Friday, December 19, 2008

And now for something different

After sharing yesterday’s ornament, well I just don’t have one as cute to share. So I thought that I would show a non felt ornament. This is one of the small plaster ornaments that you get to paint yourself. I painted this several years ago, and it’s held together every year. There is something very therapeutic about painting these small ornaments. One year I painted so many I got a tunnel thumb. Not kidding. These are great because basically it’s like coloring in the lines. They don’t cost much to make, and you don’t really need a lot of supplies. Just some paint, a couple of good brushes, a plate to put the paint, and a little cup of water. My favorite paint plate is a little flat saucer from a thrift and a sleeping beauty jelly jar. See, very cheap.

Anyway, I was thinking what a great idea it would be to have a couple of spare ornaments on your tree. That way when a special guest came over, you could share an ornament. I think this would be great if you were having a Christmas party or something of the like. Yes, I know that it would mean that you would then have holes in your beautiful tree, but what a nice gesture and special memory made. I may not get to that this year, but if I keep making ornaments I think by next year I will have plenty!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holidays at Home

I known Christmas is only a week away, but I’m still trying to get into the Christmas spirit. Sew Mama Sew is hosting Holidays at Home, and I thought it might help. Go here to join up too.

My favorite

Is seems like the big question in blog land is ‘what is your favorite ornament?” This is a hard question. I don’t have any from my childhood, but my husband does and those are pretty special. We also have pictures of our Christmases each year together in the cute little silver frames. We also have ornaments that special people have given us. It’s hard to pick a favorite. Usually that’s not a problem. I can tell you my favorite fast food, favorite movie, favorite drink, favorite special meal, favorite car, and even in declaring those favorites I know that they are subject to change. My BFF doesn’t do that. She refuses to say anything is her favorite unless she knows that it will never change. She doesn’t want to say that it is her absolute favorite because what if something better came along. I think that is how I feel about ornaments.

Well, until I made this one. It is a little big and not as perfect as I would like, but look at that sweet silhouette. That’s perfect! I’m so glad that I made this. I was going to go through all the steps, but I did a lot of trial and error with this one. I just don’t think that there could be another like it. So, I’m going to try and make a couple more kind of paired down. If I actually get it done before Christmas I will share.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little Mittens

I just finished this ornament night before last, and I love it! There is just something about the round shape of ornaments that I love, so I decided to see how many different ways I could decorate these slightly smaller than 3” round pieces of felt. I got out my sketch pad (that I got special for drawing these patterns) and made several circles on one page. Then I drew different designs. There were really only about two that I liked, but this was my favorite. I just made a copy of my drawing on my printer/copier/everything machine, and then cut out the shape of one mitten. After cutting them out of red felt I decided to add a little detail to the mittens and the cuff. For the cuff I just cut out another piece of red felt and glued it on with special felt glue (I hope to do another post on that latter). I then used Ecru DMC floss and embroidered on a pattern. I was going for more of an argyle pattern, but the little mitten is so small it was kind of hard. After that I crochet a chain stitch out of number 321 DMC Pearl Cotton (which I bought by accident. I thought I was getting more embroidery floss just on a spool. As it turns out, this was only single strand not six). I left the ends long of both sides of the chain stitch so that I could hand sew them to each mitten. After blanket stitching around the felt circles with 321 DMC floss I simply glued the mittens on the felt. I thought it would be easier this way so I could make sure that it was centered exactly like I wanted. I also had the hand sewed the ribbon to the felt before doing the blanket stitch. I think it came out perfect. And I remembered to embroider my initials and 08 on the back this time. I think I have gotten so excited about the others that I have forgotten. Oh, well. I guess I will just have to remember that 2008 was the year of the felt ornaments.

Let me know if you want to try this. If anyone is interested I will try to share a pattern for the mitten and the circle.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Lights Review

We decided to go with LED lights for the tree this year. We purchased two boxes of at the Wal-Mart as a spur of the moment sort of thing. Well, I must say that I’m not really happy with them. I had heard that LED’s had gotten better this year; that they looked less harsh. So we thought we would give them a try. It will save us on the energy bill (or at least make us feel less guilty when we leave them on all day.)

