Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Sea Bisquit's Life

My apologies to those of you who found yourselves craving some Tuesday Finds yesterday. I am Officially Worn Out, zombielike and not very talkative (type-ative?) right now. I took the last of the pre-holiday orders to the post office yesterday and it seems that the knowledge that I am now free to relax immediately set off some kind of total inertia. I'll try to be good next week though.

So, instead of much typing, I thought I'd share another video of underwater coolness for your viewing pleasure. It shows the life cycle of sea bisquits (Clypeaster subdepressus), a creature I admit I had never heard of before. I found it fascinating, I hope you do too.

Mmmm, bisquits... *wanders off in a highly zombielike manner in search of nutrition*

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Need a fun, silly game? Also, an announcement!

First, a little announcement. Morrgan's Creatures will be closed for the holidays from Dec 20th 2008 and will fully reopen on Jan 7th 2009. This means my Etsy, Art Fire and DaWanda shops. Patterns will be available from Jan 2nd, the rest from Jan 7th. So, if you want to order something before next year, December 19th is the last day to place it. Just So You Know.

(Hopefully I'll get the chance to visit my blog and yours occasionally during this time. We'll see.)

Now for the fun fun stuff. Are you bored at work sometimes? In need of break?

Let me introduce you to QWOP. This silly little game made both Mr Morrgan and I actually Laugh Out Loud, many many times. How far can you get? (I made it to a whole 53 meters, such a proud moment.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday Finds: Relaxation

It's been a busy week, ladies and gents. A busy month, really. Completing orders (such as the pile of little ones on the right), packing them, running about after supplies and to the post office... I do love it, don't get me wrong, but at the same time I'm glad this only occurs once a year. ;)

One thing is certain: after such weeks, one is in dire need of relaxation.

When I think about ways to relax, one of the first things that come to mind is a nice cup of tea. 'Orient Express' by Tea Noir looks like a lovely alternative - a green tea blend with jasmine. (I recently tried this blend and while not perhaps the first choice for relaxation, it was indeed simply delightful!)

Imagine a nice hot foot bath, while reading a book and enjoying the tea above. Mmm, the thought alone makes me a little less tense. How about a little something extra for the poor tired feet afterwards? Perhaps something like this Twinkle Toes Foot Repair balm by Dress Green?

I'm sure this doesn't apply to everyone, but the one thing that's guaranteed to relax me is knitting. Yes, even after weeks of it, non-stop. This gorgeous handspun mohair yarn looks oh so tempting indeed. While I haven't tried the yarns from The Fuzzy Bunny, I can happily recommend this seller based on my purchases from her bath and body shop.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Project Advent Calendar: Mission Completed

So as mentioned in a previous post, I decided to make an advent calendar after seeing this one. After all, I'm in the middle of the holiday season rush with many orders to complete, so it made perfect sense to start something like this. (Yeah, I'm real smart aren't I?)

I'm the kind of person who reads a recipe for baking, goes "oooh, that sounds good, I have to make that" and then exchanges pretty much every ingredient for something else. It comes as no surprise then, that my version turned out a bit... different.

We (I recruited Mr Morrgan as my assistant) had a lot of fun, but completing Project Advent Calendar wasn't all that easy. After solving the first problem, finding empty matchboxes, we were faced with another dilemma - matchboxes are really too tiny for most of the yummy chocolates and toffees we wanted as "surprises". In the end we had to settle for pieces of nougat and toffee we could squish into the right shape. Mmm, squished toffee.

Matchbox advent calendar with Francis and Freddy Raven
Francis and Freddy Raven approve of this project.

Then came the construction. Mr Morrgan and I, both fans of more unusual shapes, had an exchange that went something like this:

Mr Morrgan: "You know, it'd be cool if we could make this in the shape of an Aztec temple."
Me: "Haha, silly!"
Both: *laughter*

A few moments later:
Me: "Hmmmmmmm..."
Mr Morrgan: "Actually..."

