8.30.2011

sharing the love

i have to say that whenever a friend of mine comes to me and says, "you know, i was wondering about the cards you make...how do you do that?" or "what is that cricut thing you keep talking about?," i probably get a little overexcited and just start yapping about all of my crafty toys. i'm learning to try to not overwhelm, but sometimes i just can't help it.



so imagine my excitement when one of my lovely neighbors (who's also a dear friend, fellow mama and someone who probably loves noah as much as we do) told me she had taken the cricut plunge. can you say so excited? i can!



this amazing neighbor (and her family - husband plus three awesome sons) have helped us so much since we moved in. recently, she helped us out with noah, so what better way to say thank you than to share some of my paper source love with her?



this of course meant a trip to our naperville store (which by the way, turned into one of the best customer service experiences ever...that's a story for another day). my lovely neighbor has been so excited about making cards, so i figured i'd shower her with some new cardstock...in new colors and shapes and sizes. add to that some cute and fun envelope stickers and a new cricut cartridge (cindy loo because, as i told my lovely neighbor, with three boys, she needed some girliness) and we had a great little thank you gift. of course, i couldn't just throw it all in a bag and call it a day...i had to add a little something special to the goodies.


i started by wrapping different ribbon around each of the three card/envelope packs. (see, in the lower right-hand corner?)

then, i decided to make some small graphic decals for two of the packs...which were super simple. i just took my bicycle rubber stamp and black ink pad, stamped the yellow paper, then took my 1-1/2" round paper punch and punched out the bicycle. (hint: if you are going to use a paper punch to cut out something you've already stamped, slide your paper in the punch upside down so you can see your stamp on the underside of the punch. this will ensure you're lining up your stamp in the center of your punch shape.)





1-1/2" round punch



our little thank you gift turned out to be a big hit and i'm pretty sure paper source has a new fan in my lovely neighbor.


the final thank you gift!


i love trying to do something unique and different to say thank you to special ones in our lives. what do you like to do to say thank you and show your gratitude?

8.21.2011

a pin here, a pin there

alright, if i haven't told you already, i have a new obsession (i have many, but i figure it's never a bad thing to have new things in life that make you happy and help you be bigger than who you are everyday.) so the obsession is this: pinterest.com. pure love.



pinterest is an online social community where you can set up virtual pinboards...or as i explain to people, virtual mood boards. and if you're still not sure what i'm talking about here's the practical explanation: let's say you read magazines. and when you see something you like in a magazine, you tear out the page. and then you have to have some sort of way to keep/organize/not lose those torn out pages. pinterest does this for you in an online way. it organizes images you like, things you want to never forget, ideas, whatever...

let's just say i've found yet another way to spend time...time that i don't always have...and i have been known to sacrifice sleep for pinterest. (anyone who knows me, i don't sacrifice sleep for anything.)


oh, and i should mention one of the beauties of pinterest is that you can follow others' pin boards. so you can see what your friends are pinning. which is just fun. and you can pretty much search any term in pinterest's huge base and get a million other images which you can repin to your boards. (and your boards don't have to just be stuff for the home...it can be anything you want.) for instance, i have a board labeled "goals." this is what i just pinned to that board:

again, love. and if you want to join the love and craziness, i so recommend checking it out...pinterest.com, and request an invite. and if you join the pinning love fest, be sure to search for me! i love to share!


happy pinning to you!

ashley


p.s. oh, and i have to mention...there's also a pinterest iphone app. so, yes, i have been able to continue my obsession anywhere i go.

8.19.2011

this is what happens when...

you combine a thursday night and the feeling that you need to just do something. for the first time in a long time, i was desperately turning to my hobby to have a bit of an escape. not that anything was wrong, i just felt the need to create something. to feel that accomplishment. well, thursday night i had the right combo of energy, insight to what i might be able to do and the materials. so i went for it.

it's nothing major, just updating some frames around the house to give the frames and the spaces they were in a little new look. a couple of weekends ago, i went through a clean sweep of sorts with our gallery frames. the pics that were in there had been in for a while and i wanted to give them a new look. so, i printed several new photos at my neighborhood wal-mart (one hour, of course, because i'm still trying to learn patience). end result: refreshed frames!



then, my lovely sister paid a visit last weekend and brought me a surprise...a sheet of paper from paper source (of course). it's this adorable cream and black print of silhouetted birds on a wire. adorable. and it needed a home.











the right home was a gallery frame hanging in our great room with an 8" x 10" opening from pottery barn (one similar is here...or you can get the same exact thing from target for about $20). i decided we could give up the winter-esque picture of big mountain montana and replace it with some fun birds on a wire. great choice, if i do say so myself. (only after taking a pic and texting it to my sis to have some external validation on my decision.) so, our little birdies are featured right alongside some great architecture photos from paris and london. made me happy.



our new birdies in their new home


full shot of the frames with our total table steal from ikea


that wasn't quite enough though. i had these two other multi-opening frames on our stairway landing that had random photos in them from about six years ago. definitely time for a change. since we have pics everywhere else, i went the patterned paper route again, this time focusing on a slate blue/grass green/grey/white color palette to complement the house. i'm pretty happy with this too. very super simple and will be easy to update whenever i want. (note: i'm even thinking about adding a stamp embellishment to the small solid squares. still thinking about that.)





let's just say that yes, this was a super simple little change...a really easy way to feel a little bit creative when i really needed it. i'm getting the bug to dig into another big(ger) project....more ideas for childrens' wall art, possibly a small(ish) sewing project...we'll see what comes from this weekend.

i hope that anyone reading this finds that something in your life that you can turn to when you need a diversion or an escape or a small way to make your everyday feel complete.

