Saturday, December 19, 2009

On a completely unrelated note

Have you ever gotten a tacky gift? I'm sure you have. A few years back my best friend and I decided to celebrate the joy of tacky gifts by creating a Tacky Gift Competition. Visit here to get more information on how the competition started and its rules.

My reason for telling you this today is that it's voting time. Both she and I have purchased our tacky items and I'd like your help to determine a winner. Take a gander at the tacky beauties below and then if you're so inclined, please head to the tacky treasure website to see even more photos and place your vote.

Which is tackier? Jesus of the Sea? or Googly Eyed Fisherman with crotch protruding pole?

You decide!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stamped Clothespins

I've got a lot of clothespins hanging around my house and I've also got a fair amount of rubber stamps. This weekend I put them both to use to create some fun stamped decorative clothespins.

Here's how I made them.

Rubber stamps or clear acrylic stamps
Wooden clothespins
ink pad or ink markers

I chose a variety of rubber stamps though you could easily do this with the new clear stamps as well. As you can see, even if your stamp is larger than your clothespin you can still make some pretty cool effects.

I found the easiest way to stamp the clothespin was to place the stamp rubber side up on my table and then apply the ink. I used these ink markers which are very convenient and allow me extra control over what section of my stamp gets inked. Of course a traditional ink pad would work as well.

Once you've inked your stamp in the color of your choice, simply press the paper clip down onto the stamp. I used fairly firm pressure and rocked it very slightly to make sure the design transferred to the wood.

And simple as that you've got your decorated clothespin.

I think the swirl one is my favorite.

They'd work great to clip a gift tag onto a present.

Or a gift bag.

Think how cute they would be holding closed a small bag of homemade holiday goodies! You can smack a magnet on the back and use them to clip notes on the refrigerator. Decorate lots of them and use them to clip your Christmas cards from friends and family onto a ribbon or string. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eat The Cookie Mother!

Another entry about food. I'm sensing a theme - but it is the holidays after all and this weekend my friends and I had our 2nd annual Baking Extravaganza. We got together and made tons and tons of goodies and then divided them up amongst ourselves to give as gifts for daycare providers, neighbors and co-workers.

Here are some of the spoils of the evening.

I focused on sugar cookies this year. I baked over 150 and my back and hands are still sore from icing them all.

The best treat of all though has got to be these chocolate mint brownie cookies. They're really good but one of the girls was quick to point out that with their lovely coat of powdered sugar they looked like the arsenic dusted cookies from the Flowers in the Attic movie. That movie freaked me out as a kid. Not so much the cruelty and death but that bathtub scene - ewww - it haunts me to this day. I'm all for family togetherness but I'm not letting my brother scrub my back in the tub okay.

Anyway, these cookies will forever be known as the "flowers in the attic cookies" within our little circle of friends.

This is for you girls:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Teeny Tiny Nanners

Okay, this post is absolutely non-craft related, but I had to share.

Look at these absolutely adorable teensie-tiny-eensie-weenie little bananas I found at the grocery store the other day.

I must admit, a little “Awww!” escaped me right there in the store when I saw them and I had to get them. They taste like regular bananas, perhaps just a tad bit sweeter. I’m not sure there is a huge demand for miniaturized fruit, but they’re cute and a great idea for school lunches since they fit in a lunch box/bag much better than a regular sized banana.

I’ve been obsessed with them for days and I started to wonder about some of their advantages over the typical larger banana. Here's what I came up with:
1. They create the perfect number of slices to top off your bowl of cereal or stack of pancakes. See that half of a banana in the background? There would be no leftovers with the mini banana to taint your fruit to cereal intake ratio!
2. They boost the egos of really tiny monkeys – now they can carry around a whole banana instead of half of one – even animals feel shame you know.

And last but certainly not least!

3. The little peels would be perfect in the circus acts of really tiny clowns.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clothing my inner 13 year old

Who's excited for New Moon? I am, I am!

T-shirt night was a success. I churned out two t-shirts because you can never have enough of Edward right? And my friend Carrie made a *gasp* Team Jacob shirt.

We used the freezer paper method which involved some setup time cutting out letters and shapes but I think the results are much better and more lasting than an iron on. Cheaper too actually. Those iron-on things are pricey and I'm really cheap. Give me some freezer paper and a $1.49 bottle of fabric paint and I'm good to go!

Here's the one with my Edward silhouette. In hindsight I should have done him in white as the shirt is a little too dark for him to really stand out. It still looks fab though! I'm thinking I'll put him on a pillowcase next - I'm sure my husband will appreciate that.

