12/31/12

new year resolutions

It's that time of year. Time to set unrealistic goals so that we can look back in a year and be disappointed at ourselves. You know, like loosing 300 pounds or organizing every square inch of our house. I normally shy away from resolutions for this very reason - I am really really bad at sticking to a goal.

This year I am going to make some goals, but I'm keeping it simple. Rather than have a yearly goal that I will most likely ignore because I have 11... 9.... 5... 3... more months in the year, Anderson and I have talked about monthly goals for 2013. Doesn't that just sound so much more inspiring and motivating? It's like taking tiny bites of a big goal.


Like I said, Anderson and I have decided on some goals together, and I've also decided on some goals for myself. Here they are:

Our Goals Together:
1. One date a month. Sounds simple, right? Not for us. We are cheap and babysitters and dates are expensive. Add in the whole exhaustion thing and we usually just skip it and watch a $1 Redbox movie after Sawyer's in bed. No more. We will put on non-pajama clothes, venture out of the house, and join other grown-ups for a few hours together at least one time a month.

2. Host a dinner once a month. I am really terrible about having company over. I have personal space issues and I am insecure about our tiny house and my lame cooking skills, so instead of facing my fears and insecurities we don't have people over very often. I am going to man up, learn to cook some new things, stop apologizing for my teensy dining area, and have friends from our church over. It will be good for me, for Anderson, and for our friendships. I'm really excited/nervous/slightly panicky about this one.

My Goals:
1. Read 2 books a month. Admittedly, I am shooting pretty low on this one. However, considering I read less than 20 books in 2012 (how did I let that happen?), I think it's reasonable. Small bites of a big goal, remember?

2. Finish one embroidery/stitching project a month. Once again, I'm shooting for a reasonable goal. I finished about 12 projects last year and I'd like to keep that up. The over-achiever in me is telling me to step it up, but I'm going to be so busy hosting fancy soirees and going out on hot dates that I don't know how much cross stitching time I'll have. Ha.

3. Run 30 miles a month. I mostly set this goal to try to keep myself from quitting on running after I do my half-marathon in February. I really enjoyed the 10K I ran, and I'd like to stay in shape enough to run maybe a couple more 10Ks in 2013. I'll be honest. I'm kind of iffy on this goal and I'm not sure I'll stick to it, but I really will be making an effort to stick with it.

4. Complete one craft book project a month. I have quite the collection of craft books and magazines and rarely make any of the projects featured in the books. Mostly I just admire the beautiful pictures and styling and then put them up on the shelf. Terrible, I know. 

I'm going to try to post at the end of each month and let you know how I'm doing. I'm excited and motivated and ready to keep some goals!

----

 I'm off to celebrate the New Year, boring parents style - fighting to stay awake until midnight. It's only 9:00 and I'm already drooping. (Also I'm making Anderson watch Step Up Revolution with me because I'm heartless and cruel.) 

What about you? Have you set any goals? Share in the comments - I'd love to know! Happy New Year!

Photobucket

christmas recap

I’m back. Sort of. I only have a couple of things to post about this week and then after that: dry well. I’m sure once I get over the exhaustion that follows the whole Christmas deal, I’ll feel a bit more motivated to make stuff. Oh, and maybe if my son would sleep past 5:00am, I could handle my life again.
Speaking of Christmas, ours was pretty much perfect. It was filled with family and fun and gifts and food.
We kicked off the festivities with Sawyer’s preschool party and program. As for the program... well, Sawyer put on a show. He started off singing like the little attention hog he is. He was so cute up there singing and dancing.
Then he spotted me in the audience and decided it was time to drive mommy nuts. 


I didn’t get a picture of it, but at one point he tip-toed across the stage behind other kids to sneak away and come sit with me. Oh, man. I just let him because goodness knows I was not about to draw any more attention to myself than he already had. Plus, it was really sweet that he wanted me that bad. He rounded off the night by throwing a festive tantrum at the after party (cookies/punch at a preschool program = after party).  We made our exit after that.
On the Saturday before Christmas, my sister and brother in law came to town. They had a long drive and I didn’t get to see them before our big family get together on Saturday night. When she walked in the door I started ugly crying. Big old heaving sobs. I don’t know how many people saw my little display, but I’m not even really that embarrassed. I miss my sister so much it hurts sometimes.
We had such a fun weekend. I went shopping with my sister, saw the Cirque De Soliel movie, went out to dinner (a lot) and then I cooked a big Christmas meal. Spending time with my family was so good.
Of course, Christmas morning was fun. Wait, it wasn’t fun for the first 20 minutes of the morning when Sawyer decided to wake up (at 5:30) and be a crab. Sometimes he wakes up really cranky and throws fits and makes us crazy. He did that on Christmas morning so we made him stay in his room until he was calm and ready to enjoy opening presents.
Once we’d soothed the beast, we let him into the living room to see. 



