April 3, 2015

wasp nest wonder

All this fall this wasp nest was highlight to be observed on our neighborhood walks. What a delight it was to find this natural treasure on the ground come spring. We took it home for closer observation of its amazing architecture. I am still doing some research to try and figure out what is going on with those white circular puffs. Are they eggs? Any wasp experts out there?

March 30, 2015

belly cast complete with pressed ferns and flowers!

Here is a project that's been sitting unfinished in the basement since before little dude was born (he's less than a week from being 9 months old already!). I hope it makes y'all feel better about your own unfinished creative endeavors to read over and over how mine gt started, abandoned, and at last completed at some later date.

I had a whole bunch of ferns and leaves and flowers pressing between layers of cardboard and newspaper and stacks of beautiful art books for many many months on the laundry room floor. Irking me each week as I stepped around them but I had no one to blame but myself!

One Saturday I was helping my daughter give a mod-podge update to an old pencil box and figured I might as well have a go at the belly cast since the supplies were out.

Now while I love love love how the fern looks I am not about to tell you attaching it was easy. The main stem was quite stiff and snapped when I went to lay it across my, uh, lovely curves. I had to hold it down with my fingers while it dried and it is really the glued down leaves that are holding it in place, with a bit of a gap where they meet the stem. So the final result is rather fragile and I must admit I will probably not be able to keep it for my entire life.

The smaller, flatter leaves worked better. Even the smaller ferns or using just the top part of the fern is more flexible and forgiving. I think covering a belly cast with fall leaves for an autumn baby would be gorgeous.

I intend to put some small holes on either side at the top and hang it on a wall with some ribbon but since that step is undone for the moment, you get to see it photographed on the floor!

The one thing I would advise people on doing the belly cast is to have the person laying out the strips do an extra layer along the edges, the outline so to speak. My cast was a little thin in some places along the edge. And really, I would advise doing 2 layers for the whole thing, nice and thick, smoothing out the strips as you go. My friend was very thorough about smoothing them out and the result was quite nice; you could not see the individual pieces anymore. I almost did not want to decorate it after all.

March 25, 2015

spring table runner

I sewed a cheerful spring table runner for my mother-in-law's birthday gift based on the 9-patch technique I used with my own winter table runner a few years ago. After sewing together patches using 9 squares, you cut those patches into quarters and then rearrange them to make a new design. Unfortunately the directions I originally followed are no longer online so I just made measurements from my table runner and went from there.

I was lazy about pinning the 3 layers together and had some serious misfortune with the backing shifting while I was quilting it together. I thought it would not matter much on such a small piece but I was indeed mistaken. I was able to patch the back together – luckily the fabric design was forgiving – but I was quite annoyed with myself. Lesson learned for next time!

For a lovely zero-waste wrapping solution I simply rolled it up and tied it with a scrap of matching fabric!

March 23, 2015

kitchen windowsill in teal glass

Every now and then I clear off the kitchen windowsill, wipe it down, wash the water specks off the window, and start fresh. I am always amazed at how mood-lifting it can be to just clear out and clean up one little space. Maybe this will inspire you to start small and take a step toward loving the space you live in!

PS Yes, of course I purposely buy blue dish detergent because it matches! How did you know?

March 20, 2015

marvelous melting!

I took these photos a few weeks ago when the winter melt had just begun. My 3-year-old daughter and I frequently spend afternoons in the sunroom reading (we're on a classic fairytale kick right now) and doing "finding books" (Hidden Pictures thanks to the peeps at Highlights and Grandma). One such sunny afternoon we could actually hear the melt happening as these icicles drip-drip-dropped. We had a good time studying them. Some were melting at a faster rate than others.  Some had a pattern going and others were more sporadic.

March 18, 2015

fantastic florals!

If you asked me what my favorite pattern in fabric was I don't know what I would say but I don't think "floral" would have popped to mind. Check out the splurges above and you will see I would have been wrong! I had not own but two gift cards to JoAnn's from my December birthday so I allowed myself to buy fabric with no purpose. Hee.

If it caught my eye I bought it. If I loved it very very much, I got a whole yard. If I liked it a lot, I got half a yard. If it was quirky and I only thought I would use it sparingly in a quilt, then I got a quarter yard. Apparently I also had a thing going for polka dots.

I bought my first washi tape (yep, I am about 5 years behind the trend) and have so far had mixed success hanging things with it. A few things stuck just fine, others have peeled off the wall. You will notice I chose red, teal, and black & white. A few of my favorite colors! I also stocked up on various thread colors and indulged in a sparkly valentine heart for the front door.

So a thank you to the special people who gave me gift cards!

March 16, 2015

Easter mantel in green and yellow

I designed this brand-new Easter mantel by "shopping the house" and making use of the chalkboard frames I originally intended for a gallery* (another project started before baby dude was born and just finished!). So I started out with using an old window frame, draped some fabric across it, added the metal cross I love but haven't found the perfect spot for. Then I filled things in with my beloved milk glass plus some other glass from my collection. And a nest! What would spring decorating be without nests! Hee. This particular nest was green grass when my mom found it but now it has dried to a pretty butter yellow shade. You might not be able to see it well in this photo, but there's a vintage mustard jar on the far right that has a smiling yellow sunshine on the lid. So cute!

