Friday, December 31, 2010

Present Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone!  


Bringing in a new year usually involves reflections on the year past and hopes and wishes for the the year to come.  What happened in 2010?  What would I like to see happen in 2011?  Those are the questions that I use to think about in past years, but not this year.

This year I'm changing it up.  I'm thinking about the present.  I have always been a fan of making resolutions at the dawn of a new year, but this year I don't see the point.  (Who knows...maybe next year I'll be back on board with the whole resolution thing?)  

For this year, I'm not waiting for a holiday to make a change.  I'm living in the present and I've made some changes:

1.  Exercising...the most popular resolution...is something that is part of my life now and I'm so thankful for it.  I'm pushing myself harder physically and mentally and enjoying every minute of it.    

2.  I'm trying to be way more conscience of what I eat.  The whole foods movement is so huge right now and I love it.  I'm on board with it, and I'm constantly trying to push myself to eat more REAL food.  More to come on this...

3.  Renovating my house.  We've been in our home for almost 5 years-a cosmetic fixer-upper. Even though we've done a lot, we have a long way to go.  Somewhere along the way, I got overwhelmed at how far we were away from perfection and quit working on it.  

We're done being overwhelmed and we are finding little ways to make it our own on a 2-digit budget.   And I can't wait to share it all!

What about you?  What are you doing?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Handmade Christmas

I'm not sure where, when or why I decided to do a lot of homemade gifts, but I did.   With it all said and done, I think that I would do it again.  It was a lot of fun trying to find stuff that I could make that was a bit cooler than knitted coasters.   

Also, I loved getting stuff that was handmade.  It's great, it makes me feel cool and hip, and it feels 1,304% more personal (even if the person didn't make it).  A quote from the Etsy article sums it up much better than I can:

“It’s not just ‘you are what you eat’ anymore,” he {Robert Kalin, co-founder of Etsy} said. “You are what you buy, and these things define you.”

First, here are all the things that I made as presents:

1.  At the top of every child's Christmas list is personalized shirts and pillowcases, so for each of my nieces and nephews a set was made:



Their eyes lit up (mainly with confusion) when they opened their boxes.  "Honey, that's a pillowcase-enjoy."

Side story: When I was in elementary school, my great-grandmother passed away and I was given a few of her belongings.  Among them was a pillowcase with a pink monogram on it that said "Estelle."  It was my first encounter with monogram...it was love at first site.


2. I'm pretty sure that my b-i-l's and s-i-l's are done having children, so for them, I made silhouettes of each of their kids.  Over Thanksgiving, I snapped a profile picture and used a free program to design each one.  It wasn't easy, and I couldn't have done it without my husband's help (who is a design engineer).   
 

Eventually I got the hang of it.  Pictured here are the black and white ones, but I did a funky version as well-grey and white zig-zag with a brightly colored silhouette. 


3. Magnets of each of the grandchildren.  My friend, Juli, gave me this idea.  I thought about making some for everyone, but I thought it would be special if just Grandmama had them.


Full size picture of each kid, laminated at Kinkos, magnet hot glued to the back.  It was fun getting them to be goofy in them.  (Pictures taken outdoors works best!)

4. Custom t-shirts for my brothers.  Printable fabric and iron-on stuff, it was great to meet you, we'll be seeing a lot of each other.


For the record, I waited too late to get started on all that stuff.  The last two weeks before Christmas was a little crafty, a little TOO crafty.  I vow to never wait that long again!  Keeping the vow is a different story.

Next up: all the handmade gifts that we received.  

1.  A leather chalk bag.  A friend at church has a hobby of making things out of leather and started making chalk bags for his son who climbs.  It was a perfect gift for John, who needs a chalk bag and appreciates cool stuff like this.


2.  Not pictured: my m-i-l made fleece blankets for each of the seven grandchildren.  What a great and easy handmade gift: fleece rectangle with snipped frays.  

2a.  Also not picture:  My dad made me some new side tables for my living room.  More on that later.

3.  Wooden trucks.  Burl asked me to put these on his Christmas list, and I allowed them seeing that the toys are wooden.  They are from Etsy.  Click HERE to see all the cool wooden stuff that they have.


4.  Jewelry.  I'm not a jewelry person, but I've decided to become one.   I told my mom that I would LOVE a necklace from The Ardent Sparrow, and I showed her where I blogged about them earlier.  Well, I'll be danged if she bought me everything I posted!  She doubled my jewelry inventory and I have been wearing something everyday since Christmas!



I loved opening each of the cutely wrapped packages.  Pink and white, hello, it's like the The Ardent Sparrow made them just for me!


