Friday Favorites No. 336

For some reason my post from yesterday didn't make it out to my email subscribers, so if you're looking for some DIY alternatives to fireworks (or you want to see my latest TV appearance on Afternoon Live), just click here!

 

Now that we're officially in a grip of summer, it sounds like we have a crazy-hot weekend to look forward to. However, hot here doesn't even come close to the 115+ I heard you Arizonians were dealing with this week. You win. Stay inside and make stuff.

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Craft Passion just keeps adding to her sock animal, with each cuter than the last. I think this kangaroo would make such a sweet baby shower gift.

Kids are home, right? Get them crafting with these bugs from Krokotak. They have to do something with all those popsicle sticks they're emptying.

I don't know which I love more, the fact that this pincushion is just super cute, or that Naehmarie calls it a "transporter."

I feel like it's been a really long time since I've had sorbet. This lovely pink version from Sugar and Soul Co. makes me think it's time to fix that.

I'm not sure I've ever met a red leather anything I didn't like. This pretty bracelet from RockBodyLeather on Handmade at Amazon is no exception.

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

DIY Alternatives to Fireworks

I'm gearing up for my next appearance on Afternoon Live today. For those of you visiting from the link over there, welcome! (Here's the link to the video for those of you who missed it)

I had a conversation with my seven-year-old niece about it last weekend, and she asked if I was nervous. I told her I was a little, but that this will be my fourth time, and it keeps getting easier and less scary. She said that the fifth time will be when I stop being nervous. On one hand I thought that was cute, but on the other I'm kinda hoping she's right!

My topic today is fun things you can make for the little ones if you're trying to avoid fireworks. I found almost all of these on Pinterest, and added my own spin to a few. 

Marshmallow Poppers

I found the directions for these at Happiness is Homemade. I followed her directions on this one, but instead of confetti we're going to pop mini marshmallows, because I don't want the cleaning crew to lock me out next time I show up for the show.

Straw Rockets

This one is from Curious Kangaroos. I made them the same way, but used scrapbook paper and printer paper, as opposed to the thin paper recommended, and they seem to work fine. I found one of those fat smoothie straws is perfect for wrapping the paper around to tape. It makes the rocket just a bit larger than a regular straw.

Sparkler Wand

I thought these sparklers from Kids Craft Room were cute. I did use several more layers than recommended, with two pieces of foil and five cellophane. After I cut the strips, I taped a piece of curling ribbon inside every other one before I rolled it up. The only other thing I did differently was to use hot glue instead of tape to secure it, and that was really because I already had the thing warmed up.

Paper Pinwheels

Instructions for these are everywhere (I even made my own fabric version once upon a time) but the ones at Living the Swell Life were the first to catch my eye. For mine, I made a couple from two-sided scrapbook paper, then printed my own double sided paper for the other two. I used a pearl pin, but instead of bending it first as instructed, I pushed it through the papers, through a small round bead, then through the eraser. I clipped the pointy end off the pin, then bent the end down. They do spin, I tested them, but what do you want to bet they won't cooperate on camera? :-)

Mini Pinatas

I used the instructions on One Good Thing to make these. They came out a little wonky-looking, but they do work and I think kids would love them. How can you not like something full of candy?

Light Stick Wands and Decorated Bubbles

This last one is my own, but it's ridiculously simple. The wands are just a light stick attached to a smoothie straw with fancy duct tape. The bubbles are also wrapped with the same tape. DIY doesn't always have to mean super complicated, and the kids will be just as happy.

And not a flame in sight!

June Hoop Art of the Month - Mini Hoop Jewelry

When you've planned a year-long series that requires at least one every month, you tend to jump at a sale on embroidery hoops. As I was standing there trying to choose sizes, I started to wonder exactly how small they could go. The store only carried down to 3 inch hoops, but I knew someone had to have pushed that particular envelope. They did, and I'm so excited to share them with you today!

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I found a couple of options, but the ones that I thought were the nicest came from Dandelyne on Etsy. She's located in Australia, but don't let that scare you away with fears of huge shipping costs. Seriously, we're talking under $2 to Oregon. 

I ordered the Hoop Pack that included up to four 1" hoops and the hardware to make a necklace, ring and earrings. I messaged Sonia, the owner, to let her know I'm allergic to earrings, so she could just leave those out. She did, but sent me lots of extras instead!

On top of all that, she has a sweet Facebook group where members can share their mini creations. The skill level there is pretty inspiring!

But first let's talk about my skill level. I've never done any tiny embroidery before. There's a bit of a learning curve, but the good news is that it's fairly quick and if you end up with a dud it didn't take a ton of time and materials. And there were some duds.  Fortunately though, I also ended up with keepers. Let me be clear - every single mistake I made was my own fault. Her directions were excellent.

