Thursday, December 27, 2007

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

Due to the gift of the Christmas flu I'm blogging about our holiday a little later than I would have liked to. Santa took some time out of his very busy schedule to stop by Adam's sister Terri's annual Christmas Eve party. Autumn is the one in the red hat without the beard. Luckily last year's Christmas dress still fit her. The shoes didn't, though, so she wore pink high tops to the party.Unfortunately I didn't have the time to make fabric gift wrap for all of my gifts this year, so I went with the next best thing and used recycled brown kraft paper, baker's twine and these adorable handmade tags. These pretty packages contained the aprons and play food for Adam's nieces (packed in mini cake boxes, how Martha of me) and the scarves and a video game (not handmade, I know. Bad Xan) for the nephews.The kids seemed really happy with their gifts, especially the girls. All three of them immediately wanted to put their aprons on and start baking. I was very pleased, and their parents were impressed.

On Christmas I wore my new favorite hat, a handmade gift from Faye. It matched my spankin' new stripes perfectly.Faye also made me this freaking awesome Jack Skellington hat and matching scarf, for my love of all things Tim Burton. I can't help but smile every time I wear them. Crafty friends are the best.In exchange I made her a crochet hook clutch so she can crochet on the go. Well, she already crochets on the go, but now she can do it in style. It holds 8 hooks, including this one I bought her from Etsy. When I made it I didn't have the actual crochet hook on hand so I had to guess at the sizing for the pockets. Luckily it fit perfectly when it arrived in the mail, and Faye seemed very happy with it.Now, on to Christmas morning. Autumn woke us up at a fairly reasonable hour (though Adam was still exhausted because we had stayed up very late the night before) and we all (including my grandmother, who came down from PA to celebrate with us) gathered 'round the tree to watch Autumn open gift upon gift upon gift. There were only a handful of gifts from us. The other ten million or so were from my mom and grandmother and the queen of overgifting, Adam's mom. You know how kids just tear through everything in all the excitement that comes with opening gifts? Yeah, Autumn's not a normal child. She opens everything very carefully and very, very slowly. It took her nearly two hours to finish. But it was plenty of fun to watch and she loved every single thing she got. Her stocking was stuffed with a tube of bubbles, a new pirate t-shirt and a beautiful hand bound book. From Adam and me there were also the puppets and treasure hunt bag, Underdog and Barbie as the Island Princess on DVD, and that final gift I almost wasn't able to make, a sink for her playroom kitchen. It was one of the few things that she requested, and I'm so glad I was able to pull it off. She was thrilled.The grandmothers showered her with lots of wonderful books, new winter clothes, and toys that will surely nurture her creativity and desire to learn. My personal favorite (and hers too, I think) was the Super Fort from Adam's mother, which is currently being used as a pirate ship in the kitchen. I think I'll have almost as much fun playing with it as she will. In fact, I'm off on a high seas adventure right now. I hope your Christmas was filled with warmth and laughter and family.

Friday, December 14, 2007

All is calm, all is bright.

Phew. Wednesday all our ornaments were finished and our tree is set up, decorated and filling the room with that wonderful piney smell. I must admit I didn't think I'd get everything done in time, but I think I was pretty successful. There are a couple of things I haven't checked off of my to-do list yet, though. I didn't get around to making a tree topper, and I ran out of my red and green prints so the soft trees have been put on hold. Plus I don't have the materials I need for Autumn's last gift yet. But other than that I think I've accomplished most of what I wanted to. So without further ado, a tour of our tree.
Scrappy balls...Salt dough shapes, made with the small one...Hand embroidered muslin...Glittered felt...Button wreaths...And a cranberry and popcorn garland.Ah. Now I feel Christmasey.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the Eleventh Day of Crafting: Why am I doing this to myself?

Ha. Well. The past few days have been unpredictably busy, leaving very little time for crafting, so of course I fell way, way behind. BUT before you lose all faith in me I am getting back on track now, and only have a few more things to complete tomorrow on the last day of my Christmas crafting marathon.

I've finished two scarves for nephews Luke and Evan, in the colors of their favorite football teams...Three stockings are hung from the DVD shelf with care...Pirates for Autumn, Superman for my geeky boy love, and stripes as my homage to stripey tights. Why is mine facing the wrong way? Good question. Anyway, I also completed a few more goodies for our tree and a special gift for my good friend Faye, which I won't post pictures of yet because she reads this blog (no peeking Faye!), but I'm sure she will love it. Speaking of Faye, she made me something awesomely awesome for the tree this year, which I'll show you all tomorrow. Hopefully!

