27 February 2010

Ever Bite Off More Than You Can Chew?

Earlier this year, I was feeling pretty ambitious. I joined Facebook, started 2 blogs, planned several new designs for my Etsy shop, joined two reading challenges plus a mini challenge on LibraryThing, set up a craft day each month with a friend and last but not least, and related to one of the above-mentioned blogs, decided I would knit my way through Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac and blog about it.



Maybe it was just a Christmas vacation lapse, but I must have forgotten about all the stuff my three kids do (swimming, scouts, ballet, soccer) the forty volunteer hours required at our charter school, carpool for said charter school, yearbook for said charter school,  my book group, my cub scout den, how I love to make handmade gifts for those I love, that I'm 2 years behind in the scrapbooks and Oh!- who's going to clean the house, do laundry and cook meals? Probably somewhere in there, my long-suffering spouse would like some attention too. In fact, if you're very quiet, and listen carefully, you might hear him say, "no new hobbies, please?"

I'm still not totally sure how to remedy the situation. The more practical among you would say that I clearly need to cut some things out. Seriously, other than housekeeping and sleep, What?

Well, I'm working on that. As best I can. 

 

Baby steps.

Baby step one, consolidate the blogs. From now on, I will post here once a week regarding my attempts to knit my way through the calendar. If you want to know the "Knitting With EZ" story from the beginning, please feel free to visit my now abandoned blog.

Baby step two, make some kind of schedule. I'll let you know how that goes. Because this guy - I'm not. You know, Franklin Covey? Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? Maybe I should add it to my reading list, see if I have any of those habits. What do you bet? Three out of seven? One?


26 February 2010

Project Linus Rocks!



Last Saturday, I was privileged to be part of an amazing day of service. My local chapter of Project Linus hosted Make a Blanket Day. I have never seen so many people at a Make a Blanket Day event. They opened the doors at about 8:30 a.m. and by 9:00 a.m. the rooms were full. People of all ages from all over Colorado were piecing quilts, tying quilts, sewing labels on quilts and making fleece blankets. We don't know for certain how many people were there, but over 1000 people were checked off as having delivered blankets. Many of those people stayed to volunteer.

 
Colette, our fearless leader and tireless organizer

  
Ladies making fleece blankets non-stop

 
Generations working together 
What we do know, is that at the end of the day the following deliveries had been made:

1000   to ship to Haiti
172       to Skyridge Medical Center
100     to Camp Comfort 
100     to Parker Children's Hospital
100     to Parker Adventist
100     to Littleton
100     to Children's Home 
250     to Children's Hospital @ Colfax
150     to Champa House (Denver Rescue Mission)
2072  Total   
We estimate that 1000 of those blankets came from our efforts on Saturday. The other 1072 were from an event held in Boulder earlier this month.
An additional 30 or so garbage bags stuffed full of blankets went home with volunteers to be labeled. I can't wait to find out the final numbers next month. 
Want to be part of something great? Find your local chapter and get started!

24 February 2010

Tutorial Tuesday

I have had several requests this week for sewing lessons. This makes me happy. It is one of those soap box thingies I have - that everyone should know how to sew a little bit. In the spirit of learning to sew a little bit, here are some great tutorials for folks who want to learn how to sew, but don't have someone they can ask for help.

One of the best sources I have found is Sewing Tutorials. They have everything from general sewing to lingerie. I don't currently have any ambitions to make myself a bra, but you never know.

How to sew on a button? EHow.com has a great tutorial.
How to fix a hem? Craftzine.com shows you how to sew a blind hem with great photos.
How to patch your jeans? Crafting a Green World is the source for all you fashion divas. For the moms who just want to fix the hole in their kid's pants this YouTube video is very thorough. Yes, you will need a sewing machine to do it right.

Now, just for fun, a great new book that I found while browsing around looking at different tutorials:

 

You may browse her blog here and also watch a great little YouTube clip she made of grandmotherly advice on how to make love last.  Should you wish to own this little gem of a book, it is naturally available at Amazon.com.

Happy sewing!

23 February 2010

I Am Featured!

