Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fabric Postcards and Projects from Christmas' Past

 I made these fun and mail-able fabric postcards for a swap group. I happened to run across one straggler in a box a while back and thought it would be fun to make some as mini-wall hanging/Christmas cards for family and friends that I don't exchange gifts with. I am putting a ribbon on top for hanging so my recipients can hang them up on a wall or memo board.  I think I will need to send them out in clear envelopes to prevent them from getting tangled up when the Post Office does whatever it is they do to get the mail from here to there. 
 The first time I made these I did a search and found the best tutorial, it was so well done and cute too. I was really hoping to share that with you. But that was pre-Pinterest. So now after browsing through 20+ pages of search results I have no idea how to find it again. (It is times like this that we can fully appreciate how Pinterest has earned its place in our hearts, right?)
 In case you do want to make some fabric postcards, HERE is a nice tutorial I found at Quilted Delights. And if you want to see more, take a look at Sew We Quilt. The guest blogger, Annie, does beautiful work and it is definitely worth going over there and oohing and ahhing at her artwork. 
 I bought a "POSTCARD" stamp to use for the backing on mine. Annie says she prints hers on paper and uses that for the backing. If you use fabric backing and write or stamp the POSTCARD and the line on it, be sure to cut your fabric a little larger than the 4"X6" finished size so that you can square it up if your stamp is a little crooked. Ask me how I know...

Some Simple Rag Quilt Ornies
 These make great tree ornaments or you can tie one on to a  package or gift bag as a little extra gift. I also think they would be cute as a garland. They are so quick and easy to make and are great for using scraps from some of your other Christmas projects!
Make a template from cardstock or an old file folder. Cut print fabric, batting and muslin backing, stitch all the way around taking 1/2" seam allowance. Snip around outside to rag. Embellish as you like. For the star Santa I used a small oval of muslin for his face, drew the eyes with a sharpie and blushed the cheeks with blush and a small stiff stencil brush. The hat band is a strip of batting, yarn for beard. Isn't he  adorable!

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my projects from Christmas' Past. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh Christmas Trees

 I glittered and glammed my ruffled trees. They make me happy even if they are destined to try to shine on the world's ugliest mantle in the black hole room. sigh... 

And K wanted to make some too so we invited Missy and the kids over for a family craft day.
The pink tulle tree was my idea. Then Morgan set out on her own with a bottle of glitter.

 Morgan and Anna are relentless crafters in their own right. They even have their own craft table and glue gun, which is where they spend most of their time when they conspire to arrange weekend sleepovers. As long as we have puff balls and pipe cleaners you won't see those two for days.
 Anna did not approve of our menu of Spinach and Bacon Quiche and Fresh Apple Cake, she opted for a ramekin of peanut butter. Girl doesn't know what she was missing, the quiche was delicious!
 Boys can be crafty too, in between rounds of Chinese Star Wars and Attack of the Zombies, Destructo Boy and Carter Tarter Sauce showed up to make a couple of cute trees too.
K told Missy that the polka dot tree needed gold glitter, but when she went to get the glitter the bottle was empty. Ummmm, I think that Miss Morgan might have taken more than her fair share. But we still had some red glitter and the polka dot tree is nice and sparkly now.

Don't blame me if all the pajama pants I am working on this week have glitter all over them. I was busy sewing ruffles while all this was going on. I think if I ever get this mess cleaned up I am going to be over my glitter craze for this year. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Really Needed This Today: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Still haven't gotten over my ruffled tree obsession. I had to go to Hobby Lobby to find decorations for some of them and played around with more tiny trees to gift to people. I have a baby quilt to make for a friend but my cutting table is covered with glitter and tiny tree ornaments. Glitter is so much fun until you remember that you have to clean it up, so I didn't make it back down to the batcave to do that today.

Instead I decided that I needed to make soup and grilled cheese for dinner tonight. It has been so cold this week so chili sounded perfect. But while I was fooling around trying to get me a few extra Swagbucks I tried a search for Tortilla Soup. And this usually never happens, but I found a perfect recipe that I happened to have every single ingredient on hand for. It is from the Pioneer Woman so that is how I knew it was going to be perfect because everything she makes is perfect, am I right? I have made tortilla soup before but never saw a recipe that calls for cooking the masa in the soup, so I wanted to try this.

