Thursday, November 29, 2012

Super Easy Painted Christmas Cookies

I love making (and eating) Christmas cookies but with three small kids, this activity usually turns daunting and overwhelming pretty easily.  If I make cookies that involve icing, the kids get to turn into little artists but the icing is hard for them to use and makes a huge mess. If I choose drop cookies or something that doesn't need icing, the kids don't really get to do much. So I turned to google the other day and found a couple recipes for painted cookies.  After tweaking them a bit based on what I had in the pantry, we got to work tonight.  This was such a FUN, EASY, and BEAUTIFUL cookie experience.  There was little to no stress and everyone was happy.  My kitchen even stayed a little cleaner than normal.

So here goes, first you make sugar cookies.  I cheated and used a boxed mix that I found on sale a couple months ago for less than a dollar.  We rolled them all out and cut out all the shapes.

As I filled a cookie sheet with shapes, we put them in the fridge to keep a bit better.  When they were all cut, we got to work on the decorating part.  Here is the best part- it's 2 ingredients!  I took a mini muffin pan (an ice cube tray works well too) and poured evaporated milk in each little spot.  The I added different colors of food coloring to each little area and mixed well with a toothpick.  Since I had both the regular and the gel coloring, we tried both.  They both worked really well.

 Each child got a small clean paintbrush and a plate full of UNBAKED cookies.  They painted all of them and then we threw them in the oven for a few minutes based on the box instructions.  Presto!  Fantastic, totally kid friendly, cookies. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

a Few Fun Finds...

I have come across a few really fun things on Etsy this week so I thought I would share.... Enjoy!

(actually her entire store is one of the most fantastic shops I have ever seen!)

This is a brand new Etsy seller but she seems to be on the right track.  This wreath is so different and made from recycled materials as well.

I stumbled upon this stocking in one of my teams.  I love the blue and red together to give it a different but still Christmas I am sure this stretches to hold all of Santa's larger goodies.

I would seriously own every single one of this seller's dresses if I could afford them.  I mean they are some of the best looking, unusual outfits, ever.  Love, love, love

Sometimes you need something that Hallmark doesn't sell.  These cards are full of cuss words and not at all politically correct but I smile when I read them.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My New Sewing Studio!

Okay so perhaps it's not a "studio" but to me it's perfect.  As you may remember, we decided to finish our basement last year.  Up until then, I had been working in whatever section of the basement I could find that would hold all my stuff.  Because of a lack of storage and organization, my sewing stuff spilled out of bins and spread throughout almost the entire basement.  It was a mess!

My sweet and handy husband decided that we needed extra space in our house and that I needed a more permanent area to work.  Since my Etsy shop has really taken off, this has clearly become a necessity.  Even though I have a pretty successful business now, I still view sewing as a hobby so I had some serious guilt about using too much of the basement (our living area) for just myself.  My husband convinced me that even hobbies deserve their own spot, especially since I had been doing this for so long.  Clearly this is not a hobby that is just going to blow over when I find something more fun.

Last Wednesday the carpet was installed and by Friday I was at IKEA trying to buy the finishing touches for my space.  Now, my area is small (10' x 5').  My 7 year old refers to it as my sewing nook instead of a studio.  I really needed to use the vertical space as much as possible.  Are you ready for the reveal?  Here goes!

This is an overall look and I will show you the other areas a bit more close up.  The two main table areas are some inexpensive tables I had from Joann's.  One is a cutting table and the other is a sewing table.  I am not in love with them because they fall apart when moved but they are working well for me.  I still need to get some art and color on the walls to make it a bit more personal but you get the idea.  Now, I will admit that you are not seeing the bins and bins of finished projects, minky dot fabric, upholstery fabric, and off season fabrics that I have.  Those I am storing in the crawl space section of our basement so they are out of the way.  I am not sure how that is going to work since I do use that stuff almost daily but it's working out so far.  Now let's take a more in depth tour :-).

I have had this thread thing forever and never had a place to hang it.  I put my most used threads on here and it is so nice being able to reach up and grab what I need.  The best part, I actually put the threads back when I am finished with them.  Miracle!  I have extra embroidery threads in cases down below.  My small computer is right by my machine which is a must since some of my embroidery designs come off the computer.  I also have that magnetic board which holds all my product labels so I never forget to grab one when I am stitching something together.

This is the majority of my fabric.  I used comic book boards to wrap all the fabric which makes them stand up beautifully.  The tops of the shelves are a bit too short for the boards so I have all my pre-cuts and quilt bundles up there.