Please take a minute to visit Amelie Jo. I am so pleased to be featured on this lovely blog. But wait, there's more! Enter to win the Olivia t-shirt or onesie!

 
 

21 February 2010

Weekend Book Review - Maus

 

Impossible to put down: Maus is the story of Art Spiegelman's parents. His father and mother were Auschwitz survivors, his mother committed suicide, and his relationship with his father is strained. Spiegelman's very open and honest portrayal of his own weaknesses is just as compelling as his father's story.
I have read many books on the Holocaust, and many books on the struggles children of Holocaust survivors have in understanding their parents' generation. Having never read a graphic novel before, I was amazed by the quality and depth of the story. The impact was just as strong as a traditional novel. Highly recommended.

19 February 2010

Gifting Made Easier - Take 2

530 p.m.  Wednesday:
I left my post open as I was composing. I just came back to the computer, some 3 hours later, and found that my 3 year old had posted. Wow. I'm just going to leave it there. Someday when he's a hotshot computer genius, we can tell people he was blogging at age 3.

blogging batman

I found the best gift guide/blog over the holidays. It had everything a crafty girl could ever want, and more. The main thing I remember was that there were tons of pictures to click on. Each click would take you to the tutorial or the link for how to make/get that item. There was also an extensive section on wrapping gifts. I have spent the better part of the day trying to find it again. I really thought I book marked it or something. Our last hope is that I e-mailed the link to my sister...

1015 p.m. No luck. So, if any of you have this amazing gift guide/blog linked to your blog or in your bookmarks, I'd love it if you would pass it on. 

Thursday morning:

Moving on...
I decided after Christmas this year (I was a little bit Scroogey) that it wasn't ever happening again. I determined to make something every month that would allow me to have handmade gifts for my family, but not make me stressed out in November and December. I get stressed out because I am terrible at time management. I always think it will take less time to make something than it actually does.

By the way, since it's Thursday, we'll work in that "thriftiness" principle again too. Did you know if you use what you have and make things all year long, it will save you from panicked last minute "who cares how much it costs at this point" Christmas shopping? Speaking, of course, from bitter personal experience.

Here are some of the things that are currently being worked on:


 
A fairy tale quiet book for my daughter (and probably my son too) - the pattern can be purchased at Wood Chesters



For various family members, socks and hats - always fun as long as you start them early... 
 
I am anxiously awaiting this pattern from Craft Apple - I don't know who it's for yet.
  
I am always looking for ideas, and while I won't tell you what I've chosen for my friends (just in case they read this), I will link to a few of the places good ideas have been found.
The Long Thread 
Soule Mama 
JC Handmade 

More to come later. Meanwhile, plan to save money and sanity and protect your family from a Scroogey Christmas!

18 February 2010

Gifting Made Easier

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17 February 2010

Tutorial Tuesday

This one goes out to all you gals who like to DO IT YOURSELVES!

From one of my favorite blogs - Make It and Love It: instructions on how to make fabric wall hangings. I can think of tons of places where these would come in handy.

So, to make something like this:

 
Photo used with permission from Make It and Love It
click on over to Decorate My Home Part 9 on Make It and Love It. There you will find clear, simple instructions and beautiful photos to guide you through the process.
While you're there, you might want to browse her blog. So many neat and inexpensive projects and links to other interesting places.
 

It's All Too Much! Giveaway


Thank you to all who commented with your organizing ideas! 

Oddly enough, I spent the weekend clearing out my office, and clearing off my kitchen island. So liberating. It generated 2 large trash bags of recycling and garbage. It did not, however, generate anything new for my Etsy shop. Choices, choices.

Drumroll please.....the suspense builds as my 5 year old sloowwlly draws the paper out of the bowl...

