Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taste the Rainbow!

Can you taste your rainbow? Take a moment today to think about what you want in the new year. Visualize your life, your work, your health, your family just as you want it to be. Hold that thought!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Happy Holidays to everyone!!!! Our snow is melted, but we are still very merry. I lift my shot of eggnog and toast to: Family, Health, Friends, a hopeful new president, the creative life, nature, and a wonderful new year to come.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Inside the Studio

Ah, a peek inside Bliss Monkey Studio? How about first thing on a sunny Oregon morning? Light filtering in, heaps of fleece on the cutting table, a rainbow of thread waiting..... it's pure bliss for me to enter the studio, ready to work, the full day ahead of me.

The Etsy holiday rush is mostly passed. I'm working on wrist warmers and fleece socks for my family, and all my secret projects. Ssshhhh! I've taken to gift wrapping right away to keep things hidden.

Max and I and the kids made tons of cookies and passed them out to our friends and neighbors over the weekend. Grandmother's fudge recipe didn't turn out this time, (unless you want to give it out by the spoonful). And the kids got carried away with decorating the gingerbread snow men...."uh, ok, just ONE anatomically MALE snowman, but THAT one will be for Daddy's plate!" But cranberry pumpkin bread loaves, chocolate stars, russian tea cakes, and almond biscotti all made for a nice plate.

The snow melted outside! Makes getting around easier but we miss the pretty snow.

January plans? I have many new projects to unveil, and a fun give away on my blog to celebrate the new year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday MORE Snow!

We woke to a fresh blanket of snow this morning (view straight out back- I love the sky!), and the last day of the school before vacation cancelled!

So far today, the kids and I have played, built a snow CAT outside, did some office work (me not so much them, though they did work on holiday gifts), and I stitched up a few new pairs of wrist warmers to ship out. We had a long walk in the snow and out for "second breakfast-es" like hobbits do, and over to the store and back home. It's nice to be able to go places without the car.

I've just discovered that I have several rolls of vinyl in my studio (from a long time ago) and that my new machine sews it up nicely.....hhhmmmm, what will be come of THIS discovery?

Can you spot my item in this neat treasury?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Treasury on Etsy

Here is the link if you would like to go over to the treasury and actually click on any of the items. It's always fun to find myself in someone's treasury!

Snow storm due in again tonight.... ooooOOOOOoooo, exciting!

Monday, December 15, 2008


We experienced a practice snow fall on Friday, much to our delight, but woke to REAL snowfall this morning. Ta -da! It's fairly unusual for us, on the valley floor, to get this much snow, let alone have it stick. What fun.

This is Saffron experiencing his first snow. Both kitties think it's so fun. They keep going in, and out...... and in and out and in..... and out and um, no, in, then right back out, then oh, in, then out...... brrr! In and out and in. Out. Ooooowwwt. In.

I had a lovely walk with our dog Toli this morning. He was so excited, I wanted to let him off leash, but he's not so well behaved yet. We met up with another off-leash lab and they played and played and played. The friendly dog owner and I chatted away, went back to her house to get balls for the dogs to fetch, then she showed me her back yard where the dogs could play together in future. (This is how dog owners in Eugene are! That's how we roll. Friendly bunch).

I fell right in love with a hand carved elephant she had and she was like, "Oh, I'd like to get rid of it. Would you like it?"
WOULD I????!!!!!
(Max don't read this!) :-)

Happy winter wonderland. Time to take kids sledding!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cookie Monsters

Afterschool on Friday, we baked cookies with M & Ms. Big huge ones. Mudslide Sydney (the little guy) asked if we could frost them. Mmmm, nice idea, but sounds way too my reply. He considers carefully, thinking of an agreeable compromise: how about if we frost them with peanut butter and add more M's to stick on top! A little protein with that sugar? OK! Sounds good! Says mom.

Here are the resulting master pieces. (Now, mind you, I do NOT need that much extra fat on my snacks, but those guys could put it to good use!)

Later that day, Max took them to the rock climbing gym to help children with visual disabilities enjoy some climbs. They've been rock climbing for about two months now and are getting so strong and agile on the wall. Nice!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stitched Jewels

Here's the book cover! I wrote a tutorial for of my textile jewelry pieces called, "When Life Gives You Lemons- Make Art" for the book. One of many gorgeous and fun projects you can learn to do in this book. Due out in the spring. :-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Open Letter to Obama, from Alice Walker

This is so gorgeous. Give yourself a true and quiet moment to take it in. Do not miss the last line.

