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.