Category Archives: Writing

Tips From An Expert

Standard

Our friend Beth of The Renegade Seamstress is getting ready to present another BurdaStyle web seminar! This one, called Secret Ways to Make Your Sewing Blog a Success, is scheduled for Thursday, June 5th at 11:00 am (EST), and even if you can’t attend at that time, you’ll receive a recorded version to watch at your convenience. Topics include becoming part of the blogging community, developing friendly alliances and creative vision, improving photography, attracting readers, managing time, increasing blog traffic, new career opportunities, making money, self-promoting, and networking. You can visit Beth’s post about the seminar here and click here to register. Best wishes on your newest venture, Beth! ♥

secret-ways-to-make-your-sewing-blog-a-success1

Journals from Vintage Children’s Books

Standard

When I saw this post on Thrift Store Crafter, I suddenly remembered that I, too, have a journal upcycled from a vintage book! I also remembered that I’d promised the person who gave it to me (my BFF/sister Susan) that I would actually USE it and not put it away with my treasures, so I got it off the shelf and began listing all the crafts/sewing projects I want to make and tucking in clippings and patterns. Now, when I find myself with a little block of free time, I’ll be all ready to go. And besides . . . this journal just makes me smile! ♥  P.S. Be sure to check out Sarah’s tutorials on Thrift Store Crafter! DP Journal

The Good Neighbor Awards and Giveaway Winner!

Standard

Good Neighbor AwardTHANK YOU for helping me celebrate my second blog anniversary with another amazing outpouring of nominations for the Good Neighbor Award! For every blogger listed below, an avid reader (or more than one!) took time out of her busy schedule to send me an email telling me how much she would love to have you for a neighbor and why. Isn’t that just the most lovely compliment?

