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Category Archives: Oh, I Make Other Stuff, Too

Kindly Get Out of My Way


It’s Craft Night, after all, and do you know what we do on Craft Night?

We craft! And chat and laugh and don’t yell at kids. AWE-some.

Tonight, my plan is to snip the quilt, wrap the wreath (which is for Easter, so no time like the present, I suppose), and try my hand at a new-to-me bangle. (More on that last one next week…hopefully.)

Here’s wishing you a weekend of frelaxing fun!

Fake It ‘Til We Make It

We had three cool, beautiful mornings this week. It was all I could do to not break out the sweaters and whip up some hot cocoa; the 90 degree temps in the afternoon provided a good reality check. Still, if we wait for the REAL Fall weather to kick in, we might miss the whole season.

Hence the wreath:

Inspired by the completely awesome Agnes Blum , I’ve been wanting to make one of these for months. Since I’ve been housebound with Ms. Sickie this week, it seemed like now would be as good a time as any to just do it already. Once I sat down to wind the yarn (a remnant from my mom’s knitting leftovers, thankyouverymuch), it only took a couple of hours total. Longtime readers with a keen eye might even recognize the leaves and accent fabric from years past. No sense in letting them sit on a shelf like they did last year!

I already have an idea for a Christmas version, and one for The Girl’s room. The latter will probably be a way’s off, because I’m not sure what to use for the decorative elements. Maybe I should wrap the wreath and then figure it out?

Or maybe I should wash the dishes. Those might actually be the more pressing matter today.



Olympic Fever

It’s really all I can do not to hunker down in our cave of a house and watch Olympic coverage all day every day. I love the Olympics!

In the spirit of the games, I finally got around to setting up the pool noodle target station that I pinned many weeks ago. To give you an idea, I actually made the rings on July 4th; that was as far as that went til now. (We actually had a blast with just the rings, so it wasn’t a total loss.)

Yeah — it’s far from perfect. Getting the rings to stay rings is no small feat. Lucky for me, the kids are still young enough not to care. Since they only play with it for about ten minutes at a time, the attention I gave to “perfection” was just about right.

After our special Opening Ceremonies dinner [what’s more American than a grilled hot dog, I ask you?], the torches made their appearance in Cooper Arena:


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see what’s on. I’m hoping that it’s more water polo or rowing or something horsey, because I have a lot of other things to do today.

Because I Can Can Can!

It may not look like much to you, but what you are seeing is a total triumph! Yes, I managed to actually can my own pickles this year. Creole Spiced Okra Pickles, to be specific, and those four jars are two summers in the making. Last summer, during the okra glut of 2011, I tried to can a batch of pickles and failed miserably. The jars appeared to be cracked, then the water started sudsing — either from the dishtowel I’d placed in the bottom or from the jars or from the pan. Who knows? — and it went downhill from there. The water was overflowing the pan; it was total chaos. Refrigerator pickles it is! We managed to polish them all off, so it wasn’t a total loss, but it was two hours gone from my life which I’d never get back. No more canning for this girl.

But —

Could it really be that impossible? My grandma didn’t particularly love cooking, and she preserved her own food (as my mom always points out.) Surely it was worth another shot. This time around, I figured out that it might be a good idea to fill the canning pot with the jars already in it. That way, I’d have at least a better idea of how much water they would displace; goodbye, boil-over! After following the instructions to the letter, I ended up with four precious jars of shelf-stable pickles, and one to snack on. (There was only room in the pot for four jars, and I sure wasn’t going through the whole process for one more lonely little jar.) Best of all, it only took about an hour, and I didn’t have to figure out another use for okra.

One thing we’ve been able to count on finding at the CSA pickup, and that is okra. Plenty of okra.

Sure do wish that there was something jam-worthy — that’s what I’d like to try for my next trick. I tell you, for it being the hottest time of the year, I can’t believe how much time I’ve been spending in the kitchen. It’s been all food all the time around here, but there’s fabric on the table, and I’m about to start cutting.

Any minute now….


Easter Fun [Pintastic!]

Sure, none of our kids “need” new Easter baskets or one more bunny, but I couldn’t help it! Once I saw these buckets (although now I can’t remember where I first spied them, but they made their way to my Pinterest* board somehow) and hand puppets, well, what choice did I have? Especially seeing as how I had all of this pretty scrapbook paper amongst my supplies, not to mention the fabric for the bunnies.

Actually, I didn’t have any of the fabric called for in the bunny tutorial, but improvised by using fleece for the body/ears and knit remnants for the inner ear accents and tails. [Bridget took one look at the polka dot  ear pieces and said, “What are you making with my shirt?” That girl has a memory for pattern — she outgrew that shirt over a year ago!] As a result, these bunnies are decidedly more floppy than the originals, for sure. I’m okay with that. Let’s face it: The six-year-olds are about five minutes away from being “too old” for this kind of thing, and I’ll be happy to have cheaped out when these begin their new lives as the cutest Swiffers you’ve ever seen.

