Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WOYWW 303--Messy Desk, Happy Crafter

It was a dark and rainy morning...that sounds like the beginning of a story. But it was just Tuesday morning actually, and the story of the mess on my desk begins with my junk journal opened up to a page I did on the gelli plate, getting ready to add a little tag of journaling. 

Also finishing up my fourth c-s matryoshka doll--those stitched together pretty fast. I've decided to make a vertical banner, bell-pull style, with the dolls to hang on a wall near a shelf where I have some of my actual matryoshka doll collection. Perfect, right? In the banner I'm going to stitch with a couple of handerkerchiefs that belonged to my mother, she had so many pretty hankies, so I don't mind using a couple to incorporate into this piece of cross-stitch art!

Many crafters have told me that they don't have the time or patience to cross-stitch. But as my friend Jan says, there is something soothing about the feel of cross-stitching, dipping your needle in, the feel of the aida cloth, feeling satisfied after a row of x's is completed. I love how you put that Jan. It truly is therapeutic. I've been a cross-stitcher for almost thirty years now. So here's the secret, if you do love it but feel like it takes too long--go small! You still get free therapy, lower blood pressure, and a beautiful little design that can't be manufactured. And you can't beat the price on your supplies.
One of my reindeers from Christmas done with variegated floss.
I used to stitch massive size tapestries of designs when I was younger--it was the "in" thing to do with cross-stitching. But let's face it, a major tapestry took me a year. But I didn't do a lot of other crafting at the time. So now, there are too many fun things I love to do. I'm not that patient anymore either. My small cross-stitch patterns get incorporated into mixed media pieces, little art quilts, wearable art and little framed pieces--much faster. These dolls, for example, only take me a week or two of my very sparest time. Then, they will be stitched into a piece which will look like a bigger deal than it is. Another option is to use one skein of variegated floss on a simple design, so the colors are changing for you automatically. It's magical. Try it! This world needs more calm, happy, cross-stitching people.

Link here to What's-On-Your-Workdesk-Wednesday

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hello Spring!

So...we know it's spring in the Ozarks when the air is fresh, the lighter coats and jackets come out (and some days none required), and thunderstorms and tornados are on the way! At least it's not snow and ice.


I'm starting seeds on the greenhouse.
Stitching the matryoshkas for a cute banner...on doll number 4 right now...
And going to the ballgame with my family! Saturday was beautiful.
How are you welcoming spring?

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WOYWW 302--What Competes With Your Crafting Time? And...I speak DMC

The top five things that want to compete with my crafting time: 
2-Back pain
The top five things that keep me crafting:
1-Makes me happy
2-I love to go to craft stores (which can be a problem!)
3-The inner drive to be creative (which I can't explain)
4-Crafty friends
5-The beauty, delight, and fun of handmade original creations in this big industrialized world of ours
What's-On-Your-Workdesk-Wednesday has really helped me stay crafty, and guess what, it's Wednesday again!! Share with me what keeps you crafty while I go visit your desk, or not...or, just say hi.

Here's my desk:

The thing people notice the most about my craft table--my pink mats!
 The best thing about doing a variety of crafts is that some of them are portable, so when the back pain flairs up, I don't have to sit at my table to do things like embroidery, bead stringing, and sketching. While working on my fourth matryoshka cross-stitch doll, I'm creating, in my head right now, some original embroidery patterns I want to do, and some little stuffed animals I want to make.
My bangles, and a cute way to make a little tag book with scraps.
Here's something for you cross-stitchers I'm just sharing because I love it. Over at El Blog de DMC, since January she has been posting a cross-stitch pattern of each room in a house (the first Thursday of each month), so by December, you can have the whole house to cross-stitch. But the idea is to do a room a month. I haven't started yet on the first of the three rooms she's shared (because of the matryoshkas!), but I can't wait! (you know how I love dollhouses) 
Yes, her blog is in Spanish, but DMC floss numbers are universal. 

Let me repeat that--DMC Floss numbers are universal!

And I definitely speak DMC. In fact, if cross-stitching aliens landed here, yep, that's right, I'm your girl to go talk to them!

Click here to see how cute the March sewing room is!

