New Year’s Eve Memory Page

When my daughter started college in the fall, she mentioned that she thought it would be fun to write down some of the things she’s thinking, feeling and doing right now so she can look at it again when she graduates to see how she’s changed.  That’s something I’ve always wished I would have done with the kids for the new year, so I decided it’s never too late.  I made up a sheet with different prompts they can fill out, then stash away for blackmail material later.  I mean, share with them when they’re older, mature young adults.

Here’s the printable (click image to download PDF):

These are the categories I used, and what I had in mind for each.  Of course, you can interpret them any way you’d like.

  • The upper left box is for a current photo
  • Listening – music
  • Watching – TV, movies
  • Reading – books, magazines
  • Loving – important people
  • Surfing – favorite websites or online activities
  • Creating – music, art, sports, writing, etc. -  I feel like this could be a broad category
  • Enjoying – hobbies, clubs, etc.
  • Eating – favorite foods and drinks
  • Waiting – future hopes and goals
  • Admiring – people influencing their lives
  • Achieving – notable accomplishments
  • Being – a brief self-description
  • Feeling – that one’s probably self-explanatory
  • Hoping – what they’re wishing for
  • Wearing – favorite clothes, shoes, etc.
  • Believing – what they believe in

You’ll notice most of the boxes are pretty small.  I thought about spreading this over a couple of pages, but realized I had a better chance of participation if it didn’t look like I was assigning winter break homework. 

Have a safe, happy New Year!

Melted Snowman Ornament

When I’m inspired by something, especially when I want to re-pin it or talk about it here, I make a huge effort to find the original source of the project.  It’s often not as obvious as it seems.  Greta Gluegun makes a project and happens to take a better picture than the original, and suddenly that idea is attributed to Greta.  There’s nothing wrong with sharing that great photo, but I like to make sure the person who first had the light bulb go on over their head gets credit…

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Fire Starter Hostess Gift

I’m starting to feel that anxiety of a busy week coming up.  I don’t mind the chaos.  In fact, I sometimes like a little crazy.  The part that makes me tense is the thought that I’ll forget something important.  When there’s so much to do, something is bound to slip through the cracks (FYI – as I was typing this I wrote “crafts” instead of “cracks” – psychoanalyze that!). One of the things I want to make sure to remember is a hostess gift for Thanksgiving.  My husband is still away and my sister invited me and my kids to spend the holiday with her family.  Hosting Thanksgiving is no small task, so I want to thank her properly.  Before you think I’m giving away the surprise here, this isn’t the gift I decided on, but I love it and wanted to share it with you anyway.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 1
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 1

Everywhere we have lived has had either a fireplace or a woodstove.  I love being able to have a fire in the winter.  What I do not enjoy is wading up balls of newspaper to start it.  I decided instead to make something I could just grab out of a basket and throw in under some kindling.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 2
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 2

To make the fire starters, I used cardboard rolls.  Mine are toilet paper rolls, but you could also cut down a paper towel roll or the center from the wrapping paper.  Speaking of gift wrap, you’ll need some of that too.   You’ll also need some cotton string and something flammable to stuff inside, like shredded paper.  I’ve even seen these made with dryer lint.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 3
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 3

I used shredded paper for mine.  I also wadded up pieces of the instructions that come wrapped around interfacing and stuffed that in the ends of the tube so the shred wouldn’t fall out while I was working with it.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 4
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 4

Cut the gift wrap into pieces about 6” by 10”.  Starting from the larger side, roll it around the stuffed tube.  Secure with a small piece of tape.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 5
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 5

Squish the ends just above the tube and tie with a 6” piece of string at each end.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 6
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 6

To use, simply stick a couple under some small pieces of dry wood…

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 7
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 7

…and light the ends.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 8
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 8

I normally use a butane lighter to start a fire, but I thought something prettier would make this a better gift.  The Burlap Bag had shared a match jar project that was exactly what I was looking for.  The only changes I made were to not cut a hole in the top and use the lid insert under the sandpaper.  I actually had a partial box of strike anywhere matches that I’m pretty sure has been around our house through most of our marriage.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 9
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 9

After I made the first batch of these using Christmas wrap, I happened to find some wood grain print paper at Target.  Now they’re perfect!

