The Year in Crafting

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Honestly, 2016 wasn’t my best year for crafting. Or for reading. Or for blogging. Or for other leisure pursuits. *Sigh.* I did have a gangbuster year with my freelance business, so I’ll put that feather in my cap as I close out this year. If life was perfect, I would have worked a bit less and relaxed a bit more. I am aiming for this in 2017!

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I did have an epic craft storm for a few months this fall, which resulted in making several felt ornaments aligned with the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” I stuck with numbers one and two this year, stitching several pears, partridges, and turtle doves from August through November. Part of me would love to bust out the super-cute French Hen for my tree before Christmas decorating passes for another year. We shall see!

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These ornaments are from beautiful patterns designed by Larissa Holland. I am just a little bit obsessed with her aesthetic!

Finished: Christmas Napkins

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I’ve been a crafter for my entire life. In my adult years, I’ve enjoyed making handmade items around the holidays. However, in an effort to avoid half-finished projects in December, I always make it my goal to finish any crafting by Thanksgiving. That way I can turn my attention to all of the other holiday merry-making as we lead up to Santa’s arrival.

This year I want to have a beautifully set table for Christmas meals. I just bought a few items to serve as the table’s centerpiece, and I’ll use these newly made napkins for each table setting. Generally I am a low-fuss entertainer, but there’s something special about having a beautiful home around Christmas. Plus, I have piles of Christmas fabric sitting in my attic waiting for me to do something with them.

These were easy to put together. I got in my head that each napkin should have perfectly mitered corners but quickly gave up on that after taking a step back and asking myself who would notice. With just a few creases to iron and a little straight sewing, these came together in no time.

I am enlisting the kids to make some napkin rings to adorn these cute vintage-inspired Santa napkins. This is the same fabric on Carson’s Christmas stocking, and I am glad to feature it elsewhere in our decor because I adore the print.

 

Finished: Kid Hats

I’ve caught the yarn crafting bug again. This stress reliever has been good to get me away from the computer screen so I don’t obsess about my small business 24/7. It’s also been fun to make hats for free using my massive stash of Vanna’s Choice yarn.

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I crocheted basic beanie hats for my kids this week. Nora’s is a rainbow pattern and Carson’s is inspired by our favorite adolescent mutant turtles who are also trained ninjas.

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Both kids agreed to model these hats, but the weather has been in the 70s lately, so we’re not sporting winter accessories outdoors yet.

Finished: Felt Bird Ornaments

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I am truly thrilled to be closing out 2014 posting about crafts I completed this year. When I began writing here in 2008, my life was much different, and I had so much more time to create things. Though I would never want to go back to that childless, craft-centric life (I LOVE these kiddos!), I am a little jealous of my crafting production at that time. Especially my ability to make so many gifts for the holidays.

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For Christmas this year, I was determined to contribute one handmade ornament to each family household on my gift list (those of whom have Christmas trees!). I showcased my cinnamon ornaments a week ago, and here is my other 2014 production: the Snow Bird ornament by Larissa Holland (I love her blog, MmmCrafts). I created five of these and kept one for my own tree (the purple one, of course!).

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These little birdies sure take a lot of time, but their folk chicness is right up my alley. I used high-quality felt for these avian decorations, which I purchased from Etsy here. Each bird’s construction took about an hour, not including glue-drying time. I worked on them in October, giving myself plenty of time to finish a flock before the gift-giving season. I have learned as a crafter (one with little kids!) that if the project hasn’t been finished by Thanksgiving, it’s better to move on and gift it another time. I hate crafting with pressure. It’s the worst!

I would highly recommend making these as gifts for friends and loved ones. I hope those who received mine enjoy hanging them on their Christmas trees for years to come.

Finished: Cinnamon Stick Ornaments

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I had the pleasure of creating these cinnamon stick ornaments over Thanksgiving weekend when my parents were visiting and my mom, my daughter, and I took over the dining room table for some crafting. This project resulted from a Pinterest fail (trying to make stars out of the sticks), but since I had bought two pounds of cinnamon sticks and a pound of star anise, I figured out another way to use them.

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I love how these simple ornaments turned out. I just cut out a rectangle of Christmas-themed craft paper, hot glued cinnamon sticks to make a border, and adorned the frame with some star anise and other decorative elements. I made the scroll from watercolor paper hand stamped with a seasonally appropriate message (“Joy” and “peace” are my favorite holiday sentiments by far!). Given that I am partial to a rustic theme at the holidays, these fit well into that motif.

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These inexpensive ornaments make great gifts for neighbors, friends, and family and would be the perfect craft activity for a gathering of likeminded crafty people. My parents and the kids constructed ships, rafts, and other fun items out of the cinnamon sticks while we made these, so there are endless possibilities with this natural and nice-smelling craft material!

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I even made a wreath to hang above the kitchen with them and a circle cut from cardboard. I’ve enjoyed looking at it all season long.

Happy holidays!

Finished: NYC Coasters

It seems rather long ago when I used this blog as a vehicle to document my craft projects. How life has changed since the arrival of Nora in 2010! However, I’ve done some successful crafting as of late, so I’ll go back to my roots and blog a bit about it. 🙂

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I created three sets of four coasters of New York City scenes for family and friends who have recently moved apartments in the city. I’d been wanting to try my hand at more sets of these since I made some for my mom a few years ago and this was the perfect opportunity.

