Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 6: Christmas Cards

Once in a while, I let my blog feel like work.  I start myself on these little projects (like a card a day, or a layout a week, or Pinspire Me Monday}; all wonderful little projects, filled with good intentions.  And then life with a husband, three boys, a home, and all the wonderfulness that comes with that side of me bounces me right back into reality, and reminds me why I should not commit to such {little} projects.

So here I am playing catch-up on my 12 Gifts of Christmas.  It's only 12 days, you wouldn't think it would be so hard, right?

Christmas cards: I love to design them, kinda like to assemble them, don't really like to address them, love to send them, and LOVE to cross that task off my list.

This year's card:

The base is made from a standard-sized business envelope following the measurements for the larger pocket from this tutorial.

This creates two pockets one perfect to hold a 4x6 photo (trimmed down just a tad), and one for a little pull out greeting.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day5: Crochet Dishcloths

One of my first crochet projects was a dishcloth.  I like crocheting dishcloths for lots of reasons: they're green (when they get grody, you can toss them in the washer instead of the trash can), they're simple to make, they whip up quickly, there are a slew of patterns available for free online (just search "crochet dishcloths" and you'll find enough patterns to browse through for days or find hundreds and hundreds easily organized on Ravelry), they make dish washing fun.  

And they make a great gift, especially when fastened to a fancy bottle of dish detergent.
pattern here
pattern here
Many granny square patterns also make great dishcloths.  Something with a bit of a lacy feel will help the cloth to dry a little quicker.
pattern found in this book #76

 Added little coordinating gift tags to complete the gifts:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 4: Altered Pants

Our youngest son is an Angry Birds fanatic. He was first exposed to the game last December when I bought my iPod.  It was instant love.  He has now cleared all the levels in all the Angry Birds games that exist, owns nearly all of the plush toys, several shirts, 2 keychains, a board game, some figurines, 2 posters, tatoos, a magnet set...I'm sure I'm forgetting something here.  He used polymer clay to sculpt a set of Angry Birds and pigs.  He duplicated levels with Lego blocks and knocked the Lego pigs down with Lego birds shot from a popsicle stick slingshot he glued himself.  Nearly every piece of his artwork in pre-k contained some rendition of an Angry Birds level.  He once sat and wrote a 10-page book with drawings of levels and descriptions of their difficulty that he dictated to me to write down for him.  Yup.  He is {just a little} obsessed.

Enter the pants:
While Christmas shopping this year he spotted this pair of super fluffy Angry Birds pajama bottoms in the men's department of Target.  They were a large.  In men's.  He of course insisted that I look for his size in the kids' section; complaining about the injustice of it all: "But grown-ups don't even like Angry Birds, Mom.  It's for kids.  Why don't they make them in kids' sizes?"  There are some questions in life that have no logical explanation.  

My little crafty wheel started turning in my brain wondering if I could alter these to fit him, and my sewing skill brain tried to put the brakes on the whole project and say, "Nah, you could never do that." And then I looked at my little guy rubbing his face into the pants to feel their softness and that's all it took.  I tossed them into the cart when he wasn't looking.

Altering them wasn't really all that hard, even for someone like me with minimum sewing skills.

The Task:
Turn these men's large pants (left) into a child's size small (right):
Yikes!  That's a really big difference.
The First Step:
I started with the elastic by snipping into the pocket the elastic is threaded through. I snipped right around being careful not to cut the elastic so I could reuse it.
Easy, right?  Until I realized these were really well-made pants and the elastic was sewn into the pants on the top.  And the bottom.  Grrr for well-made pants that I am using to tear apart.

So me and my little seam ripper got to be really good friends, and I tore out the stitching in both sides of the elastic.


Step Two:
Then I simply laid a pair of his pajama pants onto the Angry Birds ones to figure out where to cut.  I lined up the inseam since I wasn't going to alter that and sliced leaving about 2 1/2" for the hem and 1/2" for the side seam. I folded the hem up twice and sewed it with a zigzag stitch to catch it and then a straight stitch 1/4" below that.

Step Three:
To figure out how much elastic I would need, I just measured against his pants and snipped leaving just enough to join the ends (about 1/2" total).

And this is all I had completed that day he was at school.  I stuffed the pants into my closet for 3 weeks procrastinating the waist band.  Sometimes I make things out to be so much harder in my head than they really are.  But when I did return to this project, I had completely forgotten about taking step-by-step photos. {whoops!} So on we go, photoless.

Step Four:
The waist band.  I cut off just the bit of waist that I had hacked up to get the elastic out and folded down about 1/2" pinned and sewed.  I then folded down about an inch and stitched that to create a pocket leaving a space through which to thread the elastic.  I attached a safety pin to the elastic (a trick I learned from my mom as a little girl--see Mom, I did pay attention to what you taught me about sewing!).  Once it's all threaded, unclip the safety pin, stitch the two ends of elastic together and sew the opening closed.

That's all there was to it!  I will definitely do something like this again--beware humongous men-sized pants covered in child-loved characters!

The best part--he LOVED his new super fluffy and cuddly Angry Birds pants.

{photo coming soon}
what kind of a {crafty person} mother am I, not taking a picture of my {amazing seamstress skillz} son in his new favorite jammie bottoms?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sneakie Peeks

I've been back at the craft table for the first time in a few weeks playing with the January Elite kit from Scrapbook Heaven.  I absolutely love this kit (and it may even be available in the store already--wink, wink).

Here are a few sneakies
I'll be back on the first with the full reveal!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 3: Samoa Bark

Let's talk yummy treats for a minute.

I usually make some type of foodie treat to give to the administrative staff at the boys' elementary schools.  

Last year it was instant lattes in a jar:

The year before that, it was trail mix in a jar:

And then the chocolate dipped spoons:

And these little ornaments attached to boxes that I think were filled with Lindt truffles:
This year, I made some Samoa Bark from Cookies and Cups.  You can get the recipe here.

I did a trial run of this one just to make sure it would all work out and that it tasted good.  I substituted milk chocolate for the dark chocolate that the recipe called for--just my personal preference.

Chill in freezer

Here is why I am not a food blogger: I miss photographing steps.  This is where you will melt the caramels and mix it with the toasted coconut.

 Here's where I used semi sweet chocolate chips for this step.  I also put the melted chocolate into a baggie and snipped off the corner to make it easier to drizzle (not those pictured up there, though; notice the big glops of chocolate?!)

Chill in freezer and cut or break apart.
One thing I did learn on my third batch (figures the first two batches were fine, but I messed up the third).  You really want to press the cookies into the melted chocolate and then you want to press the caramel coconut layer firmly onto the cookies.  I didn't do that to the third batch and my layers separated when I cut into it.  I also found that breaking the bark was very difficult (I might have gotten distracted with another project and left it in the freezer too long...maybe), so cutting it with a pizza cutter worked much better for me.

Then, wrap them in a cellophane bag

Place them in a gift bag

And add a coordinating hang tag

All ready to be given away.

 These were very yummy, and I think they will be in next year's holiday cookie rotation.


Day 2: Rag Quilt

So yesterday I might have told a little lie.  

It wasn't really yesterday, it was sometime early last week when I seemingly had some time on my hands before the holiday last minute chaos of baking, final wrapping, grocery shopping and cooking.  I had really hoped when I wrote that post that I would have been writing the 12 Gifts posts in advance and just scheduling them to post each day.  Well, that was all good in theory, but truth be told, yesterday's post was the only one I had ready to go before Christmas.

So now I will be flying by the seat of my pants and writing these up each day while the three boys are home on break from school and the house needs to be undecorated and post-holiday parties need to be attended (like yesterday and tomorrow night's) and hockey tournaments need to be played and watched.  Ahhhhh {deep exhale}.  I promise I will do my best!

Now for Day 2: A Rag Quilt
 It had been a long time since I used my sewing machine for actual fabric, and forever and a day since I had made a quilt.  But this is kind of a "cheater quilt."  I won't lie and tell you that it went together quickly.  It didn't (but as quilts go, you can't get much faster than this.).  I will say that I loved making this quilt and will definitely be making others.  Why?  Because it's not difficult, there is no quilting through several layers of fabric, it's all done by machine, and my favorite part: there's NO binding!!  Oh happy day.  I loathe binding quilts, um probably because I never really learned the proper way to do it.

On with the how to.  Click here to be brought to Jera's fantastic tutorial for creating a rag quilt.

I used 1/2 yard cuts of flannel shirting and cut them to 6" square.  I am guessing that I used a yard of 6 different fabrics to create a quilt about the size of a crib (but please don't quote me on that, my math for fabric measuring isn't very good as is evident by the fact that I had to return to the fabric store to buy more fabric and also had to scrounge in my stash for some scraps of flannel.  My sandwiches were three layers of flannel with the front and back being identical patterns.  Somewhere I had read to avoid any kind of polyester-type fabrics (ie. felt, fleece, poly batting) because it does not fray well/at all.

You can't tell from the photo below, but I made my snips about every 1/4" to 1/2" (wish I had taken a photo of that).  The washer and dryer worked its magic to create this fabulous fringe look:
This blanket is soft and snuggly and perfect for my nephew to curl up with in front of a movie.

See you in a few hours for Day 3!

Monday, December 26, 2011

elf on the shelf: the final days

It recently occurred to me that I never posted the final pictures of our elf on the shelf from 2011, so I'm back-dating this post to fit them in.

rocking out!

hugs at Christmas

listening to tunes


dear Santa...

sneaking some Christmas cookies

photo shoot

Every Christmas Eve, our elf can be found with the Baby Jesus, to remind us of the true reason for the season.

12 Gifts of Christmas {day one}

Welcome to the first day of The 12 Gifts of Christmas here at Life Made Creations!
I made some homemade gifts this year that I just couldn't share with you until they were given.  So now we get to extend the holiday season for 12 more days, with none of the stress (since most of these posts I drafted before Christmas and scheduled to go live each day).  So grab yourself a hot cuppa something and enjoy!

For day one I'm going to share probably my most favorite gift of the season:

It, of course, began with this pin:

which originated from this tutorial from Good Knits.  Lisa has a fabulous step by step photo tutorial to walk you through wrapping the wreath with crochet.  I then crocheted a scallop edging by repeating this pattern: [sc, sk 2, 5dc, sk2]  around the whole wreath.

I used various patterns to create the flowers.

First flower on left was made by following this video:

The other two red flowers come from this fabulous book by Linda Permann (who happens to be the one who made that bright green wreath above)
On the smaller one, I inserted a grey center made from 8sc worked into a ring, and on the larger 8-petal layered flower, I created a bobble from 6dc, leaving loops on the hook after each dc.

The 6-petal grey flower was just a simple little pattern I made up:

sc12 into magic ring, sl st to close
ch3, sk sc, slst into next sc repeat around to have 6 ch3 loops
in each loop: 2sc, 4trc, 2sc
slst in 1st sc to close
attach bobble (as made above) to center

And the shaggy grey flower is a variation on this flower by AnneMarie
I started with a ch4 loop, and s10sc into loop
Working in front loops only, I sl st, ch5, sl st in every sc around.
Then repeated the pattern in the back loops around.  Another bobble in the center to finish it off.

This was a really fun project, and I will definitely be making more of these soon--like a pastel on for spring.

Hope you'll come back tomorrow for day 2!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A sketch layout {plus one more}

Somehow I managed to scrapbook a page yesterday.  I sort of have this ominous feeling that I have forgotten something--forgot to get a present for someone, forgot to wrap something, forgot a chunk of my Christmas card list.  It just doesn't seem right that it is the week before Christmas and I had time to scrapbook.  I'm waiting for that middle-of-the-night-jolt-upright-in-bed moment to strike....

Here's the layout:
the colors are a bit off--the background is white and the green is not neon
I coupled the December Petite kit with this sketch from Nuts About Sketches
I wish I had more time to play with this kit this month--it's a cute one!  I did do one other layout with this kit that I don't think I posted:

I used alcohol inks to color the bird and then painted it with diamond Stickles.

I have one more little project that I'm working on with this kit--hope to have it done this week.

Enjoy your week!

Friday, December 16, 2011

More Elf Mischief

This month is whipping right by.  I think I am finally at a place where I can let out a little sigh of relief.

The cards are mailed

Many of the handmade gifts are finished:

The stores have been shopped, and the presents we have are even wrapped (amazing for me as I'm usually a Christmas-Eve-at-10:30 wrapper).

The chaos seems to be winding down and the lists are more check marks than not.

So here's what our mischievous Wilfred has been up to lately:

Sipping juice in the fridge.  The boys thought he might be cold so they gave him a blanket:

Caught with the Expo marker after doodling on the boys photos:

Climbing up the tree to get his hat back from the Angel:

Playing DS:

Getting a shoulder ride from Santa:

Hanging from the Christmas card garland:

Fresh from the shower:
He's a silly one, that Wilfred!

I know I haven't posted all that much this month, but the stUdio has been more like Santa's workshop lately and it would be like peeking at the presents if I posted what I've been working on.  I think I'm going to put together a 12 days of Christmas to kick off on the 26th so I can share the projects with you.  
Please stay tuned.