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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crocheted Baby Afghan

I decided I needed something easy to work on while on my trip to St. Louis last weekend. Something to do in the car and evenings. I found this cute baby afghan to crochet.Cuddly Confections Baby Afghan The night before we left home, I made a trip to JoAnn’s to shop for yarn and found a pretty rainbow colored yarn with matching lavender, aqua and kind of a lime green yarns. I haven’t done any crochet projects for a while, and this one is very simple, so I’m enjoying it. Just single crochet. I like patterns that don't require constantly looking at the instructions. All I have to do is count the number of rows before I change colors. Here’s my afghan so far. I will post updates as I make progress. My baby afghan

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Catching Up...

I'm still getting caught up after being out of town for a long weekend. Last Thursday afternoon we drove to St. Charles, Missouri, which is just outside of St. Louis. It’s a cute little historic town right on the Missouri River. The old buildings along the river are now shops and restaurants.
Bittersweet Inn We spent three nights at a wonderful bed and breakfast called the Bittersweet Inn (above). Our hostess, Sandy, made us feel like guests. And did she ever feed us well! When she learned I had just had a birthday, she even made me a birthday cake! Take a look at photos of the Bittersweet Inn here and visit the web site here.

I wanted to go to have a birthday dinner with my son since I hadn’t seen him since the Christmas break ended. And his baseball team had double headers scheduled for Saturday and Sunday so we wanted to take in the games. Although temperatures in the 40’s were predicted, I was still looking forward to it. We arrived Thursday evening and got to have a casual dinner with Joe.

Friday morning it started snowing, but didn’t really last too long, so we decided to go to town and look at the shops. We were practically the only visitors in town that day – had the stores all to ourselves. After a while, little misty rain started falling. We picked up the pace of our shopping, had lunch and decided to look for something to do indoors. But before we left, I took a picture of this cute Easter wreath made of Peeps candy. I think I’m going to have to make something similar! Easter Peeps wreath
I saw in one of my bead magazines that there was to be a bead show in St. Charles Friday through Sunday, so my husband even said he would go to that with me. Well, we found the place it was to be held only to learn it had been cancelled due to a shortage of vendors. So to fill the remainder of the afternoon, we spent a couple hours in the casino. I don’t go to casinos very often at all, but it was something to do inside. We each spent our $10 on the slot machines then headed back to the B&B. We had a very nice dinner with Joe Friday night at a restaurant called Soulard’s.

When we first got to town, Joe told us the Saturday games had been moved to Monday because of the weather. It started snowing lightly around mid-day Saturday, but we decided to go visit the Arch anyway. It was coming down pretty good by the time we got there. When we first got to the top of the Arch, I couldn’t tell what direction I was facing since everything looked white. But if you waited a bit, waves of snow came and went and at good times, you could see the opposite bank of the Mississippi River. Not the best day for sightseeing from the top of the Arch, but how many people can say they’ve been to the top in a snowstorm? As we walked back to the car after our Arch visit, I snapped this picture of the Arch from the side.
St. Louis Arch in the snow
We’re big hockey fans so Saturday night we got tickets to the NCAA Division I men’s regional hockey final and watched Michigan beat Colorado College 2-1. I’d seen a lot of levels of hockey from little kids (Joe played for three years starting in 3rd grade) to NHL, but I’d never seen a college game. So now I have. Saturday didn’t go quite as we had hoped, since we thought we’d be going to baseball games, but we probably got to visit with Joe more this way. And I know we stayed warmer than we would have at baseball games!

And of course, with 3 inches of snow on the ground, the Sunday baseball games were cancelled, too. We headed home fairly early on Sunday, only to encounter snow when we were about 40 miles from home. Here’s what my yard looked like on Monday morning.
Snow at our house Monday morning
The weekend didn’t exactly go as I had thought it would, but we learned a long time ago that spring baseball means you need to learn to be flexible. We got to visit with Joe quite a bit and that was what I wanted most from my trip anyway!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

EtsyBloggers March Blog Carnival

The topic I chose for my March blog carnival post is "What is your favorite gemstone and why?"

