Seen Elsewhere

Rhinestone Shoes
My slow down here at the blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating. I mentioned I’ve been working on my Master Bedroom, but I’ve also been working at a new gig as part of the Darice design team at Live.Craft.Love.

DIY Lucky Necklace
It’s kind of a dream job. Every month I get to look through the extensive Darice catalog, which is pretty much like walking the aisles at your favorite craft store since, if they don’t make the supplies themselves they distribute them, and come up with a couple of projects. It’s a little like the Nickelodeon Super Toy Run, but for crafters.

DIY Drum Shade
Twice a month I’ve got projects that show up over there, and I share the space with a bunch of other really great bloggers. Follow along for crafting inspiration every day.

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Reupholster a Kid’s Chair

Reupholster a kids chair

Reupholster a kids chair

Atti has had a fabulous but hideous chair in his room for the last few years and literally every time I go in there I twitch, looking at that cover. It’s faded and stained, and totally not hygienic. But the chair was just too perfect for Atti’s needs. It was just the right size for him, is easy for him to get in and out of, easy for him to sit in, and has sentimental value because it was given to us by one of Atti’s former therapists. Even if the chair was just like any other chair, I couldn’t bear to get rid of our reminder of Miss Margie. I had to rescue it from the crust of cheerio dust that had overcome it.

Click through for a full tutorial, including a coupon for a steal on fabric! [Read more...]

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Quilters Bib Necklace

Quilt Inspired Bib Necklace

Remember all that great stuff I got at CHA? This is what I made with it, and now I need your help. The grand prize is $1000, and the winner is determined by votes. I need you lovely people to go here, search for my Quilter’s Bib Necklace Pattern and vote for me. Voting is once per device. And then once the contest is over I’ll show you how to make this little gem. You don’t have to login or make an account or anything.

Go Vote! (Thank you, and I won’t ask for this again. Promise.)

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Year of Pleasures: Art

3 Birds
I had to go back and look through my archives to make sure I hadn’t posted these before. It seems like such a ridiculous oversight. This triptych hangs over my desk and is what I look at all day long as I’m typing away. My talented friend Melissa Mayhew created these for me based on an idea I’ve had forever and ever. These are a symbol reminding me to be courageous in how I fight for good in the world.

Brain
An owl is a symbol of wisdom

Heart
A lovebird is a symbol of love

Voice
And a songbird is a symbol of song

All together these birds remind me that God gave me a brain and a heart and a voice and he expects me to use them. Once upon a time another friend of mine (a hugo award winning friend) did a rendition of these for me that one day, when I get the guts, I’ll tattoo on my back. I don’t even remember when I thought of these birds, but anytime someone tells me I’m doing something God would not approve of and that I should just get back in line, I think of these birds. And I keep on going.

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Make a Child’s Bean Bag Chair

Beanbag Chair

Beanbag Chair

There are lots of dreams that came true with my little Atticus, but one of my favorites is getting to pass on my love of reading. My little guy is every bit as obsessed with books as I am, and he loves to while away the hours by playing with all the books in his bookshelf. He still plays pretty rough with the books and every once in a while I’ll hear, RIIIP “Oh no! The book!” One of these days he’ll be stretched all over the furniture reading, but right now he’s still pretty active with them.

Which means that the best thing I could put in his reading corner is a beanbag chair. Right now he can roll over on it and toss it around, but as time goes by he’ll still be using it as he’s slouched up against it turning pages.

Click through for the pattern and a great coupon to Michael Levine Fabrics!
[Read more...]

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How to help

How to Help

How to Help

Being the unfortunate expert in going through hard times, I often get loving tender hearted people who ask me how they can best help their loved ones who are dealing with something hard. Parenting a kid with special needs, dealing with miscarriage or infertility, chronic illness, and so much more, I am all too well acquainted with hard stuff so people come to me for the lessons I’ve learned that they can apply to their relationships.

Here’s the big thing I’ve learned: no two people need help in the same way. I’ve gotten to the point where I have very little pride and I’ll just take what goodness comes my way. But for other people, well intentioned but actually unhelpful help is just one more thing they have to deal with.

This is especially true when people express sympathy and then say, “Let me know if you need anything.”

