Thursday, December 20, 2007

Let It Snow

Just documenting a portion of my collection of snowmen. Yes, I did say portion, although this is the greater part of my collection unless you count all of the stuffed snowmen I have received over the years. The last photo is my annual gift from my friend Gail in Arkansas. (You can also see it hanging behind the tree.) Every year we give each other something. We try to make it handmade but not always. The past 2 years we've done pretty well with the handmade part. I will post what I made her later this week. I need to make sure she sees it first in person because I know she stops by here to check on me.

The basic overview above.

An okay picture of the tree. My DH bought lighthouse lights the other day and couldn't find a spot he like for them so they ended up on my "snowman" tree. Next year they will have to find another home.

A close up of the right side.

My 2007 snowman gift. Isn't he cute? With the ice and snow we've had in the Chicago area I imagine the snowmen here definitely need their overcoats.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Time for Some Holiday Cheer

The month of December is always busy and I hope to get up some holiday things I'm working on as well as receiving but in the meantime please enjoy this entertaining a cappella and untraditional version of the Twelve Days of Christmas from a group of singers from Indiana University. (If you listen closely you can find a little Hanukkah in it too.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's been a long time

Just to let you know. I'm back! I had to let Vertical Quilting Curve go. It was a very hard decision for me because it was very enjoyable but unfortunately it was a lot of work and I had to concentrate just on quilting. I am not able to just work on one method of creativity - at least not right now. I enjoy so many different arts and crafts especially learning new ones. And, of course, there is the issue of my daily "real" life with work, family, etc. that just seems to get in the way for some reason. If you have the time and love quilting you should check out my last post and links to writing for the 451press family.

Also, I'm trying to downsize my fabric collection, especially fleece that I have. My sister and I used to do craft shows and I have an abundance of the stuff. I would try to do some craft shows but there are so many people who do fleece here compared to where I moved from that it's just not worth the effort. I do have some blankets and girls' ponchos left over that I'm going to try to either ebay or etsy them. I don't have an etsy store set up but it is on my to do list. My major dilemma with that is what I need to get rid of doesn't blend with what I want to try to do for future sales but I want to make a store that is what I'm all about. I've also given away some of the fleece blankets to a hospital charity and will give a blanket and poncho to our holiday adopted child.

Okay, not let's get ready for the holidays!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Funniest Thing for Sale on Ebay from a Disgruntled Mom

Okay, I have seen a lot of crazy listings over at eBay but this one takes the cake. I found this listing while reading Creative Mom Cafe. If you have even 1 child you will find this to be very amusing and especially so if you have one that likes Pokemon and you don't. It has basically become a blog post since it has had over 14,000 hits and over 100 comments. It is long but you have to see it for yourself.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book Giveaway at Veritcal Quilting Curve

I've been trying to keep up with my other blog, Vertical Quilting Curve, while life has been happening which means other things get left behind such as this blog and housework. I'm really looking forward to the nice crisp fall weather and the routine that back to school brings on.

One of the major events in my life was taking my husband in for pretty much as-soon-as-they-can gall bladder surgery. He has been in pain for almost 4 months mostly in his chest. That led to an ER visit which led to heart tests and then more tests (ultrasound then a CT scan) when everything checked out fine. All the tests started about a month ago. Hopefully this will take care of the pain. So far, so good.

The only thing I was able to accomplish while waiting on him was finally finishing a book. And, now that I'm finished I'm giving it away. So, if you like to read fiction especially about crafty women go check out the giveaway of The Runaway Quilt.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Uh, What Happened to July?

I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted. Time flies when you're having fun, right? July was such a busy month. My husband was sick and had lots of medical tests (still is), went to a overwhelming first ever trip to CHA, I've been writing articles for Craft Critique and Vertical Quilting Curve, read the latest Harry Potter book, and I'm trying to get some craft time in. And, I don't see how August is going to be any less busy. This week is 1st grade registration for my daughter, I'm still chugging away at the writing, and I'm going to teach how to make ribbon roses at the next meeting of the Chicagoland Craft Collective.

A couple of things I would like to show you on this first posting of August is actually about a couple of the things from July. First, I wanted to get the Harry Potter book as soon as possible, so we took off for the bookstore late Friday, July 20th. I have not seen a bookstore so crowded since I went to a John Mellencamp signing in Bloomington, IN. It was really quite the experience and my 6 year old loved how everyone was dressed up. She also dressed up (I made this hat for her last Halloween) and is seen here getting a "tattoo" of a cat. We didn't stay to buy our book at the bookstore but instead went to the K-Mart in the same parking lot where the line was much shorter. I bet the last person at the bookstore was there until 2 a.m. by the looks of the parking lot when we left. It was just amazing!

One of my most exciting July events was running into my former boss from Leisure Arts when I went to CHA. I knew they would be there but I wasn't too sure who would be representing them and I was so happy to see it was Susan. Here is Susan looking just the same as I remember her when I left almost exactly 10 years ago. Boy, talk about time flying by!

Well, I hope I sit down and write more for the upcoming month or at least what's left of it. If nothing else I will let you know when some cool articles come up over at the other blogs I show up on.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A New Beaded Bracelet for Me

Last night at our monthly Chicagoland Craft Collective Meetup, I made this spectacular memory wire bracelet. Analee was our wonderful teacher of the craft this month. I brought a bunch of beads I picked up on sale at Joann's a long, long time ago that I intended to be a purse handle but now I have this awesome bracelet.

Next month I get to be the teacher. I am going to show everyone how to make these cool wire-edge ribbon flowers. You can view a tutorial for the folded ribbon rose I wrote over at Craft Critique. I am going to teach this rose plus the leaf and then if we have time I will do the rosette and rolled ribbon rose. They are quite easy to do once you get the feel of it and they work up very quickly.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Last Week Was Vacation Week

Last week we actually took the whole week off work and did vacation stuff but we didn't really leave town. We decided we didn't want to spend all that time in a car (especially with gas prices) when we live near one of the greatest cities in the U.S., Chicago!

