Arnie the Doughnut….

…a great book by Laurie Keller (click here to see) and my son is completely thrilled about it. So I thought I should pass along this little gem of a book to others. Arnie has been such a hot topic in the house that I finally cracked open my Williams-Sonoma doughnut cake pan, and yes, I’ll buy practically anything if it’s on sale at Williams-Sonoma. I’m so glad I did because it worked like a charm! Here are pics of our Arnie tribute cakes we named Barney and Marnie (cousins?). You can see that my son got carried away with the sprinkles on his cake. In his case more is definitely more and Marnie looks like he got himself a winter coat.

 

Arnie has also taken over my creative thoughts, as I created this pattern from being overwhelmed with personified (and dogified?) doughnuts!

doughnut circus

You can see my doughnut circus in the latest contest, so please vote for it and whoever else’s design you fancy.  Here are some more designs I’ve been working on, trying to keep up with the contests on Spoonflower.

shark crosss stitch

ornateowls

owls

roller derby paper doll chain

wild horses reversible skirt pattern

graygarden

butterfly accumulation modern retro

I’ve been plugging away at self promotion, which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, but I realize that it is truly essential if you want to be found, you must have signs that point to you.  So I’ve worked on my website and I’ve also made a facebook page BabySisterRae so check it out.  Please like me if you’d like, as I’d be most grateful!  And thank you if you have.  You can also like my Spoonflower fabric page here too.  Any shout outs are awesome and greatly appreciated.

Well, with all the shite happening in London, and other parts of England, I am going to simply put a list of awesome modern comedies that will deter any negative attention on the UK because let’s face it, it’s a lovely country and it’s coolness massively outweighs it’s bouts of lameness.

Peep Show

Gavin and Stacey

I’m Alan Partridge

Inbetweeners

Vicar of Dibley

The Office

Extras

An Idiot Abroad

The Trip

Misfits

Outnumbered

(If I’ve missed any GOOD modern comedies, please include them in the comments box below, thanks!)

My cousin Jamin is the founder of an awesome company called Ishlab.  If you have a business that needs inspiring and creative music playing in the background or foreground; if you are an artist that needs to hire studio to make your music Ishlab (based in Brooklyn) is the place to go.  You can also keep connected through facebook.  Here’s a tune from Ishlab:

And lastly, a music recommendation from my lovely brother called Hymn 101 by Joe Pug

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
Aldous Huxley

Traveling with Children (to foreign countries)

It’s been a bit too long since last posting.  I am officially a full fledge co-owner of a clothing business with my sister.  Check out the site shugieshop.com, and let me know what you think, because any feedback is super helpful.  We are striving to be as awesome as possible in a really tough climate so we appreciate any support.  Here is my son in one of our robot cardigans.  Alas, this new venture has been occupying the majority of my free time, which is slim anyway being a full time mom to two small and very demanding children.

 

Okay, now that you’ve seen what I’ve been up to as an excuse for my lack of blogging, I’ll carry on with the point of this entry: Traveling with Chidlren.  Holy crap is it tricky!  We recently flew to the UK for a two week trip to see my best friend get married and to have a mini break from our little bubble in Bucks County, PA.  We knew straight off the bat it was not going to be a relaxing time, it’s actually more work, but seeing new things and not having all the distractions you have at home allow you to spend really good quality time with one another.  Plus my parents came with us and they are such awesome travel companions.

Firstly, packing for one kid can be overwhelming, but packing for multiple children is down right torturous.  Seriously, the strain of lugging around all the crap is no easy task.  My husband and I are able to pack relatively light.  For two weeks, we brought a weeks worth of clothes except undies and socks, and just wore everything twice…no problem other than being a bit creative on rejigging outfits.  The children however need new clothes everyday because they have gross habits that involve a multitude of accidents that involve bodily fluids, not to mention using what they are wearing as napkins when they are eating.  So two weeks of small clothing along with favorite blankets, toys, and books make a pretty good sized bag.  Already we have three large-ish bags, then there are two car seats (check them and if you can buy CARES harness to use…it’s awesome), one stroller (bring a Bebo too, I’ll explain later), one electronics carry on, another diaper/food/small toys carry on, and last the passports and wallet.  You can see already that traveling with children is hard work, and that’s not even including looking after them!

The flight is what my husband and I were fearing the most.  We had one night flight and a day flight on our return.  The night flight was way more easy as the children slept most of it.  The day flight was full of entertaining our 22 month old and almost 4 year old as best we could in the confines of the flying metal tube.  Thank god for the iPad, which entertained both children well.  Not only does it have millions of interactive apps for small children, also housed 20 or so movies that the children watched throughout our vacation, and especially at night in our hotel/B&B rooms.  Also, food is a great distraction…..so I brought lots of snacks and sweets.  The small chocolate Easter eggs I whipped out towards the end of the last flight were a godsend for my 22 month old who was just so fed up and restless.  By the time her little fingers managed to unwrap the egg, we were getting ready to land, so eating the egg probably helped pop her ears on the descend.  Oh, how I love it when things coincidentally work out!