  1. First, I’ll share the comments, in no particular order.
  2. Then I’ll list the blogs that were nominated in ABC order. (Be sure to click on the links to find some new friends!)
  3. Finally, I’ll announce who got the most nominations and wins the giveaway. Here we go!
  • Living next door to this blogger would be great. She could help me with my photography skills and I know I would learn so much from her.  She is such a sweet person and I feel a kindred spirit with this lovely lady.
  • She’s my twin but she doesn’t know it . . . we must have been separated at birth!
  • She’s so stinkin’ funny!!!
  • Her home sounds like quilt heaven. Imagine being able to visit any time I’d like!
  • Because of her, I can’t throw ANYTHING away without first pondering how to reuse it in a creative new way.
  • I would like to have her as my next door neighbor to have a cup of tea together because she is so friendly and cheerful.
  • I love the ideas she has for different crafts, plus she just sounds like the kind of person who would make a great neighbor.
  • She’s Wonder Woman in disguise!
  • Her tips make my life easier.
  • She makes me look forward to getting older because she has so dang much fun!
  • Her patterns and tutorials inspire me, teach me, and stretch my limits.
  • Her DIYs are to DIE for!
  • I so admire how she balances her family, job, and creative pursuits. I hope to be able to do that someday, too!
  • She’s SO sweet! What’s not to like???
  • Her cards and paper crafts are a delight to the eyes.
  • I’ve learned so much about how to make my home more company-ready and hospitable from her, something that’s very important to me.
  • Her OOTDs are so inspiring! I’d love to be able to recreate something similar from my own closet. If she lived next door, she could help me!
  • Her blog is WAY better than Pinterest!
  • I love, love, LOVE the jewelry she designs and sells! It would be so much fun to watch her in action!
  • She has given me lots of good advice, both knowingly and unknowingly. I just love the way she thinks things through.
  • She’s so creative, yet so humble . . . I can’t imagine a nicer neighbor to have.
  • She was one of the very first supporters when I joined the blogging world and has been a super bloggy friend. Even though we live in different countries, I feel that we are close friends and close neighbours. I am always inspired by each one of her posts. She always leaves me thinking a bit more deeply about the simple things in life.
  • She’s REAL! And not many people are real these days.
  • Her sense of humor never fails to brighten my day.
  • She always takes wonderful photography and it would be so neat if she was my neighbor and could teach me how to take better photos!
  • She makes me laugh every day.
  • I would love for her to drop in for a cup of tea and show me her latest ideas. I would like to tell her some kids’ craft ideas of my own and she could use them in her own work.
  • Her gentle, loving personality comes through her art.
  • I want her craft room! Please, please, please move next door and help me!
  • Her blog is many things to many people (crafty, witty, funny, sweet and always, always kind and caring).  I never would have dreamed that a woman I met through blogging would one day become one of my dearest friends.
  • I wish she lived next door for a hundred reasons:  we have an amazing ‘kindred spirit’ connection. If she lived next door we would share walks, talks and cups of tea.  We would craft together, visit antique shops, eat falafels and be there for each other (as we are now) through thick and thin.
  • She makes me laugh. She makes me smile.  She loves animals and children and shows her care through words and deeds.  I would be one lucky woman to have her living next door.
  • Her life seems to be a lot like mine was 15 years or so ago, when the youngest kid was just starting school and the oldest was starting the teenaged years. I’d love to have her next door so I could say every morning “You’re doing a great job! They’ll be fine!”
  • I love how she weaves her faith in God into her everyday life. It’s hard to do that without being preachy, but she nails it.
  • She’s always nice and encouraging and seems like a fun person to be around.
  • She has a variety on her blog but what I would love to learn from her is paper piercing. She has done some amazing birds and I have bought one of her cushions, so beautifully made.  Very inspiring and very creative.
  • I’ve learned so much from her about how to promote my business through my blog.
  • Her recipes are so amazing that I just want to lick my computer screen. If she lived next door, I’d always leave my window open so I could enjoy the good smells coming from her kitchen.
  • They make me laugh!!! They need to move to my neighborhood so we can go shopping together.
  • She could check my patterns and find the errors! (That’s selfish, I know . . . LOL!)
  • She has a great blog full of wonderful craft projects to do with your children.  They are inexpensive and fun projects that promote lots of creative play. She would be fantastic to have as a neighbour, endless ideas for me!
  • She cares for the world and everyone in it. I admire that.
  • There are actually two ladies that I would like to have as neighbors. They are both so generous with their time and talents. I look forward to their posts. They lift my spirits and make me laugh. They are also wonderful at teaching their particular craft.
  • She’s so open about sharing the ups and downs of her life . . . I need someone like that next door!
  • She helps me so much over at my blog. When I get stuck with how to do things, she just writes me a lovely clear instruction and I am away. She is kind, generous with her time, has a terrific sense of humour and talented at crochet! I wish she lived nearby.
  • Her writing voice is so witty. I’ve learned a lot about writing AND life from her!
  • I’m so much more organized since I’ve “met” her through her blog. If she lived next door, I’d hire her to help me get my whole house in ship-shape.
  • I never heard of “refashioning” until I read her blog. Now I see it everywhere, but hers are the best of the best! I’d so love to learn from her.
  • I want her to move next door so I can see her collections and so we can go thrifting together. What fun we’d have!
  • I’d invite her over for coffee and get her advice on redoing my living room . . . or kitchen . . . or family room . . .
  • Her tablescapes never cease to amaze me. They make me want to entertain every night just so I can create such prettiness!
  • She could teach me to crochet and make me laugh!
  • She helps me keep things in perspective. I need a next door neighbor just like her!
  • She ALWAYS “likes” and comments on my blog posts. That means SO much to me!
  • Her refashions are beyond words! Maybe, just maybe, she could teach me to do that!
  • It is one of many grandparenting blogs I read, but it is above and beyond because of her exceptional photography, quilting, decorating, gardening, shopping skills, and it is an all around fun blog. She has a great sense of humor and I could picture myself sharing a cup of coffee and dessert with her and enjoying the conversation immensely.
  • Where do I begin? I use her recipes! I try her decorating ideas! I pin her crafts! She simply inspires me with each and every post. How wonderful it would be to have her as my next-door neighbor!