I actually followed the recipe except for the fact that I didn't bother dirtying any measuring spoons or cups because that is silly when the eyeball method will work just fine. And instead of baking the chicken I coated it with seasoning and seared it then braised it in a little beer until it was tender. I didn't plan that but after I browned it on both sides I realized I needed a little liquid in there because the pot was starting to smoke, so I grabbed the nearest liquid at hand, and my beer was closer than the water at the time. Continuing with that theme I deglazed the pan with a little more beer when I cooked the onions and peppers. I think Ree would approve of my improvisation here anyway. But you really should make this soup! With or without the beer, because it was perfect!

It made a huge pot, which I was thinking would be good because we are having a couple girls over for some crafting on Saturday so I figured I could pop some jalapeno and cheese corn muffins in the oven and we could have the leftovers for lunch. Well, there wasn't really enough left after everybody went back for seconds.  

I did get 10 Swagbucks for that search later when I went back to get the link. So I guess Chicken Tortilla Soup was just what I needed. Now I need to go clean up that glitter, so I can get back to the sewing machine. I just added about a dozen more handmade gifts to my list and did you know Christmas is only 18 days away? No, neither did I until I just looked at my calendar. Good thing I am one of those people who works best under pressure. Don't we all?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ruffled Christmas Tree on the Cheap w/ Tutorial

I survived the craft fair on Saturday despite the fact that I had a major meltdown on Friday because I was definitely not ready and I knew it was going to be a total flop and I was just going to embarrass myself with my pathetic selection of wares. That's just me. I just freak out over things like that. Then everything turns out OK. Which it did, and I had a great time and had to apologize a few hundred times to everyone for being a psycho. I probably didn't have to apologize because they know me and know I  am a psycho crazy person, but I did anyway.

So today I was all happy that I didn't have to stress out about the craft fair anymore and I wanted to do something for pure fun. Like make fabric Christmas trees. I have seen so many cute ones and for some reason I didn't pin any of them. But I did a search and found these adorable ruffled trees over at Craftaholics Anonymous.  I love these ruffled trees so much! And I wanted to make them right now.
But I didn't have any paper mache or styrofoam cones on hand. I thought about running out to Michael's but we are having this thing called Winter here right now and there is snow everywhere and the high today was supposed to be about 20 degrees. Definitely a staying in kind of day, so I decided to improvise and figure out how to rock what I got so to speak. After all, how hard could it be to make a cone shaped object to cover with fabric ruffles?

Well actually it wasn't that hard at all! And I ended up staying warm and cozy and now I have 4 cute little ruffle trees for basically $0, love that!
So here is how I did it. I used 4 12"X12" sheets of cardstock from my stash. The color doesn't matter because you will be covering it with fabric anyway so I just picked out the ugly ones that I am not likely to use for anything else. You will also need masking tape, glue, newspaper or junk mail ads, some cardboard for the bottom, fabric scraps that can be cut into 1 1/2" strips, and a sewing machine. 

First I rolled the cardstock into a cone shape and taped it with masking tape down the seam and around the point on the top. I also taped a little bit on the inside to hold down the loose part that was rolled to the inside. Don't worry about being pretty here, it all gets covered later. Now the bottom of the cone needs to be cut off evenly so it will sit flat so I started at the point and measured down to the length that I wanted and took a sharpie and marked it all the way around. Cut on the dotted line and VOILA! you have a nice flat sitting cone.
Since cardstock is a little flimsy I wanted to sturdy it up and give it some weight so I tore up some newspaper and stuffed the inside of the cone firmly. Warning: Resist the temptation to set the pointy end on the table while you stuff the newspaper in, or you will scrunch it and have to fool around trying to straighten it out and make it pointy again.
Next I traced around my cones and cut out a cardboard circle to fit just barely inside. I glued and taped the circles in.

Now I pretty much followed the tutorial over on Craftaholics, but I used 1 1/2" strips and I hand pleated them using my thumb turning method. I didn't get a picture of that because I have yet to figure out how to sew and take pictures at the same time. But basically I feed the strip of fabric through the machine and pinch it between my thumb and fingers to turn it under before it goes under the presser foot. It sounds a little complicated until you try it, but if you just stitch very slowly and keep turning the folded end toward yourself you will get the hang of it pretty quickly. 
I stitched the pleated strip with about a 1/2" seam allowance and you can see that it isn't all perfect, but pretty close. I used craft glue and just dotted it along the stitching line maybe 12-15 inches at a time, then I started wrapping it around my tree. I overlapped it so it covered the seam line.
It was really pretty quick and easy until I decided to break out my ruffler, which I haven't used in 5 or 6 years. That took me a while to figure out because I was too lazy to go on a search for the instructions so I just kept messing with it until I came up with a ruffle that I liked.
And I can't quite decide which one is my favorite, but I love them all together like this. When I finally venture out to Michael's I think I might get some glitter to glam up the sheet music tree and the green one because the batik fabric actually is sparkly. And I want some sparkly stars for the tops. 

