Sunday, January 31, 2010

Art and Music - A Little Video

I have no idea who sings this or does the artwork, but I love it. Just felt like sharing.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cute Valentine's Day Printable for Kids

Little Miss loves to color and ever since she discovered the joy of taping up her colorings on the wall, she is even more excited to do more and more (and more and more . . .)

I thought I'd share the latest:

You can find the (uncolored) picture here.  It was one of the winners of the Cool Mom Picks Valentine's Day Contest.  T'would make a lovely valentine from a little person to their someone special.

P.S.  All of the winning designs are available as a printable PDF file through EtsyStore.  100% of the proceeds of the cards will be donated to the Children's Heart Foundation, which helps children impacted by congenital heart defects, the number one birth defect in the USA.  And for only $3.99 even Little Miss can afford to send out hand-colored Valentines to all of the special people in her life.  Can't beat that!

P.P.S. OK, I'm buying. I wouldn't make Little Miss pay for her own Valentines. What kind of mom of a 2 year old does that? :)


Friday, January 29, 2010

Pattern Goodies

So, remember the Magpie Patterns/Progressive Pioneer giveaway I won awhile back?  I got the goods the other day.  And yes, I really felt like a winner.  I may or may not have jumped up and down with the overstuffed envelope when Mr. Skooks handed it to me.

And since you're simply DYING to know what I picked out of the vast wealth of adorable patterns available, I'll let you in so you can drown in jealousy celebrate with me.

No surprise on this first one.  As I alluded to when I assumed I wasn't going to win, I went ahead and got this:

I have yet to get her first book, but this one I have been wanting to read since it came out, and I'm glad I went with it.

Next up, something for Kee-ku.  Mr. Skooks has a hat kind of like this one that he wears often, which is what initially drew me to the pattern in the first place.  That, and there is a lack of cute boy stuff out there in the pattern world.  At least from my limited looking around point of view.  Kee-ku is not quite 6 months yet so it's not like I've been scouring the offerings for years with no luck:

This next one I also got with Kee-ku in mind, but it can easily be used for baby gifts for all the little kiddos I know:

I was quite drawn to a lot of the embroidery patterns, but settled on this one.  You see, my sister is a librarian (and she really WORKS it as a librarian).  In the future, it might be fun to work something up for her with this somewhere in there.  For those of you that don't click through these links I throw in, I'll just tell you.  The title of this pattern is "Sexy Librarians."  Hoo-wa.:

 And finally though I was sad that they didn't have Meg's new Sew Liberated book that I still do NOT seem to have, I did have a chance to get one of her latest patterns.  This was my pick.  And yes, I'm scared of constructing clothes, but I wanted to try it because I think it's just darling:

So, what d'ya think?  I done good, right?

What projects are you working on?  Links, please.  :)


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Quilts for Kids Challenge

I am so excited!  My quilt pack arrived yesterday from Quilts for Kids, and I can't wait to get started. Have you signed up to receive one yet?

(New to Skooks' Playground and missed what this is about?  I blogged about it previously here.)  All you need to supply is the batting, thread, and your time!  Even the quilting pattern and instructions are included.  And they cut the pieces for you!  Is that not half the battle?

Check out the cute fabrics I got:

It might be hard to tell from my very un-professional photography, but that green *sparkles*.  :)

Join in on the fun!

Help out kids!

You know you want to.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I always wondered, but never knew . . .

Here's a little visual of how a sewing machine works. Something I just take for granted when I sit down and let Connie (my Singer Quantum Confidence 7470 for those of you not yet familiarized with her) do her thang.  Just felt like sharing.  Because I spend way too much time looking at randomness on the ole inter-web.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Let's Be Friends, Shall We?

I feel like I missed out on a lot on January 14th.  You see, it was National Delurker Day and I completely missed it.  I don't even think I was online that day checking out blogs.  Checking back, I can see I certainly didn't make a post that day.

For those of you who are not bloggers (or who are new-ish to it like me), you might not know that this was apparently the designated day in Blog-land where those of us who read blogs but never comment (and those of us who read religiously via Google Reader, Bloglines, etc but never acknowledge to the writers of our precious blogs that we actually follow them like we know them in real life - ahem), come out from behind our veil of stalkerdom shyness and show a little love.