The hoops I ordered were 1", so that gave me about 3/4" usable space. Unfortunately I originally thought it gave me 1", and that's were dud #1 came in. After I worked out that problem, I chose three designs I'd sketched. I cut a piece of fabric 4 1/2" square with a matching piece of medium weight fusible interfacing for each.  It was much larger than the design, but it made it possible to put it into a small hoop for embroidery.

In order to transfer the designs on the fabric, I traced each on the back with my favorite iron-on transfer pens from Sublime Stitching.

I applied the interfacing to the fabric, then ironed the design into the center. One of my designs had lines that were just too close together and turned into a blur. Dud #2.

One of my designs had lines that were just too close together and turned into a blur. Dud #2.

My favorite embroidery medium is a nice, thick craft floss, but that wouldn't do for something so small. Dud #3. Instead I used three strands of regular embroidery floss. In hindsight, two probably would have been better, but it worked out. I got so involved in stitching that I failed to take any photos of the process, but it was basically stitching the tiniest of lines until each was filled in. 

I couldn't bear to toss the one I couldn't stitch, so I added a pineapple in the corner and stitched it without a hoop.

Right here is where I'm going to tell you, and I can't stress this enough, watch her YouTube video that describes how these are put together. There are lots of instructions included in the package, but the video really helps make everything clear. I watched it after I was done. Ugh.

I cut my designs to a 1 1/4" circle, and next time I would go a little larger to make them easier to mount in the hoop.

I used a hot glue gun for the entire process of putting the designs into the hoops. It seemed to work well, but as I mentioned, the video shows some tips and tricks I wish I'd known ahead of time. My impatience bit me on that one.

I had a hard time deciding which jewelry hardware to try first, so I texted my pineapple-loving daughter to ask if she'd rather have a ring or necklace. She chose the ring, so I attached the hoop onto the ring form using E6000 glue. It's still curing, but it seems very secure already. I decided the ice cream cone would be a perfect summer ring for myself. This is definitely not something you see every day.

I wanted to try the necklaces next, so I went with one silver and one antique gold.

Can anyone tell me what the picture on the right is? It's a red bikini hanging on a clothesline with the sun overhead. Yeah, I probably aimed a little too high on that one. That other sunny guy with the shades is my favorite though.

These were SO much fun to make, even with a few fails sprinkled in. I have one hoop left, and I can't wait to try again. I'm thinking maybe a monogram this time.

 Be sure to check out all the sizes and options for ordering in Dandelyne's shop, and tell her Crafty Staci sent you! ;-)

Friday Favorites No. 335

If all goes well, we'll be celebrating Father's Day this weekend by finally seeing the new Wonder Woman movie. I can't believe it's been out this long already and we haven't been. As a lifelong fan, I hope it lives up to both the hype and my high expectations - especially for the sake of the guy spending his big day watching it!

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I think my husband would have had as much fun building this sprinkler relay from Lil' Luna as the kids would have had playing with it when they were little. In fact, all of that is probably still true, although we'd need to make sure it's a bit taller these days.

My son had no oven mitts in his kitchen when we visited, so you can imagine the first thing I made when I got home. He has giant paws, so I searched for a pattern in an extra-large size. Hopeful Threads saved the day with this one.

Not only does this cold cut sub made in a bundt pan from 4 Sons 'R Us seem like it would be great for a group, but it's essentially a giant doughnut sandwich. What dad wouldn't love that?

The idea behind these taco shells is to avoid carbs, but it's taco shells made of CHEESE! This has got to be delicious. Thanks to Hip2Save for the recipe!

If you're looking for a last minute gift for Dad, and he happens to be a workshop kind of guy, this downloadable design from LighthousePaperCoNC on Etsy is a great idea. You can cut it with a Silhouette or a Cricut and make him a handmade sign in no time.

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

Blackberry Horchata Smoothie

What do you do when the sun's out and you're craving a frosty, blended smoothie, but the fresh berries aren't quite ripe? Go frozen! Oregon is well known for our amazing berries, and fortunately you can get them year round in the freezer aisle because my daughter and I were in the mood to experiment. Yes, sometimes that's as dangerous as it sounds, but this one turned out to be a winner.

This post is sponsored by the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission.  I received a gift card as reimbursement for ingredients and time.

We played around with some ingredients and I think for the first time ever, I had to rinse a smoothie down the kitchen sink drain. I'll spare you the details on that one, but when it came to this one, we drank every bit. The other drink was much more complicated too, which just goes to show sometimes simple is better.

The not-so-secret ingredient in this magical potion is horchata. You can make your own, but I cheated and went with ready-made. The only other things you need are those frozen Oregon blackberries and Greek yogurt.

