Monday, December 31, 2012

Make-It Monday!: Cutting City Map Hearts With A Cricut

I've seen a bunch of projects on Pinterest (like this one) that involve cutting shapes (usually hearts) out of maps.  Usually it has to do with cutting out a specific place or city that holds personal significance.  I've been wanting to do one of these projects, but didn't trust myself to cut a perfect heart shape with scissors, and I didn't own a paper punch big enough for what I wanted.  I have my Cricut, but wasn't sure how to be sure it cut out a particular city...until I decided to "play" a bit yesterday and figured it out! 

So I decided to do a blog tutorial (mostly to show my mom how I did it) and, conveniently enough, it's we have a "Make-It Monday" post!
(tutorials are a bit picture-heavy and long, so be warned!)

I used the heart shape on the "George and Basic Shapes" cartridge (ie: the cartridge that originally came with my Cricut)
I used the "real size" setting and made 3 inch hearts

(I had this scrap piece of paper that I already used to cut a heart.)

The piece we need is the outside "stencil" shape. (you can save the inner heart to use in another project)

 Unfold your map and decide what city you want to cut out.  I have a bunch of road maps from my grandma left over from when she and my grandpa traveled the US in their retirement.

Then use the "stencil" as a viewfinder to determine exactly where you want your city to be oriented in the heart.  

I chose Rochester, NY (even though I live off to the west of it now...a little bit north of Medina.  You can see it at the left of the picture.)   But out of all he places I've lived in my life, I lived in Rochester the longest.  My parents still live there, I have a lot of friends there, and my husband makes the commute and works there. And it's only an hour away, so I still go there all the time to shop and visit my parents.

 So when you've determined the placement, use the stencil to cut out a square. (the most important edges to have exact are the top and left edges, since those are the edges that will be aligned in the corner of the sticky mat.  The bottom and right edges don't have to be exact, but I find it wastes less of he map.)

 Place the map square onto the sticky mat.

 I double-check to make sure the edges are right so the heart cuts in the correct spot.

 Load the mat into the Cricut, then use the keypad to choose the design. (obviously, be sure to have the same size and design as you did when you made the "stencil").  Then...the moment of the "Cut" button and let the Cricut do its thing!

 Then "unload" the mat from the machine...
 Carefully peel the pieces off the mat. (you can save the outer map piece to use for other papercraft projects)

Speaking of Rochester and maps and crafting...check out my fellow RNESTer, Ally's shop Soft Shell Crafts for some cool handmade recycled-map journals! (I'm actually donating a bunch of maps to her when I go through the rest of mine and decide which ones to save for myself to craft with!). 

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! Rejoice!

Merry Christmas!

Matthew 1:23 "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

God is with us.  And that reminder restores my joy in dark times.

(photo print by Lisa Barker)

"O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel. " 

Another one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It always brings tears to my eyes.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Let Nothing You Dismay..."

"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"

I post the words of song every year, but the words of my favorite Christmas Carol are all the more potent this year, given the senseless tragedies that have been happening lately.  Not only the school shooting in Newtown CT, but this morning in Webster NY, a town near Rochester, a man started a house on fire (which ended up spreading to 3 more houses) and shot the firefighters who responded... killing 2 and injuring 2 more. (you can read a more detailed news story here).

People scrabble for answers when these horrible things happen.  They cry, "we need more gun control!", "we need better mental health care!"...but the truth is that there is no hard and fast answer to solve or prevent these problems.  The only true answer is Jesus.  But people don't want to hear that.  The truth is that if the men who committed these senseless acts of violence had accepted and followed Jesus and had the Holy Spirit in their hearts and lives, they never would have done these things.  (And I mean if they had TRULY had Jesus in their lives, not like so-called "Christians" who commit hateful acts in the name of God).

Humanity is sinful...but we are redeemable.  And that is the whole reason Christmas is a big deal.  Christmas represents the birth of our redemption.  Christ was born so He could die for our He could redeem us.  That is the "gift" Christians talk about at this time of year.  The problem is that people don't accept the gift.  If we could all just accept God's gift, the world would be a better place.  But my hope isn't in this world anyway.  The Lord is coming back someday and this world will pass away.

I could probably go on and on and write a whole sermon... there is just so much... but I want to keep my point simple and my post short.  I don't usually get all "preachy" on my blog and try to keep it all happy and crafty, but this is something I feel really passionate about.  I hope no one has been turned off by it.

