Thursday, December 27, 2012

South Africa Souvenirs

This summer we traveled to South Africa.  I found a few greeting cards made by a local artist using recycled objects and thought they would make a great souvenir.  Ranging from 35 to 50 Rand each (between $4 and $6 Canadian) these were a thrifty purchase.  They were small and flat and easy to pack in my suitcase, too!

I knew from the start that I wanted to frame and hang them, but I had a little trouble because the cards were a bit 3D and I quickly realized that they weren't sized to any standard North American frame.

The solution was to purchase some "adjustable depth" frames from Michaels.  These provided some addition space between the card and the glass.

They're actually a really neat idea: just pile as many mini frames behind/in front of the piece of art as you like and get the depth you need.

I mounted each card on burlap printed scrapbooking paper trimmed to fit.

Right now the pictures are hanging in our 1970s rec room,  ready to be the inspiration for a modern makeover to that floor of the house.  I'm so very pleased with their cuteness and originality.

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Tis the season...for wrapping gifts

I can't believe I found the time this week, but I'm glad I did!  I wrapped with paper, tissue, tape, string, ribbon, bows, and gift bags.  After about 5 hours, my lower back started to hurt, but I kept on going for just a little bit longer.  It's not that I had a ton of things to wrap, it's just that I had a lot of crafty fun with the process.

Here are a few peeks:

1.  Plain brown dollar store gift bags + simple black stamping = cute, unique, thrifty gift wrap.
The dollar store bags come in packs of 2 or three for a dollar.  The stamps are from Michael's for about $1.50 each.

2.  I've used the same ornament for about 4 or 5 weddings now, but I still love it.  The mirrored decoration is from the home decor aisle of the dollar store.  I wrinkled up and re-flattened tissue paper for the innermost layer, wrapped that in polka-dotted cellophane and wrapped that all up with a 2m x 40cm piece of silvery tulle.

Full Disclosure: Not everything got wrapped, I must admit.  In an act of true classiness, I handed two of my colleagues their gifts "wrapped" in the brown paper bags they came in from the LCBO. :)  They didn't seem to mind one bit!  Wrap some, leave some: it's all about balance, I guess. ;)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mug Shots

I kept seeing this little craft on Pinterest, and after my sister-in-law tried it, I just had to see for myself how it worked.

We have had a run of bad luck with breaking dishes lately.  More specifically, we're busting more mugs than a punch-drunk boxer.  So I decided to get Dan some coffee cups for Christmas.  I love it when a gift can be practical and personal at the same time.

I like to drink from soup-bowl sized vessels, but Dan prefers small cups that he can refill so the coffee stays hot.  I found two cute little cappuccino cups in the housewares section at Zehr's (a local grocery store) for $3.00 each.

A few minutes with a Sharpie marker and a half-hour in the oven at 350 degrees produced these:

I was too excited to wait until Christmas with all of the presents under our tree, so I've been getting Dan to open a gift a day for a while now!

I sense a coffee date on the couch in our near future.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hello again.

One hundred and forty-three days!  It has been one hundred and forty-three days since I last posted on this blog.  This was not an intentional fast, but more likely a sign that it has been a busy fall.  Now, on my first day of Christmas vacation, I'm knocked out on the couch with a cold.  What a perfect time to upload some photos from my camera and take a look at what I've been up to.

First things first: back to that Knobbly Noggin toque I posted back on August 1.  That was made with leftovers from this blanket:

Can you see the bumpy texture?  I thought it was a lot of fun.  I started off following a "Ruffles and Dots" pattern I found online.  I thought this big ball of yarn would be more than enough to complete the job.

The big chunky ball, however, disappeared before the blanket was square.

So rather than attempting to match dye lots, I decided to go funky and mix red and pink.

I didn't have enough yarn left to do the ruffled border from the original pattern (ruffles are yarn gobblers!), so I finished it off with a scallop border.

It ended up being a pretty big baby blanket for my cousin's baby girl, Shiloh, but hopefully she'll be able to enjoy it as a play mat as well.

The lesson in this little crochet adventure: starting with a plan is a good idea, but being flexible when the yarn runs out is how to get things done. ;)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Name This Pattern!

Hello!?  What is this strange creature ambling across my deck boards?

Straight from the so-bizarre-it's-cute category, here is the hat I made last week with some leftover scraps.

