Hump day crafts: Halloween party

November 2, 2011

It’s hard not to love Halloween. Candy, alter egos, and scaring the be-jesus out of people is all at least a little bit fun. We don’t generally go all out here, but we have a little bit of fun. This year, for the first time ever, we decided to have a Halloween party. Well, kind of. It was actually just a get together eating junk, making crafts, singing and dancing. Two get togethers. We had an afternoon one for Thing 1’s friends and an evening ‘party’ for family.

Cleaning my house is not my favorite thing to do, so I tried to set it up so we could mostly corral friends in the combined craft/play room. To set the mood, I made an entryway decoration:

I took half of a DollarTree table cloth (the other half was covering our play table to convert it to a craft table) and some black Contact paper, cut with my Cricut, of course. After applying the vinyl, I took my scissors and cut some strips, so people could walk through the door easily.

The kids did make plenty of crafts, although I was so busy running the party, I didn’t get much for photos. We did a pumpkin bookmark:

I cut the pumpkin on the Cricut, added some ribbon and let them decorate them as they pleased. (This one was my example.) We also did yarn ghost pencil toppers (based loosely on these). Oh, and sugar cookies. You just gotta decorate sugar cookies when celebrating a holiday. I’m just happy Thing 1 & 2 are getting to the age where they can participate. I was getting tired of decorating and eating them all myself. ūüėČ

Honestly, it was exhausting, but oh so fun. I’m just glad we’ve got a year before we have to do it again.


Hump day crafts: Where did the summer go?

September 14, 2011

I’m a little sad that my last post had end of the school year gifts and here we are a week into the new school year. Where have I been? And where did my summer go? Last weekend it was in the 80s, this weekend they’re predicting rain and 60s. Bummer. But I’ll get over it. That’s what we moss backs in the Pacific Northwest do.

Even though my summer seems to have ended way too soon, we did get some crafting in. Here’s 10 crafts I did (some with help) during this short summer:

1. Knitted legwarmers – for my niece’s 8th birthday

2. Vinyled clipboards – made one for my sister-in-law as a gift, plus a couple for Things 1&2.

3. Knitted mini-Jayne Cobb hat – gift for my husband. (Yes, we’ve got a teeny bit of Firefly geek in us.)

4. Toilet paper roll joke book – The kids picked and illustrated the jokes to make a book to send to their dad.

5. Screenprinting – actually I should just say buying a Yudu since I’ve only done 2 projects so far.

6. I spy bottle – to entertain the kids on the pier while we waited for The Cat’s submarine.

7. Flannel boards – another pierside entertainer, except that we could only use these on the bus to and from the pier because the wind blew the laminated flannel backed pieces off the board.

8. Tie dye – my 10 & 13 year old niece and nephew visited from the midwest, so we had to break out the tie-dye kit to make some souvenirs. (I was too busy tying and dying to take pics of the process, but maybe I can get some from my mom later.)

9. Crafting for money – I sold some stuff this year — personalized for my mom’s soccer academy. She benefits from marketing and increased word of mouth, I make a little money to put toward a new cutter (hoping to be able to say goodbye to my cricut soon), and the kids get a special one-of-a-kind personalized useful something. I made water bottles for the kids and car decals for the parents.

10. Tenth anniversary print and cut card – I made this with SCAL and my cricut, plus my Canon MX870 printer.

I’d go on with details about each, but the school bus comes early this year, so I better call it a night. You can always post a comment asking for details. Happy crafting!

Hump day crafts: More gifts – vinyl and sewing

June 22, 2011

It’s finally starting to feel like summer’s coming here in the Pacific Northwest, but I used the last few so-so weeks of spring to make some gifts.

First is a tile I did for a friend who was leaving work to have a baby. We worked together for the symphony, and her husband is very into music (he sings in our chorale), so I thought a family/music theme would be nice. I found a couple of sentiments online, and combined them to come up with this:

The tile was just under 8×10 inches and had a white marbled pattern screened on it. I wish I could remember which fonts I used. The script one was PassionsConflict, the serif one I’m not sure. And I wasn’t particularly happy with how it cut on the Cricut. Very inconsistent thickness. Hmmm, maybe I should start saving up for a better cutter. And one that is supportive of third party software that does what I want to do.

