Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Craftsmas

In addition to my Martha Stewart journey that I’m on, I like to keep myself busy with many other crafts.  This season may be the busiest (stressful) of the year, so why not tackle a few projects?

First up… the toilet paper roll ornament.  Yep.  You read that right… you use a toilet paper roll to make an ornament.  Trust me on this one, by most people’s reactions, they couldn’t tell what the original product was.

You’ll see a ton of them out there on the blogosphere, but here’s the gist of the project.

  1. Collect toilet paper rolls and try to explain to others that you do not need to be submitted to TLC’s Hoarders show because of a toilet paper obsession
  2. Spray paint toilet paper rolls desired color (I chose gold to match my Chevron wrapping paper)
  3. Flatten TP rolls.  Preferably after the paint dries (hello gold fingers)
  4. Cut the toilet paper rolls every ½ inch using sharp scissors
  5. Use a hot glue gun and attach each section piece by piece until you have five sections that resembles a star
  6. Curse yourself for not realizing that the inside is noticeably NOT spray painted, and still looks like cardboard
  7. Drink a glass of wine and relax because it didn't cost you anything

Yep - those be toilet paper rolls!

Second… the ornament wreath.  Nothing too original here, but I liked how it turned out, so decided to share it with you.

To set the mood, I put on my Snuggie, tuned into ‘In Treatment’ on my iPad (thanks Brookelee for the HBO to Go!), and had a glass of wine ready (no craft is complete without this). I used a glue gun to attach each ornament onto a floral foam wreath that I purchased from JoAnn’s.  The first ornaments were the largest ones and I spaced them out evenly – kind of.  Then, I filled in the gaps with the smaller ones.  It took a ton of ornaments, probably close to 40?  I then used tacks to attach a ribbon to the back and hung it up in my craft room where it still hangs.  Here it is:

Next project… handmade salted caramels.  Peaches McGee and I were invited to a cookie decorating party at my friend Shelby’s place.  It felt so good to be included because it was with her innermost circle of friends.  That, and how nice is it to have a space other than yours where your not-quite-two-year-old can decorate cookies?!

The recipe I used was from; you guessed it, Pinterest – Microwave Caramels.  The only change I made was to sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top while it was still cooling.

In order to make it a "real" gift, I wrapped the caramels in waxed paper, placed them in a cellophane gift bag that I had on hand from my wedding, and then made personalized gift tags using my new metal punch set.  I made one for each attendee... 

For another hostess gift, and one for a friend who gave me a yummy reed diffuser, I made some more salted caramels, but decided I wanted to do something with the lavender I had on hand.  So, I settled upon sachets - as much for the look of them as for the smell.  

I used some quilt fabric that my lovely Aunt Penny gave me, and cut 4" x 4" squares using a rotary cutter and mat.

Then, I used a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine, and about 1/2 inch from the edges, I sewed a square, leaving a 3/4 inch opening on one side.

Getting the lavender in the opening proved to be the most difficult step; instead of using a funnel (the lavender kept getting stuck), I just rolled up a piece of paper and stuffed it in the hole and poured the lavender in.  

Next, I did a zigzag stitch over the opening and tried to match up the beginning and end with the other zigzag stitch.  To complete it, I used pinking shears to trim off the excess.  

In order to make the presentation a little fancier, I tied the sachets together with a pretty bow and then put them in a cellophane bag and made a gift tag with the word “breathe” embossed on it.  I placed the salted caramels in a separate bag (wasn’t too sure how good lavender-scented caramels would taste) and made a gift tag with the word “eat” embossed on it.

Lavender sachets

Bundled sachets 

Caramel bag on the left ("eat") and lavender sachet bag on right ("breathe")
Yet another endeavor was some personalized ornaments.  I first made salt-dough ornaments and before I baked them, I pressed Peaches McGee's thumb into a few so that I could use the imprint to make Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer with acrylic paint and my paintbrush.  I also made craft clay (which looks WAY better than the salt dough), and took an imprint of my thumb.  Why did I use my thumb?  Not sure.  