And I missed it.

In an effort to better connect, I have been trying to remember that most bloggers don't blog just to hear themselves talk (or watch themselves type - or something) . . . and thus-ly, I have started being much better about leaving comments, acknowledging that I'm a follower, and I've even posted a small blogroll of my favorites over on my sidebar.  (Seriously, there are some cool bloggers out there!)

I'm also, as it strikes my fancy, joining in on some blog-hops.  Today I'm hooking up with ae filkins.  Want to join in?  The details and McLinky can be found here.

And now a little meme so you can get to know me better:

Outside my window... a lot of the snow has melted, which is revealing a bit of green (kind of a brown-green, but still) and a whole lot of dirty sludge.  It's gray out and yet somehow looks deceptively warmer than it actually is.

I am thinking.... about work.  And how I should be doing some right now.

I am thankful... for so many things.  But mostly for my children and my husband.  They light up my life like no one else but Jesus can.

I am praying... for those in Haiti.  Aren't we all?  So much devastation to so many people.  It's to the point where I can only pray in those groans only the Spirit understands.  I have no words.

I am reading... For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Shaeffer Macauley.  I also just borrowed Why We're Not Emergent (by Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck from a friend.  Haven't had a chance to start it yet.

I am creating... recycled t-shirt dresses!  I just finished my first 2 this weekend.  :)

From the kitchen... not much at the moment.  But at least I cleaned out the dishwasher this morning so the dirty dishes have somewhere to be other than my counter.

Around the house... it's still just a bit chaotic from the weekend.  Lots of laundry to fold and put away.  At least I was able to clean all the sewing stuff up so we can use the dining room table again.
One of my favorite things... sewing!  Seriously, I'm just a tad bit addicted.  As you can tell probably by the content of this whole blog.  :P

A few plans for the rest of the week... buying a new carseat for Little Miss since Kee-ku is ready to transition out of his infant carrier and into her seat, giving my friend a call to hang out when she gets back from Mexico, and date night with my hot husband.  :)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Made: Recycled T-Shirt Halter Dresses

Determined to put both some new patterns and my new serger to work, I wrecked myself on sleep this weekend.  As in, I was having such a good time sewing that I managed to stay up until almost 6 am on Saturday morning.  And would you look at that, it's 4:15 in the morning now on Sunday.  Yes, I'm a mom of young children and no longer a college student.  I'm gonna be a mess tomorrow today. 

Ah, but it was so much fun!

I had been playing around with my new scissors and cut apart 5 t-shirts a few weekends ago.  As you may recall, my effort at making them into something new didn't really pan out at that time.  But armed with my new serger (and a free weekend), I put myself to the test.  I had purchased a Recycled T-Shirt Halter Dress Pattern from lilblueboo and was thrilled that I finally had a worthy reason to dip into my giant T stash.

Sidebar: In high school, college, and through most of my 20s I was a major hoarder collector of Ts.  All kinds of em.  I know a lot of people out there do this so it's kind of lame to say it was my thing.  Except it kinda was my thing.  My hands down best find was in a Goodwill back in college: a navy blue tee with neon green writing of the W.C. Fields quote, "Never cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, and never wise up a chump."  Such a completely random thing.  Don't know who would've owned the shirt previous or where the world they would have gotten it in the first place, but I was glad to find it.  To be honest, I didn't even realize it was a W.C. Fields thing until I was watching the old movie it's from with my dad a few years ago and recognized the quote.  End of Sidebar.

Anyway, I completely took over the entirety of the downstairs.  Our dining room table became (as Mr. Skooks dubbed it) my sewing factory.  What he actually said was, "You used to just sew.  Now you've got a whole sewing factory set up downstairs.  It's kind of taking over."  He was absolutely correct.  Here's a small peek:

Pretty much it was a huge mess awesome.

I was able to complete 2 dresses throughout the course of the day.  I had to take plenty of breaks what with nursing time with Kee-ku and playtime with Little Miss, but on the whole, these didn't take very long.  My second one took about 3 hours, and I wasn't trying to speed through it.  I bet I could cut the time down the more I do them.  The pattern was really clear and very easy!  I do not sew clothes, and this was a breeze.  Being able to serge the seams together was just the icing on the cake.

