Thursday, December 29, 2011

Envelope Pillow.

The pillow set-up on my bed just wasn't doing it for me anymore. Here's where we last left off:


And go easy on the crappy photography. There is no overhead light in my room and I've yet to find a lamp I love. So there is uber poor lighting after 9 am in there. 

Moving on. The felt ruffle pillow really pumped up this pillow party, and the button pillow just couldn't hold his own anymore.

Enter some fabulous leftover fabric from my bedroom bench reupholstering. I am obsessed with the fabric, and have been looking for a use for it for months.

The fabric has a lot going on, so the pillow had to be simple. I cut one piece of fabric to the front size of the pillow. I then cut a back piece slightly longer than necessary. Next, I cut the back piece into two with one piece being 1/3 of the total, and the other being 2/3 by default. I think this description is a little wordy, but hang with me - I now had three pieces of fabric. The two back pieces would make the envelope, so I hemmed one side of each.


To put the pillow together, I laid the right side of the fabrics in. To create the envelope, the hemmed back pieces overlapped about an inch. 


I then pinned about the edges. I normally don't pin, but it's useful in this case because it keeps the envelope line straight across.


I then sewed around with a straight stitch. I trimmed the edges, flipped it right-side out and called it donezo.


I didn't try to line up fabric on the back. If I had any sort of forethought like that, I would have made that blue loopy flower on the bottom center into that blue loopy and green and blue petals on top. But that's not the point. How much better is my pillow party now?


Granted, this picture already stomps on the other because it was taken in the morning during the perfect natural light time, but still. So much better.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Cheer: On the Rocks.

Here's a quick way to throw some life into the ornaments and nutcrackers and cold ceramic snowmen decor: Amaryllis bulbs!


You can get them in a bunch of different colors and they're super low maintenance. All you need is some stones, a vase, and a bulb.

Place the stones in the bottom of the vase and center the bulb on top. The stones are there to keep the roots from sitting in too much water. Then pour in the water so it's just under the bulb.

We bought two, with the second being a little farther behind the other.


But in one week, he's reached the top of his vase and is looking a lot more green. So note to the future: don't start the bulbs five days before Christmas and expect them to be in bloom. He should be good for some upcoming holiday parties though.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Yeehaw!

This project came as a special request. And according to my roommate, it's a little creepy, so you've been warned. 

My youngest sister has a horse and I'm not sure how she came across this idea, but she found a site that will take your horse's hair and turn it into jewelry. 

Jewelry from here.
And while she liked the jewelry, she wasn't as into the price tag. So we went to visit Sid for his stall cleaning, and the poor boy was so distracted with my brushing that he didn't notice when I took a chunk out of his tail. I took about 18 inches in length, just to be sure.


And no worries - Sid didn't notice his suddenly lighter tail, and I didn't mess up his handsomeness with some weird tail layering hairstyle. He's still the same pretty boy :)


I then got some jewelry clasps at JoAnn's. I'm not experienced in the jewelry-making process, but I think I made it work.

I made two bracelets of a basic braid. It's a standard braid with the ends super-glued together, and then super-glued to the inside of the clasps, before I used pliers to squeeze them shut. Before braiding, I pulled out all the little hairs, and then after, I snipped any rogue shorter ones that still got in. This meant that rogue Sid hairs were around my carpet for a bit, which was the weirdest part for me - especially because Sid's hair feels like a creepy crawler running up my leg with it tickles you - not the most pleasant thing.


And these are two horrible pictures of them. One shows the detail and the shine of Sid's hair, while the other shows the color. If I could merge them, I would.

Then I made some more fashion-jewelry type bracelets. I braided Sid's hair with some yellow fabric (Steph's favorite color), and tied off the ends. This is more casual, boho-type for summer rides I think. I have all these wearable-situations planned in my head. Though I'm not sure if Sid should meet his bracelet counterpart - wouldn't that totally freak him out? I think it might. The other I wrapped around a bracelet from JoAnn's, with the yellow fabric, and tied and super-glued the ends. I'm not confident in this one's staying ability, but we'll see.