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 10
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 10

Throw in a few dried pinecones and you have a gift that’s both functional and pretty – if your hostess can bring herself to actually burn it.  The wood grain starters will probably still be sitting on my hearth in April.

Fire Starter Hostess Gift 11
Fire Starter Hostess Gift 11

Glass Block Bookends

They say it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey that matters.  Or something like that.  For me, when it comes to crafting, I think it’s mostly about the destination.  I usually enjoy the process, but there better be a prize at the bottom of that cereal box.  There almost wasn’t this time.

Glass Block Bookends 1
Glass Block Bookends 1

Since it’s about the journey, I’ll fill you in on how this disaster turned into a win.  As part of my living room makeover my husband built new shelves on both sides of our fireplace, along with a massive mantle.  That’s a lot of places to put stuff.  I, however, am not good at figuring out what stuff to put where.  For that reason, I’ve been very slow to fill those shelves.

The one thing I knew for sure I wanted was some books.  Pretty books.  My daughter had recently discovered a leather bound classics series, so I started collecting them.  As you can see from the photo, I’m still working on that, with ordinary hard covers with the jackets removed standing in for now. 

Speaking of standing, even big books fall over, so I set out to make myself some book ends.  I’ve used glass blocks before, like on my Glass Block To-Do List, and I happened to find some that were the perfect size.  I planned to use glass etching cream to add some sort of design.  So I bought this.

Glass Block Bookends 2
Glass Block Bookends 2

Just so you know, despite the fact that it says “Etch windows, glass, mirrors and styrene” on the side, this is NOT glass etching cream.  If you look very closely, it says “etched glass look.”  It’s paint.  Poor packaging and almost no instructions, so I took it back and sought out a different brand that is actually etching cream.  I’m almost over it.

After some brain storming, my son and I came up with the phrases you see on the blocks in the photo.  I printed them out on paper, taped that to some old Contact paper, and spent a couple of hours painstakingly cutting them out with an Exacto knife.

Glass Block Bookends 3
Glass Block Bookends 3

I carefully centered each one onto a block, after keeping track of the center of letters like a and o.  If you’re interested in using these words for a project, you can download the PDF here.

Glass Block Bookends 4
Glass Block Bookends 4

I applied the etching cream according to the instructions and left it on for 60 seconds.

Glass Block Bookends 5
Glass Block Bookends 5

I rinsed it off, removing the stencils as I did.  I set them aside to let them dry and this is what I came back to.

Glass Block Bookends 6
Glass Block Bookends 6

Yes, they are almost blank.  After some foot stomping, I grabbed the etching cream and brushed it on freehand, since my stencils were toast.  I left that on overnight, which turned out like this.

Glass Block Bookends 7
Glass Block Bookends 7

I think the problem is that the etching cream bottle says it doesn’t work on Pyrex (although I’ve seen many comments online to the contrary) and these are probably similar.  Now what?  Put them in the sewing room and ignore them for a couple of weeks, that’s what. 

My next genius idea was to buy a couple of sheets of vinyl and cut out the words with the Exacto knife.  I came to my senses before I even attempted that one.

I moved on to glass paint.  What harm could I do at this point?  I bought a paint pen and followed the outline created by the etching.  They aren’t perfect, but unless you get up close, which isn’t going to happen often, you can’t really tell.

Glass Bookends 8
Glass Bookends 8

These blocks have a plug, which can be removed so you can fill them with something.  I thought of several options, but finally settled on The Black Marbles.  When my husband and I were first married, we bought some clear table lamps.  We thought they’d look great filled with black marbles, so over the course of a few months, we gathered about 40 pounds of them.  We always said if someone broke into the house we were going to throw the lamps at them because those things weighed a TON.  The lamps are long gone, but the marbles made a great black backdrop for the white writing on my bookends and the added weight is actually a plus here.

Glass Bookends 9
Glass Bookends 9

I think I appreciate this project just a little more because the road to get here was long and full of bumps.

Glass Bookends 10
Glass Bookends 10

Maybe that means it really is about the journey…even in crafting.

Glass Block Bookends 11
Glass Block Bookends 11

Printables and Padding Compound

I’m a list maker.  My memory is a little hit-and-miss, so it’s really the only way I can keep track of what I need to do.  I do it so often, it’s a family joke.  The funniest part is when my adult and nearly-adult kids come and ask me for a packing list when they’re about to go somewhere.  They’re broken.

