Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crafty Quote for the Day

"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries." A. A. Milne

I just "re organized" my craft room...I found this very appropriate.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Crafting: Hostess Apron

Only one last minute project this year: a sweet hostess apron for my mother (isn't she adorable folks?). The woman has everything so I always opt for completely frivolous gifts and I think this one qualifies! After all, it was her who always said "something made is always better than something bought."

I used Butterick Pattern #4945 but changed it up so the apron would be reversible (and I wouldn't have to do any stupid hemming...I HATE hemming and Christmas is just not the time for stupid activities you hate).

The concept was a little something she could throw on when company comes and she's doing the "around the kitchen" last minute preparations. She refers to herself as the "Queen" so I knew I needed a 50s vintage photo of a beauty queen with a silly saying. I used Avery transfer paper and the eyelet stitch on my machine. There is just something about turqouis and red together that I can't escape!
Anyway, here are some silly pics of it. I had to try it on and I actually think I'm going to make one for myself because I never make anything for myself. Merry Christmas to me!







Friday, December 26, 2008

Crafty Quote for the Day

"My recipe for life is not being afraid of myself, afraid of what I think or of my opinions."
-Eartha Kitt

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eco-Chic

The latest and greatest...I needed a break from the linen sampler. This is what I came up with:


It's a (reusable) grocery tote that I've been meaning to make for a long time. But today, I thought of a great slogan (I'm not the first to think up said slogan, so technically, that's recycling) and then designed something to hand embroider. And all the materials came from my stash (reducing)! HA! Take that three R's.
I used muslin and a heavy weight interfacing to give it some shape. The inside and straps are the same green cotton eyelet I fell in love with over the summer and hadn't gotten around to using. I just think that the satin stitching on the leaves turned out really well. Hooray for a productive evening!
***Side note: Now that our "Fred Friends" $10 dixie swap is over, I can say that this is what I made it for. I added in a 6pack of Sam Adams Winter Lager so the men in the group would want it too! I can't help but think that with a $10 limit, what is better than craftiness and beer (except for the iTunes gift certificate that was "stolen" at least 5 times).

Mele Kalikimaka!




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Linen and Me: A One Act Play

If you'll recall...I wanted to try a stitching project using linen instead of Aida. The following is a recap:

Meghan: #$#@#!! WHERE ARE THE SQUARES!!!??!!?
Chad: What are you talking about?
Meghan: The #%&^$* squares that everyone said I would "see" after a few stitches.
(Chad looks up from his carnage infused video game at Meghan like she has lost her mind while she dramatically rips out stitches)
Meghan: @#)$(#$(* it.
::Later that Evening::
Meghan: What if I did a row of half X's and then doubled back to finish them...would that be easier? Yeah...that could work.
(Chad doesn't look up from his video game because he knows what's about to happen)
::Minutes Later::
Meghan: %#*@)* I'm going to bed.
AND END SCENE

I did try again and after a few nights of working I'm ADDICTED. It's a slow process but I'm improving and by gum if it isn't about 1000 times prettier than stitching on Aida. If you need help "seeing" the squares or figuring out a technique that works, check out this site...it helped me a lot.
And don't forget, cursing loudly makes you feel better and really infuses your piece with love and positivity. @@#$#%!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crafty Quote for the Day

Alina Fleury: "Fun for us is a yard of fabric and a bottle of liquor."

So true....

A Very Little Christmas: Go Nuts!








When I told Chad I was making soap for Christmas gifts, he caught the DIY Fever! We found a recipe (his grandparents) for candied pecans and his mother (THANK YOU KATHY!) sent us 10lbs of fresh pecans from his aunt's pecan tree in Alabama.


Let me say that I hate nuts. I think that nuts should stand trial for the corruption of innocent baked goods. But that's because I've never had a fresh pecan coated in holiday cheer and sugary deliciousness. And super cute in a mason jar tied with a ribbon. The project was a success!


So, my dear readers...think outside the box when sending Christmas gifts. We may not all have the hook up for fresh and delicious pecans, but check your local farmer's markets. Or even better, find a family recipe that you remember from your past. Chad and I spent a delightful Sunday together creating something that was meaningful and representative of him, his family and his background. And they're darn delicious too!