I just don’t see it. These things are not white, they are blue. I don’t remember them looking like this in the store. They probably did, but I just couldn’t tell it with the fluorescents. Or maybe it’s because our ornaments are a little bit more homemade looking. We decided to leave the glass balls off the tree this year.

Also it doesn’t help that we could have used another 60 count bulb box. The top looks nice, but the bottom kind of looks like a flying saucer. You can kind of see it in the below picture. Notice how nice the top looks, and the see the two big rings around the bottom. If we had went with the colored lights it might look like Vegas . . .

The very up side is that I really feel like these lights are safe. You don’t have to be afraid about a little one touching the tree with these on. They have been on all day, and are still cool to the touch. I would have bought them for this reason, even if I had known that they would look blue.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Card Wreath

It has been a while since I have made a Martha craft. It’s been a while since I have actually finished any craft really (excluding the recent burst of felt ornaments), but when I started receiving Christmas cards (more than the two in the picture . . . I didn’t want to share the one’s with picture’s on them) I had to make a hurried version of the Martha Stewart Pinup Wreath.

This is the same as the wreaths that I made several years ago as my standard Christmas gift; i.e. made assembly line style with the only variation being different ribbon for each bow. I know that it looks quite a bit different from Martha’s, but I made mine from memory. I thought it looked better with the ribbon on the bottom. Ribbon tying isn’t really something that I do very well, but it isn’t as crooked as it is in the picture. I think I had the camera turned sideways because the card on top isn’t really “on the top.”

I used regular clothes pins, because that is what I used last time. Actually, I still had the bag left over. As I was hot gluing, I thought ‘hey, I bet this would look better using miniature cloths pins and placing them along the hoop instead of sticking out. That way the card will over lap.” Maybe next time. Apparently, via the Martha directions, I should have been using miniature cloths pins all along.

Something else that I forgot was to place some of the pins inward. Instead of pulling some of them off, which I could have done with the hot glue, I decided to make some of the pins do double duty. I just simply glued a pin right on top of another one. It doesn’t really stick out that much, and I think that it works great.

One extra thing that I remember from last time is that although using hot glue will hold the pins to the hoop, they may not hold for long. When I was transporting the wreaths to their recipients some of the pins popped off. While I thought they were awesome (and still do) I think the only person that still uses them is my Mom. Actually, she kind of revamped hers and added more pins and I think more hoops. If I can get a picture of it this year (if she is still using it) I will try to post it. This would be cool if you did three hoops and made a snow man. I also thought about spray painting it, but the ribbon that I had was kind of rustic and didn’t match the paint I had on hand . . . and would have taken more than the five or ten minutes that I used on this craft start to finish.

I think this is a really good gift to give someone. You can make a bunch of them at once, while still changing them to match someone’s personal style. Just remember though, if you are making them to last or to give away use wood glue like Martha said! If you decide to try one of these or have made one already I would love to see it!

Also, here is another great idea from Martha on Displaying Christmas Cards. How do you display your Chrismas Cards?

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Wonderland in Milk Glass

With the help of my personal shopper, my local thrift, and some generous benefactors I have amassed quite a collection of milk glass vases. My husband is looking a little nervous. He has already told me that I can’t have any more dishes, but he never said anything about milk glass or vases. Hey, a gal’s got to have something. Well, I figure that if I actually use them then he can’t say anything right?

I thought it would be really cute to put the small milk glass pieces on the window seal in the kitchen. So after holding the pretty pink roses, on the window seal they went, with some little purple flowers that I pulled from my crafting stash. They were ok for a little while, but not very festive. So I thought I would run to Michael’s and get some little poinsettias or those little decorative sprigs. They didn’t really have anything that fit the bill. Everything was too big, too small, too gaudy, or too over priced; until I found these springs of holly. I bought two bunches for around $2.99 a piece (and I think they were half off of that too), and took them home and begin to take them apart. I then make my own little bunches and wrapped them with brown floral wire that I again pulled from my crafting stash. I think they turned out really nice.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cute Little Mushroom