Doesn't it just make you a little extra bit happy when you get something so cute from stuff you have laying around the house? 

Linking up here:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Upcycled Frames

Here is a super easy project that I did a few years ago and I still get happy every year when I get them out and hang them on the wall at Christmas decorating time. 

Three recycled picture frames, dark green craft paint, foam core, a little wrapping paper and 3 whitewashed wood letters. I covered the foam core in wrapping paper, stapled the letters to the foam core and stapled it into the frame, then stapled the ribbon on for hanging. I have some bows that are supposed to be glued atop the ribbon hangers, but they fell off and I need to reattach them. Will get to that soon as I find the time. 

I have been working on finding the ultimate jewelry organizer for K for almost a year now. I wanted it to be cute and stylish and functional and, you know, cheap. All of the organizers I saw in the store were cheap looking and high priced and they didn't really hold much. So I knew I could do better with making it myself. I started with these frames that artist canvases are stretched on and I got them for free from a friend.

I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it until I walked into the garage and saw a roll of wire mesh fencing material that Mr. Rainbow Creek had bought for some reason. (I secretly think he bought if for this project and didn't know it because he still hasn't used it for anything that I know of.) So I questioned him about it and asked if it would be possible if he could spare some of it and cut it at an angle so that it would form a diamond pattern and sandwich it between two of these frames. He agreed that he could indeed do that if I so desired. And then I wondered if he could fill the space in the frames with wood putty and sand it smooth and paint it black with Martha Stewart Francesca. And he said yes, he could do that if I really wanted him to. And he did. So then I thought if he added some white cup hooks on the bottom of the frame, which I just happened to have in a drawer, that would make a good place to hang necklaces. So he attached the cup hooks as requested too. And then I covered a piece of foam core with this cute decorator fabric, stapled it on the back of the frame and glued on a cute letter K. 
Cute jewelry organizer. Big K loves it and I think it was her best birthday gift ever, if I do say so myself.  

I have one more picture frame project I am working on for a Christmas gift. They are kind of addicting. Do you have a picture frame project you want to show off. I would love to see what you have done, leave a link please!

I have joined these awesome link parties. Please go check 'em out!
The Shabby Nest

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Craving Comfort Food

Seeing that we are already past our second snowstorm here and might get a flurry again tomorrow I almost feel like fall has passed us by again. That must be why I am in a Christmas crafty mood already when usually I am a too late to craft last minute kind of shopper. But it's hard to get the seasons right in Colorado when it is 80 degrees on Tuesday and snows 8 inches on Wednesday, then back to 65 on Thursday. That goes on almost all year here except for July and August.

But it is comfort food season and I have a couple of must haves on my menu this weekend.

 When I was visiting mom last month I noticed her apple peeler/slicer on top of the frig and asked if she was planning to make me an apple pie. I am notoriously spoiled that way so she agreed that I needed an apple pie for the occasion, whatever it was. I ran off to the store to get some apples and found that despite the season apples are not cheap this year for some reason.  Go figure, we all have less money and things keep going higher and higher in price. I got the best deal I could and she still frowned a little when I told her what they cost.

The apple pie was perfect and I fell in love with the apple peeler/slicer.  So of course mom was packing a coupon for Bed, Bath and Beyond (she always just happens to have a coupon) and off we went to buy me an apple peeler/slicer. The kids think it is the greatest thing ever because it makes these neat little round peeled slinky apples that are fun to eat.  

And I love it because now if I want to make mom's Fresh Apple Cake it is hardly any work. Or if I can get Big K to make it then it is no work at all and I just get to eat it. She loves to bake for me. Yeah, I am spoiled.

I love this recipe. It is super easy and perfect for a fall weekend dinner or potluck.

Fresh Apple Cake

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
3 cups finely chopped apples
1 cup walnuts or pecans chopped (optional if you have kids who don't like)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (I sub 1/2 whole wheat sometimes and it turns out still very moist)
1 tsp baking soda
1-2 tsp cinnamon to taste
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Beat first four ingredients together then alternately add apples, nuts and dry ingredients until well blended.
Pour into ungreased angel food cake pan (1 hour) or 9X13 cake pan (45 mins) Bake at 350 degrees. Remove from pan when cooled. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

I was shopping at WalMart and found a cryopack package of ham slices from Hillshire Farms that is basically the leftover end slices from spiral sliced ham. It is really good ham and it was so cheap compared to buying a whole spiral ham to cut up for a casserole! I am going to make this Martha Stewart  Mac and Cheese with Ham for dinner tomorrow. 

