I suppose I have been slacking a bit when it comes to updating the blog. My apologies.
I haven't had any new or finished projects to post about as my hands are acting up (carpal tunnel syndrome). I do have an Annie doll and a penny rug in progress but, unfortunately, they aren't far enough along to be interesting. When my hands act up I'm forced to pace myself. If I work through the pain (which isn't hard to do when I'm in the zen-like crafty zone), they end up going numb. I can't even hold a needle well with numb hands. So I've been wearing my braces quite a bit in hopes that I'll nip this flare-up in the bud.
On a more cheerful note, there was a bit of a party at my house yesterday. In all there were about 25 people (mamas and children) here. All are friends (both old and new) that I've met through Amitymama. The mamas sat around, talking and eating, while the kiddos ran wild and had an awesome time. At one point, I peeked into Mason's bedroom. His room is small (10' x 10') and there were about 10 kids playing happily. About 5 of them were giggling hysterically while bouncing on the bed. They (correctly) had me pegged as the type of mama who is wholly in favor of bed jumping.
Becka has asked me to devote a bit of blog space addressing the subject of yummy smelling houses. Although I honestly don't think I have any big secrets. I think that, perhaps, I just devote a bit more effort to the cause than the average person. For me, it's an addiction. ;-)
I love potpourri and have bowls or baskets full of the stuff. I often try to place potpourri near the vents in the house. I even have a small basket of potpourri sitting directly on the vent in the bathroom. In addition to scenting the bathroom, it keeps the bathroom from hoarding the heated or cooled air. I refresh all the potpourri weekly by adding a little fragrance oil and fluffing it a bit with a fork.
I buy fragrance oils in bulk. Those teensy 2oz bottles that you usually find in stores wouldn't meet my needs. I buy fragrance oils in 16oz. bottles from places like Save On Scents or Bitter Creek. I generally use go through 2 16oz. bottles per season.
I also love candles. I don't buy pricey candles because I just go through them too quickly. I prefer big jar candles because I've had too many pillar candles leak. I think I leave them lit for too long. I tend to light candles in the morning and blow them out before I go to bed at night.
My little secret for making inexpensive candles extra yummy is that, after the candle has been burning a while, I squirt a bit of fragrance oil into the pool of melted wax.
I also make room spray with my fragrance oils. Room sprays are easy to make. I fill a atomizer (pump) spray bottle halfway with water. Then I fill the rest of the way with rubbing alcohol. Top off with a hearty splash of fragrance oil and you're good to go. This also works well as a linen spray. I like to spray the layers of my bed with a lavender/rose mixture as I make it each day. I also spritz the dried flower arangement over my bed. I tend to spritz dried flowers/wreaths throughout the house as they'll hold scent longer than just spraying the air.
So that's it...all of my secrets. :-)
Tuesday, October 31
I suppose I have been slacking a bit when it comes to updating the blog. My apologies.
Wednesday, October 25
The table runner is finished!
One small problem. I thought I had properly wrapped my brain around getting the binding to look mitered at the corners. I was wrong.
I'll have to figure it out before doing any more binding but I decided to leave it rather than frustrate myself to death. The buttons at the corners are supposed to cause you to not notice the cruddy binding job.
I have some friends coming by for a visit today so I won't get much of anything done except for some cooking. I'm going to get some pumpkin bread started in a few minutes because Melissa needs pumpkin bread ;-) (I know you're reading this lol). I'll also get some soup going in the crockpot. And my Mason needs cornbread with his soup.
On that note, I'll leave you with a picture of Alice, who is my sole kitchen companion at the moment. It's too early for the dog. She went back to bed. We're usually late sleepers. So at 7am it's just me and Alice.
Monday, October 23
I've got so many different things going on at the same time. It's nice to finally see some things are nearing completion.
I only have a few more horses to stitch and stuff before I add their finishing touches.