Although, we really only spent one day downtown we did enough in that one day that could have been spread out over a few days. After that we lounged by our association pool and visited the park districts pools and water park. Now my daughter is ready for a real water park with more than 3 slides. 6 year olds tend to get bored quickly, that is until you say we aren't going anywhere else then the local place is perfect.

Our day downtown consisted mostly of Navy Pier where we went to the Children's Museum, the Amazing Chicago Funhouse, ate at the Billy Goat Tavern (famous for the curse on the Cubs), rode the famous Ferris Wheel, and took a boat trip on Lake Michigan. We also dipped our feet into freezing Lake Michigan at nearby Ohio Beach. We also managed to hop on a free trolley from the Pier to the Magnificient Mile along Michigan Avenue where we visited the famous American Girl Store (luckily daughter didn't take much interest), the Hershey Chocolate store and had an awesome chocolate cupcake, and a few other places. Our only regret in our trip was the Children's Museum. If you want to go to a really nice children's museum for the money go the the Indianapolis Children's Museum or Wonderlab in Bloomington, IN.

The pictures on the page are from our trip downtown. One is my daughter in the cold water with Chicago in the background - the tallest building is the Hancock building. The other picture is her in front of one of the art pieces displayed along Michigan Avenue. The current collection are fashion inspired pieces using a dress form shape. This one was called Metamorphosis. There was a cocoon also but the streets were just too busy to keep stopping for photos.
There is so much to do here that we have a hard time deciding what's next. We've only lived here about 2 years and are just now getting to explore downtown really well. One thing I would recommend to do if you come to town for a few days during baseball season is to get tickets to Wrigley field. I've been to both the Sox and Cubs games but you can't beat the old time atmosphere at Wrigley.

Oh, I did observe one crafy thing at the Children's Museum, a collection of quilts made by kids for peace. I discussed them over at my quilting blog, Vertical Quilting Curve.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Oh, no! I've been tagged!

Sarah has tagged the Craft Critique reporters to list 7 random things about ourselves. This is the first time I've been tagged so let's see...

  1. I grew up in a very small coal-mining town in the Appalachia foothills of Southern Ohio. The town was home to Hull Pottery and other various potteries before they all closed.

  2. One talent I wish I had would be to be an awesome singer. I love to sing BUT no one wants to hear it. Fortunately, I am aware of this or I might find myself failing miserably on American Idol.

  3. Our family dog when I was growing up was a little dachsand that my mom named Nikki after the character on The Young and the Restless.

  4. I lived in Arkansas for 5 years and while there got to see President Clinton win both elections watching the second one right in the front of the stage where he gave his acceptance speech. We also got to see Tony Bennet and Kathy Mattea sing. It was one of the coolest things to be a part of with all the major news anchors and select celebrities.

  5. I collect tea pots. I probably started this because of drinking tea with my mom when I was a kid. I still have the teapot she used that was made near my hometown at McCoy pottery where my sister worked at the time. Oh, and we didn't "do" tea like you would think. There was nothing fancy about it. Tea was just a drink and there was nothing ceremonial but I still enjoyed it.

  6. I never thought I would have kids. My sister's 3 were enough for me growing up but then I got married and we decided to try. My daughter is the most special thing in my life.

  7. Speaking of special things, my husband and I met in July, engaged in December and married in May and we have been married 15 years! Wow!

Well, hope that was enough sharing. I'm suppose to tag other people but I don't want to pick any favorites so if you would like to share, feel free. I look forward to what you have to say.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My First Tutorial Completed - Stem Stitch

I completed my very first tutorial demonstrating how to do the stem stitch. It is posted at my quilting blog, Vertical Quilting Curve. I've tried to have close up photos to help you see how I do my stem stitch which I use for my redwork embroidery pieces.

Let me know what you think but be kind since it is my first one. I hope it is useful.

Here is a photo of the completed stitch.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Time Flies When Life Happens

I can't believe I haven't posted anything here in such a long time. But it's not because I haven't been busy or haven't been writing. Although we have been taking turns being sick around here I have been doing articles for my other blog Vertical Quilting Curve and being a good reporter for Craft Critique.

My quilting articles always have the latest posts listed on the side bar here so you can check those out whenever you like. Also, if you're not a regular over at Craft Critique you should check them out as well. They had a very popular segment on organization which I didn't participate in because I'm more in need of an organizational intervention. I'm lucky if I can see the floor of my craft space from time to time. I did read the articles so I really shouldn't have too many excuses.... Some of my articles though lately include - Celebrations: Tea Party, Kids Craft: Decoupage, and Michael Miller Memories Fabric Paper.

Also, last night at our Chicagoland Craft Collective meetup I helped Susie teach embroidery stitches. She does some nice embroidery. You can visit her and see what she's working on at her blog Susie Can Stitch.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I Won a Contest!!

Yesterday in the mail I received my items from a contest I won over at Mom Is Teaching. Just look at these goodies. The main items are 2 books by J.H. Sweet in her Fairy Chronicles series: Marigold and the Feather of Hope, the Journey Begins and Dragonfly and the Web of Dreams. Summer of Mom Is Teaching also included some garden items, stickers, seeds and a very pretty wind chime.

The books themselves are beautiful. They are paperback but are printed on a nice paper and disply gorgeous artwork. My daughter is anxious to hear the stories right after we finish a couple Katie Kazoo books.

Thank you so much Summer.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Flea Market Fun

Last month the Chicago Craft Collective went on a little field trip to the Kane County Flea Market and I couldn't go. Luckily, this month I was there. I took along my hubby and my 6 year old. When I almost decided not to go my daughter begged and begged. So, since I didn't really need much encouragement I said "ok". And, although we warned her there would be lots of walking involved she still was excited until we actually got there. Then it was all about the feet hurting after just getting through one booth until we found Barbie dolls, new in the box for only $5. She picked out a cool cheerleader representing Texas. Later she found a used but good condition Cinderella Barbie for another mere $2 then 2 rings for $1. She definitely made out especially when we found swimsuits for $5 and I even got one. They were brand new with tags still on. The vendor says they got them in a lot at an auction from an out of business water park.

