Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gingerbread House and Playing with Piknik

Really late in posting this, but Taylor and my friend Sarah and I spent an afternoon on Thanksgiving weekend making gingerbread houses. This is the first time I've ever actually made a gingerbread house and it will definitely be a new holiday tradition in our family!

I started playing around with Piknik today and it's pretty cool...considering upgrading to the premium membership for $24.95/yr. If you use it I'd love to know what you think of it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Featured Today on One Pretty Thing!

My No Sew Stocking Garland was featured today on One Pretty Thing.

Thank you Rachel for featuring my project!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Framed Button Tree - Tutorial

This is a simple project that makes a festive piece of home decor for your home or as a gift for someone on you list! Let's get started with the tutorial:


* Unfinished wood frame (I got mine at Michael's for $1 - I never buy just one!)

* Red acrylic paint

* Scrapbook paper or fabric (for the mat behind the tree)

* a piece of cardboard the same size as the opening in your frame

* Aleen's Tacky Glue

* Green buttons and 1 brown button for the trunk

* Green Embossing Powder, Alphabet Stamps or "Believe" Stamp, Versa Mark Stamp Pad and heat gun (You could also just stamp the word but I wanted to emboss it to give it some extra pizazz).

1) Paint the frame

2) Adhere the fabric or scrapbook paper to the cardboard that will create your photo mat.

3) Now create your button tree. If you need to, in very light pencil, draw a triangle on your photo mat to use as your guide and fill in the triangle with buttons. Put a small dab of glue on each button and then stick each button to your photo mat. You can layer different shades of green on top of your base layer of buttons. Glue down your brown button at the base of the triangle to create the trunk.

4) If the paint on your frame is not yet completely dry, use your heat gun to dry it.

5) Once it's completely dry, follow these steps to emboss the word "Believe":

Stamp your believe stamp onto a versamark ink pad. Then stamp the stamp onto your frame. Then, immediately place your frame onto a piece of cardstock (to catch any excess embossing powder). Pour embossing powder all over the stamped image on your frame. Gently turn your frame over to remove the excess powder. Your image should now be covered with embossing powder. If it's not evenly covered, then repeat this step.

Next, with a tiny paint brush, remove any small amounts of excess powder (if you ended up with "edges" around your image, you want to be sure to brush the powder off the edges of the image).

Immediately after you've added the embossing powder to your image, use your heatgun and watch the magic as your embossing powder melts. Once it's shiny it's done! Ooh, ahhhh!

6) Now put your button tree into the frame and voila! You've got yourself a whimsical piece of holiday decor.

It's seems like there's a lot of steps to this project, but honestly, I created it in less than 1/2 an hour.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pantry Organization

An organized pantry is essential during the holidays when the kitchen is in full gear! All the holiday baking and entertaining will go much more smoothly if you know what's in your pantry and where to find it. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, my pantry was in total chaos. I decided to spend a little chunk of time getting this chaos under control. We have limited cabinet space in our kitchen, but a very large corner pantry. So the pantry doubles as storage for pots and pans.

I started the organization by pulling everything out of the pantry. Yep, everything! I pitched food that was expired and consolidated food that we had more than one container of. I moved some infrequently used pots to the cabinet in our garage that I use for kitchen overflow. This freed up a lot of space.

Then, I grouped like items together and began stocking my pantry back up, grocery store style.

And here's the finished product! Can you tell I love pasta? A whole shelf dedicated pasta and a second shelf dedicated to pasta sauce makings! Bottom shelf holds baking items. I like the basket for bags of chocolate chips and nuts and such.

The pic below shows the snack basket on the bottom shelf so when Taylor wants a snack she can just grab her own.

I didn't snap a shot of the floor of the pantry but it's home to all of our cases of soda and juice boxes.

My plan is to label the shelves so that everything goes back where it belongs and everything is put in the right place when unpacking groceries. BUT...I can't find my label maker! I know it's somewhere in my craft room! That's my next organization project.

Friday, December 10, 2010

No Sew Stocking Garland

A close up...

and a full view...

