Work of Art

The outside of the journal cover featuring bird and cherry tree silhouettes.

The outside of the journal cover featuring bird and cherry tree silhouettes.

Ever make something so gorgeous, so just beyond the skills you know that you don’t want to give it away?

Here it is! A new journal cover made with Japanese import bird fabric and Amy Butler prints from the Belle and Lotus collections. I’m so excited with how it turned out.

The inside of the journal cover.

The inside of the journal cover.

Over the weekend my friend bestowed this journal cover on her sister as a birthday gift. I told her if she doesn’t like it, to give it back because I’d keepin’ it!

The sister had requested this a bit ago and asked for a zipper closure rather than the loop or Velcro I’d been using. In my mind putting it a zipper was INCREDIBLY hard. So I put it off.

My first zipper!

My first zipper!

As the deadline approached, I finally fished out my sewing machine manual. And I fished out the zipper foot. Who knew I even owned such an animal?

And guess what? It wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I figured out how to sandwich one side of the zipper inside the seam and the other side of the zipper in a flap of fabric.

Along the way, I discovered the other sewing machine feet that I never used and all the cool things I can do with my sewing machine. Part of my machine slids off to sew sleeves! And I can drop the feet for darning and freehand sewing!

Now my sewing machine manual, along with Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing are by my nightstand for before-bed reading. I’m so excited by all the techniques I can try with my sewing machine. If only I’d read the manual when I got the sewing machine 13 years ago!

But back to the birdie journal cover…

Velcro allows you to keep the top open and slide in a side-fold journal or keep the side closed and slide in a top-fold journal.

Secure the Velcro along the side and you can slide in a top-fold journal.

Attach the Velcro along the top and you can slide in a side-fold journal.

Attach the Velcro along the top and you can slide in a side-fold journal.

Not only does it have a zipper closure, but I used Velcro to develop a pocket that accommodates both top- and side-fold journals or art pads. I have another idea to improve upon this, but that’s for the next batch of art journals.

A little fancing stitching on the business card and sticky-note pockets.

A little fancy stitching on the business card and sticky-note pockets.

My friend’s sister also requested a business card pocket. I included another pocket below it and a pen and pencil pocket.

I’m secretly hoping the receiver of this gift doesn’t like it so I can keep it. But apparently my friend might snag it first. I guess I’d better get back in the sewing room and make a few more.

********Only 3 more days to leave a comment so you can be entered in the drawing for great prizes from Red-Tail Designs! ***********

A Seuss-ish Celebration


The Whacky Waffle Cake

It was a whacky day, a whacky day, indeed,
As we celebrated the 6 years of life of our little prodigy.

A birthday, yes, a birthday for a girl learning to read,
Who discovered the magic of Dr. Seuss’s rhyming scheme.

So her Momma decide this day could not be ordinary,
But needed flair and fun and something quite extraordinary.

While papa sat reading Happy Birthday To You! at the family breakfast table,
Momma was in the kitchen baking waffles and getting syrup of the maple.

And while Papa read these silly, funny words of the Seuss,
Momma was preparing a cake quite obtuse.

Because a Seuss-ish celebration deserved more than a cake,
It deserved a whacky, wonderful waffle cake
That only a whacky wonderful Momma could make.

Okay, enough rhyming already!

Yes, it was birthday time at the Newquist household..yet again. We’d been celebrating since Sunday with dinners and gifts. My 6-year-old, who is learning how to read, has taken a liking to Dr. Seuss, so I thought a Seuss-ish celebration in order.

Side view of the Whacky Waffle Cake

Side view of the Whacky Waffle Cake. The image is blurry because the cake is probably falling.

The best part was the Whacky Waffle cake I conceived–not well, I might add, because it kept falling over. But no one cared. It was made with frozen waffles (cooked, of course), whipped cream (from a can!), plus strawberries and pomegranates.


My read husband his childhood copy of  Happy Birthday To You! by Dr. Seuss.

The Great Birthday Bird came by…

The Great Birthday Bird has quite the hooked beak, you know.

The Great Birthday Bird has quite the hooked beak, you know.

And delivered a few gifts, such as a new pet. We didn’t have time to go to the Official Katroo Birthday Pet Reservation. Plus, with dogs and cats and fish and turtles, I really didn’t think we had the room to house a pet from the Katroo Birthday Pet Reservation, not the smallest nor the tallest. So instead we went for a new Littlest Pet Shop horse.


We didn’t make it through the whole story because the cake kept falling over and the kids really just wanted the whipped cream out of the can (I never buy that).

My 6-year-old thought the Seuss theme, plus her own digital camera (which is now making a living record of our lives) made it the “Best birthday ever!”

Honestly, though, I can probably save myself a lot of time and effort next year by giving her some gifts and a spray can of whipped cream to eat on everything!

Whacky Waffle Cake


20 frozen waffles (yes, frozen. Save yourself the trouble of making them.)

4-8 wooden skewers

1 can whipped cream

fruit, such a s strawberries, blueberries or bananas (as garnish and to claim this breakfast is actually nutritious)


Bake waffles according to package directions.

Stack a few waffles haphazardly.

Plunge in wooden skewers in different directions.

Pile fruit on top of waffles.

Slide more waffles onto skewers haphazardly.

Embellish with more whipped cream than necessary.

