Mar 28, 2013

Happy Spring!

Dear Readers,
     Happy Spring to you!  Here are the rats Cere and Bella, the "little brains" enjoying the tastes of Spring!  May you enjoy a wonder-filled long weekend! 

Mar 27, 2013

Chasing Krampus

I just finished reading Krampus the Yule Lord by Brom and it's one of those rare reads when you're wistful afterwards because you miss the characters.  I miss Krampus, I'm very pleased with the complexity and detail that Brom gave his version of Krampus and particularly pleased with the character himself, how he spoke, reacted in the various situations and responded to our world. 

Tom Kuebler created this awesome head and shoulders sculpture based on Brom's work.

Brom appears to have done quite a bit of research to flesh out his Krampus, bringing in a great deal of Norse mythology and making Krampus a son of Hel, who in turn was a daughter of Loki, the trickster.  He also very much stressed the fact that Pagan gods, particularly nature gods, were turned into demons and the Devil by the Christian church, turning these wild, feasting, sexual, fertile, free creatures into something to be spurned as evil.  Krampus was never evil.  Indeed, he's one of Nature's favorites and his "job" as Yule Lord was to remind the people in the depths of winter that Spring (and life) would return to the land.  (Sadly, Brom didn't include a list of readings because I would have enjoyed seeing his materials first hand!)

I've been doing my own searching for Krampus... When you go a'hunting for him, though, things seem to get confused rather quickly as there are many names for Krampus-like creatures.  If you start to try to pin him down, I've discovered that the Krampus we seek and adore today is actually a very old god-like creature (although not specifically Norse as far as I can tell), and while "Krampus" is paired with the Christian saint, the much older Krampus-like creatures are ancient, pre-Christian creatures who punished the bad and heralded the coming Spring.  Brom includes in a short afterword that "One of the more prominent symbols of Yuletide is the Yule Goat, which is one of the first manifestations of the Krampus that we so dearly know and love today." ... "The original Yule Goat was said to be an ugly creature that frightened children while making certain that Yultide traditions were carried out properly.  Later the Yule Goat, or Krampus, was also attributed with handing out Yule gifts."   
"Depending on who you believe, Krampus is very old indeed. Some say the tradition stems back to the pre-Christian era, and that the Krampus known and feared by Austrians today is a version of an ancient god incorporated into Christian holidays.
There's no doubt that today the frightening figure is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in some parts of Austria and Hungary (where the local version is spelled Krampusz). Krampus brings punishment back to the Christmas holiday, threatening naughty children with more than a lump of coal in their stocking." 
--This quote is from a Spiegel article that you can read here.

In my hunting, I hit on a book that would help, Alpen Demons:
Sadly, it’s only in German so far... maybe we can hope for a translation!!!   I can read a bit of German but not enough to make something this large anything but a trial!! How’s your German?
   UPDATE:  I wrote to Rachel Love at National Geographic and she replied, "there are no plans to publish it in English.  However, ...we really appreciate that you have reached out to us about this book and I will certainly let our acquisition editors know of your email and interest."   So if you'd like to see this book in English, let them know!   Email Ms. Love at   Rachel Love, National Geographic Society, Vice President, International Book Publishing
  Anyway, it seems that Krampus is only the very last incarnation of a long line of hairy, hooved, horned creatures that ruled the wintery landscape. In fact, I’m going to guess that “Krampus” as a name is quite new and that the Krampus-like creature of old was called something else, or many other names. (Like in the Krampus book by Brom, he was entombed for 500 years, explaining his long absence.)

This quote also seems to lean that way:

“With all due respect, I hope that Krampus does NOT catch on in the US! Krampus is a sacred, Pagan rite that has managed to survive being (too badly) overrun by the Romans 2000 years ago as they moved through southern Europe. It managed to survive everything in between. Our own Christmas traditions are rooted in many of these ancient European celebrations, and LOOK what we've done to Christmas in the US?? No, thank you. If you want to witness Krampuslauf, respectfully hop a flight for Berchtesgaden in Germany, or Graz in Austria, blacken your face with some coal like the locals, prepare to be hunted down like an animal, and possibly lashed mercilessly with switches. I might add that Krampuses and Sankt Nikolaus makes HOUSE CALLS; children in the region are extremely well behaved.”
I think Krampus is much more complicated than at first he seemed... So maybe all those names (Black Peter, Belsnickels, etc...) come from the same original folk stories and winter traditions.

