Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I hate when shows I love are cancelled.  It's the worst when they end unresolved. It's like closing a book when you're three-quarters of the way through it and throwing it into the ocean.  Or something.  I loved Joan of Arcadia, for a lot of reasons.  I'm still sad it's gone.  One of my very favorite episodes is "Recreation" because of a single conversation.  Joan is irritated with God.  (Isn't that a familiar feeling?)  As usual, she was the catalyst that sparked a chain of events that led to good things.  As usual, she doesn't quite understand that yet.

So what's the big idea?

The big idea is...recreation.  You know what that means?


Well, let's break the word  down, shall we?
To create again
To begin again
To start over
People need to do that.
Work is fine, but every now and then you've got to take a break and recreate.

I love it.  I always seem to come back to that scene.  I've been busy with good stuff.  Kids and school and volunteering at school and cooking and and cleaning and being.  I love all of that.  But I also really, really love making things.  I haven't stopped making.  (Or taking pictures!)  But I've been pushing that aside more and more so that I can get other things done.  And I think I need to reevaluate my balance.  I need to get back to the business of creating on a regular basis because it makes me happy.  

This year, my resolutions were to make something every week not out of obligation, but just because I want to and also to keep my Etsy shop stocked.  Keeping up with this blog helps keep me on track.  So here I go.  Again.  Recreating.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Easter and Instagramania

Easter weekend was busy for us, as it usually is.  There was a "Happy Spring" egg hunt and party at Rory's school, then Jack's birthday followed by my 9th anniversary.  Spring comes in with a bang around here!

All the kindergarteners brought egg cartons with plastic eggs to school for a big egg hunt.  I decorated hers with approximately 7 coats of paint, felt flowers, and her name in glitter (by request).  We were instructed to fill each egg with candy and write letters on them to spell out "Happy Spring" then also write the letters in the bottom of their egg carton so they could hunt for matching letters.

Sounds like a cute, simple thing, right?  I couldn't figure out what was taking Rory so long.

"Hey Rory, what letters are you looking for?"
   "Um...Y, two P's, H and G."
"Okay.  Hey look!  Here's a P right here in front of you."
   "Ugh, Mom!  I don't want that color.  I want a two-color egg."
"Well, why don't you just take this one, then if you have extra time and find another, you can trade out?"
   "NO!  I don't want that P."

I think the lighthearted fun learn-to-spell-and-get-free-candy concept was lost on her.  She took some seriously convincing (and a little bribery) to finish up because everyone else was ready to get inside.  And for the record, when most everyone else is finished, it's a lot harder to find the SPECIFIC COLOR/exact letter combo you're looking for to complete the phrase.  I think my mantra for the day was, "Breathe in. Breathe out. There will be cupcakes in the classroom."  I made bunnies out of lollipops for her classmates, inspired by this on Pinterest. Of course.

I didn't get as crafty as I would have liked for Easter this year.  It just got too busy, so I let myself off the hook.  I did make Jack a quick tie, though, that unintentionally almost matched his sister's dress.  So, you know, small victory!  On a less victorious note, this is the best picture I got of it.

Happy birthday, Jack!

My baby turned three!  THREE!

He's still all about Angry Birds.  And Star Wars.  And Star Wars Angry Birds.  And superheros, Power Rangers, knights, and Skylanders.  I love that I get to be this kid's momma.  I love the look on his face when he's trying to decide whether to smack me with his lightsaber or give me a kiss.  I think he's generally pretty divided about that one.  He's hot or cold, super sweet or the King of Cranky.  He's stubborn and hilarious and sensitive.  He's perfect.  And he's mine.  Happy birthday, Jackie Pants!

Daddy lost the battle.

Andrew came home with an idea he got from some coworkers for making lightsaber party favors.  Dollar store pool noodles cut in half, then wrapped with duct and electrical tape.  So simple.  And such a hit!  Literally.  If you're going to make something that your kid with hit people (and furniture, cats, strangers in Hobby Lobby, etc.) with, it should be soft and foamy.  Thank you, inventors of the pool noodle, from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cheaptastic Sunglasses Makeover

I have a Pinterest account, therefore I know about certain things like washi tape.  (And using vinegar to clean everything.  And how to get an engineer print.  And how to tell where my generic milk comes from.  And...And...)  I indulged a while ago when I saw some adorable polka dot washi tape at Michael's.  Then just the other day, I found some bright multi-patterned tape at JoAnn.  On clearance.  Swoon!

Not surprisingly, I also recently scoped out the Dollar Spot at Target and may have come out with a pair of $3 clear framed sunglasses.

