Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Button Flowers

I'm not very good with real flowers.  They are so pretty and brighten up a room but I'm terrible with keeping them alive for more than a couple of days.  I'm that way with any plant really.  Exhibit A -- a Mother's Day gift that didn't even make it until the end of May...

I don't know how my kids and pets survive but somehow I can keep them plugging along.  Summer started with 3 healthy kids and school recently started with 3 healthy kids - SCORE!

To brighten up the house (and also for my upcoming craft show), I decided to start making these colorful button flowers.  My plan is to make a boat load of these because they are so cute in vases, Mason jars, tied with ribbon, etc.  I've been making multi-colored flowers but will be making monochromatic flowers and I have some other ideas for non-button flowers.  I'm just hoping I can part with them when the time comes because I find them to be so cheery and adorable.

I will be posting some instructions in a later post on how to make some of these for your own house.  They are pretty easy to make and can be really fun too.

So far all of my button flowers are still alive and no wilting has occurred!  I'm hoping to buy some buttons in bulk online -- any supplier suggestions???

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Craft Show Jitters

A few weeks ago I made the decision to do a craft show this fall.  I participated in this particular craft show a couple of years ago and had a great time.  It's at a local church and they have a pretty good turn out of people.  I wasn't overly intimidated by the other vendors or clientele and I even made some money.  At that time, I sold primarily jewelry I had made because that was what I had stocked in my Etsy store at the time (my Etsy store is currently empty but will share the link as I add some items).  Every year in August I start considering craft shows.  Fall shows are my favorite and I've noticed that there is a much better turn out in fall and people looking to purchase more often with the holidays coming soon.  Most years I either chicken out or have too much going on that I don't have time to create enough items to sell.  The people who are regular craft show vendors have a TON of items at their table.  My fear of shows toggles between 2 things - either I won't have enough items on my table and it will look empty and pitiful -OR- I have plenty of items and no one even stops to look at what I've made.  It's scary to put your time and your heart into making things you genuinely love and not be sure of what the public reaction will be.

This particular show was a great experience for me - especially as my first craft show.  The people were nice, I had a lot of positive feedback, I sold some items, and I even walked away with a couple of custom orders.  That year, I also did a show at a local high school.  That show was not as good.  There were a lot of people and a lot of different vendors.  They overbooked the vendors so we were spread out throughout the school.  The majority were in the gym and that's where most of the customers wandered.  Me?  I was tucked away with a handful of other vendors in this weird side hallway that was a dead end.  There wasn't even many signs to point people in our direction.  The majority of the people who actually visited our hallway of misfits, were just people who got lost.  That show was a lot of work and very little reward.  So this year, I signed up for the show where I had a great experience and hope for the best.

Fast forward a few weeks and I'm still feeling pretty good about my decision but have my moments of panic.  I've decided that I'll be selling some crocheted items and some other home decor type things and recycled item creations.  I will be sharing some of what I make here on my blog as I prepare for the show. 

My goal with my crocheted creations is to stand out from possible other crochet items.  I want to create things that look more modern and am trying to pick my yarn colors accordingly.  I will have bright colors but I'm also trying to find some colors that are a little more chic.  I found this wonderful Ivory Tweed yarn recently and am loving the look.  I've also been mixing two yarns together in projects to form bi-colored yarns and also make the yarn thicker to help my projects go a little quicker.  I want to love everything I sell but I'm on a limited time frame and need to be efficient too.  If you've ever crocheted, certain projects can be pretty time consuming.

Below is the majority of what I've been working on lately.  I want to create different sized baskets and bowls for home decorations.  My plan is to showcase their use on my display table -- they are great around vases, bowls, Mason jars, maybe some potpourri or hard candy, in a bathroom they can hold cotton balls, etc.  They add a lot of color and are fun to add here and there in a home.  I'm not using any patterns so make these up as I go which is fun and keeps me motivated.  I spray them with a heavy starch to help them keep their shape better and I crochet them in a way so that they stand firm too.

The larger basket's handles are made from tying suede cord and then crocheting around it.  That way the handles don't stretch out and will hold the shape longer.

So far I think I'm on a good pace and am happy with what I've created.  Crocheting is also a great way to work out stress after a tough work day.  Now that school is back in session (which means sports practices, games, etc), I can throw my projects in a bag and crochet during practices or in between games.  I just have to keep plugging along so I can make this happen!