Here is another ornament that I made up myself. I am debating on whether I can part with it as a gift or not. I’m afraid if I make another I won’t stop. I used the same stitch as I used for my little mushroom house, but just changed it up a little. The little windows and doors on the other took a lot of time. On this one, I tried to make one of the spots look like a heart. I think I might use red floss on the heart next time . . . if I don’t run out!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Little Birdie

Here is my attempt at making the cute little birdies from Skip to my Lou’s Little Birdie Advent Calendar. They didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, but that’s because I just used the pattern (which I scaled down 75%) and not the directions. I have recently re-taught myself the blanket stick, so I keep wanting to use it. I think that’s my down fall. I also changed up the colors, because I didn’t really want pink on my Christmas tree. I’m afraid if I start with that, well . . . my husband won’t be happy.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Look what I made . . . finally!

What I mean is, I have finally finished a craft, taken pictures of it, AND posted about it. I have been trying to do this for weeks now. It always seems like I get something most of the way finished, and then something interrupts me. It’s put to the side, and then when or if I try to get back to it I can’t find the pieces or I can’t remember what I was doing or . . . it just doesn’t work.

For the past few days though, I have NEEDED to make something. I have been in love with all the little woodsy things that I have been seeing about. I am in love with this ornament! The pictures just don’t do it justice, because it looks a little wonky. It’s only about 2.5” high and I adore it! It took longer than I thought to cut everything out, and then do all the stitching. And it’s from my own drawing. I can’t wait to make more!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I had to go back!

This is what I bought on my second trip to the local thrift last week. That’s right, once just wasn’t enough.

I didn’t big score like I did before, but it went well. I got these for a school donation. Twenty five cents a piece! You can’t beat it.

And this cool apron. I don’t know if I will wear it, or use the fabric. On one hand I am pretty messy, but on the other, I’m pretty messy. There is a good chance this apron won’t make it. I think the reason that I like it is because it reminds me of my granny. Plus, you have to have something to embarrass your kids right?

What do you think? Keep it or cut it?

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Local Thrift

Last week I made a trip to the local thrift. I was pretty lucky I think. This is my cache. I finally found some large frames that were under $5.00. Most of the large frames that I have seen lately, even at my small town thrift, have been $25 to $30. I think it’s because they come with art or prints, but usually I think they are ugly anyway and I just want the frames. I would just go to Michael’s if I was going to spend that much. Anyway, my husband’s reaction was that they are pretty banged up, but I think they will look fine after some spray paint and a little magic. I have a crafty plan for the really ugly one of the left.

I scored some what I think is old milk glass. I already have one just like the middle one, but I thought it would be cute to have a couple of it. I might resell the others.

I also got this vintage milk glass grape dish. I’m not sure if I like it or not, but I thought I would get it anyway. If I don’t I could always resell it.

I also picked up some more craft supplies. It's super cheap this way.

Some cute vintage-ie looking fabric. Not sure if it really is though, but I liked it.

Two old children’s books. The truth is that I didn’t even look at them that well. Usually I look and see when they were printed, because there is just something cool about having old books around. I even love the smell of them. Not the dusty old house smell, but the aged paper smell.

A Martha Stewart Good Things Binder. I already had one, but I just couldn’t leave it!

And the pièce de résistance! A Canon Auto Zoom 814 super 8 camera! I never expected to see it. I don’t know if it works, because it takes batteries for the zoom. When I first saw it my heart started to palpitate. Before we moved here, I visited Goodwill almost weekly and it always amazed me how photography equipment seemed to find its way there. I wondered if somehow they figured out that there was a nut that would frequent the store that just couldn’t help her compulsion to bring all this old dusty antiquated equipment home. To a small apartment with no storage none the less. Anyway, that was kind of the same train of thought when I walked up to the register and saw this little piece of shiny metal. How it found its way to this small mountain town, I don’t know but surely it was meant for me. My voice quivered as I asked to look at the camera. I looked it up side ways and long ways. Front ways and back ways, no visible lens scratches, seals looks intact, all the buttons move. The only test I couldn’t do is to release the shutter and hear the rhythmic clicking of the iris opening and closing. I looked at the price tag $25.00 . . . but with no battery I couldn’t see if it worked. You see I have a standard rule that I can’t pay over $25.00 for an antique camera unless it is super cool AND it works. This one defiantly fit the super cool. I asked to speak to the manager. What? Did my ears deceive me? They have a 30 day return policy AND it was marked down to $10.00! I”LL TAKE IT!