A Very Little Christmas: Soap Making Extravaganza

Oh Martha Stewart Living....your glossy pages of crafty wonderment suck me in every time.

I decided that out of all the goodies in the magazine I wanted to try making soap. The instructions are a basic melt and pour...the supplies are available at your local craft store. (PS...I heart AC Moore. They post coupons on their website and I never pay full price when I visit on a Tuesday...I am a marketing executive's dream).

Hours and hours later, a friend and I had made three different kinds: lemongrass, eucalyptus, and Martha's suggestion, peppermint. As you can see, we took the layering idea and ran with it. The peppermint ended up looking a little more like 1-2-3 Jello, but that's okay. Wrapped up in some cellophane and presto! You have a pretty inexpensive gift that took effort, time and thought.

So very important: Martha, while magical and the queen of all things crafty, sometimes lies (I like to think her interns lie and imagine what a better job I would do if employed by Martha Stewart Living). The directions said the soap will "pop out" of the mold. Yeah, that's a total lie. If you use a loaf pan as directed, freeze it after the soap dries....and then you need to use an ice pick to free the chunk o' soap from the frozen pan and then a knife to "trim" the sides to make sure it doesn't look like Freddie Kruger broke into your kitchen to wash his blades before shoving the bars down your throat and muttering "You're all washed up, kid."

So here's a better idea, invest in some soap molds. The lemongrass bars I made in a cupcake pan and my god they are cute...and pop out much easier. But I do not suggest the loaf pan or anything Pyrex.

After it's all said and done, soap making is a lengthy process and we all know how I feel about lengthy processes. But considering I now have kitchen shelf devoted to the left over glycerin base and all the fragrance, I will be trying again. Stay tuned kids!






Monday, December 8, 2008

A Very Little Christmas: Origami Paper Crane Ornaments

I love trees decked out and overflowing with holiday goodies. But since we aren't buying new ornaments, it's time for some creative tree decorating ideas.

The paper crane is a very traditional shape and perfect for filling in your tree's bare spots. The crane also symbolizes world peace along with the Japanese legend that states any person who folds 1,000 gets a wish. Very holiday-ish I think.
If you want to spend money on origami paper, it is available at craft stores. I like to use regular paper or even magazine pages for a glossy, eclectic look. The only thing you NEED is a square. Animated directions are found here.
Definitely experiment with the sizes of paper. While the larger cranes look great sticking off the edges of the tree, the smaller ones are too cute nestled in the branches. I like to follow the "odd" rule. Everything looks better in odd numbers.

I also thought of making a wreath out of brightly colored cranes placed snuggly together. Use a foam form and attach your little winged friends with a stick pin. Maybe next year :) Happy Folding!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Latest Obsession: Samplers

It started with a good friend of mine, Claire, who had an excellent idea before I was engaged. She wanted to write a book for brides (I will not reveal her idea, because it's too brilliant. You'll have to wait for it to be written) suggesting a hobby/something to obsess about instead of weddings. When I started losing sleep over a coconut cake vs. a fondant cake (they were battling it out in a celebrity death match) and thinking of contacting the florist again to make another change to my already insane "vision", I realized needed a more time consuming craft.

I'm a big fan of quick projects because I distract and get bored easily (we all have our faults...this is a judgement free blog). Which brings me to stitching. A little embroidery here and there I can crank out in no time. But counted cross stitch was my very first craft that I abandoned for it's utter lack of instant gratification. But being un-gratified until March sounded like a good idea to me!

So what would be worth the work and look nice on display without being annoyingly country and sap-tastic? Vintage and Colonial Samplers! And so the madness begins.

Chad's reaction: What's a sampler? Why does it have an alphabet? I don't get it.