Unfortunately, an Aztec temple proved too tricky a shape to create with only 24 matchboxes. Perhaps next year we will be equipped for more challenging projects. Instead, we decided on the spiral tower you see above. I taped the paper onto the boxes and boxes onto each other, while Mr Morrgan lined them with foil and wrote numbers on them. However, when the time came to fill our lovely tower with goodies, we came to realise two things:

1) Toffees and nougat pieces are rather heavy.
2) Spiral towers made of paper, tape and tiny cardboard boxes don't have much in the way of structural integrity.

This thing was already leaning dangerously to one side when empty, nearly toppling under its own weight. Filling it with candies was out of the question. Oh no, what to do? Well, after a brief moment of despair I found the perfect solution: bottle corks! Covered with paper and cut into suitable pieces they made excellent supports. Problem solved! And thus our creation was finished.

Time spent on project: A few hours.
Cost: More than I expected, even with partly recycled materials. So much for saving money making your own.
Difficulty: Pretty high for a knitter.
Fun level: High!
Injuries: Minor

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday Finds: Finland Finland Finland

...Finland has it all. Or so say Monty Python.

Finland's Independence Day is coming up on December 6th - happy 91st, O Finland! So, I thought it'd be a good idea to show off an eclectic mix of items from shops based in Finland for this week's Tuesday Finds. Enjoy!

With its turquoise cherry blossom print and cute frame, karuski's frame pouch is such a pretty thing indeed. It's earth-friendly too, as it's made of recycled materials.

Speaking of recycling, Finns do quite a lot of it. Here's the reason why. We like having our pants intact, thank you very much. This fabric patch by Andy eats only candy can be sewn on anything, to serve as a warning to others.

Last up this week we have a lovely aquatint print called 'across the sea' by the littleblue shop. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something about this image that really reminds me of the place I grew up in. Ah, nostalgia...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finding that Elusive Christmas Spirit

Turku Cathedral
Most years there's snow all over, making this
a prettier scene.

Since early November, there have been poorly decorated plastic trees prominently placed in many shops. This week, I had to suffer for almost 15 minutes in a queue, waiting to pay for a new pair of winter boots, while the awful Christmassy pop played in that store slowly melted my brain. It wasn't even December yet and I wished with all my heart that this Christmas nonsense would have been over and done with yesterday.

Then a friend reminded me that the traditional advent concert was happening this Friday. I'd completely forgotten that it would be so soon and rushed out just in time to get a couple of the last tickets. And then on Friday evening, something strange happened.

The concert is held at the Turku Cathedral and is performed by Brahe Djäknar and Florakören, both internationally awarded choirs consisting of Åbo Akademi University students, and the Symphony Orchestra of Åbo Akademi. Going to this yearly concert became a tradition while I was a student at the same university and I'm happy to continue it now that I've graduated.

As soon as the choirs entered the darkened cathedral, holding lit candles and singing "Veni redemptor gentium" (a very old hymn reworked by J. S. Bach), I got chills up my spine. This happens every time - somehow my body reacts physically to hearing something beautiful. Once the concert was over, I had been transformed from a grumpy curmudgeon concerning all holiday things to someone who thinks it isn't all that bad after all.

The rest of the evening included drinks with friends and unexpectedly ending up at what could be called a student street party with mulled wine. By the end of the night, not even the sight of a pink plastic Christmas tree in a shop window could deter my small but growing enthusiasm for Christmas.

I'm not sure how the advent concert manages to do this, but it always works. I guess it shows the lovely side of Christmas and reminds me of how it will be once Christmas Eve comes around and we're enjoying the holiday with family, instead of the icky commercial version we're stuffed with every day for 1 1/2 months.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a cool handmade advent calendar idea to realise, in order to nurture my delicate Christmas joy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Morrgan, the One-Woman Pony Factory

Iron grey or gray horse Those of you who have followed me on Twitter may have noticed a small obsession with ponies lately. That's because I got a custom order, a great one actually, because:

a) It was larger than my usual custom orders (not that big by most wholesale standards, but my shoppe is small and it was big enough to make me happy).
b) It was my first order from a business, and a local one too.
c) Wheeee, ponies!! Or horses actually, but I like the word pony.