I know that comes from a sincere place. We feel helpless watching people we love go through all the hard things life holds and we don’t know what to do. But we want to do something, so we give some vague offer of good intention and then our phones never ring. Because who among us is good at asking for help when we’re in the middle of suffering? When I’m dealing with the worst of it I know that there are people who would show up for me, but the thought of picking up that phone or delegating some part of my life to them is too exhausting to contemplate.

But since everyone needs help in different ways, what else are we supposed to do?

Here’s what:
You hand your loved one a questionnaire. You ask them what kind of help would be helpful and what kind of help would really only be about you feeling like you were doing something, and then you follow through.

Giving your friend this little handout my friend Jerilyn and I made for you (I wrote the words, she made it beautiful) is an act of love all by itself, but it allows you to learn exactly what your friend needs without giving them a burden. You can learn what works and then without any further instructions you can do it.

i know times are challenging for you right now, and since you are my friend, and i love you, i want to do something to give you support.
but i want it to be something that would really help you, and not just make me feel less helpless as i watch my friend go through hard things.
tell me what would be truly helpful, and i will be there.

bringing dinner would be great.
dinner is one area we’re covered.
food would be great, but only if it meets these specific dietary requirements.

providing childcare would be a nice break.
my child really just needs to stay with me.

my last priority is a clean house. i would totally let you tackle that for me.
are you kidding? i’m not letting anyone see the state of my house.

all of my clothes live in one pile. i would let you find them a home.
if somebody folded my towels wrong it just might be my last straw.

flowers are beautiful and so thoughtful.
flowers are only great in theory and then i have to clean out a moldy vase.
chocolate makes everything better.
i don’t need cavities on top of everything else.
a care package on my doorstep shows me that i’m thought of.
i want to talk to someone about anything else. let’s chat about something fun.
i want company without the pressure to be entertaining. just come sit with me.
i need people to keep a little distance and let me take the lead.
i need someone who is unafraid to let me be angry, and sad, and depressed, and whatever else i’m feeling. help me process what i’m going through.
i need a distraction. take me to__________________________.
this is what i need more than anything: _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

I love you. I believe in you. And I will be there for you.

Download the pdf here and use it with love.

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DIY Nail Stickers

DIY Nail Art Stickers

DIY Nail Art Stickers

So with the DIY Nail Art tools I shared yesterday, I’ve been practicing my nail art skills and come to the realization that I’m not great. There are a few things working against me – not being terribly ambidextrous, not putting in any practice time – but the thing that gets me every time is waiting for all the layers of pretty paint to dry. I botch my nails EVERY TIME I put paint on them. Literally. I cannot seem to wait for the paint to dry, and then if I’ve managed to be still long enough for it to dry, I always forget about giving it time to cure and mess it up with dents and gouges. You add multiple layers of paint or, oh for goodness sake, pools of paint like in polka dots, and I don’t have a chance.

I’ve gotten in to nail art stickers, but they’re pricey. And as a rule I can’t stand paying for something I’m technically capable of myself. So I needed to come up with a way to make my own.

DIY Nail Art Step 1
The secret is parchment paper. It has to be parchment paper – not wax paper. There is a very significant difference. On parchment paper the polish lifts up like a dream. This might work on tinfoil or plastic bags, but I didn’t bother experimenting. It’s so dang perfect on parchment paper.

Paint ten rectangles bigger than your nails. Paint two or three coats, as necessary, to get the base color you want.

DIY Nail Art Step 3
Decorate to your heart’s content. After coming up with this I’ll never try and do polka dots any other way. It’s amazing to just leave these to dry overnight and know you’re coming back to completely cured polka dots with no smearing.

DIY Nail Art Step 2
Peel the stickers off of the parchment paper, being careful not to tear them. Paint your nails with a base coat and while they’re still wet apply the nail sticker and press firmly to smooth it in place. Depending on how neat you painted your rectangles, you may want to trim the base in a rounded curve to give you a smooth place to start applying. Just cut the sticker with a small pair of scissors.

Nail Art Stickers ApplicationApply just as you would any other nail stickers. Use a nail file or orange stick to press the sticker into the cuticles and nail bed and tear the extra away. I also used a pin for this for good results, but the best results of all came from just using a fingernail. The stickers are so thin that they’re super easy to tear. Which is a bit of a problem when you’re lifting them off the paper, but the best when you’re smoothing them to the nail.