After getting there, next is finding child appropriate things to do.  We went to England, full of castles, historical houses, and lots of things little children could care less about.  So we mostly walked outside and indulged in sight seeing and absorbing history that way.  When we could, we found things that were specifically geared towards children.  For example, in York there is the most amazing train museum that my son really enjoyed.  He loved scampering amongst the giant steam trains, plus there was a great play area and a little mini train to ride.  And like lots of museums in the UK, it was completely FREE.  Both of our children really like the Science Museum in London, too, as they have many children specific areas.  When we couldn’t find things catered for children in a town, we’d just find a toy shop or a great park to keep there spirits high.  Keeping them interested was not actually that hard surprisingly.  We also had the advantage of having my parents along with us, AND we were visiting friends and family so the children got an abundance of extra special attention, which they loved.  Having familar faces on the other side was a huge bonus!

Here is a list of things that I think are invaluable for travelling with children:

iPad 2.  It’s an easy option to satisfy bored children.  Airplane travel, car travel, restaurants, hotels, etc,  it keeps both children and parents sane.  Also, we stored maps, really useful information on places we were interested in seeing, and possible hotels/B&Bs.  The iPad is terribly great for traveling.

Bebo baby carrier.   We use this for our 22 month old who can’t walk well enough, and she loves to be close to us.  It was perfect for our England trip….walking around London, and just wandering around places where strollers are too difficult, like fields and castles.  It has a hood so if she falls asleep we button it up so her head doesn’t bobble about or flail backwards.  It also has stirrups for her feet to make it much more comfortable.  Both my husband and I think it’s much more comfortable than our expensive framed hiking child carrier, plus it’s easy to pack as it doesn’t take up much space.

Surf by Hemi Sync. We use this at night in our house anyway, so this helped with creating a familiar environment for bedtime, and also alleviating any stress from being in a new, strange environment to sleep.  This music was recommended by my daughter’s physical therapist and it was also used for firefighters who were in 9/11.  We all slept well during our trip, and when you sleep well, you enjoy your day and the people around you better.

Compact digital camera for small hands.  A camera that children can use to take pictures is a great thing, and not a crappy photo taking toddler camera.  My son is capable of fully using my digital point and shoot camera without any help at all.   It really keeps him occupied and interested in his surroundings, and you get some really great and unexpected photos that last a lifetime.

CARES harness system.  We absolutely needed our car seats for this trip, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need them on the plane.  What a pain they are to lug around busy airport termimals.  If you buy a CARES harness you eliminate having to take a car seat on the plane.  It’s safe and easy to use and also it’s very hard for little feet to reach the seat in front of them, so no more accidental kicking the person in front.  Hugely recommend this.

Children’s Columbia Bugaboo Parka (boy version and girl version).  These coats are great because they are so versatile.  Firstly, they do well in the winter because they have a water proof outer shell, and a detachable fleece coat interior.  In other words, if it’s cold you can wear it all together, if it’s a little chilly out you can just wear the fleece jacket, and if it’s chilly and rainy than you can just wear the outter shell.  It’s so awesome, especially for traveling around the UK when the weather changes every five minutes!  I bought them a bit big because they are expensive so I wanted to get as much wear out of it as possible.

 

I hope these things find to be as helpful to others as what we’ve found them to be.  Anything little thing that makes life easier is worthy of sharing.

 

Moving on, I still have been working on my designs for Spoonflower.  Here’s what’s new:

 

patchwork year of the rabbit

Breakfast Appliances

vampire squid

the future ahead: rockets and stars.

rainclouds

The second to the last design (the rockets) was one of the 75 that was chosen for the Project Selvage contest Michael Miller and Spoonflower are holding to find the next baby boy fabric.  I am thrilled it was chosen, and to be amongst some very talented artists.  This is a very important contest because the voting now is for the top ten to go through to the next round of designing a collection of six pieces.  The winner then gets then gets their collection printed by MM and also gets to design a second collection for baby girls.  Please vote for your favorites….you can have as many as you’d like.  It may make the difference to a very hopeful designer!  Click the Project Selvage link above to do so.  Thank  you.

Take care!

Before the ball drops….

and you are heavily considering what your New Year’s resolution may be, think about the purpose of this resolution.  Most likely it is to make yourself feel happier.  And just when you think you have some control over this, and you do to some extend, however, a large chunk of you has a predisposition to your level of happiness.  I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and she writes, “According to current research, in the determination of a person’s level of happiness, genetics accounts for about 50 percent; life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation, account for about 10 to 20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts.”  50 percent?  That’s a lot.  Pretty freaking scary right?  The good news is: that small little things can make you feel happier.  Some of those things are: exercise (even just taking a walk outside), being organized (getting rid of clutter clears the mind and brings more happiness), smiling more (tricking yourself to be happy even makes you feel happy), and generally just  being yourself (and love who you are).  I like Gretchen’s list of Secrets of Adulthood in her book, so I will list them:

People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think.

