Sugar for my sweet

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my wife is an amazing cook.  I’ve given her full reign to get any kitchen utensils/appliances she needs because I know she’s going to use them to make something delicious.  And any time she says she wants me to make or decorate something for the kitchen, I’m all over it!

A few weeks ago, she said she wanted a sugar dish to keep on the counter so she didn’t have to open the canister every time she needed a little bit of sugar.  I know we had one that came with our mug set, but I couldn’t find it for the life of me.  I kept my eye out for one as we were browsing at the cute country stores, antique stores, and galleries on our trip last weekend, but couldn’t find one.  Then, buried on my craft table, I found this little jar I had saved from the recycle bin quite some time ago.  I think some kind of meat rub or seasoning came in it (the kitchen is clearly her domain).  It was the perfect size and has a nice latching top to prevent bugs from getting in and spills from getting out.

Simon Says Stamping is challenging readers to try stamping on anything but paper this week (http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/mondaychallenge/challenge-stamping-on-anything-but-plain-paper).  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to join in.  At first, I tried stamping the word “sugar” right on the glass.  It didn’t really show up well.  I’m sure there’s a way to stamp on glass, but I couldn’t figure it out.  So, went through my scrap paper box and fabric bin and got some materials that I thought would look neat on the jar and in our kitchen.  I also picked out a really cool old-fashioned glass jar stamp that I bought a while ago and have been looking for the right place to use it.  The fabric I chose was from a set of cloth napkins I picked up at the thrift store (I’ve been using one of them for backgrounds for my photos, lately, and have started cutting up another to use in different projects).  I grabbed the one I’ve been cutting up and stamped my jar on it with a midnight blue ink from my Paper Pumpkin kit.  The stamp came out perfectly, having followed Design Team member Sandra’s directions for stamping on cloth: http://madebysannie.blogspot.com/2013/09/londen-calling.html (I absolutely LOVE this bag she made for the challenge).  I made sure to get my stamp nice and inky and then stamped on a somewhat supple surface, pushing and holding for a couple seconds longer than I might otherwise have on paper.

I used scrapbook paper with a neat greenish, distressed look and stamped the work “sugar” on it (with the same stamp I had originally used on the glass itself).  I put on a nice coat of glossy Mod Podge and smoothed on the paper and fabric with the stamp.  I put some of the lacy edge of the napkin at the top to kind of border the label and voila!  (This time, I finally waited until it the bottom coat was dry before putting on the top coat of Mod Podge, so it stayed nice and smooth.)

An owl to scare away the woodpecker

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My parents have a woodpecker problem.  A HUGE woodpecker problem.  They have clusters of holes in every corner of their siding.  They’ve tried hanging shiny things from the roof to scare them to no avail.  My dad has even hinting at getting a BB gun.  Here are a couple of photos that I cropped from our recent reunion (I wasn’t even aiming at the holes, but they came through in the pictures loud and clear):

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So, when I saw this adorable Upcycled woodpecker on the Old School Garden blog (http://audaxdesign.co.uk/) I knew I had to give it a try.  I followed the post pack to this neat blog:  http://aristonorganic.com/2013/02/19/upcycle-make-an-owl.  You’ll have to check out the blog itself, because I couldn’t copy the original photo but, trust me, it’s adorable.

I went through my considerable CD collection and ended up with a compilation CD I made when I was teaching middle school theater.  It was definitely time to close that chapter.  My only second thought about this one is that it was kind of blue, instead of the typical hologram-y silver you get with store-bought CDs.  I think I’ll try one of those next if I can find one I’m willing to part with.  I picked up a bag of knives at the local thrift store and I raided my button stash for the beak and pupils.  I had the rest of the lids and bottle-caps lying around for just such a project.

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It looks like the elements are bolted together on the original version but the glue seems to be holding pretty well.  I put a used cap center from a canning jar on the back for another layer to hold the knives together.  (Those suckers are heavy.)  I have no idea how they found such short knives, but this will be the samurai edition.

My version is nowhere near as cute as the original, but it’s a first try (and there are 5 corners at my parents’ house, so I have four left to make).  I’ve since found a ton of other cute owls made out of upcycled materials, so I have a lot of others to try.  I’ll be sure to add any subsequent ones to this post.