I found a full body silhouette of Edward online and put it on this comfy green shirt. It turned out really cool and this shirt won the job of being my official New Moon movie night shirt!

"I know you don't sleep Edward, but you must be weary. Please, feel free to rest your head on my bosom!"

Ah, so juvenile, and yet so fun!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Embracing my inner 13 year old

I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I’m a Twilighter. I know, it’s so incredibly juvenile, and trust me, I had no intention of ever becoming a Twilight fan. I went quite some time refusing to have anything to do with it. I mocked it, I turned my nose up at it and then I finally broke down and rented out the movie just to see what the fuss was about and . . . the acting was completely horrid and the storyline seemed less than stellar.

However, there was Robert Pattinson's incredibly square jaw to consider (I may have watched the rental more than once to study the beauty of that man’s face) and I figured there had to be more to the storyline that possibly just didn’t translate to the movie. So I borrowed the books from a friend and the rest is history.

So here I am, along with my other twenty and thirty-something friends anticipating the upcoming New Moon movie like a bunch of giddy schoolgirls. We decided we needed a physical marker of our obsession and what better thing than Twilight t-shirts!

Now, we might be pathetic grown women obsessing over fictional characters and actors who make the cover of Teen People, but we’re not so pathetic that we want to be seen in our nearest Hot Topic picking out generic Twilight shirts.

So since we’ve all got a crafty streak we’ve decided to make our own t-shirts. We’ve got big plans and since we’re not actually constructing them until next week I can’t show you the finished products. However, I wanted to share something I have planned for my shirt in case anyone else out there has a similar Edward fascination.

I give you the Edward silhouette.

Silhouette’s are big nowadays and I’ll admit that along with fictional vampires they are another one of my current obsessions. So I decided to do one of Edward (R. Patz).

I think it’s fitting since Edward is an immortal romantic type of guy and silhouettes invoke that old fashioned romantic feel. And I’m hoping it will be a cool sophisticated design for my T. I’ll show you the finished product next week and you can make your own judgment.

I created it by combing the web for some profile shots of Robert and tracing the outline of his chiseled features. I used this photo for his face and then had to find another one for the hair and meld them together, but I thought it came out pretty well.

I’m going to paint him on my T using the freezer paper method. I got to thinking that he’d be great on other things as well like on a pillowcase, or at the end of a simple scarf, or if you’re really obsessed you could frame him and put him on your wall, use him to make invitations to the Twilight party you throw when New Moon comes out on video – whatever! I just couldn’t keep him for myself.

So feel free to right click on the picture(s) above and save it to your files to do with as you will. All I ask is that if you use him that you share what you made. I’d love to see it! Shoot me an email ( or whatever.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Glitter Public Service Announcement

I’m always looking for fun easy craft stuff to do with my kids and since I work full time and have a lot of other stuff going on in my life, I’ve often found Martha Stewart’s little pre-packaged craft projects are just the thing.

So when I saw this glitter butterfly card kit the other day in the clearance bin I went for it. I mean I knew glitter was a slightly dangerous option with the age of my children but I felt I could keep it contained.
I think you all know how this story is going to end but indulge me anyway.

Right off the bat my two year old grabs the open glitter container and while I’m trying to show her how to gently shake it over her butterfly she resists my help and tries to jerk her hand out of mine, therein dousing her brother and half of the kitchen table in the finest most proliferate glitter imaginable. Do you see it - do you see how teeny tiny that stuff is?

The next few seconds were a sparkly blur in my mind but I may have lost my normal calm motherly demeanor for just a moment and possibly yelled at her because the next thing I know she’s sobbing and running off to her room while I’m dusting her brother off with a broom. So I’m shouting soothing statements that hopefully she can hear over the sound of her own sobbing while simultaneously trying to corral the glitter into a manageable pile.

However, this glitter is so super fine that when I try to slide if off the table and into the waiting dustpan it literally oozes into every minor wood grain of my table creating an uncanny gold leaf effect. It’s also on the floor of course and when I try to sweep it up it pools in the grout lines.

So I sweep up as much as I can, the youngest returns to the table and we proceed with the craft because why not. I mean at this point we’re already sparkling like overly sequined showgirls on the Vegas strip.

They each complete their butterfly and I send them directly to the tub. This is when I discover the trail of glitter that followed my 2 yr. old during her tantrum; a shining, sparkling trail throughout my entire house. It’s on the floor, the rug, the couches the walls. It’s like Tinkerbell spontaneously combusted in the middle of a stiff breeze.

