Paper Chandelier

I managed to get the bulk of my Christmas shopping finished in October and November, leaving me some free time this month to finally tackle some projects that have been on my Make board for quite a while. One of them was an idea I had for a chandelier-type, mobile-like paper thing to hang over the dining room table.  I loved these colorful versions, but I wanted translucent white and I wanted it to be round.  Kind of like this one.

I had a giant stack of translucent vellum left from my days as a paper hoarder, so I got to work cutting out many, many circles.  I used two different sizes of circles, one I traced from a 1-ounce plastic container and the other I traced the lid to a sugar bowl. Fancy!  Then, with opalescent white thread, I ran the circles through the sewing machine in random patterns of five large and three small (to keep the length of the strings consistent).  I tied all of the finished those strings onto a brass hoop from Jo-Ann’s that I painted silver, and…voila!

I love it, and I can’t believe I finally made it after thinking about it for so long. Next up, I’m brainstorming ways to hang a solar light inside it so I can get it to glow without stringing lights in it.

Shop Update

It’s been a million years since I had a shop update. You know what took me so long? I couldn’t find the right thing to model the necklaces on when I took the pictures.  I tried bottles and glass hands and everything else I could think of and nothing looked right to me.  I heaved a big sigh and finally broke down and bought one of those generic, black velvet neck forms.

There was another problem, though: it was a generic, black velvet neck form and I hated it. So, what did I do with it?  I made a paper maiche facade for it and painted it white. Of course, duh!  Seriously, a little tissue paper, a little wheat paste, and a little white acrylic paint and now I love it.  Luke thinks it looks like a creepy, old lady neck, but I think it’s neutral and lovely with an interesting texture.

So finally, FINALLY, there are some new products in the shop.  I hope you love them.  There are a few extra long, Mandi necklaces, some fun summer-colored three-strand Andrea necklaces, and more necklaces and earrings to come over the next few days. Go check it out!

Rex and Steggy

RAWR!

Valentine’s Day seems to be about a hundred years ago, but since I’ve been MIA for so long, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I’d like to introduce you to Rex and Steggie, (or Kissasaurus and Huggasaurus Rex, as I called them when I delivered them), two felt dinos I made for Cameron and Alex for Valentine’s Day.  Back around Christmastime, Cameron saw me knitting and asked me to knit him a dinosaur.  I said “maybe” which he took to mean “absolutely, right this minute!” and from that day on, each time I saw him he asked if I’d gotten a chance to make him that dinosaur “like I promised”.

Valentine’s day seemed like a good excuse to fulfill my promise, but I decided that I had no hope of knitting them so I’d make the dinos out of felt.  I played around with some paper pattens and came up with Rex first.  He came out perfectly and I nearly sprained my arm from patting myself on the back.  I just sewed a toy!  Very exciting.  After Rex, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make two of the same dinos to avoid the “I wanted that one” fights, but that seemed boring so I challenged myself to make a pattern for Steggie.  He was supposed to come out smaller than Rex but, sadly, things didn’t work out that way.  That left me with a dilemma.

Big brother, Cameron is on a kick now where he has to be the biggest, best, fastest, the one with the most guns, the most powers, etc. etc.  So… would he want the biggest felt dino, or the smaller T-Rex dino, since T-Rex was the king of the dinosaurs?  I couldn’t decide so I consulted my sister who said he’d want the biggest one.  I think I would have lost either way, but unfortunately when I delivered them on V-Day, Cameron complained that he didn’t get Rex until I told him that he was hurting my feelings.  The next night I watched the boys so my sister and her husband could go on their belated anniversary/Valentine’s Day date and both boys tucked their dinos into bed with them when they climbed under the covers so I think that everyone was happy in the end.

Beth’s Diaper Bag

My lovely friend Beth is having a baby in a few short weeks and her friends were sweet enough to invite me to her baby shower last weekend.  I’ve had an aversion to registries for as long as I can remember, so I decided to make something for mom and baby instead of buying off the registry.  Enter the crazy what-was-I-thinking moment that brought me much dread and anxiety: I bought a sewing pattern.

You know me.  I can’t follow recipes and I hate to follow sewing patterns.  They confound me and frustrate me, and yet, I bought this one.  This pattern is Butterick 4560 (and despite all of my whining, it was actually fairly easy to follow).  I bought the pattern and the fabric and sat and stared at it for about two weeks, dreading the task.  I finally decided to suck it up and start cutting. And several (many) hours later, I had this!

Cute, right?  The fabric on the inside is “Baby Story” from Heidi Grace.  It has little doodles and words all over and says “A tall bird came and brought me a gift… of all the gifts I have ever received, this was my favorite — the gift was you.”  I’m not sure who to credit for the outer fabric but it was from Jo-Ann, Etc.

I made some changes to the pattern (shocker, I know) like this antique button closure on the side pocket.  It was supposed to be Velcro, as was the closure on the main flap.  I have a weird tactile issue with Velcro and decided instead to use this cute button on the side and a small magnetic snap on the main flap.  I also didn’t make the weird strap pad you see in the pattern pictures, it seemed unnecessary.  And I didn’t make the tab on the inside that would have had a clip for your keys.  That also seemed fussy.  I did add in all of the elastic pockets and pouches and, despite the I spent about 28 hours making it, I’m pretty darn proud of myself for making this bag and for (mostly) following the pattern.  I may even attempt another one for another pregnant friend of mine.  We’ll see.

Placemat Pillowcases

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My sister recently got new living room furniture and I had this idea that I wanted to give her the perfect patterned pillows as the best new couch-warming present ever.

I wanted a good quality fabric with a fun pattern and I know she likes circles and dots, but none of the fabrics I came across were just right.  Disappointed, I left the fabric store and went to Pier 1 for a completely unrelated reason (to buy myself something shiny) and a spotlight shone down, angels sang and these placemats fell off the shelf and onto my feet.  They were, and are, perfect.  Also on sale.

