Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Four Legged Christmas

So here's the thing. Christmas is coming (whaaaaat? You didn't know? :) It's so easy to get wrapped up (hehehe) in what we want, what they want, what's left to do, when are we doing it all, that we momentarily can forget the less fortunate. But when bell-ringing Santas are in your face at every shop entry you're reminded. When your church announces its food and gift collection, you're reminded (bought those over the weekend--I'm hoping some kids will be happy with my picks!). But sometimes you want to do more. Hospitals are inundated with toy donations. Shelters and alternative residences regularly receive gifts of clothing and food. "Where can I make a different sort of difference?" was the question running through my brain. And then an email came from my cousin with the heading "This is where they will be spending Christmas. Can you help?"

Many of you may know that this is my canine love Charlie:

I don't know how he came to be at the "shelter," but they had determined, due to his matted hair, that he should be put down. Can you imagine saying to your kid "Your hair is full of tangles! We'll have to get rid of you!" Luckily, someone saw that face and took him with them, to give him a place to stay until he found a forever home. And that forever home is ours. My heart can't bear the thought of what they wanted to do this little guy because he needed a wash and dry.

My cousin Honey volunteers for a local animal rescue called 'Focus on Homeless Animals.' When I saw her email I knew where my money was going. Here's the amazing part: I gave her a check on Thanksgiving. The next day my mother got a call that they were using the money to go get a dog out of a kill shelter. And today I got an email that said dog (whose name is Annie, by the way) is close to getting adopted. The quickness of this made my heart feel tight and squiggly, that I had saved a life with just a little bit of money.

So I encourage you this holiday season to remember the four-leggeds who won't have a lap to curl up in. Who won't be pulling the garland off your tree (which, though annoying, is amusing and funny). Who won't wake you up on  Christmas morning with sloppy kisses. And who might not get the chance to be forever grateful for the life that was restored to its dark future.

Donating to an animal rescue is a great use of funds--they will even accept unopened bags and cans of cat and dog food, if that's what you'd rather do instead. Every little bit helps. If you're in the Philadelphia/Bucks County area, FOHA is always in need of donations--and you can be sure 100% of it will be put to immediate good use. The money goes directly towards boarding fees to get the animal out of the kill shelter, spay/neuter costs, vaccinations, and other medical costs (some of the animals are really sick--treatable, but sick). Or, you can scout out rescues in your area and help them out. Maybe, instead of paying a breeder a gazillion dollars for a puppy this Christmas, you could save the life of one who is waiting for you to come along and love it?

I know if he could Charlie would say "Rhank rhou!" And then he'd go back to stealing my meringue cookies when my back is turned.

***UPDATE:  Annie was adopted! That's less than a week from kill shelter, to rescue, to a home. That's some bang for your buck! Here's her picture:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

And it only took a year! Kinda sorta....

Do you remember aaaaaaages ago when I started this blanket? Well, I finally finished it. I made a gazillion and fifty-seven other things in between, but this may be the longest it has ever taken me to finish something. I told the nephew it took a year to make, and he informed me that just because it took me a year to finish doesn't mean it takes that long to make, and I should not be lazy and play online if I have work laying around. Of course he had no problems snuggling under it as we were out on the porch just before dinner (it's been unseasonably warm here, even though we spent the weekend decorating for Christmas). I had intended this as more of a funky-Christmas blanket anyway, so it's fine by me that it's only just now getting done.

So here she is:

Wouldn't you just LOVE it if this was your actual carpet?? 

It's not a large blanket--just a nice sized throw. I probably could have made it bigger, but I think I got a bit bored with it and just ended it. I fringed one side of it, and let it sit. And sit. And sit. And then I finally fringed the other side. Gave it a wash and dry and now it is super soft and snuggly. The yarn was three one-pound bags of mill ends--a hot pink, a lime green, and white. I have no idea the brand, but it feels to me like it could be Caron's Simply Soft, but I'm not positive. I still have plenty left, and I have no idea what I'm going to use it for. 

It really is quite a simple stitch. I don't remember how many I chained, but I think it would have to be divisible by 4, plus 3 (for turning). Then it's 4 dc, 4 sc, all the way across. You turn it, do the same type of stitch in the same type of stitch (sc in sc, etc.). Then you switch colors, and do dc in the sc, and vice versa. You do 2 rows of each color, alternating the stitch pattern when you change the color.

It gives it a slightly wavy edge. I'm sure you could add a border and even it out, but I didn't as I like the look of the wave.

