Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quick and effective Capoeira inspired workout video

I just did this awesome Capoeira inspired workout from, and let me tell you, this is going to burn some major calories and work every muscle in your body! 

Great music is a must for this workout!  You can really get into a groove though and have tons of fun while doing this workout!  Not to mention all those calories you're burning ;-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What makes you smile?

That's the topic for this week's Smooshers Blog Ring.  Simple things make me smile: my Calcifer kitty snuggling with me, the beautiful flowers blooming in my yard, the smell of a campfire on a warm summer night.  I find great pleasure and countless smiles in animals and nature.  And of course the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild makes me smile!  The wonderful creations I've seen from my fellow guild members always make me smile.  So I'd like to share with you some of those creations.  I can't go into a single Smoosher's shop without finding something that brings a smile to my face!
This beautiful Orchid magnet from Amazing Designs is sure to brighten anyone's day!  And she offers several different varieties of Orchid magnets, so be sure to check them all out.
Potinara Hybrid Orchid Refrigerator Magnet 
And then there's Clay Cat Shop- I can't enter this studio without falling in love with just about everything! 
This one is called Loving the Bad Wolf and I adore this sculpture!  So much can be said in polymer clay ;-)

Loving the Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood / Caperucita Roja
The creations from Desert Rubble always make me smile too.  I love all of her Steampunk pieces, as well as items like this beautiful Fairy Door Pendant (fairies make me smile too). 
Fairy Jewelry Door/Key Pendant in Faux Wood w/Green Vine, Purple Leav 
This sculpture from Fesser Arts is called Love Grows, and it made me smile the minute I saw it.  It's very pretty and would look wonderful hanging on the wall where everyone could see it and share a smile :)
Love Grows Polymer Sculpture 
There are so many things about the Smooshers that make me smile.  I consider many of the members my friends as well, and I love sharing sculpting tips, mistakes, and creations with all of them.  Take the time to browse these shops and find a few smiles of your own ;-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Almond and Honey Butter low fat cookies

 I just wanted to share this delicious low fat cookie recipe with you all.  I make these all the time and they are SO good!  You can't even tell that they're healthy- LOL
Servings: about 3 1/2 dozen cookies
Prep: 40 mins
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
1 cup  whole almonds, toasted (see Tip)
1 1/4 cups  whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Note)
1 cup  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup  honey, divided
1/3 cup  canola oil
4 tablespoons  unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1   large egg
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
3 tablespoons  toasted sliced almonds, (see Tip) for garnish
1. Process whole almonds in a food processor or blender until finely ground (you will have about 1 1/4 cups ground). Transfer to a large bowl and add whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt; stir until just combined. Beat 2/3 cup honey, oil and 3 tablespoons butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir to combine. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
3. Roll tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Press the tip of your index finger in the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Bake the cookies, in batches, until set and barely golden on the bottom, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 30 minutes.
4. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup honey and 1 tablespoon butter in a small bowl until creamy. Use about 1/4 teaspoon to fill each cookie and top with 2 sliced almonds, if desired.
Tip: To toast whole almonds, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F , stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. To toast sliced almonds, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Ingredient note: Look for whole-wheat pastry flour in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets and natural-foods stores.
MAKE AHEAD TIP: Store in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Nutrition Facts
Calories 94, Total Fat 5 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 8 mg, Sodium 43 mg, Carbohydrate 12 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 2 g, Potassium 9 mg. Exchanges: Other Carbohydrate 1,Fat 1.
I originally got this recipe out of an Eating Well cookbook .  Their site has lots of great healthy recipes too.
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