The puff stitch is a good one to know.  It's so easy, too: if you're crocheting dc's, use tc's for your puff stitch.  Just start making multiple stitches in the same dc from the row below and it'll start puffing out for you.

The basic pattern here is 4dc, 4tc in the next dc, repeated around and around and around.  It's that easy!  I will post a pattern once I find out how it fits the baby I made it for.

The hat is currently on its way to its recipient, along with a larger project.  I'll post the other project once I'm sure the giftees have seen it first.

But for now, this hat needs a clever name.  Any great ideas?  Submit them by leaving a comment below.

I'm sharing this post at several of the link parties featured on the right-hand-side of my blog.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Table Upgrade

Today was Spraypaint Saturday 2012.  (You didn't know it was Spraypaint Saturday?  Oh, don't worry: neither did I until the whim struck mid-afternoon!)  I had 4 projects on the go.  Take a look at project number one.

The biggest project of the day was an IKEA table upgrade.  A before shot would have been a good idea, but I guess I missed that step.  This came from Dan's bachelor pad: can you guess why it had been relegated to the basement storage room?

No, he's not a hobbyist butcher or anything.  It's a combination of tea and black cherry juice stains.  Pretty gross.
Step One was to sand the table top.  The stains were significantly reduced with some 100-grit sandpaper (leftover from my ongoing dresser redo) and then I wiped down the table with a damp, dish-soapy rag.

Step Two was to give the table a skirt, made of newspaper and painter's tape.  I had fun reading the sale flyers while I made the skirt (they only arrived this morning; there are some good deals at Shoppers Drug Mart this week, by the way).

I got smart this time and saved what's left of our sunburned lawn with plastic drop sheet.

Step Three was to prime the table top.  This was my first time using a spray-on primer.  It is surprisingly messy stuff!

Now, the original plan was to paint the tabletop with the leftover Peacock Blue cabinet paint, but when I read the labels on the spray cans and realized that I could spray over top of the primer after only 20 minutes, well...I grabbed some leftover black paint and made quick work of it.

Ta da!  My sophisticated, stain-free table is complete.  This is the start of the craft corner set-up in our rec room.
What is that black thing on the left?  It's Project Number Two, which should be dry enough to hang and share tomorrow.

Project Cost:
$0.00 for a table from the furnace room
$5.00 for a can of primer
$4.00 for 2/3 can of black spray paint
$2.00 for the drop cloth
$11.00 craft table!  Hooray!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Painting Week Begins

On Saturday, the plan for the coming week was to finally get to painting our bedroom.  On Sunday, we found this cabinet at a vintage furniture store, and the plan changed a bit.  (Summer days are long, so a short attention span is okay, okay?) 

The cabinet was in definite need of a makeover, but it had definite potential: all of the drawers slid smoothly and had stoppers to hold them in place.  The door hinges and latch worked well...and it had a complete set of hardware.  Also, it fit into the back of our 2-door hatchback, which I took as a sign that it was meant to come home with us.

Yesterday was Part One of the makeover process.  I removed all the hardware, scrubbed everything down with dish soap and water, sanded, applied wood filler, sanded again, and washed the whole thing down with TSP to prep the surface for painting.  The prep work is the hardest part: I took about 3 hours to get the furniture ready to paint, but hopefully that time was worth it!

I bought my first can of Benjamin Moore paint for this project.  It wasn't exactly inexpensive but it's a specially formulated product that can be applied over oil or latex, and it doesn't require a primer (and less expensive primer plus less expensive paint starts to equal more expensive paint, anyway).  Also, the colour (Peacock Blue) is gorgeous.

The dry time between coats is 16 hours.  I'm painting it in the living/dining room so that I can have the TV on while I work.  Add to that the fact that we currently have two full sets of dining furniture in there (more on that later) and it's cramped quarters in our cozy cottage.  That's a definite motivation to get this project finished!  

In the meantime, Paint Week continues.  While I'm waiting on this project, I can start the next one.  Project number two is to paint the bedroom.  I'm picking up the paint today and keeping the paint roller rolling!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Busted: First Attempts At Jewelry

I've decided I'd like to start making jewelry this summer.  One of my first attempts involved diving into a big bag of buttons I've had in my desk drawer all year.  The goal was to make a necklace.  Black and white seemed like a good place to start, since it goes with everything.  I found a Youtube tutorial that made it look so simple, and I started by laying out the buttons how I wanted them.

Things started off okay.  I used 24-gauge wire and pliers, just as the crafter in the video recommended.  But about 1/3 of the way through, it broke!