Here's my first attempt (I used 2 shirts that I had no real attachment to.  FYI, normally I'm not a fan of children's clothing that advertises companies or characters.  I figured I'd be ok with it if this turned out to be a colossal failure):

And this one I made after Little Miss tried on the first one and immediately proclaimed, "You're a very good dress-maker-girl!  Can you make me one in green now?"  Ah, youthful enthusiasm.

I made a few mistakes on each (nothing major, but things I would watch out for next time) and just stuck to the straightforward pattern without adding my own embellishments (other than adding the pockets which is a variation written into the pattern).  You've got to crawl before you can walk, right?

When lilblueboo was running her fundraiser for Three Angels Haiti earlier this week, I bought 3 more of her patterns.  This one worked up so easy, I can't wait to give the others a try too!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Quilts for Kids - You can help!

Do you quilt?  Do you want to try?  Or do you just have fabric taking up precious real estate in your craft closet that you know you won't use?  Consider donating your time and effort and/or some fabric to Quilts for Kids.    It doesn't cost anything to get your quilt kit and your donation will impact children all over the world.

I have experienced firsthand the joy a quilt can bring to a family in the hospital.  One of my best friends from college recently had a baby who was born 3 weeks premature.  (He is home now and doing well!)  Her tiny son was given a handmade quilt that had been donated to the hospital during his week-long stay in the NICU.  It has been treasured by my friend and her family.

There are lots of organizations who do this, this is only one.  If you have the time and ability, do consider making a quilt for donation.  You can find all the details here.  (Just click on "Volunteer".)

Not a quilter?  You can still donate to the cause here.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Contests: Do I have the Time or the Chance?

One thing that continually bothers me the more I get into sewing is my sheer lack of time.  I have 2 kids under the age of 3 who keep me *very* busy.  I also work from home.  As it stands, my whole dining room table is overflowing with craft supplies and patterns.  There is also a beautiful new SERGER sitting amongst the piles just BEGGING me to come play.  But where is the time?

Yes, yes, YES.  I got myself a serger (the Brother 1034D) with my Christmas money.  It arrived at my doorstep on Friday, just hours before I was set to take off for the weekend.  One of my sisters lives on the east coast and was taking a trip to visit our parents, so our clan drove down to Chicago for the festivities.  It was a fantastic weekend!  Lots of laughter, some good game-playing (ever heard of Words of Wiz-Dumb?  With the right people, this is a HILARIOUS game), and my sister got to get some kiddo time in with my 2 nieces, Little Miss, and Kee-ku.  I am so glad we went and would not trade our time together for anything.

With that being said, the weekends are usually my only opportunities to get my craft on.  Oftentimes whatever work I can't get to while Mr. Skooks is at work (and I'm home alone with the kids), gets done late at night after we have had dinner and spent some time together in the evenings as a family.  These are the choices that I make.  And I'm not lamenting family time.  I'm not even lamenting work.  In this economy, I truly know daily how blessed I am to even have a job, let alone one that allows me to be with my kids all day.  But something has to get pushed to the back-burner, and in my case my sewing exploits get the shaft.

With all this in mind, I have decided to set myself some goals.  Because I so very much want to do more and learn more and, for the love, I want to play with my new serger!  So I am proposing this to myself:  I'd like to enter a few contests.  For fun.  With the understanding that this is something that I am doing for myself.  I think they will motivate me to try new things and will put me under a little bit of pressure to actually get some projects done.  At the moment I have 4 or 5 projects going, and between all the blogs I read and books and magazines on sewing I have acquired in the last few months, I have PLENTY of ideas.  No lack of inspiration here.

Maybe you'd like to push yourself a bit too?  Check into these contests I am (planning on) entering.  I am not assuming I will win nor am I even necessarily trying to win.  I just want to participate and hook up with others to see what directions they decide to take with their crafts.  Keep in mind I have done nothing towards actually making anything to enter yet, so I need a couple "you-can-do-it"s from y'all to get me going.  ;)

Any others I ought to know about?  Let me in.  With these I've got until the middle of February.  A few weeks yet.  The weekend is around the corner.  Better get crackin'.