The autumn table runner is coming along. I made a mistake when I was sewing things together and I didn't realize it until I was almost done. I had all the embroidered writing facing the same direction. This would be fine for a wall hanging but just didn't sit right with me for a table runner.
I know. It's me and my weird way of seeing things again. Back when the writing was all going the same direction the colors were arranged better. The two identical dark squares on the same side is bothering me (it was not like that before) but I think I can balance it out when I add a border around it all. I'm trying to not obsess over the little things (because a part of me wants to rip all the seams and do it right) and keep in mind that it is just a table runner. It will get food spilled on it. It is not the Mona Lisa. Getting it finished and in use while it is still autumn means more than perfection. Right?
And this would be how I learned that lesson. You see this penny rug? I obsessed over the colors being arranged *just right*. The project itself was huge. All. that. stitching. And when it was done I was so pleased. I moved it around every few weeks and enjoyed how it looked in each new place.
Once I put it in the center of the table we sit at for all of our meals. It got food splatted on it. So I washed it carefully. By hand. And the red bled.
So I moved it to an end table in the living room. It would be safe there. That is where it got candle was splatted on it.
I've always believed that it's a waste to have nice things that are always kept up, unused, because they are nice. And since anything nice around here happens on a budget, those things almost always involve more effort than expense. And so I'm slowly learning to accept that life will happen. Things will get stained, ripped, faded, and worn. I'm learning to see that this is what adds character and history. Slowly, I'm learning.
Tuesday morning update: Don't believe a word of that. I pulled out the seam ripper and rearranged the last 4 squares on the right. :)
Saturday, October 21
This is something for which I've been on the lookout for quite some time...a simple little china cabinet that's properly scaled for our home. Not only did it have to be quaintly sized, but it also needed to be made of wood (not laminate or veneers) so I could have my way with it. And it needed to be cheap.
Last night I was poking around Goodwill, doing my thrifting thing, and I happened upon this little cabinet. It's wood. It's not humongous. And it was $50.
I've decided I'll live with it as is for a little bit until I decide what color it needs to be. Right now my head is swimming with possibilities. It has a few dings and flaws but that will just save me work when I get to distressing and primming it up.
So what do you think? Black? Cream? A deep barn red? That medium colonial blue? And crackled or just plain distressed?
Ah the possibilities...
Thursday, October 19
I have many works in progress at the moment. The things I'm working on that are related to my Natural Playthings business aren't very interesting to look at. They're all, basically, more of the same.
So I thought I'd share what will be a new runner for our table (as always, you can click the picture for a larger version). I recently participated in an autumn quilt square swap on the sewing forum at Amitymama. I received 60 squares of awesome fall fabrics. To mix things up even more I'm working on some little embroideries to add to it. I just wrote little sayings and drew some fallish stuff with a water soluble marker. Most of the stitching is done in backstitch.
Isabelle has been sitting and stitching with me. She's working on earning the embroidery charm for her bracelet that goes with the Keepers at Home Handbook she's been working through.
Wednesday, October 18
Tuesday, October 17
Thank you, all, so much for the "feel better" love! I think it's curing me. ;-)
I'm feeling much better today. This works out well for my husband as he is now the sick one. So tonight's dinner is some nice, homemade chicken noodle soup. Isabelle requested extra noodles.
If you have never had chicken soup with homemade noodles, you MUST! Although, be warned: packaged egg noodles will never be good enough ever again. They're so easy, too.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp oil
2-4 Tblsp water
I stick it all in my kitchen aid mixer (with the dough hook). I stir it together a bit to get it started. Then set the mixer going slowly. After a it's worked itself into a ball, I add more flour if dough is sticking to the bottom (instead of rolling with the main ball of dough) . I let the mixer knead if for a while...7-10 minutes maybe.
Then I put it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let it sit and rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes...an hour is better.
Then divide the dough into 3 parts. Roll each part out with a rolling pin. Cut into strips. Drop the strips into the boiling soup and let them cook for 20 minutes or so.