It’s okay to ask for help.

Most decisions don’t require extensive research.

It’s important to be nice to everyone.

Bring a sweater.

By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.

Soap and water removes most stains.

Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.

If you can’t find something, clean up.

You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.

Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

You don’t have to be good at everything.

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.

Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you-and vice versa.

People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.

You can’t profoundly change your children’s natures by nagging them or signing them up for classes.

No deposit, no return.

On that note here’s what I’ve been working on:

Car dogs

pieces of cake bunting

pieces of cake

80sdigitalwatches

I’m looking at working with an agency to have my designs licensed and used commercially.  I’ll know in the middle of January who I’ll be working with.  Fingers crossed for a fulfilling new year in art and design that can put a little bit of change in my pocket.

My shout outs:

If you have children, you won’t be able to read a Nancy Tillman book without crying.  I highly recommend them, even if they are a bit cheesy, they are super lovely to read to your children at any age.  I really like On the Night You Were Born and Wherever You Are.


This diagram on Etsy is great for all those Shakespeare lovers. http://www.etsy.com/listing/63054235/shakespeares-hamlet-as-a-diagram-50×70

And lastly, a great great song.  (kinda one hit wonders, but some other songs are growing on me)

Happy Holidays, and before you make those resolutions of what you want, make sure to be grateful for what you already have.  A very happy 2011!

Giving a care, or giving hair

November has come and practically gone, and you know what happens after Thanksgiving…it’s gung ho Christmas. Actually, Christmas seems to be sneaking in already. I guess that’s a sign of a weak economy trying to make as much money as possible. But before we move onto Christmas, I think it’s great to really absorb what Thanksgiving really means. Because it’s not really about Pilgrims and American Indians. No not really, because as we all know, it didn’t work out well for the later and why glorify that?  Thanksgiving is about giving thanks- full stop. For me, the best way to give thanks is to give to others. For this Thanksgiving, I’ve chopped over ten inches off of my hair to donate to a charity called Wigs for Kids (http://wigsforkids.org/).

Before

After

And in the in between hours of motherhood, I have been working on a few new designs for Spoonflower. One I just submitted for the candle theme contest, and another I submitted for the Christmas stocking theme.

flying squirrels

watches 2011

Roller Skate Stockings

Chinese sky lanterns

Shout outs:

An awesome artist and a really cool person, Samarra Khaja, is a really big creative force to be reckoned with.  Check out her work on Spoonflower http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/sammyk and check out her site: www.samarrakhaja.com.  Here are some of her fabric designs:

Glass Menagerie

Stained Glass Rose Windows

The Chefalopod: A Culinary Companion

During my roller skating research I ran into this:

A really cool site that gives the ability to make loads of cool things: http://www.ponoko.com/

And finally, I watched Scot Pilgrim vs. The World a few days ago and I thought it was fantastic. I could see how it wouldn’t be everyones’ cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the film’s avant garde style.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween for Little’uns

I love Halloween, perhaps it’s because it’s the changing of the seasons and the cooler weather, the beautiful spectrum of colors that the fall leaves bring, and the magic of Halloween through the eyes of small children.  Halloween is just different now with children.  I WANT to decorate my house and carve pumpkins.  Before it wasn’t done, or it was just a chore.  Here are some Halloween things I now like do with my children:

Carve Pumpkins

I let my son (3 years) do as much as possible to help and feel included.  My daughter is too young, but keeping her around and watching and still giving her toys to play with when she gets bored makes it feel like an activity for the entire family.  I do most of the cutting, but my son always has his hand on the handle to make it feel like teamwork.  We have a posh pumpking carving kit from Willams Sonoma, which is totally better than those crappy ones you can get from the value stores.  In this case, you get what you pay for.  When the pumpkin is all cleaned out, I let my son draw the face on his pumpkin, and then together we cut it out.  This year I did a face too.

Make Spooky Cupcakes

You know, I am all for making cupcakes out of scratch but when you are making cupcakes with children, who have such a small amount of patience, it’s best to go with a box mix.  I am a vegan, so I love Cherrybrook Kitchen products.  Their cupcake and frosting mixes are incredible.  Our cupcakes came out moist and goregous.  Together we smear icing on the cupcakes, although I think the majority of the icing goes on little anxious fingers and lands in little anxious mouths.  For Halloween, we decided to sprinkle black sprinkles on top and give the cupcakes orange eyes.  My son said they were ghosts, and loved them.  I know how exciting cupcake making is for little ones (thank you, joyce, my lovely), and the experience allows me to relive that feeling of utter happiness through their eyes.