Blackberry Horchata Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries
  • 1 1/2 cups horchata
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, frozen into cubes

Blend all the ingredients in a blender. If your smoothie is too thick, add a little more horchata.

We felt like this was sweet enough with the berries and horchata, but if you really want to baby your sweet tooth you could always add a little honey or use vanilla yogurt. A little whipped cream on top with a light dusting of cinnamon would be fun too.

My daughter took one sip of this and said it tasted like a blended blackberry cobbler. The flavor of the cinnamon in the horchata really comes through, but without overpowering the blackberries.

I realized the next day that you could also pour this into popsicle molds and it would be an amazing treat on a stick. We'll save that for our next smoothie day!

Friday Favorites No. 334

I'm the membership chair for my local quilt guild. We had our monthly board meeting this week, where one of our biggest topics was our upcoming quilt show. Being a newer guild, it's our first one and it got me wondering what the statistics are when it comes to these. Have you been to a quilt show? If not, why? What are you looking for when you attend? I'd love to hear your feedback on this topic (if you're not comfortable leaving a public comment, feel free to email me at email@craftystaci.com). It's mostly for my own curiosity, but it might help us out with our planning!

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My husband and son have both purchased new vehicles in the last year. I've never seen either of them so careful with a car. The attention to detail is unprecedented. Maybe they each need this car washing kit from Crafting Chicks. That is, if they weren't fully stocked on car care products already.

Okay, I'll admit this one is a little too high on the woodworking skills scale for most of us, but I'm just amazed that it's possible to make a wooden tape measure. Let ClenseYourPallet on Instructables walk you through the steps.

I had to share this recipe for french onion soup from Food Network today because I actually made it a few days ago. It was delicious! The only things I did differently is that I used white wine instead of red and dried thyme instead of fresh, both because it was what I had on hand. We ate some the day it was made, but it was even better when we finished it off two days later!

Nothing says summer like ice cream, and I love the idea of making these ice cream bars from Leite's Culinaria with any toppings your heart desires.

This is called a Wrist Ruler and they're made right here in Oregon by I Love Handles. It's a leather bracelet accurately marked with both inches and centimeters. I don't know how many times I've tracked down a quilting ruler in the fabric or craft store because I needed to measure something. I just need to choose a color and this will be on its way to me!

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

Airplane-Friendly Mini Sewing Kit

I've never taken a sewing project on an airplane before, but each direction of my recent trip was about 20 hours so I was looking for ways to keep myself entertained. I was worried about getting bored, but it turns out trying to sleep takes up a bunch of time. Yeah, trying. Anyway, I set out to figure out what it would take to be able to hand stitch on board and ended up with this cute little kit I'm going to share with you today!

To make this you'll need:

  • empty dental floss container (you'll need one you can open without destroying)
  • thread
  • cotton fabric
  • fusible fleece
  • felt
  • elastic cord
  • button
  • 3/4" wide elastic

The question of whether you can carry even tiny scissors on a plane is a big one, and seems to vary by country. One stitcher even talked about her necklace that had a shielded blade being confiscated. (affiliate link)

Are you scratching your head over that dental floss container? It's a brilliant idea (which I can say because it wasn't mine) that I read about in several places. Instead of taking my chances with the scissors, I used the tiny blade that's ordinarily used to cut the floss! 

When I mentioned this to my husband, he suggested I take it a step further and wind my thread around the spool inside. Even better, and saved me space elsewhere! He did mention a winding technique that involved a power drill, but he wasn't around when I made this so I ended up winding it by hand. I'm kind of curious what that would have looked like.

I put the spool back in place inside the container and fed the thread through the hole and across the blade, just like the floss. And it works great!

Now that I had a handy thread dispenser, I couldn't just leave it at that. I needed something to carry it in. After a couple of too-complicated sketches, I settled on this simpler design.

Cut your pieces in the following sizes:

  • outer fabric - 6 x 3"
  • inner fabric - 6 x 3"
  • fusible fleece - 6 x 3"
  • felt - 5 x 2"
  • elastic cord - 3"
  • 3/4" wide elastic - 6"

Apply the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the inner fabric. Lay it down, right side up. Add the wide elastic, centered. Tie or stitch the two ends of the elastic cord, then lay that loop in the middle of the wide elastic on the right. The loop should be to the inside and the ends even with the edge.

Add the outer fabric on top, right side down. Pin well and stitch 1/4" from the edge, leaving 1 1/2" open at the bottom.

Clip the corners and turn right side out. Press, turning in the edges of the opening. Stitch around, close to the edge.

Lay it down with the elastic side up. Center the felt on top. Stitch down the center.

Fold closed along the stitching line. Pull the elastic loop over the front and mark the spot it reaches. Sew the button on that spot.

