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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Puzzling...

This is a gift for the Kasey and Beau's family, and has been in the planning stage for several months.  I made the box by hand after the gift was completed so it would be a perfect fit for the contents.  For the top, I used a sheet of pasteboard that comes in literature shipments at work.  For the bottom I just used a sheet of regular white card stock.  I liked the way the pasteboard looked, so I didn't even wrap it, just added the tulle bow and a string of vintage buttons.



Now on to the actual gift.  I bought one-and-a-quarter-inch wooden blocks at the craft store.  I chose favorite photos of the family and had them printed at Office Max on a laser printer...just on regular copy paper.  It might have worked to just print them on my ink jet printer, but I didn't want to take a chance on the ink running once I started Mod Podging.  Also, it is my personal opinion that you need a paper cutter to cut the photo into pieces for the blocks, so the cuts are nice and straight...and you have to measure VERY carefully for the cuts.


Cut one photo into squares that are just a hair under the dimension of the blocks.  Apply the Mod Podge to one side of a cube, and carefully place the photo piece on.  Repeat till all pieces of that photo are adhered to the cubes.  Then you can move on to the next photo, cutting it and adhering to the blocks.  Once all photos are on the cubes, go back and brush a layer of Mod Podge over the photos.  I Mod Podged two sides of the cube, let them dry about twenty minutes, then did another two sides and let them dry.  I kept doing this until I had several layers of Mod Podge over the photos.  I wanted the photo blocks to hold up well to lots of use.  I think the kiddoes will have fun arranging the photos of themselves and their siblings.

Here are all sides of the finished puzzle in decending age order of the photo subject.  Luckily a cube has six sides...a side for mom and dad, and a side for each of the five kiddoes.


I think it's quite funny that I can see in these photos that I have solved some of these puzzles incorrectly...I have a piece either out of place or twisted the wrong way around in three of the photos!  :)






I loved Kasey's response when she opened this.  She thought I had special ordered it somewhere, and was gratifyingly impressed when I told her I made it myself.  :)
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Monday, December 26, 2011

Handmade gifts...

Hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas!  We are having our family Christmas today since Carey had to work yesterday.  I'm not doing a big dinner.  I'm making chicken and dumplings with a vegetable side, and Kasey is bringing pie.  I stewed the chicken and boned it a couple of days ago, so the hard work is all done.

Now I can show some of the family gifts  that I've been working on that I couldn't show ahead of time.   I purchased tulle on a spool on special for half off awhile back, and I used it on every single gift instead of ribbon...SO easy to just tie a bow, fluff it out, and have it look great.  To the boys' gifts I added some dragon paper mache ornaments that I got on sale last week...they were each a different color and style.


The boys are so hard to buy for, so I resorted to giving cash, but I didn't want to just slip a check into an envelope.  When I came across this idea , I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do too.


I Googled 'money origami' and found some interesting ways to fold bills that I thought the boys might think were cool.  I chose to try the flower fold (shown in the middle below) and the heart fold (shown in the bottom right-hand corner, though the shape doesn't show up very well in the photo).  The other bills I just folded simply.  I glued the paper candy liners to the bottom of the box, and I used a tiny bit of glue to glue the bills into the candy liners.  I used a liberal amount of glue to glue the coins down...I wanted it to look nice when opened and not strewn every which way...and those boys can clean it up later.  :)

Each boy's box includes one $20 dollar bill, one $10 bill, one $5 bill, one $2 bill, three $1 bills (the flower uses three bills), and assorted coins. I wish I had been able to find darker colored boxes to add more contrast, but all in all I thought they turned out very fun looking, and I think the boys will be surprised and happy with them.

Tomorrow I'll show another gift that was fun to do.
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

All decked out...



I haven't set out the Christmas village for quite awhile. But this year I got a couple of new pieces that I was really excited about.

The iconic tongue-on-the-flag-pole scene from A Christmas Story...LOVE that movie, and I'm so excited the marathon starts tonight!