Morrgan, the Pony Factory
So I became a one-woman pony factory. Above you see the work in progress and it illustrates my way of working pretty well. I start by knitting the pieces and when that gets a bit dull I begin to put them together, then soon go back to knitting again because my fingers itch for it, then take a break from it again and sew on the manes and tails, and so on, and so on. When it's not a big order, I just work on several things at once in a similar way.

Palomino horse These are actually magnetic horses, containing a strong neodymium magnet. They are all different and I made a few extra ones too, which have already been listed in my Etsy, Art Fire and DaWanda shops. They would make a fun Christmas present for example, don't you think? *hint hint*

White horse

I already have many many random ideas for other magnetic animals: foxes, elephants, doggies, polar bears, black panthers... Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Finds: Snowstorms

A few days ago I had to go grocery shopping in the winter's first minor snowstorm. I haven't had that much fun in a looooong time! Mr Morrgan and I were laughing every time a gust of wind tried to blow us away and we enjoyed the sight of whirling winds playing with the snow. This childish glee is reserved for the first snowstorm of the year only, for I'm sure we'll be sick of them once the winter is over. But after a hopefully sunny summer to come, once next year's autumn nears its end, we'll again be looking forward to the first snowstorm of the season...

Shameless promotion alert! Once we got back home I looked like a snowman and was cold all over, except for my head. Why? Because I was wearing a hat like this one. It's my favourite winter hat and now I can say it's minor snowstorm-proof as well! (Red & black and dark brown & black coming soon to the shop.)

Ok, on with the finds! As you may have guessed (or more likely, read from the title), this week's theme is snowstorms.

Is this fiber batt called 'Moonlit Snow' not a thing of beauty? Yes, it gives a more peaceful snow-on-the-ground-only vibe, but just look at how soft it looks! I couldn't resist showing it to you. I know we don't have space for me to start another hobby, but this one reeeeally makes me want to learn how to spin. You can find this one and many more at Terra Bella Spun.

Let's say you're in a snowstorm, either enjoying it (like us weirdos) or wanting to get indoors as soon as possible. What would make the situation better? A friend to share the joy/suffering with, of course! I imagine this fat polar bear by sweetestpea would certainly know what to do in a blizzard.

Don't get snow or snowstorms where you come from? Here's a handy-dandy Morrgan-approved tip: create your own! Get a set or two of these snowflake cardstock punches, available at Carolina Craftin', and just toss them in the air! Insta-blizzard without the cold!
(You're right, I haven't grown up yet. I don't want to either, this is more fun.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blue-ringed Beauties and Wunderpuses

Greater blue-ringed octopus (photo by Jens Petersen)

Meekiyu commented on my previous post about underwater creatures, mentioning the blue-ringed octopus. It sounded fascinating so I did a bit of reading on this beautiful cephalopod. It turns out there are several species of blue-ringed octopuses, all of them teeny tiny (golfball-sized, according to Wikipedia) and extremely venomous.

An interesting tidbit is that the markings of the Greater blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) can be used to identify different individuals. This photo compares a few octopuses, the differences marked with white arrows.

While doing some more reading I found that the blue-ringed ones aren't alone; the "wunderpus" octopus (Wunderpus photogenicus, love that name) individuals can also be distinguished by their patterns. And now we come to the point of this longer-than-intended post. On the left here is a photo of a wunderpus, seen from above - this one seems to have quite a lovely smile! ;)

(Source for modified 2nd photo: Huffard CL, Caldwell RL, DeLoach N, Gentry DW, Humann P, B. MacDonald, B. Moore, R. Ross, T. Uno, S. Wong. 2008. Individually Unique Body Color Patterns in Octopus (Wunderpus photogenicus) Allow for Photoidentification. PLoS ONE 3(11): e3732.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Twitter, therefore I am... a Twit?

