Monday, November 29, 2010

The Christmas Story of Grumpy McMiserable

Once upon a time there was a girl (she was really more of a woman, but she had an active inner child so girl is more appropriate as a descriptive term) who loved Christmas. She would have been pleased for the calendar to skip straight from Halloween into Christmas, but then she would have missed out on her mumsy's stuffing at Thanksgiving, so such a holiday pit stop was necessary. She started looking for snow in November, and didn't mind the October Christmas carols (even though she was willing to admit it was a touch early). Christmas was the happiest time of the year for sure, and the happiest people of all must be those that worked in the happiest trade of all--retail.

One day, the girl and her mother took a trip in the wind and cold to the most delightful of places--Michael's Arts and Crafts. It was a Christmas wonderland inside--lights, sparkly ornaments, spicy minty smelling candles, and a 60% off custom framing sale (haha--they have those every week--they should just mark them down permanently). After gathering up armloads of artificial poinsettias to add some holiday cheer to the already over-decorated home, they walked casually by the aisle with all of the artificial Christmas trees. 'GASP!' said the girl. 'Look at those! I want those in my life! All three of them! And they're on sale for $11.99! Down from $19.99!' Quickly the girl and her mother began rooting through the stack of boxes looking for one of each. But alas, they could only find one. 

Overcome with excitement, the girl loped over to Tony, Store Associate. She said (in her sweetest voice, mind you) "Excuse me? These trees...only one of them has a box. Can I buy the other two from the display?" Tony, failing to absorb this Christmas cheer, sighed audibly (and rudely!) and said "Fiiiiiine." The girl looked at him expectantly, waiting for the store employee to unhook the wires, but such was not to be. She quietly whispered to herself "Really dude?" And then she and her mother proceeded to unhook the necessary cords. Her mother felt like leaving all of the other cords unplugged just to show him, but they decided this would not be fair to other shoppers who needed some Christmas cheer. And so they made their way to the front of the store.

The girl explained to Cashier Joan "The gentleman in Seasonal said we could buy these two from the display because there weren't any left." Joan said sweetly "Is that him?" The girl nodded, and Joan called out "Tony? You ok'd the sale of the display trees, right?" To which Tony, still with the surliest of surly expressions on his face, audibly sucked his teeth and said "What. Everrrr. That's fine." Cashier Joan said "OK, then." She proceeded to scan the tree that was in a box--it rang up for $9.99. "Woot!" the girl yelled, as her mother said "Well that's a nice surprise!" Store Associate Tony looked over with a twisty, miserable face full of humbug as though he wished he could have made them more expensive. But the girl didn't care. She had her treasures. She gave Tony the sweetest bite-me smile she could muster as she sauntered out of the store into the wind and cold with her mother, and headed to Best Buy.

And that is the story of how these came to live in the girl's dining room:

The end.

If you made it this far, I sincerely thank you for your perseverance, and I reward you with more photos of delicious eye candy:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gingerbread Christmas Wreath

Seriously? Less than a month until Christmas? Come. On. And the past four days blew by in such a blur I now have a headache. But the house is decorated and smelling good, a huge bit of my shopping is done, and I can now chillax a bit. I've been so excited to decorate because I wanted to hang up my latest craft--it's absolutely nothing new, but I have been wanting to make one of these since I saw one last Christmas:

I found a gold wire hoop at the craft store that I really don't know what you'd use it for, but it worked perfectly for this. I took my Christmas scrap bag and my rotary cutter and cut a bunch of strips about an inch a half by eight inches. And then I made a bunch of knots. Then a bunch more. Then I smooshed them all together and made more until there wasn't a lick of space left no matter how hard I smooshed. It looks like it would be heavy but it is surprisingly lightweight. It still needed a little something so I tied a gingerbread man in the center and ta-da!

There was something oddly satisfying about tying all of these strips together and ending up with something kind of cute. And I think it goes great on the corner kitchen hutch:

  What's that you say? What's that awesome blue jar on the shelf? Sure, I'll zoom in.