I wasn't in the mood to start over, so i turned into a pendant.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to string it on to.

Not a 100% successful first attempt, but a good start!

Monday, June 25, 2012

First Stitches

I learned how to apply fusible interfacing, using a video I found on Youtube.  It's a 7-minute video, but the good part starts around the 5:00 mark.  I thought the idea of using a wet pillowcase was pretty brilliant, so I decided to try it out.  (Works like a charm!)

Up Past My Bedtime...

Is there such thing as a sewer's high?  'Cause I think I might be on one.

This is not what I should be doing on the night before the last week of school...
...or maybe it is...
...This weekend has been a preview of the vacation that is to come!

Tada!  Cut up fabric.

Tonight, around 9:00 p.m., I:
  1. Opened a dress pattern I purchased last month.
  2. Tried to read over the instructions inside.
  3. Decided the pattern was too complicated and folded it back up.
  4. Spent an hour googling on the internet for an easier pattern.
  5. Came to the conclusion that while there may be easier patterns, there wasn't one with the same fabric requirements as the one I purchased.
  6. Decided to give it a whirl anyways, and started pinning and cutting out pattern pieces.
  7. Cut out and labelled every part of the dress that I'm making in the main colour.
  8. Folded it all neatly and put it in a Ziploc bag for tomorrow...or whatever day I decide I'm brave enough to sew.

The pattern I'm using is the Diane Kimono Dress.  So far, so good.  I figure I'm either going to end up with:
a) a great dress for traveling or;
b) super cute pyjamas.

Three hours later, I'm packing it in for the night.  If this really was summer vacation, I'd probably just stay up until I had at least most of the dress sewn together.  Ah, well.  I'll save the all-nighters for next week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NotMartha Makes NutMuffins

We have a shelf and a half of gorgeous cook books and I love looking at them.  Rarely, however, do I use a cookbook when I'm looking for an actual recipe.  I tried tonight: I found our Company's Coming: Muffins and More book on the shelf and found a banana muffin recipe right away.  Alas, the recipe called for sour cream and margarine or butter and we were a little short on all of those things.  Cook books are for lookin'; the web is for cookin'.  A quick google search for "banana muffins oil" led me to a four-star recipe on the Food Network's site.

So....not only did the muffins turn out great, but I also noticed that a magnetic clip had attached itself to the side of the muffin tin before the muffins went in the oven.  The house smells like sweet, mellow banana-y goodness, not hot melting plastic.  (Oh yeah!)

Banana Walnut Muffins.  Yum!

The one drawback to finding recipes online is that you can't rely on batter splatters to help you find the page next time you get the urge to bake your favourite treats.  Here's hoping that the recipe's still online the next time I go hunting for it.

Why I got the urge to bake tonight, I dunno.  It was a sweltering one today.  We hit 35 degrees in our classroom.  Perhaps it was a little bit warmer outside, but at least outdoors there's a breeze!  I'm trying to enjoy the last few days with my students this year, but--if this picture is any indication--I'm looking a bit rough.  Ready for the holidays!

...and of course there's nothing like a heatwave to make me want to cozy up with a big ball of yarn.  I'm eyeing up this big red fella...

...and this bobbly blanket pattern.  Hopefully I'll get it started soon!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sweet Little Dress

Hello, blogland!  I have made it through yet another round of report cards and I'm still smiling.  Of course, I'm completely exhausted and most of tonight's after-school activities have involved sitting on the couch and tinkering around on my laptop.  I've been pinning up a storm over on Pinterest, and while most of my pins revolve around Classroom Management and Organization ideas for next year, I've also found a lot of fun crafty ideas, including some goodies for my DIY Jewelry and For The Home boards. 

I've got a few crafts ready to blog, but I had finished photos of this one, so here it is!  My niece's first birthday was this weekend.  Here's part of her gift: a pink pinafore, crocheted in Bernat's Cottontots.  The pattern is called "Sunshine Baby Dress," from crochet genius Linda Permann and it's from the May-June 2010 issue of Crochet Today.  Since the pattern was written for a different kind of yarn, I swapped the recommended J hook for an H hook to make the pattern work.

I had a little fun playing around with Keynote and creating some funky photo displays (so simple).  Unfortunately, I took the photos on a very cloudy Saturday morning, so there's a few different shades of pink on display.