here's to a (hopefully) crafty weekend,
ashley

8.14.2011

the final product...grassy grass grass!

today's a big day. today's the day that i wrapped a vip (in this case, a very important project)...one that's a keepsake for my little boy. and hopefully something he'll keep and love for a long time. i bring you, the finished "grassy grass grass" wall hanging.


you've likely read the back story on the start of this project. (if not, you can read it here and here). a lot of time, love, paper cutting, cricut creativity and glue went into this labor of love. and i'm so, so, so happy that it's finished. and most importantly, i'm so happy with how it turned out.



as of this weekend, i had the last three lines to finish. admittedly, i was a little concerned over my spacing and getting the rest of the poem on the canvas. but it all worked out, and i was even able to alternate my letter sizing a little to incorporate some small and some larger letters to balance out the entire piece.



balancing smaller and larger fonts


i was even so happy to be able to incorporate a new font into the mix...my new cricut jubilee cartridge, which incorporated some very thin, tall letters into the piece.



using the new jubilee cartridge


i know i said it in a previous post, but i can't tell you how much it helped that i mapped out the entire poem on paper the size of the canvas. it was a pre-plan and allowed me to make sure everything came out perfectly.

i'm so happy to share the final product with you. thank you for taking this journey with me, and now, the only question is: where do we hang this in the little guy's room?

p.s. one other thing that i wanted to share...i've actually gotten the courage to submit this piece for consideration in an upcoming issue of cricut magazine. keep your fingers crossed for me!

8.07.2011

picky eating

i've mentioned before that not only do i want to use this blog to share the crafty things i'm working on, but also to pass along some of the unique little ways that we get through the day. this includes feeding a picky eater. a sometimes very picky, two-year-old little boy who has the most charming smile and disposition in the world. the worst part is, he knows it too.

if you have children, there's likely a 99% chance you have experienced picky eating. periods of time where your little ones only want pineapple. or hot dogs. or french fries. when the thought of putting a green vegetable in front of them would result in fits of toddler rage. so as parents, we get creative.






i've mentioned before that i love happy tots. (a lovely mixture of veggies and fruits that blend very nicely into applesauce). i've made mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower. i've made homemade pasta sauce with hidden pureed spinach. i've even tried making a carrot-pineapple smoothie (not a fan favorite). tonight, i hit a home run. and i'm feeling pretty victorious about it.

five words: cayenne-spiked oven fried chicken. like many toddlers, my son is enamored with chicken nuggets. (note: we're a big morningstar farms chicken family. we're lucky that he loves soy chicken patties.) but still. i was kind of at a point where i was tired of him eating the semi-fried stuff.

the chicken was a hit. the panko-crusting gave the chicken a "fried" feel and texture and blended with a little ketchup, it was a hit. seeing my son eat an actual piece of chicken breast almost brought me to tears.

for anyone interested, i thought i'd share the recipe. (i do want to stop here and give credit to where i tracked down the recipe: weight watchers online.)

cayenne-spiked oven fried chicken
serves 4
cooking time: 25 minutes
preparation time: 5 minutes

1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dried sage
1 t. table salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk
4-4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

preheat oven to 450 degrees. line the broiler pan with foil. mix together panko, flour, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in a large shallow bowl. pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl. dip the chicken into the buttermilk mixture, then roll in the panko mixture to coat the chicken. spray the chicken with non-stick cooking spray and place on broiler pan. bake until crispy and cooked through, about 25 minutes. yields one chicken breast per serving.

and for little ones, i found that ketchup helped make the chicken even more appealing. again, seeing my son eat this chicken nearly brought me to happy tears. i know someone out there knows what i'm saying. :)

here's to the cutest little ones in our lives who bring out the most creative in all of us. :)
ashley

8.06.2011

total and complete childhood joy

one of my favorite crafts to do when i was young was making woven loop potholders for my mom, grandma, and anyone else who was nice enough to take one. i have so many memories of spending hours making these with my grandmother when visiting for the summer. there was something so cool about taking a small loom, a big bag of colorful fabric loops and ending up with the very cool 5" x 5" square potholder made with love.




so imagine my utter excitement when checking facebook on friday afternoon and seeing that hobby lobby (one of my fave crafting stores) had a special posting, craft feature and sale on all children's looms and loops. (30% off!) and with the perfect timing of having my crafting guru (best friend patti) on her way to see us for the weekend (with her adorable little munchkins, who are enthusiastic kid crafters), i thought "i must pick up looms and loops. perfect way to have the kids make something fun this weekend."

three kids (all under the age of seven), two bags of loops, two looms and four parents, and we had our potholder making party today!
my little guy wasn't so much into weaving the loops...rather, he was all about putting them on his arm and showing everyone.



one thing i've learned in the past 24 hours is that not many people remember woven loop potholders. a quick tutorial....

start with your loom and bag of colorful loops









choose your color palette/pattern and begin by looping loops from one side of the loom to the other side


step one: get your one side of loops set


here comes the fun part. using the big end of the hook, take it over-and-under the loops and pull almost all of the way through...but before it's pulled all of the way through, be sure to place a loop on the small end of the hook to pull it through. make sure the loop is hooked on the loom on both sides. repeat.





weaving loops one-at-a-time




once all of your loops are woven through, finishing off the potholder is a must. (admittedly, since it's been about 25 years since i've made one of these, i had to google how to finish off the potholder. instructions are here.) but basically, you start in one corner and remove one loop off the peg. hold on to it and remove the loop next to it and weave the second loop back through the first loop. (you're kind of "crocheting" the edges) continue to do this all the way around the potholder.









and the finished piece...a very cute potholder made with excitement and love.


i have to say this was one of the highlights of my weekend...getting to share a favorite hobby of mine from when i was young with my little young one.
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