Washi tape + cheap-o sunglasses = Love

It seems to be holding up pretty well, too.  I figure when I get tired of it or it starts to come off, I can just switch it out for a new washi tape pattern.  Shoot, by then I may have found several more discounted but lovely washi tape rolls to drool over.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This and That- Catching Up (or "Not Cleaning Out My Sewing Area")

I should be cleaning out my sewing desk and the area around it. It's not a pretty sight.  The thing is, if I position myself behind the computer monitor, I can't see it.  And I haven't finished catching up with the blog...and...shoot, I know there was another really good excuse...

So, between now and my unintentional blog break (again) I have been busy.  Throwing kindergarten into my mix has brought it's own time challenges, but I think I've got it (mostly) figured out now.

Since September I've made things to celebrate babies:

Newborn neighbor Bryce got some bibs and a bag!

Baby Coover's bibs and football gear

Baylor onesie for Christi's nephew. She's the coolest aunt in the world, I'm sure of it.

Teeny circle skirt for the adorable Miss Morgan (and the sticky tie that I found for the very dashing Mr. Collin

Happy #1, Mallory!  (Because everyone loves Black Apple Dolls!)

Happy #5, Kinsley!  Disney princess ribbon sculpture headbands

Rory modeling her Ariel headband

We quickly discovered that being in kindergarten means lots of party invites!  I decided to pick a gift and stick with the theme throughout the school year.  So far, so good.  I've made each kid a set of pillowcases and everyone has seemed to really love the idea.  Rory is tired of it by now, but hey, she'll get to give something different next year.  I've made several more sets, but apparently finished them as we were headed out the door to the party and they never made it in front of the camera.  Happy birthday to Jack, Michaela, Sophia, Deegan, Ryleigh and Elliana!  And thanks to Heather for the genius idea!

For Deegan's Star Wars party, Rory and I came up with a quick Princess Leia outfit, made possible by an old sheet, some posterboard, foil and some sockbuns!


My trick-or-treaters requested a red Angry Bird and She-Ra. Jack's was pretty simple. We found his red suit at the thrift store and I added a fleece tummy. I made him a fleece hat and glued foam onto some cheap red glasses frames. He was a hit!  Mini She-Ra started with a cheerleader pattern that I adapted to velcro in the back for easy dress up later.   I added a velcro removable cape and  made her crown by using a headband and some painted foam.  Her galoshes made great boots when covered with stretchy gold fabric.  The result was a happy, happy girl. And hey, now her friends know more about 1980's cartoons!

I decided we needed new stockings for our family. They needed to match.  I didn't use a pattern, just kind of made it up as I went along.  The main part is a fabric that I can't remember the name of, but it's a bit more pliable than burlap or canvas. Ruffles for the girls, altered pintucks for the boys.  Next year I'll figure out how I want to add names...or just initials?  I'll revisit that part next Christmas.

This past Christmas was my niece's first Christmas with our side of the family, so I finished Addison's stocking.   Soon I'll need to get started on one for her little brother or sister!

It wasn't a calendar holiday, but we celebrated Rory feeling better by trying our hand at homemade root beer.  She'd had some awful virus and everyone was thrilled that she was back to her old self.  The root beer was pretty tasty, too!

And we even gained a new houseguest:

Rory and Jack discovered the "fairy door" a few days after it ...ahem...appeared.  Our fairy guests don't directly interact with us, but we do get to see some of their activity. They put a wreath up for Christmas, have left their broom out and decorated their tiny porch with flowerpots.

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's...WonderRory & Friends!

This week is Anti-Bullying Week at school and the kids get to dress up with something specific for each day.  Today is "Be a hero" day, so I beefed up the cape I made Rory last year by adding another layer and some matching bias tape and whipped up a matching mask. Then I sent her off to school to save the day.  Or some butterflies.  Something.

A couple of weeks ago we got to celebrate not one but two Cameron's birthdays on the same day!  And since both are pretty super kids, I thought they needed their very own SuperCameron cape and mask.  It really doesn't get much more adorable than watching a little boy become a superhero in front of your eyes.  Just saying.  Happy birthday, Cameron G. and Cameron S.!

Super easy superhero mask pattern can be found here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pinspiration Success

By and large, I've had a lot of success with projects inspired from things I've found on Pinterest.  Cleaning solution recipes, really yummy dinners, patterns and genius ideas.  I haven't tried tackling one of the bigger home improvement projects, though.  There's the commitment. And the convincing your husband.  Both are big deals.

Until now. I did it!