Watch Movies

We always watch “Nightmare Before Christmas” for Halloween, and we also watch it for Christmas.  Very clever making a holiday movie for two holidays…cha-ching!  Yo Gabba Gabba has a good “Halloween” dvd, and we also watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Books

There are so many good Halloween spirited books.  They may not exactly be about Halloween but encompass general Halloween themes.  I think these are especially great for little’uns:

What was I Scared of? By Dr. Suess

Ghots in the House by Kasuno Kohara

Aaaaarrgghh!  Spider! by Lydia Monks

Three Little Ghosties by Pipa Goodhart

 

Decorate

This year I haven’t put up so many decorations because I simply cannot find them, the halloween decoration box has simply lost itself.  So I have made some. The Halloween bunting I made is easy to do with children.  If you’d like to make a Halloween Bunting too, here’s what you’ll need, and the steps:

Take some old newspaper you have lying around.  I used the coupons pages we get stuffed in our mailbox.  Next, grab some white printing paper and some orange construction paper.  You’ll also need strips of cardboard, black paint, scissors, a brush, a stapler, and of course a glue stick.  Feel free to modify any of the ingredients or steps to suit your own style and space.

With the newspaper, cut out your bunting shape.  Traditionally it’s a triangle, but I cut out a rainbow shape.  Keeping your paper folded, use the fold of the newspaper as the top side of the bunting to create two exact mirrored shapes, which will then be folded over the cardboard strip.  Cutout 16 shapes to make HAPPY*HALLOWEEN.  I made my bunting shapes differ in sizes to add a bit of funkiness.

Next unfold your bunting shapes and paint them black.  I used gouache paint and added water for an element of transparency so the other colors and letters of the newpaper were still present.  This is a great time to include a child if you wish to do so.

Next, take your white printer paper and make 16 circles.  I used a traced the bottom of glass to draw the circles.  If you want to hang this in a window then make it double sided draw 32 circles. Cut these out.

Next take the orange construction paper and write H-A-P-P-Y H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N in thick block letters.  Don’t worry about what you think it should look like, the more wonky and crooked the better.  If you want to make a double sided bunting, fold your paper in half and cut out the letters so you get twice the letters with the same amount of work.  Take your letters and use your glue stick to glue them onto the white cirlces.  This is another task you can do with a child.  There are 15 letters, so there should be one blank circle left.  This circle breaks up the words HAPPY and HALLOWEEN.  I painted a little skull in my circle, but a spider, a bat, or cat (or anything black) would look great.  You need to make two of these if you are doing a double sided bunting.

Now it’s time to get your cardboard strips.  They should be about an inch wide, and I taped two together to make it almost seven feet long.  Make it the same length and then after you position your bunting, you can cut any excess off.  Take your black painted bunting shapes and hang them over the cardboard strip so the bunting folds are resting on top of the cardboard.  Space the shapes out to however long or short you want the bunting.  When you have the shapes in place, staple them down.

Now you can take the glue stick and glue your circles onto the bunting.  Do not forget about your painted circle that goes between HAPPY and HALLOWEEN.  If you are doing a double sided bunting, flip it over and glue the other circles.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!!

The Ridiculous Elitism

Elitism is alive and well and thrives like a fleas on a homeless dog in Mexico.  It is why we all seem to strive for celebrityhood and why we are easily disillusioned and dissatisfied with life.  Elitism drives me absolutely crazy.  I hate, no I loathe, the common theme of elitism that says, “I’m cool and you’re not,” that is especially prominent in the art and fashion worlds.  I can’t tell you much about fashion, except that ten percent of it seems actually wearable, and the shoes would better serve purpose at Guantanamo.  The fashion world also specifically highlights the class division where the wealthy person can afford to be highly fashionable and mere mortals have to be a bit more creative, thus in turn and ironically, churns out the more fashionable.  The art world has it’s own class division, as everyone knows art moves onto wealthy people to buy, but  in the eye of the artist, the art world has it’s own elitism in terms of art being made for other artists who can understand the references to philosophy and art history, making the average person feel stupid or inadequate because they lack the art education, which by the way is costly.  Also with the birth of the celebrity artist (thank you Andy Warhol), artists are not motivated purely to be expressive, inventive, or clever, but they are motivated by fame.  This just makes me want to vomit on the Statue of Liberty.  If you don’t believe me, then look at what’s happening to Banksy.  He is now the new cash cow, and will be soon reduced to pushing his designs on ties and trainers.  Nevermind, I just Googled Banksy clothing, and  well, here you go, a Banksy tee shirt.  Well done Banksy, you prat!

Fame is the air to the fire of elitism, and sure, money is important, but integrity is everything.  Elitism is not going anywhere, and that is fine, but does it have to penetrate even the parts of society that promote individualism and expression.  How silly is that??