Whenever I use nail stickers I finish with a couple of thick layers of top coat, paying extra attention to the sides. With a thick topcoat you can make your manicure last for over a week.

If I was just painting a solid color I think it’s more time efficient to just paint your nails. But once you start adding all the decorative flourishes, I don’t think I’ll do it any other way. I get to ensure that everything gets all the way dry before I mess it up, I get the benefit of using my dominant hand for everything, and I get to do it on a flat surface and not worry about coloring outside the lines. It’s almost too good to be true.

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DIY Nail Art Tools

DIY Nail Art Tools

DIY Nail Art Tools

As firmly on record as I am with not obsessing about the condition of my nails, I’m also not immune from pretty things. And when I feel so inclined, it’s a really nice treat to have my nails looking pretty. But because of, you know, life, I can’t spend a lot of time making my nails pretty. So I’ve been paying attention to how to get great results in the easiest way. For today, it’s nail tools. The pros and the artists use professional quality tools. There are dotters and liners and all kinds of special nail art brushes out there. But I don’t want to pay for specific tools when I barely do my nails, and when I have tried a brush I was frustrated that I could never get the nail polish out. One use and a brush felt like a brick.

Here’s my perfect solution: disposable, do it yourself nail art tools. Nearly free so you don’t need to worry about tossing it or making another if you want to switch up your colors.

Nail Art Tool Step 1
Snip off a tiny amount of hair. I mean tiny. A bang trim is more than you’ll need in length and depending on how thick you want to make your brush you really only need a few hairs. Liner brushes should be a bit longer and thinner, painting brushes should be a bit shorter and fatter.

Nail Art Tool Step 2
Rip off a piece of duct tape, about 3 inches long. Tape your hair snips to the very corner of one end.

Nail Art Tool Step 3
Then roll it up to make your handle. Give your brush a trim if you have any wayward hairs or to create the effect you want.

Nail Art Tools
If you want to make dots, all you need is a dull pencil. The size of the dot changes based on how much paint you have on the brush. Between your little disposable brushes and items you can find around the house, there’s no need to spend money on tools.

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Crochet Circle Cuff

Crochet Circle Cuff

Crochet Circle Cuff

The idea for this bracelet has been cooking away in my brain for nearly two years, always getting bumped down the priority list for other things that seemed more important than decorating my arm. But a new friend I made at CHA made me put myself first for a change. I met Michelle from Simplicity at a blogger party where I was wearing my crocheted necklace, and she instantly recognized those little circles (apparently they’re actually called cabones) as coming from her company. I met up with her at the tradeshow the next day and we were hugging like long time friends and she gave me all kinds of great stuff under the condition that I make something great with them. So here I am, keeping my promise, getting this project out of my head after all this time, and giving myself a new bracelet for Valentine’s Day.

Crochet Circle Step 1
If you can single crochet you basically know all you need to know to make this bracelet. Watch the video below for a full demonstration in action, but I promise, even if you’ve never held a crochet hook you can make this bracelet.  I’ve already gotten a jump start here, but the process is the same. Begin with a slip knot on your hook.

Crochet Circle Step 2

 

Push the hook down through the circle. Grab the yarn and bring it back up through the loop to where you started so you have two loops on your hook. Grab the yarn again and pull it through both loops so that you’re back down to one loop left on the hook. You’ve just made a single crochet stitch. Now do that over and over again until you’ve covered the whole cabone with neat little stitches.

join crochet circle

 

When you meet back up with where you started you’ll need to join your circle together. If you have a favorite way of doing then, go for it. I just made another single crochet stitch by pushing my hook through one of my first stitches, grabbing the yarn, and then pulling through the loops as usual. Snip your thread and pull it tight, leaving about a two inch tail.

Second Crochet Circle

 

For your second ring and every ring after, you’ll start it just the same way. You always want to get your crocheting started before you reach a point where you’d have to join it to another ring, even if that’s only a few stitches.

Connect Crochet Circles Step 1

 

Hold the rings how you want them to be arranged on the bracelet. Once you reach a point where they’ll join up, begin just as you would a single crochet stitch. Push your hook down through the center of the ring, but when you come back up the other side, come up through one of the stitches on the other ring. Then grab the thread and pull it back up to the front and finish your single crochet as normal.