 I love the look of fringe but don't care for applying it. When I was younger I used to absentmindedly pick the fringe loose while watching TV. I would murder my younger self if I caught me doing that now. Don't I know how much work that is?

So that's that. I have had an insanely busy four days (I don't know when I've ever done so much work before!), but almost all the Christmas decorating is done and I can concentrate on the crafty makes that I've got dreamed up. I'm off to snuggle with tea and some crochet and watch some TV. Have a good week!

Linking up here:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Memories Winner!

A quick good morning to you, and then off to decorate! And I just realized it's afternoon already, so a quick good day! Just popping in to announce the winner of the software giveaway. This one didn't generate a ton of interest, but we had a few entries nonetheless. So, without further ado, the winner is:

I'm off to email you right now - congratulations!!

And for those of you that want to score the software at a discount ($30 instead of $40) as well as $10 to spend in the My Memories store, use coupon code STMMMS45056 at checkout. Also, on my 'Deals' tab there are 3 freebie links that change twice a month - click those to score some freebies from My Memories now and then.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Blech Friday

Good morning! Afternoon? I it still Friday? I slept forEVER today and I'm quite achy all over so I'm a bit off-schedule. Did/do any of you join the craziness that is Black Friday? While I am not averse to scoring great deals, I am VERY averse to large crowds and absolute lunatics doing whatever they can to other human beings to save a bit of money. So I stay home, and my mom and sisters and I go shopping after dinner. You still get great deals, but without the massive crowds. Anyhoodle, just wanted to remind you that you have until tonight to get your name entered for the My Memories giveaway. I'll draw the winner tomorrow before I start my Christmas decorating frenzy -- yippee!!! I love Christmas!

And if you've got umpteen lists going in your head and scraps galore rattling around in your purse, here is a Christmas printable just for you to help keep you a bit more organized:

Click here for the PDF. Make sure your scaling is set to 'None.' Card stock will give you the best results. Trim on the lines and you're good to go! Happy shopping!

I am off to crochet a bit--I'm making good headway on a bit oddly colored baby blanket that I'm hoping turns out as I imagined it...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks Muchly!

I'm too tired to write out a proper Thanksgiving post or to search for a cute little cartoon, or anything like that. We are having thirty people for dinner tomorrow. Do you have any idea how much food that is? How many tables and chairs to set up? How much stuff you have to clean? Add to that the fact that fall allergies are bugging me, I twisted my ankle a bit last night (note to self: make sure your foot is awake before you get up and walk around on it), and that I am going through some sort of crafty withdrawal (apparently it's my stress reliever, go figure). I've been quite beastly this week, and I do apologize to anyone who has had to deal with me and found it most unpleasant. Hopefully it's all back to normal soon (or whatever passes for normal, anyway).

 The living room becomes the dining room, the dining room becomes the living room, the kitchen becomes a hotbed of activity.

But it wouldn't be Thanksgiving in Blogville without listing what you're thankful for, so here goes:

  • I'm thankful that when my mom was showing me how to make the turkey tonight that she did the part where you stick your hand inside.
  • I'm thankful that my sissie made some yummy guacamole tonight.
  • I'm thankful that my other sissie said I could tell people she's going to be a mommy. I'm very excited--I'm a marvelous auntie :)
  • I'm thankful that, even though this year had its trials and its not-so-thrilling moments, they were far outnumbered by the good times and the laughs.
  • I'm thankful that you stop by and put up with me, comment, email, and just generally make me smile.

 I hope you have a joyous day, spent in a way that feeds your soul as well as your tummy. I hope you don't end up in jail for murdering that annoying cousin or in-law who sticks his fingers directly into the stuffing/mashed potatoes/etc. I hope that you embrace the fact that everything is calorie-free on Thanksgiving. And I hope you get out of dish duty. See you on the flip side with regularly scheduled programming :)


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Change is Good Purse Tutorial

Are you ready to sew one of the cutest little things ever?

These are pretty quick to make once you get the hang of it, and they'd make adorable presents/stocking stuffers. The frames are pretty simple to source--they're all over Etsy, and many of the sellers offer them in lots so you can score a few at a time. If you'd like other sizes you can easily adapt a pattern to meet your needs (this post here is where I learned to make this style of purse).

