Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Like a toothache

Dear Shayne,

Don't you hate it when what should be a basic project turns into a dog and pony show? Gah! That is so frustrating! I think, "Oh, I'll just whip this little thing out..." and then, 6 hours later, I'm sobbing at the sewing machine, pounding my fists on the table, and wondering why I don't just go to the store to buy crap like everyone else does.

I probably anger the Craft Gods with my hubris at thinking that any craft can be "whipped out." These are the craft projects that really kick my butt -- the basic ones that just take a wrong turn somewhere.

This is one such project.

It's just a little pillow, about 5x5 inches square. Here's the back:
Tooth Fairy pillow: back

And here is the front -- it's got a little pocket:
Tooth Fairy pillow: front

This is the kind of project that really should take less than one hour. Right? Yeah.

So why, oh WHY is this my fifth version of the thing and, even after so many tries, it's still not all that great?! (Note the weird fabric hiccup in the lowest corner of the pillow...) I honestly have no idea. I probably should have trashed this one and tried again on a 6th, but I just couldn't take it anymore. It had to get done and shipped, and that's what is is. Done. Shipped.

Oh, and what is it, you ask? Why it's a Tooth Fairy pillow for our 5-year-old nephew, who has just lost his very first tooth! See the diagram for more details on how it works:
Tooth Fairy Pillow directions
(Tooth goes in. Money comes out.)

Heh. At least the diagram came out right on the first try. I may need to make him another pillow sometime, though. Or, erm... buy one? Sigh.


Monday, December 29, 2008

My Christmas gift to you

Dear Shayne,

Awhile back, someone commented to me that our blog is "family-oriented." I don't really think we were every going for that particular label, were we? If we were, I'm about to blow that out of the water right now.

Because, as you know, this is what I made you for Christmas:

I used this pattern from Subversive Cross Stitch, but I changed some of the colors to be more Shayne-errific. Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Made by Jocelyn: Itty Bitty Kitty

Dear Shayne,

Do you remember last year when my gifted friend Jocelyn made me a precious little book and also the beautiful little pincushion we dubbed "Pinny, the craft room mascot?"

Well, she's done it again this year with the most darling little kitty ornament. Look!
Made by Jocelyn: Tiny Kitty!

I love that smile and the little bell just kills me. And check out the sweet curvy tail:
Made by Jocelyn: Tiny Kitty!

Also? Kitten 'tocks!
Made by Jocelyn: Tiny Kitty!

And I know that you are already impressed with the workwomanship on this, Shayne, so I am going to blow your mind even further. It's all that and it's totally teeny tiny:
Made by Jocelyn: Tiny Kitty!

Yup. That's a US quarter.

Jocelyn: Crafty Goddess of Patience. Wowza.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Dear Shayne,

Technically, Christmas is already over where you are, but we still have a few hours left to squeeze out of it here on the west coast, so Merry Christmas!

I received several awesome crafty gifts this year that I will show you in the upcoming week or so but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you a Craft from Christmas Past. It's an oldy but a goody:

My Aunt Vickie made this ornament for me when I was... well... let me see... it was before we moved from Michigan, so I was under 9 years old. Let's put this one in the early 80s time frame.

Aunt Vickie is one of those "Martha before Martha was Martha" crafty superhero types -- she probably made one of these for everyone in her entire family. Wow. This work is appreciated; I've had this ornament for over 25 years and I still put it on our tree every Christmas. Aww.

Shayne, I hope that you and all of our readers have had a wonderful Christmas and that the upcoming year will be filled with joy and love and peace and craftiness.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mmmm... peppermint bark...

Dear Shayne,

Have you ever made peppermint bark? I made some this year for my mother's husband (Hi, Jeff!) for Christmas.

It's not difficult, but it is a bit time-consuming. Oh, and messy. But I think it came out great.
Peppermint bark

I used this recipe here. I thought mine was a little thick, but theirs looks even thicker. Here's a side view of mine:
Peppermint bark

I feel like it's usually thinner than that -- what do you think? It was well received, so it came out just fine, regardless of thickness.

