Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Slumber

It is the last day of November.

This drawing was made today, and is called 'November Slumber'
(6 by 7 inches original ink)

It is reminiscientof my drawing 'July Dream' from several years ago. It will be available in the original art shop.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We're in the Etsy Childrens Gift Guides for the Holidays!

Thank you Etsy!
It's on page 5, but our Alien Monster Dolls made it into the Gift Guide (which their editors pick.)

See them in action!

Sluggish around here? No not at all!

Custom slug order for JB - here they are!

One is a little longer than the other and has a bigger mouth - but every toy has its own unique personality, even when they come from the same pattern!

Sluggish? Actually we've been quite busy!

Our Thanksgiving was simple, at home and relaxing. We had a 'traditional pepperoni pizza' as CarrieK said. We took Esme up to see Grandma and Grandpa for about an hour, but she was more interested in tromping about their house getting into things than actually visiting (she is one after all). We went home and made pizza and watched a movie, then tired Esme entirely out so she would go to sleep early. I had to work on Black Friday at 6 am. That actually wasn't so bad, but then I have five years of experience under my belt and I didn't have to open the doors -- that poor guy in New York!

Slug with carrot
He has finally come back from St.Louis
He'll be in the shop

The toys all came back finally from the Crammed Organisms show in St.Louis. Some of them were just a little worse for wear. It took them a long time to turnaround the shipping (which I had to pay for both ways and that sucked) and they didn't do very well on getting pictures of things while they were at the show. I saw Bumblephant in just one photo out of the twenty some they took. I was glad to be invited to what was a wonderful and original idea but was kind of left wanting for more. Maybe they'll do better next year, as this was their first try at anything this large.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A philosophy of making and buying handmade

I love handmade, and not just the things I make myself. I buy handmade olive-oil soap on a regular basis, but usually don't buy knitted or sewn things that I could make myself. I would like to sometimes, and instead I say 'no you can make that' and usually end up buying something cheap and not well made at all as a replacement. I'm rethinking that.

I see something really cool on a website, like a pair of baby slippers or a toddler play quilt and know if I took the time I could come out with something just as good - out of my own materials etc. etc... But then I don't do it, because I really don't have the time! I make so many things for my own handmade shop I don't take out the time to make things I would like to use myself.

So, I have to get on the ball here. I either buy those cool things and support my handmade crafting friends, or I actually get down to the knitty gritty (sometimes it's knitty, usually not) and make the item myself, and USE it.

This blanket was inspired by one of those cool things I saw online - just some pretty nice fabric that was made into a toddler blanket. But the only special thing about it was the lady had chosen really nice fabric. I had all this 'recycled' fabric lying around and started putting it together. Some of the squares came from a sample book of curtain fabric someone gave me - and the rest was from a box of upholstery remnants we traded for last year in our Ebay store. It became a pretty little quilt that is being used in our house as 1.) footwarmer and 2.) hide and seek blanket for Esme. It's quite warm and also very funny when Esme grabs it and puts it over her head asking to play her game with us.

Some of the things I'm considering buying handmade:
wrist warmers and baby slippers

I keep trying to make them and ending up with half-finished or ripped out projects. I'm just not that good of a knitter and have had such a hard time keeping on those yarny projects to get them finished. I've tried to make Esme a pair of felt or knitted shoes since she was BORN and haven't come out with anything wearable.

I love slipper socks from Etsy seller TheCrocodileRock but am still trying to make a pair for Esme -- not sure if I'll succeed and her feet are growing so fast it's hard to keep up!

UDPATE: I have contacted TheCrocodileRock and asked her to make a custom order for us - in process of making choices! YAY!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Esme Cuteness

Here are some pictures we took yesterday - it was a cute day.

Esme's hair is almost long enough for these clips to stay in

She has taken to sitting in her booster chair when she is hungry and sometimes just to watch a movie when it's on

Mark took this photo of me sewing on our 'Surreal Fish' plush toy.

The last time we drew crayons with Esme I drew a fish that looked like this - and saved the drawing to try to make a toy out of it.

Then he took a turn showing it off too ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Random News

Esme went to her 1 year check-up (a bit late, but insurance had to be switched) and everything was good. She won't get more immunizations until 15 months.