I will continue my hunt and if you hear squeals of delight, that would be me when I run into a 7 foot horned hairy demon!  In the meantime, I will enjoy the Krampus wrapping paper a friend very thoughtfully sent me.  (Thank you, Rose!)

If you come across anything that could be helpful, please do pass it along!


Mar 24, 2013


She's born!
Caviara is born!

Now I get to play with her wig and costuming, which is a lot of fun! 

Currently I have 11 wigs so I thought to try them all on her and see which works best.

What do YOU think?  Which is your favorite?  Please tell me, write a comment and let me know which is your preference!

Overall I think she has a pretty face and it's to her credit that all the wigs look okay!

So, which is it?  Please comment on this post and tell me which Caviara is best!  And, yes, she has a fish skeleton as a belly button piercing!

Mar 21, 2013

Pinning from "Boards"

These three images I found on Pinterest!  Yes, indeed, it IS fun but set a kitchen egg timer or something or you'll find hours go by!!! 
Here's a tip on searching that you may not be aware of: if you're searching for a thing and getting lots of pins but there are lots of duplicates, uninteresting bits, etc..., try the "Boards" option. You can search by pins, boards or pinners (top left under the search box). So, for example, if you are looking for "Krampus" (or "Teddy bears" or whatever you like) and are disappointed by the results when you search "Pins", click on "Boards" and here you'll get Boards that people have set up on the topic and you can browse the collections that interest you most and see lots of stuff that never appears under "Pins".  Try it!  And while you're there, check out the other neat pins I found!

Mar 19, 2013

Stand still and breathe

This was my Russel's birthday, but she died a few years ago.  Still miss you, crazy pup!  So I thought this quote very fitting as we continue to walk through life:

Today, if you’re confronting an issue for the ten thousandth time, or feeling that your life is going nowhere, or panicking over how little you’ve achieved, stop and breathe. You’re not falling behind on some linear race through time. You’re walking the labyrinth of life. Yes, you’re meant to move forward, but almost never in a straight line. Yes, there’s an element of achievement, of beginning and ending, but those are minor compared to the element of being here now. In the moments you stop trying to conquer the labyrinth of life and simply inhabit it, you’ll realize it was designed to hold you safe as you explore what feels dangerous. You’ll see that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be, meandering along a crooked path that is meant to lead you not onward, but inward.

(This is from Melanie's Facebook page, thank you!)

Also, The Right Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee was recommended to me (thanks again, Melanie!) but right now I REALLY have to concentrate on making critters for the April 28th doll show so I'm going to let this book go.  One thing I am taking from the book, however, is the need to write it down:  Note to self:  PLEASE would you just make a realistic list of what I want to accomplish with the critters this year?  And get off the bloody computer already!

I need to supervise myself, LOL!!!

Mar 18, 2013

A sense of wonder

Today I was interviewed by writer Maureen Argon for the magazine Start Stratford.  She came to the house around 10:30 and left 3 hours later, and I've never had time fly so fast!  (We did have apple crisp and coffee to keep us comfortable.)  What a natural storyteller, Maureen has a flowing ease with words and an imagination to match that effortlessly weaves together tales to enchant her two young children, and anyone in earshot!  It was a very grounding morning...
  It's not often that we stop living our daily routine and ask the big questions:  why am I doing what I'm doing?  What beliefs inspire me and give me direction?  What makes me me?
I was reminded how important Jim Henson was to my early ideas and how gifts like a first edition copy (yes I'm that old) from my grandmother of Faeries by Brian Froud created the basis of my beliefs in what's obviously real to me:  nature spirits and faeries, goblins and ghosts (thank you, Dodo, for the ghosts), a world of beautiful and dangerous creatures where you can't possibly know all the rules but there is an underlying sense of karmic justice.  Often I revisit Bill Peet's books at the Library, his characters having colored my childhood and just as real to me as old friends. 

Creativity is a gift and I hope I have the courage to really embrace it and create!  I'm hoping to keep this day alive and remember to take risks, believe and do something truly wonder-full!

Thank you, Maureen!

Chase away the clouds

So, what do you do when someone isn't well and you want to make them feel better?  Me, I bake.  These cookies are going to be mailed tomorrow to my sister's 12 year old pup who quite probably has cancer...  Enjoy them, Mocha, and there's nothing like a wagging tail to chase away any nasty thoughts and cruel cancer cells!  BE WELL!!! 

(That's my Willow, of course I saved a few for her.)