Speaking of nests, they of course pop up over on my shelves. As does the milk glass and the color yellow to keep the the spring theme going. Now, something funny for you, doesn't the nest perched on the one lower vase look like hair? Hee!

*I am having second thoughts about where I intended to hang these. I think they would have gotten knocked off the wall by kids busting in with backpacks. So for now, they are going to be mine all mine for decorating here and there as I wish. Discussion has begun afresh about painting various wall(s) with chalkboard paint! The kids are all about it!

February 20, 2015

sidewalk geography

These wet patches on the sidewalk so remind me of peninsulas on a map, boundaries and borders between water and land.

February 16, 2015

pretty pillowcase

I finally got around to sewing a matching pillowcase to go with younger daughter's quilt. I used this pillow sham tutorial on the blog Cora Anne Designs. I've got no complaints about the tutorial but I do wish I had measured my particular pillow. I found the sham to be a bit of a tight fit when all was said and done.

As you can see I got to use up some more squares that didn't make it into the final quilt. I do love the look of things that are quilted! Seems like lately I am not making anything that uses a big solid piece of fabric! Hee.

I trimmed the back pieces so that they would align with the front. But then I craftily reused the pieces I trimmed off to be a part of the back. No waste! I also discovered that making an envelope-style pillowcase is not actually hard. I was under the mistaken impression that it would be tricky but I didn't find it to be so at all. So that bodes well for future home decorating visions!

February 13, 2015

surprise hearts

I happened to see these hearts across the street early one morning when I was waving good-bye to my older daughter as she headed off to school. I asked my younger daughter if she saw what I saw and she immediately spotted them as well.

February 11, 2015

library love: A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home

So one of my new favorite blog discoveries has been A Beautiful Mess. I just love the style of the sisters who share their crafting and decorating loveliness online. And they even have a subscription service called "Happy Mail" where you get cool stationery and stickers and greeting cards in the mail every month. LOVE that idea. These ladies live on the same page with me!

So imagine my delight when I found their book A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space upon my library shelf. There is just so much happy and color on the pages – a true visual delight to savor on a cold, snowy day. As I write this I am not even done with it yet. I keep picking it back up to enjoy again. One of these days I will probably read it cover to cover to make sure I don't miss anything inspiring.

Full disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. So if zillions of people read my post, click the link, and then buy the book I earn a handful of change. Or something like that.

February 9, 2015

a series of 6 placemats in black, white, and red

A birthday gift for my mama! Six pretty placemats, each a unique quilt of its own. I had such a good time designing these and arranging the scraps. I am also proud to say I didn't purchase anything but the red thread. I had bought some of the fabric for last year's gift (a fun valentine garland). At that time I was also thinking of making a table runner so I did buy a pretty big length of the heart and flower fabric that has both black and red in it. So when I decided on the placemats instead of the table runner I used that fabric for the backs.

The pattern is from the book Black & White, Bright & Bold: 24 Quilt Projects to Piece & Appliqu̩ by Kim Schaefer. It called for only black and white but you know me, always customizing things РI went with red + black & white instead. And of course I got the book from the library! Hee.

Full disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link.

February 6, 2015

tree sketches

One sunny day I noticed all these strange little markings in the snow. I realized they were made by tumbling oak leaves. Funny isn't it to imagine the trees creating a bit of art?

February 4, 2015

library love: Collected: Living with the Things You Love

Do you ever take a stroll at twilight and peek into the living windows where the curtains are still open? I really love to see what color the walls are and what art adorns them. Well, the book Collected: Living with the Things You Love by Fritz Karsh and Rebecca Robertson will satisfy that same curiosity! Not only do you get to gawk at amazing, unusual, obscure, and massive collections but you get to see how their owners display and live amongst their favorite objects.

I had such a good time looking through this gloriously thick, photo-filled book. I enjoyed it so much that I read it cover to cover! The authors arranged the collections into categories of their own invention. I myself related to being a "colorist" where you collect items of a certain color or the same item in a beautiful rainbow of colors. And I also found myself realizing I was a bit of a "naturalist" (hello obsession with nests!).

Check out this book and find out what kind of collector you already are… or what kind of collector you might be inspired to become!

Full disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link.

February 3, 2015

tidbit Tuesday!

You get a bonus post this week for being so patient with me and my erratic and unpredictable offerings. Tidbit Tuesday turns out not to be a regular occurrence but instead something I do once in a very great while when I want to share things that don't exactly fall under the "art, craft, design" theme.