A neighbor came by and told us while he was out hunting with friends they found our Kelba. They knew she was our dog, and came to tell us. She had been shot, a while ago, in the deep woods about five miles from here. We're sad but not sure what, if anything, to do about it. She was the one dog who could climb over the top of our six foot fence, even when we put wire on the top of it - and when she didn't come back that one morning we were pretty sure of what had happened.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama Plan

The news says Obama plans to rebuild infrastructure in America to help with the economic crisis, job losses and to help lay a foundation for the future. I'm not really the political type - but that sounds like a good idea. Paying American people to put work into their country that will last, like roads, bridges, trees, parks etc... just might be part of the answer. At least we will have something when we are done - unlike the plan to hand lots of cash over to corporations. And the corporations will get some of the money anyway - because where are all the materials and machinery needed for these projects going to come from? Just my two cents.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On My Desk

On My Desk with Kootoyoo is ending, so here is one more shot of what was on my desk when it ended. Thanks Kootoyoo even though I have been so busy lately I have not posted in a while. :)

A doll for a one year old girl's Christmas present.
Not my little girl though!

It's been fun playing!

Here is the dolly all finished.
The little girl has glasses so her dolly does too.

Esme's Crew

Esme and her crew
hanging out, thinking up what trouble to get into next.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Sippy cup

Esme has almost completely refused to drink formula anymore - and now it's real milk in a sippy cup and no more bottle either (unless all the sippy cups are in the dishwasher).

Happy girl!

Most of the time Esme is smiley, but lately she has been quite the brat with her teething and mommy being busy so much when I'm home. I have so many toys to make! I spend lots of time playing puzzles, chasing her around, reading books, giving baths, mealtime etc.. but sometimes she just can't bear to be stuck in her playpen when Mommy is sewing.

Hanging out with Dad

Mark hangs out on the bed and reads books often and she likes to come up and crawl around and 'smushface' on the pillows etc... Mark often has to keep hold of one leg just to make sure she doesn't dive off unexpectedly.

Unhappy girl :(
crying because she can't have the camera

She wants to copy everything we do and be in on the fun. Being told 'No' is about the worst thing in the world for her and she has a temper. We're holding firm though. 'Yes we know you're mad. No, you're not getting/doing (X)' We try to just ignore her tantrum and go about what we were doing. If she really gets unreasonable we distract her by reading a book, singing a song, going to another room etc..

Completely exhausted, she fell asleep on the shelf like this for a full ten minutes before the dogs woke her up

Friday, November 14, 2008

Local Fabric store treasure trove found in McKenzie, TN!

I was told by a customer where I work that there was a fabric store in McKenzie, a town very close by. I was so surprised! Robertson's Decorating Center is located on Highway 423 in McKenzie, TN, not far from Paris and Huntingdon. It has remnants of thousands of types of upholstery, decorator and bedding fabric. I took Esme there today and she ran all over with me while I looked at the various remnants and rolls of fabric in several rooms. They also had trim, ribbon, pillow forms and lining fabrics. I am amazed this store was in my backyard and I had never heard of it. By the time Mark came back from the feed store Esme was very tired and ready for home! She was rewarded for being such a good girl by a hamburger of her very own for dinner tonight.

I will definitely be back there soon to buy more. Now to see what I can do with the lovely thick cotton fabrics I purchased there today.

On another note: I have orders rolling in for the handmade toy shop and am being kept quite busy!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saying goodbye to furry friends

I hate to dole out bad news, but now two things have happened and I'll just go on and say goodbye to both of our furry friends at once.


It's been over a week since we saw Gypsy, the black kitten from Pogo's litter. Is it bad to say I'm glad we kept two kittens? Mitzi, the yellow striped girl kitten, is still here and bouncey as ever. They were learning how to hunt with their Mom we guess and one night something happened to our tortoiseshell kitten. Pogo didn't seem too concerned. Mitzi cried 'I'm lonely' for days. Goodbye Gypsy, sorry to see you go.

Kelba, 5 years old
bluetick coonhound through-and-through

While I'm dealing out the bad news, we've also lost our Kelba just recently. For several days she was grumpy and curled up on her couch, but that wasn't entirely unlike her. She would have her bouts of grumpishness. But as long as she still got up for dinner and went outside and came back we usually didn't worry. Then one morning she didn't come back. We looked along the roads and called for her, but it isn't like her to not come back for more than one night in a row. After all, it was her job to call the morning wakeup call with a roundabout howl. Mark holds out the hope that maybe a hunter (it's rabbit hunting season here) picked her up with their dogs, or worse maybe they shot her when she was fighting with their dogs. :( We'll probably never know living out in dense woods like this.

Still with us
Pogo giving 'cat lessons' to Mitzi

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Storyteller's Mask original drawing

'The Storytelling Mask' (SOLD)
by Marie Lamb (gallery of work)

An original drawing from 2004, made in the same 'scribble some and see what shows up' method as most of my work. This was done at the same time I had my gallery show at North Dakota State University. It was one of the pieces that didn't get into that show because I just had too much work to show at once!