Twitterer? Tweeter? Tweetie?

Yes indeed, I have joined the twittering horde. I don't know what the proper term for someone using Twitter is, but I am one.

For those who are new to the whole concept, Kreativlink explained it to me as "mini-blogging". So, if the random updates to this blog simply aren't enough for you, go ahead and follow me there:

In other news, I have been busy creating dreadful monsters to release upon the unsuspecting world.

Twitty? Twitteroo?

Ooooooh wait wait wait, I've got it now! TWEETERATOR


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Finds: Wooden Wonders

I tried woodworking when I was back in school. While I did mostly enjoy it, there seemed to be an alarming number of injuries involved in making an item and the beauty of what I made was, um, questionable. At least my items have proved long-lasting in every day use - a piggy-shaped cutting board and a knife holder I made some 15-20 years ago still "decorate" my parents' kitchen. The scars I got while making them have proved long-lasting too.

These reasons should explain why I have great respect for those who can create beautiful things from wood. I will show off some of my favourites this week, but I suspect this theme will will return on a later date because there's just so many I'd like to share with you.

Oh my, oh my. Dark, chocolatey brown wood and circles of all sizes. It seems garnish(home) knows just what I like. This circles wood pendant made from recycled wood is just one of many delicious designs available.

Now, how about this box called Diane. There's not a straight line in sight and I just love it! Check out Jim Jenkins' shop for more lovely curves.

I think it has been established that I am a fan of curvy and wavy lines, but if there's anyone still in doubt this last find should prove it once and for all. I give to you a zebrawood bangle by In-bloom Designs. Look at that shape combined with the stripes of the wood. Mmm!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A sign of success?

Yesterday I took a bunch of packages to the post office. For the first time, the lady at the counter started asking questions about how quickly the packages usually reach their destination and if everything has arrived safely. Yay for friendly postal workers! I guess I have now reached the point where I go to the post office often enough that the people who work there recognize me. Is this one way of measuring the success of my little online shop? ;)

Continuing on the topic of said online shop, it's time for the obligatory annual holiday shopping plug.

If you're considering shopping at Morrgan's Creatures this holiday season, November is the best time to do so! This is especially the case for custom orders and the few items made to order I carry in my shop. I've already been a busy bee for a couple of weeks and if this year's at all like last year, it's only going to get busier. Beat the rush!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beware the Vampire Squid from Hell

It has come to my attention that a creature called Vampyroteuthis infernalis exists, its name literally meaning "Vampire Squid from Hell". I felt this fact was worthy of a blog post.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Finds: November Rain

The weather and I haven't been on very good terms lately. In fact, I suspect the weather is trying to do me in.

Two recent pieces of evidence come to mind in support of my theory:

1) Yesterday started out quite ok. There was even enough sunlight to take a few nice sun-touched photos for the shop. However, I had some errands in town in the afternoon. As soon as I got as far from our place as I intended to go that time, a rather impressive rain began and lasted until I got back home. No umbrella, of course. I was cruelly tricked.

2) In the evening I went to see a friend and had to take the bus. This time I was prepared, though, and brought my umbrella. All was well until I got on the bus and couldn't change my mind about going out anymore. Yup, more rain. By the time I got to my stop, from where I still needed to walk the last kilometer or so to get to my destination, it was as if someone was pouring water out of a giant bucket in the sky. Wild, stormy winds completed the experience. My poor little umbrella didn't stand a chance against that kind of assault.

Pretty convincing, isn't it? As I need to go grocery shopping today, I decided to dedicate this week's Tuesday Finds to rain in a meager effort to placate the crotchety weather. (Do you hear that, rain clouds? I'm being nice. You might want to try it some time too.)