And Stephie loves them! So the rouge wirey hairs are worth it. I hope everyone had a very happy holiday as well!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Polish Stars.

That Pinterest. That Veronica. All that inspiration.

I'll stop being vague. My sister pinned this:


Via pinterest, originally from here.
All of those projects are from magazines. Those sea-urchin guys on the right really caught my eye though. Well, I love the mirror too, but I wasn't into the commitment just now. So I ambled along the internet and saw that those particular urchins were for sale. My bank account isn't into sales these day, unless the price is free. But finding out their price was useful for another reason - the urchins have another name: Polish Stars. AH! I'm Polish! I knew I loved them for a reason. And since they were made out of comics in the sale version, I knew I could try them myself out of magazines. I couldn't find a tutorial that I loved the whole way through, so here's my combined version.

First, I made a four-inch circle template out of the back cover of a magazine. I didn't have one of those circle-drawer things from elementary school, so I drew a bunch of four-inch lines crossing through a central dot.



Then, I gathered a bunch of magazines. I had a bunch of Martha Stewart mags, and she's never short on color. Or beautiful glasses.



I then cut out a bunch of circles. I cut out 14 to be exact, but I only used 12 in my star.



I then folded each of the circles into eight sections.


Next, I cut up an inch on each of the folds.


Then I curled/rolled each of the sections around a pencil. You want to curl on the ugly side of the circle so that the colorful part is on the outside/bottom.


The curls were secured with glue. I recommend a glue stick. I tried regular glue, but that was too goopy and soaked through too much. It helped to keep the pencil in the curl to have something to push against to make sure the glue was doing its job.


This is what it'll look like from the bottom/colorful side after you've gone around and curled and glued all of the sections.


I made twelve of those, like I said above.


Those two dots are intentional in there. I cut out two little circles of cardboard to hold the ends of the star. I then started stringing the individual star/urchin pieces. I tied a knot on a piece of string, then strung on the cardboard circle, and then the first star.



All of the other stars followed, and then the final cardboard circle. I tied a knot on top of that, and then a loop.



Ta da! It was kind of laborious, or maybe my attention span was low. Either way, this guy's going to have to fly solo for a bit before I get more motivation to make him another pair.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Treats.

In addition to the Chubby Hubby cookies to kick off the season, some holiday classics were in order.

First up: Peanut Butter Goodies. These are the treats of my childhood. My Dad always makes them, and it's been years since he made them last, so I begged for him to break out his skills and enlist me as the assistant.


And I snuck away with the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 18oz jar of peanut butter
  • 4 sticks of butter
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 24 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 pound of powdered sugar
  1. Melt together the peanut butter and 2 sticks of butter. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Slowly turn in the powdered sugar. Remove from stock and press into a pan (with this recipe, we filled a 9x13in pan and a 9.5inch round pan).
  2. Melt chocolate chips and 2 sticks of butter. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Pour on top of peanut butter. 
  3. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into squares. This is the secret step that will allow your squares to look nice when the goodies are actually all firmed up.
  4. Let chill until firm.
  5. Enjoy, and don't think about the calories.

We were both shocked at the amount of butter. We now want to refer to these as "protein bars" because we want to highlight as much of their positive qualities over the artery-blocking ones.

Next up: Ladylocks. These are my mum's cookies. She makes a few dozen with my neighbor every year, but we still have leftover dough to make a few dozen ourselves. I love the process of rolling out the dough - mostly because I like to eat the scraps of the dough. We buy the dough from a local shop, so I don't have that recipe, but I do have the filling, which is also delicious.