Welcome to my shipping area.  These IKEA kitchen storage things are perfect.  I have my rulers hanging since this is also near my cutting table.  Some of my rulers didn't fit quite well so the hubs promised to drill a couple new holes in them to make them work better.  The rest is all the stuff I need for cards, thank you notes, tape, string, stickers, etc.

This is the rest of my shipping area and some more storage.  The drawer cabinet holds my poly-mailers, as well as half completed projects.  The magnetic board is perfect for hanging up my pending orders so I can keep track of what I need to work on next.

 The two shelves at the top hold all the bins of supplies that I have.  The bins are clear so I can easily see what's in them.  (What isn't shown is that the shelves fell down the night after these pictures were taken because I installed them wrong.  Oops!  My hubs has promised to fix my mistakes but he is going to let me live with a downed shelf for a couple days as punishment for not waiting for his help in the first place.  Love it.)  My ribbons were a huge problem before.   I used a curtain hanger from IKEA for storage.  Now I just unwrap a roll when I get it and put it on these cards.  This way I can see exactly what I have and what I need to buy.  The cards easily un-clip when I need to use them.

To the right is another kitchen storage bar thingy.  This holds my scissors, rotary cutters, and other necessities.

All in all, I am SO in love with my new space.  I have a ton of work to do and this makes it an absolute pleasure to do anything.   The rest of the basement has room for our new couch and TV (coming later this week) and some of the kids' larger toys.   Well, I better get back to sewing!  This room is screaming to be used.

I LOVE seeing other people's work areas.  If you have any pictures of your work space, please feel free to post them here.  I will be sure to check them out.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Halloween Pattern Testing

I have a confession, I can't sew from a formal pattern to save my life.  I see the books of patterns in the fabric stores and dream about the day that I create some spectacular formal dress for one of my daughters.  That's never going to happen.  Plain and simple, I just don't get it. 

Now tutorials, those are a different story.  These days the Internet is FULL of bloggers ready and willing to post their tutorials on how to make this or that.  Etsy sellers also sell their simple patterns and tutorials that arrive to through your email in simple clear instructions.  They put pictures, explanations, and sometimes even videos to help make the process smoother.  The other bonus, most of the time the items made from tutorials don't have to be that exact.  SWEET!  A small imperfection here or there doesn't really matter when you are making a one size fits all dress or a decorative towel.

When fellow blogger Sheryl from Sher's Creative Blog Space asked some fellow Etsy folks to test out one of her sewing patterns for Halloween treat bags, I was all in.  It's a win-win.  She needed to make sure that her tutorial was perfect before selling it on Etsy and I am always up for trying a free simple sewing pattern.

I am so impressed with the results.  The bags were extrememly easy to make, come in three sizes, and can be as simple or as decorated as you want to make them.  Here are some of the ones that I made...

The large one has a ghost appliqué which was included in the pattern and I added my daughter's name to it to add a personal touch.  It is the perfect size for a nice Halloween gift or even to trick-or-treat with.  The smaller one is adorable and great for Halloween treat bags.  These bags are so easy to make and are a great way to use up scrap pieces of fabric.  They would be wonderful for Birthday party treat bags or for goodie bags. 

The best part of having people test her pattern is seeing all the variations of bags people made.  Sheryl had 5 of us test them out and all 5 had very different and uniquely wonderful results.  Check out all the rest of bags here.

Now if you would like to make some of these bags of your own, head to Sheryl's Etsy shop and purchase the pattern.  I promise, they are super fun and easy to make.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where am I now?

It's so much fun when other bloggers ask if they can feature you. This week Jeanna from Barnyard Chick asked if I would like to stop by for a visit.  She has a great blog where you can even get some adorable free graphics.  I am particularly drawn to her posts about organization.  Man I could use some of that!  Stop by Barnyard Chick and check us both out!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Holy DUST Batman!

I have a confession.  My sewing area is like fabric store that vomited all over the floor.  Sorry for the graphic reference but it's the truth.  Up until 4 days ago, all of my sewing and craft stuff was spread all over the floor in our unfinished basement.  Along with said craft stuff was the random toys and snack containers my kiddos would leave behind after spending time with mama while she sewed.  It was a disaster!  I should have taken a picture to help my full disclosure but I was way too embarrassed. 

