Thursday, December 24, 2009

may it be bright

(Note: This design is now the Snow Bird PDF pattern, available for instant download in my shop.)

Four posts in four days. Nice way to wrap up 2009. This bird ornament has been a WIP since last Christmas. I finally put on the finishing touches a few days ago.

May your bright holiday be filled with the love of Christ, of family, and some really fattening snacks. A very merry Christmas to all, and a happy, happy new year. Thank you so much for supporting my often angst-ridden ramblings and craftings. I'll see you all in 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

holiday makings

We are doing 'handmade only' gifts for Christmas in my family. So as part of the gift I made this super easy chocolate nut bark from my December issue of Real Simple, and also chocolate dipped candied orange peels. Real Simple's nut bark looks a lot prettier with the addition of pistachios, but I've learned from experience that if you have pistachios boxed with any other kind of nut, it all takes on the taste and smell of pistachios.

I used this version of the orange peel recipe from Use Real Butter. Unlike all the other recipes I looked at, this one says use the whole peel, which was so much easier. I was concerned with the bitterness of the pith, but it actually turned out fine. I cheated and used the Clementines I had on hand in abundance instead of regular thick-skinned oranges. They were so easy to peel that I didn't have to juice the oranges. We ate them instead. I used Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt to dip them in. Sounds gross, but is really good. I've always loved salty with sweet.

The girls had so much fun crafting with their Nana too (Michael's sweet mom). They made this gingerbread house together and also these adorable yarn snowmen.

And some pipe cleaner fun with my girls from Martha Stewart. I remember the instant love I had for these when I saw them in the December 2000 issue of Living. I ended up making a whole parade of pipe cleaner ornaments and decorations for all my family members that Christmas. The snowboarder ornament is for my brother-in-law, who I'm fairly certain does not read craft blogs, in honor of his trip to Breckenridge in January with my sister-in-law. The snowboarder is a variation of the Santa-On-Skis figure.

Three posts in three days! Another post tomorrow and that will cap off mmmcrafts 2009.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Wow, two posts in two days for me. Cah-raaaazy. Happy Birthday, Jamie! You sweetie.

We were in a paper snowflake mood here after watching Elf. During the movie, I find myself getting really distracted from the antics by the profusion of snowflakes and paper chains Buddy festoons everywhere he goes.

So we made a bunch and taped them up everywhere in honor of the first day of winter. You can make some too with these great templates at Yarn Owl (via How About Orange). Print them at whatever size you like. All you do is fold on the dotted lines and cut out the black areas, and poof, a beautiful snowflake.

I found myself wanting to experiment with other shapes, so I also created this blank template (click here to download). With the hexagonal shape it is pretty easy to make an impressive snowflake with even very simple cutouts. Like this:

1) cut out the hexagon

2) fold in half

3) fold in half again

4) fold twice more on the dotted lines until you have this wedge

5) if you like, draw your shapes in pencil before you cut. Or just wing it.

6) cut out your shapes

7) unfold. poof! pretty snowflake.

The hardest part for kids is cutting through the thickness of the paper after it is folded. Little hands may need some help cutting. After a while, my girls also enjoyed just letting me do the cutting, then unfolding the snowflakes to reveal their shapes. That's the really fun part after all.

It occurred to me that this could also make a nice last-minute handmade gift for someone on your list. Neatly cut out a particularly spectacular snowflake, iron it flat, then mount it inside a nice frame with some pretty paper or fabric as the background. And there you go. Christmas decor.

Or, snowflake cards! Ooh. Or snowflake embellished stockings! Ooh! Or snowflake appliques on dresses! I could go on and on.

Monday, December 21, 2009

christmas skirts

I had high hopes of making two pretty Christmas dresses for my girls. I had these patterns, and I was envisioning the A-line bell sleeved Butterick dress in a creme fabric with a sparse toile-ish print in black and black velvet ribbons for trim.

Well this vision went the way of a lot of my craft delusions. When the rubber hit the road, there just was no time. So I opted for skirts instead. Quick, I thought. Easy, I thought. Then my brain disengaged.

I decided it would be great to copy a tiered skirt that Thing 1 has in denim that I absolutely love. I think it is from the Gap. So I measured the skirt's tiers and added all my seam allowances and went to work.