And the winner of Peter Walsh's It's All Too Much! is:

 
"I am addicted to my label maker! It saves time because things are labeled and hopefully put where I need them to be and don't have to spend so much time searching for things. In fact, it's sitting a foot away from me and getting ready to organize my jewelry inventory better. I have also become a fan of several money saving facebook pages such as "Coupon Mom", "SmartcouponDeals.com", "Coupon Cabin", "The Krazy Coupon Lady" and others. Great deals. I sign up for emails from Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, etc. and they have good recipes and coupons as well. Retailmenot.com is a great place to find online and printable coupons. I could go on and on! Becoming a fan here. :-)"

16 February 2010

Weekend Olympic Favorites

 
JR Celski  
 
At our house, we love speed skating. Truly, the long track is our favorite, but short track can get you right up to the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails. Go here to watch the mens 1500m final. (Close your eyes all you who are not Americans, while we say ptooey on the Koreans.) To learn more about the fine young man pictured above, who looks to be the next generation of winning American short track skaters, go here.

 
Johnny Spillane 

How about the first ever U.S. Olympic medal in Nordic combined? The story is here.
 
 
Hannah Kearney

Hooray for Hannah! What a come back after a disappointing 2006 Olympics. Read all about it here. 

Happy Olympics!

14 February 2010

Weekend Book Review - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


 This is the story - written in the form of letters - of  life on Guernsey during the German occupation. What an excellent book! I really wanted this to be a true story. I enjoyed the characters so much (even the characters I didn't like). I picked it up Sunday morning, and didn't put it down until I was done. Truly, some of the characters experienced terrible things.  The German occupation was difficult and the people suffered greatly. However, while the author did not avoid any of this, it was dealt with so beautifully. I was left with an overall sense of the strength and unity that the people in the story gained from coming together and finding something positive to do in the midst of a terrible situation.
Have you read this? What did you think? 

12 February 2010

Thrifty Thursday



Did any of you get addicted to Clean Sweep? I know I did. I am the lone tosser of junk in a house full of pack rats (well, the 3 year old hasn't exhibited tendencies either way yet). I used to fantasize about hauling it all out to the front yard with a big sign that said FREE. Too be fair, I should probably mention my yarn and fabric stash...but at least if things were really bad, I could knit a blanket to keep us warm or make some clothes. I'm not so sure what use to make of my husband's beer stein collection (we don't drink) or all the school work my son has kept since 2nd grade.

For at least the last year or two, things have been tough around the country. Many people, maybe some of you, have been out of work. Even those who still have jobs have felt the need to be more careful with their money.  It's kind of embarrassing to look around the house at all the stuff we have that we don't use, and think about how much money it represents. Not only that, but it costs us to keep it all, especially if it's not organized. For example: I have purchased about 8 tubes of super glue in the last 6 months. Why? I can never find the one I just bought. I have to wonder what else I'm buying that I already have. So, how to change that?

I've got a list of things we do at our house - from being more organized to "just say no" to new stuff - but I'd love to hear what you do to save money, and time at your house. Make a comment - between now and midnight on Monday, February 15, and you can win a copy of Peter Walsh's book It's All Too Much.

To enter, make a comment with something you do to save money or get organized. For an extra entry, become a follower of this blog. Make sure to leave me a way to contact you.

Happy De-Cluttering!

11 February 2010

It's All About... the Giveaway I Won!

So exciting - I rarely win things - and recently I won a giveaway from:


Please take some time to look at this Etsy shop. There are so many darling gifts for baby, and mommies too!

I won two cute holiday bibs which are heading off to my newest niece - can't wait to see photos!

 

Aren't they just darling? The bibs are good quality, and the embroidery is amazing. Wonderful detail.Don't let your cuties go another day without one of these cute holiday bibs.

Some other things from Jarrett Baby that I just love:

 
 
The receiving blankets are extra large and professionally serged (36"x36"). They not only swaddle newborns but grow with your baby. Set includes 3 coordinating receiving blankets and 3 coordinating burp cloths.
 
 

A safe and stylish way to keep baby from sun, wind and those crazy ladies in the grocery store!

Thanks so much Jarrett Baby for the bibs, and for letting us have a look inside your shop!

Tuesday Tutorial - Penny's Plings

We've been down with strep throat at our house - I'm trying to catch up. 

