Sunday, December 26, 2010

Handmade Christmas 2010: Dad's Bungee Cord Bag

This is one of the "top secret" handmade gifts I made this year. This drawstring bag was for my Dad. He mentioned to me last weekend about wanting a large drawstring bag for all his bungee cords. So this week I whipped one up for him!

I had the perfect fabric in my stash...a black burlap material that a lady from my parents' church had given me. I also sewed on some white/cream linen scraps for the label, and used some alphabet rubber stamps and Staz-On ink to stamp "Bungee Cords".

I always think it's so hard to hand-make good gifts for men...but this was the exception. I was glad to be able to make Dad something that he actually wanted and will be able to use.

I have a gift for my brother that I hand made as well. He's coming to visit in January, so I'm going to give it to him then. I'm not sure if he reads my blog or not...but most likely not, so I may be able to post about it soon (as soon as I take some good pictures).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas day..."

I alway marvel at how people can hear Christmas music for over a stores, on the radio... and not really think about the reason for Christmas...the birth of Christ.

Granted, most of the songs are about Santa, Rudolph, hippopotamuses, and winter wonderlands...but you also hear a lot of the traditional, meaningful Silent Night, Away In a Manger, and O Holy Night. (I can't even listen to O Holy Night without getting teary).

For a few years now, I always post the lyrics to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on Christmas day. It is my favorite Christmas song, not only because I like it musically, but because I love the lyrics. It specifically mentions Christ and that the reason he was born was to save us from our sin. It's all in the first verse...

"God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay!
Remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's pow'r when we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy!
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!"

And even when people do remember to think about Christ's birth, they either forget or do not know that the reason he was even born was to die on the cross to save us from our sins. That's what the line "To save us all from Satan's pow'r when we were gone astray" means. That's why people always refer to the birth of Christ as a gift.
I read a friend's blog recently who was having trouble with accepting gifts from people. The thing is, that we all have a gift given to us by God, even though we don't deserve it. All we have to do is accept it.

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas, got good gifts, and had opportunities to have fun with your families (I know I did!), but I encourage you to take a moment to remember "what Christmas is all about". God bless you all and Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! (2010)

Merry Christmas and Happy (Holy)days!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Craft Blog Love: Wise Craft and Obsessively Stitching

Do you ever find a new blog and just keep scrolling to the bottom and clicking the "older entries" button, looking at all the back-entries?

That's what I've been doing lately with Wise Craft. I came across a bunch of "new" craft blogs last night and Wise Craft was one of them. I can't even remember what brought me to it. I think it may have been the fabric flower tutorial that was linked to from another blog. But now I can't seem to stop clicking the older posts link at the bottom of each page. I'm looking at back-entries from 2007 right now. Although I must admit that I'm not actually reading all the posts. I'm at the point now where I just scroll down for crafty eye candy and only actually read what's written when it catches my eye.

Obsessively Stitching is another craft blog I'm liking. Mostly for her Angry Birds plush tutorials! I only heard about Angry Birds a few weeks ago when my husband showed me the game on his phone. Ever since then I keep seeing people talk/post/blog about it. I want a Droid phone so I can play Angry Birds too! I like those type of strategy/physics based games.

O Christmas Tree...

This was our first year decorating the artificial alpine tree that I bought last year after Christmas.

My mom bought one years ago and we always kind of made fun of it...affectionately calling it Mom's "stick tree". But that type of tree kind of grew on me after awhile and I ended up really wanting to buy one last year. I looked all over for one I could get for a decent price and couldn't find any for under $80. Then, while visiting CJ's parents in Ohio for Christmas and shopping with his mom at Pat Cattan's craft store, I found one on sale for $40! (Oh how I love Pat Cattan's! I wish we had one in western New York! I wish we had a Sonic drive-in too, but that's another story.)

The really nice thing about this type of artificial tree is that it takes up less space than your average artificial tree. Plus, the branches are bendy and after Christmas you can just un-decorate it, bend all the branches down to make it even thinner, and just have it in a corner as a rustic decorative element year round.