I hope that if the shininess of the silverware and CD don’t scare off the woodpeckers, the knives will.  (My boy was very excited to think that they might be “decapitated”, which disturbed me just a little.)

Family Reunion Fun

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We had a family reunion this past weekend and I made some “souvenirs” for folks.  I printed photos that my brother had taken at our last 3 reunions and made them into wall hangings for each family.

The first one I made for my sister and her family.  She and her husband and are both teachers so I used the cover of an old picture book I’ve had sitting on my craft shelf for just such an occasion.  I took off the front cover to use as a “frame” and then glued down the photos with my handy-dandy Mod-Podge.  I had picked up a bunch of napkins with lacy edges at a local thrift store recently to use in crafts, and it seemed to go with the shabby-chic look of this cover.  I glued them all down with Mod Podge, making sure to let the layer I used to glue things down overnight before putting the layer over the top.   This really helped avoid bubbling, which is always a problem when I decoupage (impatient much?).  I also used a little plastic bag to smooth out the glue around the edges of the photos to avoid getting it on my fingers and then getting gluey fingerprints on everything else I touched.

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I found some cute little knick-knacks in my “miscellaneous metal” and attached them with UHU Twist and Glue.  I love that stuff.  (This binder clip is holding down the fancy paperclip while the glue dries.)  Finally, I glued a piece of bric a brac on the back as a little hanger (and duct taped it down, as well, for good measure).

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This one was for my aunt and her partner.  I used the back cover from the book, above, because it had a really neat, small town drawing on the inside of the cover and they live in a small town in Vermont.  I colored in a few parts of the picture with colored pencil and glued on a couple little clay button hearts and a little yellow flower.  I glued (and taped) on a piece of cotton hem tape as a hanger.

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For the one for one of my cousins and her family (who also live in VT), I used part of a “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”  LP jacket as the background.  (I’ve totally been saving that for something special).  I made sure to  place the photos so you could still see some of the great artwork on this album.  I added some ribbon and some little plastic flowers as embellishments and then glued a picture hanger on the back. To keep the jacket closed, I put a couple little brads on the side.

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The last one was made for my other cousin and her family who live in Long Island.  They’re the much more cosmopolitan group of the bunch (a professional dancer and a neurosurgeon) so I tried to make it a little more contemporary.  I used a piece of mat board and then some little square note-papers glued on randomly.  I embellished it with washers to keep with the geometric theme and then glued   a picture hanger on the back.

Here they are all drying on my craft-table (it was insanely humid while I was making them and Mod Podge and humidity don’t necessarily go well together).

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I love how each collage is totally unique and made really specifically to try to fit with my perception of that family’s aesthetic.  It was so fun to see how much the kids, especially, grew and changed from year to year.  I’m envisioning making little additions to each one each year that can be brought home and attached.  (We’ll see how that works.)

Oh, and I also made this watermelon shark bowl.  🙂

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Kitchen Color!

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We have these grand plans of renovating the kitchen, building an addition to make it twice the size, and doing it all in Rachel Ray’s eggplant, orange, and lime green color combo (and by “we” I mean my wife).  Here’s Rachel Ray’s collection, if you can’t picture it:  http://www.rachaelraystore.com/Department/List/Bakeware/102-4294958180  I do kind of love the color combo.

That’s probably not going to happen any time soon (unless Rachel finds my blog and offers to pay for it all in a huge sponsorship/promotion extravaganza).  In the meantime, I’m trying to make things that help the wifey keep the tiny space we do have more organized and appealing for her to work in (thus motivating her to make more yummy stuff for me and the boy).

I picked up this little wooden Crayola crate at a thrift store in North Carolina when were on vacation last Spring and knew I wanted to save it for something perfect.  When she took an old spice rack off the wall (after realizing that the spices in there had likely been purchased when the first Clinton was in office) the spot it left was the perfect size for this box.

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I started off by putting a shelf it in from some old dresser drawer wood I cut down.  It’s just wood-glued in with two more pieces of wood as supports but feels pretty sturdy.  I painted the inside a vibrant purple, a little brighter than the purple from Rachel Ray’s collection, but it was similar to another accessory my wife made for the kitchen a week before (see below).  I  screwed in cup hooks before painting the outside because I didn’t have the right color paint for the outside yet and I was being impatient.  That was a silly thing to do, because then I ended up having to carefully paint and varnish around the hooks for every subsequent coat.