I tried to explain and realized I didn't know much about them either. Apparently, samplers have been around since the 15th or 16th century. Back in the "day", there were no printed patterns, charts, or companies devoted to creating kick ass busy work. So instead, women would see something and say, "That's totally awesome. I would like to stitch that" thus making a mini version or Sample (see how it's all coming together) of a previously stitched original. Eventually a woman's cloth of samples became a beautiful showcase for alphabet styles, motifs, borders, flora, fauna and her voice. (WARNING: Hot second from getting philosophical about crafting). I like to think of these as the socially acceptable art form of the past. It's not like we were encouraged to write, speak, be educated or think. But stitching? Totally cool. It's like every sampler from back then is a symbol of a woman's individuality that she was otherwise forced to keep to herself. Geeking out crafty style right now.

So I bought a chart and have been working every night since Tuesday. I chose to stick with Aida (the kind of material that has pre "punched" holes for the thread and much more affordable than linen). I'm totally intimidated by the thought of using linen because it's flimsier fabric and therefore my stitches look wonky and awful. But after I finish this one, I'm moving on to another (an AMAZING love/wedding sampler) that requires linen for the different stitches. Eeek! I'm sure I'll have another "When Keeping It Crafty Goes Wrong" entry for you...stay tuned.

Chad is worried all that will be hanging on the walls is alphabets, birds, funny little stitched people and houses. I promised I would only take over one room...or maybe two. The best news is I haven't changed my mind or over-thought the wedding one bit since I started. I feel productive and let's face it, there's nothing sexier than a woman who rocks the domestic arts!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Very Little Christmas: Fabric Bookmarks

Yeah, you can get bookmarks at the bookstore. Or you could just grab something laying around...but really, where is the fun in that?? I got super excited about these and the best part: they took no time.

These are for my Secret Santa exchange at the office. She loves to read and thought something made is much better than something picked up at a store within our $10 limit.

After some experimentation, I found the finished bookmark should measure about 2.5 inches x 8.5 inches. I always add an 1 inch for seam allowance so the fabric should be cut into strips of 3.5 x 9.5 (so each side will have a .5 inch allowance). I loved mixing and matching all my old fabrics and especially dug the idea to quickly stitch her first initial on one. And you HAVE to top stitch these otherwise they do not lay flat and you lose the more "polished" look.

Practicality was my biggest challenge (as always) and I had to remember these are meant to go between the pages of a book, so less is more.

There is nothing like a project that leaves so much room for creativity and personalization. And I'm thrilled my photos are getting better!


Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas

I'm the same as a lot of people this year: a giant retail induced Christmas is just not possible. Chad and I made the decision a month ago to forgo the traditional pile 'o loot under the tree to focus our resources elsewhere. We've coined the term "A Very Little Christmas" in which we only use the decor we already have, make small tokens of appreciation for the ones we love and plan to spend Christmas day enjoying each others company.

So play along for a minute while I share an idea. One of my coworkers came up with a "Cookie Exchange" that has become an office tradition. Everyone bakes cookies, brings a to-go box and we exchange. Simple, yes. Brilliant, definitely. Budget friendly? Absolutely!
I also thought this is a great idea if you have a large group of friends and family. Think about hosting a Cookie Exchange and providing cute little to go bags as favors, playing Christmas music, maybe having a little eggnog and placing the event close enough to the 25th so everyone leaves with snacks for their holiday guests. There could even be a score card rating for each cookie with a small prize for the winner! If you're looking for a cheap solution, stay baking related and give out a cookie cutter.

Now to the fun part: Making invitations! Emails and Evites are nice, but there is something about attention to detail that people love. I used Microsoft Publisher (my favorite computer program EVER) and Voila! A little token to hang on people's doors to get them in the spirit. If I was doing this for friends, I would have used felt to make the cookie and attached a cute print out with a safety pin. But for office use, I thought this was perfect.
Check out it out!

I am really starting to love the idea of doing a "Very Little Christmas". After we made the decision, I felt so much better. Like I can really enjoy this time of year without the "buy something!" stress that commercial giants put on us. When it really comes down to it, do any of us really need the STUFF? I think most will answer no...it's the people we know and love that make the holidays special. My Christmas will be small in scale and big in meaning.


Stay Tuned for more "Very Little Christmas" ideas!