I felt that.

Besides being able to speak our minds to the whole wide world, another advantage of social media is to listen (or read I suppose) to others’ thoughts and opinions. And while this post is neither deeply spiritual, or controversial, I do hope to hear (read) opinions from people who have experience in my recent addiction to needles.

Not those needles, silly!

FELTING needles.

It all began when someone asked me if I had ever needle felted. As soon as I had to answer “no” I felt a sudden urge to learn to…felt. (There are so many “felt” puns that could be used here…I’ll try to restrain myself.)

Anyway, I immediately went home, watched some tutorials, bought some supplies, but it wasn’t until a couple months later that I gave it my first shot. Here’s what I made…

 

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A teensy sleeping fox.

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While it was a little nerve-wracking, it was also pretty freeing to just go for it. I didn’t have a pattern; I just kept poking until I got the shape that I wanted and then I added the details.

Next, I made a Waskawy Witto Wabbit…

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He’s sort of crooked, but I kind of like him that way. Mischievous little thing.

And finally, this squirrely guy…

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It’s funny, you know. I get pretty angry at the real squirrels around here, I’m still not sure why I chose to make one. I suppose this one has the benefits of cute-and-cuddly without eating my plants. 🙂

ANYWAY…the point of all this is that while I have found a few tutorials, I haven’t found as many as I have hoped for.

So, Dear Reader, if you have any experience (you or your friend, or your Great Aunt Lou) with needle felting, I’d LOVE to know. Anything…patterns, tricks, tips, types of wool, the best kind of needles, places to purchase, etc.

And while I have you, I may as well insert my cheap-shot commercial:

visit my Etsy shop here

🙂

Children’s DIY Thank You Cards.

You know when you get an actual letter in the actual mail? (As opposed to that boring e-lectronic mail.) You know…the kind with a handwritten address and cancelled-out stamp. I know…I love those too.

Handwritten notes have always been important to me (to send and receive). I’m hoping to pass the value of letter-writing on to my kids. Since neither one of them know how to write (although Sis is learning to write her name – yay!), I’ve had them make Thank You cards from the time that they could dip their little hands in paint and smear it all over a blank card (and their clothes and hair and up their noses). And as they’re getting older (Sis is now four and a half and Buddy just turned three), I’m more and more amazed at what they’re capable of crafting-out. Over the past couple of years, they’ve been able to make some pretty fun thank-yous. (This is also a really fun way to practice following directions [and for me to practice patience 😉 ].)

Two Christmases ago, we made snowmen cards.

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Even though I don’t have the pictures of the process, it’s pretty simple. We used toilet paper rolls to make the snowman body – we dipped it in blue paint and then stamped it on the card, glued little paper triangles on for carrot noses, glued pine-needles on for arms, baker’s twine for a scarf and then they finished them off by drawing the eyes on.

Rainbow Thank You Cards

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For Sis’ “Rainbow Birthday” party, we made (obviously) rainbow thank-yous. She’s totally a sensory kind of gal, so she really loved the gooey paint and tickley paintbrush bristles. Working quickly, I painted her palm in white, then her fingers in the respective rainbow colors, then had her stamp it on printer paper. The reason I didn’t have her stamp it directly to the card was because I thought it would give a little room for “mess-ups”…made it less stressful, which also equals more fun. When the paint dried, I went over the white part with a Sharpie to make it look like a cloud and then added a little “Thank You” in the middle, then cut it out* and glued it to the card stock.

*On a side note, I don’t think I can ever say “cut it out” without thinking of Bob Saget. Unfortunate.

Thumbprint Caterpillar Thank You Cards

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Buddy had a birthday a few months ago, so for his special thank you card, I had him dip his thumb in paint then stamp it on the card.

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We did about eight cards, so I just had him do all of the red thumbprints, then I washed it off and then did all of the orange thumbprints, etc.

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After the paint dried, I drew a little face and antennas (antennae?) on the first dot, then “thanks” on the other dots, added legs and grass and called ’em done.

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Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter Thank You Cards

This Christmas, we made Christmas Tree thank yous using a cookie cutter as a stamp and cotton swabs for dotting on little ornaments.

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

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(Of course you’ll need more colors of paint for the “ornaments” but you get the idea.)