Open and stitch from top to bottom 1" from the right edge.

Now comes the fun part - loading it up! Slip the dental floss container under the elastic in front, weave a needle or two into the felt and add a threader in the back. You can even slip in a small spool of thread if you need a second color.  Keep in mind, you may run into someone who doesn't let those needles though, although that seems to be pretty rare.

You can click on the photo below to scroll through each of the sections:

I made my kit its own zipper bag so I could carry the English paper piecing project I was bringing with it. 

I never did actually sew on any of our flights. You forget how much elbow room it requires when you're doing it at home. However, I did use my kit at my son's home! I repaired one of his pillows and made him a little project that I'll be sharing with you soon.  

No one batted an eye at my needles or thread holder in any of the security areas we went through, so I'm going to call this a success!

Friday Favorites No. 333

I need to vent for just a second. I didn't notice until we were packing up to come home, but I'm fairly certain someone stole my luggage tags (the Superhero Luggage Tags I made years ago). The reason I think they were swiped, rather than just lost, is that there was one on each bag and they were BOTH missing. They had very sturdy hardware holding them on, and they've been through lots of trips with no issues. Well, I hope whoever has them now enjoys them. I'd be more angry if it weren't for the fact that gives me an excuse to make new ones!

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This sunburn prevention bracelet from Budget 101 might be a genius way to keep track of when it's time to add more sunscreen. It's worth a try!

Did you know you can crochet your own set of reusable water balloons? Let Left in Knots show you how.

Chocolate chip cookie ice cream cones, where have you been all my life? Thanks to Ashlee Marie for the next few pounds.

If you give a mouse a cookie cone, he's going to want some ice cream to go in it. This mermaid version from Home Made Interest looks like a good option.

The gelato in Italy is smooth and just the right amount of sweet. In fact, there's a flavor called zuppa inglese that I don't know how to not have in my life. It tastes like eggnog, with pieces of dark chocolate. Of course, my first reaction to realizing that was to come home and search for recipes. In my search I came across this book by Morgan Morano that looks like it's full of good recipes. I don't have it yet, but it's sitting in my Amazon cart.

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

May Hoop Art of the Month - Fabric Flower Wreath

My vacation kind of waylaid this project, but technically it's still May for another minute! I'm glad I was able to squeeze this in because it was actually inspired by my time away.

When we left home most of the plants were still waiting to do their thing, so we didn't have many flowers or even leaves yet. When we returned, spring had exploded. Everything is bright green, and the flowers are popping up everywhere. We were gone so long we completely missed the lilac and bleeding hearts! I can't even think about all the weeding that needs to be done, but I'm thrilled to see so much color everywhere. So much so, I decided to add some of my own.

To make this, you'll need:

  • 12" embroidery hoop
  • cotton fabric (for flowers, centers, leaves and hoop wrap)
  • batting
  • buttons, or cardboard cut in circles (I used one 2", two 1 1/2" and two 1", but if you want a little less effort to cover the centers go with about 1/2" larger on each)
  • green wire, or wire wrapped with floral tape (I used about 65")

For the fabric to wrap the hoop, cut 2" wide strips. I used a total length of about 80", but this can vary depending on how tightly you wrap and with how much overlap so I'd go a little longer to be sure there's enough.

For the flowers and leaves cut the following:

Large flower (1)

  • five 8" squares for the petals
  • two 10" squares for the leaves

Medium flowers (2)

  • ten 6" squares for the petals
  • four 8" squares for the leaves

Small flowers (2)

  • ten 4" squares for the petals
  • four 6" squares for the leaves

Centers(5)

  • Cut fabric circles at least 1/2" larger than the button or cardboard
  • Cut batting to match button or cardboard

We'll start by making the flower centers. Hand stitch around the fabric circle with a long stitch and doubled thread. Don't knot or cut thread. Lay the batting circle in the center on the wrong side.

Add the cardboard or button on top. Carefully pull the thread to gather. Knot and clip thread. Set the centers aside.

Next up are the flowers. This is a good TV or movie-watching project. Fold one petal square in half diagonally, with wrong sides together. Fold in half again so you have a triangle. As tempting as it is, do not press with an iron. You want these to keep some dimension.

Using doubled thread, stitch a long running stitch about 1/4" from the raw edge.

At this point you can either pull the thread to gather this one petal or continue stringing them on and gather all five at once. I usually gather all at once, but this time I tried doing it individually. I think I prefer the look and smoothness of gathering them all at once.  

Either way, don't knot or clip the thread from the first petal, just begin stitching the second onto the same thread, repeating until you've completed all five.

Stitch the two end petals together. Repeat the process for the remaining four flowers. Make the leaves in the same way, but using only the two squares for each rather than five.

Looks colorful already, huh?

