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!

DIY Easter Egg Fillers (that aren't candy!)

I'm making my third appearance on Afternoon Live today! No glue gun this time, so my nerves are a little calmer. My advice to anyone demonstrating a craft on live television is don't rely on a tool that has a questionable track record when no one is watching, because it's really going to act up when they are. 

(And here's the video, to prove I survived!)

Speaking of acting up, my topic today is things you can make to fill those kidlets' Easter eggs without adding to the day's sugar rush. I'm not against a few sweets, but we've all seen that flurry of Sunday clothes and plastic grass that happens when the safe jelly bean level has been exceeded. How about some ideas that not only have zero impact on their calm, but can also be fun to make? Here's a sneak peek!

Bracelet Kit

Let's start with one that takes nothing but a trip to the craft store (or possibly just your craft room).  This is a good one for either big kids or little, just adjust your contents accordingly.

Gather beads, buttons, charms or any other trinket you can put on a string. Add some sort of twine or cord. Be sure there's some way to hook the ends, either with a macrame style loop and knot or, as I did, a lanyard hook and a key ring.  Another nice addition is a large, blunt needle, just be sure it will fit through the beads.

You can throw everything directly into a plastic egg, but keep in mind they won't know what's inside and won't open it with the care required, so you'll be looking for beads for days. I prefer to put the kit into a small plastic bag and put that inside the egg. 

Mini Paper Airplanes

There are two ways you can package these. Either fold the plane, if it's going to someone that doesn't quite have the dexterity required yet, or just cut out the rectangle and slip that into the egg for a DIY plane.  You can print the ones I used here.

You don't even have to print these. You can cut a 2 1/2 x 2 3/4" rectangle from a magazine or even the right junk mail!

Seeds and Plant Markers

This is another super-easy one, and adjustable to the age and ability level of your recipient. Simply buy a package of seeds and add a popsicle stick or wooden ice cream spoon. You can either pre-decorate the stick as a plant marker, or let the kiddo do it (my personal preference!) I have great memory of a very tall sunflower my own little one grew one Easter.

Homemade Crayons and Printable Coloring Book

My kids used to have a big container of random crayon bits. Anything that was broken or without a wrapper went into it. My daughter actually took it with her when she left home. Those crayon box rejects would be perfect for making your own crayons.

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Peel the wrappers off the crayons. Since I didn't have the tub anymore, I started with a box of 24, which took me an HOUR to peel. They mean for those things to stay wrapped. Break up the crayons and fill the cavities of a silicone mold. I recommend placing the mold on a cookie sheet, because trying to pull the floppy thing out of the oven when the wax has melted is impossible. Fact.

Bake for about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Remove the crayons from the oven when they're just melted. Cool and pop out of the molds.

You can print the mini coloring book I made here. Try not to make fun of my art. 

You can also make your own - all it takes is a piece of paper and a black pen!

Wood Emoji Eggs

You can find wooden eggs in any craft store, in a variety of sizes. For these, I just painted them yellow with some craft paint, then added the faces with paint pens and a Sharpie.

Another option is to give the kids the bare eggs and some paint and help them create something fun.

Printable Egg Coupons

These might look like a little thing, but they have some big redemption possibilities. No chores for a whole day? A new book? Dinner of your choice? Sign me up. 

You can print out the ones I made here, or these blank eggs so you can write in your own.

Washcloth Bunny

Last but not least, I'm bringing back a little guy I shared in the olden days of the first month of this blog. I added a little tail there that I'm not doing today, so you can check that out there. All you need is a washcloth, a rubber band and a piece of ribbon to get started.

A small egg fits nicely on his back, which would be fun to fill with bath crayons or soap. I like that you can take him apart after the holiday and still use the washcloth. By the way, this idea also works with cloth napkins to decorate your Easter table.

There you are, and not a chocolate bunny or Cadbury egg in sight! I'd love to hear your ideas for filling those Easter eggs while keeping the level of sweets below DEFCON 1.  

Cross your fingers for me today - I'll be back with a link to the video after it's posted!

Friday Favorites No. 324

Here we are, at the end of March, so the crafting world has turned its attention to the next big day on the calendar - Easter. Who are we kidding? That happened the moment the last of the Valentine's candy disappeared. I always feel we're a little more justified in doing that than the big retailers because, hey, it takes time to make stuff!