I think he really enjoyed the abundance of presents, but his favorite ones were his new wooden trains. I should have bought him trains and only trains because nothing else matters in the presence of those tiny wooden vehicles. I just don’t get it, but I go with it because the things have bought me literally hours upon hours of semi-peace. That’s the best we get with Sawyer: semi-peace. 
Anderson and I skipped getting gifts for each other because we got the greatest gift of all a couple weeks before Christmas:
 
A dishwasher! Seriously though, there isnt any gift that would have made me happier than the gift of no more hand washing dishes. 
Overall, it was a really good holiday. Pretty much perfect.
Hope you all have a safe and happy new year!
Photobucket

12/20/12

candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup!


 I got the idea to do an Elf quote embroidery for Christmas about 6 weeks ago. I finished it 6 days before Christmas, so that gives you an idea of how much I procrastinate. I do love Elf, and we quote it often around here. Like when we burp really loud at the dinner table we say "Did you hear that?" Claaaassy.

The actual quote in the movie says "candy cornS." I realized that while watching the movie after I had already stitched that part. After posting a picture of this on Instagram, a discussion was had involving proper English (it gets WILD on the IG), and I'm kind of glad I accidentally (or subconciously) left off the "S." It just sounds better in my head. I don't know. Mostly I just added this paragraph so that you all know that I know that it's wrong (but right). 

The font was created with the Cross Stitch Writing Tool found at StitchPoint. I used the Paris font. You can type out anything you like and print it. I have to say that getting my quote generated and printed wasn't a seamless process, but it is such an awesome, free thing to use that I am definitely not complaining. To get all the words to fit within the hoop, I had to do some literal cutting and pasting with the printed quote.

You can see the cut strips of paper in the picture above. It took a bit of work but I got it to fit. Since it was a cross stitch font I stitched it on 14 count Aida. It was pretty quick stitching and an easy project to do while watching tv. After it was all stitched up and glued in the hoops, I painted the outside hoops gold and called it done. Looking at them now, I am wondering if I should add gold glitter to the hoops but that requires more effort and I am tapped out.


I think I am going to take a couple weeks off from the blog to enjoy the holidays. My family will be here for Christmas and I've yet to clean the house, buy groceries, or wrap presents. Insert slight panic. Once I get all that done, I hope to relax and enjoy a break of sorts. Hope you all get to do the same. Happy Holidays to all of you! 
 
Photobucket

12/13/12

bow-tied glitter deer


This sparkly deer is a project that I wish I had come up with.
It's trendy but classic and hello, glitter. I've just seen it all over Pin-blog-insta world and knew I had to have my own. 

After a quick Google image search for "deer head silhouette", I came across a free pattern here. I traced the pattern onto a canvas and painted it a little at a time with Mod Podge, adding glitter as I went. When I was done, I thought it needed a little something more. Enter the sparkly turquoise bow tie. I just glittered a piece of thin cardboard (I think it was the back of packaging for something), cut out a bow tie shape, and used a tiny dot of hot glue to stick it on. I figure if I hate the bow tie next year, I can pull it off and fix the little spot with a fresh dab of glue and glitter.

 (In case you missed it, I shared about the colored bottle brush trees here.)

 Photobucket

12/12/12

dyed bottle brush trees


I have been sharing pictures of these bottle brush trees on instagram and have gotten lots of questions.  You know what makes me crazy? Seeing a diy project that you know is diy but the maker won't share her secrets. Well, rest assured, I'll share all my not-so-secret secrets with you. 

I came across how to make these while browsing Pinterest (of course). I was looking at someone's Christmas board and I had made it all the way to the bottom when I saw the pin. I may have teared up a little. I've been trying to figure out where people were getting these colorful bottle brush trees at since last year. Of course if I would have just searched Pinterest for bottle brush trees I would have seen hundreds of links for how to make these. Oh well. I like my way of discovery better - it was like finding a lost treasure. 


The bottle brush tree tutorial is from craftyminx. Since I don't want to steal someone else's genius, go over there to read all about it. I pretty much followed the tutorial exactly. I may have rushed a little and skipped washing the trees in soapy water. I'm a chronic craft rusher. 

I got my trees at Michael's in the Christmas village section. The original price was $21.99 for a large bag of them that has all different sizes. They were 40% off and I added another 20% off coupon on top of that which brought the price down to just around $10.00. Not too bad considering I have seen Tim Holtz trees for waaaay more than that. 

After my trees were all bleached and rinsed, I used Rit dye and mixed colors to get a variety of shades. To keep the color as concentrated as possible, I used a whole Rit dye packet in one mixing bowl of hot water. I let them soak for around a half hour so they would really take in the dye. For the lighter colors like yellow and light pink, I'm not sure this made too much of a difference. Those colors are already light so the extra time doesn't change too much. 

 
 This has been one of my favorite Christmas projects ever. So much that I dyed two batches which means I have trees to last a lifetime. 

Did I leave anything out? Still have questions? Ask away - I'll do my best to answer them in the comments so everyone can see.  