I like the lacy elements along the neckline...and also that this dress is worked in one continuous piece from the top down.  I'm also hoping that this can be a piece of clothing that goes from being a dress to a hippie top.  (The armholes are nice and big.)  I also think this thing feels super-comfy: it's 100% cotton and seamless!

Here's hoping it fits the birthday girl. ;)

I'm sharing this post on: Craft-o-maniac

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Thanks to Hanni from Hungary for giving me a Liebster award!  Hanni's blog is called "Hannicraft."  It is mostly crochet--gorgeous, gorgeous crochet (I love her bags!)--but she is branching out into some sewing projects as well.  

The Liebster award is a pay-it-forward deal.  Now that I have been given the award, I can pass it on to up to five blogs.  Here's my list (in no particular order!):

  1. My sister-in-law, Ashley, has taken up blogging as a hobby in recent months.   A new mom and a newbie crafter, her "Sewrite" blog is a entertaining and informative combination of crafting scrapes and successes and commentary on parenting a child with Sensory Processing Disorder.
  2. Beth @ Visions of Sugar Plums - Beth hosts a "Fibers on Friday" each week, where she invites you to post your current fiber arts projects, whether they're finished or not!  I like her "no pressure" approach. :) She also makes great socks that make me want to take up knitting.  Oh, and recently she has posted a lot of cute ideas for children's parties.
  3. My sister-in-law's sister, also named Lindsay, has a food blog that I check out every so often.  I'm delighted to find that she's crossing over into craft blogging lately (cake decorating and knitting...nice combo!) and I look forward to reading even more of that. :)
  4. My Ottawa buddy Kendra also has a food blog, called Kendra's Kitchen Musings.  She's the one who inspired me to get back on the blogwagon....and now I wish she was posting more frequently!  She writes just likes she talks--cheerful and folksy.  Take a read and I'm sure you'll be wishing you could take up a conversation with her.
I've stopped at four because most of the blogs I read have more than 200 followers...and I'm a stickler for the rules, apparently.  I guess I need to keep my eyes open for some fun new blogs out there. :)

About the Liebster scoop
The Liebster is an award presented to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. It’s about spreading some love to the little guys in blogland. The name means 'the dearest' in German. The rules are quite simple:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or fewer who you feel deserve to be noticed.
5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Garden Tour

Okay, so I need a little help here.  I'm attempting to green up my thumb this summer.  I need some help identifying some plants that are growing in my garden and some tips on what to do with the rest of them.  Here's what we've got:

This one is in okay shape.  I just wish it had more purple blooms.  Don't you like the milk can it's sitting on?  I do. :)

Our little curbside tree is greening up nicely.  What are these things called?

Here are some of the hostas I transplanted from my sister's farm yesterday.

The hanging basket on the left is blooming and beautiful.  The other one is getting too much sun?  I just drenched it in water, picked off all the dead-heads and I moved it to a shadier spot.  Hopefully that helps?

  Now we venture into the scraggly backyard.  Until last weekend, this was duck territory, so I had to abandon all hope of getting anything done back there.  I like how even the weeds look pretty when a few forget-me-nots get thrown into the mix.

Taking the prize for both the ugliest and prettiest thing in the backyard, here is the clematis that was blooming and tangled in the debris from last year.  I scooped it all up and tied it to the trellis.  I guess it will have to do for this year.

Here's the other clematis.  It hasn't bloomed yet, but it's a lovely rich purple.  I scooped it up and tied it, too.  The hole is the duck den. :)  Dan cleared it all out yesterday.

More hostas that I plunked in amidst the ground cover and some purple "stuff" at the back that I transplanted.  Anybody know what this is called?

See what I mean about prettiest and ugliest plant?

The pretty part of the clematis again.

Weeds?  What is this stuff?  I think the lighter stuff is Bishop's Weed, which we have as ground cover in the front beds.  As for the rest....please help me identify it!

What's this green stuff?  It's growing in a pot in my backyard.  Should I plant it or kill it?

Please identify these purple thingies.

There are some pink thingies beside the purple thingies.  They look similar, but the pink ones are much shorter.

...and the white ones.  Are they the same stuff, too?

Is this thyme?  (Non-edible?  And anyways it's by the sidewalk so everybody's dog has "watered" it...I'd never eat it anyway!)

Is it just me, or is something digging in my front beds?

Is it just me, or does my dinner look delicious?  (While I watered and fixed up the flowers tonight, Dan made dinner.  YUM.)

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