Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#Creativeeveryday Weekly Round up 3

i have been doing a lot of creative work the last couple of weeks, although i don't feel like i have a whole lot to show for it.  Kids were home from school because of snow days and sick days, so i haven't had a regular work week in quite a while. 

i've started beading again which i love, but honestly each project i get into takes so long that i'm beginning to wonder if it's worth it. i really should be putting this energy into other things. That said, here is what i've been working on.

i finished the Agate wrap, with peyote tubes and beaded braids. The picture isn't the best, but it turned out really nice. 

i originally beaded a piece of Amethyst for this necklace, then decided i'd rather use Abalone shell. The project sat in limbo for a while until i was able to find what i was looking for. It's been so long since i've bought beads that i can't even remember where i use to find them now. i purchased this shell pendant from Michael's. The necklace still isn't finished, i have about 2" of tubing that still needs beaded, and then i'll finish it in beaded braiding. i'd like to find fresh water pearls to embellish it, but i'm having a hard time finding those too. 

i like the first Abalone wrap necklace so much i decided to make another This time in green. i really like this style of necklace. The beading is in herringbone stitch, but i like to do it over plastic tubing so it keeps it's shape. It ends up very similar to a peyote tube, but takes about half the time. i found some pearls online to embellish this one, just waiting for them to arrive.

i use up the left over red boucle to finish up this little dolly. She's a mini only around 7-8 " tall.   i'd like to make her more clothes, maybe a sweater and some pants. i have 3 other dolls this size that i need to finish. 

i love the way this girl turned out. She is mostly done, i still have to finish her feet and i'm working on a different sweater as the one she is wearing is just a hair too tight. i'm pretty sure the reason i have a hard time finishing these dolls i because i'm not ready to let them go. There is a lot of time, energy and love put into each one and so it's not always easy for me to just shove them in a box and send them on there way. i'll get them for sale eventually, but i'm not in an rush.

My daughter asked me to paint her door to look like Elsa's in Frozen.  i really didn't want to paint it, since she'll probably be over the movie in another week or two and thought i could easily recreate it out of construction paper.

It ended up being way more work than i intended.   i ran out of the dark blue paper, so i can't finish it until i pick up some more.  It isn't proportional, Elsa's went from the top of her door to the bottom, but i think it still turned out pretty well. My daughter loves it, and that's all that really matters.

 After all the work i put into it (hand drawing the designs) i was thinking about posting a tutorial with the design images that you can download and print on your construction paper, and then all you'd have to do it cut out the pieces and assemble them.  Any interest in that or am i the only one crazy enough to do this?

This week started with a sick kid home on Monday, and now i've caught his cold and plan to spend most of the day in bed too. Thankfully i can still work on my jewelry, and dolls from the comfort of my bed.

An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it.  ~Paul ValĂ©ry

Monday, February 24, 2014

Garden planning/ Spring dreaming.

So it has started. The planning of the garden and the buying of the seeds. This has always been a bit of a problem for me. :) i'm completely addicted to buying seeds. i love a garden that is full of color and variety. i especially love unusual color, which is why i tend to plant an entire bed full of all purple vegetables. :)

Although i'm not much of a planner, i'm trying to sit down and get a handle on my seed stash.  i don't like buying all my seeds at once. i like to collect them over time, purchasing a few here and few there. Picking up a pack or two each time i leave the house. i purchase some online, and some impulsively when i pass the seed racks at the store. i saved a few seeds from last year, but not my usual amount so i have a lot of seeds to buy this year. i do have some scarlet runners, October beans and soy beans that managed to save.

Two years in a row we've been hit with late blight that wiped out all of our tomatoes. Fresh homegrown tomatoes are my absolute favorite thing about having a garden so losing all of plants was devastating.  Especially after having lost everything just a few months before.

 Last year it also wiped out our potatoes (it was a really bad year!) , which i blame on planting them so late. We didn't move back to property until June, and that's when my entire garden was planted. Typically the potatoes would have already been done by the time the blight hit the tomatoes. Although late blight is not suppose to over winter in soil, it can overwinter in potato tubers. So any volunteer potato plants that come up will have to be destroyed or they could risk spreading the blight again.

