Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Craft: Sleep Mask

I have a very good friend. That is very hard to buy for! (And if you happen to read this, I mean this in the best way possible!) She is also one of those unfortunate people that have a December birthday. Not only a December birthday, but one just a couple days from Christmas. The worst! I had picked up a few things for her but was trying to think of something she really wanted. Then she mentions that she wanted a Sleep Mask, but couldn't find one. So I began a massive search for a Sleep Mask, but to no avail, could not find one! Being the resourceful person that I am, I decided to make her one. I found this tutorial on Prudent Baby. I used their pattern, but used fabric interlined with fusible fleece for the front and just a simple black quilting cotton on the back. She also happens to be the only person I know who likes to wear glasses, so I dug into my "for special occasion" fabric stash, this happens to be Echino by Etsuko Furuya.
I believe that this brings me to the end of my Christmas Crafts. I LOVE to make things all year long, but there is a certain joy that comes from making things specifically for people. With that, I wish you a Merry Christmas! I'm certain to be back after the new year. With the new year comes many, many new projects!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Craft: Simple Gifts

Unfortunately, the holidays can hold a lot of material obligations. I personally enjoy a simple gift, one that is thoughtful. Because, it really isn't about the money. But about knowing that someone has thought of you. I made these simple cans of paperwhites for my office friends. Just a can pulled from the recycling, a handful of gravel and a paperwhite bulb. Wrapped in a simple cover of burlap. In 3 to 4 weeks, they should bloom. A simple reminder of the new year and spring to come. (A complete tutorial can be found here. Via Mayamade.)
I also read this much more eloquently written blog post today, also written about paperwhites on Soulemama.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Craft: Candy Cane White Chocolate Pretzels

I enjoy making treats, but only if they are quick and easy. I'm not one to embark into an 8 hour session of sugar cookie making. However, I am more than happy to melt some chocolate, smash some candy canes and dip some pretzel flats in both items and call it a delicacy. And definitely package it into a pretty cello bag. That pretty much makes up for my lack of endurance in the kitchen, doesn't it? The recipe and idea are found here, on Cooking With My Kid.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flea Market Style: Brooch Necklace

Our holiday party is this afternoon and I was searching for something a little festive to wear with my standard black sweater. I remembered making this necklace a few years back. I bought the brooches at a flea market and attached them with jump rings, tied on a ribbon and an instant necklace! Inspiration found here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Craft: If at First You Don't Succeed...

I try to be an honest person, so I have to fess up. Apparently, dough and I are not friends. After my post, about the salt dough ornaments, things went awry. I set the oven low and let them bake (dry out) for 4 hours. I wonder if it was too long... when I took them out, they looked, well dried out. Perhaps I didn't knead the dough for long enough. There were tiny cracks in it when I rolled it out. I had to throw that batch out. So I turned to the craft store and purchased some Crayola Model Magic clay. Even easier than making salt dough! All I had to do is open the package! After cutting them out and stamping them, I just let them dry for 3 days. That's it. They turned out smooth and white. Just like I had pictured! A simple and easy way to dress up simply wrapped gifts.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Crafts: DIY Monogram Mug

These monogram mugs can be found all over the internet as well as all over the market place. I knew I had to try my hand at this. Last week was quite harried, but I had like 5 minutes to kill before a hair appointment the other evening, so I popped into my local goodwill and scoured the shelves for white mugs. I managed to find 4 that were in really good shape. The original directions for this project can be found here. They call for using graphite tracing paper to transfer the image onto the mug. I couldn't find any of this, so I printed out letters in illustrator (rockwell) then cut out each letter, used double stick tape to apply the letter to the mug, and traced around it with a pencil. I also couldn't find porceline pens (I could only handle a trip to one crafty shop this weekend, and had to pick up fabric, so Joann's was the only stop-their real artist supplies aisle is a little lacking.) So I ended up purchasing a Deco Art glass paint marker. I wish they had a finer tip, but I made it work. They still turned out pretty well. I have two more mugs left. Trying to decide who should get them!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Craft: A Present for Grandma

My grandma is one of the few people in my life that truly appreciates a handmade gift! So I never miss an opportunity to make something special for her. For Christmas this year, I decided to make her the Mama clutch, the tutorial is from Growing Home. I used fabric scraps I had on hand and I was able to put this together in one evening. It has a zipper closure and two small pockets on the inside. I like it so much, I think I might make one for myself. Because I need another bag, right?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Craft: Salt Dough Ornaments

I was feeling the need to do a little holiday crafting today. Something quick, easy and inexpensive. I decided on salt dough ornaments. I plan on using these to tie on gifts. All that is required is salt (1/2 cup), water (1/2 cup) and flour (1 cup). I also used my alphabet stamps and my set of snow flake stamps. All of these items I had on hand.
I did have to buy some cookie cutters. I looked high and low all morning for an inexpensive set with no avail. Then, I stumbled upon these for .99 at Trader Joe's! I love that place!
I found great instructions for salt dough ornaments here. You basically make the dough, knead it, roll it out, cut it out, at this point I used stamps to make imprints, then you bake for a LONG time at a low oven to dry them out. If wanted you can shellac them with varnish. I think this would be great to do with kid's as well. Don't be surprised if you receive one of these tied to a gift from me!
cutout, before imprinting with stamps
all ready to go in the oven!

