Christmas is coming

I’ve been crafting up a storm getting ready for Christmas, but despite the fact that I’m supposed to be a photographer, you wouldn’t know it because I just haven’t been taking pictures much and the few that I have are taken with my cell which makes for less than quality pics. So because I love you my wonderful (albeit mostly silent *hint hint*) readers, I decided to dig up the camera, find my lenses, and take some pictures. I took pictures of all the hair and jewelry pieces I’ve made and as a bonus, I got shots of our newly remodeled guest room just for giggles. The crafty shots don’t include then knitted items I’ve made, but that’s because the ones that are finished have already been wrapped.

If you’ve seen the show, The Walking Dead, you will appreciate the significance of these ears, but if not, I’ll let you assume that I’m just crazy and decided to make my husband a necklace of ears….

$150 bed from Craigslist equals a beautiful guest room that seems almost too good to be true not to mention nicer than my own bedroom set *sighs*

Pardon the blurry shot- ornaments and paper cut outs hanging in a frame from an old mirror courtesy of my step-mom

Who would want to leave a room with a tv this nice? I need to figure out how to hide the cords, but I love it.

I would so sleep in this room myself if it weren’t for the fact that the paint is still off-gassing and its probably not a good idea given that I’m incubating a tiny being. (I’ve got another ultrasound appointment early tomorrow morning so we’ll be one step closer to discovering if it is a human or alien being)

So the pictures are not even remotely what I’d consider photographer quality, but nevertheless, they are pictures ūüôā

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Just what I needed

Because I’m a terrible bloggess (is that even a word? well it is now) I have probably failed to mention that I am in love with this blog¬†and have been for quite some time. She has dark and twisted ideas for decorating the house (something you’d never suspect ME of liking but I do) fun links to all sort of crazy ephemera around the web and most recently she hosted a¬†Secret Santa Can Suck it¬†swap. This seemed right up my tired and stressed alley- a swap where no actual swapping goes on. Instead we are assigned another blog and we go to said blog, read it (hopefully) and decide from what we see what we would have gotten our partner if we …. you know… cared or something like that. I am loving this idea because it allows me to be as creative and crazy as possible without worrying about a budget.

So without further ado, I received Tomato Blight for my partner and immediately grinned when I saw her blog name- I like tomatoes for one thing- and for another its sounds delightfully twisted. When I first wandered over to her blog this morning (my spam folder ate the email last night that told me who my partner was so I had to go find it this morning) the first post I saw was one on turning a cutesy little bird house into something a bit more…. sinister and now I can’t wait to see how she finishes it.

My gifts to you Tomato?

Your very own repo man. Because I think there are times when everyone needs a little cash on the side and those of us who are of the crafty variety especially need that extra money to better feed our addictions. We have our obsessions that must be kept in check and the best medicine is more stuff. New supplies, new gadgets, new goodies to tear up and put back together as we see fit. Having your own organ lending business complete with addictive drugs to make sure your customers are repeat customers would allow you to finance your crafty business quite nicely. Plus any man who can play the multiple personality thing like that without actually being crazy should be handy to have around when you need a hand say fending off unwanted telemarketers and such.

Merry Christmas!

Pipe Cleaner Poinsettia Tutorial

So as I promised yesterday I came back to share these poinsettias with you. Amazing right?

The idea for these little guys first hit me when¬†I was getting ready to go Christmas shopping a couple weeks ago. I had my warm long sleeve red shirt on under my black More Cowbell t-shirt and was all set to wrap up in my new coat that Jarell got me but I was feeling less than festive. Things as I’ve mentioned have not been great the last couple of months and I really wanted something that would help me feel more like Christmas shopping. In about 5 minutes the idea exploded into my brain. My first thought was pipe cleaner snowflake. But then I saw my red chenille pipe cleaners and a whole nother plan formed in an instant. I wanted a poinsettia for my ponytail. Here’s how I whipped it up.

Step One:

Gather Materials. I used red green and white chenille pipe cleaners from Hobby Lobby. They cost me 77 cents per package making this a very budget friendly craft. The buttons came from my Gramma’s button tin making this a keepsake craft as well- I don’t want to use Gramma’s buttons for just anything but their use in this project guarantee’s it will be extra special. The ribbon came from my stash and also cost me probably less than 2 dollars per roll. All in all if you buy the supplies this project can cost 1 dollar and up. Awesome yes?

Step Two: Grab three like colored pipe cleaners and line up the ends. Figure out where the middle is and twist them together a few times like this. (except less blurry…)

Step Three: Spread out your pipe cleaners like spokes on a wheel

Step Four: Fold in your flower petals. Please forgive the blurry shots- my hands were kinda shaky today and the more I tried to hold still the worse it got so everything has a bit of blur to it.

Wrap the end around behind the other pipe cleaners and secure it around front with a twist. Harder to show and explain than it is to do I promise.

Continue on around the flower until all your petals are made.

Step Five: Shape the petals to look like… you guessed it… poinsettia petals. I use one finger in the middle of the loop as shown to make the end of the petal and pinch it shut with the other two fingers

Repeat around all the petals.

