Category Archives: Special Projects

Something to Marvel About…

Made especially for sci-fi fiction gal fans…  Finally wears which are feminine and cute, if that’s what you’ve been looking for!  With all the hype surrounding the recent The Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, I wanted to attend the viewing in style :)!

I’m not the biggest Black Widow fan so I suggested to Her Universe that a Maria Hill Shield jacket also be made.  I did receive some enthusiastic responses to this request but we’ll see what will come of it.  I’d definitely be the first in line for one!  This company also stocks Star Wars, Dr. Who, Transformers, Star Trek, and Nerdist products.

*Photocredit: Her Universe

Here are two of my Star Trek favorites!

My Favorite Nursery Mail-Order Companies

While I’m a big supporter of local nurseries/small businesses, sometimes I’m seeking particular plants that my nursery doesn’t normally stock or sold out of which forces me to seek out mail order companies.  Late into the growing season, I was inspired to build up my largely ignored shade garden.  For years I believed that only full or partial sun plants were worth my while, that only they were beautiful.  I overlooked the astilbes, hellebores, dicentras, ferns, lily of the valleys, hostas, etc.  All are lovely and well worth a second glance…

Jackson & Perkins

Nature Hills Nursery

White Flower Farm

Burpee Seeds & Plants

Home Depot Garden Center

Hirt’s Gardens

H. Potter

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Gurneys Seed & Nursery


Spring Hill Nursery

Gardener’s Supply Company

Planet Natural

Natural Gardening


*Photocredits: No Dig Gardener UK, Living Fashion New Zealand, & Thompson Morgan



Planning for Spring…

My Success Choice Planner has inspired me to make earlier plans for my Spring garden (perennial and planter).  It’s the perfect activity to enliven the typical idyllness of midwinter and to look forward to yet another exciting growing season!  My favorites are wildflower seed packets, but unfortunately, I have not had much luck with them.  This will not stop me from trying again.  Below are my top picks for gardening needs.  I hope I haven’t inadvertently left someone off my list…

Local nurseries:  Please support small business!

Jackson & Perkins



Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Charleston Gardens

Renee’s Garden Seeds

The Cottage Gardener

Easy To Grow Bulbs

White Flower Farm

*Photocredit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Renee’s Garden Seeds, Jackson & Perkins



Life-Savers: Bookends for Heavy Duty Standards

My husband found these bookends online for me.  They are a real gem of a find too because I was using regular metal bookends (which can be purchased at Staples, etc.) for my shelving.  Honestly they didn’t work out too well due to the large number of binders I keep and were also less appealing next to my white wall tracks).  My shelving system was purchased online from an out-of-state specialty store (Spokane Hardware Supply/Hardware Hut) and closely resembles The Container Store’s Elfa system.  Sorry, I don’t know if my shelving brackets are compatible with TCS’s track standards.  My shelves (made of pine and poplar) were purchased from local lumber yards and Home Depot.

Supplies Ordered for My Office Improvement Project:

Knape and Vogt 10-1/2″ (267mm) Decorative Double Slot Bookend Bracket – Pair (White)

Knape and Vogt 10-1/2″ (267mm) Heavy-Duty Decorative Double Slot Shelf Bracket – EACH (White)

Knape and Vogt 48″ (1219mm) Heavy-Duty Decorative Shelf Standard – EACH (White)

Pine & Poplar wood (weight considerations)

(Just in case you are in a similar space predicament as me and need a good solution).

*Photocredit: The Hardware Hut

knape and vogt bookend brackets

My First Bonsai Project

My first bonsai was a Christmas gift juniper from my husband’s relatives.  I would love to switch out my current blue ceramic pot (pictured below) with a 5.5 in-6 in The Intelligent Plant Light/Timely Lighting Care pot.  Following a re-decoration similar to my friend’s potted plant (also pictured below).  I prefer a traditional ceramic bonsai pot but don’t have too much choice as I’m depending on my The Intelligent Plant Light machine.  I really don’t have a green thumb =( so I hope that my bonsai has a better chance because of it…..