(Mini-rant here: I will not buy another Cricut thanks to their litigious actions against small software companies that, in my opinion,¬†made their product better. The only reason I kept the Cricut, which was a gift, was because I knew there was software that would let me cut my own designs. I’ll be researching the BlackCat Lynx, Pazzles Inspiration, Silhouette SD,¬†and other cutters that SCAL will work with. I hope you will do the same.)

Next was Thing 1’s gift for her kindergarten teacher. We decided on a flower pot with pencils and flowers, so she could decide what it should hold long term. I bought a glazed pot and saucer, slapped on some chalkboard paint, glued them together and added a vinyl sentiment and date.¬†The font was Fantini, and the¬†flowers are from SCAL2’s shape library. (I love the shapes library. It helps me combine the awesomeness of SCAL with the ease of¬†Cricut cartridges.)¬†Then we added some flowers — store-bought and the home-made pencil variety. Here’s a photo before Thing 1 got to add her chalk message:

To hold the flower pot, I sewed an oilcloth tote,¬†inspired by¬†this one from purlbee. I had seen some oilcloth at Joann’s and was coveting a tote for myself, so this was the perfect excuse — uh, opportunity — to buy some fabric. T1 picked the handprint pattern:

I love and hate making teacher gifts, because there are so many neat ideas but I’m worried they’ve gotten them all and the gift will just be thrown in a closet or donation box. While I’m sure the heartfelt gifts are appreciated (my daughter also made a card and wrote a letter), I hope that at least some part of our teacher gifts are somewhat useful.

Oy! It’s been long week, with the extra volunteering in the classroom (dragging Thing 2 along) on top of everything else, so I’ll wait to post the other stuff I’ve been working on. Happy crafting!

Hump day crafts: Gifts for the Cat

June 1, 2011

So the Cat is going out for one last patrol before heading for shore duty here. Usually I buy him a few silly little gifts for him to open while he’s out on the submarine, but this time I decided I’d save the money (he rarely actually uses the gifts) and make him things using my stash of fabrics and yarns.

First off was a computer tote I’ve been thinking about making him since he bought his macbook last year. I had a few placemats I thought were, if not manly-looking, at least gender neutral. They were nice Martha Stewart ones I picked up at Goodwill, and I thought they’d add a little padding with their double thickness. I added additional pockets inside by cutting a piece off a fleece blanket (also from Goodwill) and topping it with a strip from my stash. I handstitched on velcro so the stitching wouldn’t show through on the other side and bought some grey webbing for vertical and horizontal handles. I don’t know if he’ll ever use it (I just read the other day how many men –mine included– don’t like to use stuff that looks homemade) but I would if my computer fit. Unfortunately, I just get his hand-me-downs, so my laptop¬†is too big.

The other gift is just a little hat I knitted because we’re both fans of Firefly/Serenity. It’s a Jayne Cobb hat I¬†knitted with embroidery thread and stuck a magnet on the back. The pattern was on the¬†forums, but I found the link through Ravelry. I think it is just adorable! I hope he likes it and is reminded of spending time together — even if it is just watching television.


Happy crafting!

Hump day crafts: felt Kindle sleeve

May 11, 2011

After my last post, I was so inspired by the embroidery and sewing at Shiny Happy World that I thought I’d try something new (for me) for another birthday gift. My sister-in-law got a Kindle as a gift, so I thought I’d sew her up a simple sleeve for those days with complicated cases are just too complicated. (Or have been chewed on by the dog, which has already happened in their house.)

I downloaded a free electronic cozy pattern from Wendi (not currently available), and — inspired by her Rainbow Girls¬†and the book How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids¬†— I drew and embroidered a book fairy on the front. Sure, I need work on doing straight and even stitching (maybe I should get out my little hawaiian quilt and finish it for¬†practice), but I still think it’s kinda cute. Maybe I’ll think of some more cute stuff to embroider.

Happy crafting!