Step Six: Now its time to shape the petals. Again with blurriness but I tried like 10 times and got no better than this.

I curled them around my fingers as shown to give them some dimension beyond that of flat pipe cleaners.

Step Seven: This step is somewhat optional. I have not used it for every poinsettia but I’m adding it in anyway as it looks nice. This is the leaf. Make a figure¬†8 with a green pipe cleaner if desired and follow the instructions for shaping the petals.

 

Step Eight: String the button on your ribbon or pipe cleaner.

Then wrap your ribbon (or pipe cleaner) around the center of your flower and tie (or twist) to secure. Make sure to include your leaves if you’re making them.

At this point I feel I should mention that you can make your ribbon as long or as short as you want. I made mine long enough to be worn as a headband as well as a ribbon on my ponytail.

So now you have yourself a poinsettia. Woo hoo, right?

Picture Ornaments Tutorial

100_2658I am sure these are a dime a dozen out there and I am certain someone has made tutorials for these as well, but I haven’t found (or looked for for that matter) any so I’m going to share my particular version of these. Actually this is more suggestions and a trial and error list of lessons than tutorial with step by step instructions.

Supplies

White cotton or linen fabric amount varies but you’ll need a square slightly larger than each one of your photos

iron on transfer paper- I used Avery and was very pleased with the results

iron

printer and computer

digital pictures or old photos and a scanner or both

felt

embroidery floss

scissors and a needle

a little stuffing for each photo to make a little ornament pillow

 

I started by cropping a selection of each photo that I wanted in my free photo editing software, Gimp. I don’t save the changes to the original photo but instead transfer the changes to a new empty document. However you choose to go about this part is up to you. I saved all my pictures into documents with a page size of 8 1/2 by 11 so that when it came time to print they would all fit on and use up one sheet of the iron on transfer paper.

I changed all my photos to black and white and lightened some of them that were darker. I then tinted them to give them a sepia tone but you could print in full color, black and white or even crazy Warhol inspired tones- its entirely up to you.

Once you have all your pictures edited to your liking print the pages out onto the special paper. I went into my printers preferences (on the print screen) and set the paper type to Photo Transfer paper but I don’t know if this makes a difference. We’ll assume it does and say thats an important step. Also since you’re using photos for this project set the quality to best or photo or whatever is the optimal print setting so that these babies come out looking fabulous.

Once they’re printed separate your photos, cutting off any parts of the picture that you don’t want included in the finished project.

Prepare your surface and read the instructions on the back of the transfer paper packaging. I did make sure that there was no water in my iron and shut off the steam but I didn’t check to make sure there were no bits of string stuck to my fabric and a couple of my photos have blue spots on them from random stuff in my craft room. Make sure that there is an even surface under your photo- if you have a pillow case under it, make sure that it is all the way under the picture- the reason being that uneven surfaces equal …. unique textures that aren’t quite right in the finished project.

It took about 45 seconds per photo for the ironing and in case you’re wondering, no you can’t reuse the photos- the whole sticky side comes off on your fabric and thats that. Allow the photos to cool fully (about 2 minutes off the hot surface) before trying to peel the backing from the fabric. Don’t iron on a surface that might be ruined by high heat i.e. that antique sewing cabinet that belongs to your step mother. (learned this at 6 am one Saturday when I was in High School- serves her right for waking me up to do something she should have done the day before)

Now to the ornaments. I made a couple of these that were larger, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I would make the pictures wallet sized or just slightly larger. 100_2660Trim around the outside edge of your photo leaving an edge of about an 8th of an inch-ish. Cut a piece of felt to the same size while you’re at it. Place your felt and picture together with the right sides out. Arm yourself with needle and embroidery floss and blanket stitch around the outside edge till you have only a small opening left. Stuff the little pillow shape lightly- just enough to give it some dimension or more if you wish- and finish sewing the opening shut. For a hanger you can do several things. you could attach some ribbon and go that route, you could use some extra embroidery floss to make a loop as I chose to do, or you could even take a metal hanger and hook the little end through your blanket stitches and hang it that way.

I am making these with pictures of my nieces and nephews for my MIL and SIL, my brothers and I for my parents my step mom, and even a couple of family pets for our own tree. The subject matter options are endless. I may have one of each of my nieces and nephews on the tree for them to take home from Christmas this year so that they have them as keepsakes. In addition to family photos you can add sayings to these in a photo editing software- just go wild and have a blast.

100_2668My beautiful camera assistant

Happy Holiday Crafting

I’m going to assume that I’m not the only one out there crazy enough to be making a bunch of my gifts and/or ornaments this year due to lack of funds or disdain for what is commercially available so I thought today I might share a few places where I’ve found some wonderful inspiration.

Saidos da Concha has a cute tutorial on making felt ornaments that gave me some ideas. This is a bilingual blog, but she has instructions in English.

Craftbits has a bunch of stuff, but I like a couple of their Christmas card ideas. Here and here.

Francine Clouden has a bunch of different goodies a wreath, several tags, a bird ornament and these felt ornaments.

I also found a bunch of goodies on flickr  just by searching Christmas ornaments handmade.

 A couple of my favorites were this one, this one, and all the cuties here. The last one being the inspiration for my tree ornament in my post the other day.

