Friday, February 26, 2010

Indie Business 2.0

I just signed up for my first class since I graduated college in 2002.  Crazy?  Kinda.  As it is, my time is stretched kinda thin what with the job I already have, the kids, the upkeep of the house . . . not to mention the creative juices that seem to flow the most freely when I should be sleeping.

I saw this, though, and it was just too awesome-looking to pass up.  And no, I don't have an indie business.


Intrigued?  Check out Leigh-Ann's blog or Elsie's blog or Jill's blog for more info.  Course intros are going on now, but it's not too late to sign up!  Class starts March 7.  :)


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Studio Inspiration

Well, I'm kinda bummed.  For a few reasons actually:

  1. Mr. Skooks told me he was going to put my shelves up today so that I could attempt a reorganization of ye ole craft supplies/my little sewing nook.  Upon getting all the materials out, doing the measuring, debating on what height to hang them, etc, the battery for the drill de-juiced as the first shelf was being hung.  He exclaimed how genius it was that this particular drill had come with 2 battery packs as he put the other one in to finish the job.  Sadly, this one lasted all of 30 seconds before it, too, bit the dust.  Yes, must remember to charge these things so they're ready when inspiration (and time) strikes.
  2. I have no decent photo of anything to share except the mess that is still sitting there from this weekend.  I thought perhaps I could share an inspiring photo (or 10) from Flickr on what I WISH I could do with my space (but can't due to space constraints and the fact that it is basically in one corner of our living room).  I had a fun time assembling my first little Flickr gallery and was so excited to share it here.  Except all the photos are copyrighted and I'm not an infringer.  So they will stay on Flickr and off my blog.
You're dying to know what kind of studio I would like to have, aren't you?  You're just on pins and needles about it, I know.

Well, hold your britches.  And while you're doing that, peruse my little gallery of creative space inspiration.  Someday I hope to be in a place where I can have a room of my own to go wild with creativity and not feel constrained to what I can do with it because my family has to live in there too.  Until then, I'm living vicariously through these people.

Do you have your own sewing/crafting studio? Let me know in the comments so I can be thoroughly jealous inspired by you, too.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You Asked, I Answered: How to Make a Tutu

lou & magoo image found via Flickr

You may recall the Super Hero birthday party that Little Miss attended a few weeks ago.  I didn't dedicate a whole post to it, but I did share a little bit about her zest for the theme.  There were several little crafty things going on during the party (homemade super hero capes were provided, but the kids made their own masks and name tags) which was both fun for the little people in attendance as well as the crafty-type moms who get a little beam in their heart when seeing their kids engage their minds and hands with felt, string, and SEQUINS.  :)

This little bit of craft time gave my friend (the brave soul hosting this little soiree of 3-year-olds) and I cause to discuss birthday themes and how to do them in a way that is both fun and not over-the-top expensive.  She inquired on my expertise on making tutus.

Except that I've never made one and have no expertise on the subject..

I'm sure I could (without too much deep thinking) figure out how to make one.  (For the record, my friend is definitely savvy enough to figure this one out on her own as well, but as a homeschooling mom of 3 little ones, her time is better spent on other things.) 

No matter, because this is what Delicious is for.  (Don't you remember? It's my new linky best friend.)

I've dug up 2 links that I think sum up the process pretty well:  And did I mention they are NO SEW?!
  1. This one (courtesy of Plumtickled) assembles tutus using rolls of tulle. She claims it is easier using the rolls rather than the wider stuff off the bolt (she's probably right . . . tulle can be kind of beastly to work with sometimes so the narrower, the better).
  2. This lovely one from Grosgrain Fabulous calls for 6 yds of tulle off the bolt. (My friend may not want something so floofy, but tulle by the yard is generally pretty cheap. If I recall correctly from my days of cutting fabric at the Hobby Lobby, even the "nice" shiny tulle is only $1.29/yd with the regular tulle around $.77/yd). 
They look so cute and fun, now I feel like trying some myself!

