Sunday, December 20, 2009

adorable ornaments to make on a snowy day

Yesterday, while the weather outside was frightful, I finished up my ornaments for my CCD class (which of course, got snowed out! But of course, if I hadn't made them, we would have gotten 2 inches). The Nativity ornaments were for my class of Kindergartners and the Angels are for Paul's class of 1st grade girls.

I was inspired for the Nativity ornaments by a craft my twins had made in Mrs. Messina's class last year. They were so simple and so lovely, and I felt like they really captured the essence of what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. The kids painted everything themselves, which made it so much sweeter. These both would be fun to do with kids, letting them personalize and get as creative as they want.

You could paint these any way you like, and if I had more time I would have gotten way more detailed with them (arms on the angels, a star at the top of the "barn", maybe some glitter.... though I did add glitter to baby Jesus. He deserves some glitter!

How to make Nativity ornaments:

Use the hacksaw to trim the legs of Mary and Joseph to height. You can see in the picture at the top that Mary's are cut almost all the way, and Joseph's are slightly longer. You don't want to make them too long or you won't be able to make the top of the triangle close. Baby Jesus is made from cutting one of Mary's discarded pieces of wood in half. Use the sandpaper to smooth all rough edges. Paint all pieces as desired.

When dry, hot glue a bundle of spanish moss to the center of the large popsicle stick, and then add more hot glue and Baby Jesus. Glue Mary and Joseph to either side, making sure first that the other popsicle sticks will be able to meet at the top to make a triangle. Glue both sides of the other sticks to form the triangle, holding them until they set. Turn the triangle upside down to glue the top together. Tie a loop with your twine or ribbon, and personalize. You're done!

How to make Angel ornaments:

Paint a face and hair on your doll pin. When dry, get out your gold paint and paint on a halo and a band around the neck.

For the wings: cut both ends off a large popsicle stick on an angle, so that they form a heart when placed on top of each other. Paint both sides gold. (I also think these would look lovely painted a deep red, or in rainbow colors, or sprayed silver, or... you know. Have fun with it!)

Cut your doily into quarters, and then cut a semi-circle shape out of the top of the pie shape. Put hot glue all around the neck of the doll pin, and place the center of the doily piece in the front under the face. Press and glue all around (doily will overlap in back).

To glue on wings: lay wings on table. Add glue. Press twine/ribbon loop to hang ornament, and then quickly press back of angel on top. Hold until it sets, then let dry flat until it cools.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

christmas present work in progress: angela's giraffes

I've been so crazy busy plugging along that I haven't even gotten to scan in or keep up with it all! So here is Angela's giraffes in progress. Angela was originally supposed to have a painting of Beethoven, but after looking at reference material with her, she started to get madder and madder that she couldn't find anything that looked exactly like what was in her mind. Hearing that I could take cues from different pictures and put them together only got her angrier so a diversion was needed.

Enter Panda Cam!

From there it was a short step to Panda Kopanda (or Panda! Go! Panda!), and for a while she wanted Papa Panda and Baby Panda with candy canes... and somehow we got to giraffes. I don't quite know how that happened, but I'm so glad that she chose something fun and relatively easy. She has a thing for giraffes (and zebras, and ponies, and unicorns, and unipegs, and in general cute four-footed beings).

I think this is close to being finished, just want to go over it all and give it the details. I think I'm going to look to Richard Scarry for inspiration on this one.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I've finally gone and started a Twitter account. If you want to hear the bits and comments that are too small for a post, I'd love it if you'd join me!

Here goes: (Easy enough to remember, right?)

And - if you have an account and want me to follow you, leave a comment and introduce yourself! I am especially interested in following other artists, parents, musicians, and those who are generally creative. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

christmas present work in progress: lightning

Beginning of Peter's present. Very rough drawing, but it'll come to life once I can start splashing that paint around.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

christmas present: samus is done!

That's Miss Samus if you're nasty.

What really surprised me was that full-on body armor is actually easier to draw - and paint - than Cinderella's dress. My guess is that simple is harder. That and I didn't feel right about throwing a heap of glitter on this one.

Up next: Lightning McQueen gets his turn and we'll see how well a car translates in watercolour.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Now at your library: lots of fairies, coffee, and glitter.