So while the kids are in the tub I break out the Dyson and use every attachment that baby came with to eradicate the glitter on the various surfaces of my house. I got most of it but this is glitter we’re talking about here – the herpes of the crafting world. That’s what my friend always calls it, because once you get glitter you can’t get rid of it, and it pops up randomly for the rest of your life. And sure enough when I woke up the next morning after thoroughly showering and looked in the mirror, there was a tiny fleck of glitter under my right eye.

And that’s just the beginning. I see tiny sparkly flecks still in the carpet. I’m confident that glitter particles will be cropping up randomly until I die. I had to tell my husband that he’d been exposed, it was embarrassing and degrading.

So let this little story be a lesson to you folks. Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Don’t make yourself susceptible to the insidious infections disease that is – glitter. The only way to be 100% safe is through abstinence!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Little Big Time

Recently something very exciting happened concerning my little craft shop. I didn’t write about it as it unfolded, mostly because I was afraid I was really going to screw it up and I didn’t want to build it up on here only to be embarrassed about how bad I sucked.

However, now that it has come and gone and I didn’t make a complete fool of myself, I can share it with you. It started with an e-mail from a local TV producer. She had recently joined Etsy and was impressed with the site and the stuff on it. She did a Shop Local search and out of all the fabulously talented crafters in my city, she chose me to approach about doing a spot on their Saturday morning newscast.

I was completely flattered and completely nervous but I went for it and I appeared on the local morning news on Oct. 24 for approximately 3 minutes. If I could add up the amount of time I spent preparing, stressing, shopping and blubbering about that 3 minutes it would be an astronomical number.

In the end I ended up with a new outfit, a little more self confidence, a mother who enjoys asking people if they saw her daughter on TV and a tiny amount of free local marketing. I’d say it was a win-win situation.

Their focus was on Etsy as a way to earn extra money. I was able to bring some items to showcase and I was told they would put my web address up at the end but they just showed the generic Etsy address which was a disappointment, but I’m not complaining.

Here’s the interview if anyone is interested. I recorded this from my DVR last night and quite frankly it took this long to build up the nerve to watch it. I don’t think anybody enjoys watching themselves on TV and especially someone like me who avoids any reflective surface as a general rule. However, at some point you’ve got to embrace yourself as you are.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall busy body - and a giveaway

I always seem to be more productive in the fall. I don't know if it's the invigorating chilly winds or the fact that we're forced inside more often, but I'm taking advantage and churning out some new items for the shop.
I recently listed some scarves in the shop. A special thanks to my friend Jessica for being my model. She's really much cuter than any woman has a right to be.

Also I find that I'm overrun with these recycled envelopes. I make them out of the pages of the kids' Highlights magazines. The artwork is really colorful and fun and it just breaks my heart to chuck their old magazines into the recycle bin when they start piling up around the house.

So I started out making them just for my own use but when my stack reached the 10 inch mark I figured it might be time to try and spread them around a bit. I've put some up for sale and I'd like to give some away.

Smack an address label on them and you can send them via snail mail. They're also great to house handmade cards, or to hold a special note.

This set of 6 is up for the taking. Just leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a random winner on Sat. Oct. 24th. Make sure your comment includes a way for me to contact you in case you're the lucky winner.

And stay tuned. I should have even more new stuff listed hopefully by the end of this week, and some other exciting news to share.
UPDATE 10/25/09: The winner of the envelope giveaway is Iiona! Thanks!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Black Spray Paint Halloween

Things are going a little more smoothly around my place lately. My cold is gone, the laptop is back and functional (with no lost data!) and things are running so smoothly that the kids and I found some time to do some Halloween decorating.

So I whipped out the black spray paint and we went to town.

I sprayed a styrofoam egg carton black and then we cut it up and used it for the bodies of some pretty cute/scary spiders. These were lots of fun. The kids decorated them with a little paint of their own, and we added the pipe cleaner legs and of course the googly eyes. We had a lot of fun with the eyes. I think my favorite is the cyclops spider. I threaded some string through the top and we hung them around the house.

Then we located a sufficiently spooky branch from the backyard, painted it black, draped it with fake spiderwebs and stuck a couple black crows from the dollar store on it.

Granted, it might be a little spookier without the speakers behind it, but let's face it, life without surround sound would be even scarier - or at least my husband would think so.

So we were all set for Halloween and then . . . it snowed.

Thankfully it only stayed around for a couple hours.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I've had better weeks

So I'm not one to complain, okay actually I am one to complain. It ranks about number 3 on my list of "Favorite Things To Do In My Spare Time", right after 1. crafting and 2. cussing. Seriously, there are few things more gratifying than being able to utter a tirade of profanity and since I can usually cuss while complaining (at least when the kids are not around) it's like a two for one special! The best thing is child free craft nights with the gals because then I can do all three, craft-cuss-complain, at the same time, and that . . . well, that is when all is right with the world.