This make my garden planning a bit tricky, as i really need to avoid planting my tomatoes in any area that had potatoes or tomatoes last year. It's always important to rotate our crops, but i had so many potatoes seeds to plant i ended up putting them in every garden. So every garden now has a little bit extra risk of the blight returning.

Tomatoes are my weakness though, and so i have about a dozen varieties so far and i'm sure i'll have a dozen more before the garden is tilled.  :)  i've only purchased heirloom varieties. So far i have seeds for Moneymaker, Tomato Pineapple, Violet Jasper, Ferris Wheel, Ananas noire, Yoder's German Yellow, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Golden Jubilee, Yellow pear and San Marzano.  i'll definitely be picking up some Brandywines, Hillbilly and Mortgage lifters too.  i love all the colors, shapes and flavor differences that the heirloom tomatoes offer. 

Most of my seeds this year were purchased from Baker Creek, Botanical Interests and Southern Exposure seed exchange.  

 i picked up several packs from Botanical interest when they had a free shipping deal. They are one of the few places i can find the Redbor Kale, which is a favorite. It's not heirloom, but it's a beautiful purple kale that is delicious, makes the best kale chips and grows all season long. The Redbor sells out quickly and can be hard to find so i was thrilled to find it there! i also love that the seeds come in a reusable seed storage box. :)

It's still a little early to start seeds inside for my area, but i can't stop buying them.  If you are unsure of planting time for your area, i recommend checking out The Farmer's Almanac Planting Guide.  These are the dates for my area, but you can plug your zipcode into the location box and it will customize for your area/climate.

i have a feeling this years garden is going to be extra challenging. We are trying to avoid the return of the blight, i have to figure out how to prevent the voles from eating my sweet potatoes again and i really need to work on building up my soil. Typically we add manure and compost, but last year we did nothing, so i really need to make sure and get some organic matter added in.  My rototiller, which was in the shed and survived the fire died anyway. So i'm not even sure how i'm going to get the garden tilled up. i would really like to get the soil tilled now while everything is thawed, so that when it freezes again next week  it will help kill off some of the bug larva and weed seeds that are in the soil.

We have a possibility of snow again this week, so right now i'm am only dreaming.

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Snow Queen/ Queen Elsa Printable Crown and wand Craft

A few weeks ago i took my kids to see the movie frozen. We absolutely LOVED it. It is defintely not your typical Disney princess movie.  Both of my kids, 12 year old boy and 7 year old girl enjoyed the movie immensely. i liked that it had two strong leading females, and unlike most Disney movies there was no Prince rescuing a princess.  It was a wonderful movie about the importance of family, sisters and not being afraid to be your true self.

 After seeing the movie my girl began to sing the lyrics to the movie everyday.  She told me she wanted an Elsa costume so we went to closet to see what we had that would work. She didn't have a light blue dress, but i found this off white sundress in my closet. After tightening up the straps on it, it made the perfect Snow Queen dress.  The we used a turquoise/blue cap from Sarah's Silks. We purchased ours from Imagine Childhood.  We love Sarah's Silks they come in handy for all kinds of different dress up costumes.  You could also easily use a regular blue or white play silk or even just a scarf or light fabric.

All we needed now was a crown. i headed over to one of my favorite printable craft sites The Whimsical Realm of Phee Mc Faddell.  On the site you can find all kinds of free printable fantasy coloring pages, and craft projects.  We printed up the snow flake fairies crown and wand on white cardstock. Then my daughter decorated them with blue colored pencils and gem stickers. 

Then my daughter decorated them with blue colored pencils and gem stickers. You'll also need some ribbon or yarn for the wand. Instead of a stick, i rolled a piece of paper around a pencil as tight as i could and then glue it in place and slide the pencil out and wrapped it in ribbon.  There are directions for putting it all together in the Phee Mcfaddell site.  You can use ribbon to tie on the crown, but my daughter wanted it to just set on top of her head so we made  band out of cardstock and glued it together. The hardest part of the project is cutting out all those snowflakes, which i ended doing.  It's a still a great project for almost any age.