Oh hi. I didn't notice you there, I was so busy reading this book about Cezanne and sitting under MY PAINTINGS!!!

It's been quite an exciting day! I will post more photos soon, (and larger) but in the meantime, can you recognize any paintings that are up there? Every one of them has been on this site.

Meanwhile, if you're in the area: Westfield Memorial Library.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

christmas present: cindy's done!

So the first present is done - Cinderella's all ready to go to the ball! I was almost done, when I had a brainwave.

She needed some glitter!

It's hard to tell from the scan, but in person, she's downright sparkly.

(Note: this painting will not be available as a print.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

making the most of it

I'm a little bit nervous this morning as I get ready to go pick up 15 or so paintings I dropped off to be framed in October. I'm treating my dabs and splashes of watercolour (and coffee, and glitter) as Art, and I kind of don't know how to handle it. When I first met with the framer, and we were trying out mats and things, and I saw everything laid out on the table, I actually had a moment where I thought I was going to cry. It's the first time most of these paintings have been liberated from their sketchbooks where they get painted, scanned, posted here on the site, and then tucked away for what? - I don't know - safekeeping?

But while pretty much everything that's getting framed has been on the site, where people who like me/art/fairies/whatever have seen it, I'm now going to be showing it in public. Which I haven't done for a really long time. Before the art show earlier this year, I hadn't hung anything publicly for about 20 years.

This weekend we'll be hanging all of these at my library, which is one of my favorite places in the world (I say this as I sip coffee out of my mug: "It's your library... make the most of it" with a line drawing and the name of our library on it. I kid you not.) And that, while it's exciting, also scares the pants off of me. But in a good way.

I'm not hoping for anything from this. Nothing past hanging them up and seeing what happens. But to enjoy that they'll be displayed... hopefully for others to enjoy too.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

jingle jingle yeah!

Getting into the holiday spirit... I seriously love this. Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

christmas present work in progress: Samus + Cindy

Wow, a month of posting every day went by pretty fast! I'm going to keep posting as much as I can, hopefully still every day.

Stick with me?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

christmas present work in progress: Samus

A painting of Samus from the video game Metroid for my oldest godson, Joey. Darn that body armor is complicated! I remember what a big deal it was in the original game to find out at the end that Samus - the character who had been kicking butt and defeating baddies - takes off her helmet and is revealed to be a woman.

So that's how I'm starting my holiday paintings... of a princess and a bounty hunter. Could it get any different than that?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

christmas present work in progress: cindy

Last year I didn't post anything I was working on for Christmas, but you know what, the recipients of these presents don't use the internet! So I think we're okay on the whole surprise thing.

Sketched in and waiting to get taped and painted: Cindy and some dancing mice.

Friday, November 27, 2009

mama.... mama? mama!

Taking a teeny break from drawing the Christmas paintings (Metroid is done, Cinderella partly so, will scan and post soon). In case you are not one of the many who've see this already and/or sent it to me, please enjoy... the Muppets doing Bohemian Rhapsody! There are over 70 Muppets, and I think each of them are used in precisely the right way (and you know I'm picky) It's especially delightful to hear good voices for Scooter and Dr. Teeth who were voiceless for so long. (Guide to which Muppet is where is here.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

in thanksgiving

To print out and share. And for before the meal, how awesome is this mix from NPR: Songs for Stuffing? Please pass me some of that Frim Fram Sauce....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

french toast girl holiday card extravaganza

Want to send some art? Now's your chance to have gorgeous cards to send out for the holidays and original artwork to keep for yourself, so you get to be both naughty and nice.

Choose 5 card sets and get an 8" x 10" print FREE!
Whether you're looking for something deep and thought-provoking, or artwork to just plain make you laugh, this special's for you! These two paintings are the ones I've gotten the most mail about: the thoughtful girl with a tree and two birds; and the one we like to just call "Fishies." Choose any combination of 5 card sets to send out and pick a print for yourself! Each print measures 8" x 10" and is printed on glossy stock with quality inks. Just let me know which print you want in the field marked "Additional Information."

All cards are professionally printed on glossy stock in full, luscious color. And each card shows one of my original watercolor and colored pencil paintings. Or if you just can't decide which to choose, there's an assorted multi-pack so you can have a little of everything.

