Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I recently participated in a super-secret crafting mission.  It started off so secretly even I didn't know what I was going to make or for whom I would be making it.  The mystery mission was hosted by Rachael at www.imaginegnats.com (and ten other loverly bloggers).  It went something like this: sign up, get an email with a name/address and hopefully a blog link, stalk blog in a totally non-creepy-purely-professional way, make a gift for said person, mail it, hope they like it.

I was matched with Tabitha from http://www.kluckingbear.blogspot.com/ so I began my research.  She seems to do a lot of journaling and paper crafting, crocheting, takes Halloween to a level Martha would be proud of and wins a lot of on-line give-aways.  All neat info but nothing that gave me that magic AHA moment.  Well the clock started ticking and I knew I couldn't obsess on the 'perfect' idea any longer so I decided to make her this:

I'd just made myself one recently in fabrics that match my craft room and I really wanted to use the last bit of that blue/bird/forest fabric.  I figured if she didn't sew much she could use the pockets and basket for crochet?  I also grant her permission to regift! 

What I haven't mentioned yet is I too was a name/address/blog link sent to someone else so they could make ME a giftie!  Yay!  I'll post pictures of what I got soon!

(And I meant to use the birdie fabric sideways...ok....I totally didn't and my inner perfectionist is woozy just looking at it but I didn't have any more fabric to recut it and do it correctly.  Let's just file it under 'creative license' shall we?)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Ton of Love

When I last posted, I thought I would be making caps and bags for children with cancer.  Children I didn't know, wouldn't know, but children who may be helped or cheered in some small way by the items I sewed.  But life took a very unexpected turn.  One of my best friend's 5 year old daughter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain stem tumor.   Five days later the beautiful, smart, kind and happy little girl, Madeline Elizabeth Musto, became an angel.  

Amid the shock and sorrow, the grieving and disbelieving, the support for Maddie's family was amazing.  People locally and from literally across the world who heard of the family's story reached out.  It was like a herd of elephants coming together as a family.  And it was that keen observation by my friend H that was the start of Maddie's Elephants.  She had the idea of sewing stuffed elephants that might help children by having something to cuddle when they were sad or confused.  Elephants would represent the togetherness we all feel in our sorrow and be a tangible way to celebrate Maddie and support her family.  At the start, a goal of making and selling 300 elephants seemed unlikely, but possible and worth pursuing.  

H put together a 'sewing bee' of sorts at her church and with three of us sewing as others cut and pinned, we had about 42 elephants ready to stuff and sell by the day's end.  The following day, we launched a web site that was hastily though expertly pulled together with a great deal of help from my husband.   That was Sunday at about 9PM...by Monday morning we had 51 orders.  On Monday we received another 70 orders!  Orders came in faster than we could sew and stuff and we again saw the kindness and beauty of people coming together to help each other.  Friends who didn't know how to sew helped turn the sewn elephants, helped stuff and helped with donations of fabric and batting.  

Photo Courtesy Kidography by Dania

Over 600 elephants have been sold online, at benefit events and through word of mouth.  Elephants are now keeping Maddie's memory alive in 30 states, over 100 cities/towns and at least 4 countries!  And so while I did end up sewing because of childhood cancer, it was for a beautiful little girl I did know.  I feel privileged to be a part of the Musto's lives and to be able to contribute to "the best day evers" that will come from the Maddie's Mark Foundation.  Please visit the foundation's web page to learn more.  

If you too would like to be a part of "the herd" you can order your own Maddie's Elephant at www.maddieselephants.com and be sure to "like" Maddie's Elephants on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Littlest Warriors: Craft hope Project 16

Craft Hope is back in 2012 with Project 16: The Littlest Warriors.  If you are not familiar with this great organization take a few minutes to look over the past projects on their site and get inspired!