It's from Belgium, that's all I know. And it cost me $2 at a church flea market. The opening isn't large enough for much, but I adore the color. It's the most perfectest shade of blue.

I've started crocheting a blanket so I'll get some pics going to share it with you--out of everyone who's seen it so far I'm the only one who likes the colors, but as it's for me I'm the only one who has to like them, right?

Have a happy week!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Homestyle Sewing

I spent my Friday lunch break last week at the Barnes and Noble near work. I get jealous of the people who get to work in such a cozy, wonderful place, surrounded by the aroma of books and cappuccino. It's a place I could linger and not spend a dime, but let's be real--my wallet never gets out alive. This trip I was looking at the craft magazines. I had my mitts on a few and was trying to decide if I wanted knitting, quilting, or sewing. The cover of the sewing mag won out:

 This is one of those lovely UK publications that gives you stuff with the magazine--this one had some cute fabric, some felt, ribbons and buttons, and a large pattern sheet.

I checked out the other magazines that were packaged similarly and they're all from the UK. This (the free stuff--well...not entirely free...this wasn't cheap) made them infinitely more appealing to me. This one had projects in it that I can see myself making. A lot of the time I think "Hey, that's cute" and that's that. This one has stuff I want to make--a LOT of stuff--the hard part is deciding where to start. Check out some of the yum:

This is what did it for me--I adore these dolls that are all over right now. And they're red! 'Nuff said.

This cute little door-stop might need to be in my life. But I don't know why. I don't have a door that needs stopping--they pretty much stay put. I do see door-stops a lot on the UK blogs I follow, so maybe it's a regional thing. But it's too cute not to make.

I am having a love-fest lately with the red and white Nordic (?) inspired stuff I'm seeing, and this stocking is no exception. I just adore the clean simplicity of it (again with the red--'tis me favorite color).

How homespun and cozy? Seriously! I have plenty of red and white polka dot fabric to make more of these than anyone would ever need (but maybe not as many as they'd want).

This one is just cute. But it makes me think of Valentine's crafting. We can't have that yet--I'm still doing Christmas!

This issue also has an interview with Lisa Lam, founder of u-handbag and author of 'The Bag Making Bible.' One of the patterns from her book, as well as some other tasty tips, are included, along with the pattern piece necessary.

Even though this cost more than what I would spend on a book, much less a magazine, I think it's a better value as I'm actually going to sew what's in it. This is only the second issue--I'd love to get the first but I haven't been able to find it (except on eBay at a nice little markup). Anyhoodle, I'll share once I make something.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Image found here

Happy Thanksgiving Americans!
And Happy Thursday to the rest of you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas before Thanksgiving

I can't believe it's not even Thanksgiving yet. Everywhere I go is Christmas music and decorations and "SAVE BIG NOW!" sales. There are some fabulous deals to be had so I have done a bit of shopping. Yesterday I went to Joann's for no good reason--I came home with some cute fabric, wrapping paper, and some ribbons and bows. It was all on crazy sale so it wasn't too extravagant. I'm very into the non-traditional Christmas colors this year (the turquoise, the lime green, the purples and pinks) so I'm drawn towards those things. Everyone around me will just have to suffer.

On the way home from there I decided that, since my sister was coming over for the afternoon, we (my mumsy and us girls) should have a Christmas tea. I stopped by the grocery store and got some Christmassy teas and some not-too-naughty cookies. I got out my Christmas tea set that I've never used and set a cute little table. We had a nice time, just sitting and chatting. Who knows if we'll have time when December gets here...but if we DO I'll be sure to take some pictures for you.

And y'know those fabric books that have been around for aaaages? The ones where you cut out the pages and sew them all together with quilt batting and make a little book? I always zoom right past--they're cute, and would be a neat quick project, but I've never had a practical use for them. This time the cuteness part of my brain won the fight with the logic part, and so I bought a panel. It was designed by Mary Engelbreit (whose designs I adore), and is so delightfully Christmasy and lovely--check out some of these "pages":

I love the peppermint striped edge--it surrounds each page.