Blondies BEARista

Boomdeeadda

Crafty Staci

Crafty Sorcha

Crochet with Tamara

Curtain Queen Creates

DaniellaJoe’s Blog

Diary of a MadMama

Easy Crafts for Children

Empty Nest Feathers

Factotum of Arts

Fashion and Fun After Fifty

Gardening Nirvana

Grab a Coffee

Grandparents Plus 2

Green Door Hospitality

Homespun

Horsemark Cards

House of 34

Images by T. Dashfield

It’s Sew Anny

J.E. Creations

Jewels for All

LCs Cottage

Lightly Crunchy

Lili and Mums

Made with Hugs and Kisses

Memories-Keepsakes-Gifts

Neaten Your Nest

Nice Piece of Work

Now at Home Mom

North Story

On the Upcycle

Pride in Photos

Projects by Mtetar

P.S. I Love Soap Co.

Rainbow Junkie Corner

Second Hand Roses

Spilled Cookies

Stacy Sews and Schools

Swistle

The Adored Home

The Frugal Crafter

The Little Room of Rachell

The Original Thread

The REmissionary

The Renegade Seamstress

The Thinking Closet

Time with Thea

Treadlemusic

Vicky Myers Creations

Winter Owls

Please pick up your button above to display on your blog (if you wish). Nothing is required. I just want you to know that you’ve made a big impression on someone (or many someones!) and that we’re all grateful you’re sharing your life with us. Aaaaaaaaaaaaand . . . the blog with the MOST nominations is . . . Crafty Staci! Click here to read about your prize, Staci, and if you choose to accept it, please email me and I’ll send you my mailing address to get the ball rolling. CONGRATULATIONS! ♥

Three more days until the awards and giveaway . . . and some free books!

Standard

It has been SO much fun to get SO many email nominations for the Good Neighbor Award this week! I’ll be posting the results this Sunday, September 22, so you still have time to send me the names of your favorite neighborly bloggers! Click here for details . . . and remember that the blog with the MOST nominations wins a prize like the one below! (Click here for a description . . . all made from last year’s winner’s beautiful but no-longer-needed sundress!) Also, I got an email from author/blogger Geraldine Hartman of Veggies, Yarns & Tails and she is offering Kindle versions of ALL of her books for FREE this Saturday and Sunday, so be sure to check them out! (Remember . . . you don’t have to own a Kindle–you can download the app here for your smartphone, tablet, or PC.)  Thank you, Geraldine! ♥

Prize Collage

It’s “Good Neighbor Award” Time Again!

Standard

Good Neighbor AwardFor my first blog anniversary last September, I celebrated by hosting the Good Neighbor Award and giveaway. It was so much fun that I want to do it again this year!  Here’s the scoop:

AWARD: Simply put, the Good Neighbor Award is for someone you’ve met in the blogging world you wish could be your real-life neighbor.  To nominate a blogger, simply email me (to keep it a surprise!) at k_scraper@hotmail.com, including a link to the blog and why you’d like this blogger to live next door. Is it to cook, sew, craft, shop, or write together? To learn to do something new? To be inspired? To visit over a cup of tea? Nominees will receive the award button on my second blogiversary, Sunday, September 22. (Click here to read about last year’s nominations!)

GIVEAWAY: The person with the MOST nominations will be invited to send me a formerly-loved garment that I’ll make into some fun treasures and return. (Click here and here to read about last year’s winner!) Thank YOU for being MY good neighbors the past two years, and I hope to hear from you soon! ♥

Catch-up Giveaway!

