Happiness is a Warm Blanket

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“Happiness is a warm blanket.”  –Charlie Brown

I haven’t posted many projects in the past few months since I have been focusing on finishing this throw that I started last fall.  I wanted to make something special for my God-daughter when she graduated from high school, so I found out what colors she likes the most and started  making squares –LOTS of squares!  You can find the free pattern download for the Pokey Dots Throw at the Red Heart site.

blanketInstead of using three different colors in each circle as the pattern suggests, I liked the look of the solid colored circles.  (Plus, it’s easier not to have to switch colors so often!) I used Red Heart Colors:  Shocking Pink, Medium Purple, Tea Leaf, Coral, Aruba Sea, Turqua, and Grey Heather.   I also used a size “I” hook.  The border includes:  three rows of single crochet in gray around the squares, followed by one row of each color, and finally three more rows of gray.

blanket2Isn’t it cheerful? I know it will brighten up her college dorm room this fall!I hope she loves it as much as I loved making it for her!

Happy Memorial Day and Happy Crocheting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m in Love!

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“All you need is love…”  –The Beatles

In recognition of Valentine’s Day, the diamond company, Brilliant Earth, recently contacted select bloggers inspiring us to form our own unique expression of love to share with others.  Brilliant Earth is a company committed to providing ethically sourced diamond wedding and engagement rings.  I can’t think of any more important piece of jewelry in my life than my wedding ring. Is it a conflict free diamond?  I don’t actually know  where it came from, as it was given to me as a family heirloom once belonging to my husband’s grandmother.  That is my favorite kind of jewelry actually, pieces with a story – handed down and passed along.  It’s the ultimate form of being green, don’t you think?

Without a doubt, I have lots of jewelry pieces tucked away.  Many are sentimental for the memory attached to it or the person from whom it was given. I’ve been gathering hearts for a few years now with the intention of making something special for Valentine’s Day, and this seemed like the perfect time to create a collage full of my “memory jewels.”  I see a heart from Grandma’s pin, and a lone earring, given to me by my best friend in the first grade (the other one long since lost). I see  pendants from necklaces I once wore (and some given to me by a former beau or two.)  It’s a story of the many people whom I have loved – and I love it!

lovefinalx

How do you say “Love?”

Baby, It’s Cold!

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“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” –Robert Frost

Well, like much of the country this winter, Montana has finally had its turn at frigid cold temperatures.  Last week was especially freezing, and most of the kids at school were crossing their fingers for a school closure.  No such luck.  After all, it’s winter, and it’s Montana.  “Bundle up, and buck up!” is the attitude of most.  When it get so cold that your nostrils freeze, and the dogs poke their noses outside and retreat, I always think of my sweet Grandma.  “Baby, it’s cold outside!” she would always say.

baby2I wanted to do a little winter decorating to cheer things up after taking down the holiday decorations. My inspiration, as well as the free chalkboard printable, came from Barb at The Everyday Home blog. Many thanks to her for her inspirational post as well as her cheerful artwork! A thrift store frame brings it all together.

Here’s to spending time in the crisp Montana outdoors and snuggling up by the  fireplace afterward.  It truly is the best of both worlds, isn’t it?

Happy Crafting and Happy Winter!

 

One Resolution

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“Happiness is a place between too little and too much.” –Finnish Proverb

I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions.  I’ve never had much luck with them, and it seems that all of them are centered around doing more, or less, of something.  More exercise, more vegetables, more fun time, less sugar, less television, less stress… Sound familiar?  My favorite resolution each year is simply to focus on “Balance.”  Some weeks are better than others, but when I focus on trying to include a little of “this”, and a little of “that,” in my life things just seem to feel right.  Too much of anything just messes with my equilibrium.  So, I made a little reminder of my focus for 2014.

balanceHappy New Year and Best Wishes for balanced 2014!

