Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm still here.

Hello All.
I had to step away from the Internet for a few days following Friday's hideous occurrence. I needed to spend time in the present, with my family and friends. As the days go by, the pain in my heart aches a little less--but I suspect that it will never be gone. The knowledge that what happened in Connecticut could have easily happened any where, to anyone's children, will always be stored away inside my brain.

When life hands me things that are too big, too raw, and too much I turn to poetry. I have been reciting Emily Dickinson over the past few days:

My life closed twice before its close --
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

For me, it is so very appropriate that this Friday is the Winter Solstice. A time when the darkness gives way to the light. The days begin to lengthen ever so gradually, and we are pushed out of winter and pulled towards spring. 

One of my personal rituals is to check in with the Maes Howe web cam
Maes Howe is a prehistoric chambered cairn--a burial mound made of rough-hewn stone. The entrance is aligned with the setting sun on the Winter Solstice. As the sun makes it's descent on the shortest day, the room fills with light. 

I invite all of you to celebrate the returning of the light on Friday night. Light candles, sing songs, and fill your heart and homes with the people you love. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Photo Friday and another gift round up!

Four more quick gifts for you to make this weekend! (You're welcome)
I am finishing up my gifts this weekend, and you can too! I have some cookies to bake, and owls and books to make. 

Perfect for the sniffly winter season. Make a pair and use them for hand warmers in your coat pockets.

Swap out greeting cards for card stock paper and you have homemade stocking stuffers, you crafty thing!

Because how cute is this guy?!

Know someone who's book-crazy? How about a teacher or a librarian? 

Hope your weekend is super cozy and extra crafty!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mitten Wreath

Hey y'all! Yesterday I was laying on the couch, cursing all germs. Today I am vastly improved.

How about we make a cute wreath that we leave up until spring comes? 

 Mittens! I have tons from the kids--my mom knit all of them and I just can't give them to Goodwill.
I think this wreath is a good use for them until the day when there are other small hands to wear them.

Wreath form You can use a Styrofoam wreath form or a wire one. If you use a wire one, you'll need to wrap it with some kind of fabric so you can pin the mittens on (I've used tulle)
Mittens (6 pair)
Straight pins

Tie your fabric around the wreath form and then wind the fabric around the form until it's covered at least twice over.

Tuck your loose ends under, and then tie whatever material you are using to hang your wreath over the loose ends.

Lay your mittens down and pin through the cuff into the wreath. You'll be overlapping the mittens so the pins won't show.

Pins? What pins? I see no pins here...

Once you've pinned all your mittens on, pick up your wreath like you're going to hang it. You'll notice some of your mittens at the top are floppy. Pin those into place, hiding your pins underneath the edge of the mitten.

You are so sneaky! 

Hang your wreath up and pat yourself on the back.

P.S.--Thanks for the idea, Mom!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stamping right along

This year I am extending myself a challenge: The Ultimate Handmade Christmas.
True, I started crafting as soon as Halloween was over, but the benefit of being nearly done with present-making at the beginning of December is that I have TIME.
And while I could spend that time with a boozey glass of eggnog, I am making MORE stuff. I'm working on gift tags. Last night I hand cut a wreath stamp and embellished it three different ways.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quote for the week, and a sketchbook peek

If your mind is attuned to Beauty,
You find Beauty in everything
--Jean Cooke

I'm once again studying birds. Probably it has to do with the way they all vanish for the months of December and January; leaving the dawn to arrive unheralded.

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday at last

It has been a long week for me! But it's Friday and I am preparing for another craft-filled weekend!
Today I mixed up a batch of bird seed wreaths using my mini bundt pan as the mold.
There's lots of recipes available, but I like the no-cook varieties. I used the one from here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Glitter Candlesticks

Welcome, welcome!
It's another Artful Wednesday, and I am slowly ticking my way through the list of gifties I am crafting. This would be a perfect hostess gift with a box of candles, all tied up with a pretty bow.
Glittered candlesticks! Easy peasy and oh-so-pretty!

