craft verb \'kraft\ to create with care, skill and intention

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Resolution Check-In & Fun Bathroom Pics

Hi there! We've almost made it through another week, folks! Woo hoo! Before I do anything else, I want to show you this awesome piece of spring artwork made by my 8-year-old daughter. She did this all on her own without any prompting or direction from me, and I love it! I am using it to decorate my entry table.

That's a box, some pipe cleaners, tissue paper, crepe paper, tape, and printer paper that she colored and cut out. She's so artistic and resourceful. I love her so much! 

And here we are at the end of another month! That means it's time for me to do a check-up and see how I'm coming on my resolutions. Yikes!

  • To be more intentional about giving - We are definitely making progress in this area. We were able to make a family donation to the American Red Cross to help in Japan. It was just a bit under $60, which isn't a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. But to kids, that is a pretty big amount and they really got excited about being able to contribute and feeling that they were really making a difference.
  • To be more accepting of people...including myself - I feel like I'm making progress here, at least in terms of other people. It takes a conscious effort, but it's working. As for being more accepting of myself, I have found this especially challenging over the last month. I am just not the person I want to be! But I'm trying to give myself some credit for trying :-)
  • To focus more on how to fulfill my kids' emotional needs and less on how my kids can fulfill my emotional needs - It's funny how one month I find this goal challenging with one kid in particular, and then the next month my relationship with another kid is more challenging. So, I have been making progress on this with one of my kiddos who I was finding particularly challenging over the last couple of months. I'm happy about that. But I've done a little back-pedaling with another of my little darlings. Still got work to do!
  • To work through the year on handmade [Christmas] gifts instead of scrambling at the last minute - Well, I've been working on some ideas. I mean, I've been working on the ideas themselves, not on the projects :-) But it's still early in the year, right?!
  • To stock my Etsy store - Okay, I still haven't done this, but I have an excuse a reason. When I first set up my Etsy account a couple of years ago, I worried and worried over what my user name would be because Etsy administration makes sure to explain very well that you cannot change it. Like, ever. And guess what? I want to change it. Which means I need to set up a new email address so I can set up a new account. I know that's not really a huge deal, but now I'm worrying and worrying again about what to call my shop this time around. So basically I'm procrastinating, but I don't really know why. It's {possible} that I have been trying to do a little too much lately.

Now I want to move on to showing you the fun "after" pictures of my bathroom redo!

This is my fun new curtain! The fabric is from Michael Miller and I got it at It's part of the Flora and Fauna line by Patty Young. I love the hummingbirds! I decided that I want this bathroom to have a whimsical feel and so I want to fill it with things that make me smile. This fabric definitely fits the bill.

When The Hubs took down the cabinet over the toilet to make it easier for me to paint the walls, he started by taking off the cabinet doors. And suddenly I loved it! And then he said that he wanted to take the cabinets out to the garage and paint them black while I was painting the walls (an idea we had kicked around, but I hadn't really expected it to amount to anything) and I fell in love with him all over again! I still have to play around with decorating the shelves, but check this out:

The color's a little better in this pic if you can forgive the glare. Do you like that moss-covered initial on the top shelf? I learned how to do it at ordyandjoon and it was fast, easy, and cheap (score!). The shelf is a work in progress while I seek out some groovy apothecary jars and whatever else I find that I can't live without :-)

On one wall I have my butterfly specimen art and on another wall I have this quote from Willa Cather: "Where there is great love, there are always miracles." I found it in a book of vellum quotes that I've had for years. I put the vellum sheet over a piece of scrapbook paper, popped it into a $3 frame from Wal-Mart, and - voila!- art! Okay, maybe not art, but suitable wall decor anyway.

But the best part of all? No water spots on the walls! Yea!

It's a small room, but I was thrilled to be able to do a complete makeover for (way, way) less than $100. There are a few more accessories I'd like to add (um, like a new soap dispenser maybe?), but even as it sits right now it is such an improvement that I am happy happy happy.

I won't be here tomorrow, so I hope you have a fabulous weekend and I'll see you again next week!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All-Natural Herbicide and Bathroom Redo Before Pics

Greetings friends! When I start seedlings indoors, I keep my little tray on top of the cabinet in our laundry room because it is the only place in our entire home that is inaccessible to our cat. So when I walked in on this scene on Sunday morning, I knew there was gonna be trouble. Better make that was inaccessible to our cat.

