Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When You're Not Feeling Creative

When your muse is taking a break and the inspiration is not there, what do you do? I always wonder what causes this in the first place! Maybe too many projects in a row, and you just need a break. Or maybe your energy is down for a plethora of reasons. Maybe you're overwhelmed by your supplies and stash and can't even think of what to sew or glue to what! Maybe you're hungry, or need coffee!
I think matryoshka dolls are my muses!
It does take some creativity to keep busting your stash--but a good way to start is by shopping your own stash.

See my Stash Dash 2015 Right Here
Spending time with loved ones can boost your energy and creativity.

Here are a few more ways that seem to help me get creative again.

ORGANIZING--If my crafting space gets too cluttered and crazy, I can't think anymore. When I start putting some things away and doing some organizing and reorganizing, the ideas start to flow.

MAKE A MAKE-LIST--I actually keep lots of lists...that's another story. But my best list ever is what I call my Master Make List. It just has everything on it that I want to make someday. Some things are pretty basic like, "Work on the House Cross-Stitch" which I know is a bunch of cool patterns from El Blog de DMC that will eventually make a whole house, room by room. And I know I want to do it. But I have other things on the list in more detail such as, "Design a pattern for a stuffed cat" and underneath that line, I have indented and put a list of very specific features I want to create on my stuffed cats, like a die-cut heart embroidered with the word "joy" and embroidered eyes and eyelashes, etc. The point is, that list could be your muse when you need it.

CREATE WHEN YOU'RE CLEANING--When I have to break down and actually clean house, do dishes, do laundry, go to work, grocery shop, I still let my mind wander creatively, and I keep a little file of notes on my phone so nothing and no idea gets away from me no matter where I am. It just might make it to my Master Make List.
Inspired by junk journals I've seen on Pinterest

MAKE PINTEREST WORK FOR YOU--The whole reason I have boards full of beautiful embroidered projects, craft ideas, jewelry making, art journaling and mixed media is to inspire me when I need it. I had first joined Pinterest long ago when a friend invited me. I thought it was great looking at fun pictures, but it didn't really catch on with me until I realized that a lot of crafters have got on there and you can see some amazing work that cannot fail to inspire you. I'll share a few of my boards right here.

Sandy Leigh's Sew Blissful Stitching Board
Sandy Leigh's Art Journaling Board
Sandy Leigh's Scrapbooking Board
Sandy Leigh's Recipe Board
Sandy Leigh's Mixed Media Board
Craft with a child--my nephew wanted to make shell people the other day!

I even have boards devoted to the color pink, bento boxes, matryoshka dolls, gardening, and craft shows. Sometimes, just getting on Pinterest and pinning things to my boards inspires me.

SIP SOMETHING HOT--So I know it's now spring, at least here in the Ozarks, but something about the ritual pleasure of sipping a delicious hot tea makes me feel happy and creative. Keep some flavors of herbal teas you love in your cupboard, and you'll see what I mean. A little honey always makes it better too.

If you have some ideas about how to get the muse back, please share them here! Happy creating!
Mix up your media--stitching on paper always makes me feel creative!

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch

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 year...you 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 ago...it 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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What's-On-Your-Workdesk-Wednesday 300--That's Number 300 Deskers!! Celebrate!

Watch out - I'm in a jewelry making mood!
Here's my humble craft table in the snowy early morning weekday light of the Ozarks USA.
I love working with beads and wire!
An amazing lady named Julia Dunnit graciously, patiently, humorously, and consistently allows crafters from all over the planet--seriously, around the globe--to meet up in the middle of the week and nose around each other's desks. I have never met Julia in person--I live across the pond from her. But I've come to think of her as a fellow crafter, someone in my tribe, and I'm very grateful to her for these new creative alliances in my life. It's kinda awesome, and very cool. Visit here.
This little dish was made by my artist friend Susan