Two wooden candlesticks (Bayer Wood again. I love those guys!)
White acrylic paint
ModPodge (hard coat, please)
Wide Flat paintbrush
Glitter (I used extra-fine glitter in Emerald)
Bowl (to catch your glitter)

Step one: Paint your candlesticks white. I did two coats of paint. Let that dry. (The white paint was completely inspired by some pillar candle holders I saw at Target)

Step two: One at a time, paint the bottom half of your candlesticks with ModPodge. DO NOT let dry.

Step three: Hold your candlestick over the glitter-catch bowl and shake glitter all over the wet ModPodge. Let Dry. I recommend a second coat of ModPodge and glitter. Let that dry.

Step four: Paint a coat of ModPodge over your dry glitter. This will keep your candlesticks from raining glitter over everything.

I love how they sparkle! 
I'm going to leave you to your glitter collection and put some candles in my candlesticks.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Winter Dioramas (and mushroom tutorial)

Have you all seen the winter-scene-in-a-mason-jar tutorials? This is like that but thrifty, kid-friendly, and you can change it out with the seasons.

Winter rabbits?!

Seriously, what's not to love?! I found the supplies at my local dollar store and at the local art store. The Dollar Store had the glass globes (candle holders, y'all!), reindeer moss, Epsom salt (that's your snow!). The art supply store had the trees, rabbits, birds (in the doll house section), and the shaker pegs (mushrooms). The whole shebang cost me about $15. That's for FOUR. Imagine them on your holiday table, lit by candle light from your handmade candle sticks (yeah, that's tomorrow). Sigh. SO PRETTY.

Let's start with the shaker peg mushrooms, shall we?

You'll need 
Paint: black, red, white and yellow. (any kind of acrylic paint will do)
Small paintbrush
TWO toothpicks
Rinse water for your paint brush
1 package of shaker pegs (available at your art and crafts store in the aisle with all the wood cut-outs)

What's a Shaker Peg? It's a small wooden piece that you attach to a flat piece of wood to hang stuff on. Conveniently for us, they are mushroom-shaped, which saves us from having to spend $3 on two tiny mushrooms. 

Step one: Paint the bottom of your mushroom white--this is the stem part.

Tip: Mix your own mushroom-gill color. One drop black, two drops yellow, two drops white. Use a toothpick to mix.

Step two: Use the toothpick you used to mix your gill color to paint the gills ON. Dab a bit of paint on the underside of the mushroom cap and drag the toothpick through it until it looks like this:

Do that all the way around the underside of the cap. 

Then dab some of the gill color around the bottom of the stem. Set aside to dry--it shouldn't take very long.

Step three: Use your brush to paint your mushroom cap red.

Step four: Use the second toothpick to give the mushroom cap white spots.

Cute right? You can leave it like that OR you can tacky-glue some reindeer moss to the bottom of the stem.

Now it's time for the diorama!


Bowl-shaped candle holder
Bottle brush trees
Tiny woodland creatures
Epsom salt
Reindeer Moss (optional)

For super-snowy snowdrifts, put your tree in first. 

Then add your Epsom salt. I have found that filling it about 1/3 of the way full is about right. But play around with it and see what you like best.

Arrange your woodland creatures and mushrooms as you like. Generally speaking, you want between 3-5 objects in your jar. That gives it the sense of being a "scene", rather than "somebody stuck a rabbit and some salt in a jar".

Not into rabbits? How about birds?

Easy enough that my feverish 8 year old had to make one.
And his 5 year old sister asked to make TWO. (She has always embraced the more=better concept. I just roll with it)

Monday, December 03, 2012

Quote of the week

Keep smiling,
Because life is a beautiful thing
And there's so much to smile about.
-Marilyn Monroe

Keep smiling!
It's hard to remember on days when laundry and dishes and sick kids make it impossible to sit down.
But life IS beautiful.
Today I'm finding beauty in the unseasonably warm weather, and in the smell of cookies wafting through the house.
Tomorrow (providing sick kids don't get sicker) I have a really fun and easy winter craft for you!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Photo Friday: Four-Gift Round Up

Tomorrow is the very first day of December! Don't panic. I have rounded up four tutorials of things you can make over a weekend.

Tutu Tutorial! This was way easy, and completely adaptable to the Fancy Pants on your list. Instead of buying elastic, I used the waistband from a pair of pants that she had blown the knees out of.

Gilded Jars! You can do old jam jars OR buy a six pack of votive candles and gild those.