Can't you just feel the Christmas cozy in this one? The grandma sweater, the little mouse snow suit, the hot chocolate and cookies...makes me want to jump right in.

When I was a wee 'un and my mom was reading to me I always wanted to live with the animals in their little tree homes with their cute little doors. Nowadays I'd like to live with the Keebler Elves in their tree because hey--free cookies.

I love the little candy cane windowsill--if you've been reading this blog for a while you may remember that I wanted to live in a gingerbread house when I was little.

It doesn't have the delicious scent of a real book but the pages are a lot cuter.

That's pretty much all I've managed to eke out this week. Next week I'll be getting ready for Thanksgiving and that's a production and a half around here...I'm not looking forward to it--I have to clear out my sewing area. Boo to that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How can something that rhymes with 'fluffy' defeat me?

Pluffy: 2. Me: 0. Final score.

This won't be another rant, like this one. Just a humble admission that sometimes I am stink-eroo at things that fall outside of my creative comfort zone. Amusingly, I received a few comments that people wanted to see pictures of my Pluffy ornament mishaps. I had already trashed them and had none to share, but now I do.

A coupla things first:  I was the kid who was not the most creative with modeling substances. I was really good at snakes and spheres--REALLY good--but that's it. Also--I would be the worst person at graffiti ever. My spray can technique leaves everything to be desired. I'm actually surprised I didn't end up wearing the paint. Finally, this whole thing is now out of my system and I don't think I will be mentioning again what shall hereafter be known as "The Pluffy Affair."

This time around I bought a rolling pin specifically made for clay. I cut it on a metal surface so it wouldn't stick. Things went along well. Until....the oven. I am convinced my oven hates me. These things looked fine going in and came out looking not so fine.

I couldn't even roll it out evenly--wavy bits, differing thicknesses--it's all here.

I created these very scientific drawings to highlight the best parts:

The one on the left is probably usable. We'll see.

This is one I really wanted to work out--the one on the right will be ok once I tie some ribbon on.

I don't think this one would have been great anyway--the words are too hard to read.

This is another one I really wanted to work out. Alas, it was not to be.

Bah. I couldn't even get this one centered.

The first set had fewer technical problems by far--but there were bubbles EVERYwhere. This set had fewer bubbles but everything you see above. My spray job doesn't even look like chrome. I want to throw them away, my mumsy wants to hang them from the trees outside. If that happens even the birds will be laughing at me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rick-racking around...the Christmas tree (mini tutorial)

Someone must have slipped me a motivation mickey because I have gotten a good bit done in the past week, and my fingers are itching to do more. I've missed this feeling--I don't know where it went the past few weeks. The Christmas PJs are done. I had a second try at making some Christmas ornaments (once I get some pics I'll post on that). And this evening I finished a delightful Christmas centerpiece.

First off--apologies for the corny title. I've been sitting here for fifteen minutes trying to think of a good one and believe it or not, this is the best I could come up with. Secondly, I'm kind of picky about my Christmas fabrics. If they are your basic classic Christmas prints I like them accented in gold (the only rich taste I have), or else I like them kind of retro and funky. When I found this picture online it took 2.7 seconds to pick out the fabrics for it:

So those fabrics in the picture didn't thrill me--kind of bland. Not much sparkle. Me likes sparkle. So I kicked it up a notch:

  It takes almost a yard of each fabric, but I have enough left over for another project I have in mind.

 I dig the starfishy bottom. And I didn't cheat with this one--I sewed the seams shut by hand. Apparently if I take my time and pay attention I don't create a hot mess.

And here is the full tree:

 I've only worked with rick-rack once before, and never around so many angles--it could be better but it's not too bad.