Do you notice anything strange about my little seedlings?

This is what they looked like before Lucky ate all the leaves.

You are probably starting to understand why his name is "Lucky." He's my little all-natural herbicide. He's definitely lucky that I love him so much. Looks like I will be buying starter plants again this year :-)

I've got some pictures to show you of my half-bathroom. We've been in this house for five years now and I've never done anything to spruce up this room except change out the rug and hand towel. It's a very small room and I've just been stuck.

This is the wall behind the sink. I know that looks like nastiness on the wall, but it's actually water spots. The original paint job consisted of a single coat of very watered-down flat paint right over the drywall with no primer. And it's not that cool scrubbable flat paint, either. It's always driven me crazy because no matter how clean the bathroom is, it always looks dirty because of those stupid spots!

This is the cabinet that hangs above the toilet. It's a nice enough cabinet, but kind of boring.

You can see that I've never put a curtain up. Still just boring old blinds. Bleh!

You can't see the cabinet under the sink, but it matches the upper cabinet. And there are those dreaded water spots behind the sink again.

This is the only wall decor I've ever put up in there. I know that saying is a little played out, but I still like it. I like the shabby chic-ness of the plaque, too. I told a friend recently that my decorating style is more of shabby chic minus the "chic." I've got 5 kids, y'all! I just can't maintain chic. Even the shabby kind.

Meet my new best friend! I picked this paint out all by myself and I can't believe I picked cream! I never pick mild colors! But I decided that I want to be able to redecorate the bathroom by just switching up accessories, so I picked "Vanilla Creme" for the walls.

That's all for now! Tomorrow I will show you the new and improved version of my tiny little bathroom. I love it! And it was easy and cheap! {Bonus!}

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Good evening friends! I am happy to announce that Lesli from Put A Little Umbrella In Your Drink is the winner of my spring-y kitchen towel and dishcloth set! Congrats Lesli! And for everyone else, check out Lesli's's way cute!

I hope you had a great day! This cold, gray, rainy weather has me in a bit of a funk. Don't worry - I'll make a full recovery when we get a little sunshine!

**Edited to add that I forgot to mention that I used to pick the winner. A little silly with two entrants? Yes. But I was curious to check it out. Cool site!**

Monday, March 28, 2011

Make it Monday

Have you heard of "specimen art?" I stumbled onto it last week and I have been unable to get it out of my head ever since. It's based on this kind of thing. The real thing is kind of cool and kind of creepy all at once. It makes me think of Silence of the Lambs ("It rubs the lotion on its skin."). But a crafty, insect-friendly version has been sweeping through bloggy land. First Lady of the House has a great example on her blog, but the trend is not limited to butterflies. Crafty peeps have taken the repetitive and colorful elements of specimen art to new heights with pumpkins, snowflakes, shamrocks, and even spiders!

I had to do this!

I knew I wanted to mix up the sizes of the butterflies, but I really didn't want to buy a bunch of punches. So I found this sheet of stickers. It was on sale for $1.00!

I cut out the stickers of the butterflies, cutting the plastic backing and everything to make them a little easier to handle.

I laid the butterflies on the backside of scrapbook paper, traced around them, then cut them out.

I fussed and fiddled with the arrangement. When I got each butterfly where I wanted it, I used a pearlized pin to attach it to the back board of a shadow box.

Another element of the original specimen art that I wanted to incorporate in my version is the labels. Since I didn't need to classify my "specimens" by genus and species, I decided to just pick out some great words. I love words! I'm sure you hadn't noticed ;-) I settled on the words dream, believe, grow, reach, explore, persevere, transform, achieve, learn.

Here's the finished product! I got that shadow box on clearance at Michael's for $5.99! It needed a little hot glue and a coat of spray paint, but it was still a steal. So fun!

I bought three sheets of scrapbook paper (at $0.59 each) to augment what I already had on hand. All together, I was able to do this for well under $10.00. Specimen art is a fun, cheap, quick way to add a splash of color and a little whimsy to a room. Try it! You'll like it!

