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.

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In Celebration of Shopping

In celebration of Cyber Monday and all that is wonderful about shopping for great items on sale, today there are an amazing bunch of bargains to be had in my Etsy shop.

All inventory in my shop that was more than a month old has now been bundled into gift sets that will save you up to half off the original prices.  Necklaces, purses, earrings, snowkids, pincushions… it’s all on sale.  Don’t miss your chance to grab one of these great bargains.  Shop NOW!

Wishing I Liked My Family Less

Each year I seem to make one Christmas present that nearly kills me.  It’s usually a present for someone in my family, and it’s usually a much bigger project than I dreamed it would be.  One year Luke and I built a funky bookshelf for Cameron which still had glue drying on it as he unwrapped it.  Last year I was painting jungle animals on a rocking chair for Alex on Christmas Eve.  This year, it was the floorcloth.  The recipient of this lovely floorcloth doesn’t read this website and has somehow figured out how to go days at a time without even touching a computer.  I can’t imagine.  So anyhow, I feel pretty safe showing this off, figuring that he/she won’t see it.  But just in case, I’m not going to mention their name.  Is it you?  Maybe.  If you’re lucky.

I’ve been fascinated with floorcloths since I heard there was such a thing.  Its basically a thick sheet of canvas that’s painted on and covered with polyurethane so you can walk on it.  This canvas was made to be a floorcloth and has a sticky, grippy type backing on it to keep it from slipping.  I knew I wanted to make this Christmas present for a certain someone, and I looked for designs all through November trying to get inspired.  It was a little overwhelming.  I usually paint things that are smaller than 12″.  This baby is 8 1/2 feet by 5 feet.  I found this rug on Urban Outfitters that I liked, so I used it as inspiration for my own design.

Before I painted my design, the floorcloth needed to be primed and since I prefer the casual method to the “you must use specific brand X primer” method, I just used flat white ceiling paint.  Easy, cheap, rolled on nicely.  Four coats of ceiling paint rolled out on the floor using a long handled roller.  It went quickly.  I did it all down by the wood stove so the drying time was cut down drastically.   The over the course of two evenings and about six Christmas movies, I painted the circles using two different sized plates as my template.  Then five coats of acrylic polyurethane and I was almost done!  But then I needed to bind the darn thing.

Most websites suggested turning the canvas under and ironing it, then stitching it or using an adhesive to make a clean edge.  That sounded fine, but my canvas was a bit narrow to begin with and I didn’t want to loose any width by folding it under.  Instead, I thought it would look cool with a black border.  I looked everywhere for rug binding already made, but found only satin blanket binding or skinny quilt binding.  Rats!  Instead I bought some thick black cotton fabric and spent Monday evening making 36 feet of 3″ binding.  Not fun.  I hate to iron and this job was nothing but ironing.  I wanted to try using Stitch Witchery (I love that name) to attach the binding to the canvas, but was having inconsistent luck getting it to melt and stick.  Last night I spent two Christmas movies ripping out the Stitch Witchery and replacing it with industrial double-sided tape meant to hold down vinyl flooring.  Hopefully that means the binding isn’t going anywhere and I can finally wrap the darn thing and get on with Christmas!  There are still some smaller crafts I have to finish and this big lug has been taking up all of my time and worrying.  I do love it though, and want to make one for myself once the holiday rush is over.

The funny thing to me as I type this is that I can remember each movie I watched to pass the time as I worked.  Let’s see if I can list them all:  Sons of Mistletoe, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus, A Christmas Story (three times), Jack Frost, Papa’s Angels, A Charlie Brown ChristmasHoliday in Handcuffs (twice), Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Snowglobe (twice, painfully), It’s a Wonderful Life, Deck the Halls, and A Year Without a Santa Claus.  Phew!  So that’s roughly… 25.5 hours to make this thing.  Boy, I hope he/she likes it.  And hopefully everyone in my family will be naughty next year so I can just buy their presents instead of making something so big.

Many Thanks

This year, to thank the nice mail delivery person who has to drive up our long driveway to deliver over-sized mail, and the nice maintenance man at work who vacuums my office (you have to work here to appreciate how rare it is that I get my office vacuumed almost daily), and anyone else who has done something nice for me, I baked thank you cookies.

These are gingerbread cookies from my Gooseberry Patch cookie book, and they’re mostly made of butter which means they’re delicious. I cut out various sizes of circles, and then with a simple thinned down buttercream frosting, I piped out “thank you” or “thanks” and even a few “gracias” when I got tired of writing the same thing a hundred times over on the big ones. On the smaller ones I made snowflakes, which was way more fun. I also made a few batches of pumpkin butterscotch cookies, put them all in clear bags and tied them with silver ribbon. Ta-da! Delicious Christmas thanks.

