Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cozy Sweater Pillow

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sweater-pillowI made a sweater pillow last fall, but lately I’ve seen lots of pretty ones in magazines and on Pinterest so I was in the mood to make another. Lucky for me, I had a vintage sweater-poncho my mother-in-law had tossed out with enough “good parts” left to cut out two perfect rectangles with cabling on the side. I added my favorite metal buttons from my grandmother’s button box (I called them the “bumblebee buttons” when I was little!) and came up with this soft, smooshy, 16 x 20 pillow that will have a home on my sofa the rest of the winter. ♥

Happy Kansas Day!

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Two of my good friends have birthdays today, which is also our state’s birthday.  So, for their Year of Homemade Gifts cards, I trolled the internet for Kansas symbols to cut and paste and came up with this design. While it’s doubtful that any of my readers are in the same situation, perhaps you have friends and family whose birthdays fall on other “obscure” holidays. Click here for ideas! (Today is also National Cornchip Day, so it’s not too late to celebrate, but I’m sorry to report that you’ve already missed National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day this year.) :)

“Because It’s A-L-L Good”

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After sharing The Three Questions in my last post, I just had to write about my other favorite children’s book, Pete the Cat. I’ve read it with preschoolers, fifth graders, and grown-ups, and everyone loves its upbeat message. Plus, it’s fun and funny, as shown by these two adorable little “readers.” Enjoy! ♥

The Three Questions

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After discussing our crazy schedules and hurry-up lives with some friends a few days ago, I pulled out my favorite children’s book, a retelling of a traditional story by Leo Tolstoy, and lamented that I have lately let its message slip. I WILL do better! I won’t divulge the answers to the three questions, but I will say that they can have a huge impact on your life . . . especially if, like me, you sometimes get a wee bit impatient with the unexpected interruptions that come our way. ♥

Colorful Jewelry

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Our fun-loving Aunt Vitha on a more elegant occasion

As much as I enjoy crafting, I’ve never made jewelry . . . but I LOVE to wear it, especially colorful pieces like this beautiful bracelet and lovely earrings I received for my birthday. (Thank you T&J and B&D!) I looked up the word “colorful” in the dictionary and found just the definitions I needed for the rest of this post: interesting or exciting; unusual; unconventional. These synonyms describe the woman who REALLY knew how to wear colorful jewelry–my Aunt Vitha. In honor of Kansas Day this month, I thought I’d share her sunflower earrings (our state flower!), along with my other two favorites, the fruit and the solar system. Who knows . . . someday you may see me wearing one of them out to lunch with my girlfriends! ♥

The Sabbath Box

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At yesterday’s women’s retreat, we learned that Sabbath is a Hebrew word that means “cessation” and spent the day talking and reflecting on ways to make more Sabbath time in our busy, fast-paced lives. My favorite new idea is to use a “Sabbath box” to formalize a time–whether an hour, an afternoon, or a day–for rest and renewal. One way to use the Sabbath box is to put actual items in it, such as your cell phone (a break from electronic demands) or car keys (a break from running errands). Another way is to put your to-do list in the box until you are refreshed and ready to tackle it again. A third way is to list your cares and worries on strips of paper and place them the box, giving yourself permission to put them aside for the time being. Then go for a walk, take a nap, read a book, listen to music, create something, write in your journal, pray, spend time with a friend or loved one . . . whatever brings you peace and joy. Any box will do! ♥

Casting My Cares

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For the past two Januaries I’ve gone to a women’s retreat at my church. Both times I pondered whether I wanted to “give up” a Saturday, and both times I was SO glad that I did. So, when I was asked to help with this year’s retreat, I enthusiastically agreed. My main function is to do “supporting-role” type things like leading the get-acquainted activity, introducing the journaling prompts, and playing the guitar for the singing. Playing the guitar??? I used to play and sing every day with my first graders, but these are grown-ups . . . and the retreat is tomorrow . . .