Yesterday I gave you a sneak peek of what I've been making over the last few days. I was inspired to create this stocking garland by this project featured in a recent special issue of Woman's Day.

As I flipped through the magazine in line at the grocery store, this adorable garland caught my eye. I thought it was made from felt or fleece stockings. I thought it was a sewing project. I didn't have time to read the instructions but I knew I had to make it (and I loved several other ideas I saw in the magazine, too!). So, I tossed it on the conveyor belt along with my other items.

Well...when I finally read the instructions I realized it wasn't a sewing project. The stockings were made from...

baby socks!

I LOVED the idea even more once I realized this would be a special keepsake for my daughter's baby socks! Yes, my daughter is 4 1/2 and I still have socks from when she was an infant. In an effort to simplify, I always bought her the same white socks from Target. So, I have the same socks from 0-36mos. I read the first couple of steps of the tutorial in the magazine and then I let my own creative juices flow...

So, I started with several white socks and a bottle of red fabric dye.

I followed the instructions on the bottle of dye to dye the socks red.

(there's no cooking involved I just used my stock pot because I was afraid of staining a bucket or my white sink!)

When the dying was done, I washed them and dried them and I had beautiful red stockings!

Then I used a whole lot of this:

Some puffy paint, and little bit of this:

to create embellished stockings like this:

To create the snow effect, I used white puffy paint to create a snowman. Then, I sprinkled the Diamond dust on top of the paint and used my heat gun to dry it. It puffed up the paint and sealed the Diamond Dust, creating a look of real snow! I also use Diamond Dust on top of Glossy Accents to create a "sugared" look on fabric and paper flowers.

I had a whole lot of fun embellishing all of these little stockings to create a festive garland.

To create the peppermint swirl candies, I used this cording that I found by the spool at Michaels. I simply curled it and wrapped it tightly to create a circular candy shape. I've got a whole candy them going on this year...I really need to post pics of the tree and another handmade garland!

I embellished the other stockings with paint, felt, buttons and ribbons. Did I mention I had fun??? Then I used my Crop-a-Dile to punch a hole in the upper corner of each stocking and threaded a ribbon through the whole. Next, I hung the stockings from a wide piece of red ribbon and then tied various widths and colors of ribbon to the red ribbon.

The stockings would also work on their own as ornaments. What a wonderful keepsake to give a grandparent as a memento of baby's first Christmas. Or, if you've got a houseful of kiddos you could have them each decorate a few of their socks and keep it as an on-going keepsake that you add to each year. Or, do a collection of stockings for each baby's first Christmas.

However you choose to personalize this project, if you create your own I hope you have fun and be sure to send me a link!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sneak Peek

This is a sneak peek of what I've been up to...tutorial to be posted tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm still alive...

I've just been really, really, really busy! But I haven't forgotten about my blog and my bloggy friends. I'll give a quick rundown of what's been going on with me and then I'll be back before long with lots of tutorials!!!

I've been really busy with work. Hospice and KFA.

Decorating for Fall.

Planning and hosting Thanksgiving Dinner. (Very Thankful for my Father-in-law who cooked the turkey!)

Decorating for Christmas and purging unneeded decorations.

Making handmade decorations and doing Christmas crafting with Taylor.

And...last weekend our dishwasher broke. It was full of dirty dishes with another sink full of dishes ready to go in. Not the best time of year to be dealing with a broken dishwasher. New dishwasher gets delivered today! Woo Hoo!

I've been taking lots of photos but they haven't made it from my camera to my computer, yet.

I hope you're all enjoying the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and you're able to catch a few minutes of tranquility to recharge.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Raising a {sensitive} Princess

I had one of those special moments as a mother last Saturday afternoon. It was a magical afternoon with several moments that made me smile but one that made my heart stop, and fill with warmth and overflow with love and a sense of pride.

Saturday afternoon was a very special "Princess Party" to celebrate the 5th birthday of one of Taylor's best friends. So, in honor of this we dressed her in a very pretty princess dress, and attended a tea party.