Here’s a link to the clay dough recipe and for salt dough this is what I used:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups flour
  • Mix all ingredients, then roll the dough out and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes 
  • Place in an oven set to 250 for about two hours (or when hard all the way through).

I admit that I got the Rudolph inspiration from this pin on Pinterest, but I am pleased to say that the salt dough thumbprint impression was all MINE.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine.  Oops, Peaches McGee got a hold of my keyboard again. 

Okay, last but not least, I tackled two of Martha’s projects from her Encyclopedia of Crafts book. 

The first was Snowflake Ornaments… She includes in her book two templates (which you can also conveniently find right here), and you enlarge them as you please and print on card stock. 

You then take a craft knife and cut out each little hole (I gave up after about five cuts, and used a pair of sharp, tiny scissors to do the job).

Next, you coat one side with white craft glue and per her directions, sprinkle it with fine glitter.  I need to confess though, that I tried to use dollar store glitter at first. 

Lesson learned… shell out the $5 for a small bottle of Martha’s glitter. 

After it dries, paint it again with glue and use glass-shard glitter.  Or don't.  Personally, I didn't know what that was and had no plans on finding out, so I didn't bother. 

Repeat the process on the other side and hang the ornament from the ceiling.  

They were entirely too time-intensive and unimpressive for me to do that, so they’re still sitting on my craft room floor which is likely where they will stay until they head into the garbage.

Crappy picture - crappy product

The second was Glittered Candles.  I used three taper candles that I already had on hand, sprayed them with Super 77 (strong spray adhesive) and then sprinkled them with good ol' Martha's $5 fine glitter.   


They looked beautiful, even if they didn’t photograph well!  I placed them at the center of my table for Christmas dinner and I’ll be damned if no one said ONE WORD ABOUT THEM.  They either didn’t turn out as well as I had thought, or people just assumed I bought them?  I can only hope for the latter.

Finally, I had to include a picture of a man who I wanted to give a piece of my mind to, but didn't.  I was in the express lane (12 items or less) at Fred Meyer with a sick Peaches McGee on Christmas Eve, and he had over 50 items???  The nerve.

The belt is full, and look at what he still has in his cart!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chevron Take Me Away

I finally like something that I did!  Woo hoo!

The Chevron pattern is all the rage right now (as if I have to tell you).  But just in case you’ve been living under a rock, or never knew what it was called, here it is:

I love it!  I love the simplicity, and it’s so classic, so I decided that I wanted to “make” my own Christmas wrapping paper.  I first got the idea after reading the ‘Creative Ideas” magazine from Lowe’s… they suggested purchasing contractor’s paper and then decorating it with a holiday theme.  The paper is awesome because you get a ton of it on a roll, and the entire things costs about $10.

I had some gold metallic spray paint and an idea popped into my head… I would just spray paint a Chevron pattern onto the paper!

I tinkered around with several ideas on how to “make” the zigzag pattern, but settled upon using a metal bracket.  I traced around it on a cardboard box and then cut it out.  Finally, I placed it on the contractor’s paper and spray-painted around it.  Here it is…

Completed Chevron pattern

Supplies... contractor's paper, metallic gold spray paint, zigzag pattern from cardboard

Wrapped present with a toilet paper roll star ornament
The experience was gratifying because I wound up with something that I really like; however, I'm pretty sure I killed off thousands of brain cells when I chose to use an entire can of spray paint in a small, enclosed room.  Oops.

Oh, and one downfall... regular wrapping tape won't work, it's not strong enough.  Instead, I used packing tape.  Not as pretty, but well worth it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Check The Turkey – She’s Done!

Who’s the Turkey?  That’s me!  I’m done.  Seriously.  I’m just about to give up on Martha because the crafts get more ridiculous by the day! 

