Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home Workin' It

As the Christmas celebrations wound down I found some quality time for homework. My husband's company shut down for the holidays (for the third year in a row) so we are blissfully a threesome for the season. That means they can stay mostly occupied together and I can stick my nose in my books.

Over the last few days I have finished: my last assignment for a writing class (a short first chapter of a children's book); a project for my Statistics class (a statistical study of local crime rates); and, the reading of a book for a multidiscliplinary class. Now all that's left is for me to write some papers (4, one lengthy, due in 11 days) and then my semester will be complete! Four classes down!

You know what that means: time, time, time on my hands to create! I can hardly wait to get out that sewing machine.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Favorite Handmade Gift of the Season

A thoughtful friend who knew how much I loved these gifted me with a creation by Twigcrafts. This beautiful ceramic piece hangs from a beaded wire and is hand crafted in historic Bucks County Pennsylvania by two gals. This tile design was "inspired by antique butter and cookie stamps."

This beauty reminds me of the rose bushes-gone-to-rose-hips in the garden of the home I grew up in. It will look beautiful in my blue and white cottage-by-the-sea (in name only) bedroom!

Go and see what else Twigcrafts has to love.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Here's Hoping Your Holidays Were Happy!

Mine were the best!

I love handmade -- you know how much I love handmade. However, in the category of "Most Favorite Non-handmade Gift of the Season":

Anytime you get a robin's egg blue box, you know it's got to be good.

And, as I was having a bagel Christmas morning when I received this gift, it was truly a Breakfast at Tiffany's moment!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maggie and Snoopy at the Spa

We sent Maggie and Snoopy to be prettied up for the holidays. For them, this includes being groomed, including being FURminated, and getting a swell kerchief.

In addition to being off site for five hours, they come back smelling great and feeling even softer. Plus, they're so grateful to be home that they actually act meek and humble for, oh, I don't know, a few hours at least!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And a Peridot in A Pear Tree

Take a look at the beautiful earrings I received as a gift from Simply Stacy Jewelry through the Etsy Jewelry Design & Supply Shops' great holiday promotion, "12 Days of Christmas Scavenger Hunt." Guess which day I found?

I love these earrings and they're a color I wear all the time. What a great Christmas treat! Check out Stacy's store when you're ready to pretty up your jewelry box! She has a drawing each month for free jewelry!

Counting Down

Ah, the Sunday before the Christmas holiday.

I finished my Christmas shopping a couple of weeks ago (much of it on eBay or Etsy) so I have no reason to go anywhere near the congested shops these last few days.

I'm within a couple of assignments of completing all of my classes before the January 10 deadline, so I'm not going to worry about schoolwork between now and the 25th.

It's too cold (10 degrees) to do anything really outdoorsy right now.

So, I feel I have a license to kick back! Imagine that!

Bring on the cookies and the holiday reruns!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Coolest Christmas Card in the NOT Handmade Category

Very pretty from Chronicle Books. 'Love the non-traditional colors.

Free 8 x 10 Print - Today and Tomorrow Only

I'm a big fan of Snapfish for their prices as well as their easy pick up locations. We have a Walgreen's right down the street, and I can upload prints and pick up there in about an hour without the one-hour higher pricing you get at other retail outlets.

Today and tomorrow only, Snapfish is giving away one free 8 x 10 print when you pick up at Walgreens! Nice Christmas gift!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baby Jesus Candy Cane Christmas Ornament How-To

Here's a tutorial to make sweet baby Jesus ornaments:

Materials: 3/4" round wooden balls
blue felt
like-sized small wooden stars
flesh-colored acrylic paint
yellow acrylic paint
black permanent marker
small button as star decor
natural excelsior "moss"
silver thread or coordinating yarn
candy cane

You'll also need glue or a hot glue gun, paint brush and scissors

Begin by painting the wooden balls with flesh-colored paint and the stars with yellow paint. When dry, draw two sleeping eyes on the ball.

Meanwhile, cut small pieces of felt and make little rolls to represent the baby's body; tie with a tiny piece of raffia.

Next, glue the wooden ball onto the top of the body roll of felt; if you wish, you can also cut a small wedge of felt to glue over like a little swaddled hood on the baby's head, but I think it looks cute without it as well. Glue the little button onto the star; I used a soft yellow.

Take the silver thread or your yarn and tie it to the top (uncurved end) of your candy cane; then, wrap the long end of the thread around and around the cane several times. End it in front, leaving a long loop standing above it to use as a hanger for the ornament, and secure the string with a drop of glue. Note: experiment with this step; the last time I did this with a group of people, everyone had a different way to wrap and make their loop that they were most happy with!

After it's dry, add more glue and secure your yellow star over the string.

Now you're ready to assemble. Grab a small bunch of raffia and "mold" it with your fingers into a little "nest" for the baby. Glue the baby onto the raffia and you're finished!

Yes, these are time consuming but worth it, don't you think? If you don't have the time, there are still a couple of them left in my Etsy shop!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mystery Buttons

These buttons look like they're made from porcelain plates from Asia -- China? Japan? They're large (more than an inch across) and shanked.

The little bird is my favorite!

The "frame" or base of the button might be silver but it isn't marked.

I think they would make very pretty jewelry but, alas, I'm not that talented. They're available in my Etsy store beginning today!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Antique Glass Buttons

I'm happy to have a place to share my button collection with other fans. Last night, amid the bustle of holiday preparations and the looming end-of-semester deadlines, I treated myself to some relaxing time with my buttons -- ahhhh.