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us
being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you
know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But
seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year
after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be
struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost
more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended
to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of
all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It
is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations,
that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of
the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was
part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely
on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors
of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that
the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for
bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do
have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a
schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your
gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your
family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon
become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their
wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles
so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to
lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about
all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From
your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that
so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and
houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can
manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to
them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of
almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most
damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those
feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a
certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have
enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It
is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United
States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand,
completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with
which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be
no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more
dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already
happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where
this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by
the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts
the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the
soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All
else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to
peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic,
also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle
with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression
of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and
relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and
brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

© 2008, Al

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Dance That Will Make You Smile

(or at least he makes me smile)

This dancin' guy video goes out to Gentiana and Christopher. LOVE him! And if you like that one, he's got more.

And Milkshake.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Week of Buddhas

How many Buddhas can I find and photograph in a week? NOT counting any inside my house......

I love this big Buddha head with the glass reflecting the sky and people outside.......IN the midst of all our human-ness, busi-ness, thoughts, feelings, to-do lists, Buddha images remind me to take a deep breath, smile to myself, and feel my feet on the earth.

I feel grateful for everything, and all of you in my life.

Love, Alysse.

Meet Your Maker Dec -Indie craft show

I was really glad I got into the Meet YOur Maker show this month. I had returning customers happy I was there, and people who had seen my write up (along with many other local etsians) in the Eugene Weekly Gift Guide. The show was great for me. Thanks for a great monthly event all year, Amy and Megan.

My crazy-full display table. I had a small spot and was NOT messing around! Bin of big plush gnomes, TREE with ornaments, bin of coffee cozies, bin on wrist warmers, bin of applique wrist warmers...... fun fun fun!

Mushrooms, gnomes, gift giving monsters, and colorful birds.....

Very famous model Scott Cunningham working the runway with my Pebbles and BamBam wrist warmers. Hot hot HOT! And girls, yes, he's single. :-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Local Markets

News: I will be at Meet Your Maker show tomorrow after all!
Broadway Winebar, downtown, 5-8 as part of the First Friday Artwalk in Eugene (each month). I am bringing all my cute new ornaments, the big gnomes, wrist warmers, and coffee cozies. See you there!

Photos from Eugene's Holiday Market below..... yes, it's every weekend till xmas, but I was there only last weekend. If you want more of my items before the holidays, email or convo me. Thanks!

Our big Holiday Market three day weekend-- I shared a space in Alley, Pracital Rabbit's booth. It was fun, it was colorful, it was busy.

My display rack with wrist warmers, coffee cozies, and brand new gnome stuffie ornaments. See the big gnomies in the bin below? They were a pretty happening bunch.

Booth front.
Practical Rabbit's amazing display of needle felted gnomes, mushrooms, and monsters.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The debut of the gnomies! These guys are big too! 17" tall and wearing cute fleece snowsuits! They like downhill skiing, snowflake collecting, and stinky cheese.

Hey, wait, who's that dark one in the back? He's got a pale face and sour expression..... is it a gnome gone bad? Past his expiration date, perhaps?

Who's this cute gnomie in green holding Oolin?

Sven and Oolin are available at my etsy store.

I'm off to the Holiday Market this weekend: 10-6 Fri-Sunday. See you there!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kudos for Bliss Monkey Studio....

Drop into Mike's FourTwoSeven blog to read what he's written about his new coffee cozy. You can leave a nice, "I like Mike" message or something fun in support of coffee cozies everywhere!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Ornaments

Gift Monster is excited to be an ornament this year. It likes Christmas a whole lot, loves wrapping presents, but always feels shy at the last moment of giving. Might you have any egg nog? Available in my etsy store.

It was fun to have a friend here, as I turned him from a sketch into a stuffed ornament using my Gocco machine. It's a very easy process (once you know what you are doing.....) and so fulfilling. I hand-painted the gift boxes after the ornament was sewn and stuffed.

This is the wee gnome family. They love taking long walks in the woods, swinging on christmas trees and giggling. They are made from felt and wool. You can order your gnome family with two mamas, two papas, or one mama and papa.

I'm working all this week to stock up for a Holiday Market weekend. I'm there sharing a booth #62, with Practical Rabbit, this next Friday, Sat and Sunday, come visit!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Oh I love you, yes I love you, how I love you.....

Kids, I'm a busy busy bee in the studio, sewing lots and lots to keep everyone in wrist warmers and coffees cozied and such. I'll be debuting my new ornaments soon.

Here's a pic of me and Melissa sharing a table at the last Meet Your Maker show. Her hoodies sold like hot cakes!

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Not All Who Wander Are Lost"

"Not All Who Wander Are Lost" is the name of this freshly brewed coffee cozy. I've been selling "Wandering Bear" coffee cozy (below) for quite awhile, and thought it needed a companion. Those of you who collect the coffee cozies will smile.