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to do some special decorations since we would be hosting ten adults and two children (Peaches McGee included of course!) for dinner.  I completed a paper ribbon loop wreath which I’ll discuss below.  I was then going to do a pine cone craft from "Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts: An A-to-Z Guide with Detailed Instructions and Endless Inspiration," but I didn't find enough “good” pine cones (I thought I lived in the Evergreen State for God’s sake), so I had to refer to “Martha Stewart’s Handmade Holiday Crafts.” 

My sister-in-law and her hunky boyfriend were in town for the holiday and were at my house when I was flipping through the book.  Hunky boyfriend peeked over my shoulder and asked me if I was going to make the turkey pom-poms.  Trying to embody the relaxed, crafty lady that I aspire to be, I said, “Sure! That looks great.”  After all, they looked super cute, and of course I could make ten within a day and a half.


Holy God… I haven’t stayed up as late as I did the night before Thanksgiving since pre-Peaches McGee. 

I thought about putting together a tutorial on making them, but I urge, no DEMAND that you, “DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS PROJECT.”  They are cute, but they are ridiculously tedious to make and if you would like to make more than one, well then you’re in trouble.  I took some shortcuts just so that I was able to complete them before Christmas.  Besides, true to Martha Stewart fashion, you don’t even need to buy a book in order to get the instructions, you can just click ‘here’.  

Here are a couple pictures of the turkeys in action...

Now that I’ve gone over that project, let’s move on to something I found on Pinterest (that site is so addicting!).

I pinned it during my whole wreath obsession (I’m not exaggerating when I say that I have more than ten that I want to create at some point).  I had all the supplies on hand and I wanted to make something “festive” for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

After completing it, I unfortunately removed it from the board, so I no longer have it for reference.  However, I tweaked the instructions, so I’ll just give you my own tutorial…


  • 7 different coordinating patterns of 12” x 12” scrapbook paper (2 of each pattern for a total of 14 sheets)
  • Foam wreath
  • Package of dressmaker pins
  • Ribbon for hanging (I used two different colors, one yard a piece and then cut those in half for a total of 4 pieces)

7 different patterns of paper that I chose

Foam wreath - I got this one at the dollar store (hooray!)

First row of paper ribbon loops (view from the front), plus the hammer I used to  push in the dressmaker pins (in middle of wreath)

First row of paper ribbon loops (view from the backside)

Completed Project

  1. Cut each piece of paper into 1” x 4” strips (I used a paper cutter to make it a little easier)
  2. Sort them into the pattern you would like them to appear on the wreath
  3. Fold each one in half and then fasten it to the wreath with a dressmaker pin
  4. Move in a circle around the wreath, overlapping each piece
  5. Continue until the wreath is covered
  6. Attach the ribbon to the back of the wreath using the dressmaker pins and tie a bow. 

    This would be an easy project to do for all of the seasons!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Leaf Me Alone

Financial Investment: $ ($1 - 5)
Emotional Investment: J It’s all good
Worth the Investment: - Don’t bother!

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I decided to take on a Martha Stewart craft which called for leaves. Lord knows that we have enough of them in the Northwest; especially after a windy day!  So, I enlisted the help of Peaches and my niece Julia and set out to collect some cool leaves at my dad’s house.  I focused mostly on the Japanese maple leaves because I love the reddish color and the shape is just too cool.
Japanese maple on the bottom.  Cool, right?

I dried them using an ancient method… I placed several leaves between two pieces of newspaper and then put them in the middle of a super duper heavy old-fashioned dictionary. 

Big ol' dictionary!

After about a week, I figured they were probably dry, so I set out for the next step and selected the window in which to make this God-awful curtain.  I chose one based on how often I look out of it – right above the kitchen sink.  Now, a smart person would’ve thought, “Hmmm, this might be difficult because it’s hard to get to.  You practically have to sit in the sink in order to access it properly.” 

My view when I'm washing dishes which seems like 90% of my day
I measured the window and calculated that I would need 24 pressed leaves – 2 for each window pane.  (Side note: Martha writes in her instructions that you’ll need two per pane, but in her picture example, there are SIX.  Huh?)

