Monday, December 21, 2009

Two Years

Two years ago today I started my little craft blog. And it's been really fun. If nothing else, this blog has encouraged me to keep doing creative things every day, even if I don't post about them all, or even post regularly.
It's really gratifying to know that friends scattered around the country can keep up with my creative endeavors. I've pondered going pro as of late, and it's something that still might pan out, but whatever my crafting future holds, it's nice to have a record of the last two years of my crafting life.

And because birthdays cause one to ponder and reflect, I'm going to share some of the crafting things that I think everyone should own in order to be able to whip up creative projects in a jiffy:

1) Happy Tape. This is from Japan and it's brightly colored masking tape. How does this help your life? I'll tell you. A million ways. If you wrap a package in newspaper, happy tape makes it look like you put forth effort beyond just wrapping a package with garbage. On an envelope, it looks so fun to just slap a few pieces of tape along the seal. It's like stickers for grown ups. If you bring someone some cookies in a paper towel, it looks like you really went the extra mile with fancy pants tape. I love this stuff.
2) Fishing line. It's invisible, it's uses are infinite and if you buy one roll for less than five bucks, you will do twentyfivethousand projects and you will still feel like you haven't made a dent in the spool. I use it to string garlands, hang wreaths, tie plants to supporting sticks...
3) A standard-sized stack of paper that you think is pretty. I have a stack of 6x6" paper squares from all kinds of places. Some was originally sold as decorative paper, some came from magazines or catalogs, some is used wrapping paper and others are just scraps I've collected along the way. And the reason I think it is important for you to keep the size standard is easy -- it can be stored best this way. If you just keep stacks of randomly sized papers, the stack becomes a mess so quickly, you'll just throw it away. With the standard sizes, you can find a perfect box for them or just some corner where you can let the stack grow. For a quick homemade greeting card, a set of homemade place cards, unique gift wrap for small packages, etc., I just go to my stack and I always find something fun. When I get a catalog in the mail, or am handed a magazine that I know I don't want to keep, I scan the pages quickly for tear out sheets and then slice and dice the pages into squares.
4) Razors. I use these constantly! I have a couple of good holders for straight-edge razors (a comfort grip and a mini-blade holder that I use in tight spaces). You know, if you are dealing with a mess, you can often use a blade to clean it up. Because the blades are disposable, you can add some oil or grease to them to take the remaining parts of a sticker/label/price tag off a piece of glass or plastic. I've even been known to use a razor blade to get a tough stain off a dish if I'm in a rush! And what's better for cleanly taking candle wax drips off wherever they've dropped themselves? Learn how to use a razor and you are on your way to accomplishing your crafting tasks with such greater time efficiency. Also, the manual dexterity you'll learn from wielding your razor well will help with other creative tasks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And One For All You Mack Brown Fans

Hey, a gal can have more than one loyalty. At least my loyalties are split between a pro baseball team and a college football team. Right? So the two teams are based quite far apart. I think the premise of the movie "Road Trip" was about some duffuses who confuse "Boston" with "Austin" and drive across the state of Kentucky (as well as many other, less entertaining states) for no reason at all. Why am I explaining my different tastes in sports teams to you anyway? I'm pretty sure you don't care. Of course I have to have some content here.

And hey, look at those Longhorns and their precious Colt McCoy winningist quarterback ever! And champs of the Big 12 and headed to Pasadena for a little Rosebowl championship ! Having never attended the University of Texas, I feel a little like a poser saying things like "Hook 'em!" ... but I will always find the voice to sing,

The eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the live long day.
The eyes of Texas are upon you,
You cannot get away.

Do not think you can escape them,
Rise so early in the morn.

The eyes of Texas are upon you,
Til Gabriel blows his horn...

Texas Fight! Texas Fight!
And it's goodbye to A&M!
Texas Fight, Texas Fight!
And we'll pull over one more win!

Texas Fight, Texas Fight,
For it's Texas that we love best!
Give 'em hell! Give 'em hell! Go horns go!
And it's goodbye to all the rest.

Yay orange! Yay white! Yay Longhorns!
Fight! Fight! Fight!

Well, there's more of that one, but I'm kinda tired of typing. Now if I could just divide the Camp Mystic dining hall into two parts, one side yells, "Texas" and the other "Fight" and we're going all afternoon.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Could Be More Hilary?

Seriously? What could be more Hilary? There's glitter! There's Christmas! There's baseball! It's made of cheap, biodegradable materials! It's just the best craft ever. And if you play your cards right (aka, you ask me for one), I'll make one for you. And, because I'm the always benevolent crafter, I'll even make an ornament for a team you support, assuming it's made of colors I own and isn't brain surgery difficult to render (Good example: the Ole Miss Rebel, he's too detailed for me to make a glitter ornament of, but the big Ole Miss "M" I can handle. And cringe-worthy second example, I can't do the patriotic hat on a baseball bat Yanks logo, but if you begged me and I was feeling particularly nice, I could make you that evil NY symbol).

But to get away as soon as possible from all things New York Yankees, let's focus on my little lovely pair of, what Sox ownership calls "dangling Sox." I'm so proud! I reinterpreted a Martha Stewart craft suggestion (she had me making birds before I thought of something I'd like better) and came up with my own template to cut the Red Sox logo out of the cinnamon/apple sauce/white glue dough, I baked it, let it dry out completely and then decorated it with the glitter. Let me tell you, that's a thin line of white glitter there my friends...