It’s been about a year since the plant was given to me and unfortunately it’s currently not doing that well.  This is probably due to under-watering or disease.  I’ve also read from various sources that junipers don’t fare well indoors since they are meant to be an outdoor plant.  Do not buy a juniper unless you will eventually transfer it outside; you’ll only be heart-broken.   I may re-try my hand at bonsai-caring with a fairly tolerant braided bamboo a.k.a. good luck tree (which is what my friend has).

The materials you will need to re-create something similar to my friend’s braided bamboo bonsai environment or to make your own beginner’s kit includes:

bonsai humidity/drip tray pebbles: It is a good idea to add water to your bonsai humidity/drip tray and  to raise your bonsai pot out of the water by lining your tray with river pebbles.

decorative crushed shale landscape rocks: A decorative dressing which doubles as a soil mix.

decorative landscape pebbles, small grade size: Clear-coated, tumbled smooth, and non-toxic.

professional bonsai soil, granular form: Considered sterile and environmentally inert. It is a natural non-toxic, highly absorptive ceramic granule with a generally neutral PH.  Approximately 25% water, 25% air, and 50% solid particulate matter.  It is dimensionally stable and will not degrade like other amending products. There is no need for it to be re-applied year after year.

Akadama brown soil: Can be mixed with other bonsai soils or used by itself.  It is a flash-fired, soft, volcanic clay.

Kyoto moss spores: These moss seed spores produce a beautiful, bright green velvety moss of the variety commonly found in the famous Kyoto gardens of Japan.

Colorado rock granules (tree soil additive): Is a naturally occurring volcanic cinder that has a porous structure which makes the material lightweight and highly moisture retentive. Incorporate into your bonsai soil mix to increase drainage (aeration). It will absorb up to 40% of its weight in water.

Bonsai Pro Brand fertilizer: It does not cause undesirable salt buildup in your growing medium. It is a professional formulation containing all essential macro and micro nutrient minerals for healthy bonsai.  With bonsai pro you feed your bonsai with each watering.

bonsai training wire

drip tray

traditional beginner bonsai shears: You probably would not need the more advanced tools until your tree matures.

*Other great advice from bonsai expert, Nancy Cyburban of Life’s Little Amusements regarding my personal bonsai project:

  • If you use your own garden rocks, it’s very important to boil the rocks in order to kill any bacteria or parasites that could be transferred from your garden soil; also true of any beach sand or gravel you purchase.
  • If you use moss from your garden (1″-2” square):  Place in a blender with some yogurt or milk and make a broth then paint it on the area you want the moss to grow on and water.   Alternately if you find a large enough patch of moss, it is easy to transplant moss as it just peels up and you just press it down where you want it.  Be sure to keep it moist by misting even if the plant does not need water until the moss acclimates.
  • To make your own fertilizer, use any balanced plant fertilizer meant for evergreens but do buy the kind you mix with water.  MIX HALF STRENGTH only.  When you find a good book you can obtain further directions.

Nancy Cyburban suggested these two great bonsai beginner books:

  • Bonsai Workshop- Styling and Training by Herb L. Gustafson.  This book is for the beginner to intermediate bonsai enthusiast; it outlines the essentials of the care, creation, and display of bonsai trees. This book is said to be “the only one you need.”
  • Bonsai Basics by Christian Pessey and Remy Samson which is a
    popular beginner book.  It contains easy-to-follow training techniques for pruning and wiring and expert advice on repotting, watering, and feeding with over 200 color photographs and numerous line drawings.

I personally own The Living Art of Bonsai by Amy Liang, which was the second part of my Christmas gift.  I highly recommend it to any bonsai enthusiast.  I’m paying it forward and hope this blog post is of some help.

*Reference: Thanks to Ms. Nancy Cyburban of Life’s Little Amusements for her kindness, patience, and invaluable wealth of information.

*Photocredit: NYCupcake via iPhone



Alternative Apparel & Allison Sudol Collab

Allison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy recently tweeted about her collab with Alternative Apparel (which produced three lovely designs; bear, tugboat, and tree).  On closer examination, I think this project was back in August 2011 and in very limited supply.  I ordered the tee with the cute tugboat design (the only one left I was told) and am looking forward to receiving it.  All tees are cotton and screen-printed.  Alternative’s flagship store is located in Venice Beach, California.  None of the collab tees are featured on their website.  You’ll have to call-in to order.