………

Lots of mothers out there, and I am one, do not believe their soul purpose in life is motherhood, and finding time to fulfill desires outside of motherhood is quite difficult.  I find myself staying up late just milking my free time, even if it’s to catch a movie on tv.  Being inventive and stealing time wherever possible has been invaluable to me.  I read when my children take baths.  Even if it’s five pages, it makes me happy.  After lunch, my daughter naps and my son just likes to chill and watch his tv programs that are not appropriate for his sister to watch, so he has his own sense of ‘me time’ and this frees me up for an hour to draw in my sketchbook or scan drawings and make them into fabrics.  Both of my children sleep until 8 in the morning, I could easily wake up earlier and accomplish even more.  Unfortunately I have yet tapped into my inner early bird.  But, at least I know it’s there.  The reality of it, basically, is I have to choose projects that allow me to put them down and pick them back up easily.  So, I don’t often paint, or write long stories, but I do things that need little thought and commitment, like this blog.  This entry has taken me the entire day to write during my tid-bits of time.

Onto what my me time looks like.  Here are my newest fabric designs and actual fabrics (I finally had enough to buy some) that I have created in the past few weeks.  When you look at these, remember they represent time that I have managed to create and even though sometimes it maybe minutes, it does build up enough to feel a sense of accomplishment.  It’s nothing you’d see in the White Cube, but it’s something that lends itself to filling my creative drive.

http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/351073

the wrestling mask

she loves you

she loves you tattoo

up and down carousel

flower tile collage (using paper)

the queen's bots

 

reupholstered chairs

(I finally reupholstered these little bistro chairs from the beginning of summer!)

Let’s talk briefly how how I’ve been a slacker on this blog.  I try to write once a month, and well I missed September, so I will be writing twice this month.  I’ll try to come up with more useful information that isn’t so full of hot air and focus on Halloween and how brilliant it is.

Let us move onto the things I have found and are awesome.

Shout outs:

Okay, so if you have HBO you must watch Bored to Death.  It’s so hilarious and I love love the cast.  Ted Danson is pure genius in it.  Yeah, I said it, Ted Danson from Cheers and Becker (bah-hahaha).  If you don’t have HBO, the first season is on DVD, and it’s really good, especially the last episode.  The second season, which is on now,  is so brilliant!

From the first season:

Also, if you are a fan of 30 Rock, then you have to get on Twitter and read KanyeJordan.  Basically, it takes every tweet Kanye West makes and puts Liz Lemon in front of it, but if you read it aloud, it’s really funny.  It’s spot on.  Kanye West is a bit strange and now I understand what kind of character he really is.

If you like video art and are tired of the shanangins of YouTube, try hitrecord.org.  This is a lovely video from the site:

http://www.viddler.com/player/33183741/

Really cool site with really cool images thingsorganizedneatly.tumblr.com

Keeping Happy Children


As I take a break from packing unloved toys, I realize that a change is well needed here.  I feel like I’m somewhat fueling a rotten apple, and I feel this because I have a three year old who requests to go to Target, and when we do, he demands that he gets a new toy.  I fold and feel like ten bucks is a reasonable amount of money to keep him occupied for a few hours.  But, after having two garbage bags full of toys to donate to charity, I realized this pattern of buying toys every week has got to subside.  I honestly think buying my children toys (anything really) releases the happiness chemical in my brain.  When I see their faces light up and the oooo-ing and aww-ing, it really puts me in such a good mood.  It’s a quick feeling of satisfaction, easy, and obviously addicting.  I’m sounding more and more like a druggie.  But the bad resulting from all this toy buying is relentless.  Firstly, I have created what I call the rash: a collection of toys that just won’t go away.  They hide in every corner ready for your feet to find.  Also, this month has been full of bills, some that have sprung up like a punch in the face, like car repairs and a school tax on our second plot of land (that makes up our side garden), which is not included in our escrow, apparently.  Expensive stuff, which has left me with the rest of the month running on $30 and a credit card.  Not clever.  I’m doing the total of how much I would have saved if I didn’t buy all those new toys and would have passed up on the Starbucks visits this month.  It would have been around $320!!!  Turns out that Starbucks is actually a bigger pocket burner than the toys.  Well, thank you Starbucks, it’s been fun, but you’ve been officially cut off.  As for the toys, I’ve decided to only buy toys that are constructive and fuel creativity.  I really should be spending that money on doing more cool things on day outs.  Ugh!

Speaking of which, we recently visited Ocean City, New Jersey.  A very interesting place to people watch, and it’s really good for small children as there are loads of rides and games that cater to the smaller crowd.  There is tons of junk food, and the portion sizes are out of control, but overall the boardwalk is very entertaining.  The beach itself is not terribly crowded and the salt water felt great on my poison ivied up legs.

