Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Crafty Goals

2010 was a good year for accomplishing my creative goals, and I think I have to thank blogging for that. I have been so inspired and encouraged by reading the blogs of others and by the great feedback and encouragement I have received through my own blog, so thank you SO, SO much to ANYONE who has read and responded to this little space of mine, and to all those people who take the time to share their own creative ventures and daily escapades. It is a pleasure to share and be shared with.

My goals have a tendency to be scattered on small scraps of paper throughout my life- my purse, my bedside table, my sewing table, the car, the kitchen, etc. It gets a little crazy, so thanks to the blog Make Something and "My Crafty List of Things To Do" I was inspired to compile a list of my own creative goals early this past year, which tend to be extensive.

I was encouraged and motivated by my list and kept it posted in my sewing room at all times. In 2010 I learned to knit, re-learned to crochet (after a brief, half-assed run at the age of 8), definitely improved in the sewing department (there's still a long way to go!), learned to use my serger, made lounge pants for my boy out of second-hand t-shirts using this tutorial, made this car cozy, created a toy strap, a birthday banner, and a rag bag, among a whole pile of other creative goals.
It was a pretty productive year I'd say, and I'm looking forward to an even more productive 2011.

I thought I would share my list for the coming year with you, maybe to inspire you to create your own, and definitely to keep my ideas in one place where I know it will always be when I want it.
And so, my personal list of crafty plans for 2011:

1. Sew a cover for my sewing machine
2. Crochet a rag rug
3. Make a twin bed quilt for a very special 2nd Birthday
4. Sew the "Four Corners Nursing Top" from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings. Here is an interview with Anna Maria about the book on You can see a photo of the blouse about 4 pics down. DONE!
5. Sew a pair of "Quick Change Trousers" for both my baby boy, and my baby-boy-to-be. These are also found in Handmade Beginnings. I've shown a picture of the trousers in her book on one of my past posts. DONE!
6. Knit a blanket for our little one on the way (I was given some super soft, awesome cotton yarn for Christmas from my man that requires my attention VERY soon!). DONE? (Crochet instead)
7. Re-visit my childhood with a little corking project (also known as spool-knitting)
8. Sew an Ironing board cover. DONE!
9. Sew a picnic blanket similar to one of these.
10. Sew a men's Tie
11. Sew a Travel Laundry bag - A small goal, and yet one I have put off for ages! I meant to have one for our trip to Italy, so for sure this year we will travel with a hand sewn laundry bag (as opposed to stuffing dirty laundry in every small pocket of our backpacks).
12. Make pajama pants for myself. DONE!
13. Make the patchwork denim quilt that has been on my mind for years, and has had me moving 2 full totes of old jeans and denim material from place to place to place to place....
14. Compile and create the perfect travel sewing kit
15. Finish my crocheted blanket that is now on it's way to being in it's tenth month of production. DONE!
16. Create this hanging book display for a kids reading corner in the house - DONE!
17. Make a set of coasters for our family room (Be them knit, crocheted, or sewn, they gotta be soft!)
18. Design a cross-stitch pattern
19. Make Homemade lip balm - I've found some fabulous instruction on the process with this article.
20. Make a cork board out of the insane collection of wine corks I have saved. Here are a few images similar to what I'm thinking of.
21. Make a birthday crown for Levi. Here Soulemama talks about her family's love of the birthday crown and shows a few pics.
22. Create a pinch pouch
23. Knit a pair of socks

This list may be a little aggressive, but that's okay by me. If I accomplish even a few of these I will be as happy as a pig in... well, you get the idea. Accomplishment breeds accomplishment. Just start with one small project, actually finish it, and that toasty warm feeling that can only come from producing something with your own two hands will motivate you to start another, and then WHO KNOWS where your creativity may take you!! I'm hoping it takes me a pretty good distance through this list!
Happy Making :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Handmade for Hubby

I'm sorry I couldn't have shown these before and possibly helped somebody out with handmade gift ideas for the man of their house, but I just couldn't spill the surprises!

Matching jammy pants for daddy and baby boy. For Jim's pajama pants I used this super easy tutorial, and I plan to make myself a pair using the same.

A bi-fold wallet made from this tutorial.

And, two buttons thanks to a cheap badge maker I picked up at the craft shop. I sure would love a "real" badge maker but they seem to be at least a couple hundred dollars. :(
I cross-stitched the button on the left, and for the one on the right I found and printed a map I liked of my husband's birthplace.

So, this for real is my last handmade holiday post, even if it is belated. I'm looking forward to next year already!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Handmade Holiday - Final Touches

Something on the needles - likely NOT to get completed, but something I'm enjoying just the same. I've learned the cable stitch, and feel that after taking it apart about a hundred times I'm really starting to get the hang of knitting!

