Friday, December 31, 2010

Exploring our woods

We bought this house in August, and now, the last day of the year, we are finally exploring the woods. It was too hot/buggy/brambly/rainy earlier, but today was clear and sunny, so we gave it a shot!

Setting out:
Into the woods:
Look what we found! We spotted this in the fall (had no idea it was there when we bought the house! We think it will become our apiary...the floor, steps and railings are good, the walls are deteriorated, but the bees won't care!

At the end of the property:

I was hoping to spot some blueberry canes or other goodies, but no luck.  We did find several downed trees that *someone* can chop into a huge pile of firewood, though!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Acorns, Acorns ACORNS!

Acorns...we have 'em!

Apparently if you have a ginormous Oak tree in your yard, you get plenty of these:

 We have acorns everywhere. Three wheelbarrows full went into the compost bin and I used a bunch for crafts, including some Halloween decorations, but the ground is covered again!

I tried using some as weights or as filler in various projects, but the "nut" portion of the acorn breaks down and gets rotten. The cap is fine, though. I ended up making some cute felted acorns (the girls helped). You could pile a bunch of these in a bowl or basket, use them to accent gifts or use them for jewelry. If the kids hadn't helped put them together, I would have sprinkled them on the ground and let them discover the rainbow colored acorns on their own.

Quick, poor quality photo here for now, better pix and directions up tomorrow:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Craft Roundup: Face Painting

Working on a Halloween costume? Don't forget the face paint! Face paint is specifically designed to stick around for a while (the look shown here lingered into the next day, when I pounced on our little pirate and removed it with cold cream.

Our face painting was done at Disney World, but if you are crafty, you can create fun, costume enhancing images of your own with face paints. A few tips:
  • Unless you already paint well, get the face paints that look like a crayon--they are easier to control, and cover large areas of design well. 
  • Use a regular eyebrow or liner pencil to outline your design, again, it is easier to control than a brush, and gives a nice, fine line for details.
  • Only use paint that is skin safe--regular artist paints may irritate and stain skin.
Do a test run before Halloween to make sure you are happy with the look you have chosen, then give yourself as much time as you need to get ready on the big day. Paining under pressure is no fun--and not necessary, as your design will last for hours 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Wreath Directions

Easy Cupcake Wreath Directions

Time to complete: 60-90 minutes 
  1. Hold the cut ends of the yarn together and tie into a loop.
  2.  Attach the loop of yarn to the straw wreath using a lark's head knot
  3. Use the glue gun to attach the cupcake wrappers all over the wreath. Place the cupcake wrappers with the right sides against the wreath. Vary the color placement so you don't have big clumps of a single color.
Allow the wreath to cool, then hang by the yarn loop. 

Project notes: You don't have to make a Halloween can use whatever wrappers appeal to you to get the look you want. 

Halloween Craft Roundup .....12h days til Halloween!

Halloween Decorating Ideas

This is our foyer--the table is always here and makes a great spot for seasonal displays. I switched it over to Halloween by adding some of our Halloween books, a pumpkin Madeline made in school and a few crafty things.

The "tree" is some twisty branches from the yard, spray painted matte black and "planted" in a crock filled with acorns from our Oak tree out back.. My original plan was to hang some pumpkins on the branches, but I kind of like how stark it looks plain.It took about 20 minutes to pick out branches, spray paint them and fill the container with acorns.

The mice and spiders are cut from felt, and can be reused--the templates can be found here.

The wreath is made from Halloween cupcake wrappers, and took under an hour. I am terribly lazy when it comes to wreath-making, so this was a good, fast way to make one. I like the colors, and may eventually add a bow. Directions up later today for making your own cupcake wreath for any holiday or season.

Happy crafting!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Craft Roundup .....13 days til Halloween!

 What is red and green and a perfect Halloween craft for the kid who has everything?

Exploding frog soap!

These are from Howard's Home on; and I must have some of them at once!


Because they explode into a gooey mess!

These would be perfect Halloween favors, or as a gift for a Harry Potter fan (it just seems like something Fred & George would have come up with for the shop). 