My daughter was thrilled with the costume. She spent most of our snowed in week in costume, dancing and singing the songs from the movie.

There are many other fantastic printable winter themed crafts over at Phee Mcfaddell, including icicle fairies, snow fairies, ice princess and winter sprites and more.  Be sure to check the coloring pages  and the Puppet crafts.  Have fun exploring this fantastic site!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cabin Fever and Rainbow Ice Crafts

Last week we were hit with a pretty big winter storm.  See that little isolated dark purple area on the map that was lucky enough to get 25+ inches?  Yep, that's where we live. 

i'm not sure the actual snow total for our area, but it was close to 30 inches.  It came down really fast and was beautiful to watch. The kids were released from school 3 hours early on Tues before the storm hit and school was canceled for the rest of the week.  
Now it's Tue and we still haven't been back to school. Many of the back roads have not been plowed, so the buses are unable to get down them.  There is a good chance they won't be back to school until Wed.  So we are snowed in, dealing with bored kids and some serious cabin fever. We haven't been to the store in quite a while, so our supplies are quite limited.

i find that brightly colored ice crafts are the best way to combat the winter blues and cabin fever boredom.  They require very little materials. Water, food coloring, plastic yogurt tubs, bowls, ice cube trays, molds what ever you can find .  They're are so many different projects you can do just using these basic materials.
 Rainbow ice lanterns are one of my favorite projects. They are easy, but time consuming as you have to wait for each layer of ice to freeze before adding the next color. You can find the directions in this post. We use those plastic yogurt tubs for these, and a small tin can in the inside.

We also made a bunch of rainbow colored ice hearts  These are fast and easy and look fabulous hanging from the trees when everything outside is white.  You can find the directions here.   All you need is an heart shaped pan/mold, water, food coloring and some string.  Since Valentine's day is over, right now is a great time to snag a heart pan at a great price if you don't already have one. We use ours for all kinds of things. If you don't have a heart shaped pan, you can use an ice cube tray or muffin tin to make colored ice to decorate the trees with.

We turned some of our ice hearts into a rainbow heart mobile. The individual hearts spin, and the bottom branch spins as well. It's fun to watch it move as the wind blows it gently. The bright colors bring some much needed color to the dark days of winter. 

We also used the heart shaped mold to make treats for the birds. We use this recipe .  Attracting different birds brings lots of color to winter as well. We've spotted bluejays, cardinals, titmice, nut hatch, pine siskin, fox sparrows and a woodpecker so far.

Over at twig and toadstool blog we came across the coolest idea for rainbow ice bird feeders. We didn't have any balloons, so i just used what we had on hand which was plastic bowls/dishes. The first one i made was a 'test feeder' so i didn't use any food coloring.  It was very popular with the birds, so i knew i had to make some more. Since our temperatures have been above freezing, i've had to keep all of our ice crafts in the freezer during the warmer parts of the day, so i just didn't have enough room to freeze feeders in every color of the rainbow.

So i combined the ice feeder project with my rainbow ice lanterns and created a rainbow ice feeder.:)  i love when i come across a fabulous idea online that inspires and evolves into something new. There are just so many fantastic ideas out there, it amazing to see what each of us can create with just a spark of inspiration.

 For this i used a plastic yogurt tub, and froze each colored layer individually. For the top i used a plastic storage container that had a flat bottom. i decided to leave it uncolored, since as the ice melts it pools slightly and i noticed many of the birds drinking it.  Once the pieces were frozen solid i ran hot water over the back of the plastic, until the pieces slid out.  Then i wet the end  of rainbow ice base and set the clear top on it. It only took a few seconds for it to stick together. Then i placed it back into the freezer so it would freeze even more. If the temps outside are below freezing you could set it right outside, but it was just above freezing here. Once it was frozen solid we were able to place some bird feed on it and enjoy the variety of colorful birds that came to feed.

