Sunday, June 8, 2014

Long Time!

It's been a really long time since I posted. Yikes! I was lucky to land a very cool full-time job doing what I love to do. As a result, there hasn't been much time for blogging. 
My blog will probably take on more of a family/gardening/when-I-have-the-time occasional DIY theme.
 Mostly I just want to keep my friends and family posted on what's happening with us. I kept thinking that I'd get a private family blog started up, but that never happened. So for the time being, I'll just blog here when I get the inspiration. 
 Since I can't resist taking pictures of my garden and it's summer time (finally!), I may be back with some more posts sooner rather than later. 

I filled up several pots with annuals like fuchsia and lantana hoping to attract the hummingbirds that showed up the past two summers. 

 The neighbors shared some iris that I planted last fall. I wasn't sure what they would look like, but they turned out to be a gorgeous peachy-purple. That was a nice surprise seeing them bloom this week. 
That's a crazy monster squash plant taking over in the center of the planter with a not as aggressive zucchini plant, nasturtiums and herbs in the front.  
 The really exciting news around here is that we got a hammock. I got a World Market gift certificate for mother's day and had to have it. It gets really hot in the backyard, so I think an umbrella is next on the must have list. A DIY job perhaps? 
 Jump for joy! It's warm in Wisconsin! 
 We're raising a soccer player now. So I guess that makes me a soccer mom. 
 Lantana waiting for the annual visit from Mr. Hummingbird. Or is it a Mrs.?
 Pansies by the front door. 

I can't believe how big this girl is getting. Time to pass this fire engine on to someone with shorter legs. Can you believe we left the truck out in the yard the entire winter? It was buried in snow, so I totally forgot about it. Yet it still plays the jingle when you honk the horn. Now that's quality! 
 Various varieties of foot-traffic-tollerant plants between stepping stones... ajuga, wild thyme, sedum and a few others. Some are taking off, others are slower to move along. 
We just planted several hostas and a fourth hydrangea plant in the front today. I skipped that photo because it's just not that interesting at this early stage. Once the hydrangeas start blooming it should be photo worthy. 
 Some late blooming tulips. 
I'll leave you with a shot of one of my favorite plants: lady's mantle. It's got the most beautiful blueish green leaves and it grows fast. I love fast-growing plants, don't you?

I planted several last year in a spot where I've had some trouble with pretty much everything. My trouble spot is in the front yard where there's a lot of dappled light throughout the day, but very little direct sunlight. I've tried various shade plants and shrubs, but nothing seems to thrive there.

The wine and roses weigela behind it is doing pretty well too, but it's not growing as fast as I'd like. 

I hope all you lovely readers are doing well! Until next time!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Quilting Time

It's time to start that quilt I've been thinking about for the past several months. This one is for my bedroom which needs a little injection of color if you ask me. I'm picturing a quilt with a lot of negative white space and a few splashes of the colors you see in that bird print: yellow, blue, green and coral.

I have at least one more trip to the fabric store ahead, but I've decided to go ahead and start cutting hexagon pieces a few at a time. 

This is going to be a large quilt made up of a lot of hexagons. Definitely wouldn't want to tackle this project with out a rotary cutter and hexagon ruler. The see-through ruler is especially useful for doing fussy cuts. 
I'm still working out the pattern and I'll probably change my mind a few more times before I start sewing, but I'm so excited to see how this cheerful patchwork of colors will brighten up the bedroom.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine Heart Wreath

The kids are having some friends over on Valentine's Day, so I made a little decoration for the party. 

This wreath was made by wrapping 2" wide strips of fabric around a 12" wreath form. I used hot glue every few wraps to keep the fabric in place.

Then I cut a heart template out of paper and used it to trace two shapes out of felt of the dark pink felt. Then I cut out the template a little smaller and used that for a light pink felt heart. After cutting the template again to make the heart even smaller, I cut out the rest of the felt hearts in red and light pink. Make sure you cut out two pieces of felt for each heart for the front and back.

Using an awl, I poked two holes in the top felt heart where the arrow goes in and comes out. Then I stuck a bamboo skewer in places before sewing (with straight stitch) around the edges of the felt hearts with embroidery floss (4 strands) and needle. I left a couple of inches open at the bottom and stuffed with a little batting I shredded with my hands.

Then I glued on the felt arrow and feathers sandwiching the pieces over the skewer and setting in place with hot glue.

