Saturday, December 29, 2007

Handmade goody in my stocking, and a new wallet

I just wanted to show off this adorable goody that Santa left in my stocking.... I must've been good this year. I just LOVE this!

BellaLunaCoffin made this super-cool bracelet... and she makes so many unique, one-of-a-kind items! She also created some adorable cherry earrings, which Santa left in one of my pre-teen Monkey's stockings. Her customer service is impeccable, and all the extra goodies were above and beyond (and were also given to my teen Monkey!) Be sure to drop by her Etsy shop to see her latest creations, which include some adorable Valentine pendants!

I listed a new wallet today --

Another vintage western novel by Louis L'Amour.

I've been organizing and cleaning out my supply closet (and cabinet and shelves and.... and....) What a mess! But it is almost all organized now, and what I can't use is being donated to either the thrift store or listed on the EtsyRecycle group on Yahoo. (The EtsyRecycle group is awesome -- you give away (or can claim) unwanted crafting/art supplies, usually for the price of shipping! Check it out!)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Package from Tokyo, and a new pouch

Several days ago, I ordered some awesome fabric from this Etsy shop, Karaku Tokyo, and received it yesterday. First, my package came beautifully wrapped in a soft, almost fabric-like paper, tied with gold and silver mizuhiki, and included a hand-written thank-you note, some lovely yuzen wooden pins (like these) and a set of 4 coasters... and of course, my amazing fabric!
I LOVE text, and graphic fabrics, and the fabric I ordered is exactly what I wanted....
The item description said the graphics are of advertisements. They are rather large. The fabric is a heavy cotton fabric -- almost a cotton duck. I will probably make a baby sling for our new little one, or maybe a diaper bag....?

This seller was so lovely to work with -- great communication, high-quality product, and sweet enclosures. Please pay her Etsy shop or her website a visit soon to see all of her lovelies for yourself!
My new pouch was listed this morning....

The pouch is made from a recycled wool sweater, a heathery charcoal grey, that I fulled. The elephant is pink acrylic felt, and sewn with rescued-from-the-thrift-store embroidery thread. (I kept humming Dumbo's Pink Elephants on Parade the entire time I stitched it!)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New recycled wool pouch, and a last-minute party

I hope you all had a very merry and happy Christmas! We did... more on that later. But now for crafting news:

I made a new little cell phone/ipod pouch yesterday....

I am finishing up another one now (with a new design on the front!) and will list it in my shop tomorrow.

My dh asked for a unique Christmas present this year -- a party with his family and mine. This request was made a week before Christmas. (!!!Yes, he's crazy like that!!!) I shrugged my shoulders, and sent out emails inviting everyone to our house on the 23rd. I didn't expect any response... and then 16 people responded! Planning shifted into high-gear, and we announced a pot-luck menu.

We cleaned, we baked. Like crazy.

We tried some new recipes, such as the Zesty Hot Holiday Broccoli Dip (*use mayo, not Miracle Whip, if you try this!) and Cheese & Ham Spirals. The spirals were SO simple to make, and although we made a double batch, they were gone before half the guests arrived.

The Monkeys and I planned an easy activity for the little guests. We made some large sugar cookies in the shape of houses, and set out candies for decoration. We provided each child with a zip-lock bag containing a couple of tablespoons of buttercream frosting, snipped the corners, and turned them loose. By the end of the party, the frosting on the cookies had dried, and the kids took them home as a party favor.

Also, my thoughtful sister-in-law brought along another project for the kids -- graham cracker Christmas trees! The kids all had a blast with these, too. Check out Monkey 6 and his tree....

Yep, he made this all by himself, and he's 3. Not bad at all!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blog feature, and more wallets

I was recently featured in Creative Sundries' blog! I am so excited! Drop by and pay this super-sweet gal a visit. Better yet, visit her cute Etsy shop! You'll find lots of unique items -- vintage, repurposed, quirky, FUN.