Something fresh off the sewing machine:

As a child every Christmas we would open one gift which included a new pair of PJ's and an ornament, so here are the PJ pants for my little guy's Christmas Eve gift. I decided to postpone the creating of the top until after Christmas and instead took the easy way out, and just bought a plain cotton top (which, by the way, is insanely difficult to find in children's clothing! WHY, oh why must every kids top have something stupid written across it!?!?).

A couple more ladybugs:

And a surprise or two that I look forward to sharing with you after the holidays!

So, I may or may not throw down a couple more posts before Christmas. It seems so many blogs I love are taking a few days away, so maybe I will too.
I have really enjoyed working toward a Handmade Holiday, even if it was only for a few gifts. My mind is already reeling for next year's creating and gifting, and I am so excited for it! Thank you so much to Tonya from Plain and Joyful Living for the inspiration, and for bringing so many great ideas to one place.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and a very merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Moment In History

I couldn't resist pulling a Marty McFly for this weeks moment (For those of you not being raised in the 80's, that means I went back in time)!

How quickly a year goes by...

{this moment} is Inspired by Soulemama, and beautifully done by so many.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Mystery of The Popcorn Bandit

The Evidence:

The Key Witness:

"I'm only looking..."

"They went that way."

Crime Scene Tampering (The Key witnesses innocence looking less and less likely with each passing moment...):

Did I just see a couple kernels there on your cheek young sir?

"It's only a little piece..."

Mystery Solved.

Due to Cold

Things have come to a bit of a halt here with keeping cozy being the new priority. 'Tis the season for illnesses, I know, but it feels like we have been in this cold's midst for weeks!
Sitting here, listening to my little one cough his head off while he sleeps fitfully is highly stressful. To top it off I heard today of someone who lost their 18 month old when their minor "cough" turned out to be a severe strain of influenza. He has seen the doctor 4 times in the past month only to be told not to worry, it's just a minor cough. Now I'm beginning to wonder and, of couse, letting my imagination get the better of me. I think I will visit the doctor AGAIN tomorrow morning just to continue to be sure.
At 6 months old he had "just a minor cough" which turned pretty quickly into bronchitis. The bronchitis itself probably isn't that intense (though at 6 months it seems so), but the x-ray they took to be sure it hadn't gotten as far as pneumonia, most definitely was.
I'll never forget watching my sweet little boy, arms strapped up to his head, crying. I, the adult, was instructed to get behind the protected area, while this small boy is x-rayed. How is it okay for him to be exposed to that while I need to protect myself??
Anyway, I'm veering into a rant. It feels good to get that all out there. I think it may help me sleep a little better - between coughs and crib visits for cuddles and pacifier searches, of course. :(

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Readin'

I just love being able to lounge out on the couch at this time of year, with a good cup of tea and a few Christmas mags. I keep all the tasty December issues, new and old, in one sweet spot for just these moments.
The icing on this little cake of mine has got to be glancing over occasionally to see the glow of our Christmas tree, with the window behind it revealing a hint of snow on the rooftops across the road.
Ahhh the holidays...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Toronto Christmas Market

My big dream is to visit the Christmas Markets of Germany.
Nuremberg, Dresden, Frankfurt,... some day it will happen...
But for now, this weekend, Toronto's had to suffice.

Though a little snow would have made it even better and maybe made it not feel quite as chilly, it had a great atmosphere and definitely added a little something to my excitement for Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I love the patterns for the "Bed Bugs" found in Amy Butler's LITTLE STITCHES FOR LITTLE ONES.
I have made a few of the ladybugs for gifts and turns out I'll be making a couple more this holiday - just because they're so cute.
Another great thing about them is that basically any type of material works, so It's been an awesome project for me to use funky vintage scraps of a strange cloth that I otherwise can't find projects for.

You have the option of putting a little packet of bells in the center which makes it a very sweet baby gift. It would also be just as nice to give to a slightly older child with all the different possible fabric combinations. There's a lot of room to play when creating these cute bugs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Candy Cane Courage

I won't lie to you, the Candy Cane cookie is a mega time consumer. These cookies are no walk in the park. Every Christmas my mom would say, "I don't think we'll make the candy cane cookies this year". But every year we did indeed throw out the effort for these awesome cookies. They ARE worth the effort, and I believe it's the almond flavouring that makes them so.

As I baked today, a strong memory came back to me regarding this little not so simple sweet... That feeling of the immovable dough, and the eternal cookie rolling. When a point is almost reached where you decide that's enough, and the temptation to discard the rest of the dough or simply throw it down in blobs becomes victorious. Though the feeling began to creep up, I didn't give in. If you give these a whirl and you get that same inclination just snack on one from your first batch and you'll have a new lease on baking. Yummy! Also, it may help to have a little candy cane rolling assistance. Someone to chat with or even just to entertain you while twisting the dough would make all the difference.

The recipe comes from the Betty Crocker library (circa 1971) - one of those plastic box sets from the seventies where you sign up, and they regularly send you recipes to fill up the container. I especially adore those 70's food pics.

