Friday, November 28, 2008

It's TIME!!!

Christmas Time, that is!! I so love the Holiday Season! The twinkling lights, the smell of cinnamon and Christmas trees in the air, the warm feeling of buying the most amazing gift for someone, that special air of love that floats around, even strangers are a bit more polite. I just love it.

To welcome the season, we have these... my first pair of crochet toe-up socks. These were surprisingly easier than I expected. My crochet abilities stop at squares and rectangles, so this was something new for me. It was a quick project and my daughter loves them... although she slips and slides around a lot lol. See the little snippet of our new floors? Wow that was a project. We'll get to that in a minute. Isn't she cute in her little tutu? The child loves dressup.

To something a bit more exciting..... below, you are viewing the very first Kaytiebugs pattern!! Well, the result of it anyway. This is the prototype. It's wrinkled and the pic was taken in poor lighting... but I'm using a camera phone so it can't get much better (do forgive the photo quality, my camera is dead and I'm not getting a new one for a couple of weeks). I drafted the pattern on gift tissue paper (that was the easy part). Then I started sewing. I can whip some clothes up in no time... but a lined handbag? I have made all of two different handbags... one was ugly and horrible, the other is this one... but it was easier because the pattern didn't require all of the seams be hidden, the base seams are bias taped around instead of flipped inside and concealed. It took a lot of head scratching, patience (which I have very little of), seam ripping, pinning, repinning, and ALAS I have my first completely custom designed handbag! Amy has something somewhat similar, but I didn't like the straps or the overall shape (or the thought of paying $15 for a pattern lol). It's hard to see in this picture, but there are two inward pleats on the front. It's fully lined and has a pocket inside (not a zippered pocket, you know how much I hate zippers).

Back to the floors. Wow. I had no idea laying new floors would be such a huge challenge!! We ripped up the old parquet floors that had a thick layer of glue holding them down. We had tile in the kitchen, but that came up very easily. It took my DH and step dad every bit of two full days to do the downstairs (not including the time it took to pull up the old floors and finish the baseboards). I know what you're thinking- "What kind of person in there right mind rips up real wood floors and replaces it with laminate?!?" 1) The previous homeowners installed the tile and parquet, and did a pretty poor job at it; 2) The parquet was not very pretty and the moment I saw the house I told my hubby "If we buy this house, I want new floors in less than a year." It was that bad.... one of the very few flaws in the house, but fixable; 3) Parquet is sooo 1995 lol kidding... it's just not my style (or the right color); 4 (and most important) our upstairs toilet flooded while we were away overnight.... the floor was destroyed beyond repair in a big section. We covered it with a rug until we were able to replace the floors. Ignore the random rug in the pics... it's been moved. And ignore the lack of finished baseboards... we've finished them.

Here's the old floor (before flooding)....
Here's the new floor (bad pic... poor lighting, camera phone)....

During the project...

We used Ikea Tundra flooring and Floor Muffler underlayment and I swear I can walk on the floor with heels on and it sounds thisclose to the same as walking on a regular non-floating floor. If you are going to get laminate, Floor Muffler is a MUST. Don't settle. Yes, it's twice as much as the regular stuff, but it's WELL worth it in the long run. Next redo- the kitchen cabinets... but that'll be a while.

In the meantime, we're currently building a luxury dog house for our 120lb half rottie half shepherd. Not really luxury lol, but it'll have a bit of lighting to provide heat, and we do plan to put Christmas lights on it and plant shrubs around it in the spring to make the area look nice. We're putting wide beadboard type stuff on the outside and painting it the same color as the house. It's about 5'x5' and the peak of the roof is about as tall as I am.... 5'4". I'll post pics when it's finished. K decided to crawl in there and decorate with her old bedroom decor... it's too cute. Rugs, wall hangings stuck in the framework, even a little table.

Only a child could spot an empty flooring box and see a robot! It took me a second, but then I saw it. She didn't do anything to the box, this is the way it looked laying out empty. She later colored it and put glitter on it. More amazing... she's wearing matching jammies! lol

In the next episode.... finished Handmade Holidays goodies (with pics from the camera phone *pouts*)! 5 things down.... 1945577 more to go!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One million uses for Flannel

Okay, maybe not quite one million.... but a bunch!

Joanns is selling flannel for $1.49/yard on Black Friday, so I'm trying to think of as many uses for it as possible! I haven't used flannel much, and when I have it's been for pajama pants... so a bit of 'outside the box' thinking was much needed.

Here are some things I've come up with thus far...

Rag quilts- here's a helpful tutorial from Knit and Tonic. I'm really loving this rag quilt from Debbie Mitchell.

Pajamas (obviously)- Lots of people will be getting these =). To make them a bit more original, you could have the main fabric in a print, and the bottom in a solid with ribbon trim between the two.

Throw pillows- Cozy bed pillows. Embellish them to make them even cuter. Or make huge floor pillows. You can find a HUGE list of pillow tuts at thedomesticdiva blog.

Receiving blankets- I love this tutorial from Observations of an every day mom.