I am seriously limited on photo time with this getting-dark-early business, and I don't do early mornings, so please excuse the not so wonderful photos. I am also the world's second worst photographer (I like to believe there's someone out there worse than me--I'm an optimist like that) so these probably wouldn't have been much better anyway.

These were crazy simple to make. In basic terms here's what you do (or what I did--right or wrong it worked out):
1.  You need six pieces total--I did three each of two fabrics. I'm just going to call them 'red' and 'green' for ease in explanation. I can't say "main" and "contrast" because which is which? There are equal amounts!
2.  Add any trim--I put mine on the green pieces.
3.  Sew a red and a green together, right sides facing (3/8" seam allowance). I left the middle 6 inches on the bottom open for turning. Do this for all 3 sets.
4.  Trim the points, and clip any bulkiness.
5.  Turn right side out, poke your corners out a bit, and give it a nice convincing press.
6.  Then you make a nice even pile of your three separate trees. I did it like so: green down/red up, the second one is red down/green up, and the third is green down/red up. This makes the colors alternate nicely.
7.  Make sure they're even. Then sew a straight line right down the dead center of the trees, stitching all of them together. Backstitch at the beginning and end for security. It kind of looks a little like a book at this point.
8.  Stuff all six parts.  Make sure it's nice and even and smooth. I used about a half bag of regular fiberfill.
9.  Once it's up to snuff, you'll want to ladder-stitch each opening closed.

And that's it! If you're interested in making some I've got a template for you right here. Simply click, print (make sure your scaling is set to 'none'), tape together, and cut.

This is a Christmas gift and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. I have one more I'd like to make for a gift (in equally sparkly fabrics). This would probably look really nice in all one fabric, but I like the contrast of the red against the green. As ever, if you have any questions or need clarification let me know.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Take Your Pick Giveaway Winners!!

Hiya gang--

I've got some giveaway winners to announce :)  But first I wanted to say thank you to everyone--thank you for popping in and reading, thank you for following, thank you for commenting--it all brings a smile to my face. OK, on to business--and this business could not have worked out any more perfectly--

First up--the winner of this lot:

is Tara from EmBen Designs, who wrote "I´ve never quilted, but would like to try it." 

And the winner of this lot:

is Kate from Kate Elizabeth, who said "Congrats! I love the package with the pencils and notebook! Adorable!"

Tara and Kate--please email me where you'd like your goodies sent and I'll get them out to you this week.

The winners were chosen by the very scientific method known as 'slips of paper in a bowl.' I had my fingers crossed that the winners would get the set they liked, and it worked. I'm going to cross my fingers a lot more from now on since it's obviously very effective. I do wish that everyone could have won--I enjoyed doing a giveaway though, so I'm definitely going to do more of them in the future.

Thanks for taking part!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some things should stay on the internet and out of my kitchen

Remember the other day when I wrote about Pluffy and how I wanted to make Christmas ornaments out  of it? I wish I could forget. I went to the craft store, bought some stamps, some chrome spray paint, and a package of Pluffy. I had such high hopes for this because it sounded so easy. Roll it out, stamp it, bake it, paint it. Something a kid could do (and since this stuff was in the kid section of the store I thought I was good to go).

So I rolled it out (easier said than done--this stuff was a bit tacky for all the weird oil that came off of it), and stamped my design. The stamp got stuck and pulled it into a hot mess, so I sprayed some cooking spray on it to make it easier and tried again. Then I tried to use a glass to cut out a circle around the word. Way off-center, so I rolled it up and tried again. And again. And again. After about an hour I had one that was ok. ONE. So I got the idea to cut out the shape then stamp the word--which made the shape go wonky. No matter what kind of surface I used this stuff just wanted to stick to it so it was all pulled and stretched. I dropped it on the floor so it had floor dust on it. I finally managed to get about ten done. After two hours. Not the easy craft I was hoping for.