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Smoosh the cookie cutter in the paint and be sure to get it on all the sides. Place in on the card and press down firmly making sure it doesn’t slip.

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Then use a cotton swab to dip in paint and then on the tree, making little ornaments. This was a good time to work on counting too (“Make three blue dots. Now make five yellow dots.” etc.).

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Tada! So easy, little mess, and special. Also cheap, which is a big plus for me. 😉

The thing with homemade note cards is that they take time. Because after all the time it took to make them, they still needed to be written in. But isn’t that the thing? Isn’t that why we like a good old fashioned post-man delivered letter? It’s because it does take time and effort. And that speaks volumes of love.

Lessons From Scrooge: Christmas Simply

The thing I love most about Thanksgiving is that it’s so overlooked. Between Halloween and Christmas, you can hardly find a package of Thanksgiving napkins amongst all of the inflatable spiders (gross) and Rudolf lawn ornaments (even grosser). It used to frustrate me, but now, I see it as Thanksgiving’s quiet little victory: it has surpassed commercialism. It is simply family, friends, food, football and…fankfulness… ?

I long for Christmas to be as simple. To be what it was in the olden days: a time for family to come together, share some homemade gifts, sing songs and play games. Nothing makes me think of an old fashioned Christmas like A Christmas Carol. What our dear old friend Ebeneezer Scrooge learned at the end of the story was not that he ought to spend more money, but that he ought to be more giving. To give of his time and love. But I can almost guarantee you that if Dickens had written a sequel to A Christmas Carol, that even the transformed Scrooge would have had a Christmas budget.

So does our family. And after I had used up that budget on two strings of Christmas lights, it was time for me to get creative.

Since we live in the woods, natural Christmas decorations are pretty easy to come by. If your home is in the city, don’t fret. There’s probably quite a bit you can find in your own backyard that can be transformed into Christmassy looking things. But if not, why not take a trip to the mountains and collect some fun items to bring home? (Just be sure that the area you’re collecting from allows you to take those things out of the forest. Some people think they own the place and haven’t learned the lesson of sharing. Silly people.)

First item on the agenda is a pretty box of lights, celebrating the Light of the World.

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I’m kind of a sucker for sparkles, so glitter is a staple in my craft supplies. I gathered some glass bottles that I’d been collecting (these are from salad dressings, and cold coffee beverages), my glitter and Mod Podge…

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I poured in a touch of water and added a blip of Mod Podge, then swirled it around the glass. Then I sprinkled glitter around the edges.

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I had a few old flower boxes that I found whilst dumpster diving one day and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use one. I added some cardboard boxes to give a little height, laid burlap on top, then added some battery-powered twinkle lights in…

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I arranged the glittery bottles, along with plain glass bottles and containers and some Cedar branches and out came a pretty little piece for the entry buffet…

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Next up…a snow lady made from leftover mini-pumpkins from Thanksgiving. This was a fun project that I did with the kids. I don’t have the photos of the process, but it’s pretty self-explanatory…

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We stacked and hot-glued the pumpkins, painted them, added a pine-cone hat, little branchy arms and used sewing pins for her eyes and mouth.

Another kid-friendly project is trees-in-a-can. You can use old tin cans, jars, or little pots. We went with tin cans that I’d been saving. I hammered some holes for drainage…

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Then we went around the property and dug up some little trees (this was a great time to learn some fun lessons in nature too!). We added some good mulch and soil…

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Then decorated them…

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For these little Cedars, I dipped some sheet-music in coffee to give an aged look, then tied them with some twine and added faux berries. (The candle in front is a baby jar wrapped in lace.)

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I love this little Pine. It’s celebrating with all it’s might.

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This is our Charley Brown tree. I used a big baked-beans can and added some paper doilies around the edge for some ruffles.

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One last item: a deer. (A glittery deer, of course.)

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I printed out an image of a deer silhouette, then in sections, painted the image with (you guessed it) Mod Podge, then sprinkled it with (uh-huh) glitter…

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When it was all dry, I touched up the edges with a dry brush…

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Then I hung it in an old wood frame that I painted white and washed over it with a watered-down grey paint.