Mar 17, 2013

Ratty guts taste like strawberries?

Need a little Hallowe'en rescue remedy from the March blahs?  How about Chocolate Strawberry Rats or White Chocolate Mice?  Enjoy!
I spotted this recipe in the October 2012 issue of Canadian Living.  See, I'm catching up!

Stickpins in a voodoo doll might work better...

Still working on the Pinterest thing, so here are some tidbits from the book Pinterest Power

-the best times to pin in order to be seen and get repinned are between 2:00 to 4:00pm and between 8:00 to 1:00am EST
-Saturday is the best day, Wednesday is 2nd best
-some say Saturday morning is the best time of all

How to improve traffic on your Pinterest page?  Try talking about it on Facebook, post about it on your blog or website, add the red "Pin It" buttons (like on the bottom of every blog post) and "Pinterest" button on your pages, and include your Pinterest profile on any advertising.  Also, when some one repins one of your images, return the favour: check them out and see if you'd like to repin or follow them. 

Very important bits: 

Be sure to LABEL/describe your pins with good keywords so people can find them!

Label/describe your boards well, and categorize them properly.  Also, be clear about what your boards are all about so followers know what to expect.

Let your social media followers know you're on Pinterest and that it's a great way to see your ideas and images.

Use watermarks on your images so links back to you can't be lost.

Use giveaways/contests to increase exposure.

Pinterest is free:  use it to promote yourself.  (They don't mention it's a time guzzler, so it's not really "free"!)

Create images specifically for Pinterest: lists, how-tos, do-it-yourself, recipes, before and after images are the 5 most pin-able content subjects.

Finally, if you're posting something that you're selling, include the price in the description and it automatically appears as a ribbon on the left of the photo.  Also, the image will be included in the "Gifts" category, check it out!

So, that's what I learned.  Please take a peak at the super-cool images I've organized on my boards and join me on my quest to be repinned! 

Mar 11, 2013


Here is the crown!!! 
On each end I attached wire with a crystal shimmery purple bead then paper machéd over the paper maché base with blue tissue paper after inserting reddish purple wire through the 5 holes that the pins created, capturing a crystal bead on each wire.  Two slices of shell are also on the center wire.  Then I cut out a double layer of the organza fabric that shimmers red-blue.  The wires were fed through the fabric and again ended in a crystal bead.  Finally, while the glue was still wet on the base, I sprinkled very fine blue faery dust. 
Pretty neat, I think!

Mar 5, 2013

Catfish on the menu

So this is how far the catfish is now:  I spent a long time sewing the feet on and doing her claws, same variegated blue/purple as her hands.  Before the claws could be done, I had to wire the legs and feet, so she can stand on her own, and the claw stitches hold the wire in place to some degree (the wire is pretty stiff, it doesn't need much help).
Then I started in on the mermaid head piece experiment:  the base is paper maché with the pins making holes for where the fin-shaped fabric will be attached.  I've never done this before so I have no idea if it will work but I need something very light-weight to which all the seaweed, shells, etc... can be attached.  It's drying now...

She hasn't named herself yet but Salina has come to mind, as has Felidae, Catia and Calica.  Any suggestions?

Mar 2, 2013

In process...

I'm working on my calico catfish lady cat, here are her arms, and here is her head!  It took a while to get the face to look nice, the white gusset demanded that the brown chin line up PERFECTLY, so quite a bit of tweaking went on before it looked straight.

I'm excited to announce that I've been accepted to show at the Greater Toronto Doll Show in Oakville on April 28th, so I am busy sewing!  Hope you can make it there, it should be grand! 

Mar 1, 2013

Pinned! And our tail-wagging total!

Did you know that you can see what's been pinned from YOUR website?  Yes, you can!  I stumbled upon this accidentally and it's really neat!  So, in my case, it's and there you can see that it's my Paris photos that are of the most interest.  Too bad, no one (except me!) has pinned any of my critters.  Another example: this blog would be (and I'm the only one pinning from here). 

The "social" part of social media is kinda flopping for me so far...

In other news... we raised $320.00 for National Cupcake Day!!!  WOW!  Yes, celebrating it over two days was definitely a good idea, as we had two glorious spreads of sweets!  Five people did the baking, thank you so much Cathy, Robyn, Ruth and Kate for joining in!  On Friday I delivered the money and spoke with our Humane Society's new branch manager, who seemed super-nice... See the lovely thank you on their website.  And what will 2014 bring?