I'm glad I got that out in the open. I mean I try to keep things professional on here since I'm promoting my craft business and all, but I'm not one to deceive my followers and customers. I'm a complainer and a cusser and darn proud of it. (see how I didn't cuss there - I'm still professional, sort of)

Now that you're aware - let me commence the complaining. First there was the cold. It started as they all do, with just a slight soreness of the throat and BAM, next thing you know I'm pouring salt water in my nostrils with a device that looks like the little teapot from hell.
I'm not kidding people. My friend swears by this Nettie pot thing that you fill with salt water and pour through one nostril and the water comes out the other nostril (I'm not going to include a picture of it in action in case anyone is eating or has recently eaten before reading this post - google it if you're interested) and I was so desperate for the use of my nasal passages that I gave it a try and let me just say that I'm still waking up with nightmares of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, holding me down and pouring salty tea up my nose.

I couldn't get my head at the right angle or something and instead of the water flowing freely into one nasal passage and out the other, it proceeded directly down my throat. So not only was I still unable to breath through my nose, but I was also literally drowning myself.

Then the next week my laptop up and dies. Yep, just completely dies. No warning, no gasping of breath, no hardrive palpitations - I didn't even have the opportunity to give it a Bayer or perform keyboard compressions. It's still at the repair place and we've yet to receive the diagnostic report on what's wrong with it.

The worst part is that I'm terrible at backing up my files. There are three months worth of photos that have not been backed up on disc on that computer. All of my image files for my Halloween tags and Retro gift tags are on there. I'm literally having a nervous breakdown about whether or not they'll be salvageable from the carcass of that laptop.
I haven't seen Ewan McGregor in a kilt for a week and a half people! (he was my desktop wallpaper - imagine this picture below tiled across the screen! Ten kilted Ewan's giving me that look - and now I'm working on the ancient dinosaur PC with a Bob the Builder wallpaper staring back at me - sigh)

And things have not been getting better, they've been getting worse. Today I merrily went to the post office to ship off an item that I had sold and was lambasted with a shipping price almost triple of what I had expected. It cost me as much to ship the item as I had earned in selling it.

Normally I estimate my shipping expenses by researching similar items on Etsy from other sellers. Not only does this give me a good idea of what actual shipping costs will be, but it also keeps me competitive with other sellers. Unfortunately in this instance it didn't work. According to my not so friendly postal worker, my item was too heavy for first class shipping and therefore was bumped into a higher price range.

I didn't weigh the item ahead of time so I can't say for sure what it weighed but it certainly didn't seem very heavy to me. It was a book, a vintage baby book/album and I shipped it in a 10 x 14 padded envelope. I've purchased books online, much heavier books than this one and I've never had to pay that much for shipping. One of my friends belongs to a book sharing club and ships books quite often and has never paid more than $3 to ship a book. This one cost me almost $8 to send off.

So what am I doing wrong? Did I not notice that the postal employee placed her 2 quart slurpee on the scale along with my package? Does everyone else who is shipping items like these for $3 have some sort of a trick that I'm unaware of?

I'll be the first to admit my ignorance of postal rates and regulations. After all I've got precious little spare time and what I do have is obviously spent crafting, cussing and complaining. I haven't made researching postal rates a high priority, though after today it has moved up on my list.

I was hoping though that some of you might have some suggestions/tips/tricks for me. What are your shipping strategies? Flat rate boxes and envelopes? Shipping in bulk? Excess cleavage? If you sell things online how do you calculate your shipping costs?

Help me out here people.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm still alive!

It's been a while since I last posted and no, I haven't been incarcerated for moss thievery, but that's only because I have yet to be caught!

Things have just been a little crazy around here due to the start of the school year and the soccer season and all. My son has been in kindergarten for only 2 weeks and has already infected me with a horrendous cold so I'm battling that as well.
However, there has been some crafting. I scrounged through my scrap paper and whipped out some new clothespin magnets that I've listed in the shop.

I've also renewed some of my Halloween items since the holiday is fast approaching.

I've got some more projects in the works and as soon as I gain the use of both my nasal passages, I might actually make some progress.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moss Addiction

Hello, my name is Amy, and I'm addicted to moss.

It started out so innocently. I saw some cute terrariums on Etsy and I thought 'Hey, I can make something like that." and I did and it was wonderful and then . . . well, I couldn't stop. I made another terrarium for my mother, but that was a gift - there's nothing wrong with that right?