Hump day crafts: puppet theater

April 6, 2011

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but my 5 year old daughter, Thing 1, loves to craft. She has her own craft table and hates to throw any of creations away. I thought maybe I’d help her graduate from papercrafts to something a little more durable. Something the Cat will be less likely to throw in the recycle bin. So I asked her if she would like to learn to sew. As if I didn’t know the answer.

For help, we turned to Wendi Gratz’ Shiny Happy World.¬† I’ve been using her embroidery school videos to help me get a little further with my embroidery skills. Her sewing videos and patterns were just what I needed to get my daughter started. It seems in kindergarten, there’s always a friend’s birthday right around the corner, so we decided to make some gifts. I choose the finger puppets (an affordable pattern from Wendi) and the puppet theater (a free pattern from Wendi). They were simple, but great patterns. We made the pirates and ninjas that Wendy had drawn. Then we got creative and I drew a fairy, mermaid and princess set of finger puppets. (The book How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids was very helpful given my lack of artistic skills.) Thing 1 did much better at sewing than I expected. She never pulled the thread out of needle, kept her stitches right on the line and only stabbed herself one time through the two puppets she completed. Her stitches were a little large and she wouldn’t do any backstitches, but I still was proud of her. And she was proud of herself.

I finished up the other puppets and quickly stitched up the “theater” to hang on tension rods. The only thing I added was some elastic slots to set stick puppets or scenery into. Oh, and of course some bags to gift and store in. But before we wrapped it up, we had to try it out ourselves.

We gave them to one of her best friends last weekend. Although the party was a madhouse (what party for a 6 year old isn’t?), they seemed to appreciate the effort and result. And now Thing 1 wants to sew more so we can have some for our house. I guess she has yet to learn one of the most important things about crafting: you hardly ever get keep anything cool you make.

Happy crafting!

Wordless Wednesday: Equal parts

April 5, 2011

For the Ultimate Blog Party, and because it’s been that kind of week.

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

April 2, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Late to the party again. But at least I’m here this year! And it’s great to get the chance to socialize, especially with the dreary winter weather we’ve been (and are still) having. Ugh! You’ll have the excuse the mess. This winter¬†hasn’t been helpful in motivating me to clean up my¬†blog.¬†Hopefully this party will be just what I need to beat these winter blues.

What’s what?

I mostly blog about what I’m up to — mainly crafts, because, next to loving on my family, that’s what I enjoy most. I do papercrafts, sewing, knitting, Cricut crafts (paper and vinyl), and whatever strikes my fancy on the shelves of my local craft store or favorite blog tutorials. I occasionally blog about food, because it ranks up there as well. And I include recipes, because, let’s face it, there are¬†only so many blog posts I can write about how much I like to eat chocolate. Besides that, there’s some random things about my family, being a navy wife, and being a sort-of-work-at-home-mostly-mom. I generally keep things light, because I just don’t have time to go into too much depth. I wish I had more time to spend here, because it really doesn’t show my true talents, but I enjoy sharing at least a little bit of what I’m doing.¬†(You’d never guess I was a graphic designer and a writer from looking at this. But maybe someday I’ll get there on here.)

Who’s who?

I’m Joelle. I’m 40, and only occasionally embarrassed to admit it. I’ve been married to the Cat in the Hat for nearly 10 years. We’ve moved 4 times. (3 moves of over 1,000 miles. 1 move of 4 blocks.) Here’s us at our wedding:

And here we are now:

Yeah, he’s trying to put his finger in my nose while someone is taking our photo. The Cat doesn’t like having his photo taken, which is why this is the only recent one I have. The Cat is in the U.S. Navy. He is currently stationed in Washington on a submarine. I could tell you more, but then…well, you know, what that would lead to. It’s all top secret and stuff like that. What that means for us is that he goes out to sea for 8-12 weeks at a time and we’re not supposed to tell anyone about it. Fun stuff. We’re crossing our fingers for shore duty here next.

Luckily, our kids are a little more photogenic. First, there’s Thing 1. She’s 5 and in kindergarten. She’s bright, beautiful and not as self-confident as she could be.