See, my rational is that if I was to buy a fake camera piece from, oh say, Pottery Barn, etc, it was cost way more than $10, so as an art piece I think it’s worth it. The only problem is if I can convince my husband to come over to my way of thinking. I think this will make it a little easier. Now I only have to see if it works . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

First Attempt at Sewing a Bag From a Pattern

Sarah at The Misadventures of Sarah and Jack decided to share some of her crafts that . . . well, just didn’t turn out the way she planned. I think we have all had those crafts. I have a ton of them unfinished in my closet myself. It’s funny how things sort of work when you start to create. With me, I get so excited that I have to finish. If I have to stop or take a break, well they usually end up in the closet unfinished. Or, I don’t get to start. I have a ton of beer themed t-shirts in XXL Ziploc bag in my closet that I bought from Goodwill almost 2 years ago, and still haven’t started on the project.

Anyway, Sarah invited us to join in and share some the projects that just didn’t turn out. Here is mine. This is my first attempt at reading a pattern on my own. I loved the pattern, but hated the bag.

The bag was supposed to have curved edges and when I tried to sew the curves together they came out different sizes. I should have started with a square.

I lined the bag with the same material that is on the outside. The pattern said that it was ok. Well, it looks terrible.

I had to use an interfacing, and I don’t think I attached the sides right. Really I think the inside and the outside are just different sizes.

Another problem is that there is no stability to the bag. The fabric is almost a heavy canvas weight, but this is what it does when you try to carry it. It just flops over. Not what I had in mind.

Let me just say for myself that I didn’t take Home Economics and my Mom never taught me how to use a sewing machine. That’s right. I’m braving this own my own folks. So like Sarah I’m ready to just toss it, except that I LOVE the fabric. I have already ripped out the seams joining the inside and outside layers. Any ideas on how to fix this?

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Big Savaaaaa

Last Friday, I really had to go to the grocery store. I had to bake a cake and I had company coming over that weekend. I always HATE going to the grocery store, because it takes for stinking ever and I always get stuck behind people. Yes, I know I was the one blocking the soup aisle for 15 minutes try to make sure I had enough cans of soup for the coupons I was using. I also have a little helper who kept deciding that we needed to-go tuna and crackers, because I kept finding them thrown in the buggy.

Not only do I hate going to the store, I hate coming home from the store. I HATE carrying in groceries. Really I do. For some reason when we were looking for a house to buy, there just wasn’t any with a basement AND a drive way that was close to the kitchen.

What was I talking about, oh yeah. Anyway, the reason that I wanted to talk about my grocery shop is that I am SO proud of myself! I have been doing the Grocery Game for months now and I love it. Sometimes it seems hard and sometimes it seems easy, but I tell you when you look down at that Savings Today section it makes it all worth it. Usually, I have only been averaging about 35%. I always had those items that seemed to bring down my average. You know the things that are hardly ever on sale like Milk and Eggs. Well, we had already stocked on those last week, but I was still surprised when I looked down and saw how much I saved . . . are you ready . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . I saved a whopping $99.12!!!! I only spend $89.98! That’s right folks I saved 53% on my groceries! Let’s break it down (because really I’m still living in the moment):

Manufacture’s Coupon Savings: $37.18
Bonus Coupon Savings: $9.55
Store Coupon & Kroger Plus Savings: $52.39
Total Savings: (53%) $99.12

It was mostly things that were on my list too, so I wasn’t just buying things because they were on sale. I did get some things that I don’t normally buy like toaster strudel and frozen pie singles, but I do really like both those things. And the price was right!

I still don’t have my coupons fixed exactly like I want them, but I’m working on it. When I get it perfected I will let ya’ll know. That way you can be big saving like me!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Heart Felt Thank You

Peace does not come without war.

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it, except as a means of peace.”
Ulysses S. Grant

“From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” Thomas Jefferson

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” John Stewart Mill

“Freedom isn't free.” Anonymous

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” George Orwell

“We make war that we may live in peace.” Aristotle

To all the Veterans and their families who serve, thank you