Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Clay Ornament Recipe and Mommyhood Failings

Let's be honest, it's sometimes fun to read about the failings of others. Not horrific failings but, you know, that the bloggers we follow don't live in a world of perfectly iced cookies, seams that aren't always perfectly mitered, and children who don't happily occupy themselves for hours on end so they can finish whatever project they are working on.

Frankly, I don't know how other bloggers do it. Do they have help with the housework? With the cooking? Do they just order take out every night? Do they trip over trains in their living rooms their entire houses? 'Cause that happens over here (sadly not the help with the housework or the cooking). That's how things get done.

Unfortunately, even under the most perfect circumstances, things can go horribly awry over here. I'd like to tell you about it.

On top of all the stuff that has to get done at Christmas time, I received the notice my kindergartner needs to bring 18 gifts for each of the kids in her class. Of course, being me, we have to hand make them. I can't go out and buy 18 tiny tubs of Play Dough, or 18 pencils with cute Christmas-themed erasers. That would be way too easy. No, like a dummy, we have to make something. From scratch. Big mistake.

I decided that we should make ornaments. It's no harder than making cookies, right? I thought about the cinnamon ornaments you see everywhere but the dough is so finicky and my arms break out in a rash from mixing all that cinnamon and applesauce together. Plus, they take forever to dry out and harden. I didn't want to make salt dough ornaments but I did find this recipe for clay-like ornaments (see below).

So pretty! So easy!


They were really easy to put together and I added silver glitter right to the dough to give them a little pop.  I used both regular sized cookie cutters and these little mini cookie cutters in the shapes of snowflakes and gingerbread women/men. I diligently poked a hole at the top of each ornament before baking them but what I didn't do was make the hole big enough in the mini ornaments to thread anything through-not ribbon, not dental or sewing floss, nothing. Even though we had made them a week before they were due, I didn't notice the hole situation until 9PM the night before she was supposed to bring them to class and we didn't have enough of the big ornaments for everyone.

So cute! So useless!


Cue the mild cursing to myself.

I came up with a (lame) alternative and was done in less than hour but still.....

So Boring. 


Learn from my mistakes People! Poke big enough holes in your ornaments!

Recipe for Ornament Clay

1/2 c cornstarch
1 c baking soda
3/4 c water

Mix all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. As the mixture warms it will get thicker and thicker. When it looks kind of like mashed potatoes, take it off the heat, cover with a damp cloth and let it cool. It doesn't take that long to cool but I couldn't get to mine until about four hours later and it was still perfectly workable.

Once cool, knead it together using extra cornstarch if it is too sticky.

I used two 1/4" square dowels as a guide to make the dough an even 1/4" consistency while rolling it out and then used cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.

Lay out all your creations on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Using a straw, poke a hole at the top of each ornament. From experience, a toothpick is not big enough. Bake at 175 degrees (F) for 30 minutes, than rotate the cookie sheets and bake for another 30 minutes. Let cool.

Once cool, you can paint them to your heart's desire or just leave them white.

A few add-ins:
When kneading the dough, I added in silver glitter and kept on kneading the dough to distribute it evenly. I probably used about 1 cup of glitter but I just kept on adding more until I thought there was enough. In hindsight, I would either add more, or use a finer glitter; the stuff I used was pretty big.

You can also try adding food coloring to the water before you mix everything together.

(Slightly adapted from Tips from a Typical Mom Blog )

Whatever you do, have fun! And poke big enough holes!

Kate

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Ornament Tutorial for Framing

Hi Friends!

I am super excited to post today because I have crossed off #9 on The List! I even have a pretty easy tutorial on how to finish them.

But first,  a little story. On Saturday afternoon we were driving to my son's Christmas Concert (3 year olds singing Christmas songs would melt even the iciest of hearts, tbh) and I mentioned to my husband that I wasn't feeling very fulfilled creatively. I read a number of blogs and follow a number of crafters on Instagram and seems like they are just finishing projects left and right and I'm not getting anything done. As I was unpacking all of my sewing and crafting supplies, I realized I have WAY WAY WAY too many projects that haven't been started (hence, this blog and a topic for another day) and that overwhelming feeling has been following me around for the past couple of weeks. So last night when we got home and the kids passed out in their beds I realized I had to make the decision to actively work to get my projects done.

I thought about what I could accomplish in about two hours since I still need a decent amount of sleep and realized I could probably put together all of the Christmas ornaments I had cross stitched and hang them on the tree this year!

I used little plastic gold frames for these ornaments. My mom bought me a whole bunch a few years ago and now it is time to use them. These frames didn't come with any backing in them so I used the cardboard on the back of a giant pad of paper I bought the kids from the Dollar Store as backing.

I used the frames as a guide to cut circles out of the cardboard and backing material.
Happy Little Circles
 I then used the cardboard as a guide to cut out the cross stitch material as well. Holding it up to a light helped to center the cross stitch.
Sometimes, I have a good ideas!
I used Elmer's Multi-PUrpose Spray Adhesive.

I used old Thomas the Train placemats as work surface. Be aware, though, that Elmer's Glue has a wide spray area; my 12 1/2" square ruler was just to the left of this placemat and it got covered in glue. 

No Glue
 Spray that circle!
Lots of Glue!
I stuck the backing material to the sticky side of the cardboard circle. As you can see, my cardboard circles and my fabric circles were somehow not the same size. I just cut the fabric to fit the circle.
How hard is it to cut circles?

I sprayed the opposite side of the circle and stuck the cross stitch onto it, trying very hard to make sure the design was as close to the middle of the circle as possible.