An off topic item, I've been working and reworking the design and layout of my blog this weekend.  If you've checked back and seen a hot mess occasionally, I apologize for the changes.  It is definitely a work in progress and I'm working to find my "voice".  Thanks for reading and please feel free to share with friends.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


  I have a journal problem.  I have a difficult time resisting the purchase of a new journal.  I can
  rationalize the purchase by coming up with a new reason as to why I need a separate journal.
  "I know I have a creative idea journal but I think I would be more effective if I also had a 
  separate journal for photography!"
  "I bet I'd do better with losing weight if I had bright and colorful new journal to track food!"
  "Oooh pretty..."
  "This one is on sale.  It's a sign!" 
 My nook.  During my free time, I sit in a recliner in my husband's office and do whatever it is I want to do
 - write, crochet, play on the Internet, read, jot down ideas, edit photos, etc.  This is what it may look like at any given moment.  Notice 3 journals in this one shot.

A stack of colorful journals - all with a different purpose.  And yet, I dream of additional journals.  Maybe a moleskine, maybe something in a fabric, maybe a plain green journal...

One of my more lasting journal ideas.  A Gratitude or Thankful Journal.  I have actually stuck with this idea which is amazing considering my lifelong stack of journals that are maybe a quarter of the way full of something or other.
Almost every morning, I sip my coffee and I open up my Thankful Journal to jot down things I am thankful for at that moment.  I try to do 10 per day but sometimes it's less.  There are definitely recurring entries on any given day.  Some days there are a mix of silly with more sincere.  Every day that I do it though, I feel good starting my day.  It centers me and helps me to focus on the good.
Inside yet another journal...this one is more of a Misc.  I jot down quotes from different books I'm reading, jot down things I want to read, or ideas I want to remember.  Sometimes I write a more traditional journal entry in it but I'm bad about doing that consistently.  It's a catch all of journals.
My more "in use" journals currently.  I keep a small journal to jot down ideas for blogging or a craft show I plan to do.  My Gratitude/Thankful Journal, Misc, and the Buddy Book.  The Buddy Book is something my best friend and I have had going since 2004.  It deserves its own blog post so stay tuned for more on that.  It's a really fun way to stay connected and document our friendship.

I've always wanted to be the kind of person who journals my life and have volumes of journals documenting my entire existence.  Over the years, I've made the decision that I will journal every day NO MATTER WHAT.  I think the longest I've gone with that is maybe a week or two.  I realize that my daily thoughts and events are quite boring to read.  Now I try to document my life more with photos and I figure historians one day can piece together hundreds of journals with quotes, weird things, ideas that didn't pan out, and will come to this conclusion..."Who is this girl and why the heck are we wasting our time reading this stuff?"

So that's my journal addiction.  I may have more floating around here and now I have an urge to go shopping to find more.  Fortunately today I am without a car so I guess the journals I already own will have to do.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Crocheted Bag No. 1

Our summer has just flown by despite not having a hectic schedule.  I work full time during the week and have a family so life can be crazy during the school year with school, sports schedules, and other activities.  I love the summer because we are really lackadaisical and I have a lot more free time.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to use up some yarn that I had to make a bag.  I worked over the course of the weekend and then finished it up at night during that work week.  I love that feeling of complete obsession when I start a project and can't wait to see the finished product.  I was obsessed with this bag and love how it turned out.

One of the things I love about crochet is making up projects as I go.  I typically don't use patterns, although, I will sometimes use a pattern to get started on an idea.  I also don't write down patterns for my projects but I want to remedy that soon.  If I decide to make another item using the same pattern, I end up counting stitches on the finished piece as I'm making the new one.  Simply writing down the pattern would probably make it easier so I guess that's something to work towards.

I started with the bottom of the bag and just made a giant round.

I love blues and brown together so decided to use the tan colored yarn that I used for the bottom and then used a dark brown and light blue that I had leftover from older projects.  I'm a big fan of stripes.  I think that comes from having sons.  If you've ever shopped for baby boy clothes, it's a lot of blues, stripes, and then a mixture of trucks, cars, sports, dinosaurs, super heroes, etc.

The finished project.  It's a deep bag and I'm thinking I'll use it to carry around my crochet supplies to sports practices, on car trips, etc.  Any place where I have time on my hands and want to keep them busy.  I made the strap really long so I can wear it across my body or I can tie it up to shorten it.  Over time the strap will stretch anyway so tying it in a knot at the top is a good option.

I also have an abundance of granny squares right now.  In my attempt to use the yarn I have before buying more, I have made a lot of granny squares and have been looking for various uses.  I think I may make some mismatched granny square bags as well. 

More to come on the abundance of granny squares and what I end up doing with them (as I had discussed 

I have a sneaking suspicion that I will end up making more bags than I could ever expect to use. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vision Board

Those who know me already know that my current dream is to move to Asheville, NC.  My friend and I visited Asheville for the first time last year.  We were there for only a couple of days but I felt an intense draw to it.  Driving back home after that trip, I could not get it out of my head.  I had a strong feeling that I was supposed to be there and a strong feeling that it would be a good thing for my family too.  I told my husband, Jay, my feelings when I returned home and he was open to checking the city out (bless him for being willing).  He said he saw a spark in me when I returned and I think that is why he was so open minded.  To me, Asheville represents inspiration, art, culture, music, nature, and endless opportunities to become well rounded individuals for my children.  It's a place where I can thrive on inspiration and may open opportunities I never expected.  It's a place where my children can still do the normal things they do in our current city but where there will be new opportunities they can't find here.