Why did I not think of this before?  Placemats are essentially pillowcases sewn shut.  All I did was cut off the stitching around the edges, trimmed them to size, sewed them back together, and voila!  The most perfect pillows for my sister’s new living room.  Just don’t tell her — I’m giving them to her tonight.

Handwritten

My cousin emailed me to ask for instructions on making the little Snowkids I make every winter, and as I was writing out the steps for her, I was reminded of She Likes Purple and her handwritten post last week.  I loved that idea so much, I decided, since I’m in such a good mood today, to give you two fun things all rolled in to one.  Not only do you get instructions for making your own adorable Snowkids (or baby sock snowmen, if you prefer), but you also get them handwritten and illustrated by me.  Sorry, my penmanship used to be MUCH better, but this will have to do.  Enjoy!

snowmen1

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If you’d like to print the instructions for later, click here for the PDF instructions.

Peeks

Thank you all for your anniversary wishes.  I’ll have you know I spent my ninth anniversary at the dentist and didn’t see Luke at all.  But still, romantic anniversary or not, nine years is nothing to sniff at!

I am busy, busy, busy at the moment and have no time to really update, but I didn’t want another week to go by without dropping in to say hello.  Here are a few peeks at what I’m working on and what’s going on around my house lately.

knitting Christmas gifts

someone is pouty and covered in dirt

some awesome salsa I canned the other night

a skirt in progress

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Cash Flow

I don’t have a problem with money, I am just plain mystified by it.  I’m not a big spender, I don’t have any credit card bills, but some weeks I get paid and two days later I’m out of spending money. Poof! Where did it go?  I’ve tried all of the usual tricks: I track my bank accounts with a program on my iPod and categorize each transaction.  The I can sort things by transaction and see where my money is going.  But that only tells me that I spend a lot on groceries and electricity.  It never really got me to think about the things I buy.

I’m not a fan of using cash; I’m very much in love with my debit card.  Having cash is very novel to me and frankly scary.  What if I drop it?  What if my purse is stolen? What if I accidentally leave it in the public bathroom like I did that one time (when I was like, eight) in Washington DC?  That was terrible! Cash makes me neurotic and I do not like it.

But the other day I saw a post by my blog-friend Heather that, for some reason, struck me.  She was making beautiful, hand-stamped cash budget pouches with labels like “groceries” and “dining out”.  Somehow this system seemed different to me and I was inspired to give it a try.  I talked to Heather at the Farmers’ Market and she was sweet enough not to even bat an eye when I mentioned making a set of my own pouches when I should have been buying them from her and she told me to let her know what I thought of them.

I think they’re magical.

Seriously.  If the me from last week were to read this, she’d roll her eyes and say bla, bla, bla… everyone says you value your money more when you have cash, everyone says you think twice about what you’re going to buy when you’re spending cash, etc, etc.  But the me from this week is here to tell you, surprisingly, it’s true.

I’ve tried spending cash before and it seems to just woosh its way out of my wallet without me realizing it.  Cash from the ATM for day trip to shop and enjoy lunch with my mom?  It pries open my purse and flies away while I’m not looking.  But this time was different because it wasn’t just some cash.  It was ALL of my cash.  It was like a treasure chest that I had to tote around and guard, and guard it, I did.  I was terrified of spending any of it.

Instead of the usual $100 I spend at the grocery store each week, I spent $54 this week.  Instead of buying two skirts and a top at Old Navy and blowing through my clothing allowance, I just got one skirt.  Do I want to stop at Starbucks?  I don’t know, I only have $9 of  “Eating Out” money left until next Friday’s payday.  THIS IS SO WEIRD, I know.

I’m still nervous about having enough money and whether or not I left enough in my checking account for the bills that are automatically withdrawn, but it has been wonderful to not have receipts that need to be entered into my checkbook program or worries that I’m spending too much.  Because I can’t!  I only have so much cash and once that’s gone, I’m out till next payday.

It’s only been a week, but I’m already seeing a change in my spending and I’m hoping that this will continue.  So thank you, Heather, for inspiring me.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress (or regress) into the world of cash.

Everlasting Aquarium

Do you have a friend who just can’t keep her fish alive, no matter how hard she tries?  A friend who probably has a WANTED poster tacked up at the back of the aquatic area of every pet store in Connecticut?  A friend who wants to have fish but keeps mysteriously losing the ones she buys?  If you have a friend like this, have I got the perfect solution!  The everlasting, impossible to kill, no tank-cleaning required tropical aquarium.

A while back I had seen this post on Purl Bee about making magnetic, felt fish and it caught my eye.  I bookmarked it and went back a few times to look at it, then one day while trying to decide what to make a certain friend (cough!Paula) for her birthday, it hit me!  Fish that won’t die!

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Some people have bad luck with houseplants, others have bad luck with fish.  This friend is one of these people.  No matter what she does for them, her fish keep croaking and I didn’t want her to get discouraged about losing so many fish so I thought I’d just give her a few that would never go belly up.

Each fish is made with layers of felt sewn together with a magnet sandwiched inside.  My handy-dandy husband cut out a piece of steel in the shape of a tank and I spray-painted it a nice shade of tropical blue.  I added some plants and a few rocks and, ta-da!  An everlasting aquarium!  Never again feel the pain of flushing a dead fish or feel shame when entering the fish store.  My friend (cough!Paula) can move the fish around and rearrange the tank and – even better – never worry about leaving these fish alone when she goes on vacation.  Pretty neat, huh?

Happy Birthday, Paula.  I hope you don’t mind that I told the Internet that you’re a fish-killer.  Oops, did I say that?