I also managed to make some lemonade — in the form of a tried and true skirt — out of last year’s failed Easter dress attempt. Just cut off the bodice and started fresh. I even had enough of the same fabric left over to make a matcher for my niece. Bonus!

Hope your weekend was filled with lots of fun. Now, back to work!


*If you’re looking for more “I will do that!” inspiration, check out the monthly Pinterest to Real Life round-up on Simple Organic. Love it!


D.I.Y. the Heck Not?

Earlier in the season, I found these cute Halloween and Thanksgiving coloring page placemats for the kids in the trusty dollar bin at Target. Of course, I promptly forgot about the Halloween ones until I went to pull the Thanksgiving ones out mid-November, but that’s beside the point. The kids loved them. In fact, Joey hadn’t been finished with his five minutes before he started “wishing” for Christmas ones.

Well, those I didn’t have. We did have freezer paper, though, and a marker. Why not just draw up a couple?

A couple of real beauts, right? Block lettering has never been my strong suit. Nor have faces. Ah, but so what? They’re disposable placemats! The kids were totally happy, and I saved ONE DOLLAR. Actually, what I saved was another trip to Target, and do you want to know the best part of all? After putting it off for a couple of days — waiting for perfect inspiration to strike and thinking about what to use as templates — I just bit the bullet and put pen to paper. We’re making great strides here people!

New Twist on a Classic

I L-O-V-E love the finger-knit jersey bracelets Heather’s been making, but I don’t have many knits on-hand right now. No, my bounty is in garden variety cotton; of that, I have plenty. As I started weaving up friendship bracelets, I thought, Say! I bet this would work with fabric…

…and– sure enough– it does. Do you have ten minutes and a couple of scraps? If so, you have all the fixins for a scrappy little Friendship Bangle!

I use three 1/2″-wide strips, cut the full width of the fabric (about 40″). You don’t actually need that long of a strip — about 30″ will do — but it’s easier to work with ends that are a little long than skimpy ones; trust me on this. Knot the three pieces together at the top, leaving about a 3″ tail [as shown].

Attach your strips to a clipboard, right beneath your knot. Begin weaving with the first strip, from left to right. I used the diagonal stripes pattern here, which is very simple. Over, under, and through.

[Yikes! This one’s a little blurry. Sorry ’bout that.] When you reach the end of the row, start again with the “new” first strip. Continue weaving until you reach your desired length. I just keep holding the piece up to my wrist until it seems about right. The one that I’m doing here ended up being taking about 7″ of weaving; one for a child would probably take about 5″.

When you’ve reached your desired length, tie the strips into another knot at the base of your braid.

Bring the two ends together to form a ring, and knot them.

Trim the ends to whatever length suits you, and that’s it! You have yourself a friendship bangle.

I was not exaggerating when I said these only take about ten minutes to make, and that’s going at a fairly leisurely pace. Selecting the color combinations, of course, is a whole ‘nother story, but results may not be typical in that regard. I tend to get a little carried away with the process, there. Consider yourself warned, though: These are extremely addictive!  I’ve made about two dozen already, and can’t wait to make some more. They’re fast, fun, and frugal — give ’em a try and see! I know someone who could use them….


  • Although the diagonal stripes pattern I referenced  calls for four strips, it definitely works with three. You could always add more for a different look, or even change the width of the strips. I made one with 1/4″ wide ones; it makes a very skinny bangle. Next up, I plan on using wider ones.(5/2/11) Edited to add : 1″ wide strips result in a nice, chunky bangle with much less fraying. I’ll definitely be making more in this size, too!
  • The fabric will fray quite a bit when as you’re weaving. For the most part, it only adds to the charm of your finished project, but if the threads seem a little out of hand in some places, just give your bracelet a haircut. (Be careful not to cut into the strips themselves!)
  • When you trim the ends, after forming the bracelet, you can also create a fringe by cutting into the end of all six strips at about 1/8 – 1/4″ intervals.

I think that’s everything. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, my very first tutorial. (How weird is that? Is this really my first semi-original idea in four years? Nah….)

This Old Chestnut [Craft Hope Project #12]

Where does the time go?

Rather than try to back up the train and start with all the stuff which consumed March (and February…and then April, for that matter), I figure I might as well start with something more current. Maybe I’ll throw in some of the aging items here and there for posterity.

So –

Craft Hope has sounded the call for bracelets. Now, jewelry-making is not my strong suit. Lucky for me, my partners in crime (the syndicate, if you will) are very gifted in this area, so I regularly benefit from their talents and have been able to pretty much resist the lure of the bead. Still, I really wanted to participate in this project! After a little searching around on the internet, I stumbled upon a forgotten classic: the friendship bracelet.

