Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Tale of the Happiest Birthday

People, I had the best birthday I've had in years! I don't know why, but historically, my birthday has usually been a bad day. Not the sort of I-can't-believe-I'm-so-oooolllllldddd sort of bad day. Just the kind of day where you have to work and it's raining and you get in a fight with your mom and the bank account is empty and it's hot dogs again for dinner and you get stuck in traffic and you get bleach on your favorite get the idea. Oddly enough, the day after is usually much better. But this year my birthday was on a Saturday and the whole weekend was awesome!

Friday Nick was off, and we had dinner with my brother and his wife and son in their new house, so I didn't have to cook and the meal was awesome! This was our first visit to their house since they moved in, and it was really neat to see them settled after a long struggle to find the right home. Before we stopped there we swung by my parents' house to drop something off, and my mom gave me my gift - a gift certificate for a massage! I've never had a professional massage, and I can't wait to use it!

Even though Nick had to work on my actual birthday, he got to come home early which never happens. But before he came home he called me with some good news about the house situation. Then when he got home he took us out to dinner and then dropped me off at Tuesday Morning and Joann and Michael's while he watched the kids. I found some great stuff at Tuesday Morning, including a couple of Christmas gifts that I saw last time and was afraid would get gone before I could get back and buy them. I had a gift card at Joann from Nick, so I got to go crazy in there. I came out with some AWESOME clearance stuff and still only spent half the gift card! Then at Michael's I had three coupons which allowed me to knock two things off my longtime Amazon wish list as well as buy a jewelry tool I didn't even realize how bad I needed until I found out it existed (hello, one step ear wire maker!). And I had a couple gift cards there from my awesome in laws that brought my out of pocket total to under $1! Then I got to go home and hop on and use the rest of my Joann gift card on some more cool stuff, including the We R Memory Keepers Banner Punch Board, which I can't wait to get! I'm a total sucker for craft tools.

The next morning I got to go to church, and my mother and father in law handed me a card with some birthday money. The message was great, and after the service we went to lunch with my brother and his wife, after which they gave me my birthday gift from them, which was an Amazon gift card (yay!!). I'm still debating what I'm going to buy with it, but I'm thinking a Pick Punch (not an affiliate link).

But here is one of the coolest things that happened. There was recently a store opened near our house called Bargain Hunt. Now I had never heard of them before they opened a location here, but they're a pretty awesome store. They get random merchandise from other stores and mark it down to a great price. If it hasn't sold after a month, they mark it down 10% every day until it's 90% off their price. Sort of like Big Lots and an Easter egg hunt had a baby. My mom has found Lily a few dresses there that retailed originally for around $50.00 each and paid $1.49 for them. So anyway, Friday I was looked for a gift for someone there, and I walked down the craft aisle, and out of the corner of my eye I spied, way back under a shelf...a Minc Machine! The big one!

The box was a little battered, but it was still sealed up, and I almost hurt myself getting it in my buggy so fast. I looked at the price, and it was $61! That's 60% off retail! I've wanted one since they came out, but I just couldn't spend $150 on one when we're trying to buy a new house. Now granted, you can find them for around $100 now, but I've never seen one priced that low. I'm so excited! I try not to buy anything that's technically unnecessary that costs very much without asking Nick first, just out of respect for him as my husband and also the guy who works so I can stay home with the kids. So I actually saved the receipt just in case he wanted me to take it back, but then I got birthday money, which mostly paid for it anyway. Not that he was likely to tell me to return it in the face of the starry look in my eyes, haha!

I actually already had some accessories for it that I had gotten on clearance at Joann months ago, some foil and tags and scrapbook/journal embellishments. I had grabbed them because I wanted to try foiling with my laminator, and it worked okay, but I saved most of them in case I ever did get a Minc. And I'm glad I did, because it does a much better job with foiling than just a plain laminator because of all the different temperature settings. Not that I don't love my laminator. I might have laminated the first three papers Lily brought home from kindergarten. #thatleeeeetlebitcrazymom When I get my craft room I'm going to go nuts with the foiled prints for my walls. I've already got a strong start on a Minc themed Pinterest board. And I have big plans for the kids' rooms too!