I pinned this little adorable entryway:

It needed to be in my house.  Immediately.  We've had plastic 3M hooks on the wall in our eat-in kitchen, right by the garage door where we come in and out constantly. They were absolutely functional. And absolutely ugly. So I busted out my tape measure and pencil and sketched it out. (There are actual steps listed in the original pin, but I suppose I was too excited to notice that at this point. So I winged it. Wang it? No, definitely winged.)

empty wall
While at Lowe's, Andrew suggested that we use bead board for the lower part and chalkboard paint for the upper boxes. Thumbs up from me. The hardware was the most expensive part to purchase. We got home, pulled out the power tools and got busy.

We got the first board up. Woo hoo!  Then I heard, "Um...honey, come here please." from the garage. When Andrew was measuring the next cut, the tape measure reeled in and sliced his finger. It looked like a crime scene. In my garage.  A bottle of hydrogen peroxide and several band-aids later, I got to take over using the tools.  Woo hoo!  I got the frame measured, cut and attached to the wall the first evening.  Andrew told me I had to stop there.  Something about power tools and hammering " waking up the neighbors and our children."

Day two I started sanding the upper boxes, where chalkboard paint would go. I wanted a smooth(ish) surface, so I sanded (and sanded, and sanded) the (stupid) texture, then smoothed on some joint compound (thanks, Google!).  When Andrew got home he cut the bead board inserts and helped me caulk the edges.  Note: do not ask me to use a jigsaw. It's not pretty.  We added the narrow top shelf, too.  So close!

I impatiently waited for the caulk to dry and put on some of the white paint coats and the chalkboard paint.

I woke up the next morning to do a few touch ups and add the hardware.  Then I sat back and admired.  I kind of love it.  Four days and about $100.  Not too bad, right?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Let There Be Love

Valentine's Day isn't completely lost on adults, but don't we all have to admit that it's more fun for the kids?  Rory was excited to help put together her panda bear valentine box for school (thanks, Natalie!).  She made absolutely sure that I hadn't forgotten it last Thursday.  That or the popcorn for her class party or her teacher gifts.  When she got home she meticulously read each valentine that her classmates had given her.  And oh, kindergarten handwriting is pretty stinkin' cute.

Jack was pretty much just in for the candy.  Can't really blame the kid.

I decided to finally try Dana's (MADE) circle skirt, which turned out to be every bit as easy as she claims it is.  Rory's school dress code doesn't allow for patterned skirts, but I decided to rebel just this once.  The girl was giddy with happiness in the morning.  I couldn't stop the twirling.

I had made both kids some sweetheart fox softies from Ruffles and Stuff and left them on their beds for each to discover in the morning.  Rory named hers "Ariel" and Jack's is appropriately called "Foxy."

Mix Tape!

I felt bad that I'd made Rory something to wear but not Jack.  He couldn't have cared less, but was still happy to wear the cassette shirt that I put together on the fly the morning of Valentine's Day.  I swear, you can make just about anything with felt and Heat N Bond.

I'm not anti-candy, but I figured that they'd probably have plenty of it at school, so this year I opted for another (mostly) candy-less gift for Rory's schoolmates.  I made 20 little friendship bracelets and packaged them up with a few candy hearts for her class.

For her teacher (and student teacher), I had Rory draw some quick portraits and made Post-It note stands.  I figured I couldn't go wrong with  a functional gift.  We got two acrylic frames and made an insert, then just stuck a Post-It pad onto the front.

We're still enjoying little treats from Rory's valentine stash each day.  Having tasty candy around the house is a delicious/dangerous thing.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hello, my name is Mandy.

Hello, my name is Mandy.
I make stuff.
I also used to blog about it on a fairly regular basis. It's been a while, hasn't it?  I realized as I took this picture just before taking my daughter to school:

There have been exactly 100 school days since my last post.  The dress she wore in the previous post on the first day of school is now about two inches too short.  Oops.  It's not like I haven't been making stuff.   I'll try to do a quick recap or some highlights and then get back on track with this thing.  Probably.

Kindergarteners celebrate the 100th day of school with a big party. We're talking Goldfish crackers and M&M's here.  The good stuff.  They were asked to make a shirt to wear to school that has 100 items on it. We talked about painting something on a shirt, or maybe adding 100 fingerprints.  Rory decided that that didn't count as 100 items.  She got me on a technicality.  I aimlessly walked around Hobby Lobby and came up with 100 ribbons because clearly I needed to add much more difficulty to the project.  The original plan was to make the pencil attached to the shirt, but after sewing on 100 delightful ribbons, I decided that it should be a separate piece so that she can wear the shirt again when she's not celebrating school days.  Rory loves it.  She was twirling around in it this morning and excitedly saying that it was like a hula skirt shirt.  And in the end, that's really all that matters, isn't it?  Happy girl. Happy mommy.
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