April 25, 2013

The Process Pledge - I'm #874

A few days ago, I wrote about being stuck upstairs, away from most of my crafting supplies, while our entire downstairs was being painted. I mentioned that I had made some progress on the ABC Quilt I'm making for my son's birthday next month but that it wasn't "ready to share." But, was that really true?

I spent more time than I should have on Pinterest and Flickr last week (going against my New Rule), checking out more quilty inspiration, and I happened upon "The Process Pledge." Way back in May 2010, Rossie wrote a blog post about making her own process pledge and trying to spread it throughout blogland. The process pledge focuses on sharing more than just our finished projects, after they're all done. The entire process should be shared openly - everything from your inspiration, your decision-making moments, how your work in progress is going, your half-done quilt tops, your oopsies/failings - everything.

I know it's exciting to skip ahead to the beautiful, finished project photos that are so inspiring, and that's why so many of us share only those photos and just write a blurb about how we got there. I'm guilty of doing this too. But, the process one goes through is interesting and should be shared and celebrated. We all go through it. Why not share it?

Rossie's pledge was aimed at quilters, but I think it should be extended to other projects too. So, even if you don't quilt, I think you should join in. Will you? You can click the picture below to go to the Process Pledge page.

Expect to see more about my progress on the ABC Quilt soon!

I, Jen | Acts of Craftiness, pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear.   I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there.  

April 21, 2013

My Sister's Crafty Birthday Party

My youngest sister is turning 10. Yep - I said 10. It took my parents almost 22 years to crank out their fifth kid after having their first (me!). My sister had a small party with a few friends yesterday, and my mom asked if I could come up with some crafty activities for the girls to do at the party and help them with their creations.

After I said yes, I took a look at the crafting supplies I had on hand (which is a lot), and brainstormed a short list of crafty activities they could do using what I already have. I knew this would make my husband happy - using up some of my "stockpile" and not buying anything new that will take up more space in the house. I came up with a few ideas, and the one my sister was the most excited about was making covered button rings.

At first, I planned to bring patterned fabric to use for the covered buttons, but as I was going through my fabric stash, I realized that (1) I don't really have much girly fabric to choose from and (2) if we just used printed fabric, there wouldn't be much of a personalized aspect to the girls' creations. So, instead, I decided to bring all the solid cotton fabric I had and some fabric markers.

Peace signs were the most popular design of the day, but my favorite ring was the pretty, abstract design below. I think the girls had a lot of fun, and each one got to take home 3 or 4 rings that they made themselves. I think I might need to make some button rings for myself!

The aftermath - Well, after a bit of clean up.
My favorite ring made at the party

April 18, 2013

Toddler Activity: Stringing Beads

We're having our entire downstairs painted this week, so I had to move all of my shop and craft supplies. I've been stuck upstairs, away from all my supplies, for the last few days. While I haven't been doing my usual crafting, I have found some time to work on my ABC Quilt project while cooped up. I'll share some of my progress soon.

While trying to gather up fun things for Mr. Baby to do upstairs this week, I realized that I have a bunch of toddler activities I've made for him that I never got around to sharing with you.

Back in February and March, I bought a bunch of kid crafting supplies on Amazon so I could throw together new activities whenever I felt the urge.  One of Mr. Baby's favorite activities is Stringing Beads. Stringing Beads will help your little one build fine motor control, and it can also be used to practice counting and color recognition (if you use colored beads).

Stringing Beads Activity


Colorful Wooden Beads - I picked mine up on a whim at Joann's.
Pipe Cleaner - I got mine on Amazon. You could also use a length of ribbon, a shoelace, cording, etc.

The Crazy Easy Instructions (even though they seem long):

  1. Find a bowl or small tray to put the beads in. I removed all the small beads and only used the largest size in the bag. The holes in the largest size make it easier for younger child to string the beads and they are less of a choking hazard.
  2. Prepare the item that the beads will be strung onto. For younger children, the rigidity of a pipe cleaner will make it easier to use than something less rigid, like a shoelace, ribbon, or cording.
    1. To prepare your pipe cleaner:
      1. Bend the tip of one end, about 1/4", down over itself. This will be the end used to string the beads. If you don't bend a little piece down, the metal on the end might poke your little one and will get stuck on the inside of the beads.
      2. For the other end of the pipe cleaner, I put a smaller bead about an inch from the end and then bent the pipe cleaner into a loop and then flat to the bottom of the bead to keep the strung beads from falling off.
    2. To prepare your shoelace, ribbon, or cording:
      1. If your shoelace or cording has a plastic covering on the end, you do not need to do anything to it. If there isn't a plastic covering on the end (or you are using ribbon), you should tape about an inch of the end so beads can easily be strung onto it. This will be the end used to string the beads.
      2. For the other end, and tie a knot. Make sure it is big enough to stop the beads from falling off the end. You could also tie a knot around a bead to hold it in place.
  3. Show your little one how to use the materials. I had to show Mr. Baby what to do (where the holes are on the beads, how to place the pipe cleaner into the bead's hole, how to move the beads down the length of the pipe cleaner, and how to remove the beads with the pipe cleaner is full). Then I helped him once by holding the pipe cleaner while he placed the beads onto it. After that, he was able to do it on his own
★ Make sure you supervise your child when they are playing with the beads. Even if you take out all the small beads, the large ones can still pose a choking hazard.
★ If you are using a length of shoelace, ribbon, or cording, keep it on the short side. If it is long enough to be tied around your child's neck, they will try to do it. I really don't understand why tying things around their necks is so interesting, but you don't want to take a chance that they will do it.