Honestly, I think the delusional Butterick dresses would have been easier and less time-consuming. I didn't hand gather (I used the ol' crank up the tension trick), but it still took an age to put them together. Oy. But I'm mostly pleased. I might have been happier if I had chosen to do them in solids. I didn't want them to be super Christmasy. But, I had these two pretty red prints already on hand, so I decided to Use My Stash.

In between each tier is a band of brown corduroy. This is another thing that took a long stinkin' time to do. Much easier and faster to have used narrow velvet ribbon, but I couldn't find any at the store and I was very married to the idea of narrow, brown and fuzzy. So the craziness just compounded with me making miles of my own brown corduroy trim.

Then my sewing machine quit working as I was putting the last stitches into Thing 2's skirt. I think it overheated or something. I'd been cranking the tension up and down and sewing 90 miles an hour in a manic attempt to meet my deadline and it just started acting really crazy, getting these big snarls of thread all wound in the bobbin. So the rest of the skirt had to be hand sewn.

All's well that ends well. And they went so well with Santa's outfit!

Friday, December 18, 2009

birthday math:

dropping off the kids at Nana and Papa's


road trip with my schmoopie (he drives, I craft and read)


spicy pork, grilled prawns, white chocolate bread pudding, birthday flan and flamenco dancing here


nice digs


pumpkin pancakes


strolling around at two outlet malls at christmas shopping time (the man must love me)


taking a picture of me standing under a randomly found Larissa St. sign like a big doofus


dining on poke, shutome, butterfish and chocolate souffle at our favorite place in the whole wide world that is, sadly, no longer in Atlanta (boo)


receiving a beautiful watch to replace the faithful one I've had since college


attending the 9pm show



Thank you, schmoopie, for a wonderful wonderful weekend of birthday fun. I love you. Hey, I just realized I'm only two years away from being the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything. That's not all bad.

Monday, December 14, 2009

felt and floss

Ahhhhh...received my fresh infusion of lovely wool-blend felt from Prairie Point Junction. They have a wide color range and great customer service. They offer their felt in these 12 in. x 18 in. pieces for $1.65 a sheet! And no, this is not a paid endorsement. Ha. I wish.

I really wish I could show you some felt stuff I've been making. I'll have to wait until after the gift giving is done.

And I finally got around to doing something I've always meant to do. Winding all my embroidery floss onto these little cardboard bobbins. Man. It only took forever. Oh, the snarls and the knots and the compressing of lips and rolling of eyes to the ceiling and the wishing fervently I was on the last stinkin' skein. Glad that's over. Now I need a little plastic bin to keep them all organized by color instead of the gallon plastic baggie I am currently using.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

missing you

This is the only photography going on around here lately.

Hey, everybody!

Well, I miss this blog. I have been crafting a little. Cautiously. However, as usual at this homemade holiday time of year, I can't share any of it because it would spoil the surprise. I have a mental list of a thousand things I'd like to be making and can't. I had some tutorials in mind for you guys and I just can't. I just have to let it go.

*whooshing sound of crazy craft delusions rising out of head*

Physical therapy is helping, thanks to the good Lord!

Besides my decrepit body issues, also contributing to blog silence is the usual (and fun) Christmas hurly burly whirl of activities and engagements. Not to mention my birthday coming up. Which I've always felt is highly inconvenient. (Why oh why couldn't I have been a June baby?)

This birthday is a BIG ONE. That starts with a four. Gah! And I've just found out that my dear, sweet schmoopie is whisking me away for a surprise birthday long weekend to goodness-knows-where. (Huge thanks to his wonderful parents who will be hosting our girls.) So I'll update you later on the mystery birthday excursion.

Cutest 6 Mos Old in the World, taken by Thing 1.

As if that wasn't enough, my BFF came to visit me this past weekend! And she brought with her the cutest, best, smiliest 6-mos old baby in the whole wide world. No joke, people. I got out of the car to meet them at the airport pickup and there he was, the crazy-haired blond angel baby, absolutely beaming love-rays at me. Oh! Be still my heart.

Robyn and I had the best time together, ate delicious girl food and did some super terrific fun stuff. I still can't believe I was dumb enough to take her to Lenox mall on the day of the SEC championship. But it was still fun. She also graciously offered to reveal the mysteries of crochet to me, but alas, time did not allow. R, next time I WILL learn to crochet! Thank you for my delicious birthday dinner! Miss you!

I hope you all are having a peaceful, fun-filled Christmas season too. See you soon.