Does anyone else find this image disturbing?  These are hermit crabs with ‘pimped’ up shells.  You would NEVER see this in another country.  Next you will see advertisements on them.  I mean isn’t this the picture perfect version that screams awesome quality of life??  My overall experience of Ocean City however was a positive one.  Certainly for making happy children, and there are just so many interesting things you’ll only see if you go to the Jersey Shore.

We also had an overnight in NYC that was good fun.  The weather was super last weekend, and was a pleasant warm, not a back and upper lip sweating hot.  So we hit Central Park because we wanted to stay outside and absorb as much vitamin D as possible.  We first hit the Central Park Zoo, which was our first time there.  I’m not a zoo person, and being vegan, it’s beyone hypocritical of me to give such an organization money.  Overall I think based on the general principles of ecology, animals should remain in their natural environments.  However, when you read to your children with exotic animals in the stories, there is a certain drive that when the opportunity arises, you want to show them these animals they read about.  It’s true for me, in making happy children, my morals and principles can be pushed to the side so they can experience interesting things.  Or else I wouldn’t be going to zoos, Starbucks or Target altogether because in the biggest picture, these places are a bit evil and destructive to the world.

Now, for making a happy mom, I get to draw and turn those drawings into design tiles, and then take those tiles and make fabrics with them.  Here are my lastest designs, although I have no fabric samples this blog because I’m too skint to buy any.

http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric_items/new?design_id=293820&show_comments=true

http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric_items/new?design_id=299062&show_comments=true

http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric_items/new?design_id=305087&show_comments=true

http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric_items/new?design_id=309338&show_comments=true

http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric_items/new?design_id=316331&show_comments=true

These designs can be seen in greater detail and with more information at http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/babysisterrae.  Just look in the Gallery section for designs that are not for sale.  I don’t put up many for sale unless they are requested, and then I take them off again.  I don’t know why, I am just one of those odd ball types.

As for my shout outs, this month’s blog is quite eclectic.

Firstly, there is a super lovely blog entry by the a woman named Eros-Alegra Clarke, and her blog is great, but the blog entry that specifically resonates for me as a mother, and probably all the other moms out there, is called ‘Mother Muse: Puddle Jumping.’  Click this link to read it http://alegra22.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/motherhood-muse-puddle-jumping/.  It’s written so well and describes the trials of motherhood so eloquently.  Everyone should read it.

Secondly, I am helping my sister with her company called Mimi&Luca, which creates great pieces of clothing for children.  Right now she is focusing mainly on t shirts, longsleeves, and hoodies.  She will introduce more to the product line soon.  Her tops are appliqued with a cool images or initial letters in almost any fabric imaginable.  She’s using some of my designs for her appliques, so if you like my cupcakes, campers, racer cars, and roller skates, than check it out because you could customize a top for your son, daughter, or any young person who needs a unique gift.  Check out http://mimiandluca.com/.  The site is not fully finished and more options will be added soon.  Add it as your favorite so you can keep up with the changes.

And lastly, if you liked the Kill Bill movies, then you would surely adore the movie Kick-Ass.  If you do not have the luxury of going to the cinema, then rent it because it’s brilliant.

And that’s what I’ll leave you with.

Take care.

Inspiration Food Chain

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTg3MTkwODEy.html

So I was on the phone with my dad and he was so excited to tell me about the little “prank” the Philadelphia Orchestra did in the Reading Terminal Market recently, that he practically sounded like a chirping bird on the first day of Spring.  When I got off the phone I Googled it so I could figure out what exactly tickled him so pink.  And I found this video http://player.youku.com/player.php/sid/XMTg3MTkwODEy/v.sw0, which opens in a new window.

And that video instantaneously made me think that the Philadelphia Orchestra, or the person responsible for that performance was most definitely inspired by the relatively famous commercial by T Mobil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=] will open in a new window).

And this T Mobil commercial was most definitely inspired by the strange little phenomena called Silent Disco, and perhaps specifically to the Silent Discos at Victoria Station.  By the way, Silent Disco is when people get together and dance using their iPods or some other personal music device instead of having a singular sound system.  So everyone is dancing to their own music, to their own rhythm, and with their own volume. (click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWQpDaC0T-s for a new window)

And although Silent Disco has been around since the sixties, I personally think it’s present day popularity (especially in the UK) has been inspired by the artist, Gillian Wearing and her video ‘Dancing in Peckham,’ which is a 25 minute video of Gillian dancing to the music in her head in a busy shopping center.  When the song in her head changes, her style of dancing changes.  (see below)

And this performance piece by Gillian Wearing makes me think of the book ‘Being and Nothingness’ specifically when Sartre writes about our perceived relations to one another, and (without getting my college notes) when we make observations, we tend to see ourselves as an object in an attempt to get an insight to how we are being perceived by others.  If you get a chance to see the Gillian Wearing video, you can see the video isn’t just about Gillian dancing by herself with no music in a shopping center, but also about the people (passer-byes/background folk) sharing that space with her and their relationships with one another.  It turns out that the people in the background are more important than Gillian.  The Sartre-esque question, who is being observed and who is the observer, becomes prevalent in the video because ultimately the audience starts to pay more attention to the people in the background and how they are observing Gillian and observing each other in relation to Gillian.  Then in terms of gallery voyeurism, this question becomes more complicated because not only do you have the relationship with the viewers in the gallery and the video itself, but also the relationship of the gallery viewers to one another and how they observe each other watching the video, becoming more or less like the people in the background of the video.