I managed to make two more wallets yesterday...
From another vintage Louis L'Amour western novel... I just love these!
This one is (obviously) from an old romance novel.

Here are two re-lists.... I am hoping some Star Wars fans will snap them up!

As for everything else, the Monkeys are climbing the walls -- they are so excited about Christmas! We haven't done much schooling this week... mostly math and science, and some reading. My older 3 Monkeys have suddenly taken to reading their science books, and though I am slightly puzzled by this new trend, I'm happy they're reading something educational. Actually, I'm pretty happy when they just read for fun. The older kids really enjoy old mystery novels, especially Alfred Hitchcock's children's mysteries and the Boxcar Children series. They also like the Baby-sitter's Club series.

When we moved to our current home, about 9 months ago, we decided not to sign up for cable TV. What a blessing that has turned out to be! My kids never read for fun before that -- they only read what was assigned for school, and even that was a chore. Since there is now no TV to entertain them, they have turned to reading, and other productive, creative pastimes. They began making ATCs (artist trading cards) and swapping them with other kids from around the world. They draw, sew, roller blade and bike. They will sometimes sit down in the evenings together and play cards or a board game.

Now, I have to admit that we do have a crummy rabbit ear antennae for the one TV in the house -- in my room. We mostly see snow-filled channels. There are two Spanish-language channels that come in crystal clear, but my Spanish is very rusty, and I can only pick out every third or fourth word. That's a bit tiring, and I'd rather do something else. The antennae was to ease my poor dh into the transition of no-TV-living. He has not come peacefully. Once in a while, he can still watch his sports (barely) so he's not too upset.

One more TV admission -- I desperately miss The Office and Law and Order: CI -- my all-time favorites! I will watch them on the web, if they're available, or on DVD when they come out. I also miss Ghost Hunters... but that's for another post.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A few new wallets

I finished a few new wallets today....
This wallet was made from another vintage Louis L'Amour western novel.
This wallet was made from a version of Pearl. From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This is a Charles Dickens novel I'll be reading soon, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I have to admit that I'd never heard of it before. Tonight I'll be working on some more cell phone pouches, and maybe a zipper pouch or two.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Make a gift box, and the last of the cookie marathon

Today, I worked on gift wrapping items to be shipped. This is usually a challenge for me, as I am never prepared with just the right sized box, or even enough padding! But today, I was a little more prepared for the challenge. I now make these very simple gift boxes out of old LP album covers.

Anyone can make these. First, I just found a box lying around the house that was about the size I needed. I opened it up flat, and traced it onto the LP cover. Then, I cut it out, scored and folded the corners of the box, and then glued or taped it together. I chose a very simple box that only needed adhesive on one corner. Both the bottom and the top of the box fold together.

There are quite a few box templates to be found on the web, too... this site is a good one -- it even includes a template for those adorable chinese take-out boxes! Just imagine all of the funky and unique materials you could reuse and repurpose to make your own gift boxes..... Of course, if you'd like me to make you some of these nifty boxes, just convo me here.

For the padding, I just shred my junk mail, or the colorful newspaper ad inserts. (I don't use the actual newspaper because the ink rubs off on everything.) I also save tissue paper from all the gifts from our (many) birthday parties, and shred them for a very colorful, soft padding.

For some of my gifts (and for their crafty recipients,) I wrapped lovely, large-ish fabric scraps (or even precious fat quarters) around the gifts and tied them with vintage lace or rickrack picked up at the thrift store. I know the fabric won't go to waste (and may even be appreciated!) and there will be less paper trash thrown out on Christmas.

I am still in the process of making the fabric gift bags! YIKES! One of our family Christmas parties is this Sunday, so I really need to get done with those. PRONTO.

Now.... one more mention of the cookies. I suppose I must have cookies on the brain, because I keep posting about them. I promise this isn't a cookie blog (although it certainly seems that way!) Maybe cookies are a form of crafting... you sure can get creative with them. Monkeys 1, 2 and 3 worked on these with me tonight. It was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed each other's company without the usual chaos of the littlest ones "helping."