So here goes:

My friend gave me an old issue of Grit Magazine's "Country Skills Series" and this one was "Guide to Homemade Bread" (circa February 2013). And in there was an article about a method where you let your yeast rise 12 to 18 hours and then bake the loaf inside a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven. I don't think this is a new invention in the bread-baking world but it was new to me. The week I got the magazine I made 3 loaves! I tried the whole wheat, the parmesan pesto, and the cinnamon roll breads. Amazing! Delicious! I feel so fancy! And did you see that loaf up there? Isn't it photo-worthy?

Mail from all over the world!
I am a huge fan of old-fashioned snail mail. The design of the stamps, lovely stationery, a hand-written note – all of it. I think it is one of the most delightful gifts you can give a person! So when I read about postcrossings.com I was super excited!

You set up an account, send out five postcards to the addresses they supply you (other members) and then wait. The people you send postcards to will log it on the site (there is a special code you write on the card). After the card you sent is received, then your address will pop up for another user and you will get a postcard in the mail. So ideally you get one back for every one you send. Very festive! I sent postcards to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, China, and Germany. I just got an email this afternoon that my postcard to the Ukraine arrived. The woman who received it wrote me a little note of thanks.

Interesting little shop in Grand Rapids – Have Company!
A friend just told me about this place. I haven't had a chance to go there in person but it looks pretty cool. I am enamored with this print of the full moon. For all the rest of you, online ordering is available.

February 2, 2015

A sweet valentine mantel!

This fresh arrangement on my mantel features:
• vintage window frames of varying sizes and colors (from my old house!)
• a thrifted cardboard heart
• a printed piece of fabric (maybe a tablecloth?) from Grandma
• a valentine card from years past
• a sampling of my glass collection including milk glass
• a lovely heart garland I made a few years back

January 16, 2015

a trio of trees

Have you ever noticed that different trees have different style branches and therefore create different textures when they are bare?

Does it amuse you to know I was lying on my back in the snow, winded from pulling the girls around the yard on a sled, when I took this photograph?

January 14, 2015

library love: Design Bloggers at Home

In the mood to while away an afternoon curled up with a beautiful and inspiring book? Look no further than the shelves of your local library and enjoy  Design Bloggers at Home by Ellie Tennant with gorgeous photography by Rachel Whiting. This book brings together so many things I love: reading blogs, writing a blog, decorating my house, plus analyzing, enjoying and being inspired by other people's style. Tah-dah! Love it, love it, love it!

The bloggers and their beautiful homes are organized into chapters by their styles: Pared Back, Rustic, Retro Chic, Homespun, and Colour Fun. Doesn't that make you want to pick it up right now? Hee. I am realizing as much as I enjoy the clean, minimalist look of "Pared Back" I am actually much more a "Colour Fun" kind of girl with dashes of the "Homespun" (crafty goodness!) and "Retro Chic" (I love me some vintage treasures).

Full disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link.

January 7, 2015

the quilt is done!

Second daughter's quilt was complete on December 29. I told my mama on Christmas Eve that I thought I would have it done before the end of the year and I did! According to the blog that tells no lies, I first got serious about this quilt back in February. Since first daughter's quilt took more like a year and a half I have been speeding things up. And let us not forget the little thing called having a baby that slowed my progress!

I could document all the things that went wrong or at least not quite right but that might not be quite as nice of a blog post. I am just going to say, every project I sew, I learn things and I practice things and lo and behold I get better at things.

Behind this quilt: a board, 2 clamps, 1 husband on a stool

So here's what I love about this quilt:

My kids!
My second daughter and I designed it together when she was 2. And she did have opinions. My first daughter (age 6) helped me design the squares made of four patches.

The quilting!
I did it all on my regular machine because I still don't get what's going on with the dropping the feed dog business and the other special quilting things you can use (and can I on my machine?!). I only have the one very old machine and I made it work. The wonky straight line quilting, which I did fairly dense turned out great. I love the texture. I did matching threads for each band of color: pink thread on the pink, yellow on the yellow, and so on. But then I had each of the colors "leak" into the next section. And for good measure I tossed a few loose and random lines elsewhere in the quilt. Very fun if I do say myself.

The colors!
I love bright saturated colors and that clearly comes through in this quilt. Hee.

The fabric!
Ok, I love fabric anyway but here's what's special about this quilt: I didn't buy any fabric for it! Everything came from what I already had in my stash. So some of it I had bought myself but I also got scraps from my husband's grandma, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law. Plus, a lot of my stash is from a dear family friend (her 98th birthday is coming up next month) and has some vintage appeal. And another friend gave me her leftovers and those are incorporated too. So some of it wasn't what I would have bought myself but all put together in one quilt it is beautiful!

I am proposing that this is going to be the year of the quilt for me. I hope to complete 2 or 3 more. Ok, I will say 3. I have a quilt top that is done so that can count. I am off on a tangent right now whipping up a gift but for the most part I am going to be disciplined and work on one project all the way to completion. No more half projects hanging around after this year is through. I have been attempting to structure my morning so that I get some time in the sewing room every morning before the kiddos are up and so far, so good.