And the Parker's house...complete with the leg lamp in front window. 

I also found, and thus had to buy, the Chop Suey Palace where the Parkers ended up having Christmas dinner after the Bumpuses' dogs ate their turkey.  We are delaying our Christmas till Monday since Carey has to work tomorrow.  I wonder if I can talk Jared into having Chinese tomorrow.  We've done it before.  It's a hoot!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Seasonal deliciousness...


These are the last few bags of my favorite Celestial Seasonings tea flavor which I carefully ration through the year...Candy Cane Lane...only available in stores during the Christmas season.   For the last few months, I have looked for it every time I shopped for groceries...even at different stores...hoping to replenish the stash.  None.  A week or so ago, I went online to their website to see if they had an availability directory.  It listed Walgreens pharmacies as an outlet.  I looked at two different Walgreens and didn't find any.  I was starting to worry, what with Christmas almost upon us.

Today I had to brave the traffic and crowds to pick up a couple of gift cards...last things on my list (yea!)...so I stopped in at a Walgreens on the way.


Score!  I bought every box on the shelves.


Whew!  I feel so much better now.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

My first job...

***Warning:  The following may be offensive to some people.  Look away if you must.  No animals were permanently harmed in the making of this photo...temporarily uncomfortable, yes...scarred, yes, that's what a brand is after all.  Sorry.  Don't worry, the cow had the last laugh, as I'm the one looking a little bovine these days.***


Here's a fun photo I just stumbled upon.  Literally stumbled upon...dislodged it from a box while trying to straighten up my home office.

That's me (circa 1975/76) wielding the branding iron.  I was about eighteen.  My first job was working for a cattle breeders association.  My days weren't all spent like this.  Usually I was going through files, researching bloodlines, and issuing pedigrees.  But this was an occasion when they wanted us to get out and see the real deal.

When I think of the poor cowboy (not the one in the picture) who had to be our keeper for the day...poor, poor man.  He must have been SO ready to drop me back at the office.  We were barely on the road when I innocently asked him a question (really, I didn't know any better then) that made him blush so deeply and stammer endlessly while two of my co-workers in the back seat sprayed Coke-a-Cola out their noses laughing at my naivete.  Then we had barely reached our first destination when I approached an insulated fence around a pen, and, wondering how much voltage it would take to keep a full-grown bull inside, I put my hand out to the live wire.  So how much voltage does it take, you ask?  Enough to knock me back several feet and onto my backside in the dust.  Boy oh boy...the looks on the faces of that cowboy and the ranch owner who was hosting us.

They would probably be surprised to know that I survived to adulthood, and even went on to own a small ranch and cattle.  Yes, I'm twice the woman I was back then.  Literally.  But let's not go there.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Seeing Things by Patti Hill.  I find a lot of Christian fiction to be not very well written, but this one is more to my liking than most.   
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Christmas gift...

Yesterday was a productive day.  I finished this last night.  It's for another of my co-workers.  It's not a great photo, but I had to take it after dark, so I could wrap the gift to take to work with me this morning.


I came across the quote pinned on Pinterest and credited here .  In case you can't read it, it says, "Grandma's house...where cousins go to become best friends."  When I saw it, I immediately thought of my friend.  She has four grandchildren who text each other making plans for their next visit to her house, then they call her and let her in on the plan.  I think that is so cute, and I thought she would like this little picture (fingers crossed).  The cousins will all be visiting her over the Christmas holidays.

I created the quote layout in Photoshop.  I used spray adhesive to adhere some linen to a piece of card stock, trimmed it really well, and ran it through the printer to print the quote on the fabric.  After that I removed the card stock from the linen, and I used some scraps and some fusible webbing to add the house.  Then I embellished with some buttons and simple stitches.

The linen background fabric was another piece trimmed from a discarded pair of wide-legged linen slacks of mine.  I suppose that's one good thing about wearing a plus size.  I'm going to be really sad when I use the last of that linen.  Remember this project ?  It was also made from the salvaged linen slacks.