April 12, 2013

Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread

After a long hiatus, my book club finally starting meeting again. We hardly talk about the books we've read, but we have lots of awesome conversations, laughs, and wine. The hostess provides the drinks, and the guests bring an appetizer to share. I always have a hard time figuring out what to bring. I keep telling myself that I'll find some new appetizer recipes to try out so I'll stop making the same five things I always make, but it never happens.

Last night, I made one of my tried and true recipes, Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread with sliced apples. The spread may not look like much, but it's packed with flavor and is always a crowd-pleaser. Best of all, it easy to throw together.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread

Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature (low-fat or regular works)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped small
4-5 oz crumbled blue cheese (the stinkier, the better)
coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper
crackers, crostini, or apples for serving

In a medium bowl, stir the cream cheese with a wooden spoon or stiff spatula until it's softened. Add the walnuts and mix. Season with salt and pepper and mix again.

Gently fold in the blue cheese crumbles. They should be mixed well, but try not to break them up too much.

Serve with crackers, crostini, or sliced apples (my favorite way).

This spread works best at room temperature but should be stored in the refrigerator. If you have refrigerated it, let it sit out on the counter for a bit before serving so it can soften up.

Apple slices in a water and lemon juice bath
* A tip for keeping your sliced apples from turning brown:

Fill a bowl about 3/4 of the way with cold water. Add about a tablespoon of lemon juice (fresh or bottled both work). As you slice your apples, add them to the bowl with the water/lemon juice mixture. Let them soak for a few minutes before draining the water. The acid in the lemon juice helps slow the browning of the apples.

April 9, 2013

Big Birthday Project in the Works

So, my Little Mister is turning two next month. I can't believe he's growing up so quickly! I've been thinking about his birthday gifts for a while now, and I really want to make at least one of them with my own two hands.

I've been playing around on Pinterest and Flickr (when I should have been crafting or blogging according to my New Rule), and spent a bunch of time looking at cute stitched alphabet projects. I've been working with Little Mister on the alphabet recently, and he's really into it, so I was thinking that an alphabet project would be perfect for him!

Here are a few ABC projects I've been ogling:
{ABCs by A Lovely World}

{ABC Mini Quilt by nanaCompany]
{ABC Book by nanaCompany}
After looking at projects for hours, I was leaning toward making something like the ABC Book, but a little more "boy-ified." I planned to make a page for each letter with an animal or object (or maybe more than one) that started with the letter for that page.

Yesterday, I was looking at the ABC Book more and found that it was made using a design in the book S is for Stitch by Kristine Czepuryk from Pretty By Hand.

I checked out some of the preview pages for the book on Amazon (you can see some of the cuteness of Kristine's alphabet on the book cover photo to the right). She includes two sets of alphabet object designs, one for girls and another for boys. One of the pages I could preview has a photo of all the boy images stitched up and sewn into quilt. I had an "aha moment."

Remember that amazing sewing machine I got recently? Well, if I put together my alphabet embroideries as quilt blocks, I can take advantage of it's awesomeness. I don't think I'm ready for free motion quilting just yet, but I'm pretty sure I can rock some straight line quilting to break in the new machine.

I already made a list of boyish objects to stitch up for each letter of the alphabet, but I'm excited to get my copy of S is for Stitch so I can see what designs Kristine put together. While I wait for my book to arrive, I'm going to work on figuring out my quilt's color scheme and maybe the finished size and block layout. I'll post more as I go through the planning and stitching process.

I'm so excited to make this quilt!

April 2, 2013

So Excited!

While I focus my work for the shop on cross stitch and embroidery, I have a long list of crafts I enjoy. I tend to go through crafting phases. One month, I might focus completely on cross stitch. The next month, I might obsess over crochet or sewing projects. And, later, I might be in a crafting void or get interested in something new.

Recently, I've had the urge to quilt. A real, machine quilted quilt. I have only made one quilt before, maybe 12 years ago, as a gift for my boyfriend. It was a very simple quilt made up of squares, plain sashing, and a solid back piece. I had never machine quilted before (and still haven't), so I just tied the quilt. I was so excited just to have completed a quilt - I loved it - and I felt a little sad to give it away. Since that boyfriend is now my husband, I still have the quilt and get to use it!

I've been scouring the Internet (mostly through Pinterest), looking for cute/modern quilting patterns to try out and thinking about color combinations. I usually do lots and lots of "research" before starting a new project, but I know that one thing that has held me back from starting a quilt has been not having a machine I can use for the machine quilting. I don't want to send out my quilt to be quilted for me, but it can be challenging to machine quilt on a home sewing machine. My Brother machine is great, and has more room to roll up a quilt than many other home machines, but I'd like to make a quilt for our Cal King bed and I'm not sure it's big enough for that.

Then, this beauty showed up at my door: Brother PQ1500S High Speed Quilting and Sewing Machine. I am so excited to get to quilting! I feel like I can make masterpieces with this machine. Expect to see some quilted items from me soon.

I think I may love you Brother PQ1500S.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...