I guess with all of these videos, in a Sartre sort of way, people are observing other people, who in return are observing them, and everyone ultimately reduces each other to what subjectivity they perceive in themselves.  (Insert thumb-twiddling here)

I’m not about to be a complete a–hole and compare my textile designing to Sartre’s philosophical thought, but making art for people on a commerical level, artists have to be conscious of different relationships during the creative process, which inevitably is reflected in the success of the artwork.  If you go into a shop, the items for sale are not as important as the people looking at them.  The artist has to be sensitive to the desires of an audience (or buyers) and be in tune to what is visually appealing for them. The artist has to be aware of the relationship between him/herself and the design, the design and the object it is for, and the object to the person who buys it.  I can’t just sit around designing what I like, or else, I’d forgo drawing cupcakes and owls, and would be making things that only a few people would want.  The masses seem to love cupcakes and owls, and lots of artists are competing over their interpretations of owls and cupcakes to please the masses.  Even the trendiest of shops like Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters who appear to be unique with their vintage inspired stuff have, yes, cupcakes and owls rolling around on their clothes and housing decor.  Anyway, to get back on track, artists have to rely on their audience, just like the performances in the videos above, and the content of their art work reflects this dependancy.

(This is where I edited my rant on how people do not really want to be different and support individualism, even though they think they do, thanks to the marketing world stuffing capitalism in our faces and making people feel inadequate without looking a certain way or having certain things.  Ugh, nevermind)

At any rate, here are some new samples of fabric I designed from Spoonflower I recently ordered.

(This image is a total of all the fabrics I have printed so far, thanks to Spoonflower.com.  For more information on these fabrics click http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/babysisterrae)

And below are new ideas that perhaps will become fabric.  These past few weeks, I have been mainly designing for the Spoonflower competitions (a mild addiction), not to mention breaking all the rules and designing for no one else other than myself, and what I think would be cool to see on people, tables, chairs, notebooks, lampshades, pillows, and just small token things that would make a person or a space that much more special (in the eyes of me of course).

campersforweb
iloveyouporgyforweb
summerflowersforweb
sweptawayforweb

The campers got 6th in the ‘travel’ competition on Spoonflower….so that’s a small woo-hoo.  I just received some of my upholstery tools today, so I’ll work on the old chairs I have soon.  I’ll upload pics about that little adventure next time.

Next are my ‘shout-outs’ to cool people, books, movies, blogs, and things to do:

Firstly, I have tattoos, and I think most tattoos are amazing.  It’s a form of dedication to self expression that tells a story and reflects more character than most things people wear, including clothes, make up, jewellery, etc.  If you, too, like tattoos, you should check out the book Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh by Ina Saltz.  Also, Heidi Kenney (www.mypapercrane.com) is an artist who is super creative and quirky, and she also uses tattoos for inspiration .  Here is a doll pattern Heidi created that you can buy at Spoonflower called ‘tattooed together’ (http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/260973).  Also, a photo from Heidi’s site of one of the completed dolls.

Two movies that are a must see (both documentaries) are Gasland by Josh Fox (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZe1AeH0Qz8)and Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhydyxRjujU).

And if your out and about in Philadelphia, then stop by the Franklin Institute (because it’s cool anyway) to check out the Cleopatra exhibition and look at the artifacts that are mind boggling old, and learn about the history and complicated politics of that time (www.fi.edu/cleopatra/index.html).

And lastly, if you like cakes and architecture, then you might enjoy this article about the tallest cake in the world www.dwell.com/articles/tower-without-hunger.html.

Ahhh, take care 😛

14 June (pregnancy dance video here)

Wow, so much to write about. Above is a really cool desk that nanna bought Ade for his birthday.  When it’s not in use, it fits together in a cube, and the chair can store lots of bits and bobs.  Awesome.  By P’kolino.  Check out these weather ponchos (below) I found Parmalee, at a native american cultural festival we perused memorial weekend.    All the way from Ecuador, not so much native american, but cool comes from anywhere.  (Buffalo!!)

Vegan much?  Probably not.  But just incase, you may think that vegans can’t get their cake on, well, I have news for you.  This great cookbook (or cakebook) titled ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World’ has given me the ability to make the best cupcakes…..and I’m not saying vegan cupcakes, I’m saying best cupcakes ever full stop.  Generally speaking, I have the talent for making an error when baking, and it was no surprise that I would mess something up in this recipe, which I did.  The sugar stash was low so I also used molasses and they came out cracking anyway…..seems foolproof.  I made them for my son’s third birthday.  My fancy flower cake pan was finally broken in, too.