Baby toys- A vast array of soft baby goodness can be made. Here are some tutorials, just to name a few- baby blocks, fabric beach balls, and a little bunny.

Boo boo hot/cold rice packs- Simple tutorial here.

Burp cloths- Here's a tut from Homemade by Jill. I'm really loving the rag edge =)
Sashet- Visit Femininity in a Feminist World for a wonderful lavender sashet tutorial, and read the blog of an amazing teen.

Scarves- You could make a rag scarf, similar to the one seen on Sandi Henderson where she displays Flannel Ginger Blossom fabric. Use the rag quilt tutorial above. Or you could go with something more traditional.

Reading companion- Part bookmark, part glasses case. Visit marmadaisy to find out how.

If I find anything else that really jumps out at me, I'll update this. Hope you guys enjoy shopping and sewing!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas Shopping Etsy Style ~ Rockin' Holidays

I stumbled across these awesome finds via the Handmade Holidays section in sew, mama, sew. I wish so bad I could buy these for my little brother, but my price limit for him, unfortunately, is $20-30 (although I'd be more than willing to trade if said seller were interested in swapping for sewn or crocheted items =) ).

Either way, I saw these and HAD to share. If you know anyone on your list that plays gituar, this would be the ultimate gift. If I could, I'd get the lyrics to that Kansas song, goes something like "On a stormy sea of moving emotion Tossed about, I'm like a ship on the ocean I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say Carry on my wayward son. " Or some other very "Allen" song. He likes so many different forms of Rock, it'd probably take me a week just to pick a song. TOTALLY off topic, because I'm not even buying this lol.

Do admire... for these definitely ROCK

Sterling Silver engraved gituar picks from Silver Sparrow Designs. They sell other things as well, but this is what really caught my eye.

And these... because you guys know how much I absolutely love really unique anti-typical design and colored jewelry (BTW, I won those earrings from her, forgot to mention that, they are AWESOME).

Here's her blog....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cold Winters Night gift idea

This is going to one of my lucky relatives. She doesn't read the blog, so it's okay to share =). I can't wait to get this one started!

Sweet Dreams Gift Set-
Pink handmade pajama pants (can't decide between flannel or flannel backed satin, toughie)
Scented candle (see info below)
Coffee mug in coordinating colors
A jar of Triple Chocolate Mint Cocoa Mix (Her fave ice cream is mint chocolate chip, so I can only assume she'll like this too.... no secret telling to those of you who might know who I'm talking about!!!)

I'm going to do the cocoa mix similar to the way the 'cookie mix in a jar' is done. Put in a mason jar, fabric around the lid, instructions tied on.

Now a little info on these Henri Bendel candles. These are my absolute favorite candles ever, hands down. $26 sounds pretty steep for one lil ole candle... BUT 1) you can get them on deep discount if you keep your eyes open, especially on Black Friday; 2) They are so freakishly amazing... I have one that sits on my breakfast table and the whole area smells like it, even though I haven't lit it in months. Just the warmth coming from the window works. These candles are absolutely awesome. If you know a candle lover, this is a definite must on the gift list.

Gifts for in the kitchen

This year, we're giving lots of handmades. I've already started working on crochet stuff and I've got several things in mind. I wish I could take pictures of the crochet stuff I've made thus far, but my camera is BUSTED. =-(
I'm here today to share with you an awesome idea... cookie mix in a jar!

The recipe and directions are available here.

Here are my suggestions-
1) Save money on the jars by buying them from thrift stores. One good wash and they are good as new. You can buy lids from the grocery store. The jars are the expensive parts. Lucky for me, I have tons thanks to my mom.
2) I like what they did with the ric rac. You could also use raffia, hemp rope, or a strip of fabric that coordinates with the fabric you used for the top.
3) Handwrite the recipe on a nice recipe card for added charm.
4) Pair the jar with a handmade apron and wooden spoon for a nice little kitchen gift set.
5) Instead of chocolate morsels, add Christmas colored M&Ms.

More Handmade Holidays ideas to come =)


Friday, November 14, 2008

Tips from a self proclaimed Black Friday Pro

As most of you know, I'm a shopping addict (no, literally, it's my drug of choice... it fills those gaps that most people fill with bad habits... so instead of being a junkie, I just have a bunch of stuff I don't need). I have gone marathon shopping every Black Friday since I was 15. Here are some tips to get the most out of the day.

1) Most important tip- Make a spreadsheet or list of everyone you need to buy for. If you have Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Works spreadsheet, that's the best thing to use. List names down the side, then in the other columns beside the names write clothing size, things they are into/hobbies they have/ things they have asked for or mentioned they'd like to have, stores to look in, age range or gender (so you can arrange the spreadsheet by age/gender... it makes it easier.... I put F and M for adults and Kids for the kiddos, then arrange the spreadsheet that way so when I'm at Toys R Us I can clearly see all of the kids names, and when I'm at Bath & BW I can clearly see all of the females on the list), and price range you'd like to stick to for there gift. So.... price range, gift ideas, size, stores to look in, and gender/age. Mine looks like from last year, I keep all of them on one spreadsheet so I can look back and see what I've bought them in previous years (I hope no one on this list stumbles across it.... ackward)-

2) Standing in line is worth it.