Then there’s Thing 2. He’s 3 and…well, he’s a three year old boy. Rambunctious, loving, and as smart as his sister.

How two doofuses like us had cute kids like that — well, it’s a mystery wrapped in a miracle. But don’t worry, I try to keep my kid-related brags to a minimum on this blog. After all, they’re only a small part of the mess I’ve made. Although, they are the part that makes me Momma.

How’s that?

Yeah, my life is pretty good even though it’s a mess. I work part time. Live near family (which is lucky and rare for a navy wife). Have a big house I hate to clean. (Even flylady is too difficult for me to keep up with during these dreary Pacific Northwest wintery months.) Have a craft area I just can’t keep from piling up to the ceiling.¬†I could b!t(h and moan, but I won’t because my¬†life’s not too bad. I love my family, and they love me. I craft.¬†I can still hide my chocolate from my kids.¬†I may not have time to go out partying every weekend, but at least I can virtually party on here with you. So, feel free to leave a comment and invite me over to your place. I’ll be right over after the kids fall asleep.

Hump day crafts: Horton hears a who wall vinyl

March 30, 2011

Finally, news of my Cricut skills have traveled far and wide. Well, at least as far as my sister’s mother-in-law.

It seems she had promised her daughter a wall vinyl decoration for an grandson’s upcoming birthday party. She had the graphics, bought special vinyl, and … then her computer died. So she called in the cavalry. Me.

They wanted a Dr. Seuss quote from Horton Hears a Who. That part was easy, using SCAL and the Dr. Soos font. But Horton, well that was another story. I could not find a clean Horton that I felt would cut well from a white flocked and matte black vinyl. That’s when I called in the cavalry. My Smartbuygal forum friends. And they came through for me with a great Horton. (You can see the thread here.)

I cut Horton out of the white flocked vinyl (from Quickutz) and weeded out all the areas that were black in the original graphic. To make sure it would show up on any background, I had to bring the original graphic into Photoshop and fill it in so I could trace the outline in SCAL. That way I had a solid Horton to cut from black vinyl. I also drew a little clover for the who. Here’s how I turned out after weeding and layering.

They loved it, especially since the white on black actually made Horton look gray! They liked it¬†so much that after the party they took it and put it on her grandson’s wall. (Gotta love removable vinyl!) And here’s a photo they sent me¬†of it on the wall:

And my payment, besides the exhilaration from using the cricut skills for good? I got to keep the extra vinyl. Now to spend hours thinking about what to do with it. Oh the possibilities!

Happy crafting!

Tori * 2002-2011 * Rest in peace

March 20, 2011

Thing 1 and Tori (2007)

Yesterday we lost our boxer, Tori. Although we knew it was coming, it was a sad day. She had a probable brain tumor, possible heart condition and who knows what else. Still, her quick decline took us by surprise, maybe because of our naive hope that she would hold on and be our beloved puppy for a few months longer.

In the end, she couldn’t get up on her own and frequently fell while walking. She had fallen on the kids and spent most of her time moaning on her bed. While we wanted to be selfish and keep her with us another week, we made the choice to take her to a local vet and have her euthanized. It was a harder call to make than I realized it would be, but I think the right one for her and us.

The kids took it about like I expected. Much crying and sadness and then back to life as normal. I know it will come up from time to time with them.¬†She wasn’t a huge part of their lives,¬†but a constant one. An occasional playmate, an after-meal¬†vacuum, a pillow — they’ll definitely miss her. I will too. I have had¬†to pause every time I come through the door today, knowing that Tori will not be greeting me. Will never greet me again. It is a sad fact for me, and one I am sorry my kids have to face at the ages of 3 and 5.

Still, there are some good things I’ve been able to point out. We will regain our backyard from the mucky dog poop field it had become. We can host the class guinea pig. We can go on mini vacations without worrying about who will take care of Tori. It doesn’t make up for losing her, but at least those thoughts can bring a momentary smile.

We will miss Tori, but life will go on. It is a hard lesson, but one that will probably be repeated many times as we raise our children.

Tori's last day with us