CJ and I changed up our Christmas tree color scheme a bit this year. In past years it's been silver and blue, with blue and those super-white LED lights. This year I wanted to warm the colors up a bit. CJ bought the "warm" white LED lights. Blue is still a major player...but we switched to turquoise from the royal/colbalt blue. And we swapped in gold for silver, and added in some sparkley chocolate brown. We actually had decided on this new color scheme last year when we bought all new ornaments on clearance after the holidays. I'm not sure if the turquoise and brown thing is played out yet, but I am still in love with it.

We bought new hooks last year too that are lovely, elegant little copper curly cues. So much nicer than those plain old wire hooks.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Presence on the Patio Winter 2010...

So yesterday was the big day. Presence on the Patio Winter 2010. And it...was...COLD. I lost count of how many people gave us pitying looks and comments about how we were out in the cold. An outside craft show in western New York...are we crazy? Yes...yes, we are.
One old gentleman (who was a priest, and said he was ordained in '57) came up to us and dryly joked "I think I should let you's WINTER." He was fun to talk to. Have I mentioned lately how much I love that I get along so well with old people?

The day seemed like a blur. I actually had forgotten to take pictures until we were just starting to pack up. That's why the fire pit in the above pic has snow in it (so we could cool it off to transport it home). We did have a nice fire to keep warm at earlier in the day.

We didn't seem to have as many people come as last year. I'm not sure what the reason was. But there are a few possibilities since there were a few changes from last year...
  • The weather. It was just COLD. And no one wants to be out shopping at an outdoor craft sale when it's so bitter cold.
  • The time. Last year the show was in the evening...from 6PM-9PM. This year I decided to have the show earlier in the day. This decision was mostly because the cafe has changed its hours since last year and closes at 7PM. I didn't want to ask them to stay open later for us. Plus, I didn't want to cause confusion if someone came that had never been to the cafe before, and they came back say, 8PM...and the cafe was closed. I also though having the show at the more typical 11AM-4PM peak Saturday shopping time would bring more people.
  • The music. Last year, we brought my dad's portable sound system to play Christmas music (like Mannheim Steamroller!). And I think that drew people in. They heard the music and wondered what was going on. This year, Medina had installed speakers throughout the whole town to pipe in Christmas music during the month of December. There was a speaker right by us, so I decided not to bring the sound system so the music wouldn't clash (plus it was one less thing to worry about hauling there). But since the music is all over the town, no one was drawn to the show.
  • Lights. Last year, since we had it in the evening, we needed lights, and I had festive, green and red paper lanterns up. And plus there was the fire pit. And I think all those lights were a visual draw, being a light place in the dark. We didn't have that kind of draw in the daytime.
It's a challenge for me not to get discouraged and down on myself and say the reason the show wasn't as successful because of me. That it was because I was the one in charge of organizing it that things didn't go as well. (as opposed to last year, where it was someone else organizing it and I was just helping them). I keep thinking "I could have planned better, I could have done better advertising". But I try hard not to dwell on it and focus on the positive. "Live and learn" right? "Hindsight is 20/20". Okay...enough of the fortune cookie encouragements.
I don't like being in charge of things. I like being highly involved in organizing things, but I don't like being the head honcho responsible. I think Kim and Rachel did a much better job at doing this last year, but I understand now why they didn't want to organize it this's STRESSFUL! I actually started crying a few times during set-up. I'm pretty relieved to get back to real life now. I'm looking forward to Christmas being a nice, relaxing time.

Of course, once we were all set up and I was able to stop freaking out, I did have fun and I did make a decent amount of sales. If I make at least $100 at a show (which I did), I'm usually happy. And at least one of the other 3 vendors told me she made a decent amount of sales as well.

This is my last show of the season...of 2010 for that matter. My next show is the Hearts + Crafts show in February in Rochester.

I think the day would have been nicer if it weren't for the wind. That wind is what really made it cold. The sun was actually out for awhile, but that wind was what chilled us. My mom kindly lent me her wool Czechoslovakian Army cape to keep warm. The wool is so dense that the wind doesn't get through it. She bought it years ago from an army surplus store on a sweltering August day...for only $35. My mom is great at finding deals.

It was nice having my mom there. She was in charge of the kids' craft table...making little clothespin reindeer pins and handmade greeting cards for $1 each. She only did crafts with my friends' kids, but she seemed to have fun.