I cut out 48 pieces of wax paper using my rotary mat, quilter’s ruler and an X-acto knife.  I placed a leaf in the middle of two pieces, and then placed that wax/leaf sandwich in between two pieces of Kraft paper.  I set my iron to a low temperature and ironed away which left me with what Martha so eloquently refers to as a leaf "swatch."

The Kraft paper after being saturated by the waxed paper

After repeating the process 24 times, I proceeded to the next step – laying out the pattern I wanted.  I placed them on the dining room table and didn’t use a mathematical equation or anything, but I changed things around until it felt “right.”  Whatever that means.

The next to last step was to sew the swatches.  I chose a normal sewing needle and some basic white thread and sewed them together.  That was the most time consuming aspect and after sewing 12 of them together, I decided to cut my losses and quit the whole thing.  I did half a window… that’s enough for me!

I begrudgingly took my hot mess of leaf “swatches” and sat in the kitchen sink to hang it up (with some good old-fashioned translucent tape). 

I hate that I wasted time making something that looks like I pulled it out of some sort of memory box that my mom kept with all my grade school projects. 

It hung above the sink for all of about an hour before I ripped it down.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hoo’s Your Owl Daddy?

Right in time for Halloween, I completed another Martha Stewart project from her book, “Martha Stewart’s Handmade Holiday Crafts.” 

Every year, we carve pumpkins at my dad’s house and it’s not something that I take lightly… I want to have the BEST pumpkin (and more often than not, that’s not the case).  Isn’t it neat how I make everything a competition? 

Martha has a project titled “Carved-Pumpkin Owls” and they looked super cute, even if the instructions are a little daunting (power drills, wood gouge???).

Before you actually begin the project, you must determine what kind of owl that you want to make, because that in turn determines how many pumpkins/gourds you need.  I went for a petite little owl (I’ve always wanted to be petite, but at 5’10”, that’s a pipe dream).  Therefore, I needed three pumpkins, one regular-sized one, and two small ones.  The remaining instructions are as follows:

Tools (drill with 5/8" bit, knife, wood gouge, measuring teaspoons)

1.      You cut a hole in the larger pumpkin and scoop out the guts (make sure to keep the seeds… YUM) 

2.     Drill holes for the eyes in the larger pumpkin with a 5/8” bit

3.     Cut a hole in the top of each smaller pumpkin that is slightly larger than the eye holes for the bigger pumpkin and scoop out the guts.  At this point, I had to use measuring teaspoons in order to get inside the tiny pumpkin (read my previous comment about not being petite myself).

4.     Drill a hole in the bottom of the smaller pumpkins, but be careful not push too hard and break it (oops, I did)

5.     Take four lights from a battery operated set of lights, rubber-band them together, and then push them through each eye hole.  I let the remaining lights just hang in the pumpkin and added another set as well.  Martha advises wrapping them around a glass jar and securing the wires with tape, but why?  That’s an extra step and doesn’t guarantee that you won’t burn the place down.

6.     Use toothpicks (I broke mine in half – on purpose this time) to attach the smaller pumpkins to the larger one over the eye holes

7.      Use a wood gouge and make graduated rows of “feathers” in the skin of the pumpkin.  I wanted to make mine a little more exaggerated and accidentally removed the skin. Grrrr.  So, I pulled a Tim Gunn from Project Runway, and “made it work.”

Larger pumpkin with eye holes and feather gouges (prior to my accident of removing the skin), and  one of the two smaller pumpkins that I used

8.     Finally, I used left over pieces from my hubby’s pumpkin and fashioned the ears, nose and feet.

It’s cute.  Not as cute as Martha’s, but such is the story of my life.  Rarely cute, and never petite.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

‘O Halloween Tree, O Halloween Tree, How Truly Ugly Are Thee’

You’ve done it again Martha.  I managed to spend HOURS of my precious time on a craft that is more blah than blah.  How is that possible?  Oh, I’ll show you.