Because I make so many lists, I go through a lot of paper.  I’ve tried cutting up scratch paper and just using it as I need it, or securing a stack with a binder clip, but something is missing.  I think I like the ripping sound it makes when I tear off a completed list and triumphantly throw it in the trash.

Padding Compound 1
Padding Compound 1

A few months ago, I came across a project on Chica and Jo that had my name written all over it.  They were making notepads with something called padding compound.  Making my own notepads?  Out of whatever I want?  I was so in.

I finally got around to ordering the padding compound from Chica and Jo through Amazon (affiliate link). It’s $7.99 for a bottle.  I waited, as I always do, until I had a large enough order for free shipping.  It took the tiniest amount to make the three pads, so this is a great value.  It seems like I could make a million of these before I run out, but Chica and Jo have kindly provided an estimation guide that says it’s more like 120.  I took this photo AFTER I made the pads shown.

Padding Compound 2
Padding Compound 2

I’ve never been happy with the size of the grocery shopping list pads I’ve bought before, so getting to make my own in a larger size made me pretty happy.  You can download that printable here.

Padding Compound 3
Padding Compound 3

I named my to-do list What To Do, because it sounds less bossy than To Do.  There are three pages to this printable, which you can download here.  That’s mostly because I like to play with fonts, and wanted to use all the graphics I drew for my blog.

Padding Compound 4
Padding Compound 4

Making these couldn’t be easier.  Print out as many pages as you’d like on regular paper and cut them to size.  I went with about 40 pages per pad.  If you’d like the back solid, like a pad you’d buy, also cut a piece of cardboard the same size.

Padding Compound 5
Padding Compound 5

Clamp the pages together with a couple of binder clips.  If you want to protect the top page from excess compound, you can put a piece of cardboard or popsicle sticks (which I read about in the comments on Chica and Jo’s blog) at the top edge.  I’m storing the sticks with the compound so I can just use the same ones every time.

Padding Compound 6
Padding Compound 6

The next step is to brush the padding compound onto the top edge of the pad with a small brush.  My binder clips were very large, so I didn’t have any trouble getting the brush in there, but you may want to try clipping from the side if yours are smaller. 

I ended up leaving this overnight, but from what I understand it dries quickly.  I removed the clips and added a second coat.

Padding Compound 7
Padding Compound 7

After that dried, it was just a matter of peeling off the popsicle sticks and the pads were finished!

Padding Compound 8
Padding Compound 8

I’m anxious to make more, especially with the holidays coming up.  These could be personalized or make from scrapbooking paper, and combined with a cute pen, would make a useful teacher’s gift.  Actually, these would make a great, inexpensive gift for anyone.

Don’t make the mistake I did though.  I put one on my desk and one in my sewing room, so I had two lists going at the same time.  It was pure chaos.

Mousekeeping Tip Envelope

I am extremely appreciative of the housekeeping staff whenever we travel.  One of my favorite things about leaving home is that I get a break from all my usual cleaning duties, so the people willing to do it for me are my heroes.  We always make sure to leave a tip when we check out, but I never thought to leave it in something cute.

My friend Erika sent me a link to a cute envelope someone had made to leave a tip for the housekeeping staff at Disneyland, otherwise known as Mousekeeping.  When we were planning for our recent trip, I decided to come up with one of my own.  I thought Mickey’s wizard hat from Fantasia was appropriate.  I was able to make this using only simple shapes in MS Publisher.  The font is Waltograph and can be found at Dafont.

Mousekeeping 1
Mousekeeping 1

Just click on the image below to download the printable PDF.  Print out on white cardstock.

Mousekeeping 2
Mousekeeping 2

Cut out, cutting around the two yellow tabs at the bottom and carefully cutting the two black slits just above the writing.  Cut around the top of the ears and hat only above the faint yellow line (do not cut the line).  I found the best way to do this was with an Exacto knife.

Fold in at the bottom of the red area and at the faint yellow line.  Tape or glue the sides of the red area closed.  Slip in the cash (I promise we left them more than $1 – this was for the photo)…

Mousekeeping 3
Mousekeeping 3

…tuck the tabs into the slots and leave somewhere for Mousekeeping to find.

Mousekeeping 4
Mousekeeping 4

I’m anxiously looking forward to the next time I can make use of one of these envelopes!

