Wednesday, February 29, 2012

surfboard mobile for a beach baby's nursery: decorating for your surfer baby

Here are the surfboards I mentioned that I was designing over the weekend - Now available in the OUToftheBOX Etsy shop.  We had a sudden cold rainstorm blow through our usually temperate neck of the woods, so working on this surfboard mobile gave me the sunshine I needed.  Do you like the beach balls?  I thought they added a fun, whimsical touch to a beach-themed mobile.  I transferred my designs onto poplar and I love the clean look of this light wood.  And for the sun, I added a hand-stitched, wool felt sun onto each side of a wood disc that is decorated in rays of light.

I think this mobile is very California in color and style.  Next up might be a more Aloha-inspired collection of surfboards... maybe even some pink hibiscus or plumeria flowers for a little surfer girl.  As you see in my color study, this was California from the get-go.  Frankie and Annette, Gidget, Beach Blanket Bingo... whatever you want to call it.  I'd like to do a color study of an image from "Blue Hawaii", though.  That would be fun.

With clean lines and the polished look of wood, this mobile would be a nice way to accent your beach-themed nursery or play room.  What little surf bum doesn't want to gaze up at these bright surfboards, beach balls and sun, dreaming about dipping their little toes in the sand or catching their first big wave?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

color inspiration: california surf pop culture

I'm spending my Saturday morning designing some surfboards for a new surfboard baby mobile.  I have one in the Etsy shop, but I'd like to use the same transfer process I used for the owl mobile and make some cool, retro surfboards in bright colors.  Speaking of colors, I got a little sidetracked trying to find some color inspiration - a little Frankie and Annette to spark some color combinations.  Hmmm... it just might work.

Friday, February 24, 2012

wooden owl mobile perfect for a modern crib, nursery or playroom

Let's be honest, I usually draw wings on little critters that normally don't have wings.  So what am I doing sketching owls?  Well, owls really seem to be the thing right now, don't they?  If you do an Etsy search for "owl" you'll get nearly 106,000 items.  An Etsy search for "owl mobile" will land you with over 500.  So, I began work on an owl mobile of my own.  Why not?  (notice the new mobile hanger?)

And it was actually quite fun.  (I wouldn't have done it if it was going to be pure agony.  And, no, if everyone was jumping off a cliff I wouldn't jump just to be like them.)  I made a few owl sketches before going to bed one night and then woke up bright and early the next morning with new ideas.  These owls had to be my own.  I wanted them to fit in with the style of the OUToftheBOX Etsy shop.  So I flipped through my sketchbooks and found some patterns that would work well with these little feathered friends.

And, of course, they had to be colorful!  And I had to add some of my (what I call) signature mobile shapes.  I think these little guys fit in quite nicely in the shop and provide another range of owls to the hundreds of owls already out there in the Etsy universe.  I hope they find a happy home somewhere soon.

Owl fronts are on both sides in four different color patterns and designs.  So no owl backsides on this mobile!  Only happy, owly faces.  Check it out in the Etsy shop.  If nothing else, would you mind clicking on over?  It helps my ranking in "owl mobile" searches and I would be greatly appreciative... and I'm sure you'll have good karma for the rest of the day for supporting an artist.  :)



Thursday, February 23, 2012

color inspiration from Disneyland and Disney California Adventure

Last month we took the boys to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.  This was our second time going as a family and I was worried that the magic from our first trip wouldn't be met, but it was all I could have hoped for.  As we learned last year, the end of January seems to be the perfect time for visiting the Disney parks.  Not only did we get a great deal on our stay at the Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel (included in the package were two Fastpasses per person to be used at any time in any park and Magic Morning Hour privileges) but we found that all of the lines were tolerable.  In fact, the boys are quite spoiled.  They seem to think that waiting any longer than twenty minutes in line is pure torture.  Oh if only they knew what this magical place looked like in the middle of Summer!

As always, I had my own kind of fun just walking around, taking pictures and finding inspiration in the most unlikely places.  This is Disneyland, afterall, where every single detail is intentional.  Once I got home and began looking through the photos I'd snapped I found myself quite pleased with my compositions and the way that I'd captured the color.  But then it occured to me... ANYONE could have taken this photo!  These details were planned and arranged to appear just perfectly (or, not so perfectly - but again, it's intentional) in the lens. 