You don't need a ton of supplies to make this purse, either. Fabric and interfacing scraps will work just fine. So let's get going. Gather the following:
  • Fabric for exterior
  • Fabric for lining
  • Fusible interfacing (the cheap stuff is fine--this baggie doesn't need the strength that something like a woven would provide)
  • Fusible fleece (I always say to use fusible because that's my preference, but if you have sew-in materials around, use those--you'll just need to take care that your layers don't get shifty)
  • A purse frame (for this tutorial my frame measures 3 inches by 1.5 inches)
  • Strong glue (I use this kind but E6000 works just as well)
  • Sewing stuff
  • Your pattern (I made one for you - click here to print. Remember to set your scaling to 'None.' To check for size the very bottom should measure 5inches).
Now let's get sewing. Keep in mind we will be using a 3/8 inch seam allowance throughout. Cut out 2 pieces from each of the materials listed above (as shown on your pattern piece). Fuse the interfacing to your exterior pieces, and then fuse the fleece to that. Take the two exterior pieces and place them right sides together. Pin. Sew across the bottom and press the seam open nice and flat. Then sew up the sides, and press open as best you can. Don't sew the angled sides or the top.

You should have stitches where the orange line is.

Keep this inside out. Now we're going to give our purse a flat bottom. Flatten out one of the corners, making a little triangle.

Give a peek inside and make sure your side seam and bottom seam line up--this will make for a nice even purse. Once that's set, measure a line 1 1/4 inches across, making sure it's centered.

Draw a line and pin in place. Stitch across the line you drew, then clip off the corner.

Repeat this for the other corner. Now do all of the same things for the lining. BUT make sure you leave about a 2 inch gap in the bottom for turning it later on. You should now have an inside and an outside.

Turn one inside out, and slip it inside the other so that the right sides are touching. Pin.

Stitch all around the top. Those v-seams on the side can be fiddly. Just take your time. Stop (with the needle down) and adjust if you need to.

Now reach inside the gap you left in the lining and turn the purse right side out, poking out all your corners as you go.

Sew the gap in the lining shut either by machine or by hand Then tuck the lining down into the purse. Press everything nice and neat (it makes the next step so much easier). Now you're going to topstitch all around the top of the purse, but do so quite close to the edge (about 1/8 inch--the frame will hide these stitches, but make it nice and neat anyway). This step helps make sure that things stay where they're supposed to when we slip it all into the frame.

Now comes the gluing. Apply glue to the channel of one side of the purse frame (be generous, but not so generous that it oozes everywhere, because that's just not fun). Then, apply a line of glue to the top and angled sides of the purse. If you're worried about it oozing you can put some tape on the fabric. You don't need a ton of glue--it should look like this:

Now, wait. For about 10 minutes. This is when I clean up the mess I made, obtain a beverage or a snack, play Words with Friends, whatever. I used to wait 5 minutes but it wasn't long enough for the glue to set properly. Once the wait is over, slide the purse into the frame, sides first, then the top. Give a check to make sure that the side seam lines up with the hinge so it will be nice and centered.

Use something poky but not too sharp (I use craft scissors or the flat end of a bodkin) to help shove the purse up into the frame. You'll probably need to adjust a few times, but check the outside and the inside to make sure everything is getting pushed around properly.

Give this a few minutes to set. Then repeat for the other channel and side of the purse, waiting for the glue to set. Seriously? Waiting for the glue takes up more time than any other part of this project, but it's pretty essential for not having an oozy mess on your hands.

If you get some glue on the frame, no worries--it scrapes right off with your fingernail or with some nail polish remover (the non-acetone kind also helps get the glue off of the fabric).

Once your glue is dry (give it about a final half hour), do any clean-up on the frame, and you're done.


And there you have it. Change is good, especially when you have it in a cutesy little purse you made yourself. Have fun! And let me know if you have any questions! I'll do my best to help you out.

Linking it up here this week:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Starry Night Quilt Block

I adored making this week's block. I had the afternoon off from work last Friday, so when I got home I put on comfy pants, made some tea, and sat down to work on this. I was going to be slick and cut the fabric the way I thought it should be done (because you know how well that works out for me), but it was way too small once stitched. So I did as told and it couldn't have worked out better. I had a few....moments...when I was trying to figure out what faced which way and lined up where on the paper. The most satisfying part of paper-piecing is when you tear off the paper at the end--you sew with a wee stitch that makes the paper easier to tear without yanking out the stitches; it's just like ripping a perforated piece of paper off a notepad.

Anyway, I've got nothing more to say, so here is the 'Starry Night' quilt block:

I've been using a lot of my cherries-checks-dots combo, so I switched it up and went with none of them this time. And can we take a moment and admire these points?