Rather than greasing the foil as the recipe suggests, I used Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Aluminum Foil. Have you ever used that stuff? It's brilliant -- nothing sticks to it. We love it.

In other news, I wish I had remembered to photograph the bark before I put it in the Ziploc container. Not the most photogenic arrangement, but I had already carefully packed it in there for shipment, so I left it. Not every photo's a winner, right?

Whee -- two more days until Christmas and I still have tons to do!


Monday, December 22, 2008

The yarn makes this scarf fun

Dear Shayne,

Here's another item I made for Chirstmas -- my grandma does not read this blog [or any others, for that matter], so I don't have to worry about spoiling anything for her. I made her this scarf:
Scarf for Grandma

This yarn was so fun to knit with! It's super-duper soft and it's got three distinct textures. I call them fuzzy, ribbon-y, and nubby:
Scarf close up
(Unfortunately, I did not take a "stash photo" of it when I bought it and now I cannot find the ball band -- I'll update this later when/if I do.)
Aha! Found it! The yarn is called Pandora Shadow by Trendsetter Yarns. This is colorway 1780: Country Cowboy. It also comes in some much more bold colorways that you can see right here. Looove this yarn.

The best part about knitting with wild yarn like this is that everyone thinks you're doing something fancy. But I wasn't. I just knit and knit and the yarn did all of the work for me.

The scarf itself is sort of short-ish and skinny, but all of my grandma's other scarves are "Dr. Who-style" (her description), so I thought she could use one like this in the fall and the spring.

Did I mention that it's really soft? Photos do not do the softness justice.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas cuties

Dear Shayne,

I made these little cuties for my crafting crew at work:
Christmas cuties
The pattern is called Korknisse and I just love these little guys. The pattern calls for a little tassel, but I liked them more gnome-like, so I left it off.

The red ones are all made from wool and the white one is cotton, for my wool-allergic friend here (I know you can relate!)

I am terrible about hoarding wine corks ("But... but... there must be some use for them...") and we have a couple of full containers of them in our kitchen.

I have now used up six.

Go, me!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reindeer wiener dog

Dear Shayne,

Whew! I have been busy, busy for the past couple of weeks. I only have a few more Christmas crafts to churn out (including our cards, which I now realize will be New Year cards, rather than Christmas cards...)

Mostly, I can't show you what I've been working on for Christmas because I don't want to spoil any surprises, but I gave this gift yesterday:
Reindeer wiener dog!

My boss has wiener dogs, so I made this for her. I got the free pattern for this cutie at Orange You Lucky! She's got a new wiener dog pattern posted this week -- check it out here.

My embroidery skills are not the best and the ornaments were a challenge (I had to re-do that red one about 6 times) -- but I think it came out pretty cute in the end. Woof!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ornament swap

Dear Shayne,

A few weeks ago, I signed up for an ornament swap on Swap-bot. Cause why not overload myself with more crafts at Christmastime, right? Sigh.

The plan: make 10 ornaments and send 'em out. In return, get 10 handmade ornaments in the mail. I like getting packages in the mail, so this certainly has its appeal.

I waffled for some time about what ornament to make. At some point, I became entranced with these ornaments, which were showing up on several craft blogs I read. Lacking the awesome recycled "postbag" canvas that artist has, I decided to make a little something like it myself.

I started by stenciling a cheerful holiday message onto a piece of linen:
Christmas ornaments [in progress]

Then I drew out 10 hearts.
Christmas ornaments [in progress]

I then cut out those hearts and made 10 ornaments from them:
Christmas ornaments

I like the concept of "parts of a whole," and now 10 strangers each have a little piece of a greater happy message:
Ornaments in a pile

And I think they look pretty cool alone:
Single ornament

Along with each ornament, I sent a photo of the original stenciled linen and also the photo of all of the ornaments together, showing the message re-constructed. I hope people like them!

My only regret is that I only made 10. For some reason, I thought the number 10 included my own ornament, but I actually had to send out 10, so I didn't make one for myself. Bummer, eh?

I may have to make another batch next year and send them to 9 friends, just so I can have one of my own. ;)


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Awesome Christmas zine

Dear Shayne,

A week or so ago, I ordered the most awesome Christmas zine created by CraftyPod's amazing Sister Diane and her partner.