As eager as i am for spring to arrive, i'm almost a little sad to see the snow and ice melt away. Although these days can be a little challenging, time seems to slow down on these days. It's as if the world is frozen in time, encased in a layer of snow and ice.  i cherish these slow moments, as i know all to well how quickly life can pass us by.

The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Terri Guillemets

Monday, February 10, 2014

Growing Borax Crystal Hearts.

Growing Borax crystal is a really fun and easy experiment for kids. We were looking for some Valentine crafts to do and decide to make crystals again because it's been a few years since we've made them.

What You Need
  • string
  • wide mouth jar (pint or quart)
  • white pipe cleaners
  • borax (sold in the Laundry soap isle)
  • pencil or chopstick
  • boiling water
  •  food coloring (opt.)
  • scissors

The first thing you need to do is to boil the water. You can make shapes out of the pipe cleaners while you are waiting. We made hearts, and then connected them together with string. Your shape needs to be small enough to fit inside the jar without touching the sides or bottom. basic shapes lie stars, spirals and snowflakes work well. 
We usually use about two cups of water per pint jar.  Our heart design was so long we had to use a quart jar, so we used 4 cups of boiling water for it.  

i added the boiling water to the jar and let my daughter add the borax. You add 3 Tbsp per cup of water. We used 4 cups of water, so we added 12 Tbsp of borax powder.   Stir after each spoonful of borax so it is mixed well. It's okay if some of the borax doesn't dissolve.

Then we added a few drops of red food coloring. You can add whatever color you like. 

We tied our pipe cleaners hearts to a chop stick, so that is was suspended in the liquid, but not touching the bottom or sides. You could use a pencil or stick what ever you have on hand. 
 Then we waited.

The first time we made these the crystals began appearing almost immediately. Within a few hours the pipe cleaners were almost covered. This time we waited, but nothing happened. i was afraid we'd messed up the measurement, but i put it aside and left it to sit until morning. 

When we checked it the next morning we were excited to see that it was covered in beautiful shimmery crystals!

We hung them in the window as a lovely suncatcher.

So how do the Borax crystals grow?

Hot water holds more borax crystals than cold water. That's because heated water molecules move farther apart, making room for more of the borax crystals to dissolve. When no more of the solution can be dissolved, you have reached saturation. As this solution cools, the water molecules move closer together again. Now there's less room for the solution to hold onto as much of the dissolved borax. Crystals begin to form and build on one another as the water lets go of the excess and evaporates. 
*taken from

Sunday, February 9, 2014

#creativeeveryday Weekly Round Up 2

Lots of progress this week, but i have a terrible habit of constantly starting new projects before finishing the ones i'm working on.

i did get the kids Valentine owls finished up. i think they turned out pretty good. :)

i started more dolls.  Since i'm having so much trouble completing just one, i thought i'd practice making heads. i'm quite happy with the consistency of them.  The shape, size and faces are very similar.  They don't quite have the look i was trying for, but i'm getting closer and i'm learning what i need to do to get a nice consistent look. So that's good progress!

i've almost finished up this girl.  She needs pants under her dress, and maybe a hat or bag.  i admit, i get rather attached to my dolls and sometimes i think i slack on finishing them just to keep them around a little longer. :)  i am quite in love with this girl at the moment. :)

So instead of working on dolls, i decided to pull out the beads again.  Played around with peyote stitch and herringbone/dembele.  i always forget how much i love beading. There is a gentle meditative rhythm to this type of bead weaving. It's done with needle and thread, sewing one one bead at a time. It is the same rhythm that is in hand stitching fabrics and the reason i often choose it over machine sewing. It's more time consuming of course, but forces one slow down and really connect with the piece they are working on.  Your breathing slows, you mind quiets and you get into a zone. This was impossible when the kids were younger with the constant interruptions, but now that they are older and in school i'm making the time to sit down with my beads and find that place again. After spending an entire year feeling lost, this feels like coming home.