New Year…New Calendar

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Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year? –-from RENT by Jonathan Larson

One of my favorite things about the new year is putting up a fresh, new calendar.  My favorite calendar for the past few years is without a doubt the Curly Girl calendar.  I treat myself to a large one for my home office, a small one for work, and a couple to give as gifts! Leigh Standley is a talented artist, and she makes me look forward to turning the page of my calendar each month.  (Sometimes I even turn the page a day early just to peek!) I love their whimsy, their wisdom, and their their inspiration. The problem is that they are so lovely that I can’t bear to discard them at the end of the year.  So, I decided to come up with a way to enjoy my favorite calendar pages all throughout the year!timthumb.phpFirst, I measured the picture pages from an old calendar. I used  a smaller calendar, and they measure 7″X 7″.  This isn’t a very standard size, so I couldn’t find any frames at any major retail stores.  I did find some online, but they were $15-$20 each, and of course, there’s always shipping.  So, I did what I always do…. I went to the thrift store.  I found an old Pier One picture that was in great condition, and the price was right.  I took it apart, spray painted it (this one was green), and I had a great piece of art for under $5.00!

BEFORE:

IMG_3569AFTER:IMG_3580Now, I can switch out my favorite Curly Girl calendar pages when the mood strikes.  What a great way to usher in a new month – and new year!

Happy New Year, and Happy Crafting!

Pugcasso

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“The pug is living proof that God has a sense of humor.” ~Margo Kaufman

One rainy day a few years ago, I found myself wandering around a great little quilt shop in Bigofork, Montana just a few miles up the road… Bigfork Bay Cotton Company.  I love to make handmade gifts, and I found the perfect applique kit to make for my dear friend who is the proud owner of a sweet pug named Gus.  The kit was for “Pugcasso,” a bold, sassy pup!  However, there was only one problem, the kit was for a white pug, and Gus is a very black pug!  The nice ladies at Bigfork Bay helped me find some coordinating dark colors to substitute for the whites in the kit. The kit sat and sat.  It moved from one house to another.  Finally, the day had come to get it done! perrito_2_

So, I attempted my first project using fusible applique.  It really was so much fun, but I’ll admit, I struggled with the color substitution process.  I questioned each choice and in many instances tried a number of combinations of the blacks and grays to make it just right. I didn’t want Gus to become so dark that the individual features were lost. (I always seem to find a way to make a project just a little extra complicated.  Oh well!)  I also added some edging colors to make it fit inside a thrift-store frame that I spray painted black.  Here’s my version of the original “Pugcasso”  It is simply called “Gus!”  I wrapped him up as a Christmas gift, and was so proud to present it to his owner this year.  Isn’t he handsome?

pugThis project was a lot of work, and I learned a lot about applique in-general.  I will probably take a break for now, but I can see myself taking another drive up to Bigfork on a rainy day next spring, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I come home with another kit.  (The process of creating art with fabric is a little addictive.)  This time, however, I think I will stick with the original colors just to make things a little easier!

Happy New Year and Happy Quilting!

Time to Get Inspired!

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“Christmas isn’t a season.  It’s a feeling.” – Edna Ferber

The latest issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas is now available online!  You are going to LOVE this latest treasure trove of crafty holiday inspiration!  I am proud to be a part of putting it all together.  From writing the book reviews to editing the copy, every bit of it was a pleasure!

cover-1One of my favorite projects was Noodle and Lou’s Gift Toppers.  I mean, how cute are these?  Time to start gathering the vintage papers and get to work!

jennsflowersI also have a soft spot in my heart for these adorable vintage ephemera letters by Ashlee Park!  Seriously cute, don’t you think?

ashleeslettersAnd I can’t help but mention the book reviews.  Among several craft-book reviews I wrote for this issue, I also included some great “snow-themed” fiction books – perfect for a cozy afternoon by the fire.

bookclubHurry over to Amy’s site to get this incredible online magazine for only $3.99.  It’s a great bargain for so many great ideas!

christmas2013promoHappy Holidays, Happy Crafting, and of course, Happy Reading!

Book Review: “Rosette Art” by Cathe Holden

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“It is deeply satisfying to win a prize in front of a lot of people.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote by E.B. White.  Each of us should have a chance to win the big prize, shouldn’t we?  Well, there’s no better way to give a fantastic “prize” to someone you love than to make something from Cathe Holden’s recent book, Rosette Art (Chronicle Books).