Ladylock filling:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 2 sticks of margarine
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup of milk (we always use skim because that's what we drink)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Measure all ingredients into a mixer and mix. The longer you beat the filling, the whiter it gets.
I hope everyone's enjoying some delicious treats! I can't wait to start the party stretch between Christmas and New Year's for all of the fabulous concoctions that everyone makes each year.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cones.

Nothing like a teensy bit of last-minute holiday crafting. All of the cone variety. We're a bunch of coneheads over here. Complete with corny jokes. Anyway.

My neighbor brought a bunch of super large pinecones from South Carolina. Seriously. These guys were on steroids.



I'm not joking.



I used the glitter glue to make dots on one, used textured white spray paint on the second, and glitter spray paint on the third. All of which I had on hand. I love a free craft.

I decorated a bunch and stuffed them in with my Mum's other Christmas decor.



I then made two trees out of cardstock (which, admittedly, was much harder for me than it should have been) and made a twine and ruffle tree.

The twine tree was straightforward: hot glue and twine, wrapped all the way up.

The ruffle tree was made with this tutorial. It's actually wax paper. I first ironed three sheets of wax paper together on the lowest linen setting. I sandwiched the wax paper between some thin leftover fabric so as not to ruin the iron or the board.



I then cut the paper into 1-inch wide strips. Using scalloped scissors, 1.5-inch pieces were cut from the strips. I curled the edges of the pieces around a Sharpie (thin point - the best).



And then it was hot glue. All the way around and up.



Veronica was kind enough to take an unsolicited picture. I need to shower. To finish off the top, I cut a circle and kind of smashed it down. Check the tutorial linked above - Katie Bower has a good description of this.



How's that? Not bad for a totally free set of holiday cones, er, crafts. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tree Trimmings.

Mum loves giving me projects. The latest: do something with the tree trunk trimmings we've collected over the years. We used to get a real tree every year, and before the end of the season, we would trim a slice off of the trunk and mark the year. We missed a few years, but have quite the collection before my parents switched to a fake tree last year.


I really like the smiley-faced zeroes. Oh, how embarrassing.

I bounced around some ideas, like ornaments (too heavy for the fake tree) or coasters (Mum cross-stitched a bunch of snowmen coasters last year), and rounded up some inspiration on Pinterest.


I really liked the wreath idea, with some pinecones and twine, but Mum already has a wreath surplus. The abstract art didn't have a place. That narrowed it down to the centerpieces and to the board in the top left and in the bottom right. The centerpieces were nice, but Mum already had decorations for those areas.

I took a piece of scrap plywood and stained it in 'Gunstock.'


Then I made my tree. I used craft glue to secure my trunk cuttings as it was in the house and at room temperature. I would have used wood glue, but it was in the shed and I would have had to wait for it to warm up - delaying my progress. So I probably over-glued in lieu of wood glue.


But after gluing and waiting three hours, all of the pieces were still attached.


I then broke out the silver and clear glitter, the fake berries, some baby's breath, and some rickrack, all on clearance at JoAnn's, and I got a-decorating.


I chose to leave the dates visible, because that's the character. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of cuttings with no memories or meaning.

Mum's not 100% sold on the backing - she's thinking it needs to be cut into the tree shape.

For the time being, it's hanging out by my sweater vases in the dining room. I think it's working. We'll give it a few days before deciding what more tweaks we need.


Thoughts? It's a little cheesy, admittedly, but the holidays are full of some cheesy cheer. And I love it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oodles of Ornaments.

Pinterest has outdone itself. There are SO MANY ORNAMENTS. I could hardly keep myself from calling off work and ornamenting instead. Except that I was in Austin for work, and it would be harder to find all my crafty supplies there. Anyway.

Here's my inspiration, all from Pinterest:



I started with the bottom right. I took my roommate's wedding invites (for her upcoming wedding in the summer). I forgot to take a proper 'before' picture, and I blurred out the location, so that's why they still look a little weird.