Peg People! These guys are Elemental Peg People, but you could just as easily do Rainbow Peg People for the preschooler on your list.

Felt Slippers! I had a few wool sweaters with holes that were beyond repair, so I felted them in the washing machine before following Martha's tutorial. I have found the best way to felt sweaters is to throw them in with a bunch of towels, wash everything on HOT and HEAVY DUTY. It took 3 rounds to go from beloved sweater to felt for slippers. I wear a Medium/Size 8 and that was enough to make 2 children's sized sweaters.

Next week is ALL ABOUT THE GIFTIES! Tune in for more tutorials and great ideas.
Have a happy, crafty weekend!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Little Good Deeds for Little Hands

I have polled my children, ages 5 and 8, on their top five Good Deeds. These are things that they have done, will do, and find enjoyable.

1. Making food for the neighbors. (Usually muffins, granola, or cookies)

2. Mailing letters to Grandparents (or other family members)

3. Putting away neighbor's garbage cans on collection day.

4. Helping to rake leaves or shovel snow.

5. Give people hugs.

In addition to these, I would like to add:

6. Bringing treats to the office staff at your children's school

7. Mailing thank you cards to the dentist/ pediatrician, teachers, fire fighters, or police officers.

8. Picking out food to donate to a food drive. (Give them a set amount to spend, between $5-$10)

9. Picking out blankets & towels at the dollar store to donate to a local animal shelter.

10. Call or visit an elderly relative. Have the kids interview them. Ask questions like: what was your favorite thing to do when you were my age? What was your favorite food? Who was your favorite movie star/baseball player/musician?
(For extra fun, hand the kids a toy microphone)

There are a few of our ideas. What's your favorite good deed?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Upcycled Casablanca Gilded Jars

Does it snow in Casablanca? I have no idea. If you know, please enlighten me. These jars were inspired by a whole bunch of things: Moroccan lanterns, painting on glass, and Peaches' gilded jam jars

There are a few important lessons that I learned doing this project. 
First: SIMPLE DESIGNS ARE YOUR FRIEND. Keeping it simple really is the key to success here. Gold leaf is super thin and will adhere to things via the magic of static. Which is why the front lantern looks great and the back looks (to quote my five year old) like a haunted house.
  Second: Mixing food color and ModPodge doesn't give you super-awesome-vibrant colors. I'm going to have to actually spring for actual glass paint if I want jewel tones (so much for being thrifty) 
Third: Gold leaf sealer is stinky. Open a window. 

Got all that? Ready to make some gorgeous candle holders? 

A clean, empty jar
Paint brushes (a big flat one, and a soft one)
A bowl for mixing glass paint
Food coloring
Rinse-water jar (I add a drop of dish soap to keep the ModPodge from settling in the brush)
Gold leaf, gold leaf adhesive, gold leaf sealer (Got mine at Michael's)

Step one: Mix up your glass paint. I went with green because I like green and gold together. I used Lucy's recipe of 1tsp ModPodge, 1.5 tsp water, 3 drops of food coloring. 

Step two: Paint the inside of your jar.

Step three: Set aside to dry. I did mine upside down because I didn't want a big pile of glue & food color at the bottom of my jar. How great is that green? I loved it. Sadly, it was not to stay. 

Step Four: While you wait for your paint to dry, Google Image Search Moroccan Lanterns, and come up with some pattern ideas (Or just use mine). On the haunted house lantern, I was going for a design like the large one on the bottom of the right page.

Step five: Paint your patterns on the outside of the jar with gold leaf adhesive. REMEMBER: Simple works best! Let the adhesive dry according to the directions on the bottle.

Step six: Get out a sheet of gold leaf. (I like the stuff that's already stuck on a paper backing. It's easier to handle)


Step seven: Apply the gold leaf to your jar. Rub the paper side to make sure the gold is sticking.

Tip: Use your soft brush to smooth out air bubbles and flatten out fly-away pieces of gold.

Step Eight: Seal your gold leaf according to the directions on the bottle.

This is what they will look like without a light inside. More sea-glass-meets-Casablanca, but still pretty. 

Have fun with it. Gold leaf is great stuff. It is an easy way to add bling to just about anything, it's inexpensive, and it makes candle light look a million times better.