123 Gemstones- Handmade Stone Treasures

123 Gemstones on creates handmade jewelry pieces including wire wrapped beaded items.  She started making jewelry in December, 2007 for family members as Christmas presents. Since then making jewelry has become her passion.  She loves to create new items and mix gemstones together for a unique look. Coral, Black Onyx, and Jade are some of her favorite stones.  Some of her customers have said "The perfect touch for my new buckles, just the thing I was looking for! Super-fast speedy shipping, very nice quality and packaged nicely as well. Thanks so much for a great buying experience" and  "What a pleasure to buy from you Julie ! We'll keep in touch for sure ! I HIGHLY recommend this seller for outstanding customer services, great quality of items and super fast shipping ! Everyone should stop and take a look at 123gemstones studio !".  You can also find her online at, and on Twitter. Below is only a very small sample of what can be found in her shop.  She's got many pages of wonderful jewelry, so be sure to stop in and find a few handcrafted jewels of your own!
ON SALE Blue Agate & Gold Bead Necklace Handmade Gold Wire Art Pendant 
Jasper Leaf Wire Wrapped Pendant Bead 
Blue Glass & Jade & Tibetan Silver Beaded Boot Bling Anklet Bracelet 
Pewter Howling Wolf Pendant Necklace 
There's just so much to choose from in this shop!  And it's all beautiful!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Monday, May 23, 2011

Custom Order Dog Sculpture

Recently I was contacted by a man looking for someone to make a custom sculpture of his dog.  Rudy was a Collie/ Irish Wolfhound mix, and apparantly quite a character.  I was more than happy to take on this custom order, which has very special meaning to the customer.  He sent me numerous pictures of Rudy in a variety of poses, along with several close-ups.  When it comes to custom orders like this, plenty of pictures of the subject are very important.  The pose he chose was seated, with the head slightly turned, like in this picture.
You can see how cute he was, and I just love that look on his face.  I'm going to try very hard to capture that happy, fun loving personality.  Creating someone's pet in polymer clay (or any other medium, for that matter), is truly an honor.  I know how important my pets are to me, and I know that many other people feel the same way.  They're an important part of our family.  All of my own pets, past and present, have been immortalized in polymer clay, and those sculptures never fail to bring a smile to my face and warm memories to my heart.
This sculpture is going to be about 7" tall, and I drew out a rough diagram with measurements to refer to as I'm sculpting.  I also spent several days researching both Irish Wolfhounds and Collies.  The customer gave me a very detailed description of Rudy, and which physical characteristics he had from each breed.  Good communication with a customer is very important, and the more information I can get, the better the sculpture will be.
  I started with a firmly packed foil core for both the head and the body.  This cuts down on the amount of clay needed and makes for a stronger finished sculpture.  I coated the foil with Tacky glue so the first layer of clay would adhere better.  At this point the color of the clay isn't that important.  Quite a bit of clay will be added over the core, and I'll paint the details after the piece is baked.  Right now Rudy doesn't look like much, but this is only the beginning.
I keep my laptop on my desk and frequently refer back to the pictures of Rudy to be sure I'm keeping the proportions and general shapes right.  This is where all those pictures from different angles really help.
Here you can see I've added more detail and bulk to the head.  I plan to sculpt him with his mouth open and his tongue out a bit, like in the picture above.  I want to capture that adorable doggy smile. :)
And this picture shows a different angle of his head.  Obviously there's still quite a bit more sculpting to be done before this starts to look like Rudy.  Much of the head will be sculpted before I attach it to the body.  I find it much easier to work with that way.  I've had to take my time with this project, not only because I want to get it just right, but because the weather has been warmer, making the clay more sticky.  When I feel the clay starting to get too soft to work with I set it aside and let it rest for a while.  It does blend nicely when it's warm though, so adding the shaped clay appliques has been easier. 
I'll continue to post my progress on this very special sculpture, and you can watch as someone's beloved pet is formed from polymer clay.  Thanks for sharing another creative journey with me! :-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Noveena- Beadwoven Jewelry, Accessories, and Decor

Check out some of the beautiful beadwoven jewelry, accessories, and decor from Noveena on
Black Diamond BraceletChocolate Strawberries Beadwoven Collar NecklaceCardinal Beadwoven Earrings 13aJeweltone Beadwoven LariatPea Green & lt Olive Beadwoven Bracelet
Talk about gorgeous!  And her shop is just full of unique and elegant jewelry!  Noveenna can also be found on, Facebook, and Twitter. Stop by her shop and check out everything she has to offer!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smooshers theme- Orange