Diane is something of a crafting community celebrity -- her podcasts are legendary. In them, she interviews superheroes of the craft world, gives fantastic tutorials, and shares craft inspiration. Not only that, but she keeps a great blog and you can see her work in such venerable publications as Craft magazine and countless others -- I seem to see her byline all over the place. Just so we're clear: she's super cool.

(She also [be still, my fangirl heart] reads this blog. So, um... hi, Diane!)

At any rate, I thought this zine would be fun and boy was I RIGHT. This thing is truly fantastic. I was first impressed by the hand-cut star on the front:

With wrapping paper end pages -- sah-weet!

Shayne, those details right there were enough to sell me on this puppy. But, wait! There's more! The content of this zine is off the charts. Some of it is interesting, some of it sweet, and some of it is downright hilarious -- it's a perfect mix.

My favorite part may be the calendar entitled Your Holiday Disaster Calendar (They're going to happen anyway. Why not plan for them?) It includes time-honored traditions such as wrapping all of your gifts in the same wrap and forgetting to label any of them. Oh, and waking to find the cat having taken down the carefully decorated tree in the middle of the night -- always fun!

There are recipes, carols, tales, facts, trivia, and more. (See a little preview here.) It's 56 pages of Christmas-y goodness and I recommend it for anyone who loves Christmas or who is having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit -- there's something for everyone. Want one for yourself? Good news! You can get yours for the low cost of $5 right here.


PS -- No, this is not a paid endorsement (even though it reads like one). I just really love this zine and wanted to spread the word. Go get yourself one!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Holy giveaway, Batman!

Dear Shayne,

I read a few Canadian blogs (you know how we love all things Canada in our house) and I recently stumbled across this amazing giveaway from The Paper Place in Toronto.

Check out this giant stack of beautiful paper:

From their site: "We have put together the ultimate Chiyogami sample pack, an 8.5x11 sheet of every Chiyogami paper we offer in our online store – 637 patterns in total (retail value $1911.00). All tied up with a pretty red bow."


I've never been there, but I am definitely going the next time we're in Toronto. Meanwhile, you and everyone reading this should enter the contest for a Honkin' Stack o' Gorgeous Papers. I contacted them to ask if it's open to non-Canadian residents and they said yes! So what are you waiting for? Go here to enter!


Goodies from Chronicle Books

Dear Kelly,

My mom was here this weekend and we went to that book warehouse nearby. I got all these super cute sets from Chronicle Books (my favorite publisher! Is it weird to have a favorite publisher?)
Do you have these? Do you want any of them? I can go back to get them for you, if you want :)

I think they also had the Stitch-It Kit by Jenny Hart and the Winter Knits Kit.


The Gift of Craft

Dear Shayne,

I love to get craft supplies as a gift! My friend JP (you remember JP -- I made her this bag earlier this year) surprised me this week with some beautiful Aboriginal fabric from her recent trip to Australia. Check it out:
Aboriginal print fabric

It's hard to tell from the photo, but those are three different prints. Each piece of fabric is about 12 x60 inches and includes a story by the artist about the print itself. The stories are so interesting and add a nice dimension -- I feel a connection with the artists that I don't feel when I pick up fabrics at my local fabric store.

This photo does not do the prints justice, as they are so vibrant and intricate. Really beautiful work.

Not sure yet what I'll do with them, but that's the beauty of craft supplies: the gift that keeps on giving!


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cute l'il Christmas tree box

Dear Shayne,

I sent my mom a little Christmas-y ring for her birthday this week and when I found this little triangle shaped box I had, I thought it kind of looked like a Christmas tree.

So I decorated it with scrapbook paper and a little heart brad and I think it came out super cute:
Little Christmas tree box

Hard to tell from this photo, but each side is about 1.5 inches. It's an itty bitty Christmas tree. Cute!


Friday, December 05, 2008

Meh, but in a good way

Dear Kelly and Our Readers,

Thank you so much for sending me this link to an article on The Times Online. (And thanks to reader Erica for sending me a link to a different article!) So what are these fascinating articles about?