Now this is what I like to see! I am firmly of the opinion that we need more clouds like this around here. Perhaps I should show this print by Argyle Whale to the ones lurking outside, to let them see what the cool kids are up to these days.

Who wouldn't want to take Clear Jade Studio's cute cat print home? You poor, poor kitty, I know exactly how you feel.

Despite my troubles with rain and clouds, I must admit I adore the shape of smallwhitepebble's Cloudery freeform crochet necklace.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Oh yeah, Father's Day!

I went out today, in the cold and the dark and the damp, braving the misty rain in order to get bread and milk. Once outside, I realized this is the really annoying kind of rain that's gets in your face regardless of how you hold your umbrella and will leave you feeling cold, moist and icky no matter what. It's barely enough to be called "rain", yet every piece of clothing you're wearing will be in need of drying once you get back. It's truly some sort of devious miracle of nature.

Once I got to the shop I found it was closed. They are all closed, because it's Father's Day here in Finland. No choice but to trundle back in the same cold and dark and damp that I had to endure on the way out, with no milk and no bread. Pity me.

But as they say, every (irritating rain) cloud has a silver lining. I now know that it's Father's Day and can wish my Dad a happy one on the day, instead of the usual one week later. (I'm pretty good with birthdays, honest. It's these random holidays that seem to try their hardest to sneak past me unnoticed and then turn around and laugh at me from the safe distance of a week ago. Unless they can lure me out to get soaked, of course. Grr.)

So, happy Father's Day, pappa! I probably neglect to tell you this in person, but I'm always telling people about how much fun my brother and I had when we were kids, playing with the treehouses, slingshots and other nifty things you made for us when we were little, and about the homemade bread and other yummy things you made and still make in the kitchen. Thanks! \o/ I'll make one of these below for you the next time we're in the same city.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Something Fishy, part 2

I promised you photos from the aquarium weekend, didn't I? Well, here they are! It was a very good weekend with many visitors - the reason why these photos are so people-free is that I was too busy during the hours the show was open to take any photos and thus ended up with mostly ones I took before the event.

Here's three of the eleven fish tanks in the show. The one on the left, with the oh-so-gorgeous black plastic covering three sides, is one of mine.

The second one I brought to the show, set up just for this event. You can see its (borrowed) inhabitant in the top middle part of the tank - an apple snail.

Mr Morrgan, giving this photo an air of mystery with his odd pose. What is he looking at??

The garden is a fantastic place for an aquarium exhibition; the tropical surroundings are just perfect.

One of the garden's beauties, an Epiphyllum of some kind.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tuesday Finds: Aquaria

So, did you know I was at an aquarium exhibition this weekend?

Haha, I know I've mentioned it in every post lately, but I'll stop soon, I promise. I'll post a few photos from the event later this week though, so that'll be more fun than just talking.

In the mean time, take a look at these items! As all has been revolving around the aquatic world lately, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that that's the theme for this week's Tuesday Finds.

Do you like fishies but don't feel inclined to start up a whole aquarium? MiChiMa has the answer! Guillermo here is apparently a friendly guy who likes worms and you can ask to have him converted to for example a keychain, so he'll be with you at all times. Really, who can resist that smile?

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember that I have a big soft spot for angelfish. It is no wonder then that I fell for this print of a watercolour painting, showing three lovely angelfish in their domain, by AllKindsofArt.

For the last find of the week, we move on to the marine underwater world. Maui Crystal carries beautiful glass art, such as this idol in orange and black, mostly inspired by the local sea creatures.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Current mood: Tired but feeling good

I'm feeling good right now. It's rare, to actually feel good like this.

Partly, this is due to having a great time at the first day of the aquarium exhibition. It certainly was a lot of work for us to organize it, but after today it feels worth it.

Secondly, once I got back home I realized I was on the front page of Etsy! This was thanks to the lovely ArtMind, who was kind enough to include my arm warmers in her Treasury list. (Treasuries are fleeting things, alas, so the list will be gone on Monday. Take a look while you can!)