So here’s the recipe=
Ingredients: 1 c. soy milk, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1.25 c. all purpose flour, 2 tblspn cornstarch, .75 tsp. baking powder, .50 tsp. baking soda, .25 tsp. salt, .50 c. non-hydrogenated margarine, .75 c granulated sugar, .25 tsp. vanilla extract.  (.25=quarter, .50=half, .75= three quarters)
directions:
preheat oven to 350 F, and sort out tin with cupcake liners.  whisk soy milk and vinegar and set aside a few minutes.  sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl and mix.  in a separate bowl, use a handheld mixer (or blender as i did) to cream the margarine and sugar for 2 minutes.  beat in vanilla, then alternate beating in the soy milk mixture and dry ingredients.  stop to scrap the sides every so often.  fill cupcake liners two-thirds and bake for 20-22 minutes.
for icing:
bring .25 c of soy milk to a gentle boil in a small sauce pan.  immediately remove from heat and add 4 oz semisweet chocolate chopped and 2 tblspn of pure maple syrup.  use a heatproof spatula to mix the chocolate until smooth, and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
These recipes are from the book ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
The equivalent to being a vegan is better than driving a hybrid car, and as we count down the weeks we have tons and tons of oil gushing into our ocean, perhaps being a little more earth friendly and eating a bit more vegan stuff is worth it….especially when it tastes exactly how it should.

Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World 75 Dairy-free Recipes for Cupcakes That Rule

Not long ago, my friend Diane posted a youtube clip of James Brown tearing up the dance floor, and it inevitably led to me thinking about pregnant women dancing, so I did a search on youtube and I found some genius clips.  I took my favorite bits and made a little movie of these women dancing to no one other than James Brown.  It’s rough, but too bad I don’t have the hours to edit seconds.   You get the idea 🙂

Even though this is pathetic and small, it felt great to make a little video, as it’s one of the things I focused on in art school.  And using youtube clips was like using the old super 8s and found photos I primarily worked with before motherhood.  So it felt, just a little bit, like I was wearing old comfy shoes.  Unlike the new weird shoes of design, which I am learning more and more about each day.  Here are some new fabrics and designs.

(the last one is a design from a drawing of a robot my son did back in January.                                                                                        all of these can be seen on http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/trebligrachel)

It’s one thing to design fabric, but what next?  Well, I am putting the fabric to use, and I am learning how to upholster traditional style.  No foam, no rubbish, just good old fashion upholstering with the real long lasting materials.  I have actually found my tools from the flea market up the road, and I have purchased three chairs to work on.  Two are a set of hand made wrought iron bistro chairs that are level one in terms of difficulty.  The other one is a bit more tricky because it has springs and shananagins going on inside.  I’ll post their after photos next blog.

I’m going to end this by saying it’s true what they say about inspiration, you can find it in odd places.

This drain has got me thinking pretty things.

Take care.

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20 May

I’ve been focusing on helping my big sister, Jess, and making children friendly fabric designs.  She’s been creating really cool tees, and twirly skirts for girls.  As of now she’s on a hiatus from her business but will be back in full force for the fall.  And right now we are experimenting and working towards making the most righteous designs.  Here are some of the things I’ve been playing around with.

Above are Parmalee and Evie in the number and initial tanks my sister created, and the images below that are the fabrics I designed, which my sister made into a reversible twirly skirt and then a pair of bloomers for Parmalee.  These little clothes have given me much to think about.  Love the bloomers but I’m not feeling my designs so much on the twirly skirt.  The roller skate disco design above could be a cool twirly though.  The roller skates will be definitely be on some tees.

I also submitted this cocktail design to one of the Spoonflower competitions……which placed in fifth.  Nothing to brag about really.  It’s an A-Z of cocktails and recipes.  I think it would work for napkins, place mats, or perhaps an apron.

In terms of normal life, which I do not seem to write about often.  I am going to shift direction to something that makes my life, as a mother with two children, much easier.  When something makes my life easy, I think it’s important to spread the love in hope it may make someone else’s life easier, too.  This item as of now is my Phil&Ted’s Dash pushchair/stroller.  It truly makes getting around, especially in cities and shopping centers, easy and most important, enjoyable.

If you haven’t read the Visual Miscellaneum by David McCandless, then you should because it’s a really great reference that relates really interesting facts in different graph like charts, which are very aesthetically pleasing.  This book truly makes information beautiful.

Here’s a peek:

click here to purchase Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World\’s Most Consequential Trivia

This blog is greatly about exploring inspiration and creativity in the midst of motherhood, and also the things I find along the way that make life easier or add just a bit of mental nourishment.  Hopefully it is!  Until next time, take care.

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