This is where you want to fire up the glue gun. Start assembling the wreath by gluing the centers into the flowers. I had to squeeze and coax the petal edges under the center, which is why I recommend using slightly larger than I did (as I mentioned above).  I wasn't completely successful with all of them, but I still like the way they turned out.

Next, glue the leaves onto the back.

There are a couple of options when it comes to covering the hoop with fabric. You can either leave the raw edges exposed or, as I did, fold both edges into the middle and press.

Start by gluing one end of the strip to the back of the hoop at an angle.

Wrap the fabric around the hoop, being sure to overlap so all the wood is covered. When you come back to where you started, glue the fabric to the back of the hoop and cut off the excess.

Before you begin gluing the flowers to the hoop, take a minute to arrange them the way you'd like so you know where each will go. Once you've done that, glue on the largest flower first.

Add on remaining flowers until all are attached to the hoop.

Cut the wire into random lengths for the tendrils. I cut them longer for the two ends so I could wrap around the hoop.

To attach them, I twisted the end around a bit so the glue had more to hang onto and glued that to the inside of the hoop.

Use a pencil or larger item to wrap the tendrils around to curl. I found something tapered (like my handy Kwik Klip [affiliate link]) looked the best.

I used the leftover wire to make a hanger for the top, and now this little beauty looks right at home on my front door next to all the other flowers!

Friday Favorites No. 332

Summer seems to have arrived while we were gone. We're still having some cloudy days, but it looks like the deluge of rain we've been suffering through has passed. I'm so ready for nice weather. We have a camping trip booked for July, and I'm so excited because I haven't been in about 4 years! Bring on the s'mores and mosquitoes!

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If you have the woodworking skill to pull it off, this old recliner turned into an amazing outdoor chair would make a great Father's Day gift. Find out how it's done from buck2217 on Instructables.

Skater skirts, like this one from Fleece Fun, are everywhere now, and work well on just about any body type. 

I have this weird thing about walking around my house barefoot. Can't do it. It's tough to find something to wear in summer if I don't feel like full-on shoes, but if I could crochet these sandals from Crafts by Amanda would be a great solution.

Nothing says summer like apple pie. Step it up even more with these churro apple pie cookies from Jo Cooks.

Wedding season is upon us, and there are so many lovely, handmade options out there now for brides and grooms. This wedding ring box from MissVintageWedding on Etsy is pretty, and I love the bit of moss for padding inside. 

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

My Trip to Italy

I’m back! Actually, I’ve been back for a few days, but jetlag is real. It wasn’t as bad for me coming home as it was going there, but it still smacked me down a bit. Fortunately I suspected that would be the case and left myself a cushion to readjust…except for the doctor and dentist appointments I foolishly made for myself for the beginning of this week. But that’s all under the bridge, and I’m ready to dive back into my craft room. First though, I’d like to share a little of my trip with you!

We left home on April 24th and took a series of LONG flights to Italy. In our airport here in Portland you leave the secured area, and can greet whoever is picking you up, before you pick up your luggage. In Naples, we had to wait for our luggage first. Which nearly drove me crazy, and my husband kept saying “Just go hug your boy. I’ll get the bags.” I finally took him up on it. A year is too long to wait for a hug from your kid.

Our son lives in a small town just inland from Gaeta, where he works, and he drove down to Naples to pick us up. The first thing I learned about Italy is that the driving situation is insane. A one lane road is turned to three, cars will pass each other with traffic in the oncoming lane, and it feels like everyone’s bumpers are touching because they drive so close together. Fortunately, the cars are tiny. If I lived there I would have to take public transportation everywhere!

The first place we spent some time was Gaeta. Apparently it’s not a big tourist area for people from outside the country, but it is for Italians. The weather was good, and being from Oregon anything over about 65 degrees is shorts and tanks weather. We were the ONLY ones. Everyone else was wearing muted colors, heavy coats and boots. Me and my white, flowery, sleeveless top and my pasty white arms stuck out like a sore thumb.

Of course one of the first things we did was sample some gelato and cappuccino. It’s probably good I don’t live there, or that’s what I would have every day.

In the afternoon, we stopped at an outdoor bar for drinks. We were sitting at a little table, when suddenly car after car started pulling up, filled with people clearly dressed for a wedding, including the bride and groom themselves. The bar was ready for them with champagne and snacks. We just sat at our little table while an entire wedding reception was happening around us!

There’s a castle next door to my son’s apartment building (!), so we spent part of a day exploring that. We were on our way to figure out how to get in, when an Italian man that works with my son happened to drive by. We asked him where to enter, so he hopped out of his car and gave us a mini tour. He grew up in the area, and talked about playing hide and seek in the castle as a kid.