In the meantime, I wanted to try it on something run on a copier, so I may or may not have foiled the church bulletin from last month that was hanging out in my car. Fancy!

Anyway, that's the amazing tale of how Tracy turned 38 in crafty/shopping mostly for free/no cooking/awesome family/really blessed style! I want to do this every year!

Teachers of Good Things Fabric Pumpkins

So clearly I'm making up for lost time with the posting tonight, but it's about to get CA-RAZY up in here, so I'm doing it while I can. I mentioned a couple posts ago that we did another Walridge Baptist Church Teachers of Good Things Quarterly Craft Meeting. You know, the WBCToGTQCM for short. This month was so fun! We made fabric pumpkins, and they turned out SO CUTE!

We took our inspiration and general game plan from this post at Coastal Farmhouse, and if I can ever get my hands on some of that gorgeous snowy vintage chenille I'm going to make some just like hers!

Rachael and I hit Joann's for supplies and went a little nuts (within the budget of course). I'm so pleased with the fabrics we ended up with! Rachael graciously took on the task of cutting all the circles out because, hello, have you met my scissor skills? She cut 2 sizes, 18 inches and 9 inches, which made roughly 12 and 6 inch pumpkins. The tutorial linked very helpfully gives you measurements for a lot more sizes. We also cut freehand leaves out of all the fabric.

This is more of a list tutorial than a photo tutorial, because I was so busy making pumpkins that I mostly got photos of finished items. But here are the basics:

Fabric circles in various sizes
Needles and thread
Deer corn
Stems/short sticks
Various embellishments like buttons and twine
Hot glue guns

Start by threading your needle, tying a large knot in the end, and sewing a loose running stitch all the away around your circle, about a half inch from the edge. Loosely gather the circle into a pouch, right side out.

Add between 1/2-1 cup of deer corn in the pouch, then fill the rest with Polyfil. Carefully pull the thread tight to close the circle at the top. Tie the thread off, then choose a stem.

Squirt a good glob of hot glue down into the top of the pumpkin, then push the stem in all the way to the bottom and twist. Hold it there for a second to let the glue set.

Add embellishments of your choice like fabric leaves, buttons, and twine.

About our supplies:

The deer corn came in a 40 pound bag from Walmart for something like $6. We had plenty left of course, but we also play cornhole at church camp every year, and the bags have to be repaired about once a year, so any excess will be used for that. Funny detail - the first bag we bought was actually half deer kibble, which we didn't realize until we opened it up right before the event. Fortunately Walmart is about 5 minutes from the church. :)

You will need lots of Polyfil for this project. If you're doing this for a group, you will probably need more than a 3lb bag.

While we did have a few real pumpkin stems, most of our stems were just short sticks Rachael gathered from around her home, and I liked them even better than the real stems. Before using, you will want to bake any natural items like this in your oven for a couple of hours at 175 degrees or so, checking every 15 minutes to make sure they don't catch fire. This will kill any little creepy crawlies that may be hiding in the bark. Another awesome (but more expensive) option is to use a small bundle of cinnamon sticks as a stem.

The twine was just basic $1.97 a spool stuff from Walmart. We bought a 1/2 inch wooden dowel at Hobby Lobby, and I wrapped it tightly with the twine, then coated it with fabric stiffener and let it dry for 24 hours. The dowel was 36" long, and we cut it in small sections when it was dry, but we still ran out, so I would recommend making more than you think you'll need.

We got our buttons in big bags at Hobby Lobby for $5.99 minus the coupon savings, and I couldn't get enough of them! (Not an affiliate link)

This craft was a huge hit, and most ladies made more than one. My mom and my sister-in-law Leah, who is the pastor's wife, were on vacation with my dad and my brother and nephew, so I made some for them too.

