Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Gift: Well Part of One Anyway...

I made another home-made birthday gift this week...a co-worker was celebrating a birthday, plus you know I'll take any excuse to whip up something crafty. :)  The only problem is, my camera battery died before I could take a picture of the final product. :(  And, I had to give it away today so now I'm grieving a bit over my craft that was loved and so quickly lost.

Hobby Lobby was having one of their *famous* sales this week where they have just about everything 50% off.  I found a nice black frame (glass-less, back-less) for $15.  I bought some foam core board and cut it to fit inside the frame.  I covered the foam with a beautiful fabric that I found (also on sale...cost about $1.25 for half a yard).  Then, I made some covered buttons (as I'm still having a love affair with these adorable little things) and glued them to thumbtacks.  Here's the couple of pics that I got before the camera called it quits.

Here's the pretty fabric I found.  I loved the pattern on it...it's not quite so olive-y as it looks in this picture.

 Here's my little covered button thumbtacks (aka: my yummy, sweet little babies)

I didn't get a picture of the finished product -- but I promise it turned out really, really cute!  And, my friend enjoyed her new little bulletin board, and is planning to use it in her office.

I had to do a little craft-room intervention before I started my project last night...this was the state of my craft desk:

I had left the past three weeks of projects strewn all over the countertop and didn't have a place to do a thing!  I also got scolded for leaving my hot glue gun on for two days straight.  Oops.

I got some cute new stamps and am hoping to make some cards soon.  However, life tends to get in the way of my crafting addiction.  Working on my research project for my masters, tying up things at school for these last few weeks of the year, keeping up with the house, the dog, the bills, the husband.  Counting down the days until summer -- when I'll have plenty of time for creative endeavors! 

I am also itching for a home project...I know, I know, after that yard fiasco I swore I wouldn't do another project for quite some time.  I can't help myself!  My living room needs some TLC.  It all started because we need some new furniture.  What we have is what I moved out with 5 years ago and it was a consignment store find -- now it is lumpy and faded.  Well, if you get new furniture it's only natural to paint the walls.  Painting the walls means we'll have to replace and paint the baseboards and window trim.  Then, while we're at it, why not have my handy husband whip up some built-in shelves for more storage and a more "polished" look?  If we do that, then we might as well get a new area rug, curtains, pillows, accessories, wall art, etc. etc. etc.  I smell a fantastic, life-changing, awe-inspiring, room remodel right around the corner. :)  One problem....limited funds.  I'll have to scout out some deals and do-it-yourself art, accessories, and other projects to make this a budget-friendly veture.

Have a great week!  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cute as a Button

So...after the Thursday that I had, I just had to squeeze in a quickie craft.  My dear friend is celebrating a birthday tomorrow, and she loves to read.  To go with the Barnes and Noble gift card that I got her, I wanted to make some little homemade bookmarks.

I've been admiring fabric covered buttons lately, and think they are so charming and so versatile.  Thought I'd try them out for my bookmark project -- they are SOOOO easy!

Here's what I used to make my bookmarks...
Button blanks....they come in different sizes, and come with the little plastic/rubber setter thingy (um, yes...very technical).  The back of the packaging has a pattern that you can use to cut your fabric just the right size.  This craft is perfect to use with fabric scraps!

Here's a close up of the "setter thingy" and the paper clips that I used. 

This craft literally took 5 minutes -- including the time it took my hot glue gun to heat up.  I cut my scrap fabric and set it on the button blank.  (I'm not going to tell step-by-step...it's all on the back of the package in black and white).  The buttons have a little shank on the back of them, so I slid them on to the paper clip and used a little hot glue to hold them in place.


Here's the back:

So simple!  Anyone can do this craft....I promise.  Now, I will have to explore the possibilities of these little buttons.  You could make bookmarks, ponytail holders and hair clips, thumbtacks, magnets....endless possibilities!  Plus, can you believe how cute they are?  Go make some...now!

I wish you a happy Friday and beautiful weekend! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

So, today was Secretary's Day...I told you about our wonderful secretary.  Check this out:

Each child brought her a flower today to celebrate...that's over 500 flowers!!!  These are not even all of them...she put some vases in the lounge, too.  We love Sheila!