Go see the cards and check out those prints right here at the French Toast Girl Shop.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

leafy art

On the day I made my leafy hat illo, the kids were creating some leaf fairies of their own:

Note the copy of Faerie-ality open for inspiration.

Sophie's fairy.

Angela's fairy. There were two others, one with a flying "V" leaf guitar.

Peter's leafy friend.

Now, looking at these photos, would you even know that there was a two-and-a-half-hour complete off-the-wall temper tantrum going on before this? I was so upset from the aftermath that I couldn't even make dinner and we had to order out. This was an act of trying to make peace after the storm...

Monday, November 23, 2009

the list

Last year's Christmas paintings (Hanukkah and New Year's too!) were such a hit, we're doing them again. This year, the requests have gotten more complex. Last year, I got things like "squirrels dancing" or "a soccer ball". This year, I have much more detailed instructions from my painting recipients, who range in age from 1 to 12. My nephew Joe even had his mom send me reference material and tell me exactly where everything goes! So it looks like tonight I will be working on his painting from Metroid: "He wants the planet painted in the background, with Samus on the left hand side and her ship in the sky." I like a boy who knows what he wants! :)

Also on this year's list are requests for:
- Beethoven - not a portrait, or playing the piano, he has to be standing around, doing nothing, Very clear on that.
- Cars - Lightning McQueen (and friends? I'll have to check)
- Cinderella - I'm trying to work in some mice and the coach too.
- A princess with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a turquoise dress, riding a brown horse through the countryside.
- A formal portrait of the beloved-and-on-his-way-to-becoming-Real Lambey
- A drum kit
- A black and white electric guitar
- Bunnies - the mother should be white and the baby pink, with hazel eyes.
- Dogs doing something interesting (playing poker? Nah, been done... )

And the answer to yesterday's joke: How did black eyed peas get their name?

They were fighting over the chick peas!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

bad joke of the day....

How did black eyed peas get their name?

Leave your answers below in the comments, I'll tell you the answer tomorrow!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Illustration Friday: Music

Four years ago, (and I can't believe it's been that long) I posted the companion piece to this CD cover as my Illustration Friday entry for "Cold". I like how they work together:

My husband is an amazing piano teacher, and I sing, so as you can imagine there are loads of opportunities for music and art to meet at our house. These are the covers of the music books we've done together... inside they're coloring books as well as having sheet music to play.

It's also occurred to me that for a girl who regularly posts about all different kinds of music and sometimes provides links to said music, I can't believe I've never had a label called "music" before! So this is the first. It's about time!

Friday, November 20, 2009


paints on carboard t.p. tubes?

That would be me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your apparent nonchalance belies the fact that you can only think of me

I just realized that I am more than halfway through the month, and I've really enjoyed it! I think I would like to keep this up as long as I can. This month has been especially nutty - most of the time I am drained from the all of the things that I do, caring for and giving my all to my family, and a certain small someone has demanded every second of my time. Which is now overflowing to the other two, who are totally picking up on the vibes and are of course affected by it and react in their own 5- and 6-year-old ways. This is what I'm getting from my youngest... something along these lines:

In any case, having to post each day is keeping me honest and letting me carve at least a little time for myself.

So, how are you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

does a body good

Check out this awesomeness. This is going on my fridge.

Then check out the newest from Mark Bittman, who is just so great. Very quick ones that caught my eye:
44. Autumn Rolls: Shred sweet potatoes or carrots and brussels sprouts or cabbage. Roll them up with fresh sage or mint and some sprouts in rice paper. (Add sliced shrimp if you like.) Make a dipping sauce of soy, garlic, grated or minced ginger and honey.

also 47.... has eggplant in it. :)

61. Cook a lot of chopped fennel in a skillet with butter until pretty much tender. Transfer to a baking pan and add milk, half-and-half or cream to about halfway up the fennel. Sprinkle with thyme and shaved pecorino, then bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until bubbly and thickened.