Okay, now we had lots of good bargains but not exactly what I intended to be on the lookout for at the flea market. Then I found a pile of old banners of mostly vacation destinations. In the pile I got this Kentucky - Birthplace of Lincoln which is going to go great for a scrapbook section using photos from a trip to the actual birthplace of Lincoln in Hodgenville, KY. I also picked up one for Brown County Indiana which I also have photos from a visit. It is a great place to view fall foliage by the way and not quite as expensive as New England.

Then I found my last purchases of the day. A 2 yard piece of this sweet vintage fabric and a handkerchief in great shape. It was a great day and I could have spent a lot more money without trying too hard.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hobbies Are the "In" Thing

It seems everywhere I turn these days there is information on having a hobby or getting one if you don't already have a leisure time activity. The Digerati Life blog about money and other things has a great article on how to have a less expensive hobby - The Perfect Hobby: One That’s Cheap, Makes Money Or Becomes A Business.

Of course this would be awesome if it could work that way for crafters especially quilters and knitters who love to have the "stash". One of the comments on this article addresses this because of the advice of only "pick up what you need." I have yet to meet a crafter who can walk out of a store with only what they need for a project and then if they do it usually means they forgot something and will have to go back or make due if possible.

There is also the question if it becomes a business, is it still a hobby? I hope someday to be lucky enough to incorporate what I love to do with what I need to sustain an income. For now it would just be nice to break even.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Vertical Quilting Curve Feed

Since I've started writing for the blog Vertical Quilting Curve I've been doing less over here because I feel like all I would be doing is repeating myself sometimes, but I don't want anyone to think I've dropped off the edge of the earth or worse that I am not keeping myself busy.

To help keep you connected to my quilting news I have added a feed of the Vertical Quilting Curve on the side panel so you can see the newest articles published over there. I am still getting used to the Word Press program that the blog is done through so I've only just started to add photos and I just added a photo of a new needle punch piece if you want to take a look.

Hope you get a chance to take a look!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend!

I am so glad its Friday and a holiday weekend at that! So far mine is off to a great start especially compared to a week ago when we had to go to the ER with our daughter and spend the weekend there for her to rehydrate. Last night we attended Kindergarten graduation and she is officially a first grader and we celebrated by going to her favorite place for pizza, Garibaldi's. It was a good tasting cheese only but at least cheap compared to real Chicago pizza that I love.

Don't forget that today is Memorial Day, a day to remember those who died serving our country. Also, look out for veterans selling poppies to help raise money for disable and hospitalized veterans. Without getting into politics I would like to say this is a very important cause to support the men and women who willingly put themselves in danger answering a call most of us don't have to. My father and both brothers served in the military but luckily did not need the use of the medical facilities although they covered WWII, Vietnam and the Cuban Missile Crisis. One of my strongest memories of my childhood is how my mother would make sure she went to town to buy her little paper poppy on poppy days. You can learn more about the story of the poppies that hospitalized veterans make by clicking here.

Have a fun and happy weekend!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Good News, Bad News

First off, I want to let everyone know my good news that I have a new writing gig at 451 Press writing for the Vertical Quilting Curve blog. So far I only have one post and will have another published tomorrow. A preview of the post involves the bad news of my daughter and her stay at the hospital this past weekend due to dehydration from a stomach virus. I missed quite a bit of work last week and really thought she was getting better until it decided to get really, really bad Friday evening. Luckily my in-laws were able to come in today to watch her so my husband and I can get back to a more normal work schedule while she stays home from yet another two days from school.

Also, since the new blog is a quilting blog, I will be keeping this one for all of my other crafting and everday life adventures. I will also still be doing articles over at Craft Critique. Speaking of, be sure to check out my last one on Michael Miller Memories fabric paper. It was published last week but I didn't get a chance to sit down and tell you all about it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Get a Hobby

A follow up post to 5 Reasons You Should Learn a Craft.

Over at Whip Up you can check out a book review and interview with the author: Get a Hobby by Tina Barseghian. Looks like a great reference for finding something different to do or a great gift for a retiree.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

5 Reasons You Should Learn a Craft

1. Exercise your creative side, especially if you have a regular job that doesn't allow for creativity. If you already have a career that is creative then try something that is different from your daily job. For example, if you're a graphic designer, take a pottery class or learn how to sew.

2. Relaxation. Many knitters, crocheters and other needle artists I know say they do it for de-stressing. In the November 2005 issue of Natural Health they ran an article "Knit one, relax two" where knitting was cited as a meditation method. Click here to read the article.

3. Meet new people. Make new friends. I've moved around a few times and I always make friends by joining the local embroidery or quilt guild. After moving to the Chicago area I used to find the Chicagoland Craft Collective and the Palatine Crochet Group. Most groups don't require you to be experienced in the craft represented just interested and there are always people willing to teach each other.

4. Make gifts for friends and family. Want to give someone a special gift that's not mass produced by someone overseas? Or, maybe you want to give something a little more personalized? Find a book, take a class or enlist a crafty friend to help you learn how to sew, paint or decoupage.

5. Just to have fun! Of course, this is probably included in most if not all the 1st 4 reasons but it is probably the most important. But, if you find you start a craft then decide it's not for you, don't give up on all crafts. Just because you're all thumbs and can't for the life of you cast stitches onto a knitting needle it doesn't mean you can't try to make that mosaic stepping stone for the garden.

I hope you give something new a try. Everyone has the ability to be creative in some way. Whether you scrapbook your favorite photos or quilt a full sized bed cover just remember to enjoy yourself, especially when you first begin. Your skills will improve with each step of the way and you will make new friends and impress old ones.

This post was inspired by Problogger's Group Writing Project. If you have a blog of your own and are looking at ways to grow or are thinking about blogging as a business Problogger is a great place to start.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Happy Scrapbooking Day!

Can you believe it? A day just for scrapbooking. This hobby has come a long way. If you don't believe me you can check out the official website for National Scrapbooking Day created by the National Scrapbooking Association. Scrapbooking has been around a long time but I have only recently been really interested as I play with all the beautiful papers and embellishments.