All things considered, I'm in love with my little Sox logo Christmas ornament. Wistfully, I sign off on my first Christmas post of the year... it seems like just yesterday I was working on Christmas 2008 (probably because I drag these things out; I recall writing about Christmas at least through February). Below check out the red lights on my very first ever living tree.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wild, Succulent Woman

No, this post isn't about the weirdest art lady on Earth, Sark (but call her phone number seriously if you want an inspirational message 415.546.3742), this post is about my amazing ability to keep a succulent alive. I know, I know, that's like beating a five year old in a "basic arithmetic" test. I'm good at keeping alive something that is advertised as being hard to kill. Congrats to me. The reason I'm posting this is that, for one, I have a long history of killing succulents and all plants for that matter. And yet, with my new dirt recipe (throwing in sand helped), I've managed to not only keep these guys alive, but they are thriving. Some have grown by leaps and bounds. They are almost too comfortable in my home.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Screen Saver

Lately I've been finding more and more reasons to exercise the old sewing machine. I'm not going to lie, back in September when my coworker when my coworker said my hems looked like they'd been done by Helen Keller, I was inspired to get better at sewing.
Don't get me wrong, I love this little flat screen monitor that serves as my substitute TV. It's the bestest way to watch movies and baseball games and the occasional TV show from (Why is Parks and Recreation so amazingly hilarious? The whole cast is awesome.) However, I didn't like the way the screen looked, so sleek and gadgety just sitting out on my tabletop.

And when I saw this fabric at the fabric warehouse on Harry Hines for, like, fifty cents a yard, I couldn't pass it up. It's perfect. Trust me, if you are a regular blog follower, you'll see this fabric being used in all kinds of ways (at $0.50 a yard, I bought enough to do many many crafts!). This project must be the easiest ever though. I measured the size of the screen, cut the fabric, hemmed the bottom edge (no Helen Keller here thanks) and sewed the two sides together. Easy breezy beautiful cover girl.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gobble Gobble Jewlery

My coworker Mattdawg (that's what I call her, her real name is Mattie) has the most amazing collection of holiday themed earrings. She has a dozen Halloween ones and enough Christmas earrings to last from Thanksgiving to New Year's without repeating a pair.

Last year it bothered me that she had no Thanksgiving gems. So I promised her a pair. Perhaps some cornucopias or a pilgrim and Indian combo. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't find anything Thanksgiving last year. This year, however, I found these turkey buttons. I chopped off the button part and drilled holes and attached earring hooks.

And bless her heart, Mattdawg wore them all November long! Gobble Gobble Gobble! (and if you click on that link, sorry for the bad language and then the German version, I really just love when she's on the phone with her sister.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Where Have I Been All Your Life?

Since October 12, I've been away from ye olde crafting blog. Not because I don't love yous guys, but more like a little well-deserved break from the crazy craft blitz I was on in August and September (I'm the boss around here, so I determine when breaks are well-deserved). So I paused, reflected, cleaned up, put my thinking cap on, schemed some new plans, and renewed my little creative spirit. I think there's good things on the horizon.

And while I rested from my crafting labors, I had some time to enjoy the best season in Texas -- autumn. It's cool and crisp, the humidity takes a much needed rest, every day is a good hair day, the sun feels great shining down on your back. And of course, autumn in Dallas means the State Fair comes to town, and that's the greatest place on Earth. I don't usually go all Chamber of Commerce re: Dallas, but I wanted to share with you three of my favorite pictures from this year's State Fair. Above are the awards handed out to the vendors who win for the best fried food of the year. I love it! I had to jostle some truly impatient fried goober gobblers out of the way to take this picture. For those who don't know, that head is the head of Big Tex, the official mascot of the State Fair. I tried a fried snickers bar this year. It was good. Better than last year's fried cookie dough. Or at least that's what I think I tried. Whatever it was, it had been battered and deep fried and was still hot and greasy when I ate it. I pause to wonder whether I should really say, "yum."

And I love the signs at the State Fair. The fonts, the scroll, it's just a great piece of work. The vintage look and feel of all the stands, and they aren't vintage because they are going for a currently popular trend of interest in all things old. No way Jose. These signs look vintage because they are old. Why tinker with perfection? Oh and, I'm obsessed with Tiny Tim. Really, the obsession began years ago when it was a different smallest horse on Earth named Tiny Tina (it's amazing how many smallest horse on Earth's there are since that phrase is supposedly reserved for just one miniature animal, right?). I don't know why I love this exhibit so much -- it's a total rip off because it's clearly a dog with a horse tail glued on. It's so sad! But somehow listening to the tape they play on a 30-second repeat "This is the smallest horse in the world! He eats just one cup of oats a day!" just reminds me of what a silly experience the whole fair can be. But it is the kind of experience that everyone should just submit to, because life is silly.

This year they had swan boats on the pond by the science center. I thought they were pretty beautiful. It's not Boston or anything, and the pond is really quite a small area, but all in all, I felt good knowing I was getting a bit of a workout in my paddling, especially on a day that's so stuffed with fried fry.

Well, now you've seen my highlights from the State Fair. Get ready to see some crafts! Yay!