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Favorite Livestock, More from Ceramics 101

Let's kick off this week's post with an adorable picture of a pair of Alpaca! My friend Sarah and I used to be a little obsessed with alpaca. We dreamed of ditching our corporate jobs and owning an alpaca farm. They are soo cute and we could manufacturer and sell alpaca yarn. I was at an art fair this weekend and they had these two little guys out front. They were so friendly! They are still my favorite livestock!
This past week, I was finally able to pick up my pottery that I made during my last session of ceramics class. Take a look!
A mug
A bowl A vase. A pencil cup. You know, for your desk. A rather wonky vase.
And another bowl.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Goose is Getting Fat. (A Project Round-Up) (And a Blogger Issue Remedy)

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat.
Am I the only one that remembers that song from grade school? We would sing it in the round.
But I digress. Christmas is coming. And if you are planning on any handmade presents, you best get started!
So here's a quick little round up of a few tutorials I've seen around that I think would make great gifts.
I'm kicking this off with a couple of sewing projects. Start these first! I love to sew, but let's be honest, it can be a little time consuming. But never fear, you have plenty of time if you start soon.
Organizer Wallet from LBG Studio Genius! This has a pocket for your iphone AND a notepad. (I'm a pretty modern girl, I still need an actual notepad.)
The following projects are fairly easy and inexpensive. So you could make multiples. Possibly for the people who help you out at work, for your kid's teachers, friends, just a little something to show that you've thought of them. (Because isn't that what presents are for anyhow?)
Felt Medallion Headband from Sew.Craft.Create. Cute for kids and adults alike.
Cereal Box Journal from The Long Thread Save your cereal boxes from your recycling bins, you could decorate the front with stamps. (I'm envisioning silver or white ink with snowflake stamps. Just a thought.)
Personalized Ceramics from Show Tell Share Look for inexpensive solid ceramics at places like the Dollar Tree and turn them into a great present.
Marble Magnets from Not Martha This is a perfect present for anyone with a cubicle. That covers quite a few people.
I've been suffering from terrible insomnia and was forcing myself to stay up until I was really tired. Think I've finally reached a level of true sleepiness. Here's hoping for a great night's sleep!
Happy Crafting!
(Quickly, on a completely unrelated note, I was having issues with functionality in Blogger. I couldn't select script to add hyperlinks, I couldn't cut and paste text. I could write posts and save them as drafts, but not actually post. It was incredibly irritating. I'm happy to report that after reading many message boards about this a very simple fix was installing and using Google Chrome as my internet browser. This seems to have fixed all issues. Thank goodness.)

A Final Halloween Picture, The Mystery Braid Cuff (Mystery Solved!)

Because they are the cutest things ever, here's another (and final) pic of my twin nieces, wearing their princess halloween costumes. I hear they got a lot of candy!!
Several years ago, I came across these directions on Martha Stewart, showing this really cool leather braid cuff. A mystery braided cuff. Recently, I came across some leather in my stash and decided to give it a shot. Let's just say that this is not the sort of thing you can figure out from a picture. Perhaps that's how it earned it's mysterious title? After several attempts, I finally had to just put it aside. Then I went to my #1 teacher, when it comes to handiwork that I don't understand from a picture, youtube! I found this video and was able to make my own mystery braid cuff in no time at all! Mystery solved!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween: Princess Tutu Dresses

About a month ago, my sister (mother of two year old twin girls) emailed me the above picture. The twins wanted to be princesses for Halloween. Caroline (one of the twins) had seen this picture in a catalog and wanted a princess dress. A PINK princess dress. (She's very into pink.) And the other twin, Brooke, wanted to be "Princess and the Frog." (She wears a green gown.) Did I think I could make a couple of tutu dresses? How could I say no?
So I ordered 100 yards of 6" wide pink tulle, 100 yards of 6" green tulle, a couple packages of elastic, followed this tutorial and managed to whip up these! Two instant princesses! (Posing with their big brother.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Wristlet