I popped it in the oven at the recommended temperature for the recommended time. And I waited. A few minutes before I was supposed to take it out I noticed there was smoke coming from the oven, so I took them out really quick...and saw they had burn marks (probably from the cooking spray). I'm thinking it's fine because I'm going to paint them anyway. So I waited for them to cool. When I looked at them a few minutes later they were covered in these hideous bubbles that were very unbecoming, and the stuff had hardened to the point that poking them with a pin had no effect. Then sister Alicia says "Did you remember that our oven runs hot?" Whoops. Totally forgot about the wonky thermostat. Probably why they bubbled.

With my temper eager to explode, I really wanted to see what they could have looked like so I grabbed the spray paint and hit it with a coat. In the kitchen. Well...spray paint is fume-a-licious, so I had an instant headache. I took them outside to finish spraying them...and they could have looked incredible. But the wonky shapes and the bubbles earned them a trip to the trash can. They almost got the hammer, but it wasn't their fault...I refused to document them with a photograph, though,

I guess they can't all be winners. I hate that lesson. I want to stop learning it.

I asked my mother what she was going to say in the future when I told her about some crazy wonderful project I saw that just couldn't go wrong...she has been instructed to say "Remember the time you tried to make those Christmas ornaments?" to bring me back down to earth. And then, because I'm me, I will buy regular bake-able clay and give it one more go. Because I hate admitting defeat.

So that this post isn't all crafty rage and temper tantrums (sorry about that and thanks for reading this far), here's a picture to get your holiday mindset switched to the on position:

 Image from

I'll be announcing the giveaway winner tomorrow--stay tuned!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Photo found at

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are you having a handmade holiday?

Sooooooo I was wondering something...are you going handmade this holiday season? I know that it's difficult to go completely handmade--especially with kids wanting every flashing, twinkling gadget and doohickey out there, and the bright and shiny bits and bobs that entice you to part with your paycheck... It's certainly easier to go shopping and be done with it, but there are so many great ideas out there that would make wonderful handmade gifts for co-workers and friends. For example:

Coffee cozies from House on Hill Road (tutorial here)

A handmade cozy and a cafe gift card would make a nice gift for the hot beverage lover in your life. I rarely buy coffee, but I would love to receive one of these anyway (I'm a sucker for adorable little gifts that are totally functional. I would probably start buying coffee just so I could use it. True story. Ask my mom. I totally would).

The famous gathered clutch over at Noodlehead (free tutorial- -there's also a pattern with more info and ideas for sale)

This super-easy yet super-adorable clutch pattern is a great gift for the ladies. Half of the fun is selecting the fabrics. I have some coordinating fat-eighths that would be perfect for these.

The Patchfolio pattern at Craft Apple 

This baby can liven up any meeting (ok, that's an exaggeration. I hate meetings. But it's still super-adorable).

 The Baguette Clutch Purse Kit from none other than u-handbag

You can't go wrong with anything you buy from Lisa--her purse kits come with almost all the fixin's, and she stocks tons of frames, hooks, rings, fabrics, patterns, and anything else you need to make bags. You can gift the kit or make it and gift the finished product. She's a sweetie--totally accessible if you have any issues or questions, and her instructions are written so you think you've got a pal sitting next to you helping you out. OK, plug over. I heart her and her site.

I'm wanting to make all of these--they're great for using up scraps and strips that you can't bear to throw away, and nothing says loving like handmade.

One other thing I found: free downloadable software for making bags, hats, and other stuff. I downloaded it this evening and it appears pretty easy to use. There are all kinds of different patterns--click what you want and the pieces show up for printing. I haven't figured out the scaling and sizing part yet, but it looks like you can customize that, as well as pockets and stuff. There's also a sewing help section that tells you what to do. A lot is left open to imagination regarding interfacings, embellishments, etc. But if you don't want to shell out the bucks for ready-made patterns and you don't have the time to sit and draft your own, you might want to give this a whirl. It's free and takes up minimal memory so you have nothing to lose. And it could certainly help you with your holiday crafting.