I try to stick to the Encyclopedia of Crafts book that I’m chronicling, but I was desperate to get some Halloween decorations up, so I chose a craft that Martha (yes, we’re on a first name basis) has on her site. 

It's titled ‘Bewitching Tree Decoration; ’  however, I think that's a misnomer.  More like an 'Incredibly Boring Tree Decoration.'  If you check out the picture from the link, it’s ridiculous how misleading the scale is.  I thought that I would be putting together paper pumpkins about the size of a fist.  Notsomuch.  They’re more like the size of a chestnut. 

The directions call for you to print out a template onto cardstock, and then make a template from it, and painstakingly, trace around it to make seven total pieces.  (Or you can get smart and do a print screen on the computer of the template, crop it, and then paste it several times using Publisher or Word.  This way you can print the template directly on to the cardstock; no tracing at all.  You can thank me later).

You then stack up the pieces and use a micro-puncher to create a hole through the stack.  Next, you use paper fasteners, or brads, and fasten them all together.  After bending them, you gently pull apart the pieces of paper to make an orb. 

For me, there was absolutely NOTHING gentle about pulling apart the pieces of paper.  I tried the whole, “lick your fingers to get a better grasp on the paper” move; I tried cursing; I tried putting it down, walking away and then reattempting... You name it, I tried it.  

I got a few done, but after seeing the final product, I abandoned it completely.  

Well, that's not really true.  I spent at least a couple more hours fiddling with the template... enlarging it, putting it on different colored paper, cutting out hundreds of pieces, only to have the same problem over and over again.  THEY ARE UGLY.

Here are a couple of shots of the worthless product…

Orange pumpkin ornament
Gray pumpkin ornament

Here are my original Halloween trees... I added some spider webs to go with the pipe-cleaner/acorn spiders that my friend Christine made
Next, I did a craft from the ‘Martha Stewart's Handmade Holiday Crafts: 225 Inspired Projects for Year-Round Celebrations’ book that I just purchased.  It’s a template for a spider web (woo fricking hoo).  

I thought it might be cute to hang them on the wall... until I made a couple and found that the only way I would display them is if I held a preschool in my house and could lie and say that the kids made them.  

I won’t go into the instructions because it’s not worth it; trust me, it's not.

Looks like something you made in grade school, right?

At this point in my holiday decorating, I was feeling less than satisfied, so I made a couple of my own decorations inspired by this picture

The first was a goth topiary.  I have many topiaries on hand, and a fair amount of black spray paint, so I just needed to go to JoAnn's and purchase some Mardi Gras beads. 


I spray painted the beads, and the topiary and shortly after drying, I took my glue gun and glued the beads in a circle around the topiary.  I finished it off with another coat of spray paint and then placed it in a black pot with some green moss.

The other decoration was a black raffia cone with spiders on them.   The inspiration photo used a Grapevine tree, but I didn't read it closely enough and when I went to the store, I bought a floral form tree instead.  Since I had some raffia on hand, I figured that I could give the cone some texture by wrapping the raffia around it.  I used a glue gun to adhere it, (while burning the crap out of my fingers), and then spray painted it black.  I felt like it was missing something, so I also glue-gunned on some of the pipe-cleaner/acorn spiders that I mentioned above.


Almost finished product

Almost too life-like spider
Much better!

Here is the updated Halloween vignette, including a new and improved Halloween tree (sans the heinous pumpkin ornaments).

I spray-painted some branches black, then placed them in a mercury glass apothecary jar and added some moss on top. Much better!

Lastly, because it’s been so long since I blogged, I wanted to share a couple of other things that I've been up to.  They were both for my niece Coco, who just turned two.  The first project is an apron that I sewed to go along with the mini kitchen her parents purchased for her birthday.  I am NOT an accomplished seamstress, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am proud of the outcome.  I used a pattern, but switched up the fabrics and added some embellishments!

The other project was a monster-like bookend.  I made one for Coco’s first birthday, and wanted her to have a matching set.  It’s a cute little guy, don’t you think?