Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finally - A new item

It amazes me the amount of time it takes me to get a product from conception to reality and then to get it posted on my Etsy site. Of course some of that might have to do with the fact that I have a full time job and two kids to take up my time.

Anyway, the point is - I have finally listed my newest item! The Dieter's Friend Snack clips. They're a take on my paper embellished clothespins but with a little humor thrown in as well.

You're saying to yourself right now - "Wouldn't it have made more sense to use the Milano cookies as props to match the bag instead of the oreos?" It probably would have but you know I bought that bag of Milano's three days before I got around to the photo shoot, and well, that's an empty bag in that picture! In my defense - I didn't use any of these clips to seal the bag so I couldn't help myself - and hello - they're MINT MILANO's!

I'd like to experiment a little in the future with different color and fonts but for now I'm just thrilled to unveil them. Click HERE to see the listing.

I've also been making some little matchbook notepads with my paper scraps and will be including one with each purchase as a Thank you.

You're reaching for your wallet right now arent' you? I knew it! The little pieces of paper are even perforated for easy removal - how could you resist?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Finished project satisfaction.

There's nothing quite as satisfying as finishing a project, expecially one you've been working on for over a month. I started this shawl over the New Year's holiday and just finished it yesterday.

It's nothing too exciting but I loved the color of the yarn (antique teal) and the open weave areas of the pattern made the project go quickly while still resulting in a warm shawl.

I plan on taking it to work with me to combat those cold corporate office breezes. If I can get it away from Gwen that is.

The second best thing about finishing a project is the excitement of beginning the next one. Right now I'm flipping through my newest knitting pattern book. I got it on sale at JoAnn's and Aaron has already requested a dinosaur and a snake and I'm kind of eyeing that elephant for myself!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's all about love today and the kids and I expressed our love for our fine feathered friends by making this heart shaped birdseed biscuit from a Family Fun recipe.

We put it out just in time too, before we got hit with over 7 inches of snow. I don't really mind though. We've got no where to go and I do so adore the neighbor's tree when it's laden with creamy dollops of snow.

. . . and I've got this wonderful guy to do all the shoveling!

Happy Heart Day everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To Cricut or not to Cricut? That is the question.

I’ve always loved die cut machines and secretly harbored a desire for one, but I could just never find them practical enough. I couldn’t justify the large price tag for the machine and then the subsequent hefty price tag of the individual dies. I mean do I really want to spend $15 on a die of a baby bottle? How often am I going to need that baby bottle? Would I even use it 15 times so that the cost would even out to $1 per use? And what if I wanted it in a different size? What’s the likelihood that I’d want a die cut dog in the exact same size every time I used it? Pretty unlikely.

So when the Cricut came out I was intrigued. After all it was much more space conscious than normal die cut machines, and it allowed you to program different sizes for your die cuts which was fantastic. I was still able to talk myself out of it though because it could only go up to 5 inches and I like big bold elements on my pages so it still wasn’t worth it, and then they came out with the Cricut Expression which can cut full 12x12 die cuts andpieces up to 23" then the drooling began. I even sit through those incredibly cheesy Cricut infomercials – have you seen those? The ones in which it appears that assembling die cut Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers is a near orgasmic experience for Cricut owners.

But just wait! Not only can you cut paper but you can cut fabric, vinyl and chipboard as well. After you’ve watched the full infomercial you’re convinced that this thing could give you a mani and pedi, fold your laundry and replace every household appliance you own! But here’s the kicker: it’s $300 and after that investment you’re still talking $50 on average for the cartridges. I’d love to have it and I’m sure I’d make full use of it if I had it but is it worth it?

My poor husband has watched me drooling over this thing for months and months. He’s seen the longing gazes towards them on the store shelves, he’s seen me caress the boxes, he’s interrupted more than one guilty viewing of that informercial and so he’s willing to make its purchase possible but I’m just not sure. It’s a lot of money that we could spend on something else.