Tucker had to work during much of our visit, but he was able to get about a week off, so we planned a trip. We decided to take the train, which made for a much more relaxing trek than I think driving would have been. Our first stop was Rome, where we stayed for a couple of days.

We visited most of the things you’d expect in Rome, like the Forum, the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, etc. Being from the United States, and specifically the West coast, we just don’t have buildings anywhere near as old as almost everything there. It was surreal to me to be walking down the street and realize you’re walking by something that’s been there for thousands of years.

In addition to all the sites, you can find a café and gelato shop on nearly every corner. That wasn’t completely surprising, but what was is the number of Irish pubs. Who would have guessed?

When we left Rome we stopped in Pisa, long enough to see the Leaning Tower. I wish I would have taken a photo of all the tourists there, with about 75% of them taking the “Hey look, I’m holding up the tower with one hand” pic.

From Pisa, we continued on to a town called La Spezia. We had an airbnb there for a couple of nights so we could visit an area called Cinque Terre.  You know those photos you see of Italy with the colorful buildings climbing up a steep hillside? That’s Cinque Terre.

We took the train between each of the five villages, and each one had its own personality. They all sit on the side of a hill, so there is a lot of walking and climbing stairs. I think I understand how the Italians can eat so much pasta, gelato and bread and still be thin and fit.

 The views were absolutely amazing everywhere you looked. You can look to the hillside with all the colorful buildings, grapevines and lemon trees with the biggest lemons I’ve ever seen.

Then you can turn around and see an expansive view of the ocean. Beautiful in every direction.

We stayed in La Spezia because we’d heard it was easier than trying to find lodging in Cinque Terre, but it turned out to be a fun place to spend time also. Our airbnb was across the street from a music conservatory, so we were treated to amazing music most of the time we were there. We also visited an Italian Navy Museum and walking through the shopping and along the waterfront.

After our travels, we returned to our son’s apartment where we celebrated my birthday and Mother’s Day. He had to go back to work, but my husband and I were still able to have some mini adventures, like figuring out how to shop in an Italian grocery store, visit our favorite café for our daily cappuccino and try to decide exactly which shop had the best gelato.

On Tucker’s last day off before we left, he drove us up into the hills to a monastery. You could see all the way past Gaeta to the ocean. It was a perfect way to top off our trip.

We had an amazing time, not only visiting the tourist areas, but getting the opportunity to really experience living in Italy, if only for a short time. We were there for about four days when we decided we are definitely going back next spring!

Friday Favorites No. 331

If all went as planned, we arrived back home from Italy last night. I wrote this post before I left, because I'm fairly certain I have a major case of jet lag right now, and wouldn't even begin to make sense. Even more than usual. Once I've had a chance to adjust and unpack, I'll be back to tell you all about it!

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Have you seen Zootopia? We don't catch many animated movies anymore, but we were told it was a must-see. We loved it, and my husband STILL can't stop talking about the sloths at the DMV. Thanks to Craft Passion, I can make him one of his very own.

Not only is this woven basket from Atkinson Designs pretty, but it looks like it would be really fun to make. I've been wanting to try some sort of weaving, and this seems right up my alley.

Since we're approaching that time of year when you can find both fresh lavender and blackberries, this scone recipe from Half Baked Harvest is a must-try.  Imagine how these smell when they're cooking. Mmmm...

I'll admit this recipe from Unlikely Martha is a bit unusual, unless you ordinarily make your guacamole with watermelon. But after I read the ingredients I realized it actually sounds pretty delicious!

When I was young I went through a phase where I was obsessed with horses. In later years it became more of a situation where I like to admire them, but don't need one of my own. This horseshoe heart from Lucky Nail Blacksmith on Handmade at Amazon though? This I do need.

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

Friday Favorites No. 330

Yesterday was my birthday. Since I'm still in Italy, but writing this ahead of time, I have to assume it was pretty amazing! There's also Mother's Day coming up this weekend. Hopefully you have some fun plans, either for yourself or to celebrate a mom in your life!

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Wouldn't these faux leather and felt anemones make a pretty hair clip or Mother's Day corsage? Delia Creates even shares the cutting file if you want to use a Silhouette.

If your sweet little ones need something pretty to wear this weekend, Violette Field Threads has one you can whip up fairly quickly. It has all the ruffles and lace that are so popular right now.

Aren't these flower pot cookies from The Gunny Sack adorable? If you have some skill at making frosting roses, they can be even more edible.

So, a cupcake and a mini cake are really only a little different in shape, but tell me this doesn't look so much more fancy! In my research (okay, honestly just mini cake stalking) I found there are lots of ways to make these. Some use actual, legit small pans, while others are made in clean, empty canned-food cans. The Kitchen McCabe here used little mason jars!