Yeaahhhhh....that's some matchy-matchy sweetness right there.

I've got an interesting paradox happening with these blocks. With the earlier blocks that were supposed to be easier it took me forever to sew them and I made a lot of mistakes. With these more difficult blocks I'm having a much easier time and making hardly any errors. It's either the amount of attention I'm giving it or my level of arrogance, but I'll take more difficult blocks if the results are better.

It's been a pretty quiet week on the craft front here. I finished up a quilt for Christmas but I'm not going to share until after Thanksgiving. It's so sweet I could eat it up, though...pun intended. You'll just have to wait and see.

I have a My Memories software giveaway going on right now, so check that out here. There's a new Christmas printable on my 'Printables' page. And the next time I see you I'm hoping to have a no-sew purse frame tutorial all wrapped up for you. Ta!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Memories Giveaway and a Printable!

I know I've had a My Memories giveaway before, but I couldn't turn down the offer for another as I thought it might help some of you out for Christmas, whether it's software for the scrapbooker in your life, or to help you make up some fun holiday graphics.

My Memories is a super user-friendly digital scrapbooking software suite that enables you to make albums, cards, scrapbook pages, and even videos of  your precious memories. With the holidays coming up there will be tons of moments that you'll want to preserve (unless you've got a crazy family that makes you want to hide in a closet--in which case...this probably isn't the giveaway for you, bwahahahaha). When I'm having a lazy evening I love to play around in their software and try and create new headers for my blog, or just mess around with different layouts to see what it can do. I've shown these before but here are a few samples of what you can do.


 Christmas gift tags...

...and of course--scrapbook pages!

This time around I made you a nifty little Christmas printable--happy holiday lists. Print on card stock, and you've got some cheery little reminders of your holiday need-tos!

Click here to print (all 3 will print on one sheet). Cut on the dashed lines, trim as needed, and you're good to go!
(Note: I'm a bad cropper--the graphics aren't right on the edge like that)

Ok, enough of the blah-blah-blah. Want to win this for yourself? It's super fun to play with! Pinky swear! All you have to do to is leave a comment on this post. Easy-peasy. This one is open to everyone, everywhere. I'll leave this open until Friday, November 25th, 11:59 EST. I'll pick a winner and announce the next dayish.

But fear not: if you're a generally unlucky person (like me) or can't wait until then to get your paws on this one, I've got a discount code for you. At checkout simply enter the code STMMMS45056 for $10 off the software, and $10 to spend in the My Memories store. The software is about $40--so you'll be getting $50 worth of stuff for $30. Sweet!!!

Good luck!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Autumnal Interlude

Is there any time of year more beautiful than fall? It's as though the year knows it's growing old, and decides to have one last hurrah before settling into it's long winter's sleep. Mother Nature was a tad late this year with taking her paint brush to the trees, but that only means that we get to enjoy the riotous colors longer than usual.

At this time of year my sunshine hours are largely restricted to the weekends. I get a few snippets in the morning and that's about it for the day. But it's enough to brighten my day (no pun intended):

This was a few week's ago after our October snowstorm. The sun wasn't too high in the sky - it was still pre-daylight saving time.

This is the same time of day after we set the clocks back. I didn't touch up this photo at all--the sky is really that blue and the tree is really that marvelous orangey-red.

When I was driving into work on Friday morning, I couldn't help but be taken by how beautiful the journey was--every color leaf imaginable, all along my route. I wished I had a passenger who could have taken photographs for me as I drove--the colors, the light, it all came together so perfectly. When I drove in this morning there had been a drastic change after a windy weekend--many of the trees had lost a lot of their leaves and it was decidedly browner than just a few days ago.

I know I'm an odd one for this but I do so love when it gets dark early. Evenings seem to last forever and I feel as though I have unlimited time. My productivity kicks into high gear when it seems to wind down for others. Twilight has always been my favorite time of day, especially in the later months of the year--the light is soft and purple, the trees are in silhouette, and things just seem cozy. When I walked out of work this evening I was presented with this beautiful sky:

It completely made my day. What little things have been putting a smile on YOUR face lately?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Too soon?

You know how it's annoying when you're out shopping on July 12th and they've already got holiday stuff out? I hate to admit it, but with sewing you've got to be just like retail and stay ahead of the calendar. I'm trying to be a little more "in" the season that it actually is, instead of going too far ahead. But as I don't have much time for sewing after Thanksgiving I've got to do Christmas now. This week I plowed through four stuffed Christmas trees (like last year's).