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It’s a happy homemade Christmas…

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Repurpose a Women’s Shirt Into a Girl’s Dress

My friend Allyson is always passing her clothes on to me. It’s awesome. It’s also pretty funny, because she’s about six inches shorter than me and has dreamy chicken-stick legs (my legs are…well…a different animal). It’s sort of like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants — somehow, magically, her clothes fit me.

Just a couple of nights ago, she dropped off two Glad Bags stuffed with clothes. Most of the clothes worked (in fact I’m wearing one of the sweaters as I type), but there was one shirt in particular that I really liked, but wasn’t quite my style —

(You’ll have to pardon the watermarks. I have a fellow blogger friend who had photos of her sweet daughter stolen and used on inappropriate sites.)

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It’s cute! But, I knew I’d probably never wear it. SO…I decided to turn it into a dress for my four year old. After all, isn’t that what our kids are for? Living vicariously through?

I started by having Sis put it on inside-out. I pinned the straps and sides (she was very brave about it), and also made a little pleat in the front, just to take it in a bit.

(Please also excuse my lousy photos. I don’t have one of those fancy cameras. But I am accepting donations.)

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After (very carefully) taking it off of her, I laid it on the cutting mat, and cut (at an angle) from the top “armpit” pin, down to the bottom. Because the front is ruffly (and has more fabric than the back), I found the seems at either side, then gently pulled the extra fabric towards the center. I made sure the back fabric was taut, then sliced it through.

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Then I re-pinned the sides and sewed them and the front pleat.

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I don’t have a picture for it, but I also cut the straps to the appropriate length, put a couple stitches in, and I was done.

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From start to finish, the project took me about 30 minutes. Not because I’m awesome at sewing, but because it was sew simple. (I couldn’t help myself.)

From old drawers to new shelves

Someone gave me an old dresser (thanks Jenn!). It had a lot of potential, but the sliders on the bottom four drawers were broken. As it turns out, sliders are kiiiiiinda expensive, and I’m kiiiiiinda cheap. Sooooo, I scrapped the whole idea of a dresser all together and decided to make a buffet instead. I don’t have a before picture, but just imagine that this is way cuter than the original one. See…

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So, the original dresser had drawers where the little curtains are now. After I turned it into a buffet, I was left with four drawers which were screaming to be put to use. Listen:

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I had seen on Pinterest (beloved Pinterest) some shelves made from drawers, so I thought I’d Pinterest it up and make some of my own. I started out by painting them.

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Hey, paint snobs: don’t judge my non-priming; sometimes I just want things to go quickly. Priming takes forever. My original plan was that once it dried, I was going to paint a little background…some little trees or something, but then I decided (to stick with the quicker-is-better gag), to adhere a fabric background. So, I decided to use the same fabric that I used for the dresser-turned buffet. Did I mention that the fabric came from a shower curtain that I bought for $5? (This, also, is consistent with my cheaper-is-better gag.)

To cut the fabric precisely, I turned the drawer upside down, laid the fabric on it and used a rotary cutter to cut the correct size.

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Next comes the fun part: MOD PODGE!! Eeep! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my Mod Podge, but I did find a half full (because I’m an optimist) bottle of glue. So, I added water, just like Pinterest told me to, held it over the drawer and squeezed it like a preschooler after recess.

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Then I pressed the fabric in and, viola!

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And here it is (well…they are…one for each of the munchkins) with fun little things in it (them).

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Sinking Down Deep

Crafting is therapy for my soul. It’s sort of like doing yoga, only it doesn’t hurt and I don’t look (as) silly doing it. But when I finish a project, it feels like I’ve just taken a breath of clean ocean air. It just feels good.

But…it wouldn’t be honest of me if I only showed you these pictures of everything happening with grace and style. The truth is, there was a moment when I snapped at one of my kids for touching the wet paint. During part of the process, I put a show on for them so I could JUST. GET. IT. DONE.

I was wrong in my actions, and it all started with my attitude. The problem was that I considered the project my right (rather than a privilege) and my children a nuisance (rather than a gift and my priority). So, when you’re in that tricky spot of the kids finishing up nap time, or coming home from school, but you have just a little bit more to do to finish… I’d encourage you…don’t be like me. Put the Mod Podge away. I know. It’s hard. But let’s hold hands and do it together, sista.