JennyAllsortsDesign has a shop filled with cute things on Etsy, but I particularly love the three sets of international dolls embroidery patterns. These are pretty both as redwork or in multi color.  Wouldn't these be perfect for a little girl's quilt?

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

Friday Favorites No. 329

What better way to start out the weekend than with Cinco de Mayo? Have a happy one!

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Thank goodness it's the season for sunglasses again. The Littlest Studio shares an easy and stylish way to carry them.

I've only ever heard of Skittles the candy, but apparently it's a Finnish throwing game and dale1952 on Instructables shows us how to make it. This looks like a great addition to your outdoor party game or camping collection.

Since I'm clearly a little outdoors-obsessed today, I'm also going to show you this beautiful outdoor bench from DIY Candy. Can you tell it was a very long winter?

I'm intrigued by this cake from Jo Cooks. Apparently you make one batter, cook it, and it separates into three layers. I have to try this!

This pattern from Birdcage and Thread on Craftsy is intended to hold Wonder Clips, but I can think of lots of great uses for a bowl that zips closed!

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

Friday Favorites No. 328

April is nearly over. Can you believe it? That means we're about to get smacked in the head by May, which has always been a crazy month in our house. I used to think it was because the kids had so much going on with the end of the school year, but even after they grew up and moved out it stayed a little nuts. Maybe it's the transition into better weather so there's more to do. If that's the case, I'm in. Bring on the crazy.

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If you have a kid who likes to carry around a little buddy, and all of said buddy's stuff, this backpack from Crazy Little Projects would be a great gift. Just make sure that backpack is comfortable for you to carry as well, because you know you're gonna.

These bag handles from So Sew Easy are pretty, and a great way to use up some fabric scraps.

What I like the most about these kitchen printables from The Happy Housie is that the background on each makes it look a bit like cross-stitch or embroidery, without the long hours of stitching.

I know it hasn't been very long since I featured a peanut butter dessert here, but just look at these stuffed cookies from Delish. Who could say no to those?

You really have to see the whole line of word jewelry from vanessahandmade on Etsy, but the cheerful orange of this one was my favorite.

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

Friday Favorites No. 327

I’m about to embark on the longest trip I’ve ever taken away from home, both in time and distance.  It’s also my first time flying directly out of the country – the other times I’ve been out of the U.S. I was on a cruise ship. I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve never crossed the Atlantic. I’ve never spent an entire day flying. But all that isn’t even the most exciting part.  I get to see my son again! The last time I saw him in person was at the Portland airport last May. I absolutely cannot wait. It's kind of a miracle I'm not already sitting at the airport right now.

Monday is the big day, and I'll be gone until late May. Since I didn't want you left with nothing new to look at all that time, I've scheduled a new Friday Favorites for each week while I'm away. When I return I'll be sharing some photos from my trip (which will hopefully include an Italian fabric shop!) and new projects and ideas that are already waiting in the wings!

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If you're like me, and love the look of a sliding barn door but don't really have a place to put one, Shanty2Chic has a solution for us. This nightstand has the style without the need for so much square footage.

Necklaces made from yarn can get a little warm to wear, which is why I think this one from Chabe Patterns is a perfect transition piece for spring. 

Fruit pizzas are one of my very favorite desserts (and that's saying a lot). I particularly love that Hungry Happenings used strawberries and kiwi to make this one look like a watermelon.

I've made homemade tortillas before, although not as often as my husband would like. I've never thought to make them flavored, but thanks to Amanda's Cookin', now I know how.

A while back I shared with you how I made notepads using a padding compound I'd found. I recently discovered that Chica and Jo also sell it in colors! As I write this, they only have red available. So many great project possibilities with this! **Edit - Now there's purple too!**

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

Friday Favorites No. 326

I've been so busy trying to get all my ducks in a row for my trip, I didn't even realize Easter was almost here. I knew it was this month, but that's about it. I guess it's time to come up with a plan, huh? I'm pretty sure all the ideas here could still be pulled off in time!

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I love the idea of coloring Easter eggs with natural dyes. I've talked about it here before, but I've still never tried it. I would never have guessed what Honestly Yum used to make this brilliant turquoise.

I know this centerpiece from Southern Living looks complicated, but what I was intrigued by was the carrots hanging underneath. I don't think "arrangement of your choice" on top means you have to DIY it, does it?

This project from Landeelu is a great example of how you can spruce up plastic eggs to use as decor.  Besides the baker's twine, you could use yarn, rope or even twisted fabric instead.

These yummy-looking ham and cheese scones from Baker by Nature would be perfect for an Easter brunch. Making a note on my grocery list. Ham, cheese, scallions...