I don't know what it is about Wednesdays....I am always drained by the end of Wednesdays.  I guess it is just a mid-week slump.  To cheer myself up today, I drove through my "fantasy neighborhood" on my way home from school.  You know, that neighborhood you drive through, secretly wishing that you lived there?  Mine is right on my way home, so a couple days a week I drive down this sweet little street and try to envision myself pulling into one of the driveways.  It's a quiet street - kind of hidden away.  Each charming house sits upon a sprawling green front yard.  You know the kind...freshly mown grass with a tulip border along the sidewalk and a couple of rocking chairs on the front porch.  Don't forget the kids riding their bikes in the big circle driveway and the golden retriever laying in the front yard.  This street seriously looks like it jumped off the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.  And, oh, how I long to live there!  The houses are probably about 30+ years old, but many have been updated to a current state of glory.  Here's one on the block that's for sale, built in the 1930s:

Only $595,000. Ha!

Okay, here's a pic of my azaleas that I was bragging about...they aren't full, but I'm just happy that they are blooming!

No sure when I'll have time to craft...lots coming up over the next few days.  But, knowing me, I'll probably try to cram in a quickie craft session sometime soon. :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

The past few days have been a little crazy...not exactly how I like to enjoy a weekend, but hey, what can you do?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a picture of a cute craft Post-It Note holder.

This week, I finally have a reason to make one!  This week is Secretary's Day!  I decided to make one for our fabulous secretary Sheila.  She honestly runs our school; and beyond that she is a great listener, problem-solver, child-wranger, and fixer of all things.  She is the best listener.  There's this little chair that sits next to her desk...I think it is supposed to be for children in "trouble".  However, it is usually occupied by a teacher with a wary look leaning over Sheila's desk waiting for her much-needed advice.  Also, she is so good with the kids and maintains ultimate calm...even when the child in her care has done something completely stupid.  To all of our dismay and ultimate dispair, she announced last week that she is retiring.  No!!!

I have a few little things to give her for Secretary Day, but I thought this little goody would be cute too.
I don't have the Post-It notes to put on it yet.  I wanted to get some pink ones...you'll just have to use your imagination!
(Again, sorry for the poor picture quality -- I know, I know, I'm supposed to take picture of things using natural daylight.  However, I never have time to craft and create until it is DARK outside...)

Beautiful Things about my weekend:
  • New purse!!  So cute...pictures to come.  It was 40% off, plus a gift card.  Score!
  • Azaleas are blooming!  I was worried our little plants would not bloom this year --- however, they exploded in white blooms yesterday.
  • Sleeping in....ahhhhh, the beauty of sleeping late.  Nothin' like it.
  • Dinner with family, followed by bedtime routine with my babies (think snuggles, "one more story", and lots of hugs and kisses)  
  • my husband -- who knows how to deal with me better than anyone I've ever known.  He can smile and love on me even when I'm having  "grumpy day" and manages to not lose his patience at times when I don't even want to be around myself.
Hope you all had a fabulous weekend -- and that the week ahead is filled with beautiful things!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is that my dog??

I'm starting to worry....my (normally naughty) dog was unusually pleasant to be around this evening.  If you have met my mutt, you know he's a bit high-strung.  Think whining, jumping, yelping, when he sees a person, animals, or leaf blowing in the wind.  While I do love him, he often gets on my nerves.  I can usually be heard coaxing him with "calm down, baby". 

But tonight, I actually enjoyed my pup.  I was first suspicious when he slept outside the back kitchen door while we ate dinner.  His typical behavior would be whining for table scraps and pawing the door incesantly until we get sick of it and slam the door shut to eat in silence.

Next, I set out to the front yard to weed and water.  I took Harley out on his leash because Mark was mowing in the back.  I tied him up to the front porch...in this kind of situation, he usually whines and cries and gets himself all tangled up like a kitten with a ball of yarn.  To my absolute delight, he layed down in the front yard and contently watched me.  So, I started to think....is he sick?? 

He started to get restless towards the end of my yardwork, so I decided to reward my sweet puppy with a walk.  Keep in mind, when Mark and I usually go for a walk, he says "Do we have to take Harley?"  You see, Harley loves, loves, LOVES to go for walks.  At the mere mention of a w-a-l-k, he immediately begins to cry, wag his tail, and spin in circles all at once.  Then, once we get down the driveway he proceeds to drag me to every mailbox, bush, and light pole so he can sniff, sniff, sniff and pee on it.  I have tried time and time again to channel my inner dog whisperer (where's Ceaser when you need him?) and yank on the leash with authority as I "sshhhhht" him. 