3) Get the Thanksgiving news paper AND the Sunday paper the Sunday before thanksgiving. Even with all of the wonderful awesomeness that is the web, you'll still find lots of really useful coupons and sales ads that aren't posted online.

4) Plan ahead. Plan where you are going to go, find out what time stores open, decide where you are going first, second, third, and so on (not necessarily stores, except maybe the first store, but general areas....) Here's an example, what I did last year- Outlet mall (first store- Coach outlet.... get in line at 10:00pm thanksgiving, they open at 12:00am), leave the outlet mall around 4:00am and head to Walmart by my house (upon arriving at walmart, search for the items I'm looking for so I know where to go when they start unwrapping), after walmart head to the mall (Macys first), dart around to the PRE SELECTED stores (to avoid wasting time and shopping for myself), head to Kohls/Target/TJ Maxx, go home.

5) DON'T BRING YOUR CHILDREN unless you ABSOLUTELY MUST. It's a mad house and it's kinda not safe. If at all possible, get a sitter.

6) I bring my big blue Ikea bag so instead of carrying around 500 small bags I can just throw them all into the ikea bag. I would suggest bringing an empty stroller for putting your bags in, but strollers are despised on this day.... they get in peoples way.

7) Don't waste time looking for a good parking spot... you'll drive around for 15 minutes looking for one. Why spend 15 minutes looking for a spot when you could be SHOPPING! Park wherever you see a spot and get to walking.

8) Wear sneakers and comfy clothes. If you're doing marathon shopping, the more comfortable the better. If it's not too cold, opt for a sweater with an undershirt instead of a coat, so you can just take it off and tie it around your waste if you get hot.

9) Don't forget to charge your cell phone and bring your car charger! You'll be calling around to ask friends and family questions. And remember- just because you are out at 3:00 am shopping doesn't mean your relatives are, so hold off on calling unless absolutely necessary =)

10) Most major retailers who you can purchase from online have the same black friday sales on there websites, so if you're not up for shopping you can still shop online and save.

11) Second most important and should be # 2.... BE NICE!!! Be patient!!! Everyone is waiting in line... not just you. Everyone wants out ASAP. Everyone is cramped. You got yourself into this mess, so make the best of it. It can be fun. Standing in line for 15 minutes is part of the process, so don't look around at the cashiers as if they are going too slow or something. Everyone wants to move on to the next store. Remember to be friendly to the cashiers, this is one of the hardest days of the year for them.... and they'd rather be shopping too. So be nice and friendly. Say "Thank you!" and "Happy Holidays to you too!"

Hope these help! Happy shopping everyone!!

PS- Cafemom Etsy Moms Street Team is having a Black Friday sale. I'll post more when I know more, but I've already picked out items from several sellers. If nothing, just search etsy for 'cafemom team black friday'.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas Shopping Etsy Style ~ Part two

I love an artist that just oozes with originality. As I said in my first CSES post, that is one of the most important keys to success. Here's another one of my favorite uber original etsy sellers, pumpkinhaus. I love her use of color, her hand stitching, and ability to transform fabrics I'd typically overlook into absolutely stunning creations.

One of my all time favorite etsy items are her Earthiles (I could never pick just one favorite Earthly). Each doll is handcrafted and no two are alike. The detail is amazing. The creativity and originality even more so.

Looking for more originality? Ever heard of a boobie hat?

So, check her shop out.... and her blog.

Hannah... I mean Kaytlin's Halloween

I finally got to sew something! My life has been incredibly busy lately... and what's strange is I haven't taken on any additional responsibilities, work any more hours, etc. Hubby started back in school for the fall and his classes have been HARD to say the least. I've had to pick up all of the housework. So.... no crafting =(

Until this.... The best Hannah Montana costume. I made the top, chopped up a denim jacket from goodwill, and paired it with a pair of cute jeans she already had, some bold accessories, and a Hannah Montana wig that K already had. I also made the headscarf and her trick or treat bag. I really wish I had better pictures to share. The sparkly didn't photograph well regardless of lighting.

You can't tell from the pictures, but it's a cowl neckline... the look was inspired by the shirt she's wearing in this picture. This pose is plastered all over HM memorabilia.

I used one of Kaytlin's t shirts as a template for the base of the shirt, then cut a rectangle of fabric and sewed it to the front top of the shoulders section. I didn't have time to use a pattern.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Christmas shopping Etsy style

I plan on posting some halloween handmades SOON. But for now, I'd like to take a moment to feature some of my etsy faves that would be awesome Christmas gifts!!

I was originially going to do items from various sellers.... but I absolutely love this mommys stuff, so I'm dedicating this post to her shop.

I know her as aebaby on cafemom. Her etsy shop is and she has some of the most awesome kids stuff you can find on etsy. I'm not just saying that either! Here are some of my faves, check out her shop for all of the details and items available.

These are some of my ALL TIME faves. Some are in her sold section, some are available now.

BTW I'm getting new floors in my house this weekend! I'm super excited! Look out for before and afters!!