Original ink and prismacolor drawing. Now available at the PenStrokes Original Art Shop at Etsy.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Esme at one and simple baby toys

I haven't been able to take many 'spectacular' pictures lately but I'm posting the ones I have taken a few days ago. Esme and I were playing in her play area, with all the toys and books etc...

Esme has a lot of toys, but the kicker is only one of them is electronic. I really don't like all the electronics in baby toys I see on the store shelf. Why does a ball need to beep and have batteries? Can't a puzzle just be regular wooden pieces without magnets and electronic 'You did It' alarms going off when it gets in the right place? For Esme, the best baby toys require Mom or Dad as a major component of the fun. And then we aren't playing too, she is trying to remember what we did together and try it again herself.

Here is how Esme plays at one:

We have several plastic shelves she climbs on to look out the windows. She has fun with the gates too, hanging things over them and sticking things through them - and piling toys up on the bed from the floor and dragging them back down again. She digs in the drawers she can reach and puts lots of stuff in there only to pull it back out. When we let her run all over the house she has certain 'hot spots' of stuff she plays with - our hardware bucket full of carabiners, a calculator, a bucket from the kitchen, shampoo bottles in the bathroom etc... and lots of magnetic letters on the fridge.

She loves board books, paging through them herself and pointing at things while babbling. She has several large and small balls to bounce, roll and carry. She has a sorter box with shaped blocks that is a current favorite and today I gave her a small amount of large wooden blocks to try to stack and build with.


Coffee Can: Yes, a clean metal coffee can (watch for sharp edges, this one doesn't have any). She puts things in it and dumps them out. She turns it upside down and bangs on the bottom like a drum. She bangs other things on it and makes a different noise. She rolls it. She picks it up and drops it making a pleasant 'GONG' noise.

Fly Swatter: Don't ask me why but she loves this toy. It is just an average 96 cent fly swatter made of plastic but she often carries it around. She 'pushes', 'slaps' and 'taps' things with it to see what will happen. In adult terms she doesn't get much accomplished but in baby terms it is a great exploration tool.

Sleigh bells: I bought a leather doorhanger that has big sleigh bells sewn onto it. It is hanging up on the gate and she comes up and has great fun ringing it.

She has lots of other miscellaneous things but right now she is most interested in seeing new things (exploring), hearing songs, reading and looking through books, banging things on other things to see what they sound like and sorting things. I'm not always sure what logic she is using when she sorts - but she gets very busy about it.

We also play games like 'Where is Esme' when we cover her (or us) up with a blanket, shirt etc. and 'Chase/Follow' and simple things like 'bring that to mommy' or 'baby hug!' She loves any kind of music and watches movies intently when we put them in. We don't play the TV or music 24/7 - just when we are going to watch something. I don't like the idea of a TV as a babysitter. In fact, it's a little scary how intent she can get on a movie and forget to do anything else!

She can reach the THIRD shelf up now without standing on anything - and when she does stand on something she can reach all the way to the back of it. Her hair is getting so long but I can't capture any of it yet to put it back out of her eyes!

New Drawings Artwork in the Shop

New drawings in my original artwork shop
Click here to visit

Titles: (couterclockwise from top right)
A Gift from Fox
Foxbird (Fox and Bird at once)
There is No Cure for this Sickness
Rabbit Mask

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Esme and her Grandparents

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! :)

Yesterday Esme's Grandparents Henry and Irene came over (Mark's parents). They don't live very far away. We got some pictures while they were here :)

I'm hoping to bring Esme up to see them today if they are home. She likes to toddle around their house and talk to their dogs, and grab magazines etc... It's great fun to watch her show them everything she can do.

We got Esme a pad of paper and some big crayons for her birthday, as well as a little piano that is a lot like a xylophone. She has been having lots of fun with all of it - even though she can only play with the crayons when we play too (for now).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Esme is One!

Esme is one year old today!

She is growing up to be such a big girl! She is amazing us constantly with how much she can do and figure out.

She can put several of her sorting shapes in the box, 'reads' her board books and tries to copy many things we do. She knows her socks and shoes go on her feet, but can't get them on yet by herself. She comes up behind us with her brush and tries to brush our hair.

Today we went to the library and she played with several large peg puzzles. We ordered her one from Amazon :) Grandpa and Grandma came down to say hi before we went to vote. They gave her a pretty little baby doll for a birthday gift and said to come up and see them later in the week.

I've been working a lot of hours at work, 5 days on and 3 days off for the past few weeks. It hasn't left me a lot of time for other things - because when I get home I want to spend time with Mark and Esme. There have also been several toy orders for Christmas so I'm trying to get those done as well!

Alien Monsters are featured in Etsy Treasury

Alien Monster pairs

An Etsy Treasury 'Cute Monsters Attack!' has featured our Big Brother and Junior Alien Monster pair :) Thanks TassieWashie!