I'm stitching this one with pink instead of red - I just use whatever colors I want on this pattern.

Have a happy Wednesday.

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch

Monday, March 16, 2015

Got Garden Stash? How to Upcycle Your Seed Starting!

If you start seeds and do a bit of gardening year after might have some garden stash to work with!

See tips on dashing your stash this year right here.

Whenever I purchase starts for the garden, I try to keep the sturdy little plastic pots and the plastic plant markers. These add up over time and they are the perfect thing to upcycle when you're starting your own seeds. They stack well, so they don't take up much room in my potting bench.
Clean out your little pots before planting fresh seeds
This is the time of year for my zone in the U.S. when I usually start my tomato seeds on my protected south-facing sunporch (aka my greenhouse) along with some herbs, flowers, and a few squash varieties. I don't go overboard starting squash plants because honestly, the plants that have done the best each year seem to be the ones that came from seeds sown directly into my garden around the first of May. That includes spaghetti squash, butternut, zucchini, and pumpkin. I've had some nice pumpkins the last couple of years!
I have a lot of seed packets from previous years, and my husband bought a few new packets for me last month. Sometimes the older seeds work just fine, and other times they've lost their magic. That's why it's good to start several and see where you are. But I save some of the squash, flower and cucumber seeds to also sew directly into the garden as soon as I can. I also have a mailbox garden, and I sew seeds into it very early--the first of April--because I can then cover it with a plastic tarp, and get the beauty of that little garden going very early in the summer. If you have a patio or deck, you can do the same thing in the pots out there by just covering them well with plastic. Seeds need that moist, warm greenhouse effect to get started. Be sure and water them before covering. Check them after a week or so, and when the little starts pop up, they are ready for the sunshine. If it's still getting cold at night, bring them in after dark. I can't do that with my mailbox garden, so I just keep covering them at night until the beginning of May when the danger of frost for my zone has passed.
I grew last year's mailbox garden from a packet of seeds called "Mailbox Garden"

After I get my seeds planted in the little plastic pots, I use a Sharpie on the plastic plant markers I've saved so I know exactly what I have. Then I water everything, and cover them with either plastic seed tray covers I have on hand from last year, or plastic shower caps from the dollar store.
These pots are sitting in a foil roasting pan I had.
My husband built my potting bench many years ago, and it has served me well as gardening headquarters where I store everything and work with seeds pretty much from now until late in the summer. I just never stop planting seeds! I also try to overwinter some of my perennial herbs like thyme and rosemary. My greenhouse sunporch is not heated, so they've done pretty well this year. Happy planting!
A pot of thyme that spent the winter on my greenhouse

I've overwintered this rosemary for the last few years!
Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch, Grow

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dangly Ones! Busting Your Bead Stash with Easy-to-Make Earrings

Making cute earrings just takes a little practice. I started out by using inexpensive findings, and only the beads I had on hand at the time. It's a great way to make the most of your bead and findings stash.

See my five simple rules here for busting your stash this year.
Check out my glass seed bead bangle bracelets here.

Now I've probably made a few dozen pair altogether, and I love to wear them, give as a little gift and sell them at craft fairs. My favorite packaging is to make large tags with my Big Shot out of cute patterned paper, poke tiny holes and put the hooks right through. Then I finish packaging them in the small baggies you can buy at the craft store or even Wal-Mart. They keep everything in place while still showing the pretty beads and cute little tag. That way, for a craft fair, you can put a price sticker on the bag, but your customer can still write something on the actual tag if they're giving it as a gift.
My packaged earrings
Tags make the cutest packaging
Here is the most secure way I find to put earrings together. First make sure you gently open the fish hook finding to the side, not out in a u-shape or you'll weaken the wire too much.
Next, use a long pin-head, string on your beads securely, and about 1/8th of an inch up from your top bead, bend it over to the right.
Keep your three-in-one-tool clasped.
Then bend the wire around back to the left around your pliers to form the loop and twist around the extra wire under the loop to make it secure. Snip off the extra, and smash it down a bit with your tool to get rid of any sharp point.
These little stars were from my daughter's stash of long ago!
Now you're ready to add your fish hook on each earring, closing it back up the way you opened it. You can make some really pretty dangly ones in no time at all, just using your bead stash!
Love these sparkly acrylic beads
 See how secure that top loop looks after you've twisted the wire down?
Use the loop and twist technique, and add two or even more beads to your fish hook.
Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch, String Beads!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WOYWW 301--A Little Bead Happy

My bead-happy bracelet-crafting bonanza-making-heyday continues to be spread out all over my desk.