Disney Dreaming–Bleach Pen and Reverse Applique T-Shirts

This all started because I found a hole in one of my favorite t-shirts.  It has all the qualities I love in a T, and the hole was front and center, obvious, and not fixable.  I’ve been wanting to try both bleach pens and reverse applique, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Besides, we’re going to Disneyland at the end of the month to celebrate our daughter’s graduation from high school, so an appropriately decorated shirt is in order.

shirts 1
shirts 1

My original plan was to trace around the mouse head with a bleach pen to create kind of a glow, then move on to the reverse applique.  But I learned something very important:  bleach pens go bad.  I thought it wasn’t working because my red shirt has synthetic fibers in it, so I pulled out the black T, which is cotton, and tried it.  I ended up letting them both sit all night and not one bit of dye was lifted the next morning.  After a trip to the store for a new bleach pen I was much more successful.

I started by printing the design I wanted to use on the non-shiny side of a piece of freezer paper.  I’ve done this many times with no problem, but this time I jammed up my printer.  Make sure your paper is lying flat before feeding it through.  Cut out the shape and iron the shiny side onto the shirt.  Also iron a piece larger than your design to the opposite side to prevent the bleach from bleeding through to the back.  I also slide a piece of cardboard inside the shirt for extra protection and to give me a flat surface.

shirts 2
shirts 2

If you have a design with more than one piece, I recommend using the paper you cut away as a placement guide, like I did with the dragonfly I made on the black shirt.

shirts 2.5
shirts 2.5

Shake the bleach pen well, then draw a thick, even line around the outside of the shape.  Keep in mind if you have very many lines to draw that what you drew first will fade the most.  Rinse the bleach off thoroughly.

shirts 3
shirts 3

The amount of time you need to wait for the color to lift can vary.  I let this sit on the red shirt for 10 – 15 minutes, and the change was still pretty light.  I only had to leave it on the black shirt for a couple of minutes.  I originally planned to reverse applique the wings on the dragonfly, but I liked the orangey-red color it was turning so much I filled them in with a swirl pattern instead.

shirts 4
shirts 4

I continued on with the mouse though.  For reverse applique, you need to sew a piece of fabric underneath your design and cut away the inside fabric on top.  I went with some black ribbed knit I had left over from a pajama project.  Cut a piece larger than your design.

shirts 5
shirts 5

Pin the fabric to the back of the design.  LOTS of pins.  I found sliding my small cutting board inside the shirt helped a lot.  It kept everything flat and I didn’t have to worry about accidentally pinning through the back.

shirts 6
shirts 6

Stitch around the design.  I stitched just inside the bleach line with a small zigzag, so everything could still stretch.  If you are a beginning sewist, I wouldn’t recommend a design with this many curves.  It was tough to keep from stretching the fabric.

shirts 7
shirts 7

Turn the shirt inside out and cut away some of the added fabric.  Be sure not to cut the shirt or stitches.

shirts 8
shirts 8

Turn the shirt back right side out and use a small, sharp pair of scissors to cut away the t-shirt fabric inside the stitching.  The hole in the my shirt turned out to be useful, since it gave me a starting point.

shirts 9
shirts 9

Cut all the way around, close to but not through your stitching. 

shirts 10
shirts 10

I felt like my Mickey was more of a Minnie, so I made her a little bow and sewed it through both layers.

shirts 11
shirts 11

I’m completely hooked on both of these techniques, and have already been searching my closet for more holey shirts.  I don’t know what the actual life span of a bleach pen is, but I have a feeling this one won’t find out.

shirts 12
shirts 12

Graduation Cap Cash Box

My husband and I have 24 nieces and nephews, with a large portion of them clustered in the middle school-high school-college range right now.  Needless to say, there’s always someone graduating.  This year, it’s one of our nephews who lives with us.  Like his cousins before him, he’s getting money, the universal “Welcome to the adult world” gift...

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Knitting Knobby Necklace

If you’re not familiar with what a knitting knobby is, maybe you know it by another name, such as corking, Bizzy Lizzy, spool knitter, knitting mushroom, Knitting Nancy or French Knitting.  If none of those ring a bell, I might be sounding a little crazy by now.  But this is a craft that has been around for a very long time, and if you didn’t try it as a kid, it’s never too late…

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