Isn't Fall the best season? Before I get to my new wristlet, here's a few recent instagram pics...
Pumpkins shelved in front of the grocery store. Even they look quaint when transformed in Instagram.
I saw this cool, vintage Volvo a few weeks ago. Forgot that I even took a picture of it. If only I had the wherewithal to own and maintain a vintage car... Perhaps I'm just not that cool. Or have a garage. And care too much for my own safety.
In my last post, I mentioned the purchase of a mini table runner from Target. (You can read about it here.) It's basically a piece of vinyl that you can put in the center of your table, sort of a big placemat. I used part of it for a travel pouch, but there was still quite a bit of it left. I had to do something with it, so I made a wristlet. I really do love a wristlet. I like to keep one in my big bag that I take to work everyday, so that I can throw my wallet, iPhone, gum and chapstick in when I go out to lunch or shopping after work. However, the trouble with store bought wristlets is that they are pretty small. Often too small for my wallet to fit. There in lies the beauty of making stuff! You can make it exactly how you want it! You could make your own wristlet with any vinyl or oilcloth you have on hand. It is sooo easy when you can leave the edges unfinished. The d-ring and clip used to attach the strap were found at Joann's, but could be found at any craft store.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Travel Pouch

Ahh, travel. I know that some people actually enjoy the act of flying or in the very least tolerate it well. I, on the other hand, do not. It is a necessary evil for me. I have to travel for work for time to time and I would do anything to see my family that lives about 800 miles away. For domestic flights, I vacillate between constant distraction and praying without ceasing. I like to have all of my distraction items readily available, so that I'm not forever trying to get things from my bag under my seat. On the last flight I was on, I had my kindle, iPhone and magazine all piled on my lap, when my tiny iPhone slipped from my lap and fell onto the floor! Retrieving something from the floor on an airplane when you are in a window seat is nearly impossible and led to several stressful moments. Luckily, the nice man behind me did spot it and kicked it forward to me under the seat. But I told myself there and then that I need some sort of pouch to keep my iPhone and it's accompanying cords with me the next time I travel. Something more secure to keep everything in and easier to keep track of. I happened to be at Target over the weekend and came across this "mini runner" on a clearance end cap and a light bulb went off in my mind. It was a super bargin at $1.48. This mini runner (intended to go on your dining room table) is made of vinyl. It sort of looks likes it's woven and it's printed with a fun white and red screenprint (supposedly the skyline of NYC). Because it's a heavy vinyl and won't unravel, I could leave all of the ends unfinished. I attached velcro for a closure (so nothing will fall out) and stitched up the sides. My iPhone is now safe to take flight!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Halloween Totes

Fall has hit us hard here in Maryland. I do love the fall, the crisp weather, apples, boots, sweaters, the changing leaves... But a 30 degree temperature drop from one day to the next seems a little extreme. (The high was 85 on Friday and 55 on Saturday.) Then again, it seems that all weather we experience around here is dramatic, let's not forget the relatively recent earthquake, hurricane, tropical storm trifecta. So this is to be expected.
With fall comes my least favorite holiday, Halloween. While I'm not a fan, my nephew and nieces do love it and I do love any excuse to send them presents. This weekend, I appliqued 3 little totes. And then shopped this weekend for books, mask kits and other little treats to fill them with.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Deer Tote

I seem to have lost my camera cord, (I one is more annoyed with my irresponsibility than I) so these pictures were taken in the harsh fluorescent lights of my work space. Please ignore the giant piles of paper in the background.
This is a quick little tote I appliqued over the weekend. I had the canvas tote in my stash, I think I had bought it for a reusable gift bag at some point, but then it ended up being to small for the intended present. I found the applique pattern here. It's not terribly big, but was perfect for bringing in my lunch this morning. And, as it turns out, would make a perfect reusable gift bag. Perhaps I'll have to make another to give away.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumnal Cooking-Vegetarian Chili

(Picture taken before simmering for 30 minutes. End product has much less liquid.)
There has been a chill in the air, especially in the mornings and even though it isn't officially the fall yet, I can tell that summer is coming to an end. In my kitchen, fall = chili. I am by no means a vegetarian, but do eat a lot of meatless meals. Last Fall I never did find a vegetarian chili recipe that I really loved, so I combined a few concepts and came together with this. I love the way it turned out!
Emily's Vegetarian Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 red bell pepper, chopped 2 medium zucchini, cubed 8 oz mushrooms, chopped 1/2 of an onion, chopped (A note to onion haters: I hate raw onions, but have found that they are an important aromatic and add a good depth of flavor when cooked.) 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (If you like celery, feel free to add some of that. I have gotten of my onion hatred, but still working on celery. Don't like the texture, taste, or lingering smell.) 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 tbsp chili powder 1 tbsp cumin 1/4 tsp cinnamon 2 14 1/2 oz cans of diced tomatoes-not drained (I used one regular and one southwestern flavor.) 2 15 oz cans of black beans-drained (you could use what ever bean of your liking, I always use black.) 1. In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. 2. Add vegetables and garlic, stirring until softened (about 10 minutes). 3. Add seasonings and cook for about 5 more minutes. 4. Add tomatoes (with juice) and beans. 5. Heat for 10 minutes over medium heat, turn down heat, then simmer for at least 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. The heat in this recipe is very mild. (I like spicy food, however, my sinuses do not!) You could add a chipotle pepper with a couple of tablespoons of the adobe sauce if you wanted to kick it up a notch. Or just add a few dashes of tabasco sauce. This would be great with corn bread. I had it for dinner over brown rice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ceramics 101