Needless to say, I’ve been practicing. ALOT. I no longer have my teen-age angst guitar (“I am a ROCK! I am an I-I-I-I-I-LAND!”), so it’s comforting to have my sweet father-in-law’s instrument to use. Another blessing is that I have beautiful words and melodies floating around in my head, unlike some really annoying songs that sometimes get stuck there. Here’s my favorite, which sums up the whole theme of the retreat, with all the chords penciled in. ♥

Homemade Note Cards

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Several months ago I purchased some blank note cards at Michaels hoping to come up with a way to use them someday. While brainstorming ideas, these crayon-colored cards + crayola fabric + quotes about color all collided in my mind at the same time, and I think I actually saw a light bulb go on. :)

Here are the steps:

(1) Type up the quotes and print on a piece of cardstock. Cut the quotes apart with pinking shears.

(2) Cut out fabric rectangles the same size as the cards.

(3) Following the directions on a package of iron-on bonding adhesive, attach the fabric rectangles to the front of the cards.

(4) Use a smaller piece of bonding adhesive to attach the quote to the top of the fabric.

(5) Wrap and give to someone you love! ♥

I can imagine all sorts of other themes  . . . horse fabric with horse quotes, kitchen fabric with cooking quotes, alphabet fabric with quotes about names . . . the options are limited only by your fabric finds and imagination.

Placemat Pouch

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I LOVE walking through World Market, especially the aisles loaded with pillows, curtains, and table linens. Such beautiful fabrics! Then, I saw on Pinterest that lots of crafters are turning placemats into purses, pouches, and totes. So, my one and only post-holiday-sale shopping trip was to buy one each of the 30% off placemats at WM to use for projects. (Oh, yes . . . and then conducting a similar mission using a gift card I received for Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Dave loves it when I know exactly what I’m looking for in a store instead of aimlessly wandering! :)) Here is my first try . . . easy, fun, and pretty!

(1) Buy a reversible placemat.

(2) Fold the bottom third up.

(3) Stitch the sides together by hand or use your sewing machine.

(4) Fold the top down. Make a button hole and sew on a button, sew on a buckle, or sew a snap on the inside and put a decorative button or fabric flower on the outside.

(5) Give it to someone you love for a clutch purse, make-up pouch, notecard pouch, or travel jewelry pouch. ♥

“My Family” Felt Letters

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My first Year of Homemade Gifts project was for a very special little boy about to turn three years old. I was pondering what to make for him one morning and, while spraying my hair, this idea came to me. (I MUST buy more of that hairspray!) He already knows his ABCs and can recognize and name letters, so I thought a fun next step would be to learn how to spell the names of all his family members. Here’s how to make a “My Family” felt letter set:

Supplies:

  • Felt squares, a different color for each name, all cut the same size (Mine were 6.5 x 6.5 inches.)
  • Embroidery floss and needle
  • Fiberfill stuffing and a chopstick to push it into the letters’ crooks and crannies
  • Fabric for a tote bag to hold the finished letters
  • Fabric, ribbon, cord, or bias tape for drawstring
  • Pencil, pins, and scissors

Directions:

(1) Draw block letters on the felt squares, two for each letter.  Be sure to use uppercase for the first letter of the name and lowercase for the other letters . . . a kindergarten teacher will thank you someday!

(2) Stitch the front and back of each letter together using a contrasting color of embroidery floss.

(3) Every few stitches, stop and put in a little stuffing until you make it all the way around.

(4) Cut two large rectangles for the tote bag. (Mine is 18 x 16 inches and holds 19 letters.)

(5) Stitch felt letters spelling “My Family” on the front of one piece of the tote bag fabric.

(6) Put the rectangles together, right sides facing, and stitch the sides and bottom.

(7) Turn down the top and stitch around it, leaving a channel and an opening for the drawstring.

(8) Turn the tote bag right side out and press if needed.

(8) Make a drawstring out of the same fabric, or use ribbon, cording, or bias tape folded and stitched. Fasten a safety pin through one end and thread the drawstring through the channel. Tie ends together.