My 6 year old niece came up with this fun craft, and so we made a tutorial out of it. We call it "Pling" (you know - a clever combination of plug and bling). It seriously takes about 10 minutes (not counting drying time).

Supplies:
*outlet covers
*good craft glue that dries clear
*popsicle stick for spreading glue
*seed beads in your favorite colors


 

 *busy little hands, ready to play
 

1.  Squeeze a pea-sized blob of glue onto your outlet cover. This is the only true grown-up job in this whole project
2. Spread the glue all around with your popsicle stick.
 
 
 
 
3. Dip the outlet cover in the beads
 


4. Gently press down on the beads with your finger to make sure they are securely in the glue



5. Set aside to dry

 

6.  Cover with a sealant if you wish, and Enjoy in your own way!
 

  

Happy Crafting!

09 February 2010

My Weekend:

A box of Kleenex, a cup of herbal tea, cozy with my hot water bottle and my fluffy book and chicken soup, of course.

 


 
 

 

 

I hope to join you tomorrow in somewhat better shape. 
Be well.

07 February 2010

Weekend Book Review - Criss Cross


I am working my way through a list of Newbery Award books and this is one of my favorites so far. 
You might call this a "coming of age" book - it is set in the 1970's but feels timeless.
Imagine being able to know the thoughts of a group of 13-15 year old kids who have grown up together. They are gradually becoming aware of each other as different from the way they've always known each other and how that changes their communication. No nasty bits, no emotional roller coasters. More a focus on the small events that bring about change. Well written, beautiful prose, and compelling. Familiar, in a way. 
Read it.

05 February 2010

Thrifty Thursday

I was supposed to be taking an heirloom sewing class this morning, but my youngest woke up with a gooey nose. Admittedly, I am grateful for the excuse to just stay home.

Since I have already spent a good portion of my morning removing ink stain from my daughter's school uniform shirt and pants, and because I actually spend a good portion of my LIFE removing pen, marker, sharpie, pencil, nail polish, etc. from various surfaces (thanks to said daughter) I thought this might be a great subject for today's thriftiness tips.



For removing ink and Crayola washable markers from walls, doors, furniture and even skin:
Just a washcloth with water can work OK if it's a recent effort. However, if it's been awhile, I highly recommend baby wipes for the marker and ink -even on the skin. See the before and after photos? They were taken inside the closet, so they're not super clear, in fact the "after" photo is much less pink in reality.
 
before

 
after
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (DO NOT USE ON SKIN) is also very good and will remove ink and marker and even pencil. Mr. Clean will also remove most of the Sharpie, but not all.

As you may already know, or guess, nail polish is pretty much a done deal on fabric. However, should your child apply nail polish to their lips, trust me, nail polish remover is your only option.

04 February 2010

It's All About Valentines

For someone who hasn't ever seen Valentine's Day as the biggest holiday ever, it occurs to me that I am spending quite a bit of time on it this year. It might be good for us to embrace this holiday at our house. At any rate, I wanted to share a few really neat Valentine's cards and an awesome Colorado Valentine's tradition.

Each year, thousands of people bundle up all of their Valentine cards and send them to the Loveland, CO post office, where they're stamped with a special poem and cancellation mark.



Right now volunteers are madly hand-stamping Valentine cards that are remailed to all 50 states and to more than 110 countries worldwide. The Loveland Post office has been doing this for 64 years! A Valentine from Loveland is extra special. If you want to participate, send your bundle of cards and letters to:


Postmaster
Attention: Valentine's Postmark
446 East 29th Street
Loveland, CO 80538-9998. 

For cards being sent within the U.S. and outside of Colorado, your cards should be in Loveland by Feb. 9; for within the state of Colorado, your cards should be in Loveland by Feb. 12. 
For international destinations, your cards should be in Loveland by Feb. 4 (yikes, that's tomorrow).

Need some ideas for Valentine cards? 

Family Fun always has great, kid friendly crafts,
Martha Stewart has wonderful ideas, though usually a bit more labor intensive.

Where else do you go to find ideas for cards?

If you just want to buy some, you're running out of time, but here are some great shops: