Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Felted Ornaments

This year I made each of my nieces an ornament for Christmas. Hopefully handmade ornaments from your Aunt aren't the equivalent of a package of new socks from Santa, but not to worry because I also got them a DVD. Don't grow up too fast girls...I still have a lot of things I'd like to make you before you think handmade gifts are lame and start having crushes on boys.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Letters to Santa

This year, in lieu of traditional Christmas cards, I decided to make postcards. This allowed me to save a little time and money, but still create something personal. The only negative was that there was no room for a return address, so hopefully they all reached their destination!

I started by creating my own font at I printed out an alphabet sheet, filled in each letter with my handwriting, then scanned and uploaded it to fontcapture. Very simple, and free! Using my personalized font, I created the postcards in Illustrator, making sure they met the proper specifications for mailing. I chose Luke 2:10-11 for the message on the back of the card.

After seeing this project on another blog, I decided to order the Cozy Village stamp and use it to make some luminaries as well as my postcards.

Up until making these postcards, I had no experience with embossing stamps. However, I had two unopened jars of embossing powder that I had accidently purchased several years ago, thinking they were glitter. Like I said, no experience. But it was a happy mistake, especially since the colors I had were silver and gold, and worked perfect for Christmas. I did have to by a heat gun to set the embossing powder, but was able to get one 40% off with a Joann's coupon. If you craft and have a Joann's nearby, sign up to receive their emails, they send out coupons weekly. Or you can get a job at Round Rock ISD...Zach recently found out, and bravely shared with me, that RRISD employees get a 15% discount. I foresee many more trips to Joann's in Zach's future.

Back to the postcards...I printed my postcards on plain green and red cardstock, four to a page, and cut them out with a paper cutter. Then I stamped the front of each with the Cozy Village stamp in black ink. Some I left plain ink, and some I embossed.

I also made three vellum luminaries. I embossed one in silver, one in gold, and left the third plain ink. With an LED tea light in side, the embossed images show up a little bit better than the plain ink, which was actually absorbed a bit into the vellum.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Run, run as fast as you can

You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!

S: I'm going to have to run as fast as I can to work off all the gingerbread cookies I've eaten over the past few days. Zach's mom and her friend came to visit us over the weekend and we made gingerbread cookies. Most of them have made their way to our bellies by now, but we managed to take a few photos first.

Zach got really creative with his cookies...

Stocking turned Grinch

Z: My goals as a gingerbread cookie artist lie in the evolution of appearances away from the banality of culinary anthropomorphisms and into a whimsical yet ephemeral distortion of the breaded cookie that results in the evocation of holiday cheer. These lofty and esoteric goals were accomplished with much laborious soul searching and turning a stocking into the grinch, a snowman into a holiday shark, and a gingerbread man into rudolph. Note the transformations above and be moved to Christmas joy by a food product.
S: And of course our gingerbread namesakes, made by Zach's mom. Gingerboy Zach lost an arm somewhere along the way. And this is Cartman's cousin Ponyo that I made:

Z: In case you didn't know: Ponyo wants ham.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deck the Halls

This is a Christmas card we received a few years ago from our very creative friend Kate. We used a holiday pick as a stand to display it.

We made these decorations our first Christmas together. We took styrofoam balls and covered them in gold and red ribbon. The trick is to slightly overlap the ribbon each time you go around the ball, so that you don't see the styrofoam. We glued down the ends and used decorative pins to secure them.  I placed the ornaments and some jingle bell garland in a glass apothecary jar.

vintage christmas cards on top of an old window...

This oversized silverware used to hang in my grandmother's kitchen. She kept fake rubber grapes in the ladle, and I would always squish them when I visited. I usually keep it empty the rest of the year, but it's a perfect place for Christmas ornaments.

..and a little teacup to hold a Christmas tree for the kitchen

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rosette Pillow

Here's a pretty little throw pillow I made for our bed.

I was inspired by this pillow from dedeetsyshop:

Image from

 I used blue linen for the pillow cover and white linen for the rosette. The pillow cover is a simple envelope cover. The rosette was made by cutting one long strip of white linen, about three inches wide. Setting my sewing machine to the widest stitch and the highest tension, I sewed a gathering stitch along one of the long edges. When through, I pulled on the ends of the thread to gather the fabric.