During times like these, I am truly thankful I have Jesus to trust and hope in or else I'd be mired in despair.  I feel emotionally wrecked by these things as it is, I can't imagine if I didn't have Christ to hope in.   I can only pray that those who have been affected more closely by the number of recent tragedies can come to know and trust Christ through it all and come to have the hope that I do.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mini Crochet Heart Pins

Remember those little crochet hearts I learned to make a few weeks ago?  I finally made a few into cute little pins today! 

I gave a few away to my friends at church today as Christmas gifts, but they'll make their craft show debut in February 2013!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Catnip Mouse for Terra

This is one of the few handmade gifts I can share pictures of before Christmas (I'm DYING to share pictures of some of the gifts I've  made for family members, but don't want to risk ruining the surprise!) But my kitty doesn't use the internet! Plus, I already let her play with it today. know...Christmas doesn't mean much to cats except there ends up being some cool wrapping paper to play in!

A little catnip mouse with a clothesline tail for Terra.  The clothesline is nice, because it's got the dangle-factor of string/yarn that cats seem to be fascinated with, but it's too thick for her to actually break a piece off and be in danger of swallowing  it.

 I made it from the "Menswear Mice" pattern/tutorial in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.

 "Hey guys!  Can I play?"

I stuffed it with fabric scraps and catnip.  I embroidered the nose on, but for the eyes, I happened to have a bunch of tiny safety eyes that came with a little drawer organizer I got at a flea market-type store a few years ago. So I used a couple of those instead of embroidering them.  I don't recommend using these eyes on toys for dogs, but cats don't destroy their toys like dogs too. (at least, not my cat)

I just couldn't wait to give it to her....

 She seems to like it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wrapping Presents

Wrapping some presents today...

"Brown paper packages tied up with string,
These a a few of my favorite things!"

I LOVE the kraft/woodgrain wrapping paper we got from Target this year.  I'm hoping they'll have some on clearance after Christmas and I can stock up on a bunch.  I'd really like to use it for my Etsy packaging throughout the year.  It is reminiscent of my wood background I use in the photos for my Etsy listings.  And it seems particularly appropriate for the Owl Nubbins.  (it is actually a Barn Owl Nubbin that is wrapped up in the picture below)

I'll probably also do what I've done in past years when I've had wrapping paper I really like: I Mod-Podge/glue it to a shoebox so I have a re-usable gift box!  I'm actually not a fan of the wrapping process, or the fact that SO much pretty paper just gets torn up and thrown away.  So making the gift boxes kind of solves both those problems.  I can just put the gift in the box and tie some string/twine/ribbon around it with a tag (made with my Cricut) and I'm done!

What's-On-My-Worktable-Wednesday: Fox Nubbin Sneak Peek!

I've been wanting to do a Fox Nubbin for awhile.  Foxes are growing on me (I think it's the orange) and they have been getting almost as popular as owls (almost!).  I've done the "Woodland Creature Series" sweater foxes, but I've been wanting to work out a quick and easy design for Fox Nubbins.  My problem was that I wasn't sure how to get the impression of that foxy pointy-snout. It ended up being so simple!  I was inspired by some fox pillows I saw on Pinterest (and this one too)...but put my own spin on it of course!

Cut a skinny heart out of white felt and then cut it in half.  Then position them so there is a "V" of the orange fleece between them and sew them on.  Add safety eyes and a safety nose and...voila`! A Fox face!  I'll be adding ears to the top and appliqueing the tail on the back.  I'm looking forward to finishing this one and then making more!  I may do some actual red foxes in addition to the orange.  I'll probably do some gray as well.  Maybe even a white Arctic Fox!

I'm planning on having these available in my Etsy shop soon in 2013!  I'll be sure to post an update when I list them!  I'll probably even end up doing some large Fox Nubbins just like I've started doing the large Owls and large Nubbins. (I plan on making more of those and listing them in the shop as well!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Treasury Tuesday: A Little Dose Of Happy

I started creating this treasury yesterday and finished it today.  When the world seems depressing, you can always count on Etsy to help provide "a little dose of happy"!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Surprising Significance of a Trip to the Thrift Store

I went to the MAAC (Medina Area Association of Churches) thrift store today.

It was half-price Monday a week early, since they won't be open next Monday because it's Christmas Eve.  So I got a major haul of sweaters!  I'm looking forward to cutting them up and making new monsters and owls and woodland creatures in the New Year!