I only painted the top, bottom, and fronts with the green, because I really wanted to keep the sides with the Crayola logo on them visible.  It’s also a nice combo of her contemporary and my vintage aesthetics.  (Those sides are my favorite part.)

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It was still looking rather ordinary (as ordinary as a purple and lime green Crayola crate spice shelf can look), so I tore some pages from a second-hand Bacardi cookbook we picked up at a tag sale and decoupaged them in the backs of the shelves.  It’s kind of a nod to our honeymoon, which was in Puerto Rico and during which we toured the Bacardi factory.  I think they added the perfect touch.

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I also sanded the edges down a tiny little bit to distress it before slathering the whole thing with varnish (I won’t say it’s because my wife tends to be a little messy when she cooks so I wanted it to clean up easily because she took a wee bit of offense when I said that in my last kitchen post).  🙂

I’m also going to submit this to Make My Monday’s challenge this week:  Anything But a Card.   http://mimchallegeblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/midweek-motivation-anything-but-card.html  There are so many card and scrapbook challenges out there, it was nice to see this one deviate from that for this week.  (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE me my card challenges!)

The other new addition to our slowly-becoming-colorful kitchen is a clothes pin recipe holder that the wife made at a super-fun workshop at my favorite local upcycle crafting haunt, Knack: (http://www.knack.org/).

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She and the boy worked on this one together.

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He helped us both paint (I was working on another one) and then he somehow found the most amazingly perfect glass fruit beads to decorate the clothespins.  A woman who had a huge bead collection was no longer able to use them because of arthritis, I think, and found it too hard to have them around the house so she donated them to Knack.  The collection was magnificent and this was such a great way to spread her love of beading far and wide, I think.

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These beads are so sweet- tiny little glass fruits- but my photos don’t do them justice.  Macey found the perfect glue to stick the glass to the wood (Amazing Goop) and so far the little suckers have held right on.  She also told me about this awesome web site, http://www.thistothat.com/, where you can select two different materials and it will tell you what glue to use.  It’s brilliant!!

I made one of these clothespin boards for my craft space, but I think I’ll save that post for another day.  School started today and the boy’s school this year starts a full hour earlier.  I was not happy waking up at 6am (and will probably not be happy doing it again tomorrow).

Knife-block redo and barstool upcycle

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My wife suggested I paint our knife-block but I hesitated for a bit because it came with a expensive knife set from SharpenedKnife that my parents gave me. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right?  And she found this cool example and sent me the Pin, so I couldn’t resist.

http://www.johnnyinadress.com/2011/03/beautify-that-boring-knife-block.html?m=1

And the first picture is an awesome bar stool turned (literally) into wrapping paper storage. We got the idea from Pinterest (where else?) and then the wife happened across a somewhat broken stool at a huge tag sale to benefit a local animal shelter. I promised to make the stool into a wrapping paper caddy if she promised not to bring home another dog. Here’s the inspiration for the stool:
http://96195.com/pic-759.html

I tried out Crackle for the first time on both of these.  It was actually kind of a ruse for the wife’s benefit. She’s much more of a contemporary, bright color kind of person and I’m more of a shabby-chic kind of person. So, I started with the Rachel Ray green that she wants to do our kitchen in (along with her eggplant and orange). She loved it, but then I put the crackle and yellow over them both (to go with our current shabby-kitchen).
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The stool was a lot of fun to make. I used ribbon to replace a couple missing rungs with bottle caps instead of washers to hold it on. On the feet (now the tops) I decoupaged paper from an end-page from a used book from the same tag sale and wrapped some washi tape around it.  I used one of the thrift store table cloths I got for my parents’ 50th anniversary to make a few pockets to hold tape, bows, ribbon and such. It was my first time using the button holer (is that a word?) on my sewing machine and it was so cool. It says you can use it to sew on the buttons, too, but I didn’t quite trust it (or myself). I had a vision of a flying needles and broken buttons so I just sewed them by hand.ImageImage

For the knife-block I made a stencil out of cardstock to tie in with the boarder in the kitchen and varnished the heck out of it (she tends to make a bit of a mess when she’s cooking, so hopefully that will make for easier cleanup). I told her I could repaint it without the crackle if/when we redo the kitchen. I even think my parents would approve!