P.S.  If you decide to enter the Lil Blue Boo contest you need to buy at least one of her patterns to get going.  I suggest jumping on it today!  All of her pattern sales for today (yes, 100% of the profits) are being donated to Three Angels Haiti.


Monday, January 18, 2010

What can we do to help Haiti?

Two of my dearest friends in the world live in the capital city of the Dominican Republic.  For those of you that are geographically-challenged (as I can be at times), this puts them roughly 8 hours distance from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  At this point, I'm sure I don't need to go into great depth about the absolute devastation that area of the world is going through right now.

I spent some time with my family this evening watching 60 Minutes.  The disturbing images of bodies being piled into (and by use of) trucks to be transported for burial in mass graves and the sad reports on the lack of much needed supplies from those on the front lines of the relief effort were (for lack of any kind of word to adequately describe such things) gut-wrenching.  What can be done?  As I sit in my home taking care of my babies and concerning myself with the day-to-day doldrums that I so often take for granted, so many people are suffering.  It can be so easy for those of us that live in other parts of the world. to feel removed from the tragedies of those that live far away.  And even when we want to get involved, it's hard to always know what to do.

I received an email from one of those dear friends who is living in the D.R. this weekend about a blogger who is willing to donate $10 of her own money for every person who blogs about what they have done personally to help with the relief effort in Haiti.  And for those that are doing something but do not have a blog, they can simply leave a comment telling what they have done and a donation of $.30 for each of those comments will be made.  AND OTHER BLOGGERS LINKED UP ARE DOING THE SAME.  It's amazing what can happen when we band together!

The devastation in Haiti has been on so many of our hearts and minds lately.  What these bloggers are doing really moved me.  Even in tough economic times, they are finding ways to do without and donate that money to the relief effort in Haiti.  Normally, I would not be comfortable with sharing my charitable givings.  I truly believe in the words of Matthew 6:3-4:
3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
 But for the sake of this blog-along and that in doing so my efforts will be multiplied, I will share.  This evening I donated to the Red Cross.  Will you do the same?

Do you have a blog?  Would you like to make your donation go even further?  Head over to Money Saving Mom and link up your post about what you've done to help in Haiti by January 21st.  (Certainly you can blog about it after that date, but it is my understanding that they are willing to add to your generosity up until that date.)  No blog?  You can still head on over and leave a comment.  Every little bit helps!  Surely, we are stronger together.

After spending the last half hour adding my link to the long list of blogs on Money Saving Mom's site that are willing to contribute even more for those linking to them, I have decided to add my own McLinky to this post.  For every link added to the following list that connects to a post you have written about how you have helped the relief effort in Haiti, I will donate another $1 (up to $50) to the Red Cross.  McLinky is pretty intuitive, but for those of you who  have not used it, make sure you link up to the URL of the actual post and not your blog's homepage.  You can easily find out the URL of a post by clicking on the post title.  Copy the URL that shows up in your browser and link it here.  Blog about it, tweet about it, and email your friends.  Thank you in advance for participating and God Bless You!

I am also linking this up to and participating in The Help Haiti Blog Challenge.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Needle Grabbit

Does anyone else out there suffer from memory loss?  As soon as I got a machine and realized that not every needle is made equal (learned this the hard way after I attempted to applique on my first onesie.  Note to self - use *ball point needle for jersey*), I started amassing a small army of machine needles.  But could I ever remember which ones I already had and which ones I needed when I actually had a chance to go to the fabric store?  As many of us feel at the supermarket when we've forgotten to write ourselves a list, I started to develop temporary amnesia whenever I faced the notions wall.  As Jerry Seinfeld said (in one of my most favorite stand-up performances to date "I'm Telling You for the Last Time") about the most elusive staple in our fridge:
People are never really sure if they have milk.  You think you have milk, you might have.
"I know there's a carton in there, I don't know how much is in it."
"Well, what shall we do?"
'Cause you wanna be sure.  There's nothing worse than thinking you have milk and not having it.  You know, you got the bowl setup, the cereal, the spoon, the napkin, the TV, the newspaper, everything's ready to go.  You lift up the carton and it's too light.
"Oh, no!  Too light!"
So milk. Machine needles.   You don't want to be out of either.  Especially if your machine is not idiot proof and you tend to break needles often.  For the record, my 7470 is pretty doof-proof, but I used to sew on a much older machine (when I knew even less what I was doing) and this happened to me quite a bit.  With that being said, needles still break and it's always good to have some extras on hand.  The problem was, I kept coming home with the wrong kind and started developing a very lopsided stock of needles.