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Aren't these bunnies from Red Ted Art sweet? I think the main thing that drew me to them was the combination of fabrics. They look soft and cuddly, but that pop of color inside the ears really makes them stand out. 

This fold-away table from Woodworking for Mere Mortals would be a great solution to a lack of work space in a small sewing or craft room. I love how it looks like a window with shutters when it's down. On a side note, literally, how great are those crate bookshelves to the left?

You can file this egg-collecting apron from Heart Hook Home under things I didn't know I needed but are kinda awesome. Put it right next to a chicken coup with a red door.

Oh, Cadbury Creme Eggs. Thank goodness you're only around to taunt me once a year. Maybe I can squash that craving with these brownies from Cincy Shopper.

This festive pattern from TheSweetwaterCo on Etsy would be great for decorating the Easter brunch table. And each of your guests can take their carrot home! If I were you, I'd keep that bunny though... ;-)

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

 

Friday Favorites No. 323

After a crummy week of trying to deal with the pain of an injured shoulder, I have something to celebrate today. It's exactly one month until we leave to go visit our son in Italy! We last saw him nearly a year ago, so we're over-the-moon excited for this trip. I'll apologize in advance, but it might be all I can talk about until we go!

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Denim is back in a big way this year, and not just in a two-legged kind of way. I've seen LOTS of home decor items and accessories sporting the blue. The Unfashionista shares a way to bring it into a different part of your wardrobe, and rehab a pair of old shoes in the process.

Why is something that's outside its normal size so compelling? Tiny, huge, it's just different from what we're used to. As a book lover I'm especially drawn to these big free printables from The Painted Hive.

I know the photo looks a little holiday-ish, but I just bought a bottle of pear vodka made by a local distillery, and while I was looking for ways to use it I came across this tasty drink from Growing Up Gable. What I like about this recipe is that there aren't a ton of other ingredients, so that pear flavor gets to shine.

I've bought pre-marinaded chicken and popped it into the freezer for another day, so why have I never thought to make my own? These recipes from Sweet Peas and Saffron all sound delicious. She also gives some marinating advice, and serving ideas for each flavor.

The candle shown here is from Define Design 11 at Handmade at Amazon. This happens to be the Oregon version (from an Oregon seller), but they seem to have most, if not all, the other states as well. Each candle has a scent reminiscent of it's region, and is a perfect gift for someone who's missing home.

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

March Hoop Art of the Month - Chevron Easter Egg

It's spring! It's spring! It's spring! Uh, I mean, hey, did you notice it's spring already? Yeah, me either. I'd just love a little more of that colder-than-usual weather we've had all winter, and the fact that it's been raining most of the time since September doesn't bother me. At. All. Did they come up with that sarcasm punctuation mark they were talking about? I sure could use one right about now.

I didn't let what's happening outside stop me from celebrating the springiest of holidays with this month's hoop art, but it did have a rocky start. I knew I wanted to make an Easter egg with an oval hoop. The first version was a fail, because my hands could NOT get a grasp on what brain was trying to do. It just wasn't working, so I actually moved on to a different idea, but I kept looking at the hoop I'd already painted white. I realized I really had my heart set on the egg, so look for the alternate project next month, because I love it too. Today though, Easter Egg 2.0.

To make this, you'll need:

  • one 9 x 5" oval embroidery hoop
  • white paint
  • ribbon
  • felt
  • 2 1/4" fabric squares:
  • 10 pink
  • 10 blue
  • 8 purple
  • 8 green

Paint the embroidery hoop with the white paint. The only parts that are really important are the front and outside of the outer hoop. You can leave the rest unpainted. I just realized that, right now.

Match up the fabric squares so you have one row of five pink/green, one row of pink/blue, one row of blue/purple and three sets of purple/green.

Lay each pair of squares with right sides together. Draw a diagonal line in the center.

Pin the pieces together. Stitch 1/4" from either side of the line you drew.

Cut on the drawn line. Press each square open with the seam to one side.

Trim the seam tails. Repeat with the other 17 pairs. 

Lay out the squares so they look like this. You'll have one square left over.

Sew the squares into rows. Press seams.

Sew the rows together and press the seams. You don't need to worry if it's not straight because you're putting it into the hoop and no one will know. Unless you post it on the internet for all to see your saggy left side.

Cut 18" of ribbon. Wrap it around the outer hoop, centered at the top. Tie a knot just above the hoop to hold it in place.