81. Tomato Pinwheels: Soak 1 cup dried tomatoes in hot water, drain and pulse in a food processor with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (add water or oil if necessary). Combine 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda with 4 tablespoons cold butter (use food processor or fingers). Stir in 3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk and gather the dough into a ball. Roll into a large rectangle on a floured surface, spread the tomatoes all over the dough and roll it up lengthwise. Cut the log crosswise into 1-inch slices, put them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until puffed and golden, 7 to 10 minutes.

89. Vegetable Crackers: Slice beets, sweet potatoes, plantains or parsnips or all of the above into 1/8-inch disks (a mandoline is helpful) and toss lightly in olive oil. Spread the slices on baking sheets, sprinkle with salt, pepper and, if you like, other seasonings and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. When browned, flip the chips over and bake for another 10 minutes or so.
Now I'm hungry...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

what I wore

Yesterday's outfit. Some accessories not pictured: halo, superhero cape, jet pack.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Illustration Friday: Unbalanced

Some scoffed and called the group "unbalanced" for their preference of wearing silly hats. I say, who are we to judge?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

time flies, again

One week ago... I made myself get away from the children, the computer, and the kitchen, and go paint instead. Yay paint!

One year ago... I had my first spread in Craft: Magazine! I am so sad there isn't a print version anymore, but I visit the site all the time, don't you? So inspiring. I was also making and painting Christmas presents from scratch, and it was so fun we're doing it again this year.

Two years ago... I did a craft fair. Would I ever do it again? Not the way I did it, no.

Five years ago... I was pretty depressed. It got better.

Ten years ago... I was waiting with the rest of the country to see if all the power would go out on New Year's Eve while we partied like it was 1999.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Cookie Monster is the only one teaching how to consume like an American!"

This is freakin' hysterical! Sorry for another video post, but this is too good to keep to myself.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grover the Hill
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Friday, November 13, 2009

40 years of awesome music

Rolling Stone has a great article highlighting some of the fantastic guest stars that have performed on Sesame Street over the years. A standout performance from my fave, Stevie Wonder:

Check out that kid rocking out in the beginning!

A couple of my favorites that weren't on there: James Taylor serenading Oscar with "Whenever I See Your Grouchy Face" and Feist's "1-2-3-4". But they did include Johnny Trash, so that's all good.

Need some more Stevie on Sesame Street? Crank this up:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

leaf lady

I love Fairie-ality. I would so happily wear anything from that book. And sadly, I spend most of my days in jeans and a big soft grey sweater! This leaf lady clearly doesn't have to do anything as mundane as pick the kids up at school, though. There must be a happy medium...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Yesterday, in the car, I was playing Abbey Road when Angela started contributing her own lyrics.

Something in the way she moves... Is like a pony in the water...

We all laughed a bunch, but Angela doesn't know how lucky she was to sing that because she's been driving me up the proverbial wall for the past few days and I've needed something positive to think about. I've mentioned before how nothing that works with the other kids works with her, and we're up against another one of those difficult phases where her prime goal seems to be to make everyone's lives miserable and to do it all with an evil grin. I have to get to the bottom of this, but for right now, I'm just so glad to have an evening with my paints, Glee, and a bag of potato chips.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

d'you know something, Schroeder? I think the way you play the piano is nice.

Cast photo from 1989, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown". I was Lucy, but my dress wasn't done for photo day so I'm in a sweatshirt and a skirt, which is one of the reasons I'm behind everyone else. My hair is large enough to be seen from space!

I'm in between Peppermint Patty and Sally, and no, no matter how much we requested it, they didn't make our Charlie Brown shave his head for the part.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Illustration Friday: Blur

Most of 2004 was a blur to me. I had a one-year old who had recently undergone surgery, and then had preemie twins who were born 10 weeks early and came home with heart/lung monitors. I had a day job. And, unsurprisingly, a large case of post-partum depression. I had days where the only way I got through them was the fact that I knew that later on, when the dishes were in the dishwasher and everyone was in bed for a while, that my paints were waiting for me. I seriously have huge dark patches in my memory about that time. But I remember the freedom in those paints.

"I learned, again and again, the lesson of creativity: the painting I make today, the drawing I do today, the poem I do today, is meant to save my life today."
~ Judy Collins, Singing Lessons

Sunday, November 08, 2009

amigurumi, part two, or, birthday lessons

Looking back over the summer, it's amazing how little I painted and how much I crocheted! I posted earlier about amigurumi and the bunnies I made for the new babies in our circle of friends. This post is about the second wave - my birthday presents. Not presents I got on my birthday, but the presents I gave to my family, on my birthday.