(9) Put the felt letters into the bag, and give it to a little boy or girl you love! ♥

P.S. Besides spelling the family’s names, children can sort the letters by color, letter, or uppercase/lowercase, spell other small words (my letters also work for Mom, Dad, red, mad, lead, dare, name . . . ), and use them to make up fun new names. How about Myler, Dyan, Rommy, and Taddy? :)

Kids + Stickers = Amazing!

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I’d love to have a dollar for every time someone grinned and said, “You must be a teacher!” when they caught me running errands after school with stickers all over my clothing  . . . lovingly applied by my first graders that day and then forgotten. So, I just had to read this post on Colossal Art & Design called This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids. Click here to see the whole process . . . you’ll love it! ♥

“A Kind Lady Lives Here”

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My sister Susan gave me this cat pin several years ago. She said it reminded her of the simple drawings she’d heard about that people left on their gates during the Depression to let the homeless know they could come to their door for food. I loved that story, but I’d never read anything about it until I saw a recent Etsy blog post called “The Secret Symbols of Travelers and Thieves.”  Interesting!

Grandma’s Diaries

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My Grandma Leona recorded her life in Citizens National Bank & Trust Company calendars day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. When she passed away, my parents gave the books to me since I’d always been an avid diary-keeper and lover-of-reading-other-people’s-diaries. Grandma wrote about who came calling, weather, handiwork, baking, errands, appointments, funerals, church activities, the comings and goings of various family members, and holiday gatherings. My sons were still in elementary school when we got them, and the first thing we did was look to see what Grandma wrote on the days they were born:

  • Earl and Faye stopped. Aaron Matthew arrived.
  • To bank and store. To business meeting. Joe’s home. Bradley Nathan was born. 8 lbs. 12 oz.
  • Merle’s to Wichita. Kyle Andrew arrived 6:50 a.m. 8 lbs. 3 1/2 oz.
Grandma had to give up her journaling later in life because of poor eyesight, so I decided to find her last entry, which turned out to be 2/11/91.  It was a school day, so the Kathy who came to visit must have been her neighbor and not me, but my parents and aunt stopped by, too. People who loved her. People she loved. ♥

$1.48

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I don’t know if you can read the price tag on this gorgeous cloth napkin I found in the clearance corner at World Market, but it’s $1.48! So, of course, I immediately snatched it up for a pillow. The back of the finished 19 x 19 inch pillow was a curtain in its previous life, and I added a little a-la-mode in the form of a shiny, marbled, 2 x 2 inch vintage button from my grandmother’s collection. So far I’ve given all my pillows away, but this one looks right at home on my sofa, so it may be here to stay. ♥

Organized!

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Like many of you, I started the new year by reorganizing my clothes closet and office/craft room. Everything looked great except that I always left my current sewing project on the chair in the bedroom. Then, I got the perfect birthday gift from my sweet son and daughter-in-law Bradley and Danielle. Here it is, filled with my first “Year of Homemade Gifts” project (post to come!). Don’t you just love the fabric? Now my handiwork sits BESIDE the chair so we can actually sit IN the chair. Thank you, B&D! ♥

Two-Cake Birthday

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We girls know that we’re the ones who magically cause birthday cakes to appear, but those cakes don’t always magically appear for us. Not that we mind . . . no extra calories that way, right? But . . . for my birthday last week I got not one but TWO cakes at a family celebration. My smart and fun sister-in-law Margo made an angel food cake (my favorite!) with lime-green frosting (my favorite color!). And my son and daughter-in-law Aaron and Shannon decorated this delicious cake, of which I indulged in a corner piece with LOTS of frosting. Now, how sweet is that??? ♥

Way Cool Homemade Journal

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When we were kids, our mom often bought us books published by the Whitman Company of Racine, WI. Some were classics, like Fifty Famous Fairy Tales or Little Women (which I read over and over again, wanting to be Jo when I grew up and secretly hoping that maybe . . . this time . . . Beth wouldn’t die). Others were based on popular fictional characters or real-life singers and actors. I still have a few of them, and now I have a treasure from my sister Susan, who found this journal made from the cover of a Donna Parker book that we used to have and filled with blank paper. I LOVE it! ♥