As my interest in the craft/hobby has grown I have even done a book review, Scrapbook Styles: Fabric and Florals, for Craft Critique that put scrapbooking with some of my favorite things involving fabric. At that time I did my first 12" x 12" page using a cute cat fabric and an assortment of photos of my first cat. Although it turned out nicely, it just wasn't quite finished. Since I had not been doing scrapbooking very long I really didn't have the embellishments to give it the finishing touch. The weeks following my original creation I went on several hunts to find just the right items but it seems like I would find something and then it wouldn't be the right color or size. Eventually I picked up enough things to sit down and embellish the page. As you can see in the photo, I didn't really add too much more but I feel like I accomplished a good page.

Some of the things I used to finish it were some star shaped brads from Spare Parts. These were especially helpful for attaching the matted photos to the page. Since I had used fabric for the background I didn't think glue or regular adhesive would hold up so I attached the photos to the background with the brads. Some other embellishments include Love My Cat stickers from Karen Foster Design, an acrylic heart piece from Spare Parts and fabric letters from Spare Parts.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Craft Critique: Altered Ikea Magazine File

Whew! I've been so busy lately with regular life stuff that the only thing I've done crafty lately is my article for Craft Critique and trying to clean up my craft room so I can have space to do more crafting. It is such a small space and I have soooo much stuff that soon it's hard to tell if there is an actual floor in there.

The magazine file I chose to do really got my creative juices flowing. I was cutting, gluing and even ironing. It turned out super well, too. I have to say I was very happy with myself since I haven't done that much papercrafting. You will have to see for yourself over at Craft Critique. I hope it inspires you. I know I will be making more and may do one for my daughter's teacher for an end of the year gift but probably not quite so involved. To see the details of how I made an altered magazine file and up close pictures just click on over to Craft Critique: Altered Ikea Magazine File.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Having Fun at the Chicago Shamrocks Lacrosse Game

A couple of weeks ago we received tickets to go to a professional lacrosse game. Yes, Chicago has it all when it comes to professional sports. So, we got to spend a little recreational time together as a family watching the Chicago Shamrocks. Luckily we spend quite a bit of time together but rarely do we get to go out. Since moving to the big city finances have been a little tight so when we get a chance for discounted or free tickets to an event we take full advantage.

At first I was skeptical about professional lacrosse. I mean at first glance it is basically hockey on Astroturf but it was a lot of fun. My daughter enjoyed it so much more than we thought she would. She really got involved when the fan cam was announced. She jumped and hollered and did her best to try to get on the jumbotron. You can see her photo here cheering shortly after consuming a blue raspberry snowcone. One of her favorite parts was the dance team which I could have lived without and not because I am against dancing but the kind of dancing and the lack of costumes. Although this is supposed to be a family event the dances were definitely aimed toward the male species of the crowd.

Anyway, we couldn't have asked for a better time. The Shamrocks soundly beat the Philadelphia team although I can't remember the score. It was fan appreciation night. I caught one of the LaCrosse balls that my daughter can be seen in the photo getting signed by Mike Kirk when we were allowed on the field to meet the players and dance team after the game. The players and dance team were great about getting to all the autographs and pictures for the kids. Overall it was a great family night even if I didn't get to do any crafting. Now that I have been exposed to the scrapbooking craze I have all the makings of a great page or two.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First Fondant Cake Experience is Not So Great

This past weekend we celebrated my husband's and mother-in-law's birthday. Yes, birthday. They share the same day. My husband likes to joke that he never had to get his mom another present but I make sure he always gets one.

I have become the family cake creator which lets me get to try out different things without having a cake left over at home. For the first time I decided to try some fondant decorations especially since my daughter wanted to help. Since we were short on time because of the 2 1/2 hour trip to my in-laws I purchased Wilton's Ready-To-Use Rolled Fondant (Neon Colors Multi Pack). I also purchased the Daisy Fondant Cut-Outs and the Fondant Cutter and Embosser. The best part of this was the fondant was easy to roll out and cut with the cut-outs just like cookie dough. The worst part was the taste. Since I've never made my own fondant I don't have anything to compare it to except for the traditional buttercream recipe which is always a hit with everyone. I did use the buttercream for the background and then my daughter and I placed the colorful flowers onto the icing. She really enjoyed doing this especially since she wasn't able to use the decorator bags very well on her grandpa's cake.

The picture here shows my daughter and her cousin helping with lighting the candles. Believe me they were very well supervised and they were very careful and did an excellent job although I think they only did just a couple of candles a piece. They were a little slow since they were being so careful. I did do closeups of the cake but it was warm in the house and the road trip made it droop a little so I am showing only a closeup of one of the flowers. I will probably try to do the fondant again because it is so quick and kids can help cut out the shapes but definitely will try to make my own. Not very many people ate the flowers including me. This was not one of my better decorating jobs but the inside was really yummy. I did a top tier of carrot cake and a bottom tier of French vanilla.

If anyone has tips on using fondant I would love to hear from you. I love how the cakes look and how whimsical they can be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FabricMate Fabric Markers at Craft Critique

Check out my newest article - Craft Critique: FabricMate Fabric Markers. I tried out FabricMate markers by Yasutomo & Co. They were so much fun to try. I have had them for awhile but had not done much more than writing on fabric with them. They are much more useful for coloring.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Redwork Heart for Heart Exchange

Just wanted to show eveyone the heart I made for the heart exchange in my hand embroidery group. I sent it out the beginning of this month but didn't want to post it until the recipient received it. Luckily she received it shortly after BUT I got a little busy with other things, of course, and am just now getting it on the blog. I really enjoy doing redwork. It is relaxing to do and the outcome is so bright and cheery. I adapted this design from an old Leisure Arts transfer book so that it would fit the heart theme better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Lesson in Designer Scrapbook Style

I went to my Chicago Craft Collective Meetup tonight and got a special treat. Our very own Martha packed up super cool scrapbook kits so we could try out a little scrapbooking. She put together some amazing little pieces of paper, trims and trinkets. I couldn't use them all but that was okay because I have some left over to use at home plus it gave me options as I layered and cut and just tried to figure out what I wanted my layout to be. It is so much fun when you can sit and play around until it feels right.