I'll be back to showing crafties tomorrow :)
Saturday, October 14
This sickness has been trying to get ahold of me for a few weeks. Every 4 or 5 days I start feeling a bit off. Then I fend it off with Zicam. Well it finally got the better of me. Zicam lost.
It's 6:30pm and I just dragged myself out of bed. That's only because I am really thirst and in search of medicinal relief.
I made this tower of pumpkin muffins last night when I thought the sickness might be getting a foothold. My thought was that the kids would be able to fend for themselves a bit foodwise. It seems to have worked as the muffins are completely gone. I know my husband took 6 or 8 with him when he left to go fishing this morning. But still...there were 30 total.
Well, I just wanted to check in just in case anyone thought I was hoarding pictures of finished projects. I'm not. I promise.
Back to bed...
Thursday, October 12
Be gentle. This was definitely outside my comfort zone. I'm just not so much a paper and glue girl.
When I signed up for this ATC swap (bird theme) I had it in my mind that I'd somehow incorporate the world to which I'm accustomed (felt and embroidery floss). (ATCs explained)
But I hadn't properly visualized the size they'd be. Once I actually cut out a piece of cardstock to 2.5" x 3.5" I knew the ideas in my head wouldn't work. For some reason I was assuming they would be about the size of a smaller index card. But I know they are 3" x 5" so I was apparently not thinking clearly.
So instead of trying to rework the same idea (which usually turns out disappointing, in my experience), I started over with a new medium. I hope the recipients aren't horribly disappointed with my attempts at paper collage.
Glue sticks are NOT my friend.
Tuesday, October 10
These pictures show what happens when a certain 5 year old boy decides his hair is too long. The first picture is Sunday evening. It is the "before". The second picture is Monday night. Obviously, it's the "after".
You would think he'd mention his dissatisfaction with the length of his hair to his former-hairdresser mother. But no. Sometimes one just has to take matters into his own hands. He came waltzing up to me after having hacked at his hair as if everything was as it should be.
Of course, I had to cut it. It ended up WAY shorter than I ever would have cut it because I was trying to make it look somewhat intentional. There were places that were pretty much cut down to the scalp.
When it was all finished I found myself having a hard time looking at him. He just doesn't look like the same child. So I decided he needed a hat. :) I asked him if he'd like a hat. He said he would. Then I asked him what color he'd like his hat to be. He said "rainbow". Luckily I just happened to have some nice, chunky yarn in "rainbow". So I pulled out some size 13 needles and got busy. I worked on it an hour last night. Tonight I had to wait a bit for my turn with the manicurist. Luckily, I just happened to have the hat-in-progress in my purse. Let me tell you, size 13 needles ROCK! I came home with a finished hat. He's sleeping in it.
He's also put in an order for a blue hat with a stripe. I hope he doesn't expect all of his hat orders to be filled so quickly. My blue yarn isn't chunky.
Sunday, October 8
I am no where near the accomplished thrifter that many in blogland are. And I'm going to admit one of my hang-ups.
Yes, I've just been browsing blogs and I'm so impressed with the wonderful treasures others find. :)
But here's the thing. I would really love to collect dishes and serving pieces. But I'm scared.
You see, I'd want to actually use what I buy rather than keep it as something to look pretty on a shelf. I have that overly practical side, you know.
Back to the scared... I'm scared of lead paint.
Not all that long ago I saw this story on our local news. I've always been a bit leery of dishes and such after finding out things labelled "for decorative use only" say this because they are likely decorated with lead paint. I see this often in seasonal pieces.
In fact I recently saw several (new) boxed "dessert service sets" at goodwill. They were obviously donated by Target stores. They were cute...winter but not specifically Christmas. And they caught my eye because they would have been perfect for the tea parties my children and I like to have. The sets contained 4 cups, 4 saucers, and 4 dessert sized plates. As I'm looking the box over I see that it says, in very fine print, that it is for decorative use only due to lead paint. A full-out admission right on the box. Who on earth would buy cups and plates and not use them for eating and drinking? How many people buy stuff like this and have no idea they are exposing their family to lead?