Connect Crochet Circles Step 2

 

Repeat this everywhere your rings touch, but to keep it good and stable I’d recommend at least three stitches to join each ring. When you’re all done weave in all your ends and snip off whatever threads remain.

Crochet Bracelet Closure

 

Once you have your whole bracelet put together the way you want it, you’ll need a way to keep it on your wrist. Luckily those cabones make perfect toggle closures all on their own, you just have to add the toggle part of it. On my last ring I joined the circle together as usual and then instead of snipping the thread I chained a few stitches. Then I threaded the yarn through the toggle and tied a great big knot.

Bracelet

What I love about this bracelet is how the open circles in a variety of sizes makes such a mod pattern, but the crochet on top makes it so homespun, and the two together just make magic to me.

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Clay Best Friend Necklace and Galentine’s Cards!

Polymer Clay Best Friend Necklaces

Polymer Clay Best Friend Necklaces

Are you watching Parks & Recreation? Because you should be. It’s the best show on television, easily. Not only is it hilarious, but all the characters actually like and support each other. It’s the kind of people you want to know, and the kind of town you want to live in, mostly. I could do without the raccoon infestation.

On that show Leslie Knope starts a new holiday for the day before Valentine’s Day which she calls Galentine’s Day. It’s a chance for her to get together with all her lady friends and celebrate their friendships, and I think that is so beyond super brilliant. My lady friendships are something I appreciate more and more with each passing year, and I think we absolutely do deserve a holiday. So I made some cards I’ll be passing out to my friends, and which you are welcome to use as well.

Galentine's Day Cards

Galentine’s Day Cards

I made six different versions, just click and save, and spread the lady love.

Galentine's Day Card 6 Galentine's Day Card 5 Galentine's Day Card 4 Galentine's Day Card 2 Galentine's Day Card 3 Galentine's Day Card 1

But since some friendships deserve more than just cards, I couldn’t stop there. I wanted to make a modern grown up version of the little gold necklaces that best friends would give each other when I was a teenager (I hear. I don’t have any personal experience with that. Cue the sad trombones of Tresa’s depressing childhood). Wearing one half of those “Best Friend” necklaces just looked so special to me, and now that I’m a grown up I can make up for lost time.

Clay Necklace Tutorial Step 1
Take some well-conditioned polymer clay and roll it out to about 1/4″ thick. Well-conditioned just means that it’s nice and smooth and pliable, and not a dried out crumbly piece of garbage. You just have to squish it and squish it and squish it for a while to make that happen, but if you have a particularly bad case you can mix in a bit of petroleum jelly. Once it’s rolled out, use a cookie cutter to cut a heart shape, just as if you were making sugar cookies. Once you use it on the clay, however, you won’t want to use it on cookies again, so the dollar store is a great place to look for one.

Clay Necklace Tutorial Step 2
Cut a jagged line down the center of your heart and smooth out any rough edges.

Clay Necklace Tutorial Step 3
Poke a hole in the top of each piece so it can be worn as a necklace. A pencil works great for this job.

Clay Necklace Tutorial Step 4
I used letter stamps to put “Be Fri” on one piece and “St Ends” on the other, but you could also do that by hand with a dull pencil. Smooth out any stray marks.

Clay Necklace Tutorial Step 5
This step is optional, but I wanted to add a little glitter. So I used this stuff called Luster Dust and brushed it onto the clay like I was applying blush to my face. I love the cool opalescent shimmer this stuff adds. Bake the clay pieces according to the instructions on the package.

Clay Necklace Tutorial Step 6
Once the clay is baked and cooled, you can add some paint to the debossed letters to make them stand out. I rubbed a bit of acrylic paint over the letters, and then came back with a washcloth or a baby wipe to remove the excess paint. Use a light touch over the top of the letters so you don’t just wipe all the paint away.

Clay Necklace Tutorial Step 7

With the paint dry you can add a ribbon and your necklace is ready to give away.

I don’t really have one specific person I would describe as my Best Friend, so I made a few sets of these to pass out among a treasured group of friends. I feel a lot more lucky that way. I wish I could go back and tell my 7th grade self that there would come a time when I had such an embarrassment of riches in the friend department.

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