I am not giving away any secrets to say that these are made from handmade peppermint scented soap, and have a red bathbomb secreted away inside. Once the soap wears thin, out come the cherry scented "guts" for creepy bathtime fun!

These are available in various package sizes, so get one or get a bunch...friends who know me (and love handmade as much as I do) may find one of these guys in their stocking come Christmas time!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Craft Roundup .....14 days til Halloween!

From Martha Stewart, a great way to decorate Halloween lollipops for a class party . While her website gives directions for making the stickers, crafters that are short on time can buy her pre-made medallion stickers from any craft store. Add a pretty ribbon, and you're done!

You can also use this idea to package homemade Halloween treats or any small gifts you want to share. 

14 days left for Halloween crafting!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halloween Craft Roundup .....15 days til Halloween!

I was browsing online for some fun craft ideas, and since I can't do them all (though I would love to), I will share them here instead! Happy crafting!

 This one is from the awesome folks over at Family Fun--salt dough mini Mickey pumpkins! They have complete directions, including a salt dough recipe on the blog...if you are too busy to make salt dough, these could be completed with black and orange polymer clay as well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finally back!!

I have a working camera again, so look for a new post soon, I have a ton of things piled up to share!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making Felted Beads

You can use plain or Kool-Aid dyed wool to make your own felted beads--then embellish them as you would like. The following directions are for wet felted beads, but if you prefer, you can needle felt them instead.

Small amount of natural or dyed wool roving
Hot water
Beads for embellishing (optional)


1. Tear off a piece of wool about the size of a golf ball. Saturate it with hot water.
2. Start rolling the wool in your hands to form a ball.
3. Add soap and continue to shape the ball.
4. The more you squash and manipulate the wool, the more compact your bead will be.
5. When you are happy with the size of your bead, rinse it and allow it to dry.
6. Use a sharp needle to add embelishments, or needlefelt your finished bead.
7. To use, poke a sharp needle through the bead, and attach as desired.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to Dye Wool with Kool-Aid

You can easily make your own hand dyed roving or yarn match any color combination you would like, without making a huge investment. Once you know how to dye and shape wool, you can use this technique to enhance jewelry,accessories, dolls, and toys. This dying technique will work on any type of wool or animal fiber, and will be familiar to anyone who has ever dyed Easter eggs!

  • Natural wool roving (non-superwash)
  • Package of Unsweetened Kool-Aid in your preferred color
  • Water
  • White Vinegar
  • Equipment:
  • Measuring cup
  • Large glass microwave safe bowl or baking dish
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic wrap
  • Plastic spoon
1.    Soak the wool in hot water for 20 minutes so it will accept the dye. Tear it
into smaller pieces before soaking if you want to make different colors. If you are dying yarn, it will need to be in skeins to accept the dye evenly.

2.    Dissolve the Kool-Aid in ¾ cup of water, and stir with plastic spoon. Add ¼
cup vinegar, and stir. You can adjust this for darker or lighter colors by
using more water—or less Kool-Aid.

3.    Remove the wool from the hot water and squeeze out (don’t wring out) as
much water as you can. Place the wool on a piece of plastic wrap.

4.    Slowly pour the Kool-Aid over the wool, until it is saturated. Wrap the
plastic around the wool, and secure with string.

5.    Place in the pyrex container, and microwave for 2 minutes. Check the wool,
and microwave again if needed. You will know the wool is ready when all of
the liquid is colorless—and the wool is tinted. Be careful—it will be very hot.

6.    Remove the fiber from the plastic and rinse.

7. Hang to dry, then use as desired.

Project Notes:
  • You can make several different colors at one time—just use a different piece of plastic wrap for each, and cook them all at the same time.
  • Wear plastic gloves when working on this project—the dye will stick to your hands.
  • Kool-Aid is meant to be consumed, so you can use your regular household items for this project.
  • This technique will work on any animal fiber—but it won’t work on cotton or manmade ones. Wool roving is perfect for this project, but you could also dye yarn or fabric using the same technique.
  • To make the beads shown here, use Kool-Aid in different strengths and colors, then wet felt to form beads.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We are here!