Happy Monday!

Tip Junkie handmade projects**I'm linking this to Tip Junkie's link party. Click this button to check out HUNDREDS of awesome projects and ideas!**

**Linking up to Beth's party at The Stories of A to Z. Another great craft and decorating site for you to check out!**

Friday, March 25, 2011

A litttle inspiration

I don't know about you, but I'm needing a little nudge today. Here are some inspirational/motivational quotes to help us cruise into the weekend.

You are where you are in life because of what you believe is possible for yourself. - Oprah Winfrey

Be the change you want to see in the world. - Gandhi

You are never given a wish without being given the power to make it come true.
You may have have to work for it, though. - Richard Bach, Illusions

Where there is great love there are always miracles. - Willa Cather

Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act!
Action will delineate and define you. - Thomas Jefferson

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as
good as dead; his eyes are closed. - Albert Einstein

A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge. - Thomas Carlyle

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned. - Peter Marshall

Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength, while loving
someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now
 accepted was once eccentric. - Bertrand Russell

The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. - Dr. Linus Pauling

Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity. - Chuck Long

Some men look at things the way they are and ask "why?" I look at things
that are not and ask "why not?" - Robert Kennedy

Love will keep us together. - Captain & Tenille

And I finished dishcloth that matches the towel, so the giveaway set is complete!

Just leave a little comment and you'll be entered to win!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's Giveaway Time Again!

Greetings everyone! I know I said yesterday that I would be posting about a giveaway in a couple of days...but I was too excited to wait!

The towel itself is a lint-free blend of 70% polyester and 30% cotton with a waffle-y texture. The yarn for the crocheted top is 100% cotton. The ribbons and rick-rack are polyester.

 The colorway of the yarn is "Playtime," but I think it looks like rainbow sherbet.

 A big pink button closes the strap around the handle on a drawer, on an oven door, or on a fridge door.

Coordinating ribbons and rick-rack in bright pinks, orange, and yellow along the bottom edge finish off the towel. I was inspired by the ribbon and rick-rack towels at Aesthetic Nest.

PLUS - There will also be a scrubby-textured dishcloth made from the cotton yarn leftover from the towel topper. It's about halfway finished now, but I couldn't wait to show you the towel :)

I made this towel a little differently from the towel I showed you on Monday. Instead of cutting the towel in half, I folded it in half, ran an embroidery chain stitch down the middle, and started the crochet topper through those stitches. It was easier for me to make the cut-in-half towels, but I liked the finished product a little better on the folded towel because you get a double thickness of the towel. I made the other towels first, and I wanted to try out this method, too.

So, while we were camping out last weekend I had some trouble sleeping the second night. I woke up - like, wide awake woke up - at 2:30 in the morning. I tossed and turned for an hour and gave up. I crept out of the tent, grabbed a chair and my yarn bag from the car and decided to craft by the light of the moon. What? Isn't that what you do when you can't sleep? Anyway, it was freaking awesome! The moon was almost full so there was plenty of light. And. It. Was. Quiet. Okay, I guess it wasn't exactly quiet because there were lots of bug and frog noises...but there were NO kid noises!

I had packed the towel, but I had forgotten to pack any decent scissors, so cutting the towel wasn't an option. It seemed like the perfect time to try out towel topper method #2. I have to admit that I did get a little spooked for a few minutes when I heard footsteps, but it turned out to be someone heading to the restrooms. Then I started thinking to myself that since I was sitting outside all by myself in the middle of the night, crocheting by the light of the moon, I probably looked sufficiently crazy to ward off any bogey men.

If you would like a chance to win this spring-themed kitchen towel and dishcloth set, entering is easy. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post! It can be as simple as "hi" and you will be entered in the giveaway! Do make sure I know how to contact you if you win. I will accept entries until noon on Tuesday and then pick a winner that afternoon. I think I'll use a random number generator this time - that's what all the cool kids are doing ;) Good luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This will only hurt for a minute...

There comes a time in the life of every parent gardener when you have to make some hard decisions. Today was one of those days. As baby seedlings grow they must be thinned out. It's for the greater good and I'm certain it hurts me more than it hurts them. When I first planted the seeds, I placed a pinch of seeds into each little peat pellet. Now that the seeds have grown into plants, each pellet can only support one plant.