Top: Hundreds of sugar cookies. Second: Gingerbread Biscotti, with the melted white chocolate drizzle and red hots. Third: (left) Chocolate Walnut Biscotti, with chocolate drizzle and chocolate covered espresso beans; (right) Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti partially dipped in milk chocolate. Last: Chocolate Chip Biscotti with white chocolate drizzle.

Whew. That's IT. I promise.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Trip to the thrift store, wallets and more cookies

We made a short trip to the thrift store yesterday in search of black wool sweaters (again.) I did find one that was suitable -- it's in the washer now. I also found some purple, silky-looking fabric in a large baggie for $3. I thought it would make some good linings for bags or pouches, so I bought it. But imagine how surprised I was when I unrolled it at home, to find yards and yards of this:
This edge is the more ornately decorated border, and the other edge has a simpler, yet still lovely border. I don't think I can bear to cut it now. What to do??

I did manage to make a couple of wallets this afternoon...
This one is from a Mexican travel guide book. I love the bright colors! (Wow! It just sold! :) )This is another vintage Harlequin romance novel wallet. I like these. The artwork, not the books.

The Monkeys and I are still making cookies... one small batch of sugar cookies were baked and decorated last night. Those cookies are pretty much history by now. (I really should have remembered to take photos of the Monkeys at work!) I'm baking the last of the sugar cookies now. I have to admit that I'm always relieved when that job/tradition is over!
We use a wonderful sugar cookie recipe. This recipe, found in the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, makes sturdy-enough-to-decorate cookies, but they taste like they were made in the bakery. (If you do try out the recipe in the above link, I noticed it mentioned a tablespoon of milk... my version of the recipe doesn't call for that, so I wouldn't worry about it.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hooray! Front page Treasury!

I was just about to go work on some projects, and decided to check my shop one last time for tonight... and I saw my newest treasury on the front page! YAY!

More biscotti, more dia de los muertos

The sugar cookie dough is chilling in the fridge until tomorrow, so meanwhile we whipped up this amazing recipe for Gingerbread Biscotti. Before we deliver them to our family members, we'll be drizzling them with white chocolate and dotting them with red hots -- YUM!

These are very rich, like regular gingerbread, but dry like biscotti. And they are amazing dipped in coffee!

I finished another Dia de los Muertos ipod pouch this afternoon. I began the embroidery on it last week, but the moving escapade prevented me from finishing sooner. I listed this pouch this evening....

. . . and it sold within a couple of hours. I'd like to make more, but I am out of black wool felt. I hit the thrift stores last week, with the specific goal of finding black wool sweaters to felt, but apparently those are scarce in my town. I found one -- a single, black Old Navy hoodie sweater that just happened to fit my daughter. And of course she begged for it. And of course I let her have it. It looks really cute on her. Soooo.... I can either keep searching, or use a very deep charcoal-colored wool felt that I have. I'm not sure if it will look as good, though. I'll have to play with it and see.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another fab wallet, and two great recipes

I posted a new wallet I made on Friday. Obviously, it's one of my favorite subjects/themes. He said he really had fun designing this one, too. This is the second of Freddy's tattoo wallet series....

I didn't get much crafting done this weekend. We spent Friday and Saturday packing up some family members' household so they could move this weekend. I was planning to do lots of crafting and sewing today, but instead, I made Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti and chocolate truffles with the Monkeys.

These Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti are soooo good! Most of these are destined for my sister's home.... these are her favorite. They are also very good drizzled in chocolate.

My Monkeys love making these truffles every year. (These run a close second to making and decorating sugar cookies. That marathon may take place tomorrow.) The recipe for the truffles is amazingly simple. After making and chilling the chocolate, we set everything up around the table, assembly-line-style -- each child picks their favorite sprinkle or topping to work with. I form the chocolate balls, and pass them to whomever needs one to sprinkle. It's fun, and we laugh and have a good time. Lots of sugar and sprinkles on the table, on the floor, pretty much everywhere. It's time well-spent.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A new release, and more thrift store finds

I finished a wallet today that I'm super-excited about! My brother designed the artwork for the cover and interior of the wallet. I love the way it turned out.