"Meh," probably the most apathetic word ever, has been added to the
Collins English Dictionary! (I know, it's just one dictionary and certainly not the OED, but still!)

"Meh" beat out other suggestions, including "jargonaut," "frenemy" and "huggles."

To celebrate this auspicious occasion, I'm giving away free "Meh" buttons to anyone* who sends me an email with their address. Postage paid and everything.

These "Meh" buttons are 1-1/2 inches wide and were made by the fabulous Renee of My Ugly Kitty.

Just send me an email at pandora75@gmail.com with your name and address and I'll send you your button right away!


* While supplies last.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bazaar Bizarre: Cupcakes!

Dear Shayne,

Last weekend, I went to Bazaar Bizarre. I did buy a couple of things, but the lighting has been so bad after work this week that I haven't taken photos yet -- I'll get to it this weekend.

The only thing I did photograph had to be snapped on the spot because I ate it immediately. It was a delicious cupcake:

Vanilla with vanilla frosting, which is one of my favorites. And this cupcake? Oh, to die for! It was SO good.

When I went to look up the company, Sugar Beat Sweets, I was amazed to find out they were vegan! I've had vegan cupcakes in the past that were basically "ok," but these just blew my mind. Moist cake, creamy frosting, perfect sweetness. The whole nine yards. These cupcakes were flipping amazing. Mmm!

Also? Brilliant idea to sell cupcakes at a craft fair. They were doing a brisk business allll day.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cookies from Christmas Past

Dear Shayne,

I will be attending an amazing Christmas Cookie Exchange party in a few weeks. I missed it last year, but I was just poking around and found photos of my cookies from two years ago. The cookies were good -- oatmeal cookies with Grape-nuts (Mmm! Crunchy!) and dried cranberries (Mmm! Tangy!)

But I was especially pleased with my packaging:
Little bags o' cookies

Little snowflake printed bags with a ribbon tying a handmade gingerbread cookie button! There were gingerbread boys:
Gingerbread button

And gingerbread girls:
Gingerbread button

This exchange is a competition -- you bring enough for everyone to taste and vote on. You also put together parcels of 3 cookies each for everyone to take home. This event is a well-oiled machine and there are some hard-core competitors (yeah, I'm way out of my league.)

The one thing I thought I had going for me the last time was in the "Best Presentation" category, so I made these little cookie bags (with buttons!) Unfortunately, I misunderstood the category entirely -- it was actually for the presentation of the baked goods only. Oops. My cute little bags got tucked away immediately to make room for the cookie-tasting portions.

Whoops! But I was still pretty pleased with them.
Gingerbread button

This year, I think I'll bring my Aunt Rody's "Radio Butter" cookies (named so because her mother originally heard the recipe on the radio -- love that!) They're always a hit and I also love them. I'm probably going to go down in Cookie History as The Girl Who Only Makes That One Kind of Cookie and they probably won't win against the extravagant cookies that show up at this party, but I'll certainly enjoy them. :)


PS -- If the oatmeal/Grape-nut/cranberry cookies sound good to you, you can find the recipe here. They are awesome for breakfast!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cupcake for Hollie

Dear Shayne,

Yesterday was my friend Hollie's birthday (Hi, Hollie!) She loves cupcakes, so I made her one.

A knit one!
Another knit cupcake

If it looks familiar, it's because I've made these before (you can see 'em right here). It's hard to resist these cuties -- they're fun to make and I love that "coconut" frosting! Mmm!


PS - The pattern for these is from the book One Skein.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Shayne,

I was at my mom's house a couple of weeks ago and had the pleasure of enjoying these plastic canvas Thanksgiving creations that my grandmother made a few years back.

First up, Mr. Turkey:

(He's impressively large -- bigger than a football.)

And check out these cheerful, rosy cheeked pilgrims:

I love it that the boy pilgrim is really cheering about something. I mean, he is clearly excited. It makes me laugh.

Perhaps he's excited that the turkey is larger than he is?

Pilgrim: Yay! We'll be eating turkey for months!
Turkey: First you've got to catch me, tiny man.