Watching these 4 and 5yr old girls, led by the birthday girl's very mature and kind 12 yr old big sister, was definitely a special way to spend an afternoon.

The birthday girl is outspoken when she's in a comfortable space, but in times of uncertainty, she's easily brought to tears. She becomes timid and burrows herself into the shoulder of a comforting adult. I have witnessed several of these incidents in the 2 yrs that I've known her. She takes extra time to warm up to her classmates at preschool, and is often consoled by her teachers after her mom has said her goodbyes in the morning. I've seen this same girl cheerfully greet me at the end of the day, eager to share how she spent the day playing with my daughter. She's eager to lead me to her important papers that need to be taken home, and will often hand me Taylor's lunchbag. Her name is affectionately spoken by Taylor in our home on a daily basis.

So, I'm giving you this background so you have a glimpse of just how sensitive and emotional this birthday girl is. So, while a little girl's 5th birthday party ideally should be spent squealing with delight, this birthday girl shed lots of tears. She was overwhelmed by all her princess friends and at times found it challenging to hold conversation or engage in simple hospitality. She burst into tears immediately when she was greeted by a real Sleeping Beauty who joined the party (invited by the birthday girl's mom) to entertain the girls with magic and fairy tales.

And, when it came time to open the beautifully wrapped presents, she again, suddenly burst into tears, as it was all just too overwhelming.

It was in this moment that my heart sank. I sat and watched this little girl cry, so vulnerable to her emotions. Within a few inches of her, sat my 4 1/2 yr old Taylor. I watched Taylor closely and her face went from confusion, to sadness as she watched her friend's tearful explosion. For a second, the expression on Taylor's face made me think she was going to cry. My instinct was to comfort her, but she was in the center of the circle, and I didn't want to add to the scene or draw more attention to her.

There was a certain amount of irony in the situation because when you're 5 yrs old, your birthday is supposed to be one of the best days of the year. This little princess was surrounded by her best friends, her family and, of course, an enormous pile of presents. Yet, here she sat, with big alligator tears streaming down her face. The irony of the situation prompted much laughter from most of the guests.

But, as I stood silently, watching the emotions on my girl's face, I realized, amidst all of this commotion, 2 little girls were sitting behind Taylor and they were laughing at the birthday girl. Laughing at her tears and her raw emotion. Suddenly, Taylor turned around, looked at those girls and very loudly and very assertively said, "Stop laughing, you guys!".

It was in that moment that my heart overflowed with pride! My precious little princess intuitively knew that she needed to defend her friend who was in tears. She's such a sensitive yet assertive little person. I know she was born with this incredible spirit and it's my job to help nurture it. There are many, many, many days when her assertiveness is overwhelming to me and I am challenged in teaching her that she does NOT rule the house and her bossy behavior will not be tolerated. But, then, there are moments like this moment, in which I am so incredibly proud of her ability to stand up for herself and her friends. Moments like this when her true kind and caring spirit shows through and she shows that she's both assertive and sensitive.

I love my little princess and I hope she never loses her assertiveness and sensitivity.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from my little Tinker ;). Wishing everyone a fun and
safe time celebrating!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Waldorf Doll Making Part 5 - All DONE!!!


She's all DONE! And we absolutely LOVE her! Taylor has named her Sally after her very favorite doll who went missing about a year ago :(. Sally was a doll bought for her by Grammie and she was well loved by Taylor. You can see a pic of Sally in this post. Taylor still asks about her and says she "worries" about her. We're pretty certain she took her out to a store or something and left her there, so I've told Taylor that I believe another little girl found her and is taking very good care of her.

So, now we have Sally the Second, in our family.

I need to say a big thank you to my wonderful friend Sarah who came over last night to help me with Sally's hair. I found a wonderful tutorial on how to make her hair (there are several different ways to make hair for Waldorf dolls). The tutorial requires a crochet cap that the hair is then hooked into. Well, I can't crochet. I've tried a couple of times, and I just find knitting soooo much easier. Sarah, on the other hand is crocheter extraodinaire! So she crocheted the cap for Sally's hair and I did the rest of her hair. (I was determined to finish her last night and I {happily} stayed up until 1:30 this morning working on her hair!