This time around they are collecting handmade beanies/hats and tote bags for children who are fighting cancer.  The beanies can be any style in any size from baby to teenager and the bags can be filled with activity goodies too (ie. books, crayons, puzzles etc.)  The possibilities are endless!  I'm so excited about this new project and am working on some ways to involve more people whether they sew or not!    Here are several ideas for joining in:
  • DIY!  If you sew, knit or crochet grab a pattern online or from your stash and get to work!  I've collected several ideas and patterns on one of my Pin boards.
  • Learn to sew, or knit, or crochet.  If you aren't already crafty in one of these areas there are oodles of tutorials available online and surely a friend or relative can get you started?  
  • Join me and my local friends to sew/knit/crochet in person.  Bring your talent or come to learn.  Dates for a bag sewing night and a beanie/bag session are in the works for this month.  Email me if you are interested in being on the notification list for either or both.
  • Contribute supplies - do you have a stash of stuff you meant to get around to using but never did?  Use it or share it with someone who can turn it into a great gift for the kids.
  • Don't sew, don't knit, don't crochet, don't want to learn?  You can contribute 'fillers' for the tote bags or donate good old fashioned money at the Craft Hope site.
  • Spread the word!  Let your crafty (or non-crafty) friends and family members know about this great project and how they can join in too.
I'll be glad to gather the completed items to pack up and mail as a big box of love from upstate New York.  Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, ideas or to participate in person or virtually.

If you do create something on your own, please comment below!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

DIY Cleaners

A couple of years ago, B.P. (before Pinterest), I happened to notice a lot of people saying they'd made their own laundry soap. I thought that sounded crafty in a way so I gave it a try and posted a tutorial at myfirst blog site Yay For Mommy!  Click over and take a peek.

Since then I've tried various ways to minimize the chemicals I use around the house with varying results.  I haven't been impressed with the old science experiment drain cleaner (you know, baking soda and vinegar combo that is also a 'bubbling volcano' if you're in grade school).  I like vinegar for it's naturalness, but it's smell, eh notsomuch.  I have a small hand held steamer that does a nice job but I usually have the perception it's a big hassle to drag it out.  My floor steamer is nice and makes me feel like I'm really cleaning the (hardwood) floors not just wetting the dust and spreading it around more evenly.

Since Pinterest has come into my life, the ideas for decorating, organizing, crafting, cleaning etc etc etc knows no bounds.  I wish I could say that about my available time to try everything I pin.  I did just try a recent cleaning pin that I've been seeing over and over.  Perhaps you've see it too?  Have you tried it?  Well I did and here's my take on it.

Simple. Dawn liquid, vinegar, spray bottle.  Three ingredients...if you count the spray bottle you need to mix it in, so it definitely has simple covered.

Inexpensive, relatively speaking, though Dawn liquid is far from the cheapest dish soap around.  Someone's instructions said it HAS to be the blue Dawn so I didn't dare try another type or brand.  I suppose I could have just compared ingredients, though. 

Easy.  Heat 12 ounces of white vinegar in the microwave.  Pour into spray bottle.  Add 12 ounces of Dawn ...uh BLUE Dawn dishwashing liquid.   Mix.  Use.

Effective?  Yah I thought it did a really good job.  Not unlike a movie that gets overhyped, I was expecting a LOT from this combo that everyone is raving about.  Not unlike a movie that gets overhyped I was probably expecting too much.  But objectively, I thought it worked really well.  I cleaned two bathroom sinks, a tub, a shower stall, the kitchen (stainless steel) sink, the glass stove cooktop, and the glass oven door.  It didn't do much for the oven door but the rest of the places I mentioned sparkle.

Miracle cleaner?   I like that it's not overly chemically.  As in vinegar is natural and Dawn is at least made to be used on your food serving items.  It does leave a nice shine.  On the down side, I hate the way it smells.  I'm weirdly sensitive to fragrance and dislike Dawn's fragrance.  A lot.  I've also got to learn how much is enough because I ended up with oodles of soapiness I had to rinse away.  I suspect being a bit less trigger-happy would manage that.  It's only a miracle if one use keeps everything clean forever, though.

So I rate it a solid A-.  I don't think I should hold it's smell against it and come spring when the windows can be opened I may even learn to like it.  I definitely suggest you try it - especially if you already have the ingredients on hand.  Then when someone says they tried this new cleaner from Pinterest you can brag or complain about it too!  Oh and of course you can clean with it as well.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Hodge Podge of Mod Podge

I do think Mod Podge (often mispronounced Modge Podge) is a pretty cool product. I have discovered, however, that it challenges my inner perfectionist. I can't seem to force it to be perfect and it doesn't give me a "do-over" like I get with a stitch. Anyhow, I have friends who are mad-about-Mod-Podge and I DO like so many of the things made with it, so I've been dabbling. This past Thanksgiving I threw together a wooden sign with a scrap piece of plywood I found in the yard. Really, I just kinda took scrapbook paper and winged it. Here's what I ended up with...

