Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pinterest Fail

Ah, Pinterest.  You make it look so easy.

Look, how simple!   I'll just tape some old Christmas lights on the wall and pop my sweet baby up on the bed with some ornaments for a super cute Christmas card photo.

 Nailed it!

Ok, to be fair I did get some really great photos on the plaid blanket, which you'll see at the end of this post.  But this Pinterest pose didn't pan out.  First, I wasn't able to wrangle the cats off the guest bed. Then I didn't want to mess with untangling and taping up lights with a wriggly baby.  Meanwhile I was running out of daylight.  So I decided to throw a blanket outside on the grass and try for a cute tummy time pose.  No such luck!

The ornaments were way too tasty and interesting.  These outtakes made me giggle and I thought they'd make you giggle, too.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas with lots of quality time spent with loved ones.  I know we did.  

Wishing you a happy 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Paper Poinsettias

So, it's Christmas.  Man, where does the time go!?!  I know this is too late for anyone to make any paper poinsettias in time for Christmas this year.   But I'm posting this anyway since I spent the time taking the how-to photos.  Or maybe there's someone out there who has plenty of free time today for a last minute Christmas crafting project.... bwahahaha!  Yeah, yeah, I know.  That's funny.

I have a thing for paper flowers.  We made these paper bag poinsettias at my crafty Christmas party the other weekend.  I have made several of them that are currently drying in the front yard and will be made in to a wreath later today- apparently I have enough free time for a last minute project.  Or maybe I'm just crazy.  I am determined to finish it at this point.  I'll update this post with a finished photo later.  But here are the folding instructions.

All you need is some brown paper grocery bags, or kraft paper.  Just something with some weight to it.  Some wire and some spray paint.  You could even nix the spray paint if you want because I think the brown paper bag is pretty on it's own.  I made a bunch of these for a wreath.  But they would also be pretty stuck in a Christmas tree, as long as you have LED lights that won't catch the paper on fire.  We don't.  We have those big, colorful lights, including bubblers, from the 1960's that would probably burn your house down.  I love them.   Or these paper poinsettias would be pretty on top of a wrapped package.  I came up with these after wanting to make a paper version of a poinsettia that wasn't flat.  I wanted some dimension.  When I looked at real poinsettias, I liked how the leaves sprang forward from the center of the flower.  I left off the the actual flower part of the poinsettia- the little yellow and green nubby looking bit in the middle.  But you could add that in pretty easily if you wanted.  Fun fact: Did you know that red and pink part of the poinsettia plant is not the flower?  They are actually modified leaves called bracts.  So I just focused on recreating the bracts.

I drew a template before I started of three different leaf shapes.  Each bract is shaped like a spade with a long stem on it: a big one, a short and squat one, and a skinny one.  The stem on the end is what gives the flower some dimension.

The pictures are pretty self-explanatory.  I cut a few of each bract shape.  I think for this flower I cut five big ones, three skinny ones and three short, squat ones.

Next, I folded each bract.  I folded in half lengthwise.  Then while the leaf was still folded in half, I folded the ridges.  I just folded back and forth like a fan.  When you open up the lengthwise fold, you can see the pretty ridges, much like the texture on a real poinsettia.  I did this to all the bracts.  It didn't take to long.  

Then I twisted each stem part of the bracts.

Finally, I assembled the flower.  I started with the smaller shaped leaves in the middle and put the bigger ones on the outside.  I wrapped wire all around the stem part, like a bouquet of flowers.  I'm sure there is a much prettier way to do this but I knew mine would be attached to a wreath form anyway.  I left a piece of wire hanging to help with the spray paint.

Then just a healthy dose of spray paint and they were done.  I did spray a few times to make sure I covered all surfaces.  I used Krylon's shimmer spray paint followed by some glitter blast for extra sparkle.

And there it is!  I was pretty happy with the shape of these paper poinsettias.  They really do have a nice three-dimensional shape and will make a nice wreath that can be packed away and used year after year.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Crafty Christmas Party Part Deux

Before I start I just want to take a minute to say thank you for all the kind words on my last post.  It was one of those things that I didn't know if I should write about or not.  But I'm glad I did.  J's leukemia is a part of our life now whether we like it or not.  So it may pop up from time to time.  We really are doing well.  He is doing well.  The scariest time was during his diagnosis.  Thinking about the unknown was far worse than getting a definite diagnosis and moving forward.  So anyway.  Thanks so much for the thoughts and good vibes and for those who shared their own stories.  The support is very much appreciated.

Ok, moving on!  I had my second annual crafty Christmas party last weekend.  You can read about my first one here.  It was awesome, dorky fun.  I had more people show up this year after hearing stories about last year's party and not wanting to miss out.  We did the cookie exchange again.  What a great idea that is.  Just not for my willpower.  Once again I was left with way too many cookies.  I may have to let someone else host next year so I don't eat so many damn cookies afterwards.