Martha is a phenomenal scrapbook artist. Visit her blog Mugsy Boo to see her infamous layouts of her favorite subjects, Mugsy and Opie. I just love my kit she did. Since I'm still new to the whole scrapbook/papercraft thing it was nice to have a group of items that coordinated without having to go purchase a big box of each little item needed to get a completed look. I'm working on a couple of other pages but still haven't finished because I don't have enough little things that actually go with the look I want.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More International Quilt Festival News

Today over at Craft Critique is my new article detailing more of my experience at the 2007 International Quilt Festival/Chicago. Although I couldn't describe everything, it should give you an even better idea of what the show was like and I hope it encourages you to get to one of these events even if you don't quilt or even sew.

Craft Critique: 2007 International Quilt Festival; Chicago#links

Thursday, April 12, 2007

International Quilt Festival/Chicago 2007

I've had another busy week. Work is crazy. We had a sales meeting with everyone coming into Chicago and we spent two evenings out at dinner and just getting to know everyone. My daughter had a doctor's appointment with an allergist today and I went to the special preview of the International Quilt Festival tonight for class registrants.

The show is great! It is the first time I've been to this one. I've never been to the original one in Houston but I have been to the Paducah Quilt Show which is amazing and is on my list to get back to. I am showing you a detail from a quilt by Kathy York titled Little Cities. It is machine and fused appliqued, machine pieced and machine quilted. The detail is the center of the quilt. I love how it has the circular quilting pattern rippling out from the center and the colors are so vibrant. You can see the quilts online beginning tomorrow on the quilt show's website, Quilts, Inc.

I am also sharing with you one of the vendors in the Make It University area sponsored by Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine. Ten Seconds Studio has unique tools to emboss metal and add them to your scrapbooking, cardmaking or as shown in the picture, wonderful little art quilts. You can find the supplies at I picked up some of their rub-ons because they stick to fabric (used for art pieces not to be laundered). I will let you know when I get a chance to try them out.

At the quilt show I am taking a class on Saturday. It is called Threads of Imagination by Cara Gulati. I think I'm going to be a little tired and a little broke at the end of the weekend but hopefully I will be really inspired. I've already learned so much just from the vendors I've met tonight and I've probably only touched a small fraction of what is there. Wish me luck and if you can, stop by the show online.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

An Easy Birthday Cake and An Easy Easter Snack

My husband's family has most of their birthdays in April which happen very often at Easter time. So, sometimes we celebrate both making the month just a little extra busy. This past weekend we had my father-in-law's birthday on Saturday and Easter on Sunday and in 2 weeks will be my husband's and his mom's (on the same day) and his brother's.

Since my Doll Cake was such a hit at my daughters birthday party I wanted to make one for my father-in-law. My daughter was eager to help and I was limited on time so I decided we needed something simple. This cake was only going to be 2 layers but I recently purchased very nice, heavy-duty Wilton non-stick cake pans which were 9" round instead of the 8" I originally had. The layers looked rather short especially since I was going to write all of the terms of endearment for him around the sides. The quick cake become a longer adventure just by baking another layer to allow the space for writing. I made the usual buttercream icing but I didn't have enough to add some extra elements like I had planned and I was running behind. My daughter had picked out Jelly Belly jelly beans to put on the cake. We had thought of spelling out Happy Birthday with them but it just wasn't going to work. She came up with the idea of placing them around the cake for a border. Pretty clever for a six year old I think. She wanted to help by putting polka dots with the blue icing but she still doesn't quite have the pressure correct on the decorating bag. We are going to have to make a practice cake for her in the future. Anyway, it wasn't quite what I had imagined and it took waaay longer than it should have but everyone loved it especially when it came to the eating part.

My next experiment was for Easter Day. My husband bought this huge box of chocolate Rice Krispies thinking our daughter would eat them since she likes both chocolate and regular Rice Krispies. Wrong! Now what do we do with them. The box was really big. My husband had wanted to take something else to his sister's who was holding this years celebration including the aforementioned birthday but with the cake I didn't want anything too involved. I have various cake pans and I have always wanted to try doing the Rice Krispie treat thing in one of them so voila we made a Rice Krispie Easter egg with my Wilton Egg Cake Pan. Unfortunately a plain brown egg looks like a big brown blob. So we make a stop on the way to her house for some ready made icing tubes and did a quick egg decorating for a yummy treat for all the kids (except for mine - she doesn't like Rice Krispie treats either).
Hope everyone had a great weekend especially if you were celebrating any holidays. They can be a lot of work but they are so much fun to be a part of making the hard work worth every minute of it.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Dritz InnerFuse Article is Published at Craft Critique

I almost forgot to tell you that my latest review article, Dritz InnerFuse Double-sided Fusible Interfacing, was published over at Craft Critique. I had written it some time ago and was waiting for its debut before discussing it. It wouldn't have been any fun to tell you about something that you wouldn't be able to go take a look.

You will be able to see my first fabric bowl and my first fabric postcard. The bowl if you look closely is a little lopsided but I think the black fringe helps out. (You can get a peek at the bowl in my flickr gallery in the side bar near the bottom). And, my postcard is a little plain but still pretty cute. I just learned how to do them at the Sewing Smorgasbord I went to a couple of weeks ago. There are so many ways to embellish them and I plan on making some more because they are so much fun and a pretty quick project to do that you can share with someone. They would make great swap items.

You can also check out my tote bag I did earlier which introduced me to InnerFuse. It makes a great side pocket on a bag that doesn't sag. So make sure you go check it out the full article.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Associated Content - A New Writing Avenue

I have found another place to write and get paid - Associated Content. If you want to read more items by me you can check it out by looking on the side bar in the section titled "Articles Published at AC". Here will be listed the articles and How-to pieces as they are published. If you like to write you should check them out. I don't know about you but I need more ways to help feed my crafting habit. I've found them to be more profitable than Helium but I'm continuing to write there as well just to see how well it works long term.

Monday, April 2, 2007

My Introduction to Needle Felting

Attendance at the Ohio State University Perry County Extension's annual Sewing Smorgasbord was outstanding especially for such a small county extension office. I grew up in Perry County and spent 8 years in 4-H which was based out of this office. So, it was a lot of fun to take part it in the event and attend the 45 min - 1 hour classes. There was no pre-registration for the classes so it was first come first serve for classes that had limits otherwise it was standing room only for most of the sections. Since most of them were lecture or demo only it was not too bad.