This is a shot of her with her hair down and gives an idea of just how much hair she has. I've said all along that it's really the hair that makes these dolls and I fell in-love with her once her hair began to take shape. At the same time any doubts that this dream doll would become a reality, disappeared as I hooked strand after stand of hair into her cap.

And Taylor wanted her hair in a ponytail at one point, so I took a shot of that, too. Since I followed the tutorial linked above, I gave her a full head of hair which lends itself to a variety of hairstyles with no bald spots.

Now, clearly, my hand-sewing skills need some improvement. I realize her eyes aren't "perfect" and the stitching around her neck is also not "perfect", but the smiles and squeals from Taylor when she awoke this morning to find her finished makes me think it's perfect enough. Then, when hubby brought her home this evening and Sally had a dress and rosy cheeks and beautiful pigtails, Taylor declared "Oh, Mom! You made her SO cute! I love her!" my heart melted. Ooey, gooey, melted. Really, could I ask for anything more?

{updated to include a link to the tutorial for the hair and a link to a past post about our first Sally}

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waldorf Doll Making Part 4 - The Body

She's looking like a doll, now! In this pic, I've sewn the seams of her legs and body and the seams of her arms. I've sewn the arms to the shoulders, but the body still needs to be sewn to the shoulders, she needs stitching to define her feet (that's why she has pins in her ankles) and hips and she needs a little more stuffing. I had hoped she'd be a little plumper overall with a bigger head like I mentioned in my last post. But, the doll is supposed to be reflective of it's playmate and her playmate Taylor isn't plump at all (lucky girl is tall and slim) so maybe it's meant to be! Maybe the fact that I want the doll to be plumper is a reflection of me, ;) ha!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Waldorf Doll Making - Part 3 Making the Head

I made some progress on Taylor's doll last weekend and am just now getting around to updating here. As noted in the original post about making the doll, I'm using a pattern from Weir Crafts and I followed the instructions in that pattern for making the head. The only alteration that I made is that I formed a nose. I didn't have a tutorial and I'm not completely happy with it, and actually, the head is smaller than I'd like, too. Since the pattern is copyrighted, I can't share the details of how I made the head, but there's a great tutorial here on how to make a head. I've already decided that I will be making more of these dolls and the next one will have a bigger head with chubby cheeks and a better formed nose. Stay tuned for pics of the body!

{The head was formed like this, with the pins marking the eyes and mouth for several days, until hubby said to me very firmly "Would you PLEASE finish that. It's creeping me out!!!}

Monday, October 4, 2010

Waldorf Doll Making Part 2 - The Washing of the Wool!

Did you notice when I showed all my supplies in my last post that the doll's stuffing was missing? Well, that's because when I ordered all my other supplies from Weir Crafts, the stuffing was out of stock and I didn't want to wait for it to get back in stock. Traditional Waldorf Dolls are made with all natural materials, so I didn't want to go to JoAnn's and buy just any stuffing. I found the wool fleece that I ended up with on e-bay. It was a fraction of the cost of other fleece I had looked at. But, here's why: I would have to hand wash it upon delivery. Yep, it was freshly shaved off the sheep that wore this fuzzy coat of wool. The pic above is what it looked like when it arrived in the mail. There was also much nastiness in it and it smelled like a barn. Mostly just dirt matted into it and pieces of straw and random bits of leaves. Nevertheless, each of the 2 batches, took one wash and about 3 rinses before the water was clear. I'm sure many (most?) people would opt out of this and either wait for pre-washed fleece to get re-stocked, or head out to the store and make-do. My thinking is, where's the fun in that? I think the washing of the wool adds another step of love in the making of this doll. The scent also actually brought back childhood memories of my Dad's farm. I know, I'm kinda strange. ;)

Washing the wool was also a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon free of humidity thanks to a couple of days of welcomed rain. It was also a great opportunity to teach Taylor about where materials come from (even if she did think the wool smelled like "poop" ;) )

Prior to purchasing the wool, I did a quick Google search to see what I might be getting myself into and I found this simple tutorial on how to wash the wool. I followed the tutorial, but I also did a second "wash" with diluted vinegar and baking soda to help subdue the barnyard scent. That's Taylor joining in the fun.