The good part about my sprawling area was the ability to expand.  Because the basement is unfinished, I claimed it all.  I could make as big of a mess as I wanted and no one would care until the weekends when my darling hubby would have to climb over the stacks to get to the washing machine...yes he does ALL the laundry.

The good news is, our basement is in it's final day of getting new drywall.  Finished basement here we come!  There is dust everywhere!  We had dreams of DIY and we were well on our way.  My husband framed everything, ran wires, and hooked up lighting.  Then when it came time to drywall, we stalled out.  At the suggestion of my stepfather, we decided to wave the white flag and hire someone to finish.  This one guy seriously hung the entire thing in 4 days and he is currently down there sanding in the middle of a cloud of white dust.

My new sewing area is going to be SO beautiful.  I just know it.  However, it is going to be super-dooper- teeny-tiny.  I'm talking closet sized.  In addition, this basement has to function as a TV area, playroom, and general living space.  I can NOT have the dis-organizational problems I had before.  So my dilemma is this... how to keep my area perfectly clean and organized when I have a 1/4 of the space to do it in.  I have searched the internet for ideas and of course I found a few on Pinterest I am going to try immediately.

Here are two of my most favorite, inspiring items I already own.  

I got a magnetic board for Christmas and I LOVE it!  In addition to the 4 little magnets (which are super strong), I also have 4 little magnetic containers that go on it.  It is perfect for my snaps and labels.  The shop is Moore Magnets and I know I am going to go back and buy a few more.

I already started organizing my fabric.  I got these two fantastic shelves from Ikea a few months ago and put all my fabric on comic book cards.  When I remember to fold them all up after every use, this has been working out really well.  Plus, I just LOVE seeing all my fabrics at my finger tips!
 Here are a few of my inspirational ideas that I stole from Pinterest.  Remember, I must use wall space when possible!
I have GOT to find a way to use the wall space in my new sewing nook.  These kitchen things from Ikea are going to be perfect for hanging up my rulers and notions.

I am going to buys a wall cabinet unit to go all the way up against the wall and ceiling and attaching jars like this will be perfect for all my ponytail holder and key fob supplies.  I have been collecting jars like this for a while and never knew what I was saving them for.  TaDa!

I have got to find a way to organize my ribbons.  I hate the round cardboard things they come on because they are constantly unwrapping.  Perhaps something like this that hangs from the kitchen racks mentioned above?

Here is another great idea.  I know I can get some ribbon in a smaller space by putting them on cards like this.  Hmmm.

 I'll keep you posted on my progress! In the mean time, I would love to hear and see what other people are doing in their favorite spaces.  Have you transformed a special space recently?  Let me know!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Caillou Quilt #2

The original Caillou quilt
I never knew Caillou was so popular!  Since posting the last Caillou quilt on my blog, I have been visited by hundreds of people searching for Caillou quilts and blankets on the Internet.  I am flattered that so many people have stopped by to see what I made.  One of those wonderful people who was searching the web was a mother in California.  She contacted me to see if I would be open to making another quilt for her son's twin bed.  Of course I wanted to make another one!  

What I love so much about quilting is the level of creativity allowed.  You can find a pattern and follow it to the letter but depending on the fabric you choose, it can look totally different from the original.  This new Caillou quilt needed a few changes.  The boy that it was being made for shares a room with his sister.  Their walls are 4 different colors that all compliment each other very well.  However, the walls are not primary colors and Caillou is.  The original quilt I made would look horrible in this little one's room.   This mom asked me to focus on greens and blues and tone down the shades a bit.  No problem!

We set to work picking out colors....

Here are the original ones I picked.  I tried to keep the same color palate but lighten it up a bit. 
The customer really wanted to highlight the green and blue so she asked me to find two more tones to go with those and leave out the red and yellow.  No problem!  While I was searching, I began to embroidery the squares. I had to change Caillou's clothes a bit to tone down the colors and emphasize the blues and greens. 

The next step was to assemble it all. I really liked the dots that I found in the first picture so I kept those in there.  The colors in the dots were all found in the embroidery designs so it tied in really well.  For the quilting I had to keep in mind that this was for a little boy and he will be sleeping in it every night.  It needed to be durable!  For this sized quilt, I rented time on a long arm quilting machine at my local quilt shop.  (This, by the way, is my new love!)  I choose a stippling design which is kind of a rambling swirl going all over the quilt. 

Oh that machine is so much fun to use!  It cuts my quilting time in half (at least!) and does a much better job than my home machine would do.