Do you have a question for the link-a-holic?  I probably have filed an answer away somewhere.  Send your crafty/sewing queries to skooksplayground[at]gmail[dot]com or just leave me a comment and I'll see what kind of answers I can dig up for you!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Made: Recycled T-Shirt Sienna Dress

Pretty much I'm a huge fan of Lil Blue Boo.  Why?  Because her ridiculously adorable patterns have given me a great excuse to upcycle my multitudes of unused/too big/ too small t-shirts into funky clothes for the kids.

This was my first attempt at her Sienna dress pattern, and I have to say it came together really easy for me.  I was nervous about the sleeves and the neckband . . . I don't know why.  I guess I'm just like that when it comes to sewing things someone has to actually fit into.  The instructions were really clear though and it was actually kind of a breeze.

Actual sewing/prep time is hard to calculate.  I'm completely engrossed in the Olympics lately and my sewing is a little less focused because of it.  Are you guys glued to this?  I get so invested in all the stories of the athletes, and then I yell at the TV for them when it's their turn.  I'm sure they can feel my support through the TV.  I know what you're thinking.  Of course they can.

Yes, I'm kind of a dork that way.  This is why whenever I'm watching sports of any kind on TV and I start talking to the tube, Little Miss takes notice and starts shouting, "Go baby GO!"  Can you tell that we watch just a *little* bit of football in our house, and maybe Mommy gets just a *teensy bit* involved in the games?  I'm not apologizing for it.  I'm just saying.

So there were a few things on the agenda for this weekend:
  1. Make something.  Anything.
  2. Clean up and re-organize the crafty space.
Guess which thing didn't happen.

The good news?  Mr. Skooks has graciously agreed to build me some shelves to go over my sewing desk so that I can have my creative things a little more accessible and organized.  I'll keep you updated on the progress . . .

So here's a question, what'd everyone make this weekend?  If you've posted a project on your blog somewhere, I'd love to check it out.  :)

P.S. Much love to whomever it was who first "Stumbled" my Recycled Paper Flower Gift Bow Tutorial. Because of you that post went kinda viral.  And because of you I truly discovered how cool StumbleUpon actually is.
I Made It Blog Party


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Getting Creative with Kids: Hand Drawn Coloring Pages

While I was off having a wonderful lunch this afternoon with a good friend and trolling the Goodwill for some colorful knits to cut apart, Mr. Skooks was doing a little artist's give and take with Little Miss.  As in, he would give her a picture he drew and she would take it and color it.

I think

she might

be going through

some kind of a red phase.


Do your kids prefer your drawings to coloring books?  Little Miss gets a real charge out of dictating what should be drawn and then pouncing on it immediately so she can color it all in.  She's always saying, "Next, draw [this].  Now you can draw [that]."  

It's not always easy.  Sometimes she asks for stuff that's not really in a part of my "draw it on demand" repertoire.  One time she asked me to draw a gazelle.  Yes, a gazelle.

Here's me: "A gazelle?  Are you sure you don't just want Mommy to draw some more hearts and flowers?"

Cuz that's my "level."


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tutorial: Recycled Paper Flower Gift Bows

Wow.  Can I just say, any of you bloggers out there who have put out a tutorial in the past: THANK YOU.  When I set out to write/photograph this little tute, I had no idea just how time consuming it is to do such a thing.  But I am VERY excited to be able to share my first (of hopefully many more!) with you.

And now presenting, the inspiration:
This was the cute little embellishment on top of the gift I got for Valentine's Day from Mr. Skooks from Ten Thousand Villages.  Like any Crafty McCrafterson would, I marveled at how lovely it was and then almost immediately took it apart to figure out how it was made.  Well, not at that moment.  I still had to open and marvel at the actual gift!  But after I opened the gift, I certainly revisited it.  (I know I'm not the only sucker out there for sweet wrapping jobs.)

The good news: it could not be more easy!  Give it a try and you'll be making your own for all your gifts before you know it.