I love this "dilapidated" shoreside fence that leans and looks like it's been through years of wind and salty air.  Things like this always make me smirk, shake my head and chuckle with amusement.  Since we stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel across the street from California Adventure, this bay and the ferris wheel were our view for two nights.  Such a pretty view with lights twinkling and reflecting in the water.  [Tip: We booked a "theme park view" room and got a room on the 10th floor which was perfect for seeing the World of Color water and light show.]

So, color, right?  I wish I could find a place around the house to do a mosaic like this one at California Adventure!  If you look closely you'll even see things like spoons and marbles.  The boys took delight in finding the common objects hidden in this colorful artwork.  It's chaos, but reeled in enough to make it beautiful.

As we walked around the parks I took mental notes of color combinations and patterns.  I have strange photos of tiles, floor design, murals and light fixtures.  If anyone noticed, they must have thought I was crazy pointing my camera down at the ground or standing six inches away from the wall and trying to focus on the hand-painted detail.  My poor family, always saying, "Where did Mom go? Oh, she's taking a picture."  What I really need to do is put together an album for all these inspiration shots.  A lot of them aren't very pretty photographs (too dark, too bright or out of focus), but all I'm after is recording this thing that inspired me.  When I go back through these pictures I can remember what it was about that detail that appealed to me.  So I wouldn't really call myself a photographer - I'm more like an explorer, a scientist or a surveyor taking notes and compiling a document of inspiration.  And it's not really worth sharing here because what inspires me isn't necessarily what might inspire you.  It's a very personal thing.  A collection of images that will get me one step closer to seeing my own creative visions.

But what's probably the greatest thing about Disneyland is just the fact that it is there.  That it began as this little concept in sketchbook - like so many of my ideas.  That after all these years it has become what it's become.  Yeah, it's magical.  And as much as I'd love to get season passes and go every month, I think it's important to hold back and go once a year.  Preserve that magic.  I don't want to get tired of it.  I like that I still get excited about going and I want the boys to feel the same way. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Japanese-inspired hanging mobile for the baby nursery

 I've always loved Echino Fabric by the Japanese designer Etsuko Furuya.  It was so much fun finding coordinating prints and colors for this Japanese-inspired hanging mobile for the baby nursery.  Aren't these prints fun?  Car, scooter and bicycle seems like great decor for a baby boy's room.  

And on this mobile I decided not to distress the edges like I've done on my previous mobiles.  Once I sanded the edges I liked the look of the woodgrain.  I think it gives the mobile a more modern feel.  This actually got me thinking about all the different types of wood I could work with.  Currently I'm working through a pile of reclaimed cedar that was left over from building our fence.  I've had it stacked in the garage for years and it feels so great to be finally using it.  I couldn't bring myself to throw away perfectly good wood... even though, at the time, I had no idea what I'd do with it all.  So once my stash is depleted, I'll have to experiment with some other kinds of wood.  Maybe Poplar?  We'll see!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

making baby mobiles: new wood mobiles in the Etsy shop

 I've had the constant aroma of sawdust on my clothes, in my hair and practically all over the house.  I started making one of my wood baby mobiles last month for a custom order and realized that it is the perfect combination of everything I love to do.  I really enjoy being out in the garage - my woodshop - shaping wood, sanding it and bringing out the natural beauty of the wood grain.  And then I bring all my pieces into the studio where I sort through my growing collection of fabric and paper to piece together the perfect combination of colors and prints.  It's a lot like quilting, without the time-consuming process of actually sewing a quilt.  (I still have my Christmas Quilt sitting on my work table patiently waiting to be completed!)  Once I've made my final selections the real fun begins - decoupage!  It's just like arts and crafts hour in school.  Glob on the Mod Podge and watch how the fabric or paper magically seems to become one with the wood block.  After this step I get a little impatient.  I hate waiting for the Mod Podge and then the varnish to dry.  I'm always extremely anxious to start stringing all the pieces together to see how it comes together.