After a somewhat troublesome drive (flat tire in Orlando!) we have arrived at Bay Lake Towers. Checkin at the Contemporary was fast and easy, and the staff was super nice. The room reminds me of a ship's cabin--everything is designed to stow away neatly, and there is very little wasted space.

The view is great--just outside the window is Space Mountain, and Cinderella's Castle. We are steps from the walkway to the monorail, so getting to the Magic Kingdom should be fast and easy!

First, though, we need to get a peek at the pool--we walked past the water slide on our way to the Tower, and the kids quite approved!

Can't beat the view!

Up next....Day 1 trip report//resort photos!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free Dining at Disney?

I have been reading rumors about the free dining promotion being offered again this Fall--I hope it is true, this is my favorite discount!
Read more here:
Free dining in Disney?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 1!

Theme of the day:
How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time?

I started crocheting as a child--my Grandma taught me. Everyone in my family holds the hook the same funny way--the same way Grandma did!  I grew up watching her and the other crafty folks in my family making things to give and share, and can't imagine living without handcrafted items.

My first design job was for a knitting manufacturer--designing sweaters. I didn't know how to handknit at all, my work was purely color and computer oriented. I taught myself to handknit from a book, but preferred crocheting for the longest time.

In 2004 I started knitting again, and re-learned from a book (I wish blogs and online videos had been around then, it would have been easier to learn. Being a little, (insert your favorite term for obsessed here), I had to start with a sock. We were driving to Disney World for vacation, so a pair of socks seemed to be a good take along project for the drive.

I found them today, and scanned one so you could see how well my "book learning" went. Hint: there is nothing wrong with your computer, the stitches are all skewed one way. I spent almost a year knitting every stitch through the back loop, as I did with these--hence the twisted stitches!

I finished one sock on the trip, and fell victim to Second Sock syndrome. I went on to several other projects, including on that had directions for "knit through the back loop", and figured out that I had been doing it wrong the whole time!

I did complete the second sock a year later, and knitted deliberately through the back loop so they would match. The socks are not technically perfect, but fit well, have worn like iron, and are very comfy. I have made many pairs of socks since these, but they remain my favorite, as they represent when I fell in love with knitting again...and how far I have come--from messing up the most basic stitch to designing my own patterns.

Disney Autograph Books

I made these cute autograph books for my older girls two years ago--I love that they are spiral bound, so I just pull out the old pages and add new ones for each trip. I need to make one for Charlotte this trip--at 2, she wants to do everything the "big kids" to spare their books the damage, I will make her one of her own. So far, her favorites are Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear. Time to break out the Disney scrapbook stuff!

Want to make your own Disney World autograph book? 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week!

Participating in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week -- there's still time to sign up on Ravelry, if you are interested!

Upcycled Chair

Don't throw it out--upcycle it!

I picked up my chair at a thrift shop for $2.00, because it was sturdy but ugly--and hey! 2 dollar chair!
Here it is in all of its thrifted glory!

 Old Chair (cost at thrift shop: 2.00)
 I combined it with an old chenille bedspread (from an auction), and the good half of an embroidered tablerunner (also thrifted).
Raspberry pink and just a few small holes--this was a great buy for $10,
and I will get a ton of fabric from this!

Want to make your own? Here's how I did it!

    • 1 12”x 36” embroidered table runner
    • 1 large raspberry chenille scrap, at least 24”x 24“
    • Acrylic craft paint in  Black and Ivory
    • 1 white or ivory votive candle
    • 1” foam paintbrush
    • 1” old scruffy paintbrush
    • medium sandpaper
    • rotary cutter, ruler, and mat, or ruler, fabric marker, and scissors
    • pencil
    • 18“x 18“ pre-made pillow form
    • sewing machine and accessories (this project can be done by hand, but it will be more time consuming)
    • iron and pressing surface
    • heavy duty staple gun and staples
    • hot glue gun and glue sticks or fabric glue
    • an old button