For the past 10 weeks, I've been taking a ceramics class. After what seemed like a long wait, my instructor finally was able to do the glaze firing. The pick up was delayed last week by Hurricane Irene (what wasn't delayed??). Finally, tonight we were about to retrieve our masterpieces! Take a look.
The piece de resistance-my first mug.
Serving tray. With sort of an unintended 80's vibe. Guess I'll go with it. Bird shaped plate with lace imprint. Might try this again with a lighter glaze. The glaze masked the lace.
Small blue bowl. Plan on using this for paper clips at work.
Planter. (Has a hole at the bottom that I neglected to photograph.) Probably my least favorite, but useful.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Bracelet Making Continues....

I'm going through a bracelet phase. It's true. I have always loved accessories, but for some reason the bracelet is where it's at for me right now. Not only have I enjoyed wearing them, I've also equally enjoyed making them.
I am not one to frequent Wal-Mart, but I found myself by one the other evening and needed some basics, so I begrudingly went in. I managed to pick up a few things at unbelievable low prices! Perhaps I should frequent them more often. At any rate, in the accessories section of Wal-Mart, I did manage to find these really inexpensive bangles. 2 for $3.00.
A few weeks ago, I picked up these beaded ribbons at the going out of business sale at Borders. At the time, I thought I would use them in a regular ribbon way, to tie onto a present. But they are so pretty and sparkly... And just like that, two more bracelets for my ever growing collection. All I did was hot glue the end of the ribbon to the inside of the bracelet, wrap the ribbon around, hot glue the other end. Too sparkly for day wear? I can't decide...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hardware Jewelry-DIY Wrap Bracelet

I saw this tutorial for the DIY Wrap Bracelet a few weeks ago on Honestly...WTF. (Really cool blog, by the way.) My friend Kelly beat me to making a few. After I saw her's I had to give it a shot. This project did take a little nimble finger tip work, but overall quick and easy. Here are a few tips...the ball chain is purchased at the hardware store. Not the craft store. You can buy it when you are getting your hex nuts. Ignore the guy at Ace Hardware's weird looks when you buy out his 1/4" brass hex nut supply. I have more bracelets made with hardware to come!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

An Earthquake, A Hurricane, A Project

It has been quite the week in Baltimore. First of all, on Tuesday, we had an earthquake. The worst one in 100 years! Now, for people who are accustomed to this sort of thing, I'm sure it wasn't too big of a deal. But earthquakes are not common here. And we were pretty stunned. I think the earthquake was over before I realized what had happened. I thought that there was an explosion or something. This is an old city and most of the buildings are 100+ years old. They are not built to sustain earthquakes. But we were lucky, the damage was minor.
Then came a hurricane! Her name was Irene. Like most things in life, the anticipation of the hurricane was worst than the actual event. We were not sure what Irene would really bring. I do live just blocks from the harbor. We were a teensy bit worried about flooding. I had my storm windows installed, purchased non perishable foods, bottled water, batteries, matches. I gathered every flashlight I own (5, is this a disproportionally large quantity of flashlights for a girl that lives in a one bedroom apartment to have? Ummm, yes.). I set up a bunch of candles and enjoyed the seance like effect. And then I waited. The worst part of the storm happened between 11pm and 2am. It is not easy to sleep with heavy, heavy rain and 80 mph winds pelting your windows. I went out to survey the damage this morning and other than downed trees, we seem to be unscathed in these parts. Thank goodness. Not to say that all is good in this state. There are thousands of people that still don't have power this morning and it could be a few days before it is restored.
As I awaited for Hurricane Irene, I had some time to kill. So I worked on this little embroidery project. The inspiration for this one came from a couple of different places. On Under the Sycamore, last week, I saw a project that was made from a free print, printed on a piece of canvas, then adding a little hand embroidery to the whole thing. She called it a "Stitched Rolled Canvas." The print itself came from Sara Jane Studios and is a great reminder about life. "Live your life on purpose." I took the free print, transferred it onto some canvas with transfer paper, and started in on embroidering it. I used similiar colors used in the original print. I might even leave it in the embroidery hoop.