My favorite gemstone is the aquamarine. I like it because a) it's my birthstone and b) I'm lucky enough to have a birthstone that I really like. I love blue/aqua/turquoise shades, so the aquamarine shade is perfect for me! I'm really glad I'm not an emerald person (May) or topaz (November). Those are just not my colors. And while diamonds are pretty, they are kind of plain. But I have the perfect birthstone (in my humble opinion)!

And today is the perfect day to tell you about my birthstone because today is my birthday! (I'm not going to tell you which one.)

I thought I'd show you some photos of aquamarines to show you why I like them so much. First off, here is my birthstone ring. I have had this many, many years and I just love it. I wear it every day. My aquamarine ring
Next, here is a strand of aquamarine beads that I bought at one of the Tucson bead shows in 2010. I haven't made the time to design the perfect necklace for these. I need to give it some thought, then make something that I will love to wear. But I have the beads...just need the time! Aquamarine beads
And finally, I don't know if this is an aquamarine or not, but it is my March birthday charm on the Brighton charm bracelet that I have. Certainly is an aquamarine color. (I got three new charms today for my bracelet...already had the one in the photo.)Brighton March charm

So while we're on the topic of birthdays, I need to share two more photos of things that made my birthday very special. My husband came home from work with these flowers, which was totally unexpected since he gave me my birthday present this morning. Birthday flower bouquet from my husband
And after I'd been home from work for a while, I got a call from a florist telling me they had delivered something to my neighbor's house today. I went to retrieve this beautiful arrangement and I had no idea who it could be from. I was very nicely surprised to find they were from one of my very best friends whom I have known since I was in the first grade.Birthday floral arrangement
What more could a person hope for on their birthday? Actually, there was one more thing I had hoped for and received. I got a call from my son, a freshman in college, wishing me a happy birthday. More than everything else, that really made my day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Earrings

Did you see my early January blog post about the beads I got for Christmas? Well, a couple weeks ago, I decided I needed some new earrings, so I finally started playing with my Christmas beads. My first two creations are earrings...for me! I had fun making them and fun wearing them. Hopefully, I'll make more very soon!

My new earrings
More new earrings

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Closet Storage

Not too long ago, I had this silly idea that I wanted to make some kind of purse. Maybe for myself or maybe for gifts. You know, some sort of Vera Bradley-type bag. So I started looking for some books to help me with that. I checked this book out of the library and didn’t really like any of the bags in the book.Sew What! Bags They were mostly drawstring bags or tote bags or messenger bags. (I have since come to my senses and realized that I have plenty of other projects to do without making bags or purses right now.) But there were some other things besides bags that caught my eye. There were three things I liked.
1. Little fabric covers for purse-sized Kleenex. (Great way to use up fabric scraps!)
2. A variation on the drawstring bag was a wine bottle gift bag. I liked that idea a lot.
3. A hanging caddy you could customize to any size you want with three pocket styles to store anything you need to store.

I’ve always wanted a little more storage space in my craft room, so I decided I would make a pair of these hanging caddies to get some extra “stuff” off my closet shelves and create a little more storage space.

Friday was my day off work, so I made a trip to JoAnn’s to look for fabric. I found some great solid fabric, a little heavier weight, which was what I wanted for the body of the caddy, in bright pink and lime green. There was a great collection of fabric called “tutti frutti” in some great bright colored prints that went so well with these solids I found. So I bought the fabric Friday and this became my weekend project.

I decided on the size of my caddies, picked out stuff I wanted to store, decided what style (pleated or flat) and size of pockets I needed and drew it all out on graph paper so I could determine what size pocket pieces to cut out. Yesterday I finished pink caddy number one and today I finished green caddy number two. At the top of number two, I added a pink fabric strip with snaps on either end to store rolls of ribbon. We'll see how that goes. It seemed like it would work when I was playing around with it when the caddy was lying flat. My husband helped me hang the caddies inside my closet double doors this afternoon and I’ve started to reorganize my storage.