When I was four-years-old, I asked my mother if I could have an old nightstand of hers and make it my personal desk. She said yes. We painted it, and I filled the drawer and shelf with my crayons, of course, coloring  books, coloring sheets, Little Kiddle dolls, ribbon, yarn, play food, a tea set, and my little Indian perfume roll-on from Avon. I sat in my little wooden chair and worked at my new "desk" every day while watching Captain Kangaroo. (Little Kiddles, Captain Kangaroo, and the Indian perfume are on my Pinterest board: My Sixties Childhood)

So here I am a few years ago, starting my blog. Had no idea what I was doing. But when I stumbled upon a crafter's blog here or there, I started noticing who they followed, and then I followed that trail and stumbled upon What's-On-Your-Workdesk-Wednesday. I didn't even understand what it was! But somehow I figured out how to link up, and the fun began. Every week. A link-up party about desks!! 
Happy WOYWW 300 to Julia and all the deskers! Hugs and love to you all from my messy desk to yours.
The cross-stitch is packed up and ready for the tote bag.
P.S. As you know, from our weekly party, I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan, and I just want to let some of you in the U.K. know that you were right--after seeing the season finale this past Sunday, I'm completely delighted, I loved this season!! I want to boo hoo in my handkerchief that I have to wait almost a year to be let back in the big house. But as the Dowager Countess says...I will not complain, or explain.

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch

Monday, March 2, 2015

Stash Dash 2015 - Use the Tools You Have

Stash Dash 2015 Five Simple Rules

Remember when you were at that craft fair and couldn't resist the adorable little yarn-making-spinning-mabob contraption? Or what about the four-functions-in-one jewelry tool you couldn't live without? And don't forget the trip to Michaels where you absolutely had to have that complete set of Martha Stewart punches for the most fabulous scrapbook pages ever made. Afterall, you used a coupon.

I think the biggest challenge for some of us who don't have massive size craft studios is, we HAVE to put things away. We have no choice--we have a small space to craft, we still need and want things like great crafting tools, but they can't all sit out within view. Then comes the dilemma--out of sight, out of mind.

Always keep the instructions.
Purposely using your stash this year also reminds you to use your tools--especially the ones you may have forgotten all about. It's just a matter of a little organization and making a point to, once a month at least, use your tools.

Last week, I got out the ole flower loom. (picked it up with a good coupon last year) It initially appealed to me, because looms are fun, whimsical, can even be used by children, and in the dead of winter who doesn't want to make some flowers? Plus, it's another great way to bust my yarn/ribbon stash a little, and I couldn't make flowers without it. But it's one of those things that I don't HAVE to have, so it was put away last year and I just forgot about it. I've had some fun with it though--and I'm making flowers for everything from tags to scrapbook pages to stuffed animals! A double layered flower would make a cute pin. These kind of looms have several sizes and shapes you can snap in and start weaving. It only takes a few minutes to make something.
Then there are tools we'd like to forget we even bought!

Were you fooled by any tools lately?
Because sometimes we get these things home, we may or may not even try them out right away. We may let them lay around our craft table a few weeks to see if they magically make on their own. Then we put them away with everything else.

That's why this is the year to get rid of your tool hoarding non-usage guilt! In other words, it's time to use it or lose it.

Of course, you may have a huge craft studio, and can keep all the tools you want forever. But in my little crafty corner, everything has to earn its keep.

So once a week or so, I'm getting out a tool that still looks like new, and making something. In doing this, I'm going to know what stays and what goes. This week, the flower loom stays! I confess, I forgot how it worked. But I was smart enough to keep the instruction sheet with the loom kit, and in no time at all I was up and running and producing a whole flower garden. So, note to you--always keep the instructions with your tools!

I have to say, after the coldest February in the Ozarks ever, I love making flowers.
So what about the tools that fooled you? Put them in a box. And when you have a few, have a fun crafty tool swap with your crafting buddies, what else? Maybe someone doesn't want their flower loom--so you can get started on your own flower garden! However, I do recommend it, and if you find the need to visit Michael or JoAnn, just use a coupon. You can use so many things in your stash with this tool--yarn, ribbon, cording, twine, or a combination. Happy stashing!

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch in Flowers