Cat would kill me if found out I put these less than perfect pictures of her invites up, but I promise that they're super fancy and classy in the complete package. And these are the most innocuous pieces, so I assure you that I'm not ruining any surprises.

Moving on. As you can tell from above, I started cutting the invite into horizontal strips. I then wrapped those strips around a pencil to make them curl.




This caused the invite and its backing to come apart. Cat reinforced the invite and backed her reception card with gold paper to make them heavier. I took apart the pieces and wrapped them individually after this.



I then popped the top off of an ornament and stuffed in the curly-qs. I swirled the pencil around in there to make sure all of the details I wanted to be visible were actually visible. I also spray-painted the tops of the ornament a champagne color we had on hand. I didn't want the silver to contrast so heavily with the gold in the bulb. After these dried, I used the ribbon from the invite to loop through the ornament.



Next, I tried my hand at the paint swirl ornaments. There's a great tutorial on these here.

I used three craft store paints: Folk Art in Metallic Gunmetal Grey, Dazzling Metallic Elegant Finish in Festive Green, and Americana Gloss Enamels in True Blue.



I then dropped a glob of paint in the ornament, slowly spun it around, then let it dry overnight.

The results were not flawless. The green paint did not work. Overnight, all of the paint crawled to the bottom, leaving creepy green streaks and a full puddle of paint. I tried to re-swirl, but the result was the same. It seems like the paint just wasn't sticking to the plastic bulb.



The blue and silver bulbs worked, though.



Next, I took the idea of the newspaper/book print ornament, and translated it to - what else - maps. I decided to make a map ornament for each of my sisters. My younger sister lived in Philly for a few years, and loved it. I cut up the blown-up map (the road atlas I purchases had a blow up of Philly, with nothing that I'd be missing on the back, so I didn't have to make a copy) into strips. I then mod-podged my ornament, and stuck the strips to it. I paid attention to different names/streets and made sure they were visible. I repeated this process for Lexington for my youngest sisters. Then I coated the ornaments with more mod-podge and sprinkled clear glitter on top so they'd catch the light.



Finally, I sprayed them with clear acrylic finish, so glitter wouldn't be all over the place every time they were touched. I hung them on a dowel rod balanced over a mixing bowl to let them dry.

My last ornament was inspired by the bottom left picture. This should've been the easiest ornament, but I was having THE CLUMSIEST day. I took an ornament in one hand and my glitter glue in the other. Then I started drawing lines all over. Some connected, some smeared, some were thin, some thick. I totally forgot that this thing would have to dry. For a while, I just held it. It wouldn't be long. Then I caught up on two episodes of The Office. It still wasn't dry. So I watched Parks and Recreation. Then I dropped the ornament on the couch for no real reason other than my brain and fingers must've had a miscommunication. It didn't roll, and the bottom wasn't ruined. But now there was glitter glue on the couch. I soaked it with a washcloth and got that out, all while bobbling with the other hand. So then I had glitter glue on my hands. I decided I should try and put a string on it and hang it somewhere (this was before my dowel rod and mixing bowl genius). Stringing something is very hard with one hand. I didn't drop it again, but I gave up and decided I'd just hold it. So I watched Community. Then Cat came home, showed me her necklace and other purchases, went to change, came back out, and asked why I was still holding the ornament. I explained and she told me I would be holding the ornament all night. I didn't like that idea, especially as I was far beyond the usual finger cramps. My fingerprints were going numb. At this point, I remembered the wooden dowels. I fished one out of my tool box with one hand, got the ornament on it, and declared victory. I just had to find a resting place. I took out a cereal bowl and knew it was over. Nope, glitter in the bowl. I took out a mixing bowl. Nope, the dowel's too short. I spied the stand mixer. Perfect! And so the glitter glue bulb got to dry and I got to make a companion.




Whew. That long-winded story to say that I will now be planning on where to dry said ornaments before I start. Maybe I'll take this logic into other crafts too. I'll probably forget though

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