My brother, Freddy Payne (of Universal Tattoo,) is a perfectionist. I know he spent hours working on the planning and execution of this artwork series, as he does all of his projects.

One interesting tidbit about my brother, Freddy -- he has tattooed Vanilla Ice! While Vanilla Ice (aka Rob Van Winkle) was participating in Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenege last summer, he decided to commemorate his bull riding experience with a tattoo. He asked around for the best tattoo artist in Stephenville, and Freddy was recommended, hands-down, as number one. Freddy did the tattoo, and is in the "Vanilla Gets Inked" episode. Vanilla Ice also showed off his new tattoo on-air while introducing one of CMT's Top 20 shows. Pretty neat!

I did hit another thrift store today....

I found several more books for wallets:I also found this cute little guy:
And some ribbon to tie up presents....I'm planning to make some fabric shopping bags in place of paper gift bags this year. My motivation for using the fabric bags is replace a bunch of trash in the dumpster on Christmas Day, and to also replace future plastic bags when it is (hopefully) used on trips to the grocery store. An amazing (and easy!) tutorial for making your own fabric shopping bags can be found here. Thanks to queenofdiy for the fab tute.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My number 1 current project, and a few thrift scores

My most important project right now doesn't have anything to do with crafts or recycling. I just found out a little more about this very special project this morning....

It's a girl!

Monkey 8 is due around the end of April. We're so excited! This has been a fairly uneventful and healthy pregnancy so far, so I am very blessed with that.... I don't have much time to be sick or have any drama!

Now on to the thrift store...

I stopped by one of the thrift stores on the way home from the doctor's office, and they happened to be having a 50% off everything sale. Can't beat that! They didn't have too much that I could use for my shop -- just a few paperbacks.

The did have some amazing hardbacks that I had to snap up to add to our homeschool library, such as a new, unabridged Chronicles of Narnia, and a children's Mystery Hour book. (My older girls LOVE mysteries!)

They also had a lot of these baby girl sleepers!

I usually don't buy baby clothing at a thrift store, because they are so worn or stained, they aren't worth fooling with. But I did get lucky today! There were probably 30 baby sleepers without stains or even pilling, so I did buy several small baby girl sleepers.

I didn't get any projects finished today... I worked on another cell phone/ipod pouch (Dia de los Muertos), and then gathered supplies for my next special batch of wallets. One of my favorite people, who happens to be a very talented artist, and who also happens to be my brother, has designed some artwork to be made into wallets. A very limited amount of these wallets will be made. I can't wait to "unveil" them -- hopefully I can have a few done tomorrow!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sugar skull pouch, and some lovely stocking stuffers!

Today I made a little cell phone/ipod pouch from a recycled wool sweater (fulled by me) and adorned it with a Dia de los Muertos skull. I do love the day of the dead, which I previously mentioned in my old blog.

Now, onto other matters......

My Etsy street team, Etsy Texas Crafters, is currently hosting our monthly First Monday Sale. For 24 hours, many of our members host amazing sales in their shops -- from BOGOs, to percentages off, to free shipping, to freebies! To find out how big of a sale I'm talking about, please visit our ongoing and lively thread over in the Etsy forums. The first post in the thread lists the more than 70 shops and their specials!

There is also a drawing for a special prize pack for anyone who purchases from any of our shops during the 24 hour sale!

Here is a tiny peek at some of their stocking stuffers:earrings from ChristinasMagic

crocheted bracelet from noeasybeads

collage pendant from CollageObjects

beaded bookmark from HandmadeWhimzy

snowman pendant by HumbleBeads

Please drop by our thread and shops --- our sales are continuing until midnight (CST) tonight!

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