Here's the shocker -- tonight he actually WALKED CALMLY BESIDE ME!!!  We walked the first half mile or so, then I decided I would jog back the half mile to the house.  When I usually start to jog, Harley takes off at a dead run, putting my life in danger as he races down the street with me in tow behind him.  Yet tonight, he ran right next to me, matching my pace perfectly.  When we got home, he happily followed me into the backyard and retrieved his favorite blue squeaky ball for a game of fetch.  Such a sweet, sweet, boy!
I don't know what is going on, but I'm starting to like it!
Handsome boy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quick Baby Gift

Tonight's craft of choice is baby themed...there are a couple of teachers at school who are having babies soon, and we are having a staff baby shower this week.  While I'm not really close with either of them, I thought it would be fun to whip up a little homemade gift.  Don't worry -- it's quick and easy!

I decided to make some pacifier clips...

Here are the  materials you'll need if you want to make one:
  • grosgrain ribbon
  • suspender clips
  • metal snaps (buy the kind that comes with a little plastic setter...)
  • hammer
  • double-sided fusible webbing (no-sew!) + an iron
  • buttons (if desired)
That's it!  Here's how I made them.  First, I cut a long enough piece of ribbon to make them double-sided.  I looped them through the end of the suspender clip.  Note:  I couldn't find plain suspender clips at my JoAnn's...all I could find was these, so I just cut off the elastic part.

Next, I cut a long strip of double-sided fusible webbing.  It is the best for quick projects when I don't want to drag out the sewing machine.  I followed the instructions on the packaging and used it to attach both sides of the ribbon together.  Then, I attached the snaps to one end.  The snaps came with this little plastic setter, so I used my hammer and followed the directions and they were really easy to attach.
You could stop there....but I decided to stitch a big button on to each one, just to jazz it up a bit.  They turned out so cute!  Total cost: $10 for 4 clips (could be less if you used ribbon that you had on hand).  Total time:  1 hour to make 4 clips.  I hope the new mommies enjoy them!

I leave you with a picture of my mutt:
He is exhausted from running through the mud all evening. :)  I let him  out of his chicken wire prison tonight and he ran like wild for the next hour.  It was a beautiful night, so I played fetch with him until he got tired of it, then sat out there and read for awhile.  He finally came and layed down next to me...muddy little stinker!  And, by the way, he did a great job of staying out of the new plants.  There's hope for my little obedience school drop-out!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Backyard Beautification

Well, if you know anything about me, you know I can't resist a "project".  We have basically babied our house one project at a time since we bought it three years ago.  The backyard has always been a bit of an eyesore to us, so I decided that with the beautiful weather this weekend we would take on Project Backyard Beautification.  My husband (luckily) agreed to tackle it.  We are exhausted after a weekend of work, but very happy with the result.  We still have some things we want to do back there...but landscaping costs a pretty penny so we had to agree to wait on a few things until we have a little more moolah saved up!

Here's a good "before" picture.  The backyard looked cluttered and blah.  We were having trouble getting grass to grow close to the house because it is so shady, and the dogs walk that path day in and day out.  The patio was a little small for our table/chairs and the grill, so it had been sitting off to the side.  Also, notice the collection of hoses and hose racks and the ugly air conditioning unit.  Overall, it needed some TLC!

Here was the plan:  a bed with low maintenance shrubs and plants on either side of the patio...something to put the grill on...a solution to hide the A/C unit...decluttering...overall just going for a more "polished" look.  So, we got to work.  After a little sweat, blood, and a few tears...here's the finished look!

Here's a few close ups.  This is the right side of the patio before.  Yuck! 

Ta-da!  Mark built this cool lattice screen to camouflage the ugly A/C unit.  We decided to just cover the two sides that were most visible, in case we would need service on the unit.  Also, the unit is 25+ years old, and will probably have to be replaced soon.  I am hoping to plant something near the lattice that will climb and cover it a little better...maybe some kind of vine.