The theme for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Blog ring this week is orange.  So let's see what pretty orange creations I can find!  All of these were sculpted from polymer clay and created by the members of the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild on ArtFire.
This orange and black flower pendant from Fesser Arts is just beautiful!
flower pendant carved polymer 
And I really like this Orange Polymer Clay Cat's Eye cane from ArtMakersWorlds.  I make a lot of cats, and these canes would make some great kitty eyes!Orange Cats Eye polymer clay cane 
And I just love this orange and white swirled polymer clay pendant from DreamWeaversDesigns.
Orange and white swirled polymer clay pendant
And finally, I found these bright and colorful orange post earrings from Life Art Designs.
Orange Polymer Clay Post Earrings 
I hope all these lovely bright orange goodies made your day a little cheerier!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Custom Catnip Toys from CreativeCritters

I've been making catnip toys for years, and started selling them at CreativeCritters a few years ago. You can find a fun assortment of knit and felt catnip toys, along with bags of the dried catnip, in my Organic Catnip and Catnip Toys category.   I grow my own catnip in my garden and use no chemicals or pesticides.  My organic catnip is very strong and I've yet to find a cat that doesn't love it.  For Christmas I made a huge catnip pillow/ kick toy for my own cats, Calcifer and Cedric.  Cedric is a very big cat (about 20 pounds), so he needs a big toy!

Sometimes if Calcifer asks nicely Cedric will let him play with the toy ;-)
I shared a picture of my boys with their big toy on Facebook, and one of my friends asked me to make one for her cat.  Of course I was more than happy to make Marley his own toy!  I made Marley's toy a little different (and better) than the original.  It's a little smaller (about 9" long), and was knit using two strands of red acrylic yarn.Custom Order Big Red Knit Catnip Toy with Organic Catnip for Angelique
You can see Marley's toy has a much tighter weave, and I closed the ends with white string.  I sewed the toy securely shut and sewed the white ties to the toy.  Angelique  said Marley likes to destroy strings, so I wanted to be sure he couldn't pull these out.  In the center of the toy is a sock stuffed with fabric scraps, and both ends have been absolutely packed with handfuls of dried catnip leaves and flowers.  Calcifer was climbing my leg to get at this one!  My catnip has a very strong scent that cats just can't resist!  I store all the catnip toys I have for sale in tightly sealed Ziploc bags to keep the scent as fresh as possible.  When I ship my catnip toys to their new owners I put them in a plastic bag so the scent remains fresh and strong.  The cats can smell it even before the box is opened. 
Now I'm knitting another toy for my friend Andrea and her handsome Maine Coone, Bertie.  If anyone wants a toy like this for their own cat, you can contact me from my Facebook Fan Page or through CreativeCritters.  I really enjoy making catnip toys in all shapes and sizes.  Every cat is different , and they all have their own style of play.  These large toys are perfect for cats that like to grab and kick their "prey".  My own cats have tested all the designs before I made the toys for sale, so I know what cats like!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Handmade Cats from CreativeCritters

Recently I got Christi Friesen's book on sculpting Cats Big and Small in polymer clay and I've been inspired to sculpt several new kitty creations.  I started with these cute orange and white cat earrings. They have surgical steel posts and are lightweight and comfortable to wear.   I love cats, and I know I'm not the only one!  I plan on making more cat earrings in different colors and breeds in the near future.

Orange and White Polymer Clay Cat Head Post Earrings with Hearts

I've also been making polymer clay covered pens topped with cat head sculptures.  I currently have  two listed right now, and I'll be listing more of these as well.

Handmade Cute Brown and Orange Polymer Clay Covered Cat Head Pen

Polymer Clay Orange Brown and White Cute Cat Pen Sculpture

Not only are these pens cute, but they're comfortable to write with as well.  I make sure they're well balanced and not too top heavy as I'm sculpting them.  They also have replaceable ink cartridges, so they can be used for years.  You can find all sorts of cat items in my shop- everything from sculptures, to jewelry, to stuffed animals.