    Paint the chair

    1. Use the foam brush to paint the legs and back of the chair black. Let dry. (This is a distressed finish, so there is no need to sand or seal the chair before beginning.)
    2.  Rub the flat side of the candle all over the chair, focusing on the areas that would get the most natural wear. Rubbing the candle will leave a light coat of wax on the painted wood surface. The wax will create a resist for the top coat of paint. 
    3.  Use the scruffy brush to apply two coats of ivory, letting the chair dry between coats. Let the chair dry overnight, to give the paint a chance to “cure” completely before proceeding. 
    4.  Rub all surfaces of the chair with the medium grit sandpaper. The paint will come off easily where the wax resist was applied, allowing the base coat to show through.

    Make the cover:

    1. Put the pillow form on top of the chair.
    2. Cut a piece of chenille that is big enough to cover the chair seat with the pillow on top.
    3. Cut the table runner in half. Stitch one half to the raspberry chenille, lining up the cut edges, and centering the table runner on the chenille, like this:

    4. Press the chenille cover piece, to remove any wrinkles. Place the chenille cover on top of the pillow form. Starting at the back pull the chenille over the edge of the seat, and staple in place on the bottom of the chair. Starting from the center, work your way to each corner, pulling the fabric tight as you work. Repeat for the front, pulling the chenille firmly as you work, so the fabric will lay flat on top of the pillow form.

    Pull the chenille over one side of the chair, and staple in place on the bottom. Repeat for the other side.  If your chair has side supports, pull the chenille fabric around them, and staple in place on the bottom of the chair.

    Glue a gold and white button to the point of the table runner. Glue a round white button to each side of the table runner. Let cool before using.

    Note: This project uses a recycled chair with a 17”x17” seat. If your chair seat is a different size, you will need to use different amounts of chenille fabric, and a different sized pillow form. To custom fit your chair, measure the seat. Choose a pillow for that is the same size as, or slightly larger than your seat. Cut the chenille fabric large enough to wrap easily around the chair seat, and proceed as directed.

    Happy Crafting!

    Saturday, April 24, 2010


    disney2004, originally uploaded by rainymonday1.
    I totally miss the IBM thing at Innoventions! You could get a free photo each time, it printed out onto a calendar. This one is from 2004--the little princesses shown here are now 6 and 7 years old!

    Fun with Leftover Socks

    I made these adorable sock creatures out of some fancy socks from our local Gold Toe can really spend some serious cash there once you start collecting sock animal hides!

    Here are the creatures I came up with:

    These guys almost all have new homes--The grey kitty on the left was sold on etsy, and the buyer blogged about him here (I hope he is enjoying his new home and all of his new friends!).

    The middle tow were given as gifts to my niece and nephew, and I couldn't part with the little brown pup. The last one on the right isn't a sock at all--he is made from a mini glove, and somehow wandered into the picture.

    The book Stray Sock Sewing has some really cute ideas, I was inspired to make these after leafing through the book at Barnes and Noble :)

    If you have any random socks lying around, you can combine them with a bit of fiberfil and some whimsical additions and make sock cuties of your own!

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    tarn rug

    tarn rug, originally uploaded by rainymonday1.

    This started as a trivet....and grew to a doormat...and is growing into a full sized rug! It can't be stopped--it is eating tshirts at an alarming rate (35 so far and counting).

    Want to make your own tshirt yarn? There is a great tutorial here, and a second one here:

    T-Shirt yarn rug

    This started as a trivet....and grew to a doormat...and is growing into a full sized rug! It can't be stopped--it is eating tshirts at an alarming rate (35 so far and counting).

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    What is Needle felting?
    Needle felting is the art of manipulating wool fibers into a shape, an embellishment, or a three dimensional piece. Unlike traditional felting, which requires the use of soap and hot water, needle felting uses barbed needles and friction to achieve a felted finish.
    Needle felting can be used to decorate a base form, like a scarf or handbag, to make a fully formed object, or to make 3 dimensional beads, balls or figures. Needle felting is an inexpensive and portable hobby, and the basic techniques are quick and easy to master.