Heh. I love these -- they're adorable.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Shayne. And thanks so much to all of our readers who make this blog so special -- enjoy the day!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Start 'em early

Dear Shayne,

Well, my beloved Cleveland Browns are having another terrible year. But I still remain a loyal fan and I'm attempting to pass my fandom on to the next generation. (Yes, I've evil.) Last time we saw our nephew, I had him cheerfully repeating "Go, Browns!" (Cutest thing ever -- toddlers are a blast that way.)

I was at Old Navy a couple of weeks ago and I saw a nephew-sized sweater in brown and orange -- Browns colors! The only drawback was the Old Navy logo on the front, but hey... I can fix that!

I didn't take a "Before" shot, but here's the sweater after I covered the logo with my patch:
Go Browns, toddler-style.

I cut the helmet from some Browns fabric I had, then I fused it to felt and fused the whole patch to the sweater. Then I machined a satin stitch in orange around the helmet piece to secure it. Would you like to see a closer up photo of it? Of course you would!
Browns patch...
(Hrm... that's a tad blurry. Oh, well. You get the idea.)

The sweater itself is adorable -- I love that the sleeves are brown and the body is orange.
Go Browns, toddler-style.

Alas, they don't make them in adult sizes. But I'm used to disappointment -- I'm a Browns fan, after all.

Having said that, I still gotta end this post with: Go, Browns!


Friday, November 14, 2008

Sweet garland

Dear Shayne,

This was a project I spotted at the Craft blog that made me sit straight up and say, "I need to make that!" It's just so damned cuuute! (Bonus: I had all of the materials on hand.)

It's a candy garland made from fabric scraps!
Candy garland

Garland is difficult to photograph -- if you try to get the whole thing, it's a very long skinny photo. So here it is, coiled into a spiral:
Candy garland

The tutorial to make these is from CraftBits. She made hers using retro Christmas colors and perhaps I should have done the same, but I could not resist these candy colors. Cuuuute! (Oh, did I say that already? Hrm. Well, it bears repeating.)

Here's all the candy in a little candy dish:
Bowl full o' candy... garland!

I used 1 inch styrofoam balls and cut my fabric rectangles to be 5 x 6 inches. I then used the pinking shears to cut off .5 inches from either end of the rectangle. (So I guess I ended up using 5x5 squares.)

I pinked the other side of those half inch scraps and used them for my "ties." CraftBits did a cute job of tying little bows, but mine didn't look good like that, so I just glued my little pinked scraps around each end (if you click through to the large version of the candy in a bowl, you'll see what I mean.)

CraftBits suggested either gluing or sewing the ends of the candy together to create the garland. I was going to sew, but then... I had the glue gun out, so why not try that? It worked like a charm, so I just glued the pieces together. I like the haphazard way it ended up.

I'm going to hang this on the mantle for Christmas. Or maybe I'll make more and use it for garland on the tree? The possibilities are endless -- I think we need candy garland everywhere!


An idea for your wedding

Dear Kelly,

Crafting has been non-existent lately over here on the East coast. But I have been reading some crafty blogs and came across a tutorial for this pomander:

by Betz White via Sew, Mama, Sew.

Aren't they lovely? I think it would look awesome if you made tons of these and filled up big bowls with them as centerpieces.


P.S. Photo from Betz White

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Mmm... potato skins...

Dear Shayne,

For the most part, living in a place that basically poo-poos chain restaurants is a good thing. We have a lot more unique and wonderful places to eat here than many other areas and I do appreciate the independent choices that we have.

However, one thing that I really miss is potato skins. Even though we have plenty of bars nearby, they seem to all be missing this key [in my opinion] selection on the menu.

So Bill and I got to talking about this yesterday and we said, "Hey! Why not make our own?"

Shayne, this may have been a mistake.

They were SO flipping good... I got up this morning and said, "Hey -- want to have potato skins again today?" This photo is not great, but I assure you that they were wonderful:
Mmm... potato skins

We basically used this recipe for grilled potato skins, except we made little "boats" instead of wedges. Also, we just used olive oil in place of the butter combo and then threw some salt on 'em while they were on the grill. De-lish!