For the crafts this year we folded origami boxes, did some easy applique and made a few paper poinsettias.    I'm most proud of those poinsettias since I made them up myself.  I even took some photos of how to make one and hopefully I'll post about them before Christmas.  I am making a wreath with some.  They are just paper bags and spray paint.

Look at those legs!

The applique was by request.  I helped host a baby shower for a friend recently and we did diy onesies during the baby shower.  I know you've seen it before.  You set up a station with fabric, some sort of fusible web, embroidery floss, and various trims and buttons.  Then guests at the shower can go to town making a personalized onesie to give to the expectant mom.  The shower was loads of fun.  So we decided to do it at the crafty Christmas party, too.  I had most of the supplies left over from the shower.  I just had to get some Christmas-y fabric.  I made this onesie for Jane.  I wasn't super creative or anything, but I like it.  I actually used some of the leftover fabric from the baby shower instead of the Christmas fabric.

I'm a little disappointed in the fusible web I used, though.  I bought Pellon Wonder Under since that is what I've always used for applique.   Only I normally stitch it down with a sewing machine as well.   I read that it's ok to just fuse on fabric and not stitch it down, which is what we did at both parties.  I figured we'd get a couple of wears out of whatever we made with some fraying, of course.  But baby Jane wore her onesie today and two of the Christmas lights starting peeling off right away.  Maybe it didn't bond right?  I followed the instructions on the packaging exactly.  Or is it because I fused a woven to a knit onesie?  I've read online that something called Heat 'n' Bond works better.  Anybody know if that's true? Any applique experts out there?  I'm going to stitch over baby Jane's appliques so she can wear it another time or two before Christmas.  But I'm a little bummed that the other guests might have similar experiences with what they made.  Live and learn.

And what about this sweet baby?  Jane is eight months old now, which I can't believe.  She sits like a champ.  She isn't crawling yet but she can steamroll her way across the room if she sees something interesting.

Look a little closer at this face.  Can you spot anything different about my baby?

Two adorable little teef.  Just when I think it's impossible for her to be any cuter.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Ok, I have written this post so many times now.  It never sounds quite right.  I think that's probably because I'm not all sorted out about what's been going on.  I've written this story from a very positive point of view, I've written it all gloom and doom and everything in between.  So, let me try and write this as objectively as I can.

Today, Mr. Jane and I celebrate four years of marriage.  As cheesy as it sounds, J is my absolute perfect match.  The yin to my yang.  The peanut butter to my jelly.  The cheese to my macaroni.  He balances me out, keeps me grounded and makes me want to be a better person.  He has a heart of gold.  I am total crap at verbalizing these things in the everyday, which is why I'm writing it here instead.  I love you more than words, J.

J was diagnosed with leukemia this summer.  It started with an unexplained mass in his abdomen that ended up being an enlarged spleen.  It was the same weekend baby Jane turned three months old.  I remember it all very vividly.  I wasn't sure I was going to write about it at all, being such a terrifying and personal experience.  But over the last month I decided I really wanted to make some mention of what is going on, even though this is just a silly old sewing blog (I don't really mean the silly part ;)  It is part of our life now, whether we like it or not, and I know it will pop up in posts and projects from time to time.  So. There it is. 

The type of leukemia that J has is probably the best case scenario.  He has a type of leukemia called chronic myelogenous leukemiaIf you have to have cancer, this is the type of cancer you want to have.  That was what his oncologist told him.  Ha.  It sounds like a crazy statement to make, but she is right.  J jokes that this was like winning some sort of terrible lottery.

The treatment for CML is pretty amazing.  J takes a pill a day.  A cancer pill.  No chemotherapy, no radiation.  If this doesn't convince you of the wonders of modern medicine, I don't know what will.  A little wonder drug called Gleevec came on the market in 2001 and was used to treat CML.  It was the first of it's kind and paved the way for similar treatments for other types of cancer.  J takes a different generation, but a wonder drug no less.  The most sobering piece of information we read during all of this was this little fact- that before this drug was available, the lifespan for people with CML was three to five years.  Now his doctor tells us that she sees no reason he can't live out his normal life.  Albeit with more doctor visits and awareness of what is going on in his blood and bone marrow, but still, a normal life.  We are so thankful.

So far, so good.  J is responding well to the medication with no major side effects.  He has hit enough milestones that I feel like I can exhale now.  When it comes to the future we know nothing is for certain, but nothing is certain for anyone.  These past few months have been a roller coaster ride.  Lots of ups and downs but we are starting to settle back in to a routine.  I am finding a lot of comfort in that normalcy.  You know, as normal as it gets with an almost eight month old baby.  We have certainly gained a lot of perspective.  We know not to take any moment for granted.  I have recently started yelling at J for leaving his shoes in the middle of den again, so I'm taking that as a good sign that things are getting back to the way things were.  Ha.  I'm only human :)

And of course this post would not be complete without a link to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research, as we have experienced firsthand.  It is an extremely worthy cause.  There are many, many ways to donate and support the LLS.