*Photocredit: Alternative Apparel

Panasonic Lumix G3 Camera

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3
16 MP
Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera
3-Inch Free-Angle Touch-Screen LCD
14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 Lens


I was so ecstatic when I received my Panasonic Lumix G3 back in the end of July!  Sorry this post is so late but I’ve been spending time bonding with it =).  So far I’ve been very impressed with its performance!  I really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect camera for my simple needs!  The picture quality is excellent (even in low light/indoor situations), it’s very easy to use (just takes common sense), no navigating through a complex menu, lightweight, attractive design, love the easy zoom-in during video mode and flip feature of the monitor.

I own a Canon PowerShot and needed an upgrade; the Lumix had been recommended to me.  It was worth every hard-earned penny!  So very pleased with it!

If you would like to know more about the Lumix G3, check out Panasonic’s website, Google keyword Lumix G3, or read the numerous reviews.




Hallmark Limited Edition Ornaments

I’ve been trying to wrap up my stocking-stuffer shopping for this year at Hallmark and Pier 1.  I have many people to shop for.  I found this sweet little 2011 limited edition cupcake ornament at my local Hallmark and discovered that they began their holiday cupcake series last year.  I was off to search on eBay for the missed 2010 cupcake!  I’m planning to have a small cupcake holiday tree for the first time this Christmas and will share pictures of it =).   This post will continue until the series is completed so come back every Christmas to check out my updates.  I may decide to include pics of my other non-Hallmark cupcake ornaments in a separate blog post; haven’t decided yet…  We’ll see.  Please place a request if you are interested in the second blog post idea. P.S. So far the 2010 and 2011 ornament versions do not have string included to allow for the ornament to be hung.  Any thin gold but sturdy string would compliment nicely!


First in Series: 2010 Oh, So Sweet! Christmas Cupcakes

USA Price: $9.95

Canada Price: $12.99

Christmastime is oh, so sweet and full of yummy things to eat- The season wouldn’t be complete without at least one homemade treat!

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

*Photocredit: NYCupcake


Second in Series: 2011 Simply Irresistible! Christmas Cupcakes

USA Price: $9.95

Canada Price: $12.99

Instead of milk and cookies, this would top ol’ Santa’s list! Frosted, fresh-baked goodness- who could possibly resist?

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

*Photcredit: NYCupcake


Third in Series: 2012 Berry-licious! Christmas Cupcakes

USA Price: $9.95

Canada Price: $12.99

Once upon a cupcake neatly sat a berry, oh, so sweetly, Trimmed in frosting… mmm… so yummy- what a treat for someone’s tummy!

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

2012 hallmark cupcake ornament *Photocredit: Hallmark


*Special edition ornament; issued in limited quantities and first available at the 2012 Keepsake Ornament Debut Event. Season’s Treatings! Christmas Cupcakes

USA Price: $9.95

Canada Price: $12.99

A cupcake with a snowman face- a holiday delight. Too yummy to resist and yet too cute to take a bite!

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

2012 hallmark snowman cupcake ornament

*Photocredit: eBay


Fourth in Series: 2013 It’s Snowing Sweetness! Christmas Cupcakes

USA Price: $9.95

Canada Price: $12.99

Like a sweet little cloud made of stardust and sprinkles, this silver-blue cupcake deliciously twinkles!

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artisthallmark cupcake holiday ornament 2013 *Photocredit: Amazon


Fifth in Series: 2014 Mystery ornament cupcake: Sweet (green) & Even Sweeter (gold).  Something sweet awaits.  Guess what’s inside…

USA Price: $9.95

Canada Price: $12.99

Cupcakes are always in good taste, and now’s your chance at the season’s latest treat- the Golden Cupcake.  Does your box hold the exclusive treat?  Only you will know.  Take it home, open it up, and discover the sweetness of Christmas.

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

hallmark mystery ornament cupcake

*Photocredit: Hallmark


I was hooked on this one too for 2014!  Adorable!

