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!