As you may have read in my earlier post about the Smorgasbord, I was most hoping to take the felting make-it-and-take-it demo. I'm happy to say I got into the class. For a $10 kit fee we received a Needle Felting Starter Kit by Fiber Trends, wool roving and a Styrofoam egg shape to make a pincushion. Usually, you would felt an entire egg from the roving but because of time constraints our instructor had us cover the Styrofoam.

Basically, for needle felting you stab wool roving over and over with special triangular shaped needles to get the fibers to stick together. I found a great tutorial for basically how we were making the egg pincushion at Mielke's Fiber Arts (they show making a cute ladybug).

Our super instructor was K.L. Christman owner of the Olde Yarn Loft in Somerset, Ohio. Her shop is in a cabin and besides natural yarns and fibers she carries spinning wheels, weaving looms and a very unique handcrafted triangle loom that makes incredible woven shawls. She is located 15 minutes south of I-70 and only about 40 minutes total from Columbus. The shop hours are Tues-Sat 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. She is also involved with the Appalachia Fiber Guild and their 1st Appalachia Heritage Fest to be held September 29, 2007. If you live nearby or will be traveling near there check it out.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Embroidered Heart Exchange

While I was away this past weekend I received this little gem in the mail. It is from an exchange I am participating in for the hand embroidery yahoo group I belong to. This is the first exchange I've done. I'm hoping to do some more in the future. I would love to do a wallhanging pieced with mementos from my Internet stitching friends. I have to confess I am running a little behind doing mine for the exchange and you won't see it here until a few days after it has been mailed. I don't want to ruin the suprise just in case she stops by.

I'm Back, Adhesives and a Contest

Well, I'm back in the big city where I once again have computer access and cell phone service. I've actually been back for a couple of days but I had to finish an article for Craft Critique. I will let you know when it gets posted.

I had a great time visiting family and attending the Sewing Smorgasbord. I have so much to share with you that I will be doing several posts on what I saw and what I learned. I just wish I had more pictures for you. I was so excited to go that morning I left my camera in my suitcase at my sister's house. But, I will have pictures of the goodies I bought and projects I've done as a result of the classes.

Just in case you need some more reading and you are into or would like to get into scrapbooking or other papercrafts, check out Craft Critique. While I've been gone they have been cranking out articles on all kinds of adhesives for mostly paper. It's a great resource and there are too many to list here.

Also, Craft Critique is holding a contest. All you will have to do is send a photo of a fabric inspired papercraft or paper inspired fabric craft. Check out the guidelines and get the email address on the right side of the home page to get some free goodies.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

One of Those Crazy Weeks

I'm having one of those life balance dilemmas this week. I have so much going on between home, work and trying to keep up with my extracurricular activities that I'm exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.

Recently I whined to my husband that I wish I didn't work. If I didn't, I could get so much more done. He doesn't believe me because when I stay home with our sick daughter it all seems to fall apart more but when he stays home with her he gets things done. My argument is that if I were to stay at home while she is in school then I could get more done. Unlike him I find different tasks to do and my daughter is much different with me than him especially when she is sick. I'm sure all moms have stories like that.

Anyway I have been working on several projects and hope to show them soon. I will be going on a trip for a few days so I won't be posting anything until I get back. My sister and I will be attending the Ohio State University Perry County Extension's annual Sewing Smorgasbord in Thornville, OH (see this PDF for details) this weekend. They have several demonstrations and workshops and I hope to get to try the needle felting class. Hopefully I will have something to show when I get back. Hope everyone has a great weekend and I will be back next week.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Using Fabrics in Your Papercrafts

Fabric and fibers are a great way to add different textures and colors to your scrapbooking and card crafting. This week at Craft Critique has been all about adding fabric to or how fabric influences papercrafting. Today's article is my book review on Scrapbook Styles: Fabrics and Florals by Jill Miller. Other articles includes Beyond Paper: Fibercraft and It's Influence on Scrapbooking by Julie Fei-Balzer and Stiffy Fabric Stiffener: Add Texture to Your Papercrafts by Michelle Laycock. Also check out the Fabric Challenge Carnival to get more inspiration for your own crafting adventures.

Monday, March 12, 2007

So Easy Decoupage Candle Holders

I have been inspired by my 6 year old daughter. This past weekend in a church class, she made a little decoupage candle holder with a small glass globe, tissue paper and glue. It was so pretty. I have not done decoupage since middle school art class but I wanted to do it too. So today we worked together to do one.

I happened to have a medium glass candle globe and tissue. I bought some Modge Podge by Plaid this weekend. We cut up pieces of tissue paper. We used a brush to apply the glue then pressed the paper in place overlapping them as we went. After the globe was covered we apply an extra coat of glue and let it dry. I added some specialty yarn to my globe and the smaller one she made. I added some beads using 28 gauge wire to secure them to the hanging lengths of the yarn on the larger globe.

Now I have two special candle holders that look as if I purchased them at a boutique and my daughter is ready to make more for gifts. Quick, cheap and gorgeous! Can you get any better than that?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Crochet Buffet

Yesterday I attended a small event called the Crochet Buffet presented by the Northern Illinois Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America. If you thought crochet was all about Granny Squares and afghans you would be surprised at the different kinds of crochet there are and what you can do with it.

The delightful and informative ladies of the guild showed quite the variety of items you can make with a crochet hook and yarn or thread. I might not even remember them all! They all had their hooks out happily displaying their skills and giving insight on crochet in general and in the different applications. Of course, you had the very traditional items of afghans, scarfs, hats and the Granny Square. There were also handbags, lace, clothing and jewelry.

My favorite items were purses made using freeform crochet and jewelry. Freeform crochet is a very liberating art form where you don't follow a pattern and simply let your hook and yarn take you on a journey. It is like crazy quilting for crocheters. It makes fabulous purses and abstract art pieces. Click here to see a site with multitudes of examples. The jewelry they had made actually was made two different ways. There was beaded crochet which I have done before and they also made jewelry and art pieces using wire as their yarn. I actually bought some wire today to do a little playing. I will post a piece when I do. I found a great tutorial at the Lapidary Journal site - check it out.