Come to think of it, this is how I felt about my spice rack for a long time.  Eventually I emptied out all my spices into identical magnetic containers and it was a breeze knowing how much of each one I had and what was running low.  Lovely, huh?
Anyway, the Needle Grabbit.  I found it on eBay awhile back and snagged it for probably $6 or so (new they are $10ish).  Very simple concept, but kind of genius.  You could even make one yourself if you were so inclined.  Basically It's a sturdy piece of magnet (I think - you could use cardboard or whatever you have sturdy that's lying around), with 2 strips of the fuzzy side of velcro attached to the front.  You slide the needles into the sections corresponding to type and there's even a flat head pin that serves as a marker so you can always remember which kind of needle you currently have in your machine.

Sure, you could just sew up some pieces of felt into a little book, label the "pages", and slip your needles in.  It'd be cheaper too.  But if you're like me you have limited time to make stuff and just need to get things organized.  What can I say, it works for me!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And the Winner is . . .

Perhaps I should write more blog posts about all the giveaways I assume I'll lose.  Maybe that's the ticket.  Why, you may ask?

Because when I opened my email this evening I had a lovely message waiting for me from Amy at the Progressive Pioneer:

Congratulations; you're the winner of the Magpie Patterns gift certificate!  I'll forward your email to them and let them tell you how to proceed.
Happy crafting!
I may have done the happy dance a little too abruptly (Kee-ku was on my lap and got a might bit startled by the whole thing).   Yes, that's $50 in pattern money for me! 

I spent a good portion of the next hour swooning over the pattern offerings . . . what to choose? 

If you were me, what would you get?


Monday, January 11, 2010

Being that it's National Clean Off Your Desk Day and All . . .

I started this post off with the intention of telling you why it is that I did not get any farther on my *t-shirt deconstruction into fabulous and funky child's dress* this weekend.   So let me start there.

Although my materials were laid out on the dining room table (my official "staging area") waiting for me to sew the pieces together, I was finding it hard to begin.  You see, after I wrote this post about what to do with my $125 sewing fund, I got the go-ahead from Mr. Skooks to purchase a serger.  I was BEYOND excited.  He had come into the office/playroom/multipurpose room no less than 8 times while I was reading up on reviews for this little Brother machine and asked me about the price.  Realizing the difference between what it cost and what I already had, he told me to just go for it.  All this after I had tried to explain the difference between a sewing machine and a serger and why it's not an either/or kind of decision.  (He asked me several times with a quizzical look: "Does that mean you're getting rid of your sewing machine?"  Um . . . NO.  I believe I've mentioned more than once how much I am in love with my sewing machine.)

So I was off!  With an extra spring in my step, I was off to Jo-Ann with my gift card in hand, ready to take the plunge into serger-hood.   The problem started when I got there and skipped into the sewing machine department.  Not a Brother in sight.  Just a chipper sales gal who was quite taken aback when I asked where the Brother machines were.

Chipper Sales Gal, sounding less than chipper: We don't sell Brother machines here.
Me:  Really?  That's odd.  I actually came here to get it because I see that it's on sale on the website.  I should have called first, I guess.
CSG:  What website?
Me:  Umm . . .the Jo-Ann website?  (I felt like an idiot, but as you can see, I was correct.)
CSG:  Are you sure?
Me:  Yeah.  It's the only reason I drove out here actually.  Well, that and I need some spray starch.
CSG:  We're a Huskvarna/Pfaff/Viking/Singer retailer.  I don't know why they would be selling our competition.
Me:  Yeah, I have absolutely no idea (glancing around at the other sergers that were out and seeing that the cheapest one was over $1,000).  It's ok though, I'll just order it online I guess.