This is what my tray looked like when I started.
But a few snips with these suckers will take care of things.
You can see that there are multiple plants per pellet.
I picked the strongest looking plant in each pellet and snipped the rest.
I also removed from the tray any pellets with plants that are
clearly not going to make it.
I rearranged the remaining plants to allow for better airflow
around the plants. Now my tray looks nice and tidy :)
As for the plants that aren't going to make it, I'll just try planting the seeds directly into the garden. All of my chard failed last time I tried to start it indoors, but flourished in the garden. I think it's almost always worthwhile to give things a try. The last time I grew kale I planted it at the end of May, much too late to start kale here in Zone 6. But it sprouted and grew anyway. Then it kept growing right through the heat of the summer. Then it kept growing right through the cold of the winter. It finally went to seed toward the end of the spring. So you just never know unless you try!

Since I've totally dropped the ball on my scheduled spring cleaning plans for the last several days, I feel like I should offer some sort of explanation. It's not an excuse, just an explanation. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been presented with some situations that made me realize that I've got some internal/emotional spring cleaning to do. Whenever I realize that I need to do a little work on myself, it kind of takes over my brain. Remember, I've already acknowledged that I have issues with all-or-nothing thinking, so I know this isn't the healthiest or most effective way to handle things. But I have to watch out or I'll start obsessing over why I always tend to obsess over everything :)

So I've been spending any available time doing some soul-searching. Well, that and badgering The Hubs for his thoughts and ideas on why I do the things I do and how I might go about doing them differently. There are a couple of relationships in my life that I find extremely challenging - mostly because I continue to expect (out of hope, I think) the other person to behave differently when the fact is that they have given me no reason whatsoever to expect that change. On an intellectual level I know that I just have to change my expectations to be more aligned with reality. On an emotional level I find that very difficult to do.

I have also been spending quite a bit of time examining my faith lately. My faith itself has not changed. I am a Christian. What has been changing a lot over the last few years is my idea about what I think that "looks" like. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable talking about this with people because I worry about alienating both my Christian and non-Christian friends. But I am feeling compelled lately to face the world with more integrity in this area, to be more honest and forthcoming about my beliefs and about my questions.

I don't expect to come to any actual solutions in these areas. At least not anytime soon. What usually happens is that I wrestle with things like this until I resolve enough of the problem to feel that I am making some progress. It's all about baby steps, for sure. That frees up a little space in my brain and I start being able to function normally (for me) again. For a while. Until the next thing comes along.

So I apologize for jumping the track a bit. Thanks for your patience while I sort a few things out. Ooh - I almost forgot to tell you! There's a giveaway announcement coming up in a couple of days! It's something cute and springy and you'll just have to wait to see it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Toss it Tuesday!

Hi all! It's Tuesday again, so I'm tossing out another basket-o-junk.

It's a slow day here, folks. Well, on the blog it is, but not so much in real life. So I'll just share with you a little tidbit of wisdom I've picked up and then I'll sign off. If you blog in addition to doing your regular daily duties, your family will think it's pretty cool that you have a blog. If you blog instead of doing your regular daily duties (i.e. making dinner) your family will wonder why you waste so much time on a stupid blog. True that. See you tomorrow!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Make it Monday and What I Did Last Weekend

Okay, first I should start with what I didn't do last weekend - I didn't finish my closet. I was just too busy having fun! We took the kiddos camping and had a blast! It was awesome to unplug for a couple of days and just enjoy some time together.

Our car was packed full! We borrowed the car-top storage
and it was so full it almost wouldn't shut. Plus we all rode
with stuff on our laps. It takes a lot of stuff for 7 people to
camp for 2 nights!
Before kids, The Hubs and I used to go back-country camping.
I never would have thought we would have a tent this big. I
think this tent has more square footage than our first home.
We saw a little wildlife - mostly birds.
This is what happened when my 8-year-old daughter got
up close and personal with a goose. We had been on site less
than an hour - good times. My girl and the goose both made
a complete recovery.
I wish I had included something in this pic to give a sense of
scale. Have you seen "campfire" marshmallows at the store?
This thing is enormous. A fun novelty treat that the kids got
a big kick out of - but not very practical, really. Next time we'll
stick with regular marshmallows.
We all had a great time and came home stinky and exhausted. I'm still recovering and trying to get caught up. So I didn't finish my closet and I didn't do any spring cleaning chores today, either. And you know what? It's all good.