Added a binding, washed it up, and we are ready to go!  Here is the finished product... 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

West Chester Art Market

Hi folks!  It's been a while.  I thought I would briefly show off what's been going on in my world a bit.  This weekend I had the pleasure of joining forces with one of my local Etsy friends to do a craft show.  This one was a little different because half of it is a farmers market (yummy!) and the other half was an art market.  My partner is super-dooper pregnant so this show was perfect for us since it's close and only a half day.   As you know I sell sewn items, a lot of which are for babies and kids.  Combining with Lindsay from LuluFitzgerald was a great match.  She makes hand puppets and bow ties for little boys and they are SO cute!

So, here is a quick peak at our set up.  It was a first time for us working together so it took some juggling to figure out where everything was going to fit.

Here is my half of the booth.  She had a table across from this that had large bins of all of her bow ties.
We both have these great racks that we got when local shops went out of business.  The first has all my baby products on it.  This used to take up an entire table.  I love the way people can shop from both sides.  The next rack is hers and has all of her puppets on one side and some crocheted blankets on the other side.  It is so easy for people to see all the great puppets that are available.
Close up of my bibs.  Don't they look great?  I really like they way they face out so people see them as they are walking by.  Coordinating burp cloths are right under them on a little hanging shelf.
These pacifier clips were hanging just above the bibs.  These have actually been quite popular with retail shops.  I will soon be selling these in a store in northern Ohio and one in Australia.  That's another blog post :-)
I just started selling these fabric buntings and I was not sure how to display them at a show.  Turns out they make a perfect backdrop.  The back wall of the tent kept the sun out and the flags made our booth really stand out.

So the show started off pretty slow but picked up nicely about half way through.  We are doing another one in two weeks so wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Favorite Things- Kids Books

We all know those classic kids books that we loved and now our children love. Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Velveteen Rabbit, will forever be some of my favorites. There are a few "unknown" books that have come into my family's life that quickly crawled their way into our hearts. Some have been given to us by my sister-in-law who is a teacher and others we have randomly picked up at the library and then checked them out the next 4 times in a row. I thought it would be fun to share some of these find and I hope to post these regularly as great ones come along. Here goes...

At Night by Jonathan Bean was a book we picked up a the library a few years ago. The story is quiet, simple, and perfect. It's about a little girl who lives in the city. At bedtime she tosses and turns until she decides to go up to the roof of her building where she quickly finds a peaceful sleep. Is is a must read for any family living in a city.

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman never gets old no matter how many times I read it (and I have read this book A LOT!). It's about a growing family who has some very picky eaters for children. The book is a long rhyme which makes it so fun to read. The story flows wonderfully and the pictures are some of the best. My kids can stare at the pictures of this book for hours and they find something new every time.

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker warms my heart every time I read it. I love the repetative phrase in it and so do my kids. This book is about a bear who will not open his heart (or his home) to anyone. A persistent mouse soon comes along and does everything to to annoy bear and of they make friends at the end. The illustrations on this one are fantastic too.

Priscilla and the Pink Planet by Nathaniel Hobbie quickly became the favorite of my three girls. Like Seven Silly Eaters, this book is a little longer and rhymes beautifully. This book teaches a great lesson on why it is important to have variety in your life. The illustrations have a Seuss-like quality that I adore.

I hope you have found some new books to try and I am really looking forward to hearing what some of your lesser-known favorites are. Please let me know. I would LOVE to grab them at my library and feature them in future weeks. Thanks!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bed Scarf?

What in the world is a bed scarf? This is the question I asked my husband a few weeks ago when an Etsy customer emailed me to ask if I could make her one. A quick google search turned up this explanation. According to The Linen Gallery Blog: "In an industry that really doesn’t change all that much, there is a new way to “dress your bed”. Bed Scarves are all the newest rage and really began in the hospitality industry, with hotels probably being the biggest users. A bed scarf is just that — a two foot by 8 foot piece of fabric or a knit throw that is meant to go at the foot of the bed. It is suppose to be functional in that it protects the bedding when someone lays down on top of it with shoes or puts a piece of luggage on it. But, many bed scarves are wonderful prints — adding a splash of color to an otherwise neutral bed."

Sweet! A quilt that is super narrow is perfect! Fun to piece together yet easy to quilt because it is narrow and won't bunch up in the machine. I quickly told the customer yes and we hashed out all the details. Now it is finished and I couldn't be more pleased. Here you go!

So what do you think? I am thinking a bed scarf may be in our future too. It would be fun to have one for the holidays and different seasons don't you think?