After this, CSG tried to redirect me to the lower-end Singer model that they had on sale for $20 more than the Brother I had been looking at online.  While it did look all shiny and new (and would have looked perfectly at home with Connie since it was a Singer after all), I wasn't giving in.  You see, I'm a research-a-holic.  It's to the point where when I come to Mr. Skooks with an idea for something, he usually needs very little coaxing since he knows how I obsess over pride myself on being an informed shopper.  I had read reviews on the Singer model and, without being rude, listed some of the pros and cons of this one over that one.  She could see that I wasn't going to change my mind (though the fact that Jo-Ann offers free classes to get you acquainted with and troubleshoot your machine - should you buy from them - is a very sensible idea), and I went about my not-so-merry way to find the spray starch.

By the time I got home, I had decided 2 things:

  1. I was not going to work on the t-shirt upcycle project.
  2. I was going to purchase the serger online post-haste.
I was upset that I wouldn't be getting my craft on as I had planned, but I knew that I would get a better result from using a serger and in the end I would be glad I had waited.  My plan became a bit complicated after I explained the situation to Mr. Skooks and then attempted to purchase said serger.  The website was giving me troubles.  I had a dickens of a time even getting it to recognize that I added the serger to my "cart" and then when I went to checkout it wasn't recognizing that I had applied my gift card (I did call and check the balance to make sure nothing was screwy with it, just in case.)  I emailed customer service and from this experience learned that it takes way too long to get a response from customer service.

Anyway, this LONG story is coming to close soon.  I promise.  I found the serger for a better price on Amazon.  It's been ordered up.  When I realized the better price minus the check I got from my in-laws was putting me in the same place that ordering from Jo-Ann with both the check AND the gift card would . . . well . . . it was kind of like finding $50.  If you've made it this far into what has turned into a NOVEL and wish to do the math, go ahead.  In his half-asleep state Mr. Skooks questioned how I had managed to get both the serger I wanted while holding onto my gift card as well.

So what's up with National Clean Your Desk Day (have you forgotten the title of this post already)?  That's the other reason I didn't work on the creative endeavors this weekend.  Ok, so I cleaned the old desk off a few nights ago, but I think it still counts as if I had been doing it to celebrate such an asinine day on the calendar (it is officially celebrated on the second Monday of every January, apparently.  By whom, I'm not sure.  And is it just me or should a desk be cleaned off more than once a year?)  Anyway, I became inspired to tackle the great clean-off around 2 am and didn't finish the gutting, purging, sorting (and the just for "fun" addition of some decorative paper to the backboard) before putting everything back where it should go 3 hours later on Sunday morning.  As a result I was exhausted the rest of the day and spent the little free time I had sleeping.  Doh..

No before picture to speak of, but here's the after (pretend the paper covering the back above the printer isn't bowing out and that I had the time to paint the desk white - I'd like Mr. Skooks to do that to this armoire someday):
Oh, and just in case you're interested in marking up your clean January calendar page with a slew of ridiculous "National Holidays" check out this guide I found.  No, really.  Check it out.  Had I not come across this list who would have reminded me that this week is Cuckoo Dancing Week?


Friday, January 8, 2010

What would you do with $125 in sewing money?

Mr. Skooks has extremely generous parents and grandparents.  For Christmas this year Grandma and Grandpa gave me a $50 gift card to Jo-Ann.  Woot!  If that wasn't exciting enough, my wonderful in-laws gave me a check for $75 to be spent on *sewing supplies*.  Woot Woot!  (Yes, they specified its use right in the lil memo line.)  Permission to spend $$ on sewing?  Permission granted!

Now comes the plotting.  And the scheming.  How much can I get for $125?  Do I go for quantity (explore the ole notions wall and go wild)?  Do I go for fabric (dare I say that even with my limited quilting experience that I'd like to buy my first jelly roll - or 2 - or 3)?  Do I get some schmancy snippers, thread snips, and/or a better seam ripper a la Gingher?  New books filled with patterns/inspiration?  Or do I pony up some of my own dough and put it towards a serger?  My goodness I would like a serger.  I just demolished 5 t-shirts for a dress-making project for Little Miss and a serger would finish it off *so* deliciously.