Friday, December 7, 2007

On the Sixth Day of Crafting: Gifts for Nieces

Okay, I may not have posted yesterday due to a rather stressful and busy evening, but that doesn't mean I wasn't sewing up a storm! Yesterday I made aprons and play food for Adam's three nieces, Sunny, Grace and Annie. Each girl gets an apron, a pizza, and cookies. If I can find some at the dollar store I might throw in some small wooden spoons or rolling pins as well.The pizza crust is actually perfectly round, but it looks quite lumpy in the picture because it's filled with rice, so the kids can mold it and roll it flat to make their pizzas. I made a similar pizza for Autumn with loose "cheese," but this time I glued it onto the sauce because I learned that, while it's cute to let her sprinkle it on the pizza herself, all those little pieces end up everywhere and make a big mess. I think I may add a few loose pepperonis though. Today's project is still in progress, so I'll post on that later this evening.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On the Fifth Day of Crafting: A Lumpy Wreath

I woke up this morning to see a few flurries dancing outside our window. The flurries called their friends down from the clouds and within the hour everything was dusted with a soft sprinkling of powdered sugar snow. They say the first snow of the season is a magic snow, so I made a wish that I would get all of my holiday crafting done on time. That magic snow has been coming down hard ever since, making everything clean and white.

The snowy backdrop inspired me to make something to decorate the outside of our house; a wreath. I covered a Styrofoam hoop with thick batting, then alternated red and green pieces all the way around, with a few white muslin bits here and there. It's a little lumpy and uneven, but quite pretty all the same. We've already gotten compliments on it from family and neighbors.

Speaking of lumpy and uneven, I cut my hair again today. This time I was sitting on the sofa, watching Dr. Phil and feeling a little bored, so I decided to give myself bangs. Does anyone else change their hair when they're bored? No? Ah well. I like them. And ignore Adam's messy office in the background. I am in no way responsible for that foolishness. However, our living room does currently look like a Joann Fabrics exploded, so I really can't talk.

Note the adult language on the mirror behind me. That was a birthday gift I made for Adam last year.
I've also been working almost nonstop on ornaments, which I haven't taken pictures of yet. I think I'm going to wait until we decorate our tree and then make an ornament post showing all of my many, many, many creations.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

On the Fourth Day of Crafting: A Tree Skirt

Today I made a skirt for our yet-to-be purchased Christmas tree. Red, felt, white rickrack, and more of my favorite holiday prints. I only bought half a yard of each of those prints and I'm determined to stretch them as far as they'll go.I think this is my favorite crafted decoration so far. The jumbo rickrack and fabric ornament appliqu├ęs are just so festive and fun. As I write this Autumn is sitting on the couch in quiet concentration, making a paper chain garland all by herself. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that she enjoys making things as much as I do. I love giving her small, simple projects she can do on her own, and being able to sit and chat with my girl while we work.
I hope she never loses her desire to create.

Monday, December 3, 2007

On the Third Day of Crafting: Gifts for Mini Me

Can you believe it? I'm done crafting and the sun is still up! Today I made gifts for my sweet Autumn Rose. First was a set of hand puppets for her doorway puppet theater; a cat, a frog, and a bear. The googly eyes were a cop out because I think I'm really bad at drawing eyes and didn't want to ruin them. But she is fascinated with googly eyes anyway so I'm sure she'll appreciate them. Is that bear rolling it's eyes at me? Bear, I brought you into this world and I can take you--what was I saying? Oh yeah.My second gift is a treasure hunt bag, also known as an I Spy or Peekaboo bag. You may have seen toys like this on Etsy before. It's a bag usually filled with plastic pellets and small trinkets, and children have to shake, squeeze and manipulate the bag to find all of the objects hidden inside through the clear vinyl window. I came close to buying one, but decided to try making it myself first. It was a lot easier than I expected. I collected small objects and toys from around our house (mostly my craft room--great way to use up the little random things I had lying around) and used some vinyl, ribbon and treasure map fabric I had in my stash (yay for using up my stash!). Instead of plastic pellets I filled the bag with white rice because I always like to use natural materials in place of synthetic ones when possible. Plus it's cheaper.There's still one more gift in the works for Miss Autumn, but it will have to wait until I can obtain all the materials I need. Until then I'll be working my way down my to-do list like a good little elf.

