this morning to take to a party this afternoon. Since there is only two of us in the house the job of cleaning the saucepan was left to me. And a tough job it was(since I didn't meticulously scrape into the square pan).
fudge in saucepan
So here is the recipe, if any one is interested:

Nancy’s Fudge

2 ¼ cups sugar

¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)

¾ cup evaporated milk

5 oz marshmallows (about 1 ¼ cup mini)

6 oz chocolate chips (1/2 bag)

1 tsp almond extract

In large saucepan mix sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and marshmallows. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Boil for 5 timed minutes, stirring constantly. You can reduce the heat a little but it must continue to boil. Be careful because sometimes the bubbles pop and send hot drops out. After 5 minutes are up remove from heat. Add chocolate and extract. Stir until blended. Pour into a greased square pan. Chill til set and then cut into squares.

fudge squares

Friday, December 2, 2011


Since this is the first Christmas in our new home it took longer to decorate than usual. There were a couple of trips to Targé and Wally World to get more lights. Several weeks ago we picked up a 6 ft prelit tree at a yard sale. Since only the middle lights worked when we got around to plugging it in more lights were needed. New lights for the outside of the house and a really cute lighted dog in a Santa hat finished things off. There are little snowmen and teddy bears in sleighs through out the house.
I also completed a pretty pink bear, Dodi. I love brown and pink together. Poor Victoria has been sitting on the shelf for over a year. She was wearing a vintage piece of lace as a shawl so I decided she needed a dress. Now the vintage lace is a collar. Don't know if I will finish any more before Christmas. Need to do some baking and fudge makin!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Past

Merry & Chris Meese
I thought I would start off the Christmas season with photos of past creations. Some are still here and come out of the critter room to help with decorations. Some have traveled to other locations and are hopefully happily on display. The first are Merry and Chris Meese. They are from the 2007 Christmas season and still reside here. Rudy the Reindog brings goodies to all good little doggies. He was also from 2007 and now resides in New Mexico.

Rudy the Reindog
Bubba is having a little trouble decorating the tree. He keeps trying though, right here with me.

Bubba does Christmas
Peppermint Patti is one of my favorites. She was creating in 2008 and now lives in California.

The Carolers were in a feature in Teddy Bear and Friends magazine in 2008.

Carolers 3
Christy is asking "Has Santa come yet?". Created in 2008, she is still waiting at my home. Noelle, created in 2009, is ready for shopping. She is in Connecticut, where the shopping is good. Then there is Randy, Rudolph's cousin, made for a Teddy Talk ornament swap. He is staying cool in Canada.

Has Santa come yet?Noelle is ready to go shopping.Randy Reindeer
Then last year it was Chilly and Willy riding their toboggan. They are now playing in Pennsylvania.

Chilly & Willy
The only Christmas creation for this year is the Fairy Gift Bear. I posted about her back in September but I will post a photo again next time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Being frugal

I remember a time when I would decide I needed something and just run out and purchase it. These days I think at least twice before trying to buy it. I have worn a wristwatch since I was a little girl. I don't need a fancy one but, these days, one with big enough numbers that I can read the time without my glasses. Last week my watchband wore out. It was a cheap one that came with the watch. Since I just purchased a two pack of batteries for my watch I didn't want to buy another inexpensive watch. Well the watchbands at Walmart were more than twice as much as the cost of my watch! Not much of a selection either.
My best ideas always seem to come at night just before I fall to sleep. So, night before last, it came to me....why don't I just make myself a watchband. In my stash of ultrasuede there is a nice big piece of black I had purchased as a remnent. A nice 1 1/2 inch wide strip was all I needed. Fold the long edges in, stitch along each folded edge, and sew on 2 snaps. I love it! It actually looks better than any I could have purchased.
I suppose I'm not the only one trying to make do, or make new, with what we already have. Maybe something good has come of hard economic times.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lil Ellies

Although our business had us on the road several times this week I did manage to get some sewing done. The house still needs vacuuming very badly. Bill works in his garden everyday so between him and the dogs I have almost as much sand as the beach.
These little elephants didn't all get done this week but after dying some fur the last one was completed and little flowers sewn by their ears. The "herd" is made from 4 different lengths of mohair. Two of fur that has been hand dyed. They all have glass google eyes but 2 have 11mm eyes and 2 have 10mm. Each measures 5 1/2 inches tall except the dusty pink one in the front. She only measure 5 inches and I'm not sure why. I was thinking of saving them for the Tampa show in February but I might list a couple on etsy and see what happens. I'll have time to make more before February...right?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mad Scientist

That's what I feel like when experimenting with dying. After purchasing a bottle of liquid Rit in a new color "Violet" from Hobby Lobby a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to see what shades I got from several different furs and also strength of the dye. A couple of small scraps in a weak dye bath(about 10 drops in about a quart of water) for 2 minutes, achieved a kind of light rose pink. Then a tablespoon of dye was added to the bath. It looks like a bright fuschia to me. I like the color of the Golden Tan with a dark bath after dying - both with the weak and the strong dye bath. Maybe a little ellie? Hmmm....maybe next ....something in between.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More fur dying