Left side of patio before:

And after!  We used some paver stones to build a little platform to put the grill on.  By rotating the grill around, it really opens up the patio (which isn't really very big to begin with).
P.S.  That's Harley in the background behind his chicken wire. :)  That naughty pup has an affinity for digging up newly planted greenery...so we sectioned off an area for the backyard for him for now...until those baby plants have a chance to get established.  He'll be behind the chicken wire during the day while we're at work and he's unsupervised...then we'll let him out in the evenings for exercise and fetch. 

Mark seeded all of the bare areas in the yard, so hopefully those brown spots will be filling in soon with new baby grass.

Now, what is it about home improvement projects that makes husbands and wives want to kill each other?  We lived through it, but it definitely not without our share of disagreements.  We just have such different opinions about the way things should be done...and both think we are right every time!  It happens every time we take on a new project around the house, yet we do it time and time again!  We are both happy with the final result, so I guess that makes it all worth it in the end.

We both about killed the dog this weekend.  We were out in the backyard all weekend, which I guess he thinks is his "turf".  I think he was just trying to get our attention by being naughty.  He kept running through the new mulch, or peeing on a new bush.  Anytime we wanted to put him in the garage so we could pull the truck in or out of the backyard, he would run like wild -- thinking we were taking a break from all of our hard work to play a game of chase with him!  At one point, Mark and I were both on our stomachs, one on either side of the truck, trying to grab him out from underneath...as he darted back and forth, just outside of our grasps.  Needless to say, one of us did not keep his cool, and Harley ended up in the kennel for the rest of the afternoon. 

After a LONG weekend, and lots of hard work, we decided to tackle other parts later.  Still wanting some big pots with flowers to add a bit of color, need a new back door, and I'd like to make some new colorful cushions for the patio chairs.  There's time for all of that though....and I don't think I'll be talking my husband into any more yardwork for awhile. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Productive Friday

Today is it gorgeous outside!  I have the windows open so the sunshine and fresh air can come in to meet me.  You may be thinking....now, why aren't you at work?? I decided to take a Friday off and try to get some things done around the house.  So, I slept in just a little this morning...but was up by 7:45!  I've been cleaning, doing laundry, and (most importantly) getting some research done for my class.  I've been reading and working on writing the introduction of my research paper...I feel like I have been very productive so far today, so decided to take a little break to do some blogging.

Here's the final result of the little project that I started on Wednesday...
Yes, that's right...who says your refrigerator magnets can't be cute?!

Here is what my old assortment of magnets looked like: 
a chip clip, can opener, hooters magnet (thanks honey), the plain magnet that fell off of a chip clip, and a little magnet that my mom got me from Arizona

I decided I would much rather have some cute, that coordinated with my kitchen.  Plus, let's face it, I'll use any excuse I can to play with my Cricut machine. :)  So, I laminated the diecuts (for a little durability) that I made on Wednesday, then glued a really strong magnet onto the back of them.  I like my magnets to have some holding power to them.  I hate it when I put a paper under a magnet, and the whole thing goes sliding down the front of the refrigerator.

I think this is a big improvement.  Oh, it's the simple things that make me happy...  Notice the cute drawing from my neice Grace. She drew herself with me and Uncle Mark...I love that she drew a baseball cap on his head!  He always wears a hat.

I am hoping to get into the backyard this weekend and do some improvements.  Our backyard is in sorry shape.  We can't do much about the lawn and weeds until the fall -- at which point Mark will kill off all the grass and start from scratch, like we did in the front.  However, we are hoping to spruce up our patio area and do some landscaping along the back of the house.  It's supposed to be sunny and 70s this weekend -- perfect for a little yardwork!  Hopefully my  honey isn't too exhausted from his first week back to work to get down and dirty in the yard.  Hmm...maybe that's how I should trick him into it.  Honey, are you ready to get down and dirty with me? *wink, wink*   Eh, it could work...

One last pic...my little mutt was following me around the yard as I was taking "before" pictures.  He's a stinker!
I'll post pictures of anything we get accomplished this weekend.  Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Busy, busy, busy...

Do you ever have those days where you are just running all day long?  I felt like I spent the whole day playing catch up...and didn't get nearly enough done!