I wish I could send one to each of you who reads this sometimes lame, sometimes boring, always chatty website every day. Thanks a bunch!

A Tip For You Frantic Santas Out There

Since I’m sure there are a few people you still need last-minute gift ideas for, let me offer you this one: Blokus. My sister bought Blockus for my half-birthday (something everyone should celebrate) and it’s a ton of fun. We played it on Thanksgiving and we’ve all been talking about playing it again ever since. It looks simple, and in a way, it is. My five year-old nephew came very close to winning against three other adults last weekend (I came in last), but still, it’s fun for everyone. It’s much like Tetris, with the stacking of the blocks and all, but it flexes your spatial arrangement muscles, trying to figure out how to fit the pieces in to win. The object is to get rid of as many pieces as you can, you put one piece down on each turn, and you have to touch your pieces together at the corners only – not the sides, just the corners. It’s fun, easy to learn, and the whole family will love it. It’s a little pricey (in my book). I just picked up one at Barnes & Noble last night for $29.99. Amazon shows it for $24.99. It’s definitely worth every penny.

Wishful Thinking

Christmas is coming. I just Googled “days till Christmas” and found that there are only 61 shopping days left. Target has their Christmas trees out, Jo-Ann Fabric shoved the Halloween costumes out of the way weeks ago to make room for the ornament display, and I keep thinking about what I want to buy and/or make for everyone on my shopping list. Whenever I get asked about what I want for Christmas, I always feel uncomfortable and inappropriate, like Christmas lists and wish lists are for kids, grown-ups shouldn’t do that. But still, someone will ask, and so I have to come up with an answer. For a while, Amazon was great for keeping a wish list because they have goods from so many retailers, but if you want something unique or handmade, there was nowhere to place a subtle hint, a guilt-free wish list. Until Etsy. I love Etsy for so many reasons, but one of the best is the “Favorites” link on every shop homepage. I like to look at these lists if I see a shop selling things I like. It’s like getting recommendations from someone I know has tastes like mine. But then I realized that it was a great way to also keep a Christmas wish list. When I’m browsing around on Etsy and see something I love, I click the “Add Item to Favorites” link and viola! a new item is added to my ever revolving wish list. Check it out, here’s what my wish list looks like right now: Pretty please, I’ve been a good girl, I swear. There’s a tab for items I like, and there’s a tab for the shops I like. Very cool. Even if you’re not a seller, you can set up a favorites page as a buyer on Etsy, too. Just register, and click away. Then make sure everyone knows your Etsy ID so they can look you up and see what’s on your list. Happy shopping!

How Did I Get Myself Here?

Today is December 19. That means that there are six days until Christmas. Six days in which I have to work (well I only have to work four of those days), and also I have to:

  • finish up shopping for a few last minute gifts
  • make cinnamon buns for Christmas Eve breakfast
  • make a plan, shop for, and cook Christmas Eve dinner
  • bake an apple pie for Christmas
  • bake a coffee cake for Girls’ Day In, our annual day after Christmas celebration
  • assemble a gift that came in twenty-seven thousand pieces (no wonder Santa hires all those elves)
  • finish knitting (I think the knitting is going to have to be an after-Christmas gift)
  • paint the rocking chair I’m planning to give to my nephew (see the above picture – that’s how far I’ve gotten – ug)
  • try to finish the jewelry gift experiment I started (which makes me want to poke my eyes out with a soldering iron) so I can have the two gifts I was planning to give all finished
  • sew the binding onto a blanket
  • bake cookies as thank-you gifts for Luke’s helper and pre-loader (nonsense UPS talk)
  • and I’m sure there’s more!

I always give handmade gifts of some sort. To me, making gifts usually isn’t stressful. This year I’m actually giving fewer handmade gifts than ever, it just seems that this year’s gifts are harder to make. They’re all taking so long and that is precious time I do not have! My friend Paula made it even harder by making me promise to only give her things that I have made. I can’t buy her anything from a store. That sounded good back in July, but now – holy crap! Paula, I hope you like cookies becasue that might be all I get around to finishing for you! 🙂

Christmas will be here soon and it will be wonderful. This is only momentary panic and stress I’m feeling and I know that it is nothing compared to the stress your friendly UPS delivery guy is going through right now. If you see one out on the street, give him a hug and thank him for your Amazon.com packages.

Six more days – eeek!