Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, one and all!

I look back on this past year and count the many blessings God has given me - My grandparents living next door, the opportunity for our family to travel several times - and the smaller blessings, the ones I sometimes take for granted - opening my etsy shop in July and beginning this blog in November, the opportunity to revel in baby love again while babysitting a neighbor baby, friends and their encouraging words and emails at just the right time, the blessings go on... Most of all 'But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.'
2 Corinthians 2:14

Many blessings in Christ for the coming year,

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Painted Ceramic Creations

As promised, here are more pictures of the ceramic ornaments I painted for my little brothers for Christmas. Not the best pictures, but they were taken at 4 in the morning and will have to suffice for now. Like the ones I posted about earlier, I painted them with acrylic craft paint and sprayed them with finish to keep the paint from scratching off. They really liked their ornaments and we'll see how long they last! :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fabric-Covered Boxes

This is one of several belated posts about a few Christmas gifts I made this year. Granted, I couldn't post them before Christmas because these certain gifts were for family members who read this blog. But, finally, after the family have left and Christmas celebrations have quieted down, I'm finding time to blog a little more consistently.

For some time, Mommy has been wanting to cover those cardboard boxes that pineapple chunks from Costco come in with pretty fabric and use them around the home for storage. After making sure that it was close enough to Christmas that she wouldn't have time to do it before then, I spirited away the boxes she had saved and, while at the fabric store, had her pick out some fabric she really loved and would like to see around the house.

Once I got the best method down for covering them, making the four went quickly. Though it should be fairly self-explanatory by the pictures, I'll explain, in an informal tutorial below, how I made them.

I started out with the four boxes, all the same size.

For the first fabric strip, I measured the length of the box, including the bottom, up the sides, and back down the sides into the box, leaving an extra inch for gluing it down.

Here's the finished piece so you can see what I mean.

After I glued down the ends of the first strip (you can see that in the box in this picture), I cut out another strip for the width, measuring the same way I did before. On this second strip, I had to fold all the raw edges under, gluing as I went.

Here's a close-up of how I glued the edges down inside.

After covering the box, I cut a rectangle out of cardboard just slightly smaller than the inside of the box for covering the bottom. I picked a coordinating fabric and cut out a piece to cover the cardboard rectangle, leaving about an inch on each side for gluing it down. Here is a close-up of folding in the corner of the fabric on the longer sides to make a neat corner. Once I had the fabric-covered cardboard done, I just glued it down to the base of the box's inside to add a neat finishing touch.

Here are the four boxes...

And Mommy after she opened her present! They are already employed around the house in holding various small articles that we accumulate, and I do have to admit they're quite pretty. I have more boxes...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Newest Crocheting Project

In the past, I've fiddled around a little with crocheting, making little doll purses and the like, but never got serious. Now, with something of a yarn stash and a desire to move up from being a 'beginning' beginner, I searched out some affordable patterns to try my beginners hand on in making a hat for Tiger. And of course, I couldn't resist a photo shoot with a baby! :)

I found a couple websites on Etsy devoted to knitting and crocheting patterns with the cutest baby hats and the like, and, with some trepidation, ordered patterns that appeared, from the pictures to be way above my skill level. But, both the ladies were so friendly, responding promptly and offering to help with any problems. I would highly recommend these two pattern shops!


I started with this cute girl's flower beanie pattern for the top of the hat, but, since Tiger is all boy, the flared, frilly bottom obviously would not work for him. Enter, my experiment. Since I had been doing double crochets, I stopped adding more each round as I had been and kept on working straight until the hat was long enough. Then, I used the earflaps and ties design from this handsome baby boy hat to finish off Tiger's, and single crocheted around the bottom before adding the ties and the stripe of white to hide where I began crocheting straight. I was about to pull out the book that explained making pom-poms when I remembered I had this white one in my stash from some other baby hat that would match perfectly. Voila! Isn't it cute? (Tiger's cuter, though!) I'll let you decide!

~Happy, smiley boy!~

~The more sober side of Tiger~

~"Oh, not more pictures, pleeease?"~

Here's a better view of the hat. The other pictures were more for the cuteness of Tiger than the hat. :) I really enjoyed working with these patterns, am pleased overall with the quality of the patterns and the results, and have a couple more which I'm sure you'll be seeing pictures of soon!

P.S. If you're wondering who Tiger is by the end of this post, see this post on our family blog where I introduced him!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cinnamon and Applesauce Christmas Ornaments

These are one of our favorite holiday crafts; they're so easy to make and so cheap! They smell so good, but don't eat them. If your family likes to hang gingerbread on the Christmas tree as our does, don't hang these on the tree as well. We have several stories of various family members nearly eating these ornaments instead of the gingerbread! :)

What You'll Need:

-Applesauce (get the cheapest stuff at the grocery store)
-Cinnamon (again, get it cheap; it's just for ornaments)
-A tablespoon or two of glue for helping the ornaments hold together better (optional)
-Your choice of holiday cookie cutters
-Baking sheet, measuring cup, mixing bowl, and fork or hand mixer

Decide how many ornaments you need. A cup of dough makes about ten or twelve medium sized ornaments, but it will differ based on the size of your cookie cutters and how thick you make the ornaments. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Measure out your cinnamon and applesauce in equal amounts and mix. Add glue if using. I usually use a half cup each of cinnamon and applesauce which makes a cup of dough. If you have a hand mixer, you can use that as I did. Otherwise, use a fork.