When it comes to thrifting goodies... Well, there are no labels or small print. I would love to collect fancy old tea cups for out tea parties. But goodness knows what sort of paint they've been decorated with. People didn't have the slightest clue that lead was dangerous way back when.
I tell ya, every single time I find something I like, and would want to use for serving food/drink, I put it down. I imagine that there are books or websites or some way to find out what is safe and what isn't. I just haven't looked into it. I just sit in fear. With sad, plain, white dishware.
We just got home from a birthday party for Winnie. She is friends with my children and is also the child of one of my friends.
I finished her present mere minutes before we needed to leave so I didn't get to snap a picture. So I brought the camera along. Here's Winnie's mom, Gwen, attempting to model the apron we gave Winnie. But her big head wouldn't fit :-D Poor big-headed Gwen. (click the picture to make her head even bigger LOL!)
The apron is reversible and criss-crosses in the back. The other side is yellow and has a couple small flowers embroidered on it. So a simple side and a dreamy princess side. My son, Mason, gave me specific instructions for the picture I drew and embroidered on the princess side. He even told me which colors had to go where and everything. I did veto his sun AND moon idea though (yes, both. together.)...the stars seem sufficient.
Winnie is wearing the little hair clip I put together at the last minute from a fabric yo-yo and some buttons. It was the bow on the package.
My kids had a blast and didn't want to come home.
Saturday, October 7
I finished this gryphon today. I love making these even though it is definitely the most intricate animal pattern I've created. I cut out a second gryphon when cutting out this one. I think I'll rest a few days before stitching it up, though.
Actually, I know I will because I have a couple projects with deadlines staring down at me. We're attending a birthday party for a friend's daughter tomorrow. I know what I'm making her. I'll be starting it in as soon as I'm done here. And I have some ATC's to make for a swap...my very first ATC's. :-/ I'm a bit scared.
Friday, October 6
I made some new earrings today and just finished listing them at my Etsy shop.
I'm also in the midst of doing some stitching...gryphons to be exact. And I'm still (slowly) working on those horses and such.
I can't believe that it's Friday already. This week has absolutely flown by! Hopefully I'll have more pictures of finished projects later on this evening.
Wednesday, October 4
Last night I was reading Bettsi's blog (Tender Arts) and she spoke highly of switching to beta blogger. So I followed suit. I like it a lot. Especially that I could change colors easily and girlie this place up! Hope you like!
Well, I woke up this morning with a lovely cold so I probably won't be doing much worth writing about today. Hopefully Zicam will do its thing and make it all go away!
The little autumn doll I wrote about the other day is now on eBay. I don't do ebay auctions very often as I tend to use the high bid and number of views as a measure of my self worth. She looks so sad all packaged up that I had to do it for her.
Since I don't have anything fun to show you, and nothing all that interesting to tell you, I'll leave you with my recipe for pancakes. Trust me, these are not your ordinary pancakes. They are so light and fluffy. And they smell like waffle cones (you know that smell!). And they are so yummy you'll find yourself making extra just so you can make peanut butter and honey sandwiches later on, using pancakes as the bread.
2 1/2 cups flour (I use all purpose flour)
1 tsp salt
3 Tblsp baking powder (use only 2 Tblsp if using Rumford brand...that stuff is crazy)
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tblsp oil (I like peanut oil)
1 Tblsp vanilla
2 cups milk
Mix all ingredients and cook on a lightly buttered (or sprayed with an oil spray) griddle or pan.
Monday, October 2
I had a "do little" Sunday, yesterday. I had big plans. There was a list of things to be accomplished. But thanks to Bettsi and her reccomendation of the book, The Mennyms, I did little but read. The book was wonderful! I admit that I have a soft spot for books that feature dolls who have come to life. Now I need to read the rest of the books in the series. And I need to get to work on that list.