Happy What's-On-Your-Workdesk-Wednesday

So this week, Imma jewelry maker. That's right. Busting my bead stash really. Apparently last year I was very efficient and frugal, hitting the bead and wire sales with coupons galore. So now, I have stash. I'm currently in love with these rich pink Czek glass seed beads. I like the gold ones too. I'm making bangle bracelets to wear, share, and sell. Every morning lately, I enjoy my coffee and a little bead stringing. It's a happy way to start the day--that is after I've done my two miles on the treadmill! Then, I go to the office to a job I really love. Then, in the late afternoon, I'm back home, starting dinner, feeding the cats, and, yes, stringing beads! I have been alternating that also with cross-stitching on the matryoshka dolls. Love it all!

A photo from when I was working on no. 3--I'm actually on no. 4 now!
Last week's 300th WOYWW was really fun--I tried very hard to visit every desk, and I really appreciate all my visitors and how sweet your comments were about the story of my first little desk. To answer a couple of questions, I do not still have it--I'm pretty sure it fell apart many years was, afterall, a little nightstand. And yes, in my family we call a bedside table a nightstand. Yes, I really did have dozens of Little Kiddle dolls! Here's why. I got a huge set of them--they came in this big flat box packaged together, for my birthday that year...November. Then in early December, my mother took me with her to her employer's Christmas banquet. The owners of the business gave me a present, and it was, guess what, the same set of Little Kiddles! Of course, to mom's embarrassment, I pointed that out. But also told them I could never have too many Little Kiddles (after I saw the look on her face). I remember the adults laughing. What a pill. Many moons later, my little daughter did the same thing at a birthday party, over one of those big Barbie hairstyling heads! And also, if you were afraid to read my last paragraph last week, I did not give away any Downton spoilers. I would never do that. I just prattled on and on about my love for that show and how it pains me to wait for the next season! See, I'm still a pill!

Happy Wednesday.

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bust Your Bead Stash with Easy-to-Make Glass Bead Bangle Bracelets

This week: my bead stash.
Easy to make glass bead bangles
So it's kind of amazing to me how many beads I really have! I have beads that found their way into my stash from my daughter's childhood jewelry making, which she's no longer interested in. Although, she had quite a little jewelry business going on in grade school, with actual customers! Anyhoo, I also have beads from my sweet mother, who ordered kits, didn't want them, etc. And the rest I have because I have bought every bag of beads on sale with a coupon, so it was quite frugal of me. Then I stumbled onto some great YouTube tutorials on having fun with wire and beads, and started noticing that there is beautiful copper colored wire available for your findings stash, and I got a little excited last year. 
Just put a loop and twist on the end, and start beading!
So, with all of that pretty wire, beads, and findings in my stash, plus some great little tools mom gave me, I had plenty to start making some fun earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Having sold several pieces, I had put it all away for months. I'm afraid I had forgotten some of my techniques I learned, so, I'm back into my bead stash--not adding anything--just using what I have to make things I want to wear, share, and sell!

I have a few unopened packages of beads and findings--kinda loving it.
Today I'm sharing my simple bead and wire bracelets. With a 20-guage gold covered copper wire, I'm making several bangles featuring Czek glass seed beads--so lovely--and some with just one sparkly acrylic bead, and others with a few colorful ceramic beads. The 20-guage seems to hold its shape well for a bangle. I start by cutting a bit of wire that will have enough room to put a loop on the end, and eventually be big enough to slip over my hand onto my wrist. After I have all the beads strung on, I put a little loop on the other end, wrap the two ends together, snip and smash down with my three-in-one tool so that there is no sharp edge. It's really quite easy, and these glass bead bangles are fun to stack! Come back Thursday to see my earrings--dangly ones!

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch, Bead