If you have kids to entertain on Easter, and these coloring pages from Juliya S on Creative Market are a great way to do that. They're printable, so you can either make a book for their Easter basket, or just print out a few of your favorites to leave on the table with some crayons or colored pencils. In fact, I might need some of these myself!

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

April Hoop Art of the Month - Robin's Nest

This month's hoop art was inspired by a photo I shared on my Instagram last spring.

We have a tall Japanese maple near our garage, and a Robin build her nest on a branch that was very close to it. I couldn't believe she wasn't scared away, since that's where we come and go, but she stuck with it until those blue eggs hatched into these hungry babies. 

All four eggs hatched and were cared for by their mom until they learned how to use their wings and left the nest. If that's not a reason the commonly used term "Mama Bear" should instead be "Mama Robin" I don't know what is. Her persistence was admirable. 

Speaking of persistence, let's talk about the hoop art. This one has been on the list since the beginning, I just didn't know what I would use to make it. This is the first one that hasn't involved sewing or fabric, and I wanted to keep it that way. I considered several options, even going as far as buying supplies at the craft store, then returning them once I realized I hadn't hit the nail on the head. I couldn't be happier with the final result though, and can't wait to show you how it was made!

To make this one you'll need:

  • 6" embroidery hoop
  • cardboard, larger than the hoop
  • decorative eggs or painted wood eggs
  • feathers
  • jute rope (1/4" in diameter, 4 ply)
  • ribbon (for hanging)
  • hot glue gun

Trace the outside of the hoop onto the cardboard. Cut out just inside the line.. You can use recycled cardboard, but make sure the area facing up doesn't have print on it in case it shows through the rope.  Tighten the hardware on the hoop that holds the inner ring in. Glue the cardboard onto the back of the hoop.

Starting from the outside of the circle, glue the rope to the cardboard, spiraling toward the center.  The reason I didn't give you a quantity for the rope is because it can vary wildly, depending on how tightly you glue it together.

Make sure the center is filled in with rope.

Spiral from the center back to the outside edge, gluing a new row of rope on top of the previous, so your rope is two layers thick. You can see how I didn't worry too much about making sure the first go-round was tight or twisted correctly, because I knew it would be covered. I was more careful on the second row.

Glue rope to the front of the hoop, which should fit two rows wide.  Add another row on top of those, centered on the first two, to build up the height.

Wrap the rope around the outer edge of the hoop to cover, continuing to glue as you go. Cut the rope and tuck the end between layers and glue.

Glue the feathers in place.  I know, these are not robin feathers. I just couldn't find that section at the craft store.

I intended to buy wooden eggs and paint them myself, but when I saw eggs that looked exactly like I pictured, I took the out. They aren't quite as pretty as wood would be, but they are lighter, so probably less likely to drag my hoop down.

Glue the eggs on so they cover the ends of the feathers.

Tie some ribbon around the top to hang, or if you prefer, lay it on a flat surface.

I don't think this will fool Mama Bird, but maybe she'll see it as a welcome sign. There's no better way to celebrate spring than to wait for new babies!

Update on Custom Ordering

I just wanted to check in this weekend to let you know that there is only one week left to order custom items from my shops. Custom items will remain available through Saturday, April 15, 2017 then they won’t be open again until late May.

Ready-to-ship items will remain available and will ship out on a bi-weekly basis.

I will be available for questions and conversations, although my replies may be slightly delayed due to time zone differences.

If you’re interested in the why, my son serves in the Navy, and left a year ago to serve at a small base in Gaeta, Italy. My husband and I haven’t seen him in person since then, and now have the opportunity to stay with him for a month. The base he works at has no housing, so he has his own three bedroom apartment. We’ve never been to Europe, so I’m thrilled for the chance to visit, but as you might imagine I’m even more excited to spend time with my kid.

I'll be back next week to share this month's Hoop Art, and I LOVE how it turned out!

Friday Favorites No. 325

The weather has finally taken a turn for the better here. A little less rain, a little more sun. I have my front door open as I write this, for the first time since last fall. Isn't it amazing what a little sunshine can do for your mood? Bring on more!

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This crocheted blanket from Dusty Geest on Ravelry looks cozy and is perfect for the spring season. Hey, not everyone wants a mermaid tail!

I love how this sign from Eighteen 25 has a modern look, while still keeping bright spring colors. 

I've seen lots of versions of drawstring bunny bags lately. I mean, those ears just make it perfect, right? Check out this one from We All Sew.

I'll admit, depending on the day I'm pretty easily amused, but these cookies from The Decorated Cookie cracked me up. Ba-dum-bum.

If you're making a stuffed animal for an Easter basket, there's no rule that says it has to be a bunny, or a chick, or a lamb. While there are plenty of sweet patterns for those out there, I vote for this dragon from Sweetbriar Sisters at Fabric.com.

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!