The frame was one I bought at the dollar store several years ago and has been sitting in my craft stash since then.

So I am doing really well at stretching my Christmas budget this year.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Making this Monday...

Today I'm making hand warmers for a co-worker whose hands are always freezing.

This version is really simple, but way fancier than what we use at home. For home I just nabbed a fairly new pair of tube socks out of Carey's drawer...filled them with uncooked rice, and tied the end closed with twine. I keep them in the freezer to use as a cold pack for injuries...but if I want them warm I just put them straight into the microwave. They are reusable for ages...I made our 'rice socks' years ago, and we've been using them ever since.

For the prettier gift version I'm making today, I cut three 8" x 10.5" layers of fleece...I'll call them layers A, B, and C.  I sewed layers A and B together lengthwise with straight rows of stitching about an inch and three-quarters apart to form channels for the filling.  After I had the rows of stitching  done, I added layer C to the top and sewed around three of the sides with a straight stitch, leaving one short side open...then I went back and zigzagged around the same three sides (zigzagging optional).


I used a funnel to fill the channels formed in layers A and B with rice.  (I used brown rice, because that's what I had on hand.)  I packed them pretty tightly, but I stopped filling about an inch and a half or so from the top.  As I completed filling each channel, I used a straight pin to secure the openings.  After each channel was filled, I went back to the sewing machine.  I pulled layer C out of the way at one edge, and removed the straight pin from the first channel; with a straight stitch, I sewed the first channel of layer A and B closed, then removed the pin from the next channel and sewed it closed...and repeated across.  Then I went back and zigzagged across that whole row of stitching again.


These are the completed hand warmers.  Pop them in the microwave for a minute (or maybe two depending on your microwave), and they feel so nice and warm.


With the third layer C added, you have a warm pocket to put your cold hand into!

All size measurements are approximate...I pretty much eyeballed the whole thing.  The zigzag stitching is completely optional.  I used fleece because: a) I had it on hand, and b) I didn't have to worry about finishing any edges.  You can fill with rice, wheat, or flax seed; and you can mix cinnamon or a few drops of essential oils into the rice before filling if you want a nice scent.

That's it!  Another gift ready to wrap.  :)
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Betty Davis eyes...

So I've made it perfectly clear that I am a procrastinator, right?  Well, today I finally went to the Department of Public Safety to change my address on my driver's license...it's only been a year since we moved.  My last renewal was two years ago, and since then I've been living in shame of its hideous photo...the worst driver's license photo EVER!

That is, until today.  And I felt really cute when I left the house this morning, too.  But after an hour and a half sitting in an overcrowded room of frustrated people, I guess my shine had worn off.

I wonder what the chances were that I would wear a blouse the exact shade of the photo backdrop...can you say floating head?  Then I managed to raise one eyebrow...but instead of looking quizzical, I looked like I was giving the camera the stink eye.  And since the last license photo looked somewhat like a mugshot, I thought I should smile this time...mm-hmm, imagine a evil sneer.


My daughter said my photo looked like I was ready for my close up with Mr. DeMille.


My coworker thought I looked like Roseanne Barr...and that was one of the kinder things she said.

I'm thinking, move over Baby Jane.

I sincerely hope that I don't go missing or get wrongly accused of some horrid crime.  Do I fear bodily harm or persecution?  Not as much as I fear having this new driver's license photo released to the news media!
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What am I reading Wednesday...

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.  If I hadn't been hibernating last week, I would have posted this one.  I just finished it.  It's about an English plague village in 1666 that quarantined themselves...loosely based on an actual event.  I thought it was very good.


The Quilting Answer Book by Barbara Weiland Talbert.  I picked this one up recently after judging it by its cover...and a quick flip through the pages.  It's in a Q & A format with lots of illustrations.  Nice to keep on the side table for a quick bite or two.  I need to get quilting again!