A little off course, but I gotta say though it may be just me, there seems to be a serious overabundance of hot dogs in recipes from the 1970's. Of course it makes sense though... For an era that thought "noodle loaf" was a good idea (you know, the bologna with noodles and cheese embedded in it) hot dogs were practically "gourmet".

And so, without further ado (or discouragement) the recipe:

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red food colouring

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, icing sugar, egg, and flavourings. Blend in flour and salt. Divide dough in half; blend food colour into one half.
Shape 1 teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope. For smooth, even ropes, roll them back and forth on a lightly floured surface.
I find the flour just makes the dough more crumbly and difficult to roll, so I twisted them up directly on the counter without any flour.

Place ropes side by side; press together lightly and twist.

Complete cookies one at a time. Place on ungreased baking sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.
Bake about 9 minutes or until set and very light brown. If you wish, mix 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Immediately sprinkle cookies with candy mixture; remove from baking sheet. About 4 dozen cookies.

We have never done the candy sprinkle on top, but do sprinkle a small amount of granulated sugar. I think the peppermint candy would take away from the flavour of the cookie.

So glad the "work" is done and the eating can take place!

I also made macaroons today. What a nice contrast! About 15 minutes and I had a full container of them (and possibly a tummy ache from eating way too much as I scooped it out on the tray).

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Popcorn Anyone?

Of course my tree is not complete without some strands of popcorn draped along its branches, so that is just what I did this week. Popcorn garlands just add a certain warmth to the tree and the room they have decorated. They are super easy to make, and last several years before they get a little soft and need to finally be tossed - NOT eaten!

To make them you'll need:
Dental floss
A sewing needle
A big old bowl of popcorn
A few buttons

For the popcorn just pour a bit of oil in the base of a big pot - enough to just barely coat the bottom and set about 3 kernels in there. As soon as those 3 kernels pop your oil is hot and ready for you to pour in the rest of your kernels. For my 4 quart pot I put 1/2 cup of kernels. Keep giving the pot a good shake while holding the lid tight of course - just to ensure it won't burn. As soon as the popping noises slow down, remove it from the heat cause you're done!

You're ready to string 'em up. Don't try to make your garlands too long or you'll be dealing with mass entanglement and you may just want to give up on your stands and eat the whole bowl. Your tree won't get decorated that way!
I tie a small button to each end of the garland to keep those kernels on there. It does help.

For garlands it is much better to make your own popcorn. Microwave popcorn is too full of mysterious craziness, and bagged popcorn I think would go soggy faster. This is how we always make our popcorn and we think it tastes better this way too.
You'll want to make enough (of course) for snacking cause you know how it goes - one for the garland, three for me, and so on.

Waldorf Mondays

Only one more week to go in our parent-child group at the Waldorf school. I haven't decided whether I will re-book for the next session. Although I really want to, I may wait until the spring term since I'm only going to get more pregnant, and we are meant to have a pretty snowy season (fingers crossed!). It is a half hour drive and may prove difficult some mornings as the winter wears on. As I said though, I'm still undecided...
Levi has become so familiar, and so accustomed to the routines of Monday morning I would hate to affect that now. Monday morning is also something I really look forward to socially, and mentally. We're in a space there where I can completely relax and let him do his thing, bring a project I'm working on, drink some nice tea, and have a good chat.

This morning we got a little crafty, and made these super cute angel ornaments since we all finished stitching together the felt ball we have been working on.

Monday mornings at our group are such a low-key and peaceful way to kick-off a fresh week. I hope the creative, natural play and easy pace that we have experienced here really stays with my little one.

I hope you had a fantastic Monday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Handmade Holiday: Progress!

YAY! Success has been happening one stitch at a time over here.
I finally finished my little guy's car cozy and am pretty psyched about it. An amazingly handy little idea, that will be quick and easy for stuffing in his nappy bag, and entertaining him while out and about. It didn't take long at all, it's just all about seeking out that perfect chunk of time in which to get to work on it.

I mentioned this cozy a few weeks ago on my Handmade Holiday post about some of the incredible free tutorials available online, and this is so definitely one of those.
The tutorial I used is courtesy of Homemade by Jill, and I borrowed the adapted ideas of Polkadot Prints, so many thanks to those two fantastic bloggers!

The outside, and the pockets are made from an old pair of jeans; the wheels from an old wool sweater which I felted.
The inside Roadway material and the roadsign fabric used for the car applique are both from Riley Blake's Wheels collection which I picked up on Etsy.

I also finished a little stocking stuffer this week which we have been working on at our parent & child Waldorf group Monday mornings. It is a simple handstitched wool felt ball. This will be a much kinder toy to our home considering how much he likes to throw a ball. Though he may not like it as much as a ball that has the potential of causing a ruckus...
Anyway, I know I've said it before but hand-sewing really is so meditative, and chilled out. I totally enjoyed working on this little project.

Hope you are all finding success in your gift-making, baking, card writing, or whatever holiday projects may be on your list!