Mmm... now I want potato skins.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Handmade [by someone else!] bag

Dear Shayne,

As much as I love to make things by hand, I also love to buy handmade things. I've been thinking lately that I needed a larger tote bag to carry my kee-rap to work. My subsequent thought has been, "Oh, I should make myself one..." (of course)

But then I stumbled upon someone else making them in just the size I had in mind -- Etsy seller GreenBaggingIt.

So I bought a new tote bag:

(Photo taken from GreenBaggingIt's Etsy store. It's now too dark after work for me to take decent photos. Hating that.)

She's got a lot of different cute fabrics available -- if you like the one I bought, you can get your own right here. Or you can check out the rest of the options right here.

It's got a couple of small pockets both on the inside and the outside, which is handy. I really like the stitched detail on the bag handles -- it's a very nice touch [that I would not have done for myself] so yay for buying handmade!


Monday, November 03, 2008

Creepy Pumpkin Girl: Finished!

Dear Shayne,

After I posted my nearly finished Creepy Pumpkin Girl a few days ago, I finished her just in time for Hallowe'en:
Creepy Pumpkin Girl: Finished!

That satin stitch tutorial that I linked to from Needle 'n Thread (right here) helped me SO much in finishing off the bat on her dress. My mistake has been that I've been using too many strands -- when doing the rest of the embroidery, I use the full floss (all six strands), but for satin stitch, you've got to use just one strand. A-ha!

I ended up using a Sharpie to fill in her yellow glowing face-parts. This is probably pure sacrilege in the World of Embroidery, so don't tell anyone. Oh, wait. I guess I just did... oops. Oh, well. It worked and I'm not planning on washing this (it will come out for a few weeks every year and no one is wearing it. Spot cleaning = my friend.)

I'd like to make her into a pillow with some Hallowe'en fabric I have, but I have a feeling this will get put on the back burner until next October. Me? Procrastinate? Never!


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Low-key Hallowe'en

Dear Shayne,

As I mentioned last year, I like to wear my skates at work on Hallowe'en and dress in a costume that incorporates them (Rolling Stones, Hell on Wheels, Holy Roller, etc.) (I just re-read that Holy Roller post and I cracked myself up -- I'm lame.)

Bill came up with the idea for this year's costume: Rolling pin. After wrestling with how to make myself look like a sewing pin or a bowling pin, he also thought of the perfect solution: a Personal Identification Number. You know? At the bank machine? You use a PIN?

So I ironed on a PIN to my chest, slapped on my skates and went as a "Rolling pin."


There's the numbers. No photo of the full costume -- imagine a black shirt and a black skirt. And skates.

I used Avery Dark T-Shirt Transfers for the numbers. If you've never used them, they're pretty slick and definitely help out with costume makin'.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Craft Show Saturday

Dear Kelly,

I'm guessing you can't make it, but just in case we have some readers who are local over here on my coast, I thought I'd share...

DC Craft Mafia (of which I'm a member) will be hosting their 2nd annual craft show on Saturday. Details can be found at dccraftmafia.com.

Man, I've got a lot of stuff to get done in the next day.


Last minute Halloween costume

Dear Kelly,

The craft train actually made a stop here on the east coast, but it probably should have gone right through.

Sam wanted to be Indiana Jones for Halloween. The premade costumes are crap:

So we bought different pieces here and there. Brown pants from Target. A button-down shirt from Burlington Coat Factory. My mom just had the messenger bag mailed to us and it arrived today. Also, she found an official hat (actual proper, wool hat - not that crappy hard felt stuff from the costume store) at a Cracker Barrel. And I found a brown jacket at Good Will for $4.00. Here is the jacket as purchased:

I don't know what's up with the ugly face, but you might be able to tell that the sleeves are too long, the length overall is too long and the lapels are bigger than they should be. So, like any good crafty mom, I sat down at my sewing machine and shortened the sleeves and the hem and I did a little bit of folding over with the lapels.

I made it too short. It's more like a bolero jacket. But it'll do for one day. And this was definitely easier than two years ago when I made Mr. Pickypants an Obi Wan Kenobi costume.

Now I have to get cat fur off of the hat.