5.  I saved the best for last, because no present, handmade or not, was enjoyed as much as the wheelbarrow that my dad (with the help of John's dad) made for Burl.  


The pictures turned out a little blurry, but don't let it distract from what the picture is saying:  Burl loves the 'barrow.  



There ya have it.  My creative juices are spent.  Thank goodness I have a whole year to be inspired, and thank goodness there are cool blogs and websites to do just that, inspire.  I love being part of the online community of creative hipsters that are making crafting cool again.  {And yes, I just declared myself a creative hipster, even though I am not even close to being.}

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Etsy

Everyone knows about Etsy, right?  Just in case you're living under a rock, I'll give you the lowdown.  It's an online store where anyone can make anything and sell it to anyone who wants it anytime the internet is on.  

It's made crafting cool again.

I love it.  Type in "aprons for sale" and over 1,000 results pop up.  And we're talking cool, funky aprons.  No boring squared edges, no solids.  One of the first ones to pop us is, "Hemp Halter Top."



It's official: crafting is cool again.

Yesterday, John emailed a New York Times article about Etsy and it included pictures from their headquarters in Brooklyn.  Wow, those are some cool hipsters, and let's just say:

They've made crafting cool again.

Check back tomorrow to see what things I got and gave for Christmas that were handmade!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Christmas Card

This year we made our debut in the Christmas card exchange.  If you didn't receive them and you think that you should have, I'm sorry.  Creating an organized system of recipients wasn't high on my priority list, especially since they got mailed just a few days before Christmas.



Here it is.  Our Christmas card, handmade by me with all that extra time I thought that I had, but really didn't.  I had fun doing it though and it saved me bundles!

I also wrote a letter to go with the card.  Let's just say I took a few liberties with the truth:

..................................................................................................................................................

Feliz Navidad, Amigos!

Here we are, entering the Christmas card shuffle.  We couldn’t be more excited.  With our newest addition, Burl, things are changing and there is a lot to share.

First, as many of you know, John has been working at his new job (design engineer at Columbus McKinnon) for a little over a year now.  The best part of the job is that it is two minutes away from our local climbing gym.  That’s right folks, John is rock climbing and he loves it.  I love it too because I know that any day now, he’s going to get corporate sponsorship and he can quit his day job.  Can we say “expense paid vacation?”  We’re going places, I can feel it.

Second, I am a stay-at-home mom now, and it’s nothing but fun for me.  I’m fitting into the role quite nicely, but I have a great example,   Martha Stewart.  She has everything I want – a crafting empire, a name associated with amazing food, and a brief incarceration in a low security prison that made her cooler, not more dangerous.  Now my days are filled with sewing, cooking over-complicated recipes, and researching easy-to-commit white collar crimes.  Oh, and I watch after Burl.

He’s a ton of fun.  The time is going by so fast and he’s changing everyday.  With all his little developments, John and I realized that this is the best age for him to learn a language(s).  We have decided when we are at home with him, we will only speak to him in Spanish.  The only problem is that neither one of us speaks Spanish fluently, so there is a lot of awkward silence.  But, we’re sticking with it because Burl can say mama, papa, hola, and taco and he just formed his first sentence, “¿Dónde está el baño?”  Even though he’s only 9 months old, we couldn’t be more proud of him.  He is speaking Spanish, forming sentences, and learning the most important phrases first.

We would love to hear from your family.  Until we talk again, Feliz Navidad! 

..................................................................................................................................................


Pretty loco, huh?  I came up with that all by myself.  I ran it by John first, who showed a little concern over when, why, and how I came up with it.  Then, I made my brothers read it.  It's no Sedaris, but I tried.  Joseph said it was wordy but ok funny, and Daniel gave me the go ahead on printing.

Just in case anyone is interested, then here are the instructions on how to make the card:

What ya will need:

1. PICTURE: I took the picture myself with the self timer.  Then, I cropped it, edited (maybe edited too much because we looked orange and we're more bronze pasty than that), and added the "Feliz Navidad." I did this for free on Picnik.  (The same place that I made my dad's Christmas card.)  Then I had it printed at Ritz camera for 6 cents.  Click HERE for that deal.
2. Some pretty CARD STOCK paper as the background.  I had "peace love joy" in Spanish.  This is where the biggest portion of my costs came.  My printer doesn't do the run off printing, so I had to have that printed at a local printer.  It was 75 cents for an 8 1/2 x 11, which I cut down to 4 pieces, 4 1/4 x 5 1/2.
3. ENVELOPES.  I found some fun textured kind at Hobby Lobby.  They were in the letterpress section.  (Oh, how I LOVE letterpress.)  Did you know that you can print off a 40% coupon for anything in HL anytime?  I carried a supply with me over the holidays.  Click HERE for that.
4. SCISSORS
5. MINI WHOLE PUNCH
6. TWINE-Which can be found anywhere.  Walmart, by the registers at HL.
7. CORNER CUTTER.  I told myself that I wasn't going to round the corners of 100 cards, but I tried it on one and it was so darn cute.  So, I cut the corners, which means I punched the corner cutter 400 times.  I might have lost my marbles, but it was worth the cute factor.