I have so much fun creating cats, and sharing them with other cat lovers like myself!  Stop in to CreativeCritters to see all my new creations!

-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On Pens and Needles artisan studio

On Pens and Needles on offers a variety of handmade wood and acrylic pens, wood jewelry as well as embroidered and sewn items for baby and the home.  They've  recently added scrapbooking embellishments, gift tags and pre-cut quilt pieces to their shop as well.  Their Bio reads  "After over 30 years in the Navy, my husband retired and I recently followed after more than 30 years in nursing. We started to focus on relaxing and finally being able to spend time on our hobbies. My husband's hobby of making pens and other wood items and my embroidery and sewing turned into a couple of craft shows and then into On Pens and Needles."  On Pens and Needles can also be found online at and  Below is a small sample of the great items available from this talented couple.  Be sure to check out everything they offer!  And from 5/11 through 5/13 just use coupon code CRAZYTRAIN and receive 15% off your total purchase.
 Pink and Green Cat Pendant 
Microwave Potato and More Bag Chili Pepper Print 
Hummingbird Pendant and Earring Set - Canary Wood Wood Pen - Yellow Heart 
And there's so much more where these came from!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Polymer Clay Smooshers Buds and Blossoms Challenge

The theme for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Challenge this time was Buds and Blossoms, which worked out really well for me.  I've been sculpting lots of new floral themed items, and coming up with ideas for this challenge was no problem!  My first entry was my miniature Flower Garden sculpture.
Flower Garden Sculpture with Roses Hyacinths Tulips Iris Daffodils 
This incredibly detailed piece took quite a while to complete, and I did Work in Progress posts on my blog as I created it.  Every tiny little petal and leaf was cut out and individually shaped.  This garden is also a tribute to Gramma, who passed away last May.  It contains some of her favorite flowers, including roses, hydrangeas, daffodils, tulips, Irises, and hyacinths.
My second entry is a floral wall hanging incorporating vintage jewelry bits, metal charms, and beads along with the polymer clay.
OOAK Polymer Clay Wall Decor with Flowers Hummingbirds and Butterflies 
I made pink polymer clay roses, flowers in shades of pink and blue, and leaves and vines surrounding the piece.  Three little hummingbirds and two purple butterflies (painted metal charms) are spaced evenly among the flowers.
Both these pieces were a lot of fun to make, and tested my skills and creativity as a sculptor.  The rest of the entries for this challenge are just beautiful!  This guild has so many very talented members!  Be sure to check out all the entries in the Buds and Blossoms Challenge, and while you're there, vote for the theme for our next challenge.  I voted for Sci Fi because I've got some new ideas I'd like to try out ;-)
Thanks for stopping by!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Friday, May 6, 2011

ViaDellaRosa- jewelry, rosaries, pendants, and more

ViaDellaRosa on offers handmade jewelry, rosaries and catholic jewelry, glass and wood tile pendants and more.  It is a family-run business, located in Westborough, Massachusetts.  They provide items that are fresh, modern and inspirational.  Myrna says "I started by designing and crafting rosaries, chaplets and other jewelry since 2006. Throughout my life, I have always had a connection with the rosary, from watching my mother pray the rosary during times of trouble, through the receipt of beautiful and special gifts of the rosary through her life. One day I decided to give creating them a try and I haven't looked back since.  Brandon is my fulfillment master, ensuring that every package that leaves our studio is a beautiful treasure just for you.  Counting beads is quite enough for me; so I leave the abacus and calculators to Luis, my husband, the numbers-cruncher behind the scenes.  And last, but certainly not least, there is Olivia, the family's Tiny Dancer, who brings smiles and inspiration to us all, and reminds us that everything is all good."
And there is so much more where these wonderful pieces come from!  Be sure to check out everything in this shop!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby's Nest Boutique on ArtFire