So what are your handmade plans for these here holidays? I need ideas so share away!

My giveaway ends Thursday--if you haven't entered click here for the details!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thanksgiving Banner Tutorial

Thanksgiving is just around the corner (as though you don't know already...unless you're not in the US and don't know, in which case it's in a few weeks...on a Thursday. I don't know the exact date. I never do). It's the start of the holiday season, yet it's a holiday that doesn't receive much fanfare as far store merchandising goes--if you haven't bought your turkey-themed decor by Halloween you're out of luck. I'll admit--Thanksgiving does not rank as one of my favorite holidays, but I felt that I should make SOMEthing for it so it didn't feel ignored. I was also in the mood for some easy hand-sewing (a very rare occurrence), so I came up with a cute banner made of stuffed felt letters.

This is a great project for when you're sitting in front of the tube thinking that you should be more productive. Or making with your kids--I remember making shapes out of felt and sewing them together and stuffing them with cotton balls--they had that adorable homemade look that things like that have when they're made by kids who have never used a needle and thread before. At least that's what I tell myself. ANYway...

Here's what you'll need (aside from the phrase you want to stitch):

~ Felt (I used the cheap stuff and just picked colors I thought looked nice and fallish together)
~ Embroidery floss (you can use thread, but I wanted the stitching to be in your face)
~ Fiber fill
~ Twine, string, fishing line, or something to string the letters on.
~ Printed letters in a font and size you like (I used Cooper in 425--I thought it gave a good shape)
~ Scissors and a needle

First you'll want to print out and cut all your letters. Here's a picture just because:

Decide on how you want your colors to be arranged:

Trace your letters onto the felt (I used a disappearing marker but it didn't disappear). You need 2 of each letter, so I just put the inky one on the bottom when I went to stitch.

I was able to get 2 letters in duplicate out of each piece of felt, but depending on your letter size it may be more or less. Then cut out your letters.

Next you are going to do a blanket stitch on all the letters. I haven't done that since 8th grade Home Ec, so I used this tutorial to get going. I made my stitches a little shorter than 1/4 inch. For the letters that have a hole inside you are going to want to do that part first and then do the edge of the letter. Stuff as you go.

When you're done take a length of twine (or yarn, or whatever you're using for this part) and run it through the letters. The stitches will move a bit to allow you to run the twine behind them and through the letter. As you go along, hold it up to make sure your letters don't flip upside down--to keep this from happening make sure you're not running the twine through the letter too low.

Hang it up, arrange your letters how you like (they'll slide along the twine),  and do what it says. I'm thankful I only have one letter with wonky stitching.

Have a good week folks!

OH!! Have you entered my giveaway? You have until November 11th--click here for the details!

Linking here:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Overwhelmed into inaction

It's that time of year again where there seems to be so much I want to make and do that I just don't know where to start, and so I don't. I watch TV and play Bingo online (don't judge--I can knit while I'm waiting for the next number--it's multi-tasking) and moan "Oh, I have so much to do!! When will I get it done!" Yesterday I saw that it is now 50 days until Christmas. I have no idea where the time is going in such a rush, but seeing that number has motivated me a bit. So this weekend I'm going to finish up a project for Thanksgiving, and then it's Christmas-Christmas-Christmas! I have pajama pants to make, potholders to quilt, Christmas trees to figure out how I'm going to sew together...I swear there's more but it's all just a jumble in the old noggin right now.

And seeing things like this does not in any way shorten my "Want to Make...Now!" list--

From the 'Just Something I Made' blog--click here to see the how-to.

It's made by using a product called Pluffy. The name alone makes me want to try it. So I'm going to do a drive by the craft store on my way home to see if they have it. And metallic spray paint. And a Christmas stamp. And an easy-to-construct extra room to add on to my house to store all of the stuff I'm acquiring.

Happy Friday!

And don't forget about my giveaway - click here for the details!


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