Here are some photos of my new caddies. Sewing them was lots of fun and never boring because I loved looking at the bright and cheery prints. I just love the colors! If you need some bright cute fabric, go to JoAnn’s and look for tutti frutti!Pink caddy number one
Green caddy number 2
Pink pocket closeup
Green pocket closeup

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Crazy Quilt Pillow

Making a crazy quilt pillow had not been on my huge list of things to do someday. It kind of just happened.

I suppose it started with the tulip pillow. My friend with the February birthday, for whom I made the tulip pillow, told me her daughter loved the tulip pillow and all the details of it. I had been trying to find out what the daughter, Lorrain, might like for her 17th birthday in March. When her mom told me she had to pry the tulip pillow away from Lorrain, I decided I would make Lorrain a pillow. And if she liked detail, then detail she would get!

I paged through some of my quilting books to see if anything jumped out at me because her mom told me there was no particular subject or "thing" on a pillow that Lorrain would really like. And then I paged past crazy quilts. What a great idea for someone who likes detail! And not long ago, I had been trying to figure out what I could make that would work on using up some of my fabric scraps since my current collection of scraps takes up a little too much space. So I decided Lorrain would get a crazy quilt pillow.

I looked online for sites that would give me ideas, inspiration and instruction. I found a few to get me started. And then I found the wonderful book at Borders (last book in yesterday's post). I found a great deal on pillow forms online at JoAnn's, much better than the price in the stores, even with a coupon. So the project quickly took on a life of its own!

I decided on a 14-inch square pillow. So I decided on four 6X6-inch blocks with a 1-inch border around them. Here are a couple of my finished blocks.
crazy quilt patch #1
Crazy quilt patch #2
Here is a photo of the four blocks sewn together.Four blocks sewn together

My wonderful book, in yesterday's blog post, had tons of embellishment ideas in addition to the 100 embroidery stitches. I added the spider and web because these were very common elements on crazy quilts in the past. The Victorians considered spider webs to be symbols of good luck. I had a book on silk ribbon embroidery and lots of leftover ribbon from the time I embellished a denim shirt. (I gave the shirt to the school clothesline sale after I lost 30 pounds and the shirt was too big. Guess I'm going to need to make another someday. I really liked that shirt.) I used up bits of ribbon and lace that I had. I used buttons (too many of those left over also) and beads and made a ribbon flower I'd always wanted to try. It was a lot of fun making this pillow!

Here's a photo of the left half of the finished pillow.Left half of finished pillow71954842464882
Here's the right half.Right half of finished pillow
And here is the finished pillow.Completed crazy quilt pillow
I liked the way this pillow turned out a lot. I now have three blocks pieced for my own pillow. I haven't started to embellish yet. That will come next. And I learned a lot about the order in which I should embellish that should actually make my pillow a little easier to work on than Lorrain's.

Tomorrow is my day off work so I plan to spend some time working on my pillow. Hopefully it will be done fairly soon. I will share the details of my pillow with you when it's finished. Please check back soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More New Craft Books

If you've read very many of my blog posts, you have probably stumbled across one sometime that has given you the idea I love books. I love to read fiction, but I can live without owning it. I'd rather have it taking up space on the library's shelves, not mine. But craft books are the books I have a hard time not owning. Especially craft books on sale.

Two or three weeks ago, while there was snow on the ground, I was spending some of my Christmas gift money on some new spring clothes at one of my favorite stores, Christopher & Banks. It was in a part of town a little farther from where I live in a shopping center I've only been to once before. There is a Borders book store in this shopping center and, while Borders is not my favorite of book stores, since it was closing, everything was on sale. So after I purchased a few cute pieces of spring clothing, I thought, what harm can it do just to pop in?

I came home with three great new books.
The Beader's BibleThe Beader's Bible by Dorothy Wood has been on my wish list for a while. It covers every basic beading technique you can think of. A great reference, along with directions for many projects so you'll have a way to use those techniques.