Play around with the placing of the hearts on the wreath before hot gluing to the wreath.

Supply and Tools List:

12" wreath form
about 1 yard of fabric cut into 2" strips
1 piece each of 9"x12" dark pink and red felt
2 pieces of 9"x12" light pink felt
embroidery floss in light pink and needle (a canvas repair needle worked very well)
bamboo skewer
scrap paper for making heart template
ribbon for hanging wreath
hot glue gun

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Burlap Vase

I have a very simple DIY idea to share today. Wrap an empty jam jar in a piece of burlap and twine for a simple, but lovely vase. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Making Valentine Cards With Kids

 This year I have two children in school which means we need 40 valentine cards ready by the 14th. So I figured we'd better get a little head start on the card-making. I gave the girls some sheets of paper cut to the size of the cards we'll be making and a pencil. They drew a few card designs and picked their favorite. 
 Isla drew a picture of the mysterious "creature that eats ghost candies." I added Be Mine and traced over the drawing to make the pencil marks darker and easier to transfer onto a Speedy-Carve rubber block.

Speedy-carve is great because, not only is it much easier to carve than linoleum, it's very easy to transfer a pencil drawing to the block. Just put the drawing facedown on the  block and use a bone folder or back of a wooden spoon to rub the back of the paper.

I wouldn't use Speedy-carve for a block with a lot of detail, but for something simple like the creature that eats ghost candies, it's just fine. 
 Using a craft knife, I cut out the piece of block with the design on it. Then I used a Speedball carving tool to carve out the design.
 I used block printing ink, a brayer and plate to roll out a thin, even layer of ink. If you've never done this type of print before, you'll probably need to practice on some scrap paper before printing on quality paper. Even if you're a pro, it's always a good idea to do a proof first. Of course, if you're a pro you already know that. 
 Using the brayer, I inked up the block. You can see in the picture below that I forgot to carve out a few areas around the letters. It's no problem to go back in with a craving tool and do some touch ups before printing. Just do it quickly before the ink starts drying. Or better yet, wash off the block before you carve.

When you're inking up the plate (could be a sheet of glass, plexiglass or a plate specially made for this kind of thing) start with less ink than you think you need and add a tiny bit more at a time as needed. Listen for a sound sort of like tape being pulled off a sheet of paper as you roll the brayer through the ink. That's when you have the right amount. 
When I make art prints or stationery I always use a baren for transferring the image to card stock, but this construction paper is so thin. Sliding a bone folder over the paper, which is placed on top of the block, worked very well. You can also use the back of a wooden spoon. I would have let Isla have a go at the printing process, but by the time I'd finished carving the block she'd run off somewhere. 
 Water-based block printing inks are great because they dry quickly. 
 And there we have Isla's work of art. 
Supply List:
block printing ink
inking plate (glass or plexi sheet)
bone folder or wooden spoon
Craft knife
Linoleum cutter
construction paper

Monday, January 13, 2014

Handmade Booklet Tutorial

 I love making books. It's been a while since a made a big thick journal, which takes a bit of time. These booklets, however, are so fun and easy to make that I decided to put together some for my daughter's birthday party goodie bags.

You only need a few things to make these:
1. One sheet of computer paper per book
2. Bone folder
3. Scissors
4. Double sided patterned paper at least 8.5"x5.5"
5. Heavy duty string or dental floss (not the flavored kind)
6. Needle
7. Awl
8. Cutting mat

If my bone folder looks a little beat-up that's because I've had it since I took a book arts class at Cooper Union 10 years ago! Bone folders sharpen with use, so be sure to hang on to yours. 
Start by taking the computer paper and fold in half across the width. Flatten crease with bone folder and cut with the same tool. 
 Fold paper in half across the width again, flatten crease and cut with bone folder.
 Fold paper in half across the width for a third time and run bone folder over crease, but don't cut the paper. 
Now make the cover by wrapping the patterned paper over the booklet. Use bone folder to make a nice crease. 
 Trim the patterned paper to the size of the booklet. If you like the rough paper edges that the bone folder creates, then take care not to trim the computer paper. 
Use the awl to poke two holes in the crease about 3/4" from the top and bottom of booklet. 
 Now thread your needle and push it through a hole from inside the book, 
out the back and through to the inside. 
Tie a square knot and cut off excess string. 
 The last step is to place the book under a heavy object, like a stack of hardcover books. After a couple of hours, your booklet should lay nice and flat!