Thursday, August 21, 2014

Someday A Craft Room (a longish post)

Someday A Craft Room - it's the title of one of my Pinterest Boards, and one of my fondest wishes. Oh, I've got plenty of stuff to stock a craft room - it's just the room part that's missing. :)

Nick and I are working on some things with our house to get it market ready, nothing too crazy, just basic repairs, like fixing that little chip of stone Sawyer managed to remove from the hearth and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. We don't have it up for sale yet or even have a solid line on a house to buy, but we are praying that, if it's God's will, He will put us in a bigger place.

Back when we bought the house as first time home buyers and brand new parents (Taylor was 6 months old when we moved in), the 1200ish square feet it came with was an abundance. The home was a foreclosure, and it needed a few things, like all the light fixtures, an upstairs toilet and sink, and a door between the kitchen and the garage. Someone had stolen everything they could cart away, the carpet was a mess, and the garage door was busted. The paint on the walls was atrocious, and the kitchen needed new linoleum. Because it had been empty for over a year, the power was off, so when we went to view it on Labor Day evening of 2001, we explored it with flashlights.

Even with all the surface chaos, we could see the features that had long been on our wish list: a fireplace with a stone hearth, a two car garage, two bathrooms, a dishwasher, a front porch, a huge fenced-in back yard. We decided standing right there in that dark, lavender painted living room to put in an offer. We heard back within a couple of days that we had won the bidding. Closing happened within a few weeks, and we and both our families got to work.

Nick's grandfather Charles, who passed away a couple of years ago, was the greatest handyman I ever knew. He bought us a door for the kitchen and fashioned a gorgeous cover for our exposed doorbell chime from a brass kick plate and one of Nick's grandmother's earrings. He painted and installed tile and light fixtures and anything else we needed done. Working right alongside Charles was Nick's dad Mike, who inherited all his dad's talent for carpentry and construction. He helped install the new garage door and lighting, and helped Nick and my parents paint and lay the flooring in the living room and kitchen. My mother-in-law Brenda worked just as hard, helping with everything she could get her hand in. My dad took care of the toilet and sink installation, and my mom and Nick's grandmother scrubbed the house from top to bottom.

I rocked and nursed Taylor in my mom's antique bentwood rocker in the barren living room, singing Amazing Grace to my baby girl to the background of the hammering and drilling going on in the rest of the house. We painted the living room a rich tomato red and the kitchen and hallway a mossy green. Our big master bedroom was white and airy, and the master bath, the gem of the house, was finished out with bright white beadboard and foresty green ceramic tiles. Taylor's room was pale blue with bright yellow stars and fluffy white clouds, and that lovely 3rd bedroom was a luxury we turned into an earth toned family room with a big green sectional couch and our tiny 13 inch TV. We had brand new carpet laid in all three bedrooms, and we couldn't get enough of walking on it barefoot.

We moved in on Halloween, tickled pink by all the neighborhood kids who oohed and aahed over the inviting living room beyond the front door. It was such a perfect first real home for our newly expanded family, and coming from a two bedroom single wide we rented from my Papaw for ridiculously low rent, it felt like a mansion.

For many years it was plenty of room. Then when Taylor was 8, Lily joined our family. Pragmatically, we gave up the den and turned it into a new bedroom for Taylor, and painted her old one pink with big chocolate hued polka dots for the new baby.

I became a full time stay at home mom 3 weeks before Lily was born when my doctor put me on bed rest. When my maternity leave was up, after much prayer and conversation, I went in and quit the bank job I'd had for the last 10 years. Going from two full time paychecks to one was an adjustment and a lesson in faith to be sure, and when Christmas started getting close, I started trying my hand at making some of our gifts. I found that I was my mother's daughter indeed when I fell head over heels in love with creating.

The problem with that was that now that all of our bedrooms were, well, bedrooms, there was no place to put all the supplies that went along with my new-found career as a crafter. Then when Sawyer came along when Lily was two, it got even more cramped.

Now it's a juggling act between keeping my craft and sewing supplies put away and inaccessible (rarely) and having access to them at the cost of having our kitchen table relatively buried (usually).

We hope and pray to sometime in the relatively near future be able to buy a house with a bedroom for everybody, and a craft room too. And if/when we do, I've got a few things planned for that craft room!

It's going to be bright, bright, BRIGHT!

Yellows and pinks and oranges and turquoises, greens and purples and polka dots and adorable printables up on the walls and a nice long table where my sewing machine and my serger and my Silhouette machine can live in harmony.

I'll have a nice big cutting table for fabric and maybe a desk so that my Sizzix machine and dies don't have to live shoved in a closet.

And of course a cheery corkboard to pin up inspiration, and a big chalkboard to make lists on, and a nice spot to take photos of my projects.

And since I'm really going overboard with the dreaming here, I'll have a gorgeous white beadboard Workbox.

Of course that's probably all wishful thinking, but it's sure fun to dream isn't it? For now I'm off to continue organizing all my buttons and brads, just in case...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Taylor, Lily, and Sawyer - Summer 2014

I got a chance a few days ago to take some quick pictures of the kids, and I wanted to share them here. I try to take semi formal shots of them each season, but sometimes it's a bit like the cobbler's children having no shoes. But the other day a free moment and happy kids happened at the same time, so I grabbed the opportunity that day and again the next, even if Lily's hair was a little in the awkward stage of growing out tousled and Sawyer was more interested in everything that wasn't the camera lens. I needed to capture Lily with her second missing tooth and Sawyer with his cheesy little grin and Taylor and her gorgeous eyes. I can't believe how much they've all grown, especially Taylor, who is so very pretty and now an eighth grader! Man I love these kids!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wire Bead Jewelry Set

My mom's birthday was last month. She loves handmade jewelry, so I decided to make her a necklace and matching earrings.