I really want to join the guild so I can take advantage of the upcoming classes and workshops they will be doing. Oh, how I love to learn new things and meet people with the same creative disorder I have because then I don't feel so crazy after all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

8 1/2" x 11" Photo Collage

I'm discovering something I really like about scrapbooking/paper crafting. I can make my own photo collages that the photography studios at department stores try to get you to buy. I took the four poses we received from the studio and made paper frames for the wallet size. I glued the portraits to the frames and then to a piece of 8 1/2" x 11" piece of The Paper Studio Christmas paper. I embossed the year on a piece of cardstock then layered it on another piece of cardstock to glue to the center. To finish it off I tied a bow and glued it to one of the corners just to make it interesting.
Although I envisioned this to be fitted for an 8 x 10 frame I think I will keep it this size and simply hang it on my wall at work. Wow! I've actually finished an item from 2006. By the way, it originally said 2007 until I realized Christmas 2007 hasn't happened yet. I don't need this year to be over yet! Good thing I caught that. I wish the photo was a little better but this had the least glare. I really need to stop doing this late at night and wait for some natural light but I get so excited when I finish something I just can't wait to get it uploaded.

How to Re-fashion a Kid's Sweatshirt

For some reason my dear daughter does not like to wear a plain T-shirt or sweatshirt. They are just too plain and boy-like. So, she has to have something a little more fashionable. The problem is that fashionable shirts can cost more than I want to spend. I found an alternative. I purchase gently used shirts at thrift stores and jazz them up like the one in the photo.

For this particular shirt I used an iron-on applique that I purchased on clearance earlier this year. After ironing it on I used a narrow zigzag stitch in a matching thread. I wanted to make sure this would last through washings. Then I used a Gemagic Rhinestone Setter (similar to the Bedazzler) to set some colored rhinestones around the applique.
This is such an easy project to do. If you don't have the rhinestone setter you could purchase some metallic fabric paints and simply add dots around the applique but make sure you do not use fabric softener before applying the paint.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

My Very First Cards in Papercrafts

It seems I am having a lot of firsts lately and it has been loads of fun. Here are my first handcrafted cards I have made using strictly paper and cardstock. Many years ago I made cards by simply stamping and coloring an image on premade cards or postcards. This time I simply cut out pieces of paper and glued them to cards I made from cardstock using my new Cutterpede paper trimmer.

The first card is hard to see it as pieced together in the picture. In fact it is hard to see it is pieced together in person. Since I am just starting these paper projects and I have limited tools and trims I wanted to do something simple but I think would still be sophisticated. I simply took two coordinating papers - one striped and one with messages. After cutting a piece of card stock and using my score blade so I could fold it I cut the striped paper and glued it to the front of the blank card. I cut out the words I wanted from the other paper, arranged them and glued them down. This was my husband's Valentine's card and he loves it. He thought it was one of those fancy Hallmark cards at first.

The second card started out the same but I chose to only go with one print and a coordinating blue cardstock. After cutting the front piece of paper for the card and gluing it in place I cut it with the scallop blade so the cardstock would show behind it and then cut the back to match. I still wanted simplicity but I also wanted some pizazz. After seeing projects done with the Crop-a-Dile I decided adding an eyelet would be an excellent idea but I didn't have that snazzy tool but I did have a Dritz(R) Eyelet Plier Kit in my fabric tools. So I added an eyelet on the front and back and bought some ribbon. The ribbon is attached by making a knot in the middle of the length of ribbon to secure it when threaded through both eyelets. After threading it through the card simply tie it in a bow. I'm definitely going to make more of these for birthday and thank you cards.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A Little Yarn Shopping

Last time I ventured into a knitting shop several years ago it didn't take me long to walk back out. The women who worked there didn't even give me the time of day which I found odd as quilt stores I would visit would mostly have the most personable and helpful people in the world and I had worked with people who wrote knitting instructions for a living and they were nice people. I had visited one other knitting shop before that and the ladies were nice but at that time everyone was on the older side and the selections of yarn were minimal. The shops just didn't feel like me.

Thank goodness times have changed. Now that knitting and crocheting are growing in numbers among all ages of people the knitting shops are not only traditional but becoming very hip. There are several in the Chicago area and I plan on visiting them all and I will share what I find here. Today took me to West Dundee and East Dundee, Illinois.

The first shop I stopped by was The Gifted Purl on Main Street in West Dundee. This is a quaint shop in an old downtown storefront with a creaky wooden floor. The staff is super friendly and very helpful. There are comfy chairs and a sofa to sit and stitch at any time you would like to stop by. My 6 year old daughter was with me and took advantage of a box of toys from which she built a town from Lincoln Logs while I browsed. You can choose from several classes including knit and crochet although they specialize in knitting. Their signature activity is Friday Night Stitch In which they do every Friday beginning at 5:30 and ends whenever. The shopkeeper said last night they were there until midnight! They have been in business for 2 years and have a great selection of specialty yarns including cottons, wools, silks and blends.

The second shop was across the Fox River in East Dundee on River Road also in an old storefront. The Fishbed Knitting Emporium has only been open for 3 months but looks like a lot longer with the great inventory of yarns especially wools. There were so many colors it definitely was like visiting one of those candy shops with the rows of colorful candies along the walls. My daughter was impressed with this one because there was real candy to sample and the owner was very sweet to her. The coolest items in the shop were not even knitted. The owner, a fashion design major in college, had a couple of fiber art headdresses on display. One was made with wire springs, cut out pieces from scrap CDs and old computer parts. I wish I had had my camera with me.

Of course I couldn't leave either store without buying something (see the photo). At the Gifted Purl I purchased a handcrafted kettle-dyed wool by Manos del Uruguay and at the Fishbed I purchased a 100% corn fiber (yes corn like you eat) called aMaizing by the South West Trading Company. Now I just have to make something. I am a new knitter but have been crocheting since I was 5 so I will probably choose crochet over knit for now. I want to do a felting project with the wool and I'll have to see with the corn. I'll share with you what I discover with both of these. Corn! I still am aMaized.