Oh, how I love the friendship bracelet. I think I was in junior high the last time I wove one of these puppies. Before that, we made the ones with safety pins and beads, where every bead had a specific meaning. Remember those? I loved making those, too. Anyway, after seeing these instructions , I got out the floss and gave it a go.

Ahh…it’s all coming back to me. Well, why stop? Keep that floss coming!

Yeah — it’s a little addictive. I’ll make you laugh, though: At first, I thought I’d have to wait to start until I had time to run to the craft store, because I wanted to pick out just the right colors and whatever. Never mind that I have a whole box of embroidery floss — a big one! — just sitting on a shelf. Righhht. As it turns out, there’s plenty to make more than a few. What’s up with that, though? Use what you have, Genius! Use what you have!!*

The only problem with these is that they are a little time-consuming. On the surface, I don’t mind that, but when I stop to think how much time I sat weaving friendship bracelets while the rest of the house falls into squallor…well, one can’t feel all that great about that (even if it is for a great cause!)

I do, however, have an alternative. And it involves fabric. Very little fabric. Interested? I’ll share the details later in the week!

*Which, oddly enough, was how I conducted my search in the first place: Look for ideas which utilize what I already have, and won’t make me crazy, both keys to happy crafting (in my book.)

Get it Together

The other key to breaking the overflowing to-do stack cycle is, of course, not to add new projects to the pile in the first place. That’s why one of my other goals for this year is to just jump on in and get it going — and finished — while the idea is still warm.

More on that in a minute.

A friend and I were talking about insomnia  a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that I don’t suffer from it in the traditional sense. Ever. In this, I am definitely my father’s daughter. I mean, ya gotta sleep, right? However, I am a victim of the 2 a.m. curse. It started when I was a freshman in high school, and it’s never really gone away: I go to sleep at a reasonable hour, only to find myself wide awake at around two. Oh, but I go back to sleep…at around 4:30 or 5:00, which is just in time to try to drag my sorry behind out of the bed. If it happens once, I can almost surely count on it happening at least two or three nights in a row, especially if something is weighing on my mind (but that’s not a pre-requisite; sometimes it just happens.) Anyway, it was on during one such episode that I decided to spend my time checking out new-to-me blogs, and got absolutely lost (thanks to Heather) in Happy Together. Where have I been?! So many good tutorials and projects! This one caught my eye, mostly because the side of my fridge was such an eye-sore. Blech. Also, it didn’t hurt that I knew that I had all of the supplies on-hand, thanks to some extra clothespins from a Christmas project, and a couple of rulers that have been kicking around the house since we received them from the nice vendor at the rodeo last year. Yeah. So, no time like the present, right?

Because I’m the impatient type, and also had a bunch of scrapbook paper gathering dust [I don’t scrapbook, but I am a sucker for pretty paper], I decoupaged the pieces instead of painting them.

Voila! Done and done, and I think it was only three days from the time I saw it to the moment it got pressed into service, which is something of a record.  

Quick note: I originally used hot glue to attach my clothespins to the ruler, and two of the six came off within the week. The next time around, I stuck ’em on with glue dots, and they’re still hanging tough.

Mum’s the Word

Oh, but there was still fun to be had last week. Friday was Storybook Homecoming day at The Boy’s school. (Please don’t ask what that means. I still don’t get it.) In celebration, each child was sent home with the basic supplies to make a mum based on their favorite storybook. The parents were supposed to help them with this fun project; you know, if they’re in the fifth grade. Kindergarteners? Pretty sure the word “help” was an understatement.

Did I mention that I’ve never made *a* mum? Or even really seen one up close? Yeah. And it wasn’t until after I got home from the craft store that I had the wherewithal to look up instructions (oh duh!) and found out that you’re supposed to add “points” and layers and stuff. Oops.

Or should I say, Alpha Oops!, the story upon which our (his?) mum was based.

The title and author were to go on the white ribbon; main character on blue; favorite character on red. I toyed with titleing this post “M is for Madness…and Monstrosity…and Mum”, because that pretty much summed up my feelings about the whole endeavor. Truth be told, though, I was pretty proud of the end result (which is more than I can say for the exceedingly crappy photo. Yikes.) I mean, we met the criteria, and I even managed to make the “points” out of sparkly craft felt, since I didn’t have a roll of the satin ribbon in my stash. There are limits to what my craft room contains, as it turns out. Most importantly, the kid was super happy with it when he left the house, and didn’t have a sad story when he got home about how all the other kids pointed and laughed — a success!

 Hopefully, that’s it for the special projects for a while. One can hope, right?