Doesn't matter how hard i try to get away from the bendy dolls. i always come back to them. :)  This is the last of my valentine fairies.  Hoping to put this energy into other things now. With spring quickly approaching, i worry that garden season is going to suck up all my time.  i have always dreaded the winter, but this year i have truly embraced it, and am quite content to have another 6 weeks of it. 

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. ~Ruth Stout

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Valentine Craft Round up

i hate to admit we've not been doing a whole lot of kid crafts this year. The kids are getting older and just not always as excited to participate as they use to be.  i've been trying come up with a few fun heart themed activities for the weekend, and decided to look back and some of the ones we have done over the years. 

1. Owl Valentines.  We had so much fun making these a few years ago for the class valentines and even turned a few into a Valentine's garland. One the page you'll find a printable template and instructions.  You can use the same template to make plush felt owls. On this post is a picture of the ones i made the kids a few years back. i hand stitched the pieces together using blanket stitch, but you could easily make it on a machine.

2. Heart shaped Short bead cookies.  Shortbread is one of my favorite cookies to make because they are so easy, take very few ingredients and are relatively low in sugar compared to many other cookies recipes. 

3.  Folded Paper Hearts.  These can be made with tissue paper or kite paper. They let light in, and look fabulous hanging in windows. 

4. Cherry Tarts.  Does anyone ever really need an excuse to make cherry tarts? ;) Add a heart on top and you have a nice homemade Valentine's treat.

5. Hanging Ice Hearts.  These are super easy and fun to make when the temps outside are below freezing. It's been so cold this winter i'm surprised we haven't attempted any ice crafts yet. These look most striking when the yard is covered in snow.

6. Spin Art Hearts with recycled crayon centers. This is a favorite of mine. We made these one year for school valentines, and i loved how they turned out!  

7.  Birdseed Hearts.  Because the bird deserve some love this winter too. :) 

8. Magic Window Cookies  This post is actually a bunch of different heart themed foods. You can find the actual recipe for magic window cookies here or just use your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  We used a heart shaped cookie cutter that automatically cut out the center, and then used cherry lifesavers for the center.  

9. Valentine Bendy dolls.  You can find my basic bendy doll tutorial here and then decorate them in red, white and pink.  i like to make the wings heart shaped. :) 

 *The links don't seem to be highlighting for me, but if you move your mouse over the titles or the words 'here' you should be able to click the links.

Do you have any Valentine craft posts? Feel free to link up in the comments!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow Day!

We finally got some snow!!  This winter has been unbelievably cold, but we really haven't seen much snow. We had a couple flurries, but nothing stuck.  Weather had predicted a dusting of snow, so we were quite surprised when the snow started coming down and didn't stop!

We got around 3", which is more than enough for me. Having grown up in Michigan, i can do without snow. 

It was pretty coming down and winter just doesn't feel right if we don't get one or two good snow storms. 

Since the kids had been out of school and we were pretty much snowed in we were starting to get a bit of cabin fever.  It was so cold out that we didn't venture outside for more than a few minutes at a time.  It finally began warming up a little (above zero) the last couple days, so we bundled up and went for a hike.  The creek that winds through our land is pretty fast moving, but there are many shallow areas that were frozen enough for us to stand on it.  The kids had a great time slipping and sliding across it.

We hiked up to the cow field that is across the creek from our property. It was the perfect place for a bit of sledding.  Don't worry, all the cow pies were frozen solid and hidden beneath the snow.

Kenan and i were ready to head home long before the kids.  They had a fantastic time. With bright red cheeks and dripping noses, they assured me they were not cold.  i couldn't even feel my toes anymore.

It's been a while since we all came out and walked through the woods together.  When Kenan worked from home we did this often, but once he opened the shop in Willis our family hikes became less and less frequent.  Now that he is back at home i look forward to finding a new rhythm as we begin to balance between work and play. 

“Let us liberate ourselves from any form of control. Let us focus at the inner drum, where the rhythm aligns with that of our heart. The measure of responsibility, equals to the need for evolution. Just listen, the inner child, let it whisper in your ear.” 
― Grigoris Deoudis