What would you do?  I have been to Jo-Ann twice since Christmas and have yet to put the money down on the counter for anything.  Too indecisive.

For reals.  What would you get if someone was forcing you to spend money on creative stuff?  (Yes, they are making me spend money on myself.  Woe is me.  :P )

P.S.  I wasn't kidding about the t-shirts.  They will never return to their former glory.  And they WILL be made into something(s) new this weekend.  With or without a serger.

Which reminds me, I need some spray starch . . .


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tutorials Galore!

Came across this amazing post.  Realizing there should be more hours in the day with which to create.

So many many more.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Latest Giveaway I Won't Win

I've realized over my last few years of blogging that the "giveaway" is kind of a thing.  Blogs do this stuff all the time.  I reached my 100th post.  GIVEAWAY!  I reached my 100th follower.  GIVEAWAY!  I just love all my readers, you're so darn cute.  GIVEAWAY!  Having a fairly young blog myself, I do not know how it feels to hit either of the first 2 marks (although on the 3rd count I would consider something to giveaway if I, in fact, had anything to give away).  How do these people get in on the good giveaways when it's not their own stuff?  I don't know, but I'd like to figure it out someday so I can make my own little band of readers smile someday with a little treat in their mailbox.  But I digress.  I am not someone who enters every giveaway I see . . . it would become a full time job if I did.  This one, however, this one I could NOT pass up.

I discovered the blog, Progressive Pioneer, somewhat recently.  Liking what I saw, I bookmarked and added it to the ever-growing-becoming-excessively-out-of-control list of blogs I peruse on a regular basis.  Seriously, I want to pare it down desperately but *there is so much good stuff out there it's hard to stop reading sometimes.*  Anyway, the aforementioned blog is having a lovely giveaway that I would relish winning.  A $50 gift certificate to Magpie Patterns.  This is something that I would really love.  Yeah, $50.  Seriously, if I ever get some hookups through my lil blog site I'll totally pass the coolness along to you.

Anyone?  Want to give me stuff to give away?  I'll do it.  If it's good, I'll totally do it.  ;)

Want to further decrease my chances of winning?  You can enter the giveaway yourself here.

P.S.  Want to know what I'd get if I actually *did* win this giveaway (not that I will, mind you)?  This, among other things:


Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Review: The Quiltmaker's Gift

Going on 6 or 7 years ago, I was in a bible study with some of my previously mentioned soul friends.  Our fearless leader, who had 3 small children at the time, switched up the study one night by introducing us to The Quiltmaker's Gift.  To this day I remember with great fondness this weekly bible study we shared.  Of all the lessons we read and studied, the one about the Quiltmaker has been embedded in my mind ever since.  Maybe it was the rich illustrations or my personal affinity for children's books that kept it fresh in my mind.  Either way, I knew as I began to jot down ideas for Christmas for Little Miss that she was ready (finally!) to receive this beautiful book.

It had been those many years ago since I had seen and read it, but I knew that she would love it.  Immediately upon opening the gift, she asked me if I would read it to her.  She absolutely adores books and reading . . . it's an activity that is practiced regularly in our home (both together with a reading adult and on her own just looking at pictures and "reading" to herself):

It has been over a week since Christmas passed and she continues to request this book daily.  She asks lots of questions and creeps up onto the pages so much sometimes I can't see the words to read them aloud.  For those of you who have not heard of this book, here is a brief plot summary (taken from the book jacket):

This charming fable for our times celebrates the joy of giving.  A generous quiltmaker, with magic in her fingers, sews the most beautiful quilts in the world, then gives them away.  A greedy king, his storehouse stuffed with treasures, yearns for something that will make him happy . . .  Will the quiltmaker sew a quilt for the king?  Will the king ever learn to share?  Can the quiltmaker teach the king to be happy?  What will the king do with all his splendid things?  Look for clues to the story in the quilts.