I've had surprisingly good luck in the past finding reasonably priced and pretty beads in Walmart's craft department, and when I went looking for supplies for this set, I was not disappointed. I found some pretty round beads that look either blue or black, depending on how you look at them, for the bulk of the necklace, but the real star of the show were these gorgeous silver tone wire ball beads!

You can buy them on Amazon, as sourced above (not an affiliate link), but they were much cheaper at Walmart, like half of Amazon's price.

This set was very simple to put together. I used stretch cording. I looped one end of the cording a short distance over a split ring, then added a crimp bead and squeezed it shut to hold it in place. Then I strung 50 blue/black beads. Then I added a wire bead, blue/black bead, wire bead, blue/black bead, wire bead, then 50 more blue/black beads. Then I threaded on a crimp bead, then a spring ring clasp, then threaded the end of the cord back down through the crimp bead and crimped closed.

The earrings were a little more complicated, but once I figured out what my plan was they were easy enough. 

I looped the cording down through the ball, around a wire inside, then back up through the top. Then, with both ends of the cord together, I threaded two blue/black beads onto it. Then I threaded a crimp bead onto one end of the cord, then looped the other end through a wire earring hook, then fed that end back down through the crimp bead and squeezed it shut. There was just a tiny bit of cord end protruding down from the crimp bead, so I snipped that off. Then I just added a silicone earring back and I was all done!

I also had enough blue/black beads left for Lily to string her a bracelet to match. I had her use stretch cording for that also, and I just double knotted it to close it off.

I love how these came out, and more importantly, my mom loved them too! She's worn them to church several times since I gave them to her a few weeks ago. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Vacation Bible School: Shrinky Dink Key Chains

Oh my goodness! So over two weeks have flown by since I've posted - sorry about that. It's been a very busy couple of weeks! We just got back from an amazing week in Texas with family, which came hot on the heels of VBS week. My last post was right before Vacation Bible School, where I was in charge of the crafts! I had some awesome helpers, and we had so much fun!

The first day we did Shrinky Dink key chains for every single class from ages 4 up through 18. They all loved them, and even our workers got in on the fun! Have you ever played with Shrinky Dinks? They are awesome!
A quick breakdown if you don't know what they are:

Shrinky Dinks are thin sheets of plastic that you color or stamp to decorate, then bake. In just a few minutes, your shape will shrink to 1/3 of its original size and thicken to 9 times its original thickness. Your colors will be brighter and more vibrant, and you will have a nifty little key fob, name tag, pendant, zipper pull, etc.

They come in several different versions: shiny clear; opaque black, white, or brown; or translucent sheets that are shiny and smooth on one side and rough on the other side. These last ones are called Rough and Ready (snort!), and they are the ones we went with. You can buy a 50 pack of these for $22 from the Shrinky Dinks website, which is much cheaper than buying a 10 pack at the craft store, if you need a bunch that is. On the shiny ones you need to use either permanent markers or a StazOn ink pad, which is fine, but not really the best idea for kiddos, especially ones you need to send home to their parents with unstained clothes. But the Rough and Ready sheets are the perfect surface for coloring with good old color pencils.

I cut each sheet in fourths, then used a corner rounder punch to round the corners so they wouldn't be sharp when they baked up. Then I gave each kid two and let them color whatever they wanted. When they were done, I used a standard hole punch to place a hole wherever they chose. After VBS was over for the night, Nick and I baked them all.

To bake, preheat your oven to 325°F, then lay a flat piece of parchment paper or lunch sized paper bag on a cookie sheet with one corner turned up. This will allow you to lift the baked Shrinky Dink off the hot pan without burning yourself or bending the flat shape. Lay your colored pieces ink/pencil side up and bake for 90 to 180 seconds. You really want to start watching through the oven window at about 90 seconds. Your shape will curl up as it shrinks, then flatten back out completely, which is how you know it's done. Occasionally larger pieces may stick to themselves (which is why you need to watch). If that happens, I've found that the easiest and safest way to unstick them is with a couple of forks. Just kind of gently work them apart, then let the piece finish baking. After I take the pieces out of the oven, I like to press down on them for a few seconds with a large acrylic stamp block to really make sure they are flat. Really anything flat that's larger than the surface of the shrunken piece will work for this.

This was one of my favorites:

I love that this sweet little 7 year old girl drew the happy little sun and butterfly and cross and then plopped a black widow spider right down in the middle of it, lol.

Here are some Shrinky Dink necklaces Sawyer, Lily, and my nephew Max made when he came to stay with us in May. I might have helped a little with the Jays one ;).

The rest of the VBS week included paracord bracelets and keychains, painted wooden magnets, finger painting (for the littles), pom pom caterpillar clothespin magnets (also for the littles), decorated teddy bear banks, Scupley magnets, and some really neat copper and leather stamped bracelets that I'll have a tutorial on coming soon.

Right now I'm off to fill an Etsy order and hit the sack!