Even though the show wasn't as successful as I would have liked, we all had fun. We ended up packing up an hour early though. It was cold and we had't had any customers in quite some time. I know a lot of craft shows have rules that say "Don't pack up until 4:00" (or whenever the official end-time is), but whatever....I organized this thing and I was in charge. And the other vendors seemed fine with it.

Next year, if I decide to organize this show again in the winter, we're definitely doing it INSIDE the cafe`.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My First Christmas Gift...

There's a reason I have such a love for Sock Monkeys. This is picture of me sitting on Aunt Grandma's lap during my first Christmas (1982)...and guess what I have! My Sock Monkey, "Polly Esther"!

Every child needs a Sock Monkey! ;)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Presence on the Patio Winter 2010!

I've been so busy preparing for this show that I've forgotten to post about it! And it's this upcoming weekend!
If you've followed my blog for the last year, you know about "Presence on the Patio". It's a small craft event that I helped my friends at Primele organize last winter. We did a spring show this year as well. This season, the girls at Primele have had their business really take off, and they have been too busy to do the event. So since I wanted to keep this event going, I took up the torch.

You can check out the Facebook event as well as the official Presence on the Patio Facebook Fan page.

Yes, I outdoor craft fair? winter? Western New York??? Yes. We are a hardy people! I am praying the weather is decent because we have no inside back up plan (the cafe booked a party inside for that day so we won't be able to use the back room like at the spring show). No wind or precipitation would be wonderful. I wouldn't mind a tiny amount of snow flurries though.

We had extra posters left over from the spring event, and I wanted to save on printing I busted out the red paint and altered the graphic on one of them to fit the winter/holiday color scheme. Then I just printed out the new info (date, time, etc.) and glued it over the existing text.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fabric Rose Hair Accessories

One of the newest things I've been making lately are these fabric roses. I made a few hair clips with them during the week of Thanksgiving and were selling them at my last show.

They look great and are so easy to make. The "hardest" part is scorching the edges. Yep...scorch...with fire. It seals the edges so the fabric doesn't fray, plus it makes the organza fabric curl a bit and give the flower some texture and dimension. You just have to be very careful. And some fabric scorches better than others. Organza works well, but I found out that tulle doesn't do so well. I actually got the inspiration to scorch the fabric from a YouTube video tutorial (the second flower she makes in the video). I don't make my flowers the same way she makes hers in the video, but that's where I got the idea to scorch the edges. I may have to share the love and do an official tutorial post soon.

I've been wearing the flower clips around a lot lately and have gotten a lot of compliments from both friends and strangers since I've been wearing them. Last week I bought some plain black elastic headbands (6 for $1 at Family Dollar! Woot!) and would put the clip onto the band. But this week, I made some with the flower sewn onto the band. I also added a few seed beads to dress the center up a little.

(please pardon my greying hair!)

I'll probably offer these in my Etsy shop sometime after the holidays.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheshire Cat Throw Pillow

I made a Cheshire Cat pillow for my niece last year for Christmas. I got a positive response not only from her, but from a lot of people who saw it. So I decided to make more of them this year. I still have a ton of the purple leopard-print fabric. (although I found it is difficult fabric to embroider on. I may try to do all the details with the sewing machine next time)

The design is a bit different and simplified this time around. I left off the paws and whiskers and decided to use felt for the eyes instead of buttons.

Even though I have a lot of the leopard-print fabric, I used some purple corduroy for the back. I would like to use this corduroy for the front of another Cheshire Cat.

I think that little stitch of white embroidery floss made all the difference to the eyes. It adds some dimension. I also think you can tell I was watching a lot of anime while making this too because of the eyes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"May we live simply..."

Worked at Primele this morning, helping them pack up some rubber stamps to ship out. Most of their stamp orders are for return address I was intrigued with this stamp in particular today...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keep Calm...

I was browsing Etsy the other day and came across this. I've seen a lot of different plays/spoofs on the popular "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster, but this has to be my favorite so far...

I love it! This exactly what I need to remember on those days before a craft show when I'm freaking out a little and feel like I don't have enough product made.
I'm not loving the green "Lime Soda" color the example is in, but they do offer different colors. I'd love to get it in the turquoise "Oceanic Waves" color they offer. Maybe after Christmas. I can't justify buying anything for myself at this time of year. But it IS a sentiment I need to remember. (especially since there's only 2 weeks left until Presence on the Patio!)