So I’m begging anyone who has one or is thinking of getting one to let me know your thoughts. If you have one do you love it? Do you regret it? Could you live without it now that you have it? If you don’t have one are you thinking of getting one?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tactile Toy Heart Tutorial

Do you see this face? Look at it - the round cheeks, the slightly upturned little pixie nose, those eyes; brilliant and blue and larger than life. This is Avery, my nephew. Well, he's not really my biological nephew but in my heart he is since his Momma is like a sister to me. And speaking of hearts, I've just finished his Valentine's Day gift and I thought I'd share it with you in case you would want to make one for any sweet faced cherubs in your life.

It's constructed simply out of cotton fabric and fiberfill and makes a great soft toy for children of any age. Its shape makes it intriguing both to the eyes and to the touch and it's great for throwing, squeezing and even chewing on.

Here's what you'll need:

-Cotton fabric (I just used scraps but I'd estimate less than 1/2 yard total )
stuffing (polyester fiberfil or cotton or bamboo whatever you prefer)
-sewing machine
-basic sewing supplies (scissor, needle, threade etc.)
The first thing you'll need to do is make your template. Through trial and error I found that you really want a nice fat juicy heart. Mine ended up being 7 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches tall. No matter what size you make you'll want to make sure that your height and width measurements are almost equal. If you make it too tall and narrow then it ends up looking so pointed after it's stuffed that it resembles more of a weapon than a cuddly heart.
Once you have your heart template on paper place your fabric right sides together. Here I'm using 2 contrasting fabrics. Take your heart template and place it on the fabric and trace around it. Repeat for the 2nd heart.
You'll need to have 2 openings in the heart for turning and stuffing. I marked them on my heart with my marker so that I wouldn't get carried away and sew the whole thing shut (I've been known to do that).
Sew the 2 pieces together directly on the marked line. When sewing shapes I find that this method is the best for preserving the shape. It's a lot easier to follow the marked line with your needle than it is to cut out the shape and then try to line up the edge of it with your presser foot or a mark on your sewing machine. Shorten your stitch length so that the seams will be tight and very durable.
Once you've sewn the heart cut off your excess fabric. I used my pinking shears but if you don't have any then regular scissors will do but you might want to clip the seam allowance around the curved parts of the heart. I left a little extra seam allowance at my openings to make turning the edges in and sewing the openings closed a little easier.
Turn your hearts right side out and stack them on top of each other. You can experiment with placement if you like. Here I alternated the fabrics but you'll get a different look if you place the same fabric patterns together in the middle.
With a straight edge and a chalk marker(or whatever marking tool you prefer) mark a straight line from the center top of the heart down to the tip. Sew along this line making sure to reinforce the top and bottom with some backstitching.

Now it's time to stuff. In this picture you can see my favorite stuffing tool of all time. I'm not even sure what they're called but I got them in the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart. They're used for fishing - to pull the hooks out of the mouths of those poor bass and bluegills who were unlucky enough to find a hook in their afternoon snack. They also resemble those things that nurses use to clamp off IV tubes and stuff. Anyway, they're great for stuffing, especially small intricate shapes because they allow you to grab and hold small pieces of stuffing and place them where you want them. I could not live without them!
Stuff each section of the heart very firmly. Then just sew the openings closed by hand and you're done!
This would be sweet with some little bells placed inside or maybe a squeaker or two. If you're not into the heart you could do this with other shapes as well and I think they'd turn out just as cute - a circle/diamond shape etc. would be great. They'd probably make pretty good dog chew toys as well.
More pictures of the finished product below:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Worth the wait

My very best friend, Shawna, presented me with this fabulous late Christmas gift this past weekend.
It's a lovely cowl and it's construction is very interesting. It's comprised of many crocheted chains that are held together only at the ends. The texture is fabulous, I love the way it lays around my neck and the Yarn Bee yarn is incredibly soft as well. Thanks Shawna!
I also recently recieved another gift, this one from my mom. It's a fabulous wrist strap for my keys. I love the ribbon she used on it and I love that I can keep my keys handy around my wrist, especially when the windchills are in negative temps. It's no fun fumbling around in your pocket to unlock the van doors when you've got a 2 year old in your arms that refuses to keep a hat on her head.