I do want to go ahead with Make it Monday today because this project is in honor of my friend Barbara. A couple of weeks ago, Barbara and I were sitting together at a BMX race in Texas. Barbara asked me if I know how to make kitchen towels with a crocheted top. I hadn't thought about those towels in years. Growing up, we always had them buttoned onto our refrigerator handle. My Nanny (my maternal grandmother) made the towels all the time and gave them to my mom. I told Barbara that I didn't know how to make them but that I would do a little research and find out. Thinking about the towels sparked a feeling of nostalgia and I thought it would be fun to make a couple.

The next day, I got very sick with a migraine. Barbara and her family offered to stay at the races with my oldest son so he could finish his races and we could go ahead and get on the road to come home. (I am fortunate not to get such severe headaches very often, so I had not thought to pack my prescription migraine meds. I won't make that mistake again!) I knew right away (right away once my headache went away, that is) that I would make Barbara a couple of these towels to thank her for her kindness. I'm going to deliver them to her tomorrow and I hope she enjoys them!

This is how I made Barbara's towels:
Start with a kitchen towel and cut it in half.
Fold the raw edge over about 1/4 ", then fold it over again
and press it.
I marked off 1/4" intervals across the folded edge. It doesn't have
to be 1/4". You can choose any interval you want as long as
you are consistent across the towel.

Use a seam-ripper to make small holes in the towel just below
the folded edge at each 1/4" mark. Using worsted weight yarn
(this is Red Heart Super Saver in "Medium Thyme) and a
size G hook, work a single crochet through each hole across
the towel. Do this with the wrong side of the towel facing you.
From there, I worked 2 more rows of single crochet. Then I worked right-side rows as decrease rows, working 2 single crochets and 1 single crochet decrease all the way across. Sometimes I had to fudge a little to make sure I ended the rows with single crochets and not decreases.

On the wrong-side rows, I just worked a single crochet in each stitch across. I continued this way until I was down to 6 stitches across, again I had to fudge a little to come out with 6 stitches. I worked single crochets in each stitch on right-side and wrong-side rows until the strap portion was 4-4 1/2" long.

To make a buttonhole big enough to accommodate my 1" buttons, I made a single crochet in each of the first 2 stitches, then made 2 chain stitches, skipping the 2 single crochets in the middle of the strap, then made a single crochet in each of the last 2 stitches. I worked 3 more rows of single crochet stitches, then tied off. I like to work 1 row of single crochet around the edge, but that is just my preference.

Sew a button on the front, weave in the loose ends, and you're finished!
Please ignore those fingerprints on my oven door!
If you would like to give this project a shot, but you don't know how to crochet, check out these instructions. The most involved portions of this project don't require crochet and the crochet portions are suitable for beginners. These towels are quick, fun, and easy to make and they are very handy to have around.

Barbara, thank you so much for all of your help. I hope you like your towels!

See you all tomorrow!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Friday!

Greetings friends! Just a short post today because it's the last day of spring break and I am living it up with the fam today ;-) Everywhere I look there are little signs of spring!

Pansies look so soft and delicate, but they are so resilient! I planted these last fall and they made it through the winter. Do you know how they do it? What kills most flowers when the mercury dips below freezing is that the water in the plant's cells freezes, which means it expands, which bursts the cells. But pansies are a little smarter than your average petunia. When the weather gets cold, the plant directs it's water to the roots so where it will be insulated from freezing. Then, when the snow melts away, they wake up looking refreshed and gorgeous. Yeah, I know I'm a geek. After years of fighting it unsuccessfully, I'm just learning to embrace it ;-)

Another shot of my ornamental pear tree.
Oh, I do wish that this was the kind of pear tree that would actually grow pears...but it's hard to feel much disappointment in something so beautiful!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's St. Patrick's Day, y'all! So:
Eat something green!

Drink something green!
(Sorry folks, it's a little early in the morn for green beer!)

Grow something green!
Have a great day!