 Luna had to inspect them and take in all the new smells before I threw them in the washing machine. (there were so many of them, I had to do 2 loads!)
 Terra decided she had to inspect them too.

"We approve, Mommy.  You may wash them now."

But there's a deeper story behind the trip to the thrift store that this pile of sweaters came from.
Last night, on our way home from church, I was talking to my husband about how I wanted to go to our local thrift store in the morning. I was frustrated that I couldn't though, since I'm still not allowed to drive due to my sprained ankle. I am supposed to wear the "Air Cast" brace until if doesn't hurt anymore...and in NY, it's illegal to drive when you have any kind of cast or brace on your driving foot.  Plus, if my ankle isn't completely healed, I am concerned about re-injuring myself if I have to suddenly slam on the brakes for any reason. (it IS deer season after all.)

 Anyway. CJ had to drive into the office in Rochester the next day, so he couldn't take me to the thrift store on his lunch break like he could if he was working from home.  So I just resigned myself to not going to the thrift store and that I'd go sometime in January.

Well, this morning, my friend Char called me to tell me she was going to the thrift store and to ask if I wanted to come with her!  Some people might say "conicidence"...I say it was God giving me a gift.  It seems like a silly, little thing, but I was very encouraged that God orchestrated things to give me this silly, little thing that I wanted.  And I was in need of encouragement from Him.  I had spent the previous night weeping after checking Facebook and seeing all the posts about the shooting at the school in Connecticut and being overwhelmed by the evils and godlessness of the world.  And I feel like this "coincidence" today was God's way of letting me know He is still here.  It's like when the silliest little random gift that a parent gives a child helps the child realize how much their parent loves them.  A trip to the thrift store was a little random gift that helped remind me how much my Heavenly Father loves me...and loves me in such a personal way.

EDIT: (I feel a bit guilty and silly for being so encouraged by an unexpected trip to the thrift store when there are people out there who will never see their babies grow up.  But I believe God loves us and has a plan, even if we can't see the good of that plan.  I can't pretend to know why what happened on Friday happened...all I know is that I trust God, and trust that, as awful as this tragedy is, there is a reason behind it all.  It has been these sort of thoughts that have helped me in the past to not despair in the face of not being able to get pregnant and have children of my own.)

I pray the Lord gives comfort to the people who were so much more deeply affected by what happened on Friday... for the friends and family of the children and teachers who lost their lives.  I pray He comforts them as only He can.  I pray they can see and trust in Him and realize that God is there even when bad things happen.

Bad things don't prove that God isn't there...they prove how much we need Him.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making Little Crochet Hearts

I learned how to make these little crochet hearts last night after I came across this tutorial on Pinterest.  They are so simple and quick to make!  I've figured out that I can make about 10 in an hour.

I'm planning on adding a small button to the middle and a pin to the back to make sweet little brooches. My next show will likely be "Hearts & Crafts" in February, and these will be a perfect new product for my booth.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Craft Show Recap: Allendale Columbia Holiday Market

Here are pictures from the Allendale Columbia Holiday Market yesterday.

I still have a gimpy, injured foot.  But at least I am able to put weight on it now without having excruciating pain, so I was able to help a little with the set up....but I still had to spend most of my time sitting down.  And my husband still did all the heavy lifting, since I am still using my crutches when I'm out of the house (even though I hate using them!).  I was able to hobble around my booth without them in order to rearrange things though.

 Working on finishing touches on the spot...

 I named this monster Steffy, after my friend Stephanie who donated the sweater!

 A sweet kitty pin that was a"get well soon" gift from my friend Jina of MoyaLazyFactory!

 Happy kids with their new monsters!

 This little girl was adorable!  She just dove face-first into the trunk of monsters, trying to dig to the bottom! (don't worry, the trunk has locking hardware that keeps the lid from falling.)

The highlight of my day was when my friend, Amanda, came by to visit!  It was a complete surprise and even though we're in contact on Facebook, we hadn't seen each other for about 10 years!  When she came up to my booth, we squealed and hugged like 15 year-old girls!  She hung out with us for a bit and caught up and she bought a lot of Christmas gifts at my booth.  It absolutely made my day to see her!
I had a great day sale-wise (much better than I had expected!), but even if I had only sold one thing, it would have been worth going to to see Amanda!