Quick! To the table! Before it falls over! Don’t impale yourself on skewers trying to save the cake. Better yet, trim the skewers if you have time.

Watch the whole thing topple over.

Eat off the table with hands like heathens (more whipped cream, of course)

Serves: A bunch o’ whacky waffle eaters from Katroo or Easton or Macungie.

*****And remember: Just a few more days for you to leave a comment to be entered to win prizes from Red-Tail Designs!*****


Fun prizes you can win!

There is still time to enter the Birthday Giveaway! Just a leave a comment between now and March 31, 2009, and you’re automatically entered to win one of these Red-Tail Designs creations.

My newest product: adjustable horse hair bracelet

1. Adjustable Horse Hair Bracelet: Brown and white horse hair are braided together to create a swirled effect. Copper rings accent the bracelet and make it adjustable so it will fit any size wrist.


This horse hair bracelet is my newest product and I’m hoping to make some more of these this spring.


2. Galloping Horses Art Journal: Horses on the outside and pencils, paper and stickers on the inside. Take along art supplies where ever you go. My son and I were drawning while waiting at the DMV the other day.


The watercolor pencils, plus a paint brush, let you scribble away or add some water to create watercolor effects. The journal closes with a leather strap and magnetic clasp.

prize1Good luck!

Impressionism in 8 minutes

The kids re-create Monet's waterlillies using felt board and felt cutouts.

The kids re-create Monet's waterlillies using felt board and felt cutouts.

Here’s the art history class I wish I had in college:

..and now on to Impressionism. There’s a girl dancing…a field of hay…a vase of pretty flowers…some waves…and…we’re done. Now let’s go paint something.

The horse sculpture outside the Allentown Art Museum.

The horse sculpture outside the Allentown Art Museum.

That was the art history lesson I had Sunday with my kids when we went to see Monet to Matisse: French Masterworks from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens at the Allentown Art Museum. Just like me, they didn’t feel the need to know exactly who painted what in exactly what year. They just knew if they liked it or not.

My daughter wanted to see Degas’ paintings (girl = ballerinas!), and she recognized the waterlilies of Monet that were featured in the Artways gallery. A few weeks ago serendipity led me to borrow The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt from our local library. We’ve since read storybooks about Matisse and Degas from the same author. They were a great set up to the exhibit.

To my 2-year-old son, they were all rather ordinary pictures until we got to the 3oth Juried Show exhibit and Steve Scheuring‘s oil painting “Crash” spoked to his little tiny car-lovin’, truck-drivin’ soul. An entire painting of bright Hot Wheels! Does it get any better than that when you’re 2?

Considering my kids are so young, I think they held out pretty long exploring Impressionism. Mind you, I wasn’t expecting to stand about with them discussing use of color or contemplating brush strokes. But my 5-year-old would have enjoyed the paintings a little longer if she wasn’t so focused on getting to the children’s interactive gallery. That’s what they enjoyed the most, though: painting scarves, using felt to make water lily gardens like Monet and painting with scissors like Matisse.

I’m hoping to go back to the Allentown Art Museum and actually look at the paintings before the Impressionist exhibit leaves on May 3. Maybe I’ll even get to read about the paintings and relearn all that art history shelved in the back of my brain.

Products of a Snow Day

About 6 inches on the ground. A day off from school. Here’s what we made of the snow day Monday.

Left to her own devices my daughter comes up with the cutest stuff, like this spring chick. I’m encouraging more glue useage instead of taping everything. “Look, the beak opens and the wings move,” she said.snday1

A few artist books done. Experimenting with pencil pockets of different shapes. The red flowers on white background  (journal at bottom of photo) were snipped from a shirt my daughter outgrew years ago, but the shirt was to worn out to pass on to cousins.


Steamy cups of homemade hot chocolate after throwing snow balls, shoveling sidewalks and playing with snowy dogs.


Books read when we piled into bed for an afternoon snuggle. The kids were given a one time only offer: eat Smarties in mom’s bed while she read to them. I was sipping a vanilla chai.


“Asparagus Eggs” (as we call it), our favorite Martha Stewart recipe. Delicious, nutritious dinner in a flash.


Snow days are such a pleasant treat!


For those of you who couldn’t see the link to the Martha Stewart recipe, here it is, from the May/June 2003 Everyday Food magazine

Egg and Toast Ideas

Serves 4

  • 1/2 tablespoon softened butter
  • 4 slices (1 inch thick) hearty white bread
  • 4 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Asparagus, Fontina, and Dijon Mustard: Divide 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 8 stalks blanched asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths, and 1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese among toasts.
  • Ham and Gruyere: Divide 4 ounces thinly sliced ham and 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese among toasts.
  • Tomato, Cheddar, and Canadian Bacon: Divide 2 chopped plum tomatoes, 4 ounces diced Canadian bacon, and 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese among toasts.
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread 1/2 tablespoon softened butter over one side of each of 4 slices (1 inch thick) hearty white bread. Place each piece of bread, buttered side down, on a baking sheet.
  2. Using your fingers, create a well in the center of the bread, being careful not to tear it.
  3. Break 1 large egg into each well, keeping the yolk intact; cover bread with desired topping, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake until the cheese has melted and the egg is set but slightly runny when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Check the toasts frequently because eggs set quickly.