For anyone looking for a beautifully drawn story that captures the spirit of generosity and selflessness, check this one out.  (Upon first glance it may seem a bit wordy for a 2 year old, but in L.M.'s case, the elaborate illustrations keep her fixated long after the text has been read.)

What about you?  Any children's books you could recommend that incorporate the arts?  I'm always looking to expand our lil' library here with quality literature.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Preserve Those Precious Memories . . . with BUTTONS!

For the last few days I have been away celebrating the close of the year 2009 and the opening of the year 2010 with some of my best friends in the world.  They are not the ones I see on a regular basis.  In fact, none of them even live in the same state as me (not anymore anyway).  We all went to college together and have been gathering to celebrate the dawn of the new year as a group since NYE 2004.  I'm borrowing the words of one of them to give you an accurate idea of who they are to me as I'm sure she won't mind: these are the SOUL friends.  Honestly, it makes me so happy that we do this every NYE that my countdown to the next year starts immediately when the clock strikes 12 and the goofy ball drops.  Oh, but how I wish there was a way to gather all the people who bring real joy into your heart and make them live by you forever. If you know of such a way, please tell me.  I'd also like to be able to do this with my family, all of whom live in different places about the U.S. [sniff]

Anyway, NYE.  It's been a thing since that first time back when we were on the brink of 2005 that every year we came up with a theme for the new year.  This theme usually came out of something idiotic either said, done, or seen sometime during the NYE weekend.  A few years ago we decided that we needed to integrate more crafty exploits in our lives and it became our theme.  The goal the next year was not nearly as fun (or memorable . . . it's not coming to me at the moment what it was . . .), so we decided that in addition to the agreed upon goal we would continue to add in the creative good times.  Last year we did this by customizing an old Clue board with our own twists (customized playing pieces and cards included).

This year we did it by making *BUTTONS*.

Our hostess had procured a Badge a Minit kit from her church which we used to forever memorialize the idiocy that is NYE with the Superfriends.  Not the cartoon.  We're such a force to be reckoned with, it's what we've dubbed ourselves.  Before I share with you one example of the genius that is button-making, I must relay a little story from our weekend together:

It is New Year's Day 2010 . . . the time is maybe 9am?  I wake up to the sounds of several people trying to get into the room I'm sleeping in.  I am ridiculously tired (Kee-ku was a bit challenging to put to sleep on NYE) and wonder why there is so much fiddling with the door.  As far as I know it locks automatically when it shuts, but the rest of the friends have the key.  I finally peel my eyes open and jump out of bed as I'm now fearing that all this fumbling with the lock is going to wake Kee-ku who is still sleeping in the room with me.  I open the door to Mr. Skooks whose first words are, "I have really bad news."  It's New Year's Day 2010.  Bad news already?  Oy.

Here's the story.  At 3am, some idiot decided to break into our car.  This was discovered by our hostess who noticed the broken window as she was taking the trash out to the dumpster.    The nasty brick that was used to gain entry into our old (but very important to us!) mini-van was still laying on the driver's seat.  Glass was everywhere.  And although there was $20 cash in the glove box (which was rifled through), and 2 iPods in plain view (don't ask me why), the only thing they took was the GPS which had been stashed under the seat.  The GPS that we borrowed from work.  Ugh.  We haven't had an incident with our van since we acquired it a few years ago, so I wasn't sure what the insurance coverage *exactly* was anymore.  I was figuring we had a deductible and some of our modest Christmas bonus was about to be spent on some yahoo's thievery.  To make a long story short(er), it turns out we had coverage for just such an incident and our window was fixed and a promise was made by our insurance agent that we would get a new GPS in the mail.  More times than not being able to find the comedy in the tragedy, this little guy was made and given to Mr. Skooks as a remembrance of the event:

[Just as a little sidebar, I don't see this as an omen for how the year 2010 will be.  Some people are just yahoos, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it.]

P.S.  It looks like Badge a Minit is partying like it's 1988.  A quick glance around their site (which I had never seen until I started to create this post) reveals that their 2 1/4" Starter Kit is available for the 1988 price of $29.95.  I am HIGHLY tempted to get one.  Had you been there to partake in the hilarity of button making, you would be too.

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