Standard

Hi! I’m back from my Pillows A-La-Mode month off!  I spent it working 12-hour days on several huge writing assignments for work (some that aren’t quite finished yet!) and going on a lovely trip. I’ve missed reading your blogs, so I came up with a way to catch up that I think will be fun for us all.  Will you post a comment with a link to your favorite article you’ve posted on  your blog in the past month?  I promise to read them all!  Plus, I have PRIZES! Three commenters will receive either my vintage shabby chic pillow, apron, or clutch!  (Please add a note to your comment if you have a preference . . . otherwise you’ll be in the drawing for all three!)  I’ll announce the winners in one week—on Friday, August 16. Have a happy weekend . . . I can’t wait to hear from you! ♥

PillowApronBag and Bow

Word Plays!

Standard

My two newest books arrived today! We wrote a series of 24 Reader’s Theater scripts based on the Grade 1-2 Common Core State Standards for Language Arts. They’re fun and funny to write AND to read! Plus, I got to write the teacher’s guides for all 24 of these books and the Grade 3-6 scripts as well . . . another fun, creative project.  I do love my job! ♥

WordPlay Collage

Related Link: My Books

Mrs. Hetherington’s Thanksgiving Pageant

Standard

Welcome to the “THANKFUL” edition of Collectively Creative! Today I have a giveaway for all of our blogging friends . . . one of my children’s stories from Pockets magazine for you to read, share, and/or use to introduce a creative writing activity about holidays.  Simply click the first link for a printable word document or the second link for a printable pdf.

Mrs. Hetherington’s Thanksgiving Pageant (word document)

Mrs. Hetherington’s Thanksgiving Pageant (pdf)

I hope some special kids in your life will enjoy meeting Mrs. Hetherington and her Portland Elementary School Drama Club this holiday season! But first, please pour a cup of tea and take a few minutes to savor the rest of this month’s Collectively Creative posts. Each one has something special to enrich our lives. Happy Thanksgiving! ♥

P.S. If you’re a parent, grandparent, children’s book reviewer, librarian, or teacher, please check out the new kids’ Thanksgiving book called Sarah Gives Thanks by one of our fellow WordPressers, Mike Allegra at heylookawriterfellow. I bought a copy, and it’s a keeper!

COLLECTIVELY CREATIVE:

Quotables

Standard

In a reply to a comment on the Autumn Mantel post, I lamented that there never seems to be enough time to do all the projects I have on my list.  But intecoolochoberord replied,

“Time can be a funny thing . . . but I’d rather have too much inspiration

and too little time than the other way around!” 

Then, on the Start Where You Are . . .  post, gentlestitches commented,

“The more I let go of perfectionism,

the more perfect my projects become.”

Sometimes our blogging friends say EXACTLY what we need to hear! ♥

New Books!

Standard

This isn’t my usual sewing or crafting post, but my “real” job is writing education materials for students, teachers, and parents, and . . . my newest books are out!  These 14 books are part of a 60-title Classic Tales series consisting of retellings of short stories, folktales, fairy tales, pourquoi tales, myths, legends, and fables for kindergarten through second-grade readers.  Didn’t the artists do a fabulous job on the covers???  (My earlier books are at www.edwriter.com—click on the BOOKS link and then use the pull-down menu to select “Books for Students” or “Books for Teachers.”) Most of my assignments involve writing or editing teacher’s guides and language arts lessons, prototyping new products, and other non-book tasks, but they’re ALL challenging and fun.  Thank you for letting me share a bit about my other creative ventures today! ♥

One Year Award and Giveaway!

Standard

UPDATE on 9-22-12: Click HERE to read the heartwarming results of this post!

One week from today is the anniversary of my first WordPress blog post! Since I’ve discovered how many people around the world I’d love to have for next-door neighbors, I’d like to celebrate with a new award and giveaway!

AWARD: Please nominate a WordPress blogger (or lots of them!) for the “Good Neighbor Award” in an email to me at k[underscore]scraper@hotmail[dot]com (to keep it a surprise!), including a link to the blog and why you’d like this blogger to live next door. To cook/sew/craft/shop/write together? To learn to do something new? To be inspired? To visit over a cup of tea? Nominees will receive the award button on September 22.