STEP ONE: Gather your supplies.
  • You're going to need 3 squares of colored/patterned paper (I cut my pieces out of a magazine that was on its way to the recycle bin, but you could use construction paper, origami paper, or whatever you have on hand).  I cut mine to about 3 1/2" square, but you could easily vary this if you want a larger or smaller flower.  
  • You're also going to cut 3 squares of print paper (again, mine were from a mag, but you could use newsprint like the inspiration, or whatever else strikes your fancy) to about 2" (or ~1 1/2" smaller than your colored squares).  Eyeball it if you want.  This does not have to be terribly exact.
  • A bit of thread
  • Scissors

STEP TWO: Fold your paper in half.

STEP THREE: Clip the corners.
Here's what it should look like when it's opened up:
STEP FOUR:  Fold it back and forth accordion style.
STEP FIVE:  Repeat with the other pieces of colored paper.
STEP SIX: Repeat all the steps above using the print paper.
Here's what you should now have:
STEP SEVEN:  Fold one of your colored pieces.
STEP: EIGHT:  Fold another one going the other direction.

STEP NINE: Arrange like so.
STEP TEN: Pinch the 3 pieces you have together.
You can tie them with a bit of thread at this point if you wish, but it's not necessary.  I'm more showing you this so you can see approximately what we're going to do with it in a minute.
STEP ELEVEN: Repeat the above steps for the print paper.
STEP TWELVE: Pinch the print paper trio together.
STEP THIRTEEN:  Wrap the center with thread until it is secure.

STEP FOURTEEN:  Fan it out.  You're almost done!
STEP FIFTEEN:  Layer the print cluster on top of the colored cluster.  Pinch and wrap the thread around until it's secure.  Tie a knot on the bottom.
STEP SIXTEEN:  Separate the petals a bit.
STEP SEVENTEEN:  Fan the paper out.  You did it! 

Well, aren't you just so clever.  ;)


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Handmade and Fair Trade - How Romantic!

I've had a gruesome day today.  I won't get into all the gory details, but if any of you out there are potty-training toddlers who have not *quite* gotten the whole #2 deal down . . . 'nuff said.  Add to this an incidence of misplaced creativity that occurred between Little Miss' crayon and the wall, a baby that couldn't nap between the robust yelling of his big sister, and the fact that Mr. Skooks did not get home from work until past our normal dinner time, and you can start to feel my pain even more.

All I really needed at the end of such a long drawn-out battle of a day was for my sweet husband to come home with open arms.  Which he did.  He always does.  But he also came bearing gifts!

You see, on Sunday morning (aka Valentine's Day - not typically a terribly big day for us) he told me that he had ordered me some token of affection online, but it hadn't come in time for V-Day.  As it turns out, that was kind of fortuitous since having this *crazy pull-my-hair-out* day made me even more grateful for a sweet showing of love from my sweetheart.

He picked out something for me from one of my favorite stores: Ten Thousand Villages.  If you have never heard of them, I would highly recommend clicking through that link.  It is a wonderful place.  If I haven't piqued your interest through that very brief endorsement, let me at least share their Mission Statement with you:

Ten Thousand Villages provides vital, fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care and housing. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit program of Mennonite Central Committee.
Go ahead.  Finish this post and then go peruse.  You will not be disappointed.  (And I'm only telling you to finish this post first because if you're anything like me, you're going to be over there poring over the handiwork for so long you'll forget how you got there in the first place and never make your way back!)

My little gift came wrapped up all sweet and lovely-like with a handmade bow and wrapping made from recycled paper.  Here's what was inside! 

Let's see that a little more closely shall we?

How do I love my husband?  Let me count the ways . . .


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You Asked, I Answered: How to Sew a Blind Hem Stitch

I am a casual dresser.  Even when I dress up I tend to be a little more casual than everyone else.  Can I help it that I like to be comfortable?  Is that so wrong?!