These were my Mom's.

And these were Leah's. When she got back from vacation, she made a couple as a thank you gift for the neighbor who got their mail while they were gone.

I made these for the sweet lady who did the cooking for the event and for a dear church sister who unfortunately lost her husband the morning of the event and of course was not able to attend.

I also made some for Lily's teachers at school for Teacher Appreciation Week, and when I went for a parent teacher meeting this week with her main teacher she had them proudly displayed on her desk and told me how much she loved them!

This was a craft that was doable for everyone, and even Lily made a couple.

We all had a great time, and they were all so different, yet all so adorable! I just couldn't quit with them. I think I made 15 in all. The five at the top were the ones I took home, and they make me smile every time I see them. 

A few tips:
More corn means a heavier pumpkin that is going to stay put, but if your fabric is light and thin (like the muslin one above), it may show through if you add too much. Also, if your pumpkin is heavy, you will need to leave it sitting on the table while you're pulling the thread closed at the top so you don't break the thread. If you are making your pumpkin from burlap, it helps to tie the end of the thread to the burlap before running your stitch so that it doesn't just pull through. Also, burlap will tend to poke out around the stem if you stitch too close to the edge, so it's best to make your stitching line about an inch from the edge and tuck the raw edges into the top of the pumpkin before inserting your stem.

This was such a great craft, easy and inexpensive, especially if you are doing it for a group. Of course if you are just making a few for yourself and don't want to buy a 40 pound bag of corn, you can weight them with rice, dried beans, dried pasta, or poly pellets. Or you can leave them unweighted and just stuff them with Polyfil or scrap fabric. Rachael made a few from old sweaters as a test run that were unweighted and they turned out amazing!

Hopefully we will be in a new house next Thanksgiving, and I just want to make these and put them everywhere! And I love that they can be made to match or complement any color scheme. Make up a few for your holiday decor or to take as a thank you gift for your host on Thanksgiving - there's still plenty of time!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lily's Birthday Skates

My Lily girl turned 6 on October 5. S-I-X! I never gave permission for this growing up business. Hmph!

Anyway, last year I made most of her gifts, and we did the whole awesome Adopt-A-Baby Party. We decided not to do big friend birthday parties for the kids this year because of the house being on the market, and with most of my craft supplies in storage, I didn't do much with handmade gifts.

We did have a small family gathering at the house though, and I did do a bit of upcycling on one gift, which turned out to be her favorite. A month or so ago she was invited to her first school friend birthday party. Have I mentioned that this girl started kindergarten in August? I didn't? Oh that's right, it's because I'm still in denial. But pushing onward, this birthday party was held at the skating rink. Let me just inject a hard earned word of wisdom for you here: don't wear flip-flops to a 6 year old's skating party, and no I don't care to discuss it further. Lesson learned. Anyway, she started out very scared of the whole concept of skating, but by the end of the party I had to dodge speeding skaters to make my way out to the center of the rink to rescue her where she had ventured out and ended up on the floor with no nearby rails on which to pull herself up. She was sold on the wheeled lifestyle.

A few days before her birthday I was at the thrift store and came across these well loved Barbie skates in her size for $3.99.

As you can see, they had some major scuffing on the toes.

So I headed to Walmart where I grabbed a 75 cent clearance fat quarter and a $1 roll of pompom trim from their Halloween ribbon selection. I used a piece of scrap fabric to lay over the toe of one skate to trace around and get a rough idea of the shape I would need to cover the damage, then used that as a template to cut the pieces out of my fat quarter. Then I used Aleene's Original Tacky Glue to adhere the fabric to the toe, and carefully trimmed away any excess with my Xacto knife. I cut two pieces of trim for each skate, one to go across the top edge of the fabric and one to go around the base of the toe, then hot glued them down using my glue gun on the high setting. Then I snipped off the bows and made new ones using the fat quarter, although I did reuse the center bands since they were in good shape. I just hot glued these back on using the high setting again.