While in the middle of waiting, I was brainstorming new mobile designs and I decided to try adding some of my drawings to the mobiles.  Naturally, my first try at this included my flying animals.  This mobile still has a few decoupaged blocks to add color.

I especially love using fabrics designed by Heather Bailey, Amy Butler, Erin McMoris and Anna Maria Horner.  You'll find that I use a lot of orange prints.  I'm all over the orange.  Every once and awhile I try to put together a color palette with pinks because I know nurseries for baby girls tend to lean in this direction.  But I'll take oranges and greens any day.

But the mobile I'm very excited about is one I just finished last night.  This is my "Pacific Blue" mobile with drawings of kelp and sea turtles.  The starfish are decoupaged with fabric, but I've hand painted some detail to make them look like starfish. 

And now that I've figured out a way to put my drawings on wood, I'm anxious to continue experimenting.  I like how you still see the wood grain through the solid color.  I think my next mobile will be more girly with a collection of all the different kinds of flowers I've drawn in my sketchbook.  I'm on a roll now.  I love the smell of sawdust and Mod Podge in the morning!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

flavor packed super bowl party: third course

 And finally, sweet and sour meatballs.  This recipe called for diced shallots, ginger, water chestnuts as well as some bread crumbs and egg whites.  Cooked them up in a frying pan with a spray of olive oil and then served drizzled with sweet and sour sauce.  I added some sesame oil to the meat before rolling into balls.  I love sesame oil!  Nothing has more flavor than a teaspoon of sesame oil. 

And I think that'll do it.  The game is almost over so I think this kitchen is closed.  Maybe some popcorn later.  I can't believe I can still think of eating something, but, yes, popcorn sounds really delicious!

flavor packed super bowl party: second course

Boneless Baked Buffalo "Wings"

Here's How:
I marinated sliced chicken breasts in a mixture of 3 Tablespoons apple-cider vinegar, 2 Tablespoons chicken broth and 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce for about 20 minutes.  Then I added 1 beaten egg before dredging each "wing" in seasoned bread crumbs.  These were baked on a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil (the "wings" themselves were also given a good spray of olive oil) in a 350-degree oven until done.  The dip was made from 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, 1/2 cup plain fat-free greek yogurt and a Tablespoon of fat-free sour cream.  I'm amazed at how spicy these suckers are for only marinating 20 minutes in the hot sauce marinade!

flavor packed super bowl party: first course

Trying something new this year.  A grown-up super bowl party.  Oh let me count the times that we've noshed on queso and chips and beer and some kind of fried deliciousness.  But now we're actually thinking about what we put into our bodies.  Trying to be healthy - but while also enjoying good flavors.  So for today's Super Bowl, I'll be serving a series of munchies that we won't have to feel too guilty about.  The idea is to keep our tastebuds happy with a variety of fantastic flavor throughout the afternoon without filling up on greasy, cheesy over-indulgence.  To start...

Fire Feta Dip with Baked Pita Chips

Here's How:
Sliced some whole wheat pita, then sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic powder, pepper and chili powder.  These baked in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes (or until crunchy).  I used this recipe for Volcano Feta (I call it "Fire Feta" because that's what Daphne's calls it).  Yum!

Next up...

Boneless Baked Buffalo "Wings"

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

a pirate party for five-year old finnegan

As soon as the New Year began, so did preparations for a pirate party.  This was such an easy theme for a party.  I found so many great ideas online - check out all my resources below.  It was a beautiful Southern Californian day and the entire crew of scallywags had a yo-ho good time.

The Birthday boy.

We jumped,

we drank,

we munched (Pirate's Booty, of course... or as Finn calls it, "Popcorn Booty"),

we crafted,

we dined,

and we celebrated.

It was a perfect, pirate party.

Now, let me give credit where credit is due.  The pirate party decor (bunting, cupcake wrappers and utensil decorations) were printables from Cottage Industrialist.  I copied the pirate cookies from The Cookie Mama.  And the kits for decorating pirate hats were from Oriental Trading.  These kits were great and we have hundreds of stickers left over, so the pirate fun will continue.