Except I kept thinking about the moss. There was more in my yard that I could use. It was so green, so lush, so soft. And then it wasn't just the moss in my yard, I started noticing moss everywhere; in a planter outside my workplace, under a tree at the park and next thing you know, there I am at the local wading pool trying to nonchalantly dig up a chunk of moss with a plastic spoon I found in the bottom of my diaper bag while the other mothers are giving me odd looks and steering their children away from me, "No, no dear let's give the lady with the um, spoon, plenty of room. Let's walk around the other side of the pool instead."
I can't even look at everyday objects anymore without envisioning them filled with moss. I find myself at garage sales, elbow deep in dust encrusted knicknacks mumbling: "would this look good with moss in it?"

But you know admitting you have a problem is the first step toward conquering it right? Right?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Flat bottom zippered pouch tutorial

I'm all about upcycling lately – that’s the fresh new term for re-purposing something into something else, right? I hope that’s the case or else I’ll just come off like some pathetic out of touch mom who says things like “dealio” and “foshizzle” to try and sound cool.

Anyway, I recently stumbled across this old casserole cozy that my friend had at her garage sale. I just loved the funky fabric and I couldn’t bear for it be donated or thrown out so I nabbed it with the intent of upcycling it into something fabulous.

And here is the something fabulous.
At least I think they’re pretty cute. They’re in my Etsy shop if anyone finds them irresistible, but I also thought that I could share how I made them in case anyone wanted to whip out something similar for themselves.

Fabric: The amount depends on the size of pouch you want. You’ll need two pieces of your outer fabric and two pieces for the lining

Interfacing: I used a lightweight fusible interfacing. You’ll want something light so your bag isn’t too stiff. Fusible is easier to work with but not necessary.

Zipper: any kind, just make sure the length is slightly longer than the size of your pouch. I used a 7 inch polyester zipper

Basic sewing supplies: thread, scissors, sewing machine, iron etc.

Step 1: Cut your fabric and interfacing
I was limited in size by the amount of fabric I had, but you can make your pouch as small or as large as you want. I cut 2 pieces of 5 1/2” by 6” fabric for the exterior and 2 pieces of the same size for the lining.

Cut two pieces of your interfacing in the same dimensions. Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of your outer fabric (if you do not use fusible interfacing, do this by sewing it on with a scant seam).

Step 2: sew fabric onto the zipper.
Place the lining right side up on your table and lay the zipper on top of it, aligning the edges.
Then place your outer fabric (with interfacing attached) right side down, on top of the zipper, aligning the edges.
Using a zipper foot sew all layers together. You’ll want your seam to be approximately ¼” from the teeth of the zipper.

Once you’re done sewing, fold the layers back from the zipper and press with an iron for a nice clean edge. Then return to the sewing machine and make a nice top stitch.
Repeat for the other side.

Step 3: where it gets tricky, but not really

Now we’re going to trap all those nasty little raw edges so that they won’t show on either the exterior or interior of our bag.

Pull the zipper pull to the middle, we don’t want to exclude it from our bag, and fold your fabric so that the right sides of the exterior fabric are together, and the right sides of the lining fabric are together. Line up the top edges. The the zipper should be toward the lining fabric.
Note: If you want to add a wrist strap, as I did to one of my pouches, now would be the time to sandwich it in between your two exterior fabrics.

I prefer to start sewing at the zipper (just to make sure everything is aligned) then sew down the side of the exterior fabric, across the bottom, up the other side, across the zipper and onto the lining.
Sew the lining pieces together but be sure to leave an ample sized opening at the bottom to turn the pouch later on. See below, the area between the pins is open. Here’s what it should look like when you’re done sewing. Clip the ends of your zipper off as close to the seam as possible.

Now at this point you could turn the bag right side out, seam up the opening and have yourself a lovely little pouch our coin purse, but I wanted mine to sit up instead of lay flat and to do that we have another step.
Step 4: Making your pouch sit up and behave
Using a ruler, or just by eyeballing it, mark and cut out a square of fabric in each corner of your lining and exterior fabric. I did a one inch square for mine but if your bag is larger/smaller you should make your cutout larger or smaller respectively.

Pull the two pieces of fabric apart and align the seams of the side and bottom. Sew along the cut edge. Repeat until all corners have been sewn.

Turn the lining down over the rest of the pouch and close up the opening either by machine or by hand.

Now turn the bag right side out, Push out your corners so they’re nice and crisp and you’re done!
I hope you found this helpful. Shoot me an email with any questions.