Instructions:
1. Cut several little pieces of twine.  Mine were around 5 inches, but any length would do fine.

2. Center the picture over the card stock.

3.  Hold it there and punch two holes in through the picture and the card.

4. Run the twine through both wholes.  Throw them in a pile.  After stringing all the cards, tie each one.  (The first 8 will be perfect knots, the next 92 will be a little shaky.)  

5. Cut the corners if that's what ya want.  Wa-la.  There you go.  A Christmas card for less than the stamp:

Envelope: 10 cents
Picture: 6 cents
Card stock: 26 cents
Twine: basically free
Stamp: 42 cents
TOTAL: 84 cents per card, stamp and all.


Now, the fun part: stuffing, addressing and mailing!



I can see this concept working differently.  Birthday party invites, baby announcements, etc.  Love to see what your creations!

Monday, December 27, 2010

White Christmas


This Christmas was even better than I thought it was going to be.  It started Christmas Eve.  I got off early, just in time to make it to the Christmas Eve service at my church.  It was pretty emotional for me, meaning I cried through 87% of it.  Last year, I remember being 7 months pregnant, sitting beside a family with three active kids (wink, wink Robin), and being teased that wrestling kids will be our new reality.  I blinked, and here we are-a year later, wrestling, loving and fighting over who gets to hold Baby Burl.

(Yes, that's a snickers bar...from my stocking.)

The next morning we had Christmas, just the three of us.  Our morning.  A tradition- with a wonderful addition.  And things felt nice.  Look at the next picture...Burl's face tells it all!


Let me just cut to the chase...It's not about stuff, but if it was, we made out like bandits and it was a whole lotta fun playing with everything.  From ripping paper, stacking rings, strutting our new gear, being blown away from the generosity of others (thanks moms and dads), we enjoyed the stuff that came with Christmas.  I almost had feelings of being a spoiled American, but I told that voice to be quiet and get me another cookie.

Another cool thing:  we had a white Christmas, which is as rare as seeing a leprechaun on St Patty's Day.  Props to Motha' Nature for that added ambiance.  


After our morning, we did the family thing.  One thing that I LOVE about this year is that we did my family and John's family on separate days.  This was the way.to.go.  Instead of squeezing everything into one day, my family came over for brunch on the 25th, then we went to John's parents for the 26th.  Muy bien.



My family was the same.  Semi-appropriate gifts were exchanged, great debut, Diane!  (See that sign...from her to my dad...amazing!)  My dad and brothers "teared up" at the mention of an emotional story-HBO series, Band of Brothers.  We ate and ate and ate.


Burl melted Broseph's heart a bit more with some post lunch snuggle.


Then, Burl was re-engergized by his new toy from Marmee.  I think that it helps Burl learn to walk.  It had wheels and a place big enough for Burl, so we did what any cool kids would do:  naturally, we raced him down the hallway.



Next up: John's family.  The crazy didn't stop at our house.  No, it went with us up on the mountain.  Instead of wild and crazy fun, we had a bit of organized-chaos fun.  But, isn't that what Christmas is all about?


With lots of family, kids, and presents, we had a good time.


Then, we went outside to get our sledding on, which lacked speed but not thrill.  Us Southerns can make anything fun.  Yee-haw.


I hope that if you are reading this, that your Christmas was just as merry and you were able to feel the love.  Christmas can be hard for a lot of people, and if you're one of those people, I'm sorry.  


As much as I had fun and all these pictures reflect a happy version of myself, I had a few moments that were less than perfect.  That's where the real reason of Christmas stepped in and rocked my world.  Here's the reason: God's love for us.  That's the point.  And He doesn't forget us.  He makes a way for us.  

A really great Bible passage for me this year was Isaiah 54:4-10 which included this phrase:
"With everlasting love I will have compassion on you," says the Lord, your Redeemer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

This Week's Menu

This week's menu is up in the air.  It's the holidays and I'm not in planning mode.  