Based on this info, you can imagine my complete lack of helpfulness when a friend of mine recently asked me for advice on how to hem a pair of dress pants (aka do a blind hem stitch).  It turns out I'm her "sewing friend", and I'm supposed to know these things.  Oops.

Not to be one to just say, "I don't know," and make a friend scout around for an answer herself (yes, I am SUPER nice like that), I went on a quest across the inter-web searching for the easiest explanation.  I came across a very helpful You-Tube video courtesy of on the subject that I thought I would share in case some of my readers have the same question.

Are you sitting on some dress pants or a nice skirt that need an "invisible" hem but don't know where to begin?  Check this out and tell me if it helps:

Got a question? I'd love to help you answer it. Shoot me an email at skooksplayground[at]gmail[dot]com, and I'll see what kind of awesomely helpful answers I can dig up for you.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Kinda Bummed Out, but I Still Made Something This Weekend

Oh, my . . . majorly busy weekend!  Little Miss had her first ever friend birthday party on Saturday.  She had SO much fun.  Stories and crafts and cake . . . I mean, really.  What's not to love about that?  Oh, and since it was superhero-themed (sweet!), she even got her very own superhero cape to wear and bring home (and yes, she even took her nap in it later that day.)  In the evening, Mr. Skooks and I headed out for a belated Christmas company party (you read that right) and enjoyed catching up with our coworkers, eating great food, enjoying free drinks, and watching some sweet Improv.  Sunday, we celebrated my father-in-law's birthday (and V-day) with family.  I don't know that we've had that packed of a weekend in quite awhile!

As it is with just about everything in life, there were some trade-offs made.  Spending the time I did with my little girl at her party and with Mr. Skooks out for the evening (without kids!) was priceless.  I am so glad I was able to do those things and would not trade them for anything.  But what I'm trying to say is, because of these activities there was not a whole lot of time to plunge into the creative arts this weekend.  And as a result of this, I was not able to churn out a few more (ever so much more awesome than what I've done so far) submissions that would be worthy to enter into the Lil Blue Boo contest.  It seems a little silly how completely bummed out I am because of this.  I actually had no aspirations about winning it, but my one submission wasn't even close to "knock their socks off" good.  Oh well.  Some other time when my schedule opens up I will give some more dresses (and a few more LBB  patterns) a try.   Who knows?  Maybe even this weekend . . .

In the meantime, I was able to squeeze in a quick little project.   This one is a great way to use up a few fabric and ribbon scraps.  I found this simple Owl Teether Toy tutorial courtesy of The Rubber Punkin sometime last week, and just knew I had to give it a go and make a little something special for Kee-ku.  He has not gotten much crafty love from his mama lately, and it was time.  Plus, he's started teething so this find was actually quite timely.

Happy Monday, everyone!

The Girl CreativeSumo Sweet Stuff Keeping It SimpleMaking


Friday, February 12, 2010

Button Button, Who's Got the Button?

Valentine's Day is around the corner.  Do you celebrate it?  Feel like it's a Hallmark holiday?

Whether you like it or lump it, in my opinion, there is always room for a little chocolate.  Just a little brain wave I had (this Christmas actually) when my in-laws brought over some chocolates to share with the family:  these containers would be a great way to store your smallest notions.  After all, they've already got all the little dividers in there.

As you can see, I'm favoring this one at the moment for my vintage button stash.   

BOTTOM LINE: Scarf your chocolates as fast as you wish, but consider the storage possibilities of the container if it's save-able.  I could see some paper storage not being amazing, but this one is clear plastic and the dividers that hold the chocolates are fixed (as opposed to having the little papers and nothing else holding the goodies inside.)

Are you a re-purposer?  What's your favorite "you may have one of these laying around your house somewhere" item to store your craft supplies?  I'm looking to reconfigure my craft storage and I'm not ashamed to steal your ideas.  ;)



P.S. My buttons look almost as delectable as the Rochers did before I devoured them.  Almost.

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