I love making small works of art for a cup, and sometimes I just fall in love with the photographs. These might look pretty framed on the wall together. :-) Happy Weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wristies R Us

I'm having a great time sewing "One Leaf Tree" fingerless wrist warmers. The tree styles sell fast, so they are pretty much catch-as-you-can. I can occasionally take custom orders, so it's OK to ask. I use my wrist warmers every day. They are safe for driving because your fingers are bare, great for walking the dog, as well as indoor things like typing and sewing.

They can be pushed back to the wrist, with thumb nub tucked in, to free your hands, but still keep your wrists warm. Great for knitting and hand washing, or when you need to touch something wet and don't want to get your warmers all sog. Wash and dry with your clothes!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Delights of Winter

Was last night a full moon? On the way to bed, I was soooo sleepy, until I caught a glimpse outside....... the clouds were lit up in a way I've never seen before- almost from underneath like a big spotlight. They were blowing so fast, I stood at the glass door in amazement as creatures came tumbling across the sky.... troll with staff, smoke ring that got larger before collapsing, a large rabbit that rear ended a monkey...... it was unlike any 11pm sky I'd ever experienced. I didn't want to go to bed at all!

The sky this morning. This is my view as it gets light out each day. The kids off to school, I had a wander in the garden still wearing my pajamas. It is so WARM this morning. The two kittens followed me with my coffee cup and camera outside.....

Nasturtiums, who gather dew jewels on their plates.

The garden all tucked in for the winter. Does it look grey and cold? It's lovely and warm and bright compared to the past week of grey and damp! Lovely Oregon weather. REally.

I wanted to share Teagan, the mushroom doll, who arrived in the mail, so sweetly wrapped, yesterday. I love Projectgrabbag! I am rather obsessed with gnomes (watch for my gnome ornaments and kit coming out soon). HER gnomes are a must-have for any gnome collector! There's a gnome couple for only $22 that are soooooo dear! And her dolls are wonderful, and many more mushroom girl dolls to be had. Like Teagan, they can be a keychain ornaments, but I wouldn't want her to get dirty.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

January feels like an open window onto white

I'm having some artist angst. That's a short cut way of saying I am feeling restless in my work, and the way I'm expressing my creativity and my spirit. Something important is missing. This feeling of wanting to move in a new direction is cycling through more and more often. I take this as a positive sign that come January, my creations will have space to take new form. I'm drawing and drawing and filling my sketchbooks with weird new work.

I know one specific: I'm tired of making little things. I am dreaming B-I-G, and it's scary.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I am feeling a little tired. I swore off the sewing machine today. When I think back over what I did in the last week..........

For Halloween, the kids dressed as ninja ( our first not made by us costumes ) so max and I surprised them by dressing as pirates. As in "ninja vs pirates" all night long! They were amused.

With all my "spare" time I organized a Neighborhood Halloween Children's Parade. We hope it's an annual event. Lots of families showed up to make some noise with instruments, to do a loop through the neighborhood. It's fun to get some playtime in and show off your costume before DARK when no one can really see. We went home to eat a few more bites of dinner, light the pumpkins and add the finishing touches on our porch decorations, before getting down to the serious business of trick or treating!

I finally got Saffron on the right medicine this week. He's only 7 months old (he's the fuzzy guy on the right with his arms around his best buddy Lil Scoop who's 4 months old), but he's been sick the past two months! He has some sort of intestinal disorder. It's wonderful to see him feel better than "OK". He's so fun and playful with Lil Scoop- a riot, but the good kind. They wrestle and race through the house and backyard together. And Saffron is more snugly with all the cats during nap times. I'm super in love with the kittens so it's wonderful to see both so well.

Besides all the great busy-ness of orders, and making lots of new coffee cozies, I finished a design project for Lark book's "Pretty Little Mini Quilts". I designed the quilt (framed on a wooden shape which make for a fun look but a bit tricky and expensive to ship), then wrote directions for the book so readers can make their own. The tea cups button off, can be flipped to the reverse side colors, or changed seasonally. One of my "interactive quilt" dreams come true. The book won't be out till Spring 2010! But I have two other books coming out this next spring, which will help my patience. :-)

Oh! And I wrote a new bio for this book, and used the term "my girlfriend" instead of "my partner". That felt big, though you are the only one I've told.

I developed a project I've been amusing myself over for quite some time..... the Lochness Monster coffee cozy screen print. I haven't put it up on etsy yet, but have the photos ready....

The Loch Ness Monster pillow/wall ornament/tree ornament/lavender sachet!! I hope some others will enjoy her as much as I do.

I am negotiating a massive wholesale order for wrist warmers... I have to consider all the timing and upcoming holiday market dates.....

THEN I got ready for the Meet Your Maker indie craft show Friday evening. It's great fun to sell at the Broadway wine bar, and see all my crafty friends out of our studios and lookin cute!