P.S. Speaking of elves, this is cracking me up right now.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

On the Second Day of Crafting: The Living Room

Today I decided to focus on the room we use the most. Our coffee table isn't exactly a table; it's actually four ottomans with storage compartments and tops that flip over to make little square trays. I made a set of square placemats to line and protect the trays with some of my favorite Elvis prints, but today they've been replaced with patchwork placemats in some of the same beautiful Christmas prints I used for the advent calendar. Add some pinked-edged coasters for our hot cocoa and a festive throw pillow and our living room is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.Can you tell it was dark outside again when I took these pictures? I really need to start my crafting in the morning.It's finally starting to feel like Christmastime in the Sugar and Snails household. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to seeing some snow soon. Tomorrow I'll be making gifts for the Small One while she is at school. Hopefully I'll be able to finish at least most of them in 4 hours.

By the way, did you know that Swiss Miss now makes a dark chocolate hot cocoa mix? Yum yum yum.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

On the First Day of Crafting: An Advent Calendar

Today I finished our advent calendar and filled the pockets with red and white polymer clay beads for Autumn to make herself a Christmas necklace. On the 25th she'll get a Christmas tree pendant to complete it. I also started the dozen scrappy ball ornaments I want to make for our tree. These are fun to make and a great way to use up the pretty scraps I don't want to throw away. Unfortunately by the time I was finished crafting it was starting to get dark outside and the lighting in our house isn't the greatest for taking pictures, so I may replace these shots tomorrow with some better ones. But for now, here is the evidence of my progress.



The calendar was really fun to make. It's natural linen with holiday print and felt pockets, numbered in gold glitter. I'm not entirely happy with the lettering at the top because it's a bit crooked, but oh well. It's charming, right? Tomorrow I'll try to get an earlier start on my projects so that they're done in time to take some good photos.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Twelve Days of Crafting

I have a plan. A challenge for myself that involves some hard work and commitment on my part, but with enough effort I think it will be very gratifying. Adam and I moved in together in January, and this is my first year living away from home (i.e. not under the roof of my mother or grandparents, i.e. being a real live grown up). The thing about having your own place is, you have to start from scratch because the things you always took for granted aren't there from the start. Things like furniture, dishes, appliances, towels, and of course, holiday decorations. I know, shocking, right? You mean my new townhouse doesn't come fully stocked with this crap? Well we pretty much covered the furniture, dishes, appliances and towels in the first couple of weeks, but what we don't have are Christmas things. You know, the things that are supposed to magically appear from a cardboard box in my grandparents' basement? We have no ornaments, garlands, knickknacks, stockings, baubles, tchotkes, or thingamajigs. No doodads! No whatchamacallits! So what's a holiday cheer deprived homemaker to do? Run to K-Mart and fill a cart or two with the entire Martha Stewart holiday collection? I think not my dear friends! It's time to get crafty! So here is my decoration crafting to-do list.

50 ornaments and a tree topper
3 stockings
1 wreath
4 placemats & coasters
2 throw pillows
1 advent calendar + 24 thingamajigs and/or doodads to go in it
an undecided number of soft trees
1 tree skirt

And probably a couple of other odds and ends that I forgot. And I didn't forget about my Handmade Pledge this year, so along with buying a few things from Etsy I am making something for everyone on my list, adding up to about 15-20 individual items, give or take. Doesn't sound too daunting when I have almost a month to get it done, but that's where the challenge comes in. I'm going to do this in 12 days.

Why 12, you ask? Well I don't have any logical explanation other than the fact that I was listening to The Twelve Days of Christmas when I thought of this, and it seemed like a good number that would be challenging but doable. Oh and I'm a masochist.

So starting tomorrow, for the next 12 days I'll be sharing my progress on my blog and probably venting many frustrations and "Why am I doing this to myself?!"s along the way. I'm glad I have this blog because posting about it will help keep me on track. There's a certain accountability that comes with challenging yourself publicly. It's one thing to just set a personal goal for yourself and forget about it, but when you make it public you're more driven to follow through. I think this will be a lot of fun in a frequently stressful, oh-lord-what-was-I-thinking sort of way, so I'll be checking in tomorrow as soon as I finish my first project.

P.S. Before I forget (well, I did forget, and came back to edit this in) I wanted to share this idea I found on Craftster with you all because I think it's so adorable and easy to do if you don't have a lot of time (or crafty skills) this holiday season. It's a photo advent calendar with family pictures behind each numbered window. You can just print out the PDF and add your photos and presto! Instant cuteness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Shop Update

Giving handmade gifts this holiday season? The shop has been stocked with some great holiday goodies and stocking stuffers, including scarves, hats, Crayprons, and even a stocking craft kit for the kiddos (click the pictures above to go directly to Etsy listing--I just figured out how to do that and I'm all proud of myself). I'm adding new things this week so keep checking back!

< / shameless self advertising>