Friday, March 2, 2007

My Crafting Wishlist

Can one ever have enough stuff or gadgets? As I have been re-energizing my self into my love of crafting I find things I need. Well, okay maybe not exactly need buy definitely some strong wants.

I am currently working on a photo layout of my daughter's Christmas portraits. I used my new Cutterpede paper trimmer to cut the rectangles for the matting but I had to use a ruler and exacto knife to cut the opening. If only I had one of those cool paper punches to easily cut the hole in one fluid movement I would be done a lot sooner.

This got me to thinking about all the things I want to have within easy reach to make my crafting better and more efficient. Here is my list. What would you put on yours?

  • A new fancy, schmancy sewing machine with decorative stitches. I love my old machine (my mom bought it for me 15 years ago) but I really want to be able to add different stitches to jazz up my projects.
  • Embroidery machine. Again I would love to do some embellishing especially for customizing our wardrobes and home decor.
  • One of those quilt frames where you don't have to baste your layers together. Since I don't have a quilt frame at all this would eliminate my reasons for not quilting my big quilt tops.
  • Long arm quilting machine. I would have even fewer reasons for not finishing quilts and it would be much easier than machine quilting on my regular sewing machine. Plus, these machines would have as Tim Allen would say "More Power (insert grunting sounds)."
  • Better digital camera. I love photography and love to put photos in my crafts no matter what medium.
  • Better color printer. I really need this. I bought a cheapo just to get by when my good one died. I haven't done any memory quilts or photo crafts since.
  • A knitting machine. I just learned how to knit but I want things faster darn it. It could help out with bags I want to felt.
  • A nice looking OTT floor lamp. I have a small portable one but it just doesn't work in the living room very well.
  • Oh, and a new house so I can fit everything in it without taking over the living room, the dining room, the bedroom, the garage, etc.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Couple of Articles of Note I Wrote

I have my very first review published at Craft Critique. Because of all the exposure I’ve had to papercrafting recently, I really wanted to give it a good try. So, I went out and bought the Cutterpede paper trimmer to test it out and write about my experience. Click here to see the full review.

I also have been adding to my articles. One of my latest ones I thought you might enjoy reading especially if you like making handcrafted items for gifts. Although I initiated the topic, I am no longer ranked #1 at the moment but the other articles written on the topic of “Why Make Crafts for Gifts” are great reads. I find great joy in creating my own gifts for people instead of always purchasing ready-made.

I hope you enjoy these articles and that they inspire to try something new or keep up with the projects you have. You might even join in on the conversation by writing your own article or leaving a comment here or at Craft Critique.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Finished Tote Bag With My First Punchneedle Project

Wow! It feels so good to actually finish a project. I love to start projects. I love to learn new techniques and will take an interesting class whenever I am able to. But most of the time I start a project or finish a class it usually gets so far then ends up unfinished because I find a new project or new technique I just have to try. Of course, I have finished many projects over the years but compared to all the projects I have started the list is quite short. Lately I have been trying to start items that can be easily finished and this tote bag is one example.

I did go on a special shopping trip to find coodinating fabrics. I decided to try a new quilt shop, Quilters Destination, in Arlington Heights, IL. I found fabrics by Kathy Brown of The Teacher's Pet in the From "A" to "Z" collection. I don't think I could have done much better since I really wanted to try to have something bright and springlike.

The punchneedle emboidery piece was squared to the best of my ability. I added a couple of borders to complete a quilt block I wanted to use for a pocket on a tote. I used Heavyweight InnerFuse by Dritz to fuse together the block with a piece of muslin. The block was then trimmed again. I used a satin stitch across the top edge of the block. Then I centered and pinned the block to a ready-made denim tote and stitched it to the tote with the same satin stitch as the top.

Welcome Guests from Craft Critique!

For everyone who regularly stops by and have seen my little tidbits about Craft Critique, my bio has been published over there. And because of that I have several more people checking Crazy Crafting Mama out.

I'm still a newbie in blogland and have been enjoying every minute of it but I'm still learning my way around so if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to contact me or leave a post. One of my favorite things of doing this is being able to be apart of the very large crafting community and being able to have conversations with everyone.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Cool New Bookmark

This past Wednesday night I went to my monthly meeting of The Chicagoland Craft Collective. Every month we try out a project someone volunteers to teach. This month Sarah Moore led us through a very quick but very cute craft. It is basically some paper glued to a heavy cardstock and adorned with a few simple trims including our initial and then attached to one of those huge paperclips. She brought her cute little Cuttlebug along to cut out the flower shape and letters. These bookmarks would make great gifts for teachers, classmates or any book lover and they are so easy you could keep a few for yourself.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Big Shot vs. The Cuttlebug

No, it's not the latest match in the WWF. It is the latest review over at Craft Critique about die cutting systems. Although today's feature is regarding The Big Shot, Colleen Schaan does a great comparison with the Cuttlebug. You can read the Cuttlebug review while your there.

They just keep making it more difficult to stay away from paper crafting.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Making a Pincushion in a Mug

If you are like many people you probably have an orphaned mug or cup in your cupboard. Maybe you can't throw it away. I know I can't. I'm one of those people who can't throw anything away especially if it isn't broke. Occasionally I may have a garage sale but not many people buy orphaned cups unless it has some special sentimental or aesthetic value to them. It may then end up going to a charity thrift shop. Then one day as I was walking through the aisles of Michael's , as I tend to do to entertain myself, I found these paints by Pebeo. I got an idea.

I had seen a pincushion made from a miniature flower pot and I thought I would try to do one with my miscellaneous cups. So I bought a couple of the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 colors and a booklet. Following the directions for painting on a glazed teapot I first painted a base of a fuchsia color. After drying I then did a rag technique with gold. Then when this dried it was heated in the oven. I cut a square of fabric about 1" larger than the diameter of the mug. I placed fiberfill inside the mug, tucked in the sides of the fabric and glued the fabric in place. I used a jewel glue to glue on trim, tassels and buttons. And that's it. It was really easy and it looks great. I also made a couple for gifts. I'm hoping to do some more and hope to share them here with you.