Comfort food and a little sewing is what is on my menu for the weekend. If it snows a little I won't mind 'cause I still have 50 stockings to make and I can snack on apple cake when I need a break. Ha ha! I just made a poem, unintentional. Sorry about that :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Lot of Lists

I like lists and I need to make more of them.

Lists are good for us because they represent a commitment. When you write something down it becomes more than just a thought. It becomes a kind of contract with yourself. Some people are better at fulfilling their contractual obligations than me. I usually fail at something because I have a habit of letting life dictate to me rather than the other way around. I am not saying that I mind that so much, because I am basically happy with my slightly scatterbrained life. But I do have my moments when I beat on myself for not accomplishing things that I know would make me happier.

So I keep saying to myself "I need to make a list..." and now I am at the point where I guess I need to make a list of lists I need to make. Does that make any sense at all!??

Here are just a few that I can think of at the moment:
Christmas list
Handmade Christmas gifts I need to get busy on
Menu plan and grocery list
Things I absolutely without question need to get rid of before we move
Things I cannot live without and plan to take with me when we move
Things I love and want to keep even though I don't need them when we move

And now that we have to move and I have so much to do to get ready for the holidays and downsize and pack I have this sudden urge to sew a lot more and try to knock out all those projects I have had dancing in my head for years. Kind of like when I was in college and it was finals and my term paper was due I would suddenly notice that the bathroom was filthy and needed to be scrubbed inch by inch with a toothbrush. I am not making that up. Ask my friend Mona, she used to laugh at the silly things I could think up to avoid finishing that term paper or studying for a final.

Yesterday I did get started on a project that I have been planning for the last few years and I am pretty excited about it. Big K is going to help me with it so that will be even more fun. I'll show you in a few days I hope! It involves these burlap mini-stockings that I did a tutorial for last year.

If you want to make some you can go here to see the mini-tutorial for the garland.

I had these two runners already cut out so I got them finished up too. 

I guess I am officially a day behind on NaBloPoMo now 'cause I wrote this post last night and then didn't get it published due to technical difficulties. Double post tomorrow or really today since it is 2 am.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frugal vs. Poor

You ever hear people say that they grew up poor but they never knew it? I hear that all the time and you know exactly what they mean don't you? Their life was so filled with the riches of a loving family that they were never aware that life was measured in material objects. They had a mom who was really good at faking it, putting together the latest fashion outfits from the clearance racks. Or loading up the Christmas tree so there were plenty of packages and surprises. And she could pull off a killer pot of "goulash" with a dab of hamburger, a can of tomatoes and some wide egg noodles. So were they really "poor" or not? Probably not in the way that we mean impoverished, like people who are homeless and go to bed hungry each night. They probably grew up in a family that despite working hard always had to stretch to make ends meet. And that seems to be where so many families are today. 

So now we are more sophisticated, in touch with the world and maybe we don't feel so alone. So Frugal Is the New Black. I really like that for some reason. I like that it might get people started thinking about what is really important in life, not the material things but how well you live with what you have. I like that people are getting creative and having fun re-purposing a recycling and sharing their ideas. I even like it that if you are shopping at Wal-Mart and forgot the recipe for homemade laundry soap you can look it up on your smart phone. That's actually pretty funny, but true. And I have been using this homemade soap for over a month now and we love it!

No new sewing creations today :(  

We will be moving in 3 months and I decided that I can't take the she-beast Pfaff with us to our new tiny house, so they will be coming to pick her up for consignment sometime soon. Now every time I am sewing I get a little pang of sadness. I haven't sewed on my old Kenmore for 7 years now. She is a good old machine and I am sure I will be just fine without The Beast. 

Just some random thoughts, but I'll do better next time. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I May Be Crazy, but I Joined Anyway

Ever see a blog reference to NaBloPoMo? I have seen it around and just figured "that isn't for me" the part time, loosey oosey kind of blogger that I am. But National Blog Posting Month caught my interest this year because I really do want to blog. I am not sure why I don't get it done most days because almost every day of my life I create something, or cook something, or just have some thoughts that I think I should write down. And isn't that what a blog is supposed to be? Yeah, but I guess I sucked at keeping a diary or journal when I was young. That's probably why I don't have any recipes written down, even though I mean to do it so I can remember when I make something that knocked everybody's socks off. Although, writing it down doesn't always settle everything in question. Big K and I have been arguing for 6 years over our "world famous" peanut butter fudge recipe that we invented. She wrote it down and left it here in my cooking notebook. But every year we get into a debate about the butter and chocolate chip proportions. Could very well have something to do with how much wine we had while we were inventing it, but I'm not sayin'.  