The only thing that I know is that it will not involve a lot of desserts.  Some desserts, just not a lot.  And we might be doing salad for dinner.  We still have a cousin dinner in the works and an anniversary dinner.


That's right, I said anniversary.  John and I celebrate 7 years of marital bliss tomorrow.  By marital bliss, I mean bliss.  It's been a dang good time being married to John.  Each year, our anniversary gets a bit overshadowed by Christmas.  I'm ok with that because inside I'm celebrating one more year under our belt, one more year of fun times, and one more year together.  I would like to take a minute to dedicate a little poem to my main squeeze:

The roses are red, and the candles are lit.
But who cares, cause WE STILL GOT IT!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ornaments, a Tutorial



Here is a fun little craft that would be great as a little hostess gift, neighbor gift, that little extra something on a holiday package or something for yourself.  These are somewhat small ornaments, so they look fun on a place other than the Christmas tree.  With all my greenery spread about, I put one of a stem hanging off of one of the wreaths that I made.


Here's what you need:

1. Scissors
2. Glue gun, fully loaded
3. skinny ribbon
4. Aleene's Tacky Glue
5. Jewel things (They are the size of a sliver dollar, maybe larger.  The bigger-the better.  I found some at Hobby Lobby and Walmart.  All I could find was the iridescent, and I wish that I could have found clear.) 
6. Sharpie (optional)



DIRECTIONS: 
1. Trace a circle on some fun paper. Only use fun paper.  No lame ducks allowed.


3. Cut out the circle.  



4. Optional...draw something cute on the circle.  Initials, dangling ornament, or rap lingo. 


5.  Slather the glue on the back, flat side of the jewel.


6. Press the paper circle on the flat, gluey side of the jewel.  The paper is placed face side to the glue.  It will look fuzzy and blurry, but don't fret.  The glue dries clear.  Within a few minutes, it looks normal.


7. Cut a little ribbon, or a lot of ribbon depending on how low you want to go.  Spread some hot glue on the back, flat side of the jewel and press the ribbon in the glue.  ***Don't use your finger for this, use the tip of the gun for this***  
Tip 1: You might need to apply some extra glue on top of the pressed ribbon for an extra hold
Tip 2: When applying the glue, place it at the top of the jewel.  if it's too low, then the jewel will tip forward when it is hanging on the tree.  

I hope this makes sense.  If it doesn't and frustration is the only that is being created, then go eat a cupcake.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crafting - It's for Girls of all Ages

What's better than crafting?  Crafting with friends.  (BTW...I hate the word "crafting," but I'm using it more frequently to see if it will grow on me.  So far, no good.)

I had a few of the high school girls over from church and we had a lot of fun.  We had treats to munch on...peanut butter fudge and a glass of milk counts as lunch, right?

The only regret from the day was not getting more pictures!!!  Take my word for it-these girls are totally 100% cute.


They could make:

1. magnets
2. ornaments
3. flower pins (for your shirt, but they would put them in their hair)
4. cards

We started with cards.  (FYI...this is a fun girls' night in thing to do.  I've been to a few valentine's card making parties...just for the fun of it card making parties...youth girls card making parties...all great times.)


When they needed inspiration, I showed them a picture of the holiday bags that my mom has been making this holiday season and they went nuts!!!  There were many great variations of ornaments.  Here is Grace, who stayed the latest and made the most:


Cute card.  Cute Girl.  And yes, those corners are rounded.  They LOVED the corner cutter, and the paper cutter/scorer.  Watch out Hallmark, these girls are moving in!  (FYI...Today I learned that Taylor Swift has a line of greeting cards.)


After cards, we moved on to ornaments.  So cute, so easy, so cheap.  I grabbed step-by-step pictures in order to do a little tutorial.  Check back tomorrow for that!!!  Until then, enjoy the last little days of Christmas preparations.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snot Bubble Cute

About a year ago, I decided to change "snot bubble" from a noun to an adjective when describing how emotional something was for me.


For example, "It was so sweet and I was crying so hard, like snot-bubble-crying."  Know what I mean?  As funny as I like to be, I actually cry at a lot of things.  Mostly, I'm a sympathetic crier.  TV, on stage, movies...if someone is shedding a tear, I'm right there with them.  Tear for tear.


Now, with Burl and winter, we are experiencing a whole new way that snot bubble can be used as an adjective.  When Burl gets a runny nose, IT RUNS AND RUNS AND RUNS.  He doesn't fuss much or seem to be bothered by it.  He's just a little bit snuggly, more drippy, and he is still very cute, 


...Snot-Bubble-Cute!
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