Center the fabric on top of the inner hoop. Slide the outer hoop over the top. Adjust the fabric as needed and tighten the screw. Trim away the excess fabric at the corners on the back. It doesn't have to be precise or fancy.

Cut the felt to match the hoop.

Hot glue the felt to the back of the hoop a bit at a time, working your way around the oval and tucking in the fabric as you go.

Tie a bow or knot in the top of the ribbon for hanging.  I'm so glad I didn't give up on this little egg!

Friday Favorites No. 322

I recently did one of those home DNA tests where you spit in a tube and they tell you where your ancestors were from. After I got the results I took advantage of a two week free trial to wade through records and try to determine my heritage. After I had gone as far down that rabbit hole as I had time for, I learned two things.

One, the Native American blood I'd always been told I have, I do not. I am exactly 0% Native American. That doesn't mean it's not in my family line, but none of it made it's way to me. 

Two, I am almost entirely Irish, Scottish and English. We're talking potentially around 88% (29% is definitely Ireland), and for sure 99% European. There's some minor royalty in there, war heroes, a scoundrel or two and at least one castle. I'm hoping for a visit in the future.

So, I can honestly and definitively say I'm not just Irish today, but everyday. According to the company I used for my test, two out of three DNA test takers find they have at least 5% Irish in their results as well. That means there's a good chance that you are too.  Let's celebrate!

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Let's start off with a little fabric barrette to keep you from getting pinched, from right here on Crafty Staci!

I always feel a little guilty about throwing away the little scraps when I'm sewing, but Just Jude has a fun way you can use even the tiniest bits. Since hers is an older post, I looked up the water soluble fabric she mentions and it's still available.

This bookmark from Tikkido would be a great gift between girls of a certain age, and imagine all the color possibilities with that tail. Today, I'm thinking a rainbow.

This dessert from Amanda's Cookin' looks so fluffy and delicious. There's even a little green in there.

I've always thought this Irish blessing was lovely, but I particularly love the colors in the art that mallorylynndecor on Etsy used for this version.

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

Salt and Pepper Roasted Nuts

My husband and I both have our weaknesses when it comes to snack food. I've met very few sweet things I didn't like, while he caves to treats of a salty nature. I'm sure there's a statement on our relationship in there somewhere. 

I was in the kitchen staring down a couple of Costco bags of nuts last week and trying to figure out a simple way to make them snackable. I found lots of recipes to season them, but none of those had a method to really make everything stick. Don't you hate it when you've finished something like these and there's a pile of seasoning left at the bottom of the container?

I knew I had a couple of recipes for sweet nuts that used an egg white, and wondered if it would work as well for a savory treat. Turns out, the answer is yes!

Salt and Pepper Roasted Nuts

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 cups nuts (whatever you like - I used almonds and pecans)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (I used at least 4x this amount for my pepper fan!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whip the egg white and water until it's frothy. Toss in the nuts and stir until they're well coated. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper, adding a bit and stirring until it's distributed evenly.

Pour the nuts onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake another 10 minutes and stir again, breaking up clusters. Repeat for another 5 minutes or until the nuts are browned and dry.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container. 

Friday Favorites No. 321

Another busy week, but I feel like I was pretty productive. I figured out what I'm making for my next appearance on Afternoon Live, WHILE I was getting my grays colored. That's what I call multi-tasking. I also made a couple of things that weren't on my to-do list, possibly while ignoring things that were, but hey, when inspiration strikes you have to go with it. 

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These onesies from Make It and Love It are adorable from the front, but oh those little tails!

What I like most about this string art from Michael's is the ability to change it up with the seasons without having to re-do the whole thing.

I'm finding myself wondering if I can talk my husband into a version of this bedroom from Paint Yourself a Smile. Bonus points if you can place the movie quotes on the wall - some of my favorites are there!

I want to dip peanut butter cookies in this peanut butter cookie dough dip from Debi Talks. Too much?

I love Kona solid cotton fabric, and I just discovered this color chart panel at Fabric.com, printed with swatches of the various colors and their names. I've seen this panel made into projects, like bags, which means I'm going to need one to play with and one to keep.

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

Strawberry Pincushion

If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you may have spotted this little guy last week.