I recently purchased this wonderful "patched" heavy scrapbook paper by American Crafts from their Simply Chic collection; it seemed perfect as a background for some of my heavier glass buttons. The National Button Society recommends using plastic coated wire instead of thread to adhere your buttons to paper, so that's what I did.

Here are some close ups of my favorites in glass:



Kitty Cat

Red Heart

Black Glass with Pretty Cuts

Which is your favorite?

Tiles in the Sun

(Close your eyes, and imagine you're in Mexico and it's sunny.)

I love my kitchen window, which gets the morning light!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shimmer and Sparkle

I'm a huge fan of silver this year.

Here's an idea for a winter centerpiece; all you need are candles, a couple of place mats, a large dish or charger, a mirror, and coordinating decorations such as shiny glass ball ornaments and tiny trees -- whatever inspires you!

Colorado Snow

I was very inspired to create Colorado Snow Shakers this year. I used tiny bottle brush trees, "snow", and sparkly beads in various small glass containers. They make a frosty, twinkling vignette!

In a windowsill, they echo the outdoors.

Group them together on a sideboard with more bottle brush trees for your own little forest!

They look great all winter long -- not just for the holidays! Available now in my Etsy store!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yes, We Have No Bananas

I'm loving this vintage, heavy clay banana napkin holder. The glaze on it is great -- it has a slight sheen but still appears (and feels) like a matte finish. The best part is the bunch of bananas being flanked by the two peeled ones!

Available in my Etsy store!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The 'Fridge is Fixed

Oh, we're so happy to have our chilling and freezing capabilities back! Even though we had to toss some of our precious frozen food -- including (gasp!) the Dreyer's Limited Edition Peppermint ice cream (sob!) -- we came out pretty well. The GE repairman actually had the part with him yesterday, so it was all over within about a half hour of when he arrived!

We will have to see if we can find some more of the Peppermint ice cream. We like to scoop it into a bowl, pour chocolate shell over it, and then stick small candy canes in the scoops for a festive treat that the kids around our Christmas table LOVE. If you haven't tried it we highly recommend it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dean Martin-i Days

I don't know if it's the popularity of Texas Hold'em or folks missing ol' Blue Eyes, but I've noticed a real surge of interest in fun old bar ware lately. Here are some fun pieces I have for sale right now in my eBay store:

This is a fun old metal tray depicting a bridge game that is apparently, uh, tedious. In the middle of the tray are "Contract Bridge Rules."

Illustrations are by Joe Carpenter. Hilarious!

This oversized "shot" glass is likely from the early 1960's. I'm guessing this because of the scale on the side that gives a bit of recognition to Astronauts -- but still not over and above Texans!

This is a great mixer glass; I think this one is newer, maybe from the 1970's. It features great toasts, as well as recipes!

More examples in my eBay store, including a modern set of Sex and the City Cosmopolitan and shot glasses!

On the Blink

Is there anything worse than waking up to find your refrigerator is broken? And I just went shopping two days ago! We're putting stuff out into the cold, Colorado-in-December garage and hoping for the best as we wait for the repairman.

And the refrigerator -- General Electric (GE) -- is a mere six years old!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Button Lady

Yeah, I'm one of those button ladies. I got hooked 16 years ago in Alton, Illinois at a junk shop when I picked up an old, rusty tin that turned out to be someone's forgotten button collection. Inside were buttons of every shape and size, none newer than 1950, along with a few of the other odds and ends you find in button tins, including a WWII medal, and these safety pins (lower left in photo.)

But of course what I was excited about was the buttons; it brought back fond memories of sifting through my mother's button box as a child. And I've been hooked ever since -- I just cannot get enough of those tiny works of art!

Lately I've been willing to part with some of them. I've used them to craft small gifts which I sell in my Etsy store.

One thing that's been a lot of fun is showcasing some of the many mother of pearl or shell buttons in vignettes. I carefully choose a few, then find some antique trim or crochet to coordinate them, and sew it all together by hand onto antique fabric. (These are on sale now in my eBay store!)

I've also been filling up jars with buttons that look so pretty on a shelf or windowsill.

Or, even in the powder room, tucked among my shell collection -- and, for Christmas, no less!

Making Mosaics

One of my favorite things is making decorating found objects with broken china to make mosaics. I have a rule: I'll only break a beautiful plate if it is already chipped.

I've managed to amass quite a collection of pieces of broken antique and vintage plates!

My favorite thing to mosaic is silver platters; my second favorite thing to decorate is birdhouses. I use regular tile adhesive and grout, available from Lowe's home improvement stores. I seal it with grout sealer I bought at Hobby Lobby.

Here are some of my creations so far!

I gifted this platter to my dear great aunt for Christmas this year! I purchased the focal tile (the large round one in the middle) from someone on eBay last year.

This project began with an old chair someone else stenciled. I added a bird house, a nest, more painted accents, some rusty hardware and, of course, the china mosaic! It sits on my front porch in warm weather, and I keep a geranium in the pot (pictured are fake flowers.)

This little wooden 'basket' is mosaic'd on both side panels (only one is seen here); I loved using the coral, orange and green shades of one china pattern and filling it with the buff-colored grout. I left the wood as shabby as it was when it came to me. It makes a great holder for anything; ideally, a tall, glass-encased candle.

This little caddy was inspired by my blue and white, shabby chic bedroom and master bath decor!