Since there were only 2 small pieces left of 2 different lengths of cream colored fur(one is 1/2 inch and the other is 5/8 inch)

Cream dyed w berry blue Kool aid
I used one piece for the arms, legs, and ears and the other for the body and head. Using one packet of Berry Blue Kool Aid I got this really nice turquoise color.
Cream w berry blue in progress
The result is Thea. Just 9 inches tall, she has ultrasuede paws and a cute print dress.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eye Problems

I primarily use something I call "google" eyes. (Spell check is telling me google is spelled wrong ???) Anyway, I have used a couple of sources for these eyes. They are white glass with a black pupil. I love the expressions I am able to achieve with them and the look has kind of become my signature. The problem is because they are hand blown glass it's really hard to get a matching pair. The pupil can be almost anywhere on the white glass and the thickness of the white glass varies. I prefer the pupil off to one side and maybe covering about a third of the white. When ordering 10 pair there is a wide variation in the eyes I receive as you can see from the photos. The 13 mm came with the pupil covering most of the white. I have used them but the expression is totally different.
Orders from 2 sources have recently been sent back. I requested the off center pupil and even sent a drawing and photos of what I wanted. Still, they sent eyes with a small pupil in the very center. There are already many odd eyes in my eye box.
All bear artists know the expression is very, very important. I would love to find a source with more consistent quality.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Prototype Elephant

Work this week was on a little purple elephant. The mohair was left over from a previously dyed piece(used to make a larger elephant). I drew up the pattern, cut out the mohair and sat in front of the tv stitching. She is very close to the idea in my head. I think I will widen the center head. Also, no little flowers on the end of the feet. They were a bugger to sew. On something this small, I will just sew across the bottom. Now to find another small piece of mohair waiting to become.....something.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October decorating

We moved into this neighborhood just 9 months ago. Our previous home was semi rural so there were never any trick or treaters. Since we are now in a very large subdivision I'm hoping to have some. Our street is relatively quiet, with very few children that actually live on the street. We have met most of our neighbors but, while friendly, there isn't much interaction. Just a friendly hello and wave if we happen to be outside at the same time. Today, I pulled my container of Halloween decorations and while setting them out on the front porch I one else on the street has any decorations out. Hmmmm...does that mean they don't encourage the treat or treaters? I think I'll get Bill the ask the neighbor next door. They occasionally talk over the fence.
Meanwhile, I have set out a couple of my previous fall creations. I made Knobby the Autumn Gnome a few years ago when I first started needle felting. He was to be a teddy bear but insisted he was not a bear.One of my favorites is Frankenweiner. His mohair fur was dyed with lime Kool-aid. Hope this neighborhood is more festive at Christmas!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Creative Rush

This is my latest creation "Trusty". The week before last I was suffering from creative block. I found myself standing in front of my stash of mohair trying to decide what to do. Not sure what changed but suddenly I have more ideas than I have time for. Maybe it's that going to the gym 3 times a week is finally starting to pay off. The numbers on the scale are going down! So Trusty was finished and photographed today. I also cut out the previously pineapple yellow mohair. I decided to use the grape Kool-aid and it is now a pretty reddish brown. A quick trip to the fabric store(Bill was waiting in the car) for some fall fabric and I also found a cute cupcake print fabric. Now what kind of bear with that go with?? ; )

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dying Dilemma

I used some pineapple flavored Kool-aid to dye some mohair. I was hoping for more of a neon yellow and got kind of an orangey yellow. Most of my bears and critters have clothes and I couldn't find any fabric that looked good with the color. Since I was not really happy with it I started experimenting a little. First, lemon-lime Kool-aid. A nice bright green. The little print fabric on the left goes with it nicely. Next grape. If you just use grape Kool-aid it turns out sort of mauve, not a really good purple. To my surprise it gave me a reddish brown. Now, shades of brown always make nice bears. I like different colors too but a bright green bear? I just don't know. Opinions please!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fairy Gift Bear

Halloween isn't even here yet(much less October) and Christmas is already on my mind. I listen to Christmas music year round. It is on my mp3 player that I take to the gym. Not sure just makes me feel good. So...I found this piece of red crushed upholstery velvet at a thrift store awhile back. It is a good size piece, close to a half of a yard. It is perfect for a Christmas creation and finally an idea took shape. She is a Fairy Gift Bear. Sitting, she measures just under 5 inches tall. Fae has ribbon wings and a glass bead crown. The gift box could hold a small piece of jewelry, a clue to another gift or even fairy dust. A perfect way to present that special gift to a loved one. I don't usually do limited editions but I plan on making 5 or six Fairies, depending on how many I can get from the fabric. Maybe she should just be an open edition. Possibly in other colors for other occasions. Hmmmm...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The big news here in Florida went down to 69 degrees last night in Orlando for the first time in 3 months. It was still in the 90's this afternoon though. Actually, this is the beginning of the best weather here. Warm with low humidity. It does make it hard to get in the mood for fall. Sometimes I miss the leaves changing up north but I definitely don't miss the cold winters. 
Eliza and her little birdie friend, Doolittle are available on my website. Jackie O and Carlton have been adopted. Some Christmas creations are under construction. But we purchased the paint for the exterior of our house this week and we are painting it ourselves. Who knows how long that will take!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Welcome Fall!