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Skirt/Pants Bags

photo-56I’ve been home with a sick boy for the past couple days so I was finally able to work on this project.  I got the idea from my friend’s Etsy store:  TheGreenCat (http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGreenCat?ref=search_shop_redirect).  She upcycles anything and everything and is an amazing seamstress.  Me… not so much.  But I figured out how to use my sewing machine and nothing can stop me now!

photo-57This one was a thrift store find mini-skirt.  (Our Maggie certainly found it comfortable.)  I tried to contour the sides a little like they teach on the beginners sewing website, cutting it at a couple different angles and resewing until I ended up with a somewhat rounded bottom.  I put in a large snap closure and used the bottom of the skirt that I cut off to make the straps.  There was very little fabric left over, which I’m pretty proud of.

photo-58I really liked the pattern on this thrift store (what else) mini-skirt.  The other cool things about using pants or skirts, I discovered, is that the pockets can be preserved on the final product and who doesn’t love special compartments for their phone, keys, etc…  This particular skirt was cool because it had a pair of build in bike-shorts so it’s like it’s lined.  I did make sure to hand-sew over the zipper several times so that it wouldn’t accidentally unzip and spill someone’s stuff everywhere.

photo-59And this one is what kind of got me started.  I got a desperate text from my wife a couple weeks ago asking me to bring her new pants because hers had ripped (she won’t be mad at me for posting that because she promptly put it on Facebook).  It wasn’t the typical butt rip, though, it was ripped/worn on the inner thigh.  I couldn’t just throw them away, so I made them into my first bag.  I used a little of one of my favorite ribbons for a kind of loop/button closure.  I also like the look of the red thread on the khaki fabric.  It’s a little whimsical (not that a purse made out of pants could every be anything but) and it has a little good feng shui built in.

Here are some others I’ve found on blogs… so many cool techniques, so little time:

http://styleitpretty.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/upgrading-skirt-to-handbag/ – This one’s a great tutorial- and she really went all the way with a lining and everything.

http://liliandmums.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/how-to-2-part-1-mini-skirt-purses-full-tutorial-with-photos/ – Another one with a tutorial.  I love the use of the jeans skirt and linings!

http://cupandpenny.com/2013/02/20/this-purse-was-a-skirt/  – I love the bohemian shape to this one, with a fabric flower to boot.  Make sure to check out her tutorial on how to make a french seam.  Who knew?

And in case you’re interested, here they are in my Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/152056945/upcycled-skirt-purse

https://www.etsy.com/listing/152053178/upcycled-skirt-purse

THANKS FOR LOOKING!

More inspiration

Winter Owls’ owls in the pram (above) are so incredibly cute I had the urge to run to the closest thrift store for fabric and start my own collection.  Easter was coming up and I happened to have two old towels that were about to be donated to our dogs and a big ribbon and button collection.

Here’s what I came up with…

Easter Snuggies

They’re nowhere near as cute as the owls, but my niece and nephew (4 and 1) loved them.  I glued the eyes on the one on the right hand side (in addition to sewing them) to make it less likely the 1 year old would pull them off and swallow them.  They started out as chicks (in my mind) for Easter but then the feet were more like duck feet and I only had enough room for one foot on each.  I guess they ended up being more like Easter Aliens.  Oh well.  They make me laugh.

Winter Owls

It has been a busy sewing week and my house looks like a bomb has hit it. My brother and his family are coming over to visit from the United States so I have a lot of tidying up to do. Thankfully it’s cooler in Melbourne at the moment which always makes me feel more like handling cosy fabrics like vintage chenille bedspreads. My dear friend Mary tells me she has the blue bed spread at her parent’s beach house. I did tease that they might find a few owl shaped holes after the next time I visit there…

Some of the owls went to a local school fete and the rest will fly off to my Etsy store soon. My younger son and I found this lovely old pram on a pile of junk put out on the nature strip. He was rather horrified when I asked him to pop…

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