 Photobucket

12/11/12

tutorial: tinsel wreaths

I saw a wreath last year at Christmastime that I loved. It was a simple tinsel wreath with a big red bow. That’s it. No lights or ornaments. Just tinsel and a bow. Don’t even ask me to tell you where I saw it. Instagram? Pinterest? A blog? A random person’s front door? Hard telling. The inspiration overload keeps me from being able to give credit where credit is due sometimes. Fortunately I don’t think I am stealing an original idea (it is just a tinsel wreath after all), but I still feel bad that my wreath idol can’t be given props. 
Anyway. I loved it so much I bought some of that cheap-o tinsel garland for $.50 at an after Christmas clearance last year. This is huge for me because I pretty much never plan ahead for my projects. I’ve looked at this garland every time I do laundry (not often enough) in our laundry/utility/junk room.
Once I decided on my colors and “theme” for this year’s Christmas décor, I pulled out my garland and made these wreaths. 
 
I’ve been super unmotivated to take step-by-step photos lately, so I don’t have a picture tutorial for you. I think you smart folks can figure it out.
You’ll need:
Wire wreath form (found in the floral section of craft stores)
Tinsel Garland
Wire
Felt
Optional: tape, hot glue
 
1. Secure the beginning of your tinsel to the wreath form by wrapping it with a small piece of wire or tape. You could also use hot glue.
2. Wrap the garland around the wreath form. I wrapped mine pretty close so you can’t see the wire form through the garland.
3. Secure the end of your garland with wire, tape, or glue. Fluff up the tinsel a bit if you’d like.
4. Make a bow using your felt. Sorry, but no pattern from me. I just kind of made it up as I went. (How about making a bigger version of this pattern?) I hot glued a piece of wire to the back of my bow and then attached the bow to the wreath. You could hot glue the bow, but I am not sure I will always want black in my Christmas décor so I wanted to make sure it was removable.
In true Allison fashion, I couldn’t stop at 2 tinsel wreaths. Off to the store I went, searching for more gold tinsel garland to make an even bigger, better wreath. I went to Michaels and asked if they had any “sparkly garland" (blank stare from employee) – "you know, the tacky tinsel kind?” Obviously offended, she replied “What do you mean tacky?” Well, it is kind of tacky, but I was the one wanting to buy it so she shouldn’t have been offended because I was insulting the garland AND myself so no big deal. Even after that awkward exchange, she showed me what they had and there was only green and red, so no luck. I also searched Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s without any success. I finally found some gold garland at Target and I overpaid for it. Note to self: buy more tacky tinsel garland at this year’s after Christmas sale.
For the second wreath I followed the same instructions as above, except this time I added a glittered chipboard letter. The letter is from Hobby Lobby a few years ago. I paid 1.47 for it then, but I’m not sure how much they are now. They still carry them if you are looking for one. I glittered the top, hot glued wire to the back, and wired it onto my wreath. Simple, easy, modern, and a little bit tacky.
Photobucket

12/10/12

tutorial: mantel-free stocking holders

I've been working on our Christmas decorating for probably three weeks now. I've been glittering everything and making pom poms and garlands and I've even been doing some Elf themed stitching (coming soon!). I might be going just a tinge overboard this year, but I don't think so. My sister and brother in law are coming home for Christmas this year and all the festivities will be at our house, so I really want it to be good.


Stockings are something I've wanted to try for a while, but I'm not crazy about sewing. I am getting a little better at it, but I can't say I really enjoy it. Now that it's over and the sewing is done, I can say I am so happy with them. I used the pattern and tutorial found here at FabricWorm. It was such an easy tutorial to follow, which is really saying something because usually when I read sewing tutorials I want to cry. 

So I had the stockings done and nowhere to hang them. We don't have a mantel, so in the past we've just hung our stockings from the top of bookshelves or something. I didn't want to do that this year so I came up with these wall hangers.

Here's what you'll need if you want to make your own:
-wood disks (found mine at Hobby Lobby)
-door knobs (also from Hobby Lobby)
-tiny nails
-wire
-drill, hammer, hacksaw

1. Drill a hole through your wood disk for the door knob. 
2. Install the door knob. Mine had a bolt that just twisted to the back of the knob. There was about 1/2" of the screw part of the knob that was sticking out beyond the bolt. I just cut it off with a hacksaw so the stocking holder could sit as close to the wall as possible. 


3. Add nails and wire to make a hanger. 


4. To hang the holders, I used 3M wall hangers because my dad ingrained in me an irrational fear of putting holes in the wall. (To be fair, we had plaster walls growing up so every hole in the wall held the potential for a crumbly mess.) They've been hanging for a couple of days now and I don't think they're going to fall. Just to be safe, we'll probably take the full stockings down and set them under the tree on Christmas morning. 


I have a few more Christmas projects to share this week. Yay for more than one post a week!

p.s. I'm linking this up to the Dare to DIY series at Maybe Matilda. This week's theme is Deck the Halls. It's been a fun series to follow - go check it out!

Photobucket