Gee, need I wonder why I'm tired? Busy busy busy week, and even given the chance to sleep in a few times, I'd wake up and start DESIGNING in my mind. A-wake! Where's the off button?

So today I swore off the sewing machine. Max went on a trip to Seattle to visit her ex who's about to have a sweet new baby soon. The weather was so warm and sunny-lovely, the kids and I RAN outside and raked the gorgeous yellow leaves out front .... a storm began to roll in so we raced the clouds to get the leaves put away in the garden before it poured! Perfect timing. I indulged the kids with both in a peppermint bubble bath while I read Harry Potter aloud, and fixed second breakfasts of folded over peanut butter pancakes with jam.

I received a package of new fabric straight from Japan, which was wrapped sweetly and included a complimentary hello kitty tissue set. THEN we did needle felting all afternoon, and watched Happy Feet. That was a little more intense than I imagined. But the kids liked it. They went off to their dad's for a boy's night of fun.

I'm home alone over night! I have time to read, reflect, sketch. I'm really happy, in general, but I've also been a bit design insane and it's good to regroup, get some more exercise, and have quiet time too.

What are you reading?
I have "Unlondon" by China Meiville (i love his work)
And an artsie inspiration book.

much love

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Studio Chat

I'm happy to report sales on my etsy have been hot. It's good.

I am selling many solid colors of the wrist warmers, and this new "One Leaf Tree" design is very fun to make because I bend and shape the limbs as I sew, plus they sell quickly.

I had a panic attack last weekend, with 6+ orders of black fingerless gloves, I restocked at Joann's fabric. Once at home, I noticed the black fabric was from a different manufacturer. Not as soft, not as thick, not as stretchy and just not good enough! Sewed one up and it felt more like felt! Yuck.

The other Joann's has the same new black. All the other colors are nice, but not the black fabric. I held the orders until I had good quality black in the studio once again. It doesn't sound so dire, but quality is really important to me. I am proud of the pattern I created, and how soft and comfortable they are. Customers love them, and I want to keep providing the goodness. (Have you noticed how much I like the word goodness used as a noun?) Laugh at me a little.

That leads me to discuss: I feel like I'm being overly sincere on the blog lately. Expressing my gratitude and successful things instead of my ups and downs about being a self employed designer. I ask myself, is that "honest"? I think it's because I don't really believe in complaining. The holiday season is incredibly important to me in terms of income, so I AM rather serious about the work (friends have to pry me out of the studio with a crow bar to see me), plus I'm very positive by nature. I'm working my ass off, always moving forward, hurtling challenges as best I can, and loving it. What's to complain about? If you are interested in hearing more of what I struggle with, leave a comment.

Studio news:
I'm coming out with my ornaments soon, and the big surprise will be my first pattern/kit! Very exciting.

Upcoming shows:
I hope to see all the local friends at this month's Meet YOur Maker show on Friday, 5-8pm, at our new regular location the Broadway Winebar downtown! Come out come out! Do the galleries, have some wine, shop early!

The Sarah Palin Rap- up

Yey!!! We are an Obama-nation! Did everyone watch Saturday Night Live's special the previous night? They were so funny, but the best part was seeing the REAL Sarah Palin on SNL The rap itself is amazingly good, Amy was amazingly huge and pregnant at the time, AND and Amy Poehler did the Sarah PalinPalin is right there reacting to it. If you haven't seen it watch it here: Youtube SNL rap link

NBC blocks their vids from being seen on youtube, so this is a news team version talking about the video, but their dialog is interesting too, before and after. Just watch! LOVE IT. Amy is fierce!

Happy Day all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WwweeeeeeEEEEEEeeeeee !!!!

We got a positive new president!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

First Signs

And now for an overdue photographed presentation entitled
"First Signs of Fall"

All photography by Quillan, aged 6, during a 45 minute period, as we went on our "Signs of Fall" walk. He learned how to use the macro setting this time 'round.

I adore the enthusiasm he brings to photography, skidding down slopes to get close to the water for just the right shot (carefully clutching the camera, strap over wrist, and assuring me that he won't fall in NOR drop the camera, as I bit my lip and wave back smiling), laying down under a bush to shoot upwards, placing an object on a different background, loooking for changes in season, catching texture and color and shadows, and searching for the first crunchy leaves. The funny and oh so true sign of fall is the overgrown zucchini placed outside the door as an offering to neighbors.

At the very micro end of each season, when I know the next season is about to begin, but I can't feel it yet, I've taken my kids on walks to look for "signs of spring" or fall or.... and we always find such interesting things and take photos.

Finn will be doing the guest spot here for "First Signs of Winter" photo shoot.

Amazing how much we don't SEE until we take the time to truly look. I hope they always think of me when they are grown up and the seasons change.