    Needle Felting Supplies
    Wool roving: You will need to use 100% wool roving as your fiber. Wool has a tendency to cling to itself, or “felt” when agitated or manipulated. Felted wool is dense and thick, and will retain its shape.
    Wool roving is a length of wool that has been washed, combed and carded into a thick rope that is ready for spinning or crafting. Roving is thick and fluffy, with a cotton-candy like appearance. Roving comes in a vide variety of colors and thicknesses, and can be purchased in small amounts or sampler packs for needle felting.

    Needles: Needle felting requires a felting needle—a long needle that is barbed like a fishhook and extremely sharp. Felting needles need to be handled with care to avoid injury. The simplest needles look like a nail with a very pointed tip.
    While there are many styles of felting needles available, from complex, multi needle pieces to needles with designer handles, you should choose a simple single needle for your first attempts. A single needle lets you have a lot of control over your work, and will help you avoid injury while you are learning the basics.
    Upholstery foam: A good quality block of upholstery foam will make a great needle felting work surface that will last through many projects. Upholstery foam should be at least 1 ½” thick, and preferably more than 2”. You will be punching the needle through your wool roving and into the foam, and you will not want to damage the surface you are working on.
    Have a few pieces of foam on hand in various sizes. A 6x6” square is perfect for felting small pieces, and is great for a beginner. For larger pieces or more advanced projects, select a slightly larger foam piece—12”x 12” is ideal for most large projects.

    Needle Felting Basics
    Choose a shape:

    For your first needle felting project, make a simple shape. Decide what shape you wish to make, and use a water soluble or temporary marker to draw the shape directly onto the foam. If you prefer, you can make a simple paper pattern and place on top of the foam
    Add the wool:
    Pull off a piece of wool roving (you should never cut roving—simply pull gently to separate. Lay the roving on top of the foam, following your pattern. The piece shown at right will become a circle, so the roving is laid out in a rough circular shape.
    Start felting:
    Begin jabbing the wool roving with the felting needle. You will punch through the roving, and into the foam. The entire barbed tip of the needle should go through the roving and into the foam. This will cause the wool roving fibers to lock together, and form your felted shape.
    Jab repeatedly and quickly through the roving and into the foam. Be careful not to jab your fingers—the needle is sharp!
    The roving fibers will mat together, and become a dense single piece. Remove the shape from the foam to see if there are any areas you need to go over again. If you do, simply place it back on the foam and continue jabbing until you are satisfied. Once you have felted a simple shape, you can embellish it with a second color.

    Add embellishments:
    You can embellish your felted piece (or many other surfaces), by adding designs and borders. Use the same techniques outlined above to add designs to your shape.
    Here a simple heart has been added (you can use an air-dry or water soluble marker to draw a pattern directly on the felted base). Use contrasting colors of roving so your design will stand out.
    To add a border, tear off a long, thin piece of roving, and use the needle to felt it around the edges of the piece.
    Whatever embellishment you choose, the layers of fibers will become permanently bonded, so be certain of your design before starting.

    Finishing and caring for your work:
    No special finishing is required. When you are happy with the look of your felted piece, simply lift it from the foam. Finished pieces can be made into jewelry, ornaments, or used to embellish larger pieces.
    Your finished felted wool pieces will be durable and long lasting, and will not require any special care to maintain their appearance.
    You may add more details to your piece at any time.

    Next steps:
    · Use your knowledge of the basics to make more complex projects, like jewelry or figures. You can also expand your collection of needles, adding a larger, multi barbed needle to use on larger projects, and larger pieces of upholstery foam to support bigger pieces.
    · Use needle felting techniques to improve the look of a plain sweater or cardigan.
    · Use cookie cutters to make perfectly shaped needle felted pieces—simply place the cookie cutter on top of the foam, fill with roving, and felt your way to a perfectly shaped piece. These make great greeting card embellishments or ornaments.
    · Embellish store bought wool scarves, mittens, and hats to add a personal, handmade touch to a holiday gift.