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To make these I used basic tile purchased at Lowes, old postcards that I’ve had for ages that featured famous paintings of New York, Modge Podge, cork for backing the coasters, tacky glue, and polyurethane to seal the tops of the coasters for hot and cold beverages. (When I made some for my mom I didn’t realize the Modge Podge didn’t seal and was a little disappointed how mugs of hot coffee left rings on her set–though once dried they went away.)

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The process of making them took several days but not long on any given day. I cut the postcards to size (it was fun to make sets out of my random postcards!) one day and Modge Podged them. The next day I cut cork to fit underneath the coasters and glued it to the back of each tile. On the final day I coated the top of each coaster with polyurethane to seal it. I was a little annoyed that the poly left a shiny finish (I love the matte look), but overall I was pleased with the finished product.

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A perfect housewarming gift for my tight-for-space New York peeps!

Nora’s Elsa Costume

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My sweet daughter wanted to be Elsa for Halloween (and requested that I dress up as Anna). To avoid the Disney juggernaut, I decided to try my hand at making her costume, which I did following this pattern (found via Pinterest). I sewed it in August and am pretty glad I decided to do it ahead of time because I would have given up on sewing the stretchy knit and chiffon had I been in a time crunch. My sewing machine ate the fabric constantly, and I ended up hand sewing the chiffon cape and silver rickrack to the costume. The rickrack saved my unsavory seams on the stretchy knit.

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Nonetheless, this Elsa-inspired dress looks adorable on my four-year-old, and we added a blue leotard for warmth and some fun handmade barrettes and a headband to complete the look. I would consider four to be an ultimate princess year for a kid at Halloween, and I am really pleased with how this look came together. Nora was adorable dancing with all of the other princesses (another Elsa included!) at a Halloween party on Saturday night. This age really can’t get much cuter!

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Oh, and as an added bonus, it is versatile enough for the playground!

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New House: Attic Guest Room

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After painting the walls of our attic playroom a deep blue last week, I finished the facelift of the third floor by painting our guest room a cheerful and vibrant sky blue. The color gives the room life and goes really well with the Amy Butler bedding and travel art from a 2003 calendar.

Operation make the attic more comfy and cozy complete! Now it’s time to host some guests!

Moving Along

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For school-aged kids in our area, yesterday marked the beginning of the school year. I loved scrolling through my Facebook page displaying the cute pictures of people’s kids–elementary, middle, and high schoolers included–wearing their new outfits and backpacks.

We’re still a week away from the preschool year beginning. My eager three-year-old is starting to over-anticipate school, making herself nervous. She’s waking up in the middle of the night because she’s worried about being in a new classroom. My two-year-old knows the name of his teacher (the same as his sister’s last year), and seems excited. I have a feeling the nervous and excited kids will flip-flop next week when school actually begins.

This week presents some change without having our new activities in place (all start next week). My hubby’s new schedule goes into effect, which will require some adjustment. I’ll be in charge of bedtime two nights a week and have an early morning to contend with, though I think it will go much easier than in the past now that the kids are better about sleeping in and sleeping independently. (That newborn year with Carson when this schedule first appeared was beyond brutal!) However, I’ll have more mornings with Steve around so I can fit in that onslaught of work.

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I am having a hard time accepting that it’s September. Our August sure zoomed by at rapid speed. We finished the crazy month (beach trips; a baseball game; hand, foot, and mouth; a wedding; a Jamberry party!) with a rehaul of our bedroom. After being saddled with large and awkward hand-me-down furniture ten years ago, Steve and I decided to pull the trigger on some new dressers, a bed, and a nightstand that worked better in our new bedroom. We decided on a sleek, midcentury look with a wedge finish, and purchased a platform bed as well. I sewed new curtains for the large window (I’ll finish the ones for the smaller window after my workload calms), and we are using our new comforter and rug purchased at Target this spring. I even have a jewelry storage area, which makes me happy! After so many years of making do, I feel like we’re sleeping in a hotel room!

Here’s to a happy and productive September!

 

New House: Front Door

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The kids and I love the song by Phillip Phillips called “Home.” (Seriously, even though he won “American Idol,” which I had no awareness of at the time, Phillips is as good as Ray LaMontagne and Jack Johnson, to name a few of my other favorite male singer-songwriters.) One of the best lines of the song is “I’m going to make this place your home.” And that’s what we continue to do at the new house. Our project this weekend? Painting the front door smurf blue (or smurf indigo, depending on how picky you want to be when dissecting the color).

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Now, this change is completely based on personal preference; the maroon door we inherited wasn’t that bad looking, but it was dull (I did make sure to remove the ancient and less-than-attractive screen door as soon as we moved in). When we were waiting to close on our house this winter, I’d drive through the new neighborhood and remark on how good the fronts of the houses looked. I wanted to do something bold with our house’s exterior, so painting the door was the perfect first project to tackle outdoors.

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I used a semigloss paint and primer in Batik from the Eddie Bauer collection (purchased at Lowes). I painted it with a small roller and angled brush, and the paint project took about two-and-a-half hours. Before painting, we used a deglosser to clean the door (no sanding required!).

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The finished result? The door is bold, but I’m happy with it. We’re color people, and I can’t wait to find a few more outdoor decor items to make the front of our house “ours.” Plus, it’ll be easy to tell people where we live–it’s the Tudor with the BRIGHT blue door!