Once it was up on the wall and I couldn't inspect it so closely I came to like it.

I also made a family sign for my sister for a Christmas gift; the top board has hooks on the bottom to hang a seasonal plaque below.  Here's the one I did for 'summer'. 

Winter was four penguins, spring was four bunnies and fall was four pumpkins so there is a family 'picture' to change with each of the New England season changes.

The other Mod Podge project I did is my favorite of the bunch.  I followed this Paint Stick Ornament tutorial that looked like a fun little giftie/decoration idea and added some embellishments of my own.

It's important to always have teeny tiny jungle bells on hand!

So there's a sampling of my Mod Podging.  I'm thinking about birthday countdown cubes next....well after I cross off some house projects, and cleaning projects, and sewing projects...<sigh> the list never ends!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hoop La

Traditions are one of the best parts of Christmas (well unless we're talking about re-gifting fruit cake perhaps). One of my favorites is the now three year old ornament exchange among my friends. About a dozen of us gals gather together for holiday cheer (aka wine and yummies) and jibber jabber until we gather around the tree to share a little summary of our year and distribute one of our homemade ornaments to each friend. Similar to a cookie exchange you make a set of ornaments and leave with a mixed bag of ornaments. Not only do you get new items to 'spruce' up your Christmas tree, you have a happy reminder of the exchange and the friend who took the time to make your little decoration!

After hours of surfing the interwebs looking for the 'perfect' tutorial or idea I finally decided on an applique sewing project I fell in love with. With total due credit to Pilli Pilli for dreaming up these cuties I set out to make my own. I ordered the teeny tiny hoops online (hoping they'd arrive in plenty of time to finish!), had a scrap of linen on hand for the 'canvas' and bought 1/4 yard pieces of little prints in reds and greens. There's always plenty of ribbon, floss and needles here so all I had to do was figure out how to make them!

A bit of trial and error taught me that using a fusable backing for the little shapes would minimize fraying and keep them in place for sewing. I cut each piece free-hand so no two were alike (mostly because I had no pattern and besides, part of their charm is their 'rough' look). I cut 4 inch by 4 inch squares of linen and ironed on the bitty shapes then headed for my Curvy (aka sewing machine). Never having used a machine for free-form/curved sewing I wasn't sure what I'd end up with but it turned out to be easy enough (and the small size made pulling out wonky stitches and trying again easy too!). Next, I fitted the linen piece into the hoop all nice and snug and hand stitched the details. I added little snow flakes to the backgrounds (but they didn't show up too well).  I cut circles from scrapbook paper for a backing, tied a pretty bow around the tension screw and added a silver thread hanger. Then I did it all 11 more times!

I made 6 with happy little trees..

And 6 with happy little snowmen...

And packaged them up up to share!

 I'm already thinking about next year!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monkey Business!

As I mentioned in my last post I made sock monkeys for Craft Hope's latest project.  A couple of friends came over with their socks and sewing equipment and we made monkeys!  My friend H was the go-to for instructions since she'd already started some (and is an expert sewess - is that a word?).   No pattern needed really and once you make one and find out how fun and easy they are you want to make a whole zoo.  Well, I only made two, but I had a tight deadline to meet!  Not surprisingly my 4 year old apprentice wanted the monkey to be a pirate, but brown monkey wasn't wearing the pirate gear too well.  So I picked up a pair of stripey socks and made Cap'n Monkey.

The extra fabric from the toe of the sock made a nice little kerchief.

He looks sea worthy, eh matey?

But what to do with brown monkey?  A girlie one perhaps?  When else am I going to use a piece of pink tulle after all?  A quick no-sew tutu and some felt flowers and brown monkey became ballerina monkey - and pirate monkey had a date!

They are now nestled snug in a box on a flight to Texas.  Bon voyage monkeys!  I hope whomever they go to live with has as much fun snuggling them as I had making them!

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