GIVEAWAY: The person with the MOST nominations will be invited to send me a formerly-loved garment that I’ll make into some fun treasures (a-la “What can you make with a flannel shirt?” or “What can you make with a lace tank?” or “What can you make with a polo shirt?“) and return. THANK YOU for reaching out in friendship this past year, and I hope to hear from you soon! ♥

DIY Ironing Board Cover

Standard

I have such a fun job (writing books and classroom resources for K-5 students and teachers!) and I’m lucky to have a small but cozy home office to work in. It has a large black desk, a black rolling chair, and black metal shelves filled with my curriculum and reference books. It also has a matching black metal shelf for my fabric and sewing/craft supplies and a very small black desk for my sewing machine. My favorite piece of furniture is a dressing table bench that belonged to my Aunt Vitha. We painted it black and recovered the seat in zebra print, using a bedsheet I found at Target. I also made a black and white alphabet print cover for my sewing machine (from a fun book called Simply Irresistible Bags, but I’ve since seen lots of tutorials on sewing blogs and Pinterest) and black and white floral curtains (basic hemmed sides and bottom and casing on top) for the window.  So, when I needed to leave my ironing board set up for my after-hours sewing projects, its stained, worn, pink and green cover looked badly out of place. This weekend I remedied the problem by making a new cover from the zebra bedsheet! I simply used the old cover for a pattern, leaving a little extra around the edges to stitch a casing for elastic. Oh yes, and the old cover had two velcro straps that fastened under the ironing board to help keep it in place, so I snipped those off to reuse, too. It fits, and I love it! ♥

Dragonfly Mini Notebook

Standard

One of my teacher/writing group friends just got her first publication acceptance, so I wanted to give her a gift that includes the dragonfly on her business cards. I traced the dragonfly on a small scrap of sheer fabric, triple-folded it for strength, and embroidered over the lines. Then I cut it out and glued the body onto a flower on the cover of one of my mini-notebooks, leaving the wings free. Oh, and I wrote a message for her to discover on the first page. I’m SO happy for Pam! ♥

Grandma’s Diaries

Standard

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. ♥

Way Cool Homemade Journal

Standard

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! ♥

Writers and Writing

Standard

Everyone has a different reason for creating a blog. My inspiration was my new Wednesday night writer’s group. Some of our members are looking for a way to collect their poems, memoirs, and essays, so I decided to learn how to blog so I could help others create them. I chose pillows for the theme because that happened to be my new hobby, but I’ve found my blog to be a fun forum for chronicling all sorts of ideas and events . . . and reading other writers’ blogs to be rather addictive!!! For our last writer’s group meeting of the year, I compiled a list of prompts we can use to sum up our writing lives and set new goals . . . feel free to try one and share! ♥

Paper Art by Matthew Sporzynski

  • Write a haiku or other type of poem about 2011.
  • Write a 10-word sentence about yourself as a writer.
  • Write a story or poem from your computer’s point of view. How would it describe your work habits? What does it think about you as a writer? (I’m thinking of doing this one . . . but it would include eating at my desk, getting distracted by Pinterest, and staring at my husband as if I don’t know him if he happens to walk into the room when I’m on a roll with an idea . . . uhm . . . maybe I won’t. :))
  • Write an apology letter to yourself for not taking a chance you wish you would have, and explain what you will do about it.
  • Write a one-paragraph bio about your writing career to date. Then, write the one-paragraph bio you hope to have on 1-1-13.
  • Write a letter to yourself that you will open in six months. Include your current accomplishments and concerns, and remind yourself of one thing from today that you want to make sure “future you” does not forget.

The Gift-Guessing Kid

Standard

Aaron and Shannon

Growing up, Aaron always had a hobby that he engaged in 200%. (He still does!) For example, when he was ten or so, he started building model rockets, then started designing them, then won a national design contest for his age group with Estes Rockets. Somewhere along the line, he had a bunch of catalogs and circled all the rocket kits he hoped to get for Christmas. Supportive mother that I am :), I chose several, bought them, wrapped them, and put them under the Christmas tree.