Coming back to that just made my day. Really. A great big thank you to ArtMind, my customers and the kind people who took a moment to send me a note. It's much appreciated!

Now before I get too gooey and soppy, I'll send you off to take a look at ArtMind's shop, because it's definitely worth a look. Just look at fiber jewelry below if you need proof!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rainbow Six? Rainbow Fish!

The local aquarium club is holding their third annual aquarium exhibition this weekend, which should be a fun event. I have some photos from last year's exhibition, if you're interested.

This year the club is also organizing a raffle and needed a bunch of small prizes for it. So, I looked at Eustace the tiny goldfish, then at my pile of leftover yarn in many colours and had an idea. The result you can see on the right: rainbow fish! I'll go look for keyrings today and make these into little key fobs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday Finds: BioShock

This week's theme might be a more obscure one for many of you. BioShock is a video game that includes some of my favourite concepts: a crumbling underwater utopia, a visual style combining Art Deco and futuristic elements, plus a wonderful soundscape - all mixed together with genetic engineering gone wrong to create a survival horror game. All in all, it's very enjoyable. The screenshots on the right and below will hopefully give you an idea of the atmosphere.

Now, on to this week's finds. The item that started my reminiscing about BioShock is this steampunk wire ring by Catherinette Rings. (The screenshot above will give a clue as to why.) While this ring is the most appropriate for this week's theme, there are so many fantastic rings in a similar style to choose from in the shop that I just can't pick a favourite.

Next up is a glass pendant featuring a 1933 Chicago World's Fair poster by ArtsNcharms. The pendant is two-sided, with sheet music on the back. In BioShock, you come across lovely Art Deco-style posters like this one, yet another thing I enjoy about the game.

The third and last find for the week is another beautiful ring, made from an antique silver spoon with an Art Deco design. Revisions Design Studio has many more to choose from as well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Carnivores! I have them!

At the start of the month, I planted a bunch of seeds I got in the mail. Tiny tiny seeds, and lots of them. These tiny seeds turned into tiny tiny plants about a week ago. LOTS of them. My, I feel like such a proud mommy.

The seeds were from a carnivorous plant called Cape sundew or Drosera capensis, supposedly a good beginner's carnivore. The little ones you see in the photo are about 1-2 mm tall (that's really, really small for you non-metrics). I have no idea how fast they will grow, but I can't wait for them to get big enough to take care of the small, but annoying fungus gnat problem.

Proper care of these includes constant wetness with as pure water as you can get and high humidity. In other words, completely different from my usual plant care routine (water when I happen to remember, maybe once or twice per month). I'm making a real effort this time though, and so far so good.

So be warned, fungus gnats! Your doom is getting closer every day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A mammoth like no other

(Below are this week's Tuesday Finds, inspired by the lovely Krisse. Remember to take a look at those too!)

This weekend was filled with much happy fun-time, celebrating a friend's birthday. Making the birthday present for this occasion must have been one of the most fun projects I've ever done, too. (Especially hunting for girly things all over town with Mr Morrgan, to get her dressed up just right.) I give you the world's one and only pissis mammoth, Krisse.

Now how to translate pissis into English. Imagine loud teenage girls with too much makeup, tight designer jeans (or alternately a tiny miniskirt in winter) and huge earrings, who drink too much cider although they're too young to drink and can't hold their liquor, have a preference for pink... You get the idea.

So here's Krisse, with her pink fur in a poodle hairstyle (very popular these days, she says), huge earrings and turquise nail polish matching her eye shadow. All ready for Saturday night!

The fact that we chose to make something like this for a friend's 40th birthday says something about us, and the fact that the little mammoth was much loved says something about the recipient. What exactly that something is I don't want to think about in greater detail. :D

(Fun fact learned at the party: Too much headbanging results in a really, really sore neck. Owie.)
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