Based on previous experience, I was mentally set for this to take me forEVer. I was picturing several late nights, and that feeling that I was never going to reach the end. But I slapped the ric-rac on all 4 trees and had them all assembled in ONE. NIGHT. It took me just as long to stuff them another night (thanks for the help, Mumsy!), and to hand-sew the openings shut  on another, but they're all done. It's my last large order for the year, and it felt good to be finished.

So here is my own little forest:

Well...I guess they're someone ELSE's little forest as they're being given as gifts by my buyer. And the fourth one is the same as one of the others so that's why there's only three in the photos. I love the fabric combos:

Here's your much more traditional bright red and green.

 This one is a little more toned down--the red has holly leaves on it but I failed to capture that.

 When I laid out the fabrics I wasn't crazy about this one, but once assembled I really liked it.

The one thing I had a MUCH easier time of this year was the ric rac. Last year I laid it down along the edge and sewed through the center of it. When I sewed the seams only the little humps were showing. This year I laid it down about a quarter inch from the edge and basted it, just catching the bottom of it. When I sewed it all together the just-right amount was showing. Yay for new skills!

 You can see a little more of the holly in this pic.

I took a half day from work on Friday, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have next week's quilt block already finished, as well as a small order that completes my to-do-for-others list for the year. There's a Christmas quilt under the needle that will be finished this week, and I'm hoping to have a tutorial for my wee little change purse up for you by next weekend. Isn't it great to finish things up?

Now I'm off to get ready for Monday, and do a little knitting while I watch 'Elf.' I's too soon, but I LOVE that movie :)

Linking here this week:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day

Many thanks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Minnesota Quilt Block

Has anyone else had a week that made you want to punch it in the face and then kick it while it was down? I don't have any specific occurrences that made it a bad week; as a matter of fact it was quite a good week, objectively speaking. But there was a feeling or something about it that has made me eager for it to be part of the past. It seemed to have a lot of WTF moments, that's for sure. Maybe it's the time change, perhaps the impending full moon, who knows. But...just...ugh....or whatever.

OK, moving on. The other night I decided to "throw" together my Minnesota quilt block for the QAL. This was perhaps the mostest perfectest block I have made from start to finish. I think I am very in love with foundation paper piecing. How can you go wrong when you're sewing on a printed straight line and have extra fabric to cover your...y'know....  The block patterns thus far have been pretty straightforward. I've seen some really complicated looking blocks out there--we haven't hit those yet, but I'm actually eager to give one a go. My past few blocks haven't been terrible, and I credit the foundation piecing for that.

So here it is:

The plain red is a lot more vibrant than I thought it would be - that's the only thing I think I'd change if I were to have a do-over (which I'm not). Or maybe more cherries...I never can get enough of sweet little cherry prints.

Here are the parts that were paper-pieced (the hourglass blocks were traditionally stitched):

There is no way they would look that nice without the paper piecing. It's a little weird to get used to the method--it seems so counter-intuitive, but once you get going you don't even think twice.

So that's that. I've been stuffing Christmas trees and doing some super-fun hand sewing (insert sarcasm here) this week, but they're all done and I'm glad for it. Now I'm off to bed. Usually I wouldn't write/say/acknowledge something like this since it's so cliche, but I feel it so fervently this week I must: T.G.I.F. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shabby Apple Winner!

Well, my friends, jealousy has set in. I picked the winner of the Shabby Apple giveaway today. I tried to think of all sorts of ways I could hoodwink the "system" and try and take this beauty for myself, but I am honest to a fault (and not devious enough to formulate such a plan), so this gorgeous little bit of yum will be finding its way to one of you.

There weren't a butt-ton of entries for this one, so I decided to kick it old school and write everyone's name on a wee slip of paper. I gave them a nice big shakey-shake and plucked one out. So, without further ado, the winner is:

who said she is going to keep this for herself. That comment disappointed me. I was hoping it would read "If I win I will give this necklace to Bethany. I can't imagine anything else I'd rather do. I certainly would NOT keep it for myself."

Congratulations! I'm off to email you now. And for those of you who may have wanted one for yourselves (or for those lunatics who said they would give it away--I KNOW--who ARE these people?), the 10% off discount code is good through the end of this month. Simply enter the code sweetbee10off at checkout and you'll receive 10% off your order. We're getting close to Christmas, and they have some beautiful things that would make wonderful gifts. So head on over to Shabby Apple and have a look-see.


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