Rosette-Art-Cover-470We’ve all got them… stashes, boxes, bags and drawers overflowing with simple treasures we can’t bear to part with.  Vintage fabric, ribbon and buttons; lovely papers, pretty pictures and tiny trinkets.  Well, Cathe Holden presents the perfect project for using up some of our beloved scraps…. Rosettes!  Such a simple, but versatile idea! This one-of-a-kind book is more than an assortment of unique rosette crafts; it’s also a collection of lovely papers to incorporate into the designs. For many, the traditional rosette reminds us of the elusive first-place ribbon.  However, with inspiration from this book, you can make a loved-one, or even yourself, feel like the grand-prize winner! The endless list of suggestions will start your own creative juices flowing, and soon you will be hooked-on dreaming up your own clever rosette patterns.   Try a garland, mobile, ornament or wreath.  Whatever you choose, you likely won’t be able to stop with just one!

Head on over to Cathe’s website, Just Something I Made to get started on one of my favorite projects from the book — the Money Rosette.  Wouldn’t this be a perfect “prize” for someone’s special birthday?

cathe_holden_dollar_rosetteShe also shares the directions to make these amazing shelf-paper rosettes.  Can’t you just imagine all of the possibilities?!

CatheHolden-shelfpaper-rosettes-01Pick up a copy of Cathe’s amazing book– complete with papers to get started.  You’re sure to win first place with all of your friends when you whip-up some unique, and thoughtful, gifts!

(This review was originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  For one of Cathe’s projects, as well as some other “prize-winning” crafts, be sure to check out this fantastic issue!)

Time to Hang it Up!

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“Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.”  –Pearl S. Buck

Don’t you love it when your closet is in order and things are arranged by color and type?  Things are so much easier to find, and it’s not such a chore to plan your clothes for the next day.  (One of my pet peeves is when the shoulders of my clothes get misshapen from those plastic or metal hangers.)  That’s why I love my crocheted hangers!  I got my first hangers as a little girl.  They were a gift from my great Aunt Helen.  I used to save them only for special items in my closet, but now I use them for everything.  In fact,  I still have the ones she made me, and I’ve added to my collection over the years.  Recently, I made a whole set for a special young lady I know.  I am helping her celebrate her senior year by sending one gift a month.  This month, she received some hangers with which to hang all of the pretty outfits she will need:  Homecoming, Prom, Winter Formal, Senior Banquet…. the list goes on.  I told Mom to get out the credit card!  At least she’ll have something nice to organize all of these lovelies in her closet!

hangers3You can order the wooden hangers online, and I got this simple, classic pattern here.  They whip up so quickly and will protect your clothes and display them in style!

Happy Fall and Happy Stitching!

 

Let the Countdown Begin!

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“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going.” –Tennessee Williams

A beautiful young lady in my life has just begun her senior year of high school, and I know how special and exciting that time was for me.  So, I wanted to do something throughout this year to let her know I’m thinking about her and lend her bits of wisdom about being seventeen.  At the beginning of the school year in late August, I sent her a package with a card I made for her:

chalkboardlrg-002I used a chalkboard template that I got from the blog “How to Nest for Less.”  I also used many of the fonts recommended on that post.  I downloaded most of them from Dafont.  Included in the  package was a beautiful journal designed in all of her favorite colors. (Journal by Paperchase from Borders)

journal1I wrote heartfelt letter encouraging my sweet girl to diligently document her senior year as something she could look back on in the future. I wanted it to be something that she had a hand in creating, but here are some of the suggestions I offered:

  • Will it become a “to-do” list for your busy year?
  • Will it become a “bucket list” for the things you want to experience this year, or in your life?
  • Will it become a gratitude journal listing 3-5 things a day for which you are thankful?
  • Will it become a one-sentence-a-day journal (www.happiness-project.com)?
  • Will you write long, detailed ramblings about the ups-and-downs of your year?
  • Will it become a scrapbook journal with items taped and pasted inside?
  • Will it be a dream journal of all the crazy things that go through your head while you sleep?
  • Will it be a simple journal listing three things that happened to you that day – good, bad or just plain worth remembering?
  • Or, will it just be a little bit of all-of-the-above?
  • Or will you make up your own journal format?

School is almost two months underway.  She assures me she is writing!  I am looking forward to coming up with something clever and meaningful for each month of this year until her special graduation day next May.