I started researching schools first.  We have three young boys and their education was going to be the deal breaker if it did not look promising.  As I researched though, I learned that the school systems are great and offer a lot of different programs.  Once we knew that, Jay and I scheduled a weekend trip to Asheville so he could check out this place too.  Long story short - Jay fell in love too.  We entered into planning mode - told our kids the plan, our families, and started researching the area more and working with a realtor.  We took our boys to Asheville in the spring and they fell in love as well.  We wanted our boys to finish out the 2011/2012 school year in our current town but were hoping to sell our house and move in the summer of 2012. 

Unfortunately, the housing market had other plans.  We learned that we were more upside down on our current house than we initially thought.  That was a bit of set back for us because it pushed our plans back possibly a year or more.  I was really disappointed but, we are responsible homeowners and we are content where we are right now so we keep looking ahead.

In order to stay focused on our dream, a friend suggested I make a vision board.   I had never heard of this so I googled 'Vision Boards' and found so many inspiring ideas.  They can be anything from a scrapbook, to wall art, journaling, online inspiration, etc.  I decided to create a vision board within one of my Pinterest boards.  It was a perfect way for me to pin things that inspire me and keep me moving forward.  I look through the items I have pinned and, when I'm feeling low, I seek out additional items to encourage me to keep going.  As a result, my vision board items are probably the most repinned items out of all of my Pinterest boards.  You can see it HERE

Another great way I stay inspired is to go through the photos that Asheville inspired me to take with each visit. 

On my first hike in Asheville.  This was taken in August 2011.

In the River Arts District, there was an abandoned building near the railroad tracks where people were taking photos.  Within the open building, this old dirty couch sat in the middle of water and trash.  Someone had written 'Christ's compassion' on the couch.  The special part about this photo is that heart-shaped light.  There was no window or any special effects.  At the moment I saw this couch, the sunlight shown on it and made that heart.  I snapped the photo.  Is that a sign or what?

A street performer in downtown Asheville.  His sign says it all and is probably my biggest source of encouragement on my vision board.  Dude was in heels, on a balance board, juggling knives.  It's a challenge...a tease...motivation to keep looking ahead...

Jay.  My husband, biggest fan, supporter, and willing to pose for a photo in front of a blank canvas, sitting in a dirty chair in a studio building.  I'm so thankful that we are in this together.

The top.  Our dream.  This was a hike that Jay and I took together.  It was a tough hike for me because of some health challenges I have but I was determined to get to the top.  I made it -- I may have been sick for a few days after but I made it and it was worth it.

One day when I was back at home, in our routine, working, and I was feeling discouraged.  I work from home and had my door shut, just working away.  Suddenly a folded piece of paper slid under my door.  Jay wrote a note of encouragement and, wrapped in the note, was a small rock.  He had taken it from this exact mountain and kept it for the perfect moment to give it to me.  He said that if I could climb that mountain, I can easily keep going to achieve our dreams.  Man, I love that guy.

I will probably have other posts and photos and things inspired by Asheville in blog posts.  It will help keep  me going and motivated.  I highly recommend a vision board for whatever dreams or goals you have - big, small, or in between.  It's a great way to keep your eyes on the prize.

Dream on, dreamers...

Thursday, August 2, 2012


A couple of months ago, I read the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  At its core, it is about the story we are each currently living and the story we actually want to live.  I found it to be so inspirational and read it very quickly.  As I read, I would jot down quotes that impacted me.  There was one that stood out to me the most and I found myself reading it over and over. 

I decided I wanted to remember that quote and be inspired by it every day.  I knew I wanted to frame it but didn't want to just print it, paint it, write it, etc.  I loved the idea of some kind of fiber version of it on my wall so I tried my hand at embroidery.  Now, I have been playing with embroidery for just a few months and make up the stitches on my own.  Below is my version of this quote:

"I feel written, my skin feels written, and my desires feel written."

I started out by writing the quote in my own handwriting (no frills) on muslin and stretching onto an embroidery hoop.

Then I stitched the words in black thread and used some white thread to highlight a bit.

I embellished around the words in a circle.  Then I cut out the circle and stitched onto a piece of cream colored felt.

I kept with the circles around and around.  I wanted to add color but wanted the words to stand out on their own so avoided going overboard.

Ta-da!  The finished piece framed on my wall above one of my other photos.  Simple, imperfect but the words stand out. 
What books and quotes inspire you?