Yes, the Gingerbread Lady has no eyes. 
 Once I had both the cross stitch and the backing material on the circle I just kind of jammed it into the frame. I had to do a little finagling with scissors to get the thing to fit but they turned out fine.

Santa

Church

Bird

Candy Cane Heart


House

A few thoughts or, rather, learn from my mistakes.

1. After you cut out the cardboard circles, make sure that they fit into the frame. The first one I made, I used the inside of the frame to make my cardboard circle and after I had cut both the backing fabric and the cross stitch pattern I realized it was too small for the frame.
I wasn't feeling the joy when I realized I had done this! 

2. There's nothing saying you have to use the fabric on the back; I did because I thought it looked pretty. That being said, if I had to do it over again, I might have layered a piece of lightweight batting between the cardboard and the cross-stitch design in order to give it a little more....oomph. 

3. I've had these for so long but I'm pretty sure they are all JanLynn designs. 

That's it! I'm so happy to finish something that was on my List! What's even better is I have crossed off two more items (one by default but it still counts, right?). I'll be talking about the next one later in the week. 

So, what are you working on these days? Trying to get ready for the holidays? Anything you want to submit for December CraftBusters? Remember to get your submission into me by December 30 in order to win a $25 gift certificate to JoAnns (US Residents only, please). 

Have a Happy Week!

Kate



Friday, December 12, 2014

Writer's Block

Hi Friends!

I have some serious writer's block. I sit down to write anything and it feels like all I am doing is complaining. I have some great things to share with you about this season of waiting, this season of Advent, and how it is influencing my art but it just feels like I am whining. So, I'll just share some pictures of the Advent and Christmas things we have going on around the house.


First! I cleaned up my sewing and crafting area....well, cleaned it up enough to actually see the table and even use it if need be!


I have not accomplished much on the cross stitch front this week. I think the only new stuff is the little bit of red there on the right and some brown on the left side of the chair. At least it's something!






My favorite Christmas tradition is the trimming of the tree. This year was the first year the older kids got really into it and it was just so much fun. 


This is our empty manger because.....


...Mary and Joseph are traveling towards it (apparently with the help of Santa Claus and maybe a light saber as a night light. I don't know). 




Here is our Advent Wreath (ignore the previously lit candles....). We have had some serious wind in the last few weeks so I was able to walk my front yard and neighborhood and use fallen greenery to help make the wreath.


I hope that in this time of preparation you are finding time to just slow down and to be present. 

Happy Advent!

Kate


Thursday, December 4, 2014

December CraftBusters!

Hi Friends!

Did you think I forgot about CraftBusters? I didn't. I thought about it a lot in November and even talked to my husband about whether or not I should spend the time promoting it, but he agreed with me that we needed to focus on the move and the family.

And, yes, it is December 4 but I am ready to do CraftBusters for this month!

So what's the plan?

Finish something that you have in your stash of unfinished projects and email me a picture of your completed project, along with a brief description, and I will enter you into a contest to win a $25 gift certificate to JoAnn's. You need to get your entries to me by December 30 and I will post all the entries and pick a winner on December 31st! I do have to limit this contest to US Residents.

You can send me your entries via email at sewingbl@gmail.com or you can also send them to me through a PM on Facebook (If you haven't already, Like me on Facebook as well!)


I'm going to try and find something I can finish as well!

Let's see what we all make!

Happy Thursday!

Kate



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December Already!

Hello Friends!

I don't know about the rest of you but November was gone in a FLASH and December is here and, while I'm not entirely unprepared for the onslaught that is December, I think I could have used one more week of November in order to prepare myself. Does that make any sense?

Don't get me wrong: I have scaled WAY back this year in terms of expectations for myself and what I can accomplish for Christmas. I made the right decision when I had all of the my Christmas decoration boxes moved to the corner of the living room as we were moving in so I knew where they were. Most of my decorations are up and I'm making mental notes of what I want to do differently next year but I just can't go nuts trying to make my house look entirely put together for Christmas, and continue to unpack, and do all the normal day-to-day things that have to get done. This would not be a happy household come Christmas.


That huge into does lead me into the crafting portion of the blog! I kind of, sorta starting putting together my sewing space in the family room. This is what it looks like now:

SO MUCH STUFF!

Such Bad Lighting!

No room for crafting!

Our plan is to have both my sewing area and my husband's art area incorporated into the family room with all the kids' stuff so we can all do our thing but not be separated from each other. The kids can play/watch a movie while I sew and my husband paints, draws or builds stuff. I'll let you know how that goes!

I've got to find homes for everything, even if that home is the thrift store and that will be happening soon! I've got one giant box of stuff ready to donate and now that I've got the kids' toys out...you know more stuff is going to get donated! 

As I've stated in other posts, the way I kind of keep myself together is to always have a little something to work on once the kids are in bed. For a while I was making cross stitch Christmas ornaments but I got tired of making them; the patterns were cute but the color schemes were awful: so much fluorescent orange. I was talking to my sister last week and she mentioned she needed to start her son's Christmas stocking and I thought that was a pretty good place to go next in my cross stitching. 

"But Kate! Wait!! You just said above you weren't going to put any undue pressure on yourself to finish stuff by Christmas!"

Yes, I know. I have no plans to finish the stocking for this Christmas but I do have every intention of finishing it by next Christmas. 

Anyway, here's where I am at with it:


You can't tell right now but that's the backside of a chair and a fireplace grate. Well, I'm gonna get back to it! 

What are you working on for Christmas 2014? or Christmas 2015? 

Have a Happy Week

Kate