Can you believe Labor day has already come and gone? Our wedding anniversary fell on the 5th this year. We celebrated with a trip to the beach then steaks on the grill at home. Now it's time to get out the fall decorations ( even though there will be a couple more months of summer weather here in Florida). Jackie O and her friend Carlton are available on my website and etsy. Carlton is the first crow I have ever made and I think he turned out kinda cute. My first try at making something with paper clay was Gordie the gourd. He turned out ok but I think I need more practice. It was more work than expected so maybe it will be something smaller next time. 
Now it's time to work on some Christmas creations. Actually, it's a little late to start on Christmas but I've been a little behind all year. I picked up a good size piece of bright red viscose at a thrift shop over a year ago. Should be able to come up with something chrismissy from it, right?

Jeannie the elephant genie is on her way to her new home.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Introducing Jeannie

She is finally done. It was a lot of fun creating her but it took several months. She sat naked for more than a month. Gathering the materials for her outfit took more time than expected. The original plan was purple velveteen for her vest and waistband. Did you know there are dozens of shades of purple and some clash with others? Finally, I found some cotton with pretty sparkly glitter. It is difficult to see in the photo but looks just right in person. Then finding the right shade of chiffon to match took forever! Thank goodness for etsy! My sister-in-law came through with the bottle. It was a black vase with yellow flowers. Hubby painted it gold and made a top. I painted the flowers purple. So the vision in my head of a genie elephant has come to life(so to speak). Hope you like her!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TBAAF Awards

Online voting in the Teddy Bear Artists and Friends Awards is now open. There are many, many wonderful bears and critters to look at. You don't have to register to vote. Just remember the name of the one you want to vote for so you can check it off on the voting page. Sundae is in the Anime category, Tian is in the Panda category, and Betsy is in the Cat & Dog category. So mosey on over and vote for your favorite. Click here to get to TBAAF.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot

Actually, I like summer. I love warm weather and hate cold. BUT heat indexes above 110° F are very difficult to work in. I broke down and turned the ac on. Just during the day, at night a couple of window fans do the trick and our electric bill wasn't that high last month. So I have been able to get some sewing done. Made from cream mohair dyed a very light teal, Francie and Bobbie Jo are 2 very different girls. Francie is a girly girl that likes pink and pastels. Bobbie Jo is a bit of a tomboy, preferring overalls. She did allow a bow by her ear. Both will be available shortly in my etsy shop.
Also working on some fall critters and a very special elephant.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting old

Today is my birthday, however I am not revealing how old I am. Let's just say I'm no longer a spring chicken. A little nostalgia has crept up on me lately but life in general is very good right now. I love creating critters from fabric and hopefully they bring a little joy to others. My health is good though I could lose a few pounds(who couldn't at this age). I have a wonderful husband and we love where we live.
We went to the beach this morning. It was a cloudy day but we still had a nice time. I love the ocean, the sounds, the smells, and the creatures. We watched some black birds raid some beach goers lunch while they weren't looking. The beach inspires me and I have some ideas to get to work on.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On my soap box

I generally use this blog to announce new creations and upcoming Bear or doll shows. Today I am going to sound off about something that I feel very strongly about. I recently spotted a photo of my 20 yr old niece with a cigarette in her hand. She lives in a different state so I haven't seen her in awhile. It really, really upsets me when I see young people smoking. I am from the generation that didn't know all the dangers of smoking when we were in our teens and twenties. I have never smoked but have family members that have and still do. My big sister, Linda, started smoking in her teens. My parents tried to discourage her but nothing worked. Twenty one years ago next week she died of lung cancer. She was 42. My niece I spotted smoking(my little sister's girl) was born the next year. She never got to meet her Aunt Linda. Linda never got to see her daughter's get married or meet her grandchildren. I still miss her.
Please, if you don't smoke, don't start. If you smoke, find some way to quit. Nothing good comes from cigarettes.
In the photo left to right: Linda, my brother Bill, drum fish, and the little girl is me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bears on Parade

I had meant to post on Friday when the show began but just plain didn't get it done. Here are my creations for the show.
Jefferson, subtitled "As the Parade goes by"

This is Giggles the Clown with her Clown Car.

This is the Parade Princess doing the "Parade wave"

Parade Princess
Here is Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam
Lastly, the clown dogs Bozo, Bingo, and Bonzo. Bonzo has already been adopted.

Bozo Bingo Bonzo
The show ends today July 17 at 4 pm eastern time. Check it out