With a face made of candy and frosting so thick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!

USA Price: $9.95

Canada Price: $12.99

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

hallmark Sweet St Nick cupcake ornament*Photocredit:


Sixth in Series: 2015 Tasty Tannenbaum

USA Price: $12.95

Canada Price: $14.99

O Christmas treat, O Christmas treat,

how lovely is your icing-

With ornaments so yummy-sweet,

you’re really quite enticing!

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

hallmark ornament 2015 cupcake*Photocredit:


Seventh in Series: 2016 Peppermint Swirl Christmas Cupcakes

USA Price: $12.95

Canada Price: $14.99

When time becomes meaningless and she becomes absorbed in her art, Ruth Donikowski knows she’s onto something big.  “It just happens- I get lost,” she says.  She especially enjoys mixing materials like glass and metal to make elegant ornaments that have a classic yet modern feel.  The result: a meaningful hanging memory.

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

*Photocredit: Hallmark


2016 Cupcakes for Christmas!

USA Price: $17.95

Canada Price: $23.99

When time becomes meaningless and she becomes absorbed in her art, Ruth Donikowski knows she’s onto something big.  “It just happens- I get lost,” she says.  She especially enjoys mixing materials like glass and metal to make elegant ornaments that have a classic yet modern feel.  The result: a meaningful hanging memory.

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

*Photocredit: HookedonHallmark


Eight in Series: 2017 Candied Christmas Rose Christmas Cupcake

USA Price: $12.95

Canada Price: $14.99

When time becomes meaningless and she becomes absorbed in her art, Ruth Donikowski knows she’s onto something big.  “It just happens- I get lost,” she says.  She especially enjoys mixing materials like glass and metal to make elegant ornaments that have a classic yet modern feel.  The result: a meaningful hanging memory.

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

Ninth in Series: 2018 Holly Jolly Delight Christmas Cupcake

USA Price: $12.99

Canada Price: $14.99

Ruth Donikowski has been an artist for as long as she can remember.  When she was a little girl, she sketched in pencil on the wall under her parents’ bed and made little dolls from household items.  In high school, she painted panoramic murals on the walls.  As a Hallmark artist for almost 30 years, Ruth now specializes in using 3D materials like metal and glass to create beautiful mixed-media works of art.

By: Ruth Donikowski, Hallmark Keepsake Artist

*Photocredit: Hallmark

Special Projects: Brooklyn Art House Co-op’s The Sketchbook Project 2011

My sketchbook entitled, Book of Simple Pleasures: Happy Thoughts, will be part of The Sketchbook Project’s exhibition tour making its way across the country. After the tour, it will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where it will be barcoded and available for the public to view. TBAL is creating a digital companion of my sketchbook to accompany the Brooklyn Art Library’s hard copy.

The tour is about to kick off … Yeahhh! =)

  • The Brooklyn Art Library, NY, February 19-27, 2011
  • Austin Museum of Art in Austin, TX, March 12, 2011
  • SPACE Gallery in Portland, ME, March 30-April2, 2011
  • The Granite Room in Atlanta, GA , April 8-9, 2011
  • Transformer Gallery in Washington, DC, April 11-30, 2011
  • Form/Space Atelier in Seattle, WA, June 10-12, 2011
  • Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA, June 18, 2011
  • Hyde Park Arts Center in Chicago, IL, July 14-17, 2011
  • Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL, July 29-31, 2011

*More dates to be announced. Dates may be subject to change.

*For more info, please visit:

Book of Simple Pleasures (Happy Thoughts)

*Book of Simple Pleasures is dedicated to our original lazy loungers, Captain Neo & Calvin T.W.C.

NYCupcake’s Pampered Ponies Spa

Lickety-Split was part of my first batch of spa-goers.  She signed up for “the works”/Day of Beauty Deluxe Package  =)); and for good reason…

Her spa package included a shampooing, deep conditioning, luxury bath, and hairstyling, with no symbol touch-ups needed.

*Special thanks to my husband who photographed LS (excluding first two pictures, which were photographed by her previous owner)*