I know not all of you are as nutty as I am, but in case you feel the urge, this should give you some inspiration.

A couple of other places you might like are One Pretty Thing and The Crafty Princess Diaries because they have lists of goodies. But they can be a bit addictive so consider yourself forewarned.

Now I’m off to work on my next gift project- picture ornaments. Can someone out there come and knock me upside the head and maybe take away the iron on transfer paper before I go completely nuts?

Oh Christmas Tree

scan0003The holidays have been a very special time for me for as long as I can remember. When I was little B.D. (before divorce) my parents and my little brothers and I would make the trip to Gramma and Grampa’s scan0011house for Thanksgiving. We’d all eat till we were stuffed. scan0002I would run around with black olives on each of my fingers or drag my antique baby doll who was as big as I was up from the family room in the basement. I’d then proceed to re-introduce everyone to Charlotte, the worlds ugliest doll. She had been found on the side of the road by my Grampa, with on arm broken off. That deterred him not at all and he cobbled her back together like some child’s forgotten Frankestein with a bolt that went through both arms. To this day she still survives as a somewhat grisly reminder of my wonderful childhood.

When it came to Christmas, things were different. scan0013My parents stopped celebrating Christmas for religious reasons after I turned 3 and so we didn’t celebrate per se. This lack of celebration never stopped my grandparentsscan0009¬†in Michigan from sending us several boxes of goodies and as December came I began my watch for the¬†much anticipated¬†UPS truck bringing its wonderful surprises. Always there was at least one box of homemade cookies and candies- oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, peanut butter, ones with gooey candied cherries in them, and many flavors of candy both homemade and store bought. The presents were still opened on and Christmas always yielded a Barbie or two and often ponies as well as homemade clothing and barettes or jewelry. My grandma never failed to make this a special day for us.

I remember as well my birthday that would always come a week later with more gifts and often a family get together. One year in particular I got one of those dolls that actually wet her diaper, a little table just my size. scan0018Another year a homemade piggy bank, my first embroidery set, and a doll with jewels in her hair. The cake was memorable in that it was frosted to look like a gumball machine with skittles stuck into the icing. That was a particularly special year.scan0017

Holidays A.D. were a much different affair and I remember both halves of that first Christmas very well. My parents were both broke and we had just moved into a tiny basement apartment in a rough part of town. My dad was having a very rough time of it having lost his whole family in such a short time as well as a lot of money for the court costs and other bills. I’ll never forget staying at a friend of the family’s house one Saturday while my dad had to work and making an enormous paper chain of different colored papers. I was so proud of it and was very surprised when we got home that day to be taken out in the woods with my dad to find a Christmas tree. My little brother proudly hacked away at the trunk with his little hatchet and then let daddy do the last little bit of work. *wink wink* I was 7 which means he had just turned 5 and he was so proud to be helping.

We took our sad little spruce home and wrapped it round with the paper chain. From somewhere hidden in the basement my dad produced an old box of cherished Christmas ornaments and lights and¬† we decorated the tree as best we could with the little that we had. I don’t remember what he held it up with- maybe there was a tree stand too- but I do remember that the tinfoil star didn’t want to stay on the top because the tree was a little crooked. To this day I can’t see a Charlie Brown Christmas tree without thinking of that one.

Someone donated a tree to my mom- just a little 3 foot artificial tree and it stood on a box in our little living room. I don’t remember much about the decorations except for one little handmade angel that hung at the top in place of a star.

Gifts were sparse that year. Someone adopted our family and I got Barbie tennis shoes and an amazingly intricate crocheted Barbie ball gown. My dad got me a little digital diary/organizer and it still resides in a box of special childhood toys along with that dress.

I have been thinking back on that day this year as I decorate my tree with ornaments that we have bought as well as a few that I have made. It makes me thankful for what I have now and also reminds me that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for how I grew up. I am thankful for that too.

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Mexican Christmas

Not the actual holiday altho thats a very unusual event in and of itself. But it sure felt like Christmas last night when I got to open the bags of our belongings that just came back to us from Mexico. Let me explain to those of you who didn’t live through this with me on myspace. Back in the middle of November my darling dearest and I moved to Mexico for his job with his father. It was an open ended trip that may have lasted for years. We came back for a couple of weeks just before Christmas and because it was supposed to be a short trip home, we didn’t bring all our stuff home with us. But we never went back (and for that I thank god every day. I still have nightmares where we had to go back down there.) Our stuff however was still there. Mostly clothes, but I needed those clothes especially the shirts. Also some really nice yarn that I bought for a steal down there. And my extra contacts. Well I was ecstatic to find out yesterday that this stuff all came home with my MIL and FIL. How awesome is that? So I happily dug out the clothes from the first suitcase that came upstairs last night and threw them in the washer and this morning they were dry and warm and so happy to be back in the US. They clung to the dryer which doesn’t surprise me because we didn’t have a dryer down there and everything was line dried. Oh I was so happy that got my spongebob pj’s back and my good cute shirts. I was almost crying over the stuff I thought was gone for good. Well enough of all this misplaced emotion. I’m off to dig through another bag of goodies.