Applique The basics & beyond, by Janet Pittman, gives instructions for different techniques to applique the same quilt shape. There are plenty of patterns, along with finished quilts for lots of ideas. Just looking at the picture on the cover should give you an idea of the different ways one applique design could be used. If you read my recent post about my tulip pillow, you know that I just got my feet wet at doing hand applique. I'd love to try something else someday and this book would be a great inspiration for that.

Crazy QuiltingI've saved the best for last, the one I've already used a lot. Crazy Quilting by J. Marsha Michler is wonderful! It gives different methods of piecing a crazy quilt block, along with 100 embroidery stitches that can be used to embellish your crazy quilting, along with other embellishment techniques. This book was truly a terrific find! I had just started a crazy quilt project and I was scouring the web for sites to give me ideas and instructions. And then I came across this book. Well, I just had to have it! And has it ever come in handy! Come back tomorrow to hear about my first crazy quilting project.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Featured EtsyBlogger - MysticWynd

Today’s post is on the March featured EtsyBlogger. I’m a little more timely than I was with my February post!

The featured EtsyBlogger for March is Karen, from Scottsdale, AZ. Her Etsy shop is MysticWynd.etsy.com. She’s got many lovely jewelry items in her shop. It was hard to decide what to show here, but because I REALLY need to feel like spring is near and because I love pink, I chose these two items to show you.Rosalyn NecklaceI LOVE this necklace! I love the colors and I love the design. It’s kind of different and very elegant and charming.

Unlock the Memories locketAnd because I love hearts and the vintage look (and more pink – but just a little), I want to show you this pretty brass necklace with a heart and little rose. Please go take a look at Karen’s shop!

Now on to Karen’s blog. She has a wide variety of subjects covered in her blog posts. Some are very inspirational. Some are promoting her fellow Etsy artists, like her lovely post on cornflower blue items for sale. Another pretty post shows a variety of Easter items. Please go take a look at MysticWynd.blogspot.com. I promise you there’s something for everyone here!

Congratulations, Karen, on being the March featured EtsyBlogger! Thanks for being such a supportive member of the EtsyBloggers team! And wishing you all the best!

Monday, March 14, 2011

February Featured EtsyBlogger Artist - Bunnykissd

I’m a little behind. Maybe more than a little. I know it’s kind of late to do a post on the February featured EtsyBlogger, but I do owe it to her. So better late than never.

The featured EtsyBlogger for February was Diana of bunnykissd.etsy.com. She's got some very cute jewelry items in her shop, many of which look good enough to eat! Go check them out!

But because St. Patrick’s Day is this week, I’m going to show you a great item to get you in the mood for the holiday. Take a look at this necklace…I love the shade of green. And the details in the clay and the glitter really add a lot. Very nice!Magical Shamrock Flower Necklace
And because I’m wanting spring to come and STAY so badly, I have to show you this flower pendant. I want springtime items to grace the pages of my blog right now! So here is a very cute flower pendant made of polymer clay. How can you look at this and not think spring?!?Spring Flower Pendant

And take a look at Diana’s blog, too – bunnykissd.blogspot.com. She’s got some really pretty photos on her blog and a wide variety of subjects covered in her posts.

Congratulations, Diana, on being the February featured EtsyBlogger! And I’m really sorry I’m late with my blog post!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cute Pillow

I'm not quite sure what happened but it's been almost two weeks since my last blog post. Work has kept me busy, plus plenty of other things, and I just haven't quite been in the mood for blogging. I even forgot to do my featured Etsy blogger post for February. But I will make that one up soon! Hopefully, I'll get back in the swing of things and get my blogging going a little more regularly!

So here's my first post of many more to come! A couple weeks ago, I got this very cute belated Christmas gift from my aunt. I just love it! She makes tons of quilts (I promise I will show you the one she gave my mom recently!) and has recently been putting photos on her quilts. I got a lot of my calendar photos from her. Well, when she was practicing with her photos on fabric, she made this pillow for me. This is an old photo of my mom. She made this very cute pillow that now has an honored spot on my bed with my other pillows. Isn't it wonderful? I really love this little pillow! It's very special to me because of the photo and because of who made it! One of the best gifts I have received in a very long time!My gift from my aunt