Your batter should be sticky, but shouldn't stick to your fingers. If it does, add a little more cinnamon. Roll out the dough on a cookie sheet and cut out the shapes. Try to make them about a half-inch thick. Use a butter knife to scrape away the excess dough from the edges of the ornament to give it a clean look. If you would like to run a string through to hang the ornaments, use a straw to poke holes in the top. Otherwise, you can glue the ribbon on the back.

Bake your ornaments for 2 1/2 hours or until hardened. Make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven so that the top or bottom don't get burnt. If the insides are still not fully hardened, that is fine as they will harden as they cool.

When they come out of the oven, lay them on a rack to cool completely before stringing and hanging. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Decorating a Wreath

As we began our Christmas decorating a few days late, we realized we didn't have a second one for next door. Thanks to Goodwill, we picked up a beautiful, new, but very plain green wreath this morning. Below are pictures and a written tutorial.

Beautiful, but rather plain.

Listening to my favorite Christmas music this afternoon, I sat down with a pile of wire, ribbons, and other crafting miscellani.

And the decorated wreath! For my first attempt decorating a wreath, I don't think it came out that badly. Next time, I probably wouldn't use the squashed silver pine cone, but we've had it floating around for years and my little brothers, each Christmas, adore it so much they squish it. So I thought I'd save it and put it on the wreath. :)

A closeup of the pine cones and cinnamon sticks.

You Will Need:

1 plain, undecorated green wreath of your choice
About a dozen cinnamon sticks
Four or five craft pine cones (If you don't have any, get a few clean ones from the woods)
Holiday wired ribbon, thin velvet ribbon, or any pretty ribbon you may have on hand
Thick wire

First, decide on the "feel" of your wreath by laying your pine cones, ribbon, and such over and rearranging it as you see fit. Of course, since everything is simply fastened on with wire, you can change things around later if you like.

Please keep in mind that there are so many different creative options with a wreath like this that you do not have to follow strictly to my list. Some other ideas for decorating include: fake holiday fruit, jingle bells, and holly branches and berries.

Once you've arranged the wreath to your satisfaction, begin fastening your decorations on with the wire. For pine cones, I found it easiest to wrap the wire a few wraps around the base and then around the wreath under the branches. If you prefer, you can use quick-drying glue.

*A helpful hint for tying on the cinnamon sticks: arrange two or three into a bundle that you like and wrap them up tightly with a small bit of wire to keep them together so you have both hands for tying the ribbon. Tie the ribbon on right above the wire and then slide the wire off and use it for tying the bundle to the wreath. Sliding it under the ribbon on the underside works the easiest.

When you're done, use some wire to make a hook on the back for hanging. You'll notice I used a bit of green and gold wire-edged ribbon. To add a bit of glittery color the the wreath. I'm still not sure if I like it the way it is, though, and may end up moving it around some more. An easy way to keep ribbons like that on is to slide it around and under the wire frame of the wreath, if yours has one.

These wreaths are so forgiving, so play around with it until you get a look you like! Following the basic guidelines, there's no "wrong" way to decorate it.

Enjoy your new creation and have a blessed advent season! It's snowing at our place right now and I'm off to take some pictures of my little brothers enjoying it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thrift Store Findings

Mommy and I were able to spend some time at our local thrift store yesterday afternoon. We're not able to go that often, so it's a real treat when we are. As much as I enjoy the three Goodwill stores we have in our area, I really, really like the North Raleigh Christian Ministries thrift store because of its quiet, 'quaint' atmosphere, and the wonderful vintage finds there!

I was able to pick out six brand, new children's patterns, some vintage and some not, for my etsy shop and its burgeoning pattern sales. Those really nice designer children's patterns sell really well, especially when they're out-of-print patterns at a good price.

Besides the sewing patterns, I also found a few other cross stitch and plastic canvas needlework patterns for the shop. The price was just right to be able to try them and see how much of a demand there is for these. If for nothing else, they're just plain ol' cute!

And a few treasures for myself...this was a great find. You can't beat the books for 75 cents and I can't afford to buy books like this new to look through for the inspiration.

 And some yummy fabric finds. As of this afternoon, they're all washed and ideas for these fabrics swarming through my head. I snatched up the soft, brown fleece as a perfect choice for making one of these cute creatures for a friend at church due with her first baby in January. I don't have any specific ideas for the bag of classic red and green gingham fabric yet, but it's sure to come in handy for something. The blue muslins I have ideas for turning into doll clothes for my etsy shop as I'm in the process of designing several patterns right now. The pumpkin pinwale corduroy was a fantastic find and I'm turning over several ideas for cute toddler pumpkin hats or autumn decor.

And the best part of the afternoon at the thrift store? All this (plus another piece of fabric which didn't make it into the pictures due to being soaked for stains) cost only $12. That's my favorite way to shop! How about you?