One day, Aaron came into the kitchen and thanked me for all the kits he was going to get for Christmas by name. I was stumped! How did he know which ones I’d picked? When I questioned him further, he pointed out that all the entries in the catalog listed dimensions and weights for the kits, so all he had to do was measure and weigh the packages to know which ones were there. Smarty-pants!  But being fooled came in very handy years later when I needed to write a funny Reader’s Theater script. Thanks, Aaron!

Procrastination

Standard

My mother was an amazing artist, and she loved creating, but she freely admitted how hard it was to make herself get started most days. Even though throwing a pot or weaving a shawl was much more satisfying than, say, folding the laundry, the laundry often won out because it didn’t require the intense mental and emotional energy that creating art does. Even some of the strategies artists use to make their time and space more conducive to working can become just that . . . time spent creating the perfect work station instead of time creating the art itself. Lucky for us, she was often able to overcome her resistance. A picture I now cherish is this watercolor of the farmhouse where we grew up. I was really glad I didn’t have to wrestle my brother and sister for it! :)

Now that I’m a writer, I struggle with the same problem sometimes. I find that a straightforward assignment such as “write teacher’s guides for this new series of books” isn’t nearly as problematic as a highly creative project like “write a book for third graders about a child who uses an object to solve a problem” (which turned out to be Baby Song, my favorite book . . . ironic, huh?) Actually, the begin . . . the rest is easy sign in my office is my best motivation, because once I get started it’s really not that hard to get into the “zone.” And, for some reason, I NEVER have this issue when I’m getting ready to sew! Anyway, if you ever suffer from procrastination, I think you’ll enjoy the video below as much as I do. I know my mom would have loved it!

P.S. I was going to write this post a long time ago, but I kept putting it off.

Pillows!

Standard

Welcome to PILLOWS A-LA-MODE, a blog about my new hobby–designing and sewing pillows.  Why do I need a new pasttime? When I was an elementary teacher, my hobby was writing children’s books, but now I get to write all day for Benchmark Education Company in New York. I work from home where I live with my walking-encyclopedia husband Dave, who sweetly puts up with all my quirks and whims and where we love to entertain our big family while embracing the motto “The more, the merrier!”

My grandmother taught me to sew and embroider when I was young. I’ll always remember the many happy hours we spent together and all the wisdom she imparted not only about our projects, but about life. When she passed away, I inherited all of her fabrics, threads, flosses, and now-vintage buttons. My mother inspired me, too. She made a beautiful quilt for me when I (finally!) graduated from college, but her favorite medium was painting. Then it was my sister and best friend Susan, a musician, quilter, photographer, baker, and storyteller. Today I’m blessed to have seven daughters-in-law who never cease to amaze me with their creativity . . . scrapbooking, cardmaking, photography, painting, pottery, cake decorating, interior decorating, quilting, cooking, writing, designing birthday parties for our adorable grandchildren, and much, much, more. And I mustn’t forget my dad, who gave me my first sewing machine (the one I still use!), drove us to 4-H meetings and the county fair to make and display our projects, made it possible for me to pursue my love of piano, and reads my books. Dad, by the way, lives an innovative life himself . . . but that’s another story for another day.

Pillow Pillow

One of the reasons I enjoy making pillows is that I can simply browse through my stash, put this and that together, and come up with a one-of-a-kind creation. I also love to upcycle things like vintage clothing and table linens into pillows. And, of course, I’m always excited when I find intriguing remnants and decorative items in the clearance aisles of my favorite stores!

I call this one “Pillow Pillow.” I found the stamped mini pillowcase in a bargain bin at Michaels, cut it out close to the edges, and appliqued it onto a piece of pink polka-dotted fabric from my collection. The finished cushion is 14×14.

Besides sharing my pillows, I hope to post some recipes (“Chicken Pillows” coming soon!), kids’ crafts, sewing and decorating ideas, and general chatter.  Thank you for visiting, and please come back again!