Wednesdays are my least favorite day of the week -- I have my kiddos most of the day, with one short 30 minute break...which I usually spend frantically running copies, returning emails, or grading math quizzes to send home.  Then, right after school I tutor from 3:15-4:15.  Today after tutoring it was off to the grocery store, then home to make dinner, pick up the house, start laundry, dishes, fit in some homework for my research class, pay bills, and entertain my attention-starved puppy.  After all that, I finally told the hubby I was going to "the room" and that I'd see him later!  After an hour of craft therapy, I'm feeling better. :)

I made these on my cricut tonight using that new kitchen cartridge that I was talking about.  Check back tomorrow to see what I turn these little babies into...

Aren't they so cute?!  Stay tuned...

By the way, in case you haven't heard...my hubby went back to work this week!  He is working for a new company and enjoying being back on construction sites.  The job he's on now is outside, so he's soaking up the spring weather and sunshine.  Such a blessing for both of us -- although it's not as fun to come home when he's working.  I got too used to him making dinner, keeping up the house and bills...bascially spoiling me with all of his free time.  Oh, well!  I'd much rather have him working than come home to dinner on the table.  And, I'm sure he agrees. :)  Something that I have always appreciated about our relationship is that we are able to pick up the slack when the other needs it.  I do more in the summer time, because I'm off school.  He has done more for me this school year because I've been swamped with working and masters classes.  I guess that's what marriage is all about -- supporting each other and helping the other get through the tough times.  It is comforting to know I have someone who actually will work to make my life less stressful.  Feeling lucky...

Okay, here's my latest inspiration...
I was reading one of my favorite blogs earlier in the week.  Young House Love  It is awesome and full of inspiring do-it-yourself ideas.  One reader wrote in about a chair makeover:



Are you in awe?? I am!  I have been wanting a similar chair for my living room.  We are hoping to revamp the whole thing soon, so I've been collecting small things, as well as ideas, over the past few weeks.  I looked at lots of similar chairs at NFM and they were $200+!  She got this one at a garage sale for only $20!!  So, I'm going to scour some garage sales, flea markets, etc. and see if I can find a chair with good "bones" that I can redo.  Thought it would be a fun and new project, even if I don't have time to do it until summer time.  Oh, summer.  How I long for you!

Anybody else counting down the days until the weekend??  I think I have Spring Fever.

Thanks for reading! :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everyone!

I love Easter. Today was such a beautiful, sunny day. Mark and I got up and went to church to celebrate the wonderful holy reason for this day. Then we "made the rounds" as we usually do on holidays. I'm sure we won't do that forever, but now while we don't have any babies to tote around it is easy for us to get around and see all the family members for the holidays.

Here's some pictures from our Easter celebration at my mom's house last night.

Grace (7), Nick (3 1/2), RJ (20 months). I have the cutest niece and nephews!

What a handsome boy! He looks like the perfect mix of my sister Kate and her husband Richie. Such a cutie...

With all the craziness the past couple of days, I have had absolutely zero time to get downstairs to my craft room, which is a bummer. Also, the class I'm taking right now (Action Research) is taking up quite a bit of my extra time! I'm hoping later this week to get down there and whip something up...so stay tuned!

I recently got a new cartridge for my cricut that has kitchen shapes on it -- so cute! Trying to think of what exactly I want to do with it. We remodeled the kitchen last spring, and my new kitchen has a kind of retro/vintage vibe to it, which I love.

Here's the only before picture I had...the cabinets were an unfinished oak with kind of creamy yellow walls.

Here's how it looked mid-way through while we were painting the cabinets....YIKES!  I get a little anxiety when things are out of order, so you can imagine how I was feeling at this point.  See that white stripe at the top on the soffet?  Look at the next picture to see what I did up there!

It became pink!  Now, this took some negotiating with my husband...when I first told him I wanted to paint a pink stripe in my kitchen he was not going for it.  However, I think it turned out cute!  I got lots of pink "accessories" as wedding gifts, including a pink kitchenaid mixer, pink tea kettle, pink metal collander, and some pink utensils.  I don't think it's too much pink -- of course, I love pink! :)

We added these cabinets and pantry to this wall in the kitchen -- it used to be an empty wall, and was such wasted space!  Now we have our microwave above the stove (instead of taking up space on the countertop, like in this picture):

Here's the other end of the kitchen, where our table is.  I have some antique tablecloths hanging on the shelf behind the table, along with some vintage teacups and saucers on the shelf.

The wheels are turning...I'll try to come up with a kitchen craft to share on the blog later this week.

I hope you all had a blessed holiday!