The Distant Hours by Kate Morton.  I may or may not be starting this one tonight.  I have so many other things that need doing right now.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Red 'letter' day...

this is a birthday card I mailed in November

Please pardon my pun, but I wanted to mark this occasion.  I mailed off two packages today, each with a letter tucked inside.  That brings my letter total for the year to FIFTY-TWO!!!  Woohoo!  I did it!  I successfully completed the challenge. 

Since I didn't start the 52-letters-in-52-weeks challenge until May, I averaged about 1.5 letters per week.  To keep track of my progress, I jotted down the name of the person each letter was going to on my calendar every time I mailed one.  It gives me a warm feeling of accomplishment to flip through my calendar pages and see those names.

I do believe I will start over again at the first of the year.  Anyone want to join me?
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Scissors, and papers, and bows...oh my...


I've been spending a lot of time at my craft table. Some things I can't show yet. But here are a couple of gifts that I've been playing with for awhile.  Then I would lay them aside and think about them for a bit before going back to them. I finally finished them today. 

These are Christmas ornaments made for newlywed couples from their wedding invitations.  You may have seen the idea around the web.  The first one I saw was here .  And since we had a couple of weddings in the family this summer, I filed the idea away along with the invitations.

I worked on the two ornaments simultaneously this week, so some photos are of one, and some are of the other.  I don't mean to confuse anybody, with my photos.

For each one I used a clear ornament, a wedding invitation, ribbon, and embellishments.

First you cut the invitation into strips horizontally (my strips were about 1/4 inch) being careful to cut above and below each text line so that they will be readable inside the ornament.


I used a pencil to coil them around, printed side facing the outside of the coil.  Then I slipped them inside the ornament and let them relax their curl.  In this one, I decided to slip in a few curls of solid cardstock that matched the color of the floral print on the invitation.


I used my metal-stamp set to stamp the couple's names and the year on two washers to attach to this one.  I photographed it during the pondering stage, so it actually ended up with a bow added to the top like the one pictured below.


Since I had wedding photos to go with this invitation, I printed out a tiny photo of the couple and put it in a metal finding, then topped it with a liquid crystal solution.  I learned some things in that process.  Like you need to mod-podge over the image at least twice (letting it dry thoroughly between each application) before adding the liquid crystal, so it doesn't turn dark...and to let it dry and cure without disturbing it...and to watch out for bubbles or you might have to add a pearl sticky over the bubble spot.  Oh well.  I can redo the photo on this one after Christmas, but they can hang it on their tree for now.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Spooning...

A week away from blogging and not much to show for it.  Or rather I have some projects to show, but can't until after Christmas, if you get my meaning.  Add to that the fact that we've had some lovely cloudy dreary rainy days, days that do not lend to nice photographs, and there hasn't been a thing to blog about!  I guess the fact that we've been getting rain is in itself something to blog about, as it is so unusual lately.  Perfect weather for curling up with a book and a cup of hot chocolate, but I haven't gotten to do that either.


I came across my spoon collection a few days ago.  I decided it was about time that I got it polished up and back up on the wall.  I'm not really into things like spoon collections, but I inherited this one from a favorite great-aunt.

These are two of my favorites.  The top one says "Zurich" in the bowl of the spoon, and the handle is a stem, leaves, and bloom of an edelweiss...so delicate and beautiful.  The other is the shape of a salt cellar spoon, but not quite that small...I think I like it because it's different than the others...and because it's the easiest to polish!


The two spoons below are very dear, and I always hang them right next to each other.  Though you can't see it in this sad excuse of a photo, the top one has an 'R' monogram for Ruth, my great-aunt's name.  The bottom one says 'MED DEPT USA' and is the one that her husband brought home after serving in the Army medical department in Europe during World War I.


Here they are all bright and shiny and hung next to a photo of their first owner.  I have a feeling that if she knew how infrequently I polish them, she might have bequeathed them to someone else.

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