I pinned it into place on the pillow cover to form a rosette, then sewed it on at the gathered edge. I finished off the middle of the rosette with a circle of linen and a white vintage button.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to Install a French Door

Disclaimer: This is the Kirk Method. Individual results may vary.

S: Our homebuilder used two sliding glass doors in our home, one in the dining room and one in our master bedroom, both leading to the outdoor patio. The previous owners had replaced the dining room door with a french door, and we were finally able to find the time and money to replace the door in our bedroom.

We had already removed the horrible vertical blinds, and temporarily pinned up a couple of curtain panels for privacy...classy. So after removing the curtains, and the board wedged inside the door frame that served as a lock for over a year, we were ready to remove the sliding glass door.
First, we took out the screen and two sliding glass doors by removing a few screws and using that handy orange suction cup handle to hold the glass The frame came out easily as well by removing all the screws around the perimeter. 
After taking a look at our rough opening, we realized the new door was a lot thicker than the old one, which meant that drywall and carpet would have to be cut back. Using a utility knife, we scored and removed the extra drywall and carpet, making it even with the stud. 
We also found that the base of the old door had been adhered with spray foam, instead of caulk, so the cement slab had to be cleaned up and all the old foam scraped off. Once the slab was clean, we applied a generous amount of silicone caulk, then scrambled to set the door in place. 
Easier said then done....there were a couple of close calls where I was sure the door was going to fall and shatter into a million pieces, crushing me on the way down. But after many fancy maneuvers, we had the door in place...or so we thought.

Z: And then we took the door back out. Essentially the rough opening formed a slanted square, a rhombus for those geometrically inclined. The old sliding glass door did not fit well, leaving a slight gap at opposite corners, but the door would still open and close just fine. However, the frame of the new pre-hung doors was pinched, making them bind and pinch together. A rough opening that's a bit too big can be solved easily with nailing in another stud or extra shims, but one that's too small creates a difficult situation. I thought, why don't I just move the wall. So I did, I moved a wall. I let my hammer loose on the base plate (the bottom 2x4 that rests on the foundation). I noticed it was moving ever so slightly, millimeter by millimeter until my hammer did this.

Or rather I did that to my hammer. The head simply, by the strength of my own hand, sheared off. Granted, the hammer was not the highest quality, but I'm a skinny guy and inch thick forged steel does not crumble at the hands of the weak. All this to say, it boosted my ego and I already sent my application in to the Spartan Army. I used another hammer to finish budging the wall over, ran another thick bead of silicon caulk and, with Sarah's help, set the the french door in its home. After shimming it in place, screwing it the frame at the hinges, and checking for level after every screw, I sprayed polyurethane spray foam to fill in all the gaps and increase the thermal insulation.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Felt and Ric Rac Together Again

I love seasonal table settings...however, this is the first Christmas we've had a formal dining room, so our table linens are a little lacking in Christmas spirit. I had a set of Christmas napkins given to me by my mother-in-law, but no napkin rings to match. So I thought a bit, and came up with these felt and ric rac napkin rings.

I cut out 8 rectangular strips of red felt and 8 lengths of white ric rac. Two straight stitches each, one to sew on the ric rac and another to close up the ring, and I was finished!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gift Card Holder

Inevitably, someone on my christmas list ends up getting a gift card. Gift cards are great, especially for those hard-to-shop-for family and friends, but aren't very personal. A handmade gift card holder, in place of a plain envelope, is a great way to make the gift a little more thoughtful.

It only took a few minutes to make this gift card holder, using felt and ric rac leftover from another project. I cut the felt to size around the gift card, added ric rac at the top, then sewed around three sides to create a little pocket. I used a small hole punch to make holes near the top, then tied it closed with red ribbon. It makes me think of gingerbread...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Max and Jax Vintage

I won the Max and Jax Vintage giveaway on the Daily Etsian blog! Max and Jax Vintage sells vintage glass, pottery, books, and ephemera. I chose this little bird dish...

Images from Max and Jax Vintage