Tracy, of BabyNestBoutique on ArtFire loves to coil baskets and has been making them for over 25 years. She uses Natural Jute as a base material.  It's not only a natural and fast growing material but it also smells good.  She wraps and coils them with the brightest of yarns in one of a kind designs and adorns some with gemstones and other beads.  She also makes coaster sets with this medium.  Her other passion is the Victorian art of Crochet and Tunisian Crochet.  You will find many crocheted fashions for ladies and babies, and even toys. She says, "Working with yarn on a daily bases keeps me grounded and keeps my sense of home and warmth in my heart."  You can follow Tracy's blog at
Below is a small sample of some of the wonderful items available from Baby's Nest Boutique.  Click on any of the pictures to go directly to the listing.
Crochet Baby Dress Purple and Green size 12months
Baket Pansy Fields Lavender and Green Flower 
Singing the Blues Crochet Amigurumi Blue Bird 
Coaster Set of Two Easter Pastel with Bows 
And there are plenty more beautiful handcrafted items in this shop!  Be sure to stop by and see everything this talented artist has to offer!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Put more vegetables out in the garden

My eggplants and bell peppers  have been out in the garden for a few weeks now and are doing well in their protective Wall 'O Waters and Cozy Coats.  In spite of all the rain we've been having, along with colder than normal temperatures, the plants have survived and even grown a bit.  Right about now I am SO thankful I made raised beds when I started this garden!  There's been at least an inch (and up to 4 inches) of water between the beds for the last few weeks.  I got a few decent days though and I was able to harden off my yellow bush beans, green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  This year I'm planting the tomatoes between the peppers and eggplants, which means they'll also benefit from the warmth of the Wall 'O Waters.
Because it's been so cold and windy this spring I also wrapped a long sheet of plastic around the entire row for added protection. 

So far the little guys look pretty good.  The beans are planted in the middle row.  I set up a wire fence for them to climb before I planted them.  I was going to wait on nicer weather, but beans get so big, so fast!  I could practically watch them grow under the light!  They seem to be doing pretty good too, and have even started climbing their support after only a few days. 
That's my garlic that you see behind the beans.  It looks really good this year, and by midsummer I should be able to dig my first bulbs.  The onions I planted earlier this spring are getting bigger too.  I use onions and garlic in almost everything I cook, so it only makes sense to grow my own.
The cucumbers also have a fence to climb up for support.  I just used my old garden fence and cut it into the lengths I needed, then used stakes shoved deep into the dirt to secure it.  Another good thing about allowing the vegetables to climb is that they stay off the ground, which means fewer bugs and animals (like voles, my worst garden pest!) can get at them.  Air can circulate around the veggies better and that means less chance of rotting.  Plus they're easier to harvest and monitor when they're not on the ground, covered in leaves (and probably weeds).
I still have to put out my summer squash and zucchini, but I'm going to let them stay inside for a little longer.  I also started a second batch of beans so I'll have a longer harvest time.  Hopefully I can come back in a month or so and show you pictures of much larger plants, and maybe even a few veggies ;-)
Thanks for visiting my garden and watching it grow with me!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tom Roche Woodworking Designs

Tom Roche, of TRoche Wood Designs on ArtFire creates beautiful and fun wooden cutting boards and coasters.  He says "I am a young Old Guy who retired at 62 and have not looked backward even 1 day, and find that there are still not enough hours in the day to get the things done that I want to."  I can certainly relate to not having enough hours in a day!   Tom takes great pleasure creating something useful from a piece of wood that will last for years. The most rewarding thing for him is seeing a "happy person" with something he created.  He creates unique cutting boards/cheese boards that come in a variety of fun shapes including apples, moose, wine bottles, sailboats, and owls.  He also makes mini cutting boards and coasters as well.   You can also find Tom on Facebook and Twitter.  Of course I love anything having to do with animals, and these owl coasters are just adorable!
Coaster, matching set of 4 OWLS 
And how cute is this set of kitty cutting boards?
Cutting Board, Cheese Board. Cat, Kitty, set of 2 
He also makes beautiful items like this dresser top vanity.
Dresser Top Vanity from Solid Cherry and a 10 inch moveable mirror, felt lined drawer with ceramic knobs 
Be sure to stop by his shop and see everything he has to offer- you won't be disappointed!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters