Archive | Crafting Creations

getting rid of 2011 remnants

Today was sure a day. I’m calling it a pancake day. If you haven’t heard me say this before, it’s an expression I got from my roommate. It’s a day you throw out like the first pancake in the batch. Basically, it means that it was a tough one, and I just want it over.

The first day back to work is always the hardest. The email list is long. The projects have piled up. Today’s snow made it even worse. I had the worst commute home in my Pittsburgh history: nearly 1.5 hours to go less than 10 miles. On top of that, I’m feeling sluggish, slightly sick, and didn’t get an ounce of sleep last night.

Despite all this complaining, I had a glimmer of hope tonight. With all that time in the car, I kept thinking about new years resolutions. They are popping up all over the blog world, and I can’t help but feel like I need a list too. What do I want to make of myself this year?

Part of my 2012 thinking is that I want to let go of lists and just simply live. I don’t want resolutions. I want projects. I want to keep my hands busy and my mind sharp. I want to grow something from the beginning. I want to feel the way I did in grad school: full of endless creative possibilities.

I have some ideas for how I can accomplish more this year and find a more creative me again. But just like getting into a healthy routine, there’s always a little cleaning that needs to happen first. Out with the old, in with the new. Despite feeling like absolute garbage, I decided to tackle my mess of a craft corner. I can’t get started unless I get rid of 2011 first. This here was the scene:


Twenty minutes. That’s what I told myself. Just work on this area for 20 minutes. Exhaust yourself. Get it done. It’ll be over before you know it. This is what it looked like after. (Forgive the litter box. I have no other place for it).

Twenty minutes equals 1.5 bags of garbage. I hate to waste, but I just need rid of so many things before I can get back to basics.

Tomorrow’s 20 minutes will be organizing the drawers. The next day, I will tackle the other craft corner: a cupboard housing many of my paints, glue, and former projects. Then, maybe I will think about what I want to accomplish this year.

For starters, all I know is that I want to challenge myself. I want to challenge myself and stick to a goal.

What are your goals for the year? You can call them resolutions, if you want.

{diy} homemade bath fizzies

[Disclaimer: Please stop reading this post if you are my mom, sister-in-law or are a female member of my boyfriend's family. This is your Christmas present, and I can't resist posting before Christmas for timeliness.]

This was a big year for homemade crafts in my household. This Christmas, I put myself on a budget, and I told myself that I would not use my credit card for any gifts. I’ve successfully accomplished that (though now I’m hoping for cash presents since I’m spent!). I did end up buying myself a pair three pairs of boots for Christmas (on my credit card), but they were on sale with free shipping, so I’m justifying that (I will never get out of debt but at least I’ll look nice!)

Nevertheless, this year was dedicated to homemade gifts for him & her. I receive Martha Stewart daily organizing tips in my email (a godsend) and saw the idea for back in November. It seemed easy enough and cost effective, so I decided to create my own.

I probably spent around $60 for all materials including the ingredients, essential oils (which are expensive), display jars, ribbon and bags. This $60 equals 11 gifts to family, extended family, and a few friends, so I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. It’s easy to spend $20 per person on someone during the holidays, which would have been $220. That’s a savings indeed.

I went with three different scents: Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Lavender. This actually proved to be difficult because I discovered my roommate is allergic to Lavender, and so I had to make a separate batch in the (dirty, yucky) basement. For those of you receiving lavender, consider yourself special.

I used a variety of bags and jars based on the person. I tried to give larger amounts to the people I know take baths. For those who might only take one occasionally, I provided bags. I’m a big fan of the bath fizzies over the sugar scrub I made two years ago. I saw the scrub sitting my stepmom’s bathroom unused last time I was home for a visit so I thought maybe I enjoyed making them more than people enjoyed receiving them. I don’t feel bad; sugar scrubs aren’t for everyone! Also, some people just aren’t into baths. I get that too.

I found really cheap tags/labels at Pat Catan’s (similar to Michael’s but in Pittsburgh and better), and I labeled ALL of my gifts with them. I like them because I think it gives it an older, more classic feel. This year in general I spent more careful time with gift picking, labeling and wrapping and I feel it shows my care more than a gift I haphazardly picked out at Wal-Mart. (Note: I did shop at Wal-Mart for a few things. But they were carefully and thoughtfully picked). I also bought some sparkly paper and cut circles for the lids of the jars (see picture above). I tried to create a more “fizzy” feel, and I think this adds a lot to a basic Mason jar, don’t you?

Alongside the bath fizzies, I created a few jars of spice rubs for the guys in my boyfriend’s family. I wasn’t sure what to get them, but they are all really into meat and grilling, so I made a few. I ran out of ingredients pretty quickly though, so I wasn’t able to make as many as I wanted.

I love a good DIY Christmas. Here’s hoping my family and friends do too.

[Spoiler alert: If you know me and think I may have sent you a Christmas card, don't continue reading if you want to be surprised. Seriously. Click the "X" in the top right hand corner. Or, ruin your surprise. It's your choice. I just couldn't wait to post. Sorry. ]

Finally. After two long weeks of tinkering, I’ve completed my holiday cards – all 68 of them. It seems that with each passing year, the list continues to grow longer. I guess I keep meeting more people? That’s a good thing. After all the hard work: I am entirely pleased with how these turned out! They are easy to make – though time intensive – and a perfect handmade card if you’re looking to send something more interactive this holiday season.

I split up the project in segments. For around $30 I bought blank cards, red and green paper, ornament hooks, silver ribbon, festive holiday stampers, ink, and essentials like a hot glue gun and a glue-like adhesive to make the pockets. This year, I was thankful to have a team of helpers at different points throughout the project. Cat, Nick and the BF all assisted with cutting, gluing, and stamping. I tackled the ornaments first, using a circular lid for tracing. Then, I moved on to the silver top of the ornament, cutting ribbon and gluing. Then, I hot-glued the hooks to the back of the ornaments.

The real delight was making this card interactive. Cat and I had several ideas for the ways we wanted our ornaments to look once you pulled them out of the green pocket (see below). After some failed attempts (and a wasted 70 ornaments already completed), we decided to go with a classic, standard look with the help of a “Season’s Greetings” stamper. Now I’m just hoping folks are curious enough to grab onto that ornament hook and pull.

 

Batches were sent out this morning, some from me and Cat and I, others from me and BF. It’s interesting having both a roommate AND a boyfriend in which you know different groups of people. On Sunday, I had some free time so I decided to write personal messages on all of my cards. This was the first year I’ve done this, and although it took some time, it was well worth it. I liked the way that BF helped edit my cards.

I’m not sure why I wrote I love you twice. I don’t think I was paying close attention to my words by that point in the night. At least my brother and his wife know I care!

Did you ever get a god-awful present for Christmas? It’s that present that your cousin or sister or aunt just thought you’d love. And you can see the intention there. You can see the thought behind their gift, and you hug them for that. But inside, you’re thinking: what will I ever do with this? or how can I regift this? or should I just get rid of it immediately? That’s how I felt about getting this gem last year.

I’ve seen these photo boards before, and I don’t understand their mechanics. The purpose is obvious but the execution just doesn’t make sense to me. You can’t see very much of the photo, and the Christmas colors? That sent me over the top.

However, for whatever reason, I kept this gem. I really love and respect the person who gave it to me. It just wasn’t my style. She meant well, I knew that and so I kept it. Finally, last night, I was inspired to do something with it.

I have a ridiculous amount of jewelry that I don’t wear mainly because it all sits in a box inside my dresser. Since my necklaces aren’t displayed, I forget about them. So I’m turning this ugly Christmas-colored bulletin board into an open jewelry box. As I watched TV, I took my time cutting and removing all of the green ribbon. Tonight, I plan on stopping by the craft store and buying newer, prettier ribbon along with some push pins or something heavy I can wrap my necklaces around.

To be continued. I hope. More pictures in the future.

I’m not one for the fanfare of Halloween. I apologize if you are, and this makes me a grump. I’ve just never really liked dressing up. When I was a kid, half of the costumes wouldn’t fit me (chubby kid syndrome), and as I got older, my costumes never felt funny or witty enough. There was one year that Cat and I dressed up as each other (she as a Rose; me as a Cat). That was the year I loved. That was the year we won a Jenga game. Another year I dressed up as windblown woman (an idea stolen from a friend). Other than that, nothing much to report.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for escapism, I do enjoy creative projects tied into Halloween. So last night, Cat hosted our friends Cortney and Kelly over for a night of pumpking carving and catching up.

I enjoyed the way we all figured out what we wanted to make. Cat and Kelly both had ideas in mind already, while Cortney and I doodled on newspaper and sat quietly. Truthfully, nothing spoke to me this year. I googled pumpkins and found an abstract design that seemed pleasant.

Then, we all got to work. Which involved a lot of concentration:

and a good amount of conversation:

At one point, Kelly came into the room and said I looked incredibly sad. I wasn’t, but while I do find the activity of carving pumpkins to be therapeutic, I also find it tiring. My arms are the weakest part of my body. I guess it’s good I finally gave them a workout.

In the end, it was totally worth it. My pumpkin might not hold very much meaning. Nor does it represent my life in any way. But it’s something I’ve never done before, and I’m proud of it for that reason. For once, I’m not going to overanalyze what these shapes or pattern mean. It is what it is, and I’m fine with that. Self judgement is too exhausting; I’ve given that up this fall. I just love that golden glow on the porch. Feels like home today.

Do you like to carve pumpkins? What have you made this year or in the past of which you’re proud?

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