After it was thoroughly washed and well rinsed, I let it bask in the sun to help it dry. After a few hours, I brought it in the house and finished drying it with a hairdryer on low heat. Putting it in the dryer would have just felted it. So, that wasn't an option.

Once it was dry, I pulled it apart (I'm sure there's a term for this step) and ended up with soft and fluffy fleece!

I still have half the batch to pull apart, this entire basket was used to create the (not very big) head of the doll. I'm trying to convince Taylor to help me because she's such a sensory seeking kid, I know she'd love the soft feel of it in her hands.

It was a very relaxing and therapeutic way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Even hubby was impressed at the end of it all, despite thinking I'd lost my mind when I started the whole process.

The scent lingered for a bit, but now it smells fresh and clean!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Waldorf Doll Making - Part I

I've been wanting to make a Waldorf doll for Taylor for, well...for forever, really. I love the simplicity of the dolls and everything about them. Now, there are some waldorf dolls that are very, very basic, and some that are quite well accessorized with gorgeous outfits. I've done a lot of research over the last few weeks in preparing to make a doll for Taylor.

The most well known Waldorf dolls that I've seen are Bamboletta, Natural Buddies, and Apple Treehouse. I also just came across this site last night, and in browsing through her shots in her flikr pool, I fell totally in love with her dolls!

The Waldorf dolls that I am so in love with cost upwards of $100 (with many closer to $200). These dolls are all handmade from all natural materials and a great deal of time and love go into making these dolls. So, while I'm certain that these dolls are worth every penny (and even more!) I don't have a hundred dollars to spend on a doll. What I do have, though, is the skills to make one myself! I just needed supplies and instructions. My desire to make a Waldorf doll to Taylor was reinforced and my confidence grew when I read this post. I love that she says "the best kind of doll for a child is a mama-made doll".

I bought the wool with the yellow label from Weir Crafts as well and the rest of the yarn is from Michael's. The variety of strands of yarn for the hair is really what makes my favorite Waldorf dolls so beautiful. I wish you could feel how soft these yarns are. I have a few other yarns that I might buy because they are just soooo soft. Bamboo yarn is amazing soft and so is the bamboo/silk blend. I could have spent more money on yarn than all the other supplies combined so I had to remember that part of the reason I'm making this doll is because I can't justify spending the money to buy one. The other darker wool is a merino blend that my dear friend Jen gave me when I first started knitting, given I don't have a knitting project for it (and I'm afraid my days of knitting are limited - read on), I decided it was a perfect addition to the doll's head of hair.

Taylor loves red and bright colors so I picked up some fat quarters from a local quilting store in all of Taylor's favorite colors. And of course, lots of polka-dots! I'll be making the doll's clothes with these fabrics.

I bought the yarn intending to knit a sweater for the doll. I started knitting with another kind of yarn and only finished casting on the stitches and then finished the second row, and a few hours later, I had pain and swelling in the knuckles of my index finger. Pretty certain I've developed arthritis. I've had varying degrees of pain in that finger and other joints since then. That was 2 weeks ago, now. I've got a doctor's appointment later this week to see what's going on and how to manage my pain. :( . Fortunately, I have a dear friend who I'll be swapping projects with and she's going to knit Taylor a doll sweater! Still working out what I'll be making for her little one.

In the meantime, I refuse to stop crafting, but I won't be able to craft as often. I have to do a lot of writing by hand for my hospice job, and I spend a lot of time typing and doing computer work for my work with Kids With Food Allergies, so crafting will unfortunately likely be limited to weekends. Which also probably means I won't be blogging as much :( .

A lot of time and love will go into this doll so I'll be posting about the progress. Taylor knows I'm making it for her as she fell in love with the dolls I've been looking at on-line. I decided to include her in the process of making the doll. She's quite excited about it and I am, too!