Strawberry Pincushion by Crafty Staci

I thought about calling this one "Boring Strawberry Pincushion" but I was afraid you might get the wrong idea. You see, I was invited by my friends at Cut Out and Keep to create a project to represent my little hometown of Boring, Oregon. While that sounded easy at first, it isn't exactly a metropolis. We have a teeny, tiny downtown area which consists of a small handful of businesses and a grange hall. Beyond that, Boring is mostly trees and farmland.

It was the land that finally inspired me. You've heard me talk about how great our strawberries are. Well, lots of those are grown in my little town, so what better to represent us?

You can find the pattern and instructions for this pincushion at Cut Out and Keep. It isn't actual size when it comes to even the biggest strawberries. The whole thing measures about 4 1/2" tall when it's stood on end. I wanted to make sure ALL of my pins would fit.

I used my new favorite pincushion stuffing, ground walnut shells, for this one as well. The weight, and the fact that it lays on its side giving me a nice angled surface to stick pins into, makes it the perfect sewing machine companion. Not so boring after all, is it?

Friday Favorites No. 320

Is it March that the "in like a lion, out like a lamb" saying belongs to? If that's the case, I guess we're looking at a crazy end to this month, but the break from the rain and snow is appreciated for now. You've probably heard Oregon mocked for its ridiculous amount of rainfall, but we've been breaking precipitation records here lately. It isn't so much the water falling from the sky that gets to me, it's what sits on the ground. I'm so over all the mud!

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I might be the only one left who hasn't made a casserole dish carrier, but I really like the way this one from Little Bit Funky comes together. Besides, anytime I can sew and end up with a finished product in under half an hour, I'm in.

If you've considered dabbling in leather, this pretty traveler's notebook cover from Unhurried Home might be a good place to start.

Oh, how I love chimichangas, but when you're trying to avoid fried food they're not usually an option. Thanks to this baked version from The Girl Who Ate Everything, I don't have to give them up!

It's not too soon to get a jump on Easter, especially if you're making anything by hand. This woven fabric basket pattern from SundayGirlDesigns on Etsy is adorable, and would be even more so full of colorful eggs.

With no little ones in my house, I don't make a lot of stuffed things these days, but this book has me looking for a reason. Tilda's Toy Box by Tone Finnanger has so many sweet things in it I'd buy it just for the photos. I can't decide if I love this doll's hair tie, jacket or bloomers the most!

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

How to Make a Pincushion with a Frame and Crushed Walnut Shells

Did you know ground walnut shells make great pincushion filler? I was searching around for an alternative to polyester batting and found out everyone knew this but me. I thought about trying sawdust, since my husband is an occasional woodworker and it would be easy to get, but I liked how clean this option sounded. I finally got around to trying it in a couple of projects, and I don't think I'll be using anything else!

When I was gathering up items for my recent anniversary giveaway, I snagged a couple of these Create-a-Pincushion kits, keeping one for myself. The instructions call for batting, but I've worked out a way to make it using the walnut shells, and I'd love to share it with you.

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When you open up the kit, these are the pieces, plus instructions.

As you can see if you look closely at the finished product, it wasn't going to be possible to pile the shells up like you would if you use batting as instructed. Instead, I made a small container for those.

Cut a piece of muslin 7" by 3".  Fold so the two 3" edges meet, right sides together. 

Hand stitch medium length stitches with doubled thread about 3/8" from one edge.  Leave the needle and remaining thread attached. Pull tightly to gather, tie a knot and clip thread. Turn right side out.

Hand stitch the same way near remaining edge. Leave needle attached, but don't gather yet. Set the bag inside the pincushion base.  Fill with about 1/4 cup crushed shells. You may need slightly more or less, and you can adjust as needed.

Pull the thread to gather the bag. You should be able to just get it closed, but not be able to see any of the loose shells. Add a few stitches through the top to make sure it stays closed, knot the thread and clip.

Grab the fabric you're using for the outside. The pattern says to cut a 5 1/2" square, but I went with 6".  To smooth out the top, add a small handful of fiberfill before covering with the fabric.

Cover with the fabric, then roll the silicone ring into place in its notch on the pincushion base.

Adjust the fabric so it's taut and the gathers are even. Trim the fabric about 1/4 - 5/8" from the ring.

Snap the top ring on and it's ready for pins. So easy!

The ground nuts give it a good weight, so it won't move around as you're trying to use it. I like that it has some height, while I was still able to use my new favorite pincushion stuffing. Where can you get ground walnut shells? I gotcha covered - click here, and use the coupon code AHNUTS for 25% off through 3/7/17!