Let me explain.

One of my favorite illustrators is Tomie dePaola, not only for his gorgeous linework, luminous palette, and sense of humor, but also because of how his life and his art are so intertwined. If you are a fan, you know all about his family and heritage because so much of his work contains bits of his life; from his grandparents in "Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs" (I cry every time I read that book), the 26 Fairmount Avenue books, his own love of art and how it was nurtured as a child in "The Art Lesson", and his love of God in countless books, "The Clown of God" being one of my favorites. (And don't even get me started on Strega Nona. She rocks!)

I've been really enjoying Tomie's website where he shows new work but also reminisces about pretty much anything that strikes his fancy. I was struck by this story in particular, where it's his mother's birthday but she begins the tradition of giving to others to celebrate her special day.

"With that simple but magnificent gesture of giving all of us presents on her birthday, Flossie taught us the depth of the old cliché, "It is more blessed to give, than to receive." As the years went by, the real fun of each of our birthdays was not what we would GET, but what WE would GIVE."

The following are the presents I made for my kids for my birthday this summer:

For Peter, a turtle with a rainbow shell.

For Sophie, a finger puppet mushroom.

For Angela, a family of baby birds in a nest....

who went with this mama bird (already made).

Sophie loved her mushroom, but when she saw those baby birds, she just couldn't keep her hands off the tiniest one, and kept trying to sneak it out of the nest and take off with it! So I had to make her another bird, one she called "the teeniest bird of all." And that's the wee bird next to Angela's foot in the top photo.

Patterns for pretty much everything:
* Tiny Turtle
* Baby Birds in a Nest/Teeniest bird of all
* Mama Bird
* Happy Little Mushroom finger puppet

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Doodled while playing with the kids. Some faces from a "Famous Composers" workbook, because naturally, my kids know their Bach from their Beethoven and their Grieg from their Gershwin. I can't recall exactly, but I am pretty sure that lower right was Beethoven, I think bottom left is Clara Schumann, and big head guy in the middle might be Bach. All those wigs start to look the same after a while.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Artists: check this out!

I found this through LinkedIn... if this applies to you, go for it! Cards will be featured on Greeting Card Designer blog which has 400-500 visitors daily. Send submissions to:

The article says...
Christmas cards are the top selling cards of any category, and I'm writing an article on unusual Christmas cards for 2009.

Cards will be featured on this blog whose 400-500 readers a day include agents, editors, stores, and reps.

This is great opportunity & free promotion for you.

If you have a card you'd like to be considered for the article:

-Send jpg image of card to Christmas Card Article
-Send Artist's name (or company name)
-Send Artist Contact Information
-Include direct link to how we can purchase the card.
-Card cannot be a one-of-a-kind craft project. We must be able to purchase multiple copies of the card.

Deadline November 10th.
Article will be published in mid November.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

google-y eyes

Yesterday, the always fantastic Google Doodle celebrated a special event: the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. I was all set to post this morning about how yesterday's logo, featuring Big Bird's legs in place of the L, was lovely....

but should have been this instead (5 minute mockup by me):

But I should have known better! Google didn't let me down. Today's gorgeousness:

Okay, so if I can predict/design any others, I would work in Slimey as the L one day! Who would you want to see on the logo?

MUPPET NEWS FLASH: According to Muppet Central, there will be new logos every day through November 10th, with a "great surprise" at the end! Check out the thread here.

Even more awesomeness: different countries have their own Muppets from their casts of Sesame Street for their Google pages! Loving this! You can see them (so far) here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


On my calendar for today, courtesy of Angela. I love the motion to it, she's actively handing me a heart. And I'm especially proud of the way all the letters go the right way and none of them are upside down or backwards; something I've been worried about lately with her. Luckily, her teacher is not concerned because they haven't learned to write all the letters in class yet and apparently that's quite common among 5-year-olds. (If she's still making letters backwards at the end of the school year, then we can worry about it.)

Every time I look at my little datebook today I will be reminded of what to do today, first and foremost: spread some love.