Anyways, I have accepted this challenge to write at least one post per day for the next month. It could be anything, but write it down I will.

I am totally in love with the Graphics Fairy and rustic fabrics now. I made these cute tea towels just to satisfy my urge to play with graphics and tried the Citrisolve transfer method. It took a little playing around, but I think I got it now. 

Pillow ticking is so classic, and blue is just my color. Love.

Off white bulap runner with ticking ruffle and matching plaid raggy ribbon. 

More fun with burlap. Yes, I am in the Christmas spirit already. I think these will make awesome gifts for friends and family on my list. Come back for a tutorial on how to make these adorable table runners and best of all the price is well under $10!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Basket of Fall Pumpkins

I have been seeing a variety of cute fabric pumpkins around blogland this season and I so wanted to plan a crafty party and do some of these as well as a couple of other projects. I had it all planned because I so so so wanted to make that Mac and Cheese that I saw in Martha Stewart Living last month, and mom's Fresh Apple Cake. Then things got out of hand again, too much else going on and we couldn't find a time for getting everyone together, and things are still a bit too messy here in real life land.  That made me sad. But I finally drug Big K down to the batcave to play one night and we put together a little basket to take to Mom the night before we left on the trip to almost hell and back. 

It was supposed to be kind of a leisure trip to the East Coast to pick up some furniture from storage and a stop to visit with mom and dad for a few days when dad was going on the Honor Flight to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington DC. On day 2 of the trip I noticed that my throat was feeling kind of scratchy and funny. On day 3 I was feeling pretty bad but trying to convince myself that it was probably just an allergic reaction to something in the hotel room. And it just went from bad to worse for 11 days until I was begging for my bed so I could crawl in it and die. So I am stubborn and after 2 days of watching me trying to hack up a lung my daughter finally had enough, told me I am an idiot, called the Dr. and made me get an antibiotic. And within 24 hours I was feeling 1000 times better and decided that I wanted to live after all. I am still kind of weak in the knees and can't do a lot without resting, but I did learn something from the experience. Sometimes you might need to see a doctor when you are sick. 
And now that I am feeling better I really want to make some more of these adorable pumpkins for my table. Mom loved the basket and they look so pretty on her table in her new house. 

I did get back down to the batcave and started a few new projects last week, and I finally reopened my etsy store. Haven't made a dent in the fabric stack down there yet, but I might get motivated to try to organize one of these days. Right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Got Fabric?

I know I really shouldn't show you this. But here it is.
 I went down there today and started working around the edges. Kind of picking through this and that to see if I could figure out what to do about my fabric. I was hoping that I could kind of whip through there and get things organized enough so that I could start working on a new beach bag and blanket. I saw this really cute big bag at the Gap a couple days ago and I am sure I can figure out the pattern and make one out of a canvas drop cloth and I want to tie dye it. So I was really excited to get started on it. But then when I saw all this...
 You see, I have a lot of fabric. And when I work on a project I just have this habit of pulling out more and more fabric and spreading it all around so I can see what I have to choose from. And then I push it all aside and put it in piles here and there.
There is actually a full size pool table behind this stack of bins and bolts. You can see how big my problem is?
 So Big K got home and said I need to just move it all out of there, organize it and box it up, paint, put up some new shelving and then put it all back in. But then she kept saying "How did this happen?"

And I am not making this up: I started stuttering every time I tried to explain. Now I have never had a stutter in my life and at my age I consider this a frightening new development. One that I really should do something about.
 Then she went in the laundry room and announced "You have more fabric in here too you know!"
Yes, I do know. There is a whole wall of fabric in there and she knows it because she does her laundry in there every week and I think she was just trying to rub it in. Or maybe she thinks it's funny to hear me stutter.

Now I know that this looks like a scene from "Hoarders" but believe me, most days you can walk straight through my house without running into a bit of clutter, my bed is made every day, the laundry is folded and put away and the dishes are washed almost every single night. I even tidy up my outdoor room almost every day. It's just this fabric thing.

So I signed up for the September Stash Buster Challenge at The T-Shirt Diaries. She even had a little tutorial for how to organize your fabric. I thought it was really nice but in my case I think investing in a lot more plastic bins is going to be more practical. So if I finish clearing this out tomorrow and bust out the paint I should be all reorganized and ready to go by September. Right?

Or if I move it all aside for now I could get that beach bag made and deal with it later? Maybe I can learn to live with a stutter. Right?
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