If I do this again, I will seal the fabric with Mod Podge to make them easier to wipe down, but this was completed just a little while before she got home from school, so there wasn't really time to let it dry.

As you can see, she was pretty excited about them. In fact, she stopped everything to go find a pair of socks and put them on immediately. Her Nana and Papaw bought her knee and elbow pads and a helmet a few days later, and she's been skating her heart out in the garage ever since. She's gotten really steady on them, and I'm excited to get to take her back to the skating rink.

Poking my head up...

I've been trying to post for like a week now, but I'm sick, and it just seems like by the time I finish all the necessary tasks like feeding the kids and putting on pants, I have nothing left in me. It's nothing terribly serious, just a sore throat, but I'm on antibiotics now, so hopefully it's on its way out.

So here's what's happening. We have a contract on the house. Yay us! Actually, we had a contract before this one, but the buyer backed out because the inspection turned up some foundation damage. Boo! BUT, we are getting it fixed in 10 days, with a lifetime transferable warranty, so it shouldn't be an issue. Even with that, the first buyer didn't want to stay on board. Fortunately, he'd been in a bit of a bidding war with another buyer, and they were happy to take his place with the assurance that the foundation work is being done.

So now the race is on to find our next house. We found one that we really liked, but it sold the day before the contract went on ours. And we've since found one that we really love, but there are some issues with it that would have to be resolved for it to be an actual option for us. It's all very much up in the air from our viewpoint, but God has definitely been moving and providing, so we will see what happens.

So as far as crafting goes, there's been a little bit. Not much, but a little. And I don't have any tutorials for you right now, but here are a few things I've made.

Back in July a little girl at our church had a birthday, and I made her this fun candy colored paracord bracelet and earrings set. The bracelet actually ended up being a little small for her, so I made her a bigger one and she sent this one back to Lily.

My friend Melissa just had her gorgeous baby girl MacKenzie. Her nursery is done in gray and yellow with accents of teal in an elephant motif. So back in August for her baby shower I made her a few gifts. First was this paper banner with bows made using my Sizzix Bow Die.

I found this yellow and gray photo box at Hobby Lobby to put it in for gifting, and she can use the box in baby girl's room.

I made her a couple of curved burp cloths out of white terry cloth and this super soft cuddle minky.

And I also made her a faux chenille blanket. I'll be honest, I wasn't entirely happy with how the blanket turned out. The blue looked more teal in the store, and I should have used it as the one of the chenille layers and not the base fabric on the back. I should have sewn the lines half as far apart so the chenille strips would have been more even and stuck out less from the blanket. But it's still super cuddly, and she said she loves it.

My mother-in-law Brenda's birthday was also in August, and I made her this card.

It's very simple, but I like it. I'd really like to get into making cards on a more regular basis. I've got stamps, stamp pads, and embossing folders for days, but not much of a place to do it right now. And most of my stamps and ink pads are in storage right now anyway. When I get a craft room one of these days I plan on making up a bunch of different elements and having my girlfriends/sisters in law over for a card making party.

I also made Brenda this pretty patchwork zipper pouch.

The mint fabric was a duck cloth remnant from Hobby Lobby I think, and the coral polka dot fabric was from a pair of pants in the giveaway pile. I made my Mom a very similar one for her birthday in July.

Inside the pouch for Brenda I included this simple bead and chain set I made with these awesome metal filigree beads I got on clearance at Hobby Lobby.

We also had another Walridge Baptist Church Ladies Craft Meeting last month, but that one deserves a post of its own.

We could really use your prayers that God will show us to the house He has for us and that everything will go smoothly with the sale/closing on our own house. It looks like the timing may end up pretty tight on it - for us to close on the new home the same day as we close on the old home we will have to find the right house and have an offer accepted in the next week or so. Exciting times, people!