Overhaulin’

My current project is overhauling this blog. I’ve neglected it for so long because I felt that is was a selfish thing. I only started it as a way to document my crafting endeavors, to try to connect with like-minded crafters, and to have a spot to write since I’m now a stay-at-home mom and no longer working as a graphic designer & writer. But, just as my crafts are a hobby, so has been this blog. When life gets overwhelming and our schedule gets hectic, my crafting — and, subsequently, this blog — falls by the wayside. 
For the past three months, I’ve been recovering from having ankle surgery to repair a torn tendon and several ligaments. I could not walk or drive for months, so I have spent a lot of time on my laptop, cleaning up my computer files, researching organizational and home management systems/schedules, pinning on Pinterest, and reading blogs. There are some wonderfully creative, interesting and informative blogs out there. This has inspired me to think about my blog again and to work on overhauling it to be what I want it to be. Step One: Get started! So, here’s the start…with more to come. 

{Tutorial} Turning Pumpkins into Animals (& Gifts!)

My little one loves little pumpkins – the smaller, the better. So, we usually end up with a large collection of mini pumpkins at our house! : )

What to do with them besides sitting them in a bowl on the table? We have found they make wonderful teachers’ gifts. Here’s a craft Doodle-Leigh and I did together last year. And I’m sure we’ll be doing it again next week, though we’ll change our design up a little since she has the same classroom teachers in preschool this year!

We turned our pumpkins into cats, in honor of our two black cats (whose birthdays are Halloween week)!

First we added stick-on googley eyes from the craft store. For the nose, we glued on a triangle cut out of thin, black craft foam. Then we stuck black chenille sticks into the pumpkin for the whiskers. Next came the ears…

We decorated the ears two different ways:

  • The first was to let Doodle-Leigh color on white cardstock with orange and black crayons. She came up with a wonderful abstract design! We then cut triangles out of the cardstock.
  • I took a black permanent marker and drew scrolls randomly on thin, orange craft foam. We also cut triangles out of the orange foam. [You could always use some pretty scrapbooking papers instead.]

We layered those triangles on top of slightly larger triangles that we cut out of thin, black craft foam and more cardstock. After those dried, we glued the layered ears onto the tops of the pumpkins. We used heavy white craft glue (which you can see in the pictures that we took before the glue dried clear.) We curved the bottom edge of our triangles to fit the pumpkins better. Violà!

Doodle’s teachers really liked them and we even received a different animal-themed pumpkin the next week that she had created in class…a pumpkin spider.

Falling Behind & Catching Up

Pocket watch, savonette-type.Image via Wikipedia

So, it seems since fall has officially arrived, I have fallen so far behind — in everything! Looking back over my journal, I realized this happens to me during this time every year. I guess switching gears from laid-back summer mode messes with my equilibrium!

There are so many events happening during September and October. Add in the fact that I tend to over commit for all the groups and activities, and it makes for a crammed-to-the-hilt calendar. Now that my daughter is in preschool, it’s even worse! I’m definitely in a calendar overload crisis. As I’m sitting here looking at said calendar, I know that it won’t really get better until January, even if I make a concerted effort to curtail the activities and commitments. Doodle-Leigh’s & Mr. Project’s birthdays are both in November, plus my parents come to town for all the birthday celebrations, followed in close succession by Thanksgiving, and then the onslaught of December’s festivities. Eek, I may just have an anxiety attack just thinking of it all!!!! {Taking a few deep breaths and saying Ohm…}

So, I’m making every effort to get caught back up, which includes updating my blog. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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I WON!

I just received an email this morning with the list of winners from the photography contest I entered. I won second place for “A Bountiful Harvest” (a view of our church through a neighboring corn field) and third place for “A Sign of Faith” (the lion – one of the four different weathervanes on our church).

“A Bountiful Harvest” received a second place ribbon.
“A Sign of Faith” received a third place ribbon.

We had 25 photographers who submitted 57 photos to the contest. The photos were blind-judged by five professional photographers who have no ties to our church. I’m really pleased that both of my photos received recognition!

I think it is extra exciting since I didn’t even take those photos for the exhibit. They just happened to be some shots that I took while I was out on an adventure while my daughter was out-of-town visiting my parents. As I was going through the photo folders on my computer, I spotted them and thought they turned out well and I then decided to enter them in the contest.

While I had some hope of maybe placing in the art exhibit, I didn’t expect the photos to place at all. What a nice surprise.

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Project: PIONEER UP!

Step One? Dress the part.

Since our church is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, a number of activities have been planned. Two were the art exhibit and photography contest that I wrote about the other day. Another was a pioneer-themed vacation bible school had a couple of weeks ago. That was a BIG hit! My three-yr-old loved it! The battle cry for each morning was “Are you ready to pioneer up?” All the kids would scream back, “YES!”

Our pastors as the Cartwrights

It’s especially fitting since our church is a timber frame Amish-built barn…

So, the next celebratory event is the upcoming “Pioneer Day”, featuring a barbeque on the grounds and lots of pioneer-related crafts and activities. Our church offers this as a field trip to local schoolchildren. It’s a big hit each year and now the members get to experience it. The members have been asked to dress the part.

That is what prompted my most recent project: BONNETS!

Bonnet # 1 nearly complete!

This is the first sewing pattern that I’ve tackled by myself. Usually, my mom is my on-site supervisor whenever I break out the sewing machine. But, that’s a bit inconvenient since we live a thousand miles apart! So, I’ve been challenging myself to sew unsupervised, except my cat doesn’t have as much faith and insists on inspecting my progress!

Bergen, my crafting kitty
  

The bonnet has turned out well for my first completely independent sewing project. Now, it’s on to bonnet number two for my daughter…

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Project: Update

I’ve had a few people ask about the pattern I used for the crochet bowl I posted the other day, so here’s some info. It was a freebie pattern that I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts store. It is by Premier Yarns Premier Yarns and can be found on their website at http://www.premieryarns.com/patterns/124.pdf.

 

On another note, I attended the 200th anniversary art exhibit at my church Sunday. It was great, full of beautiful artwork. As I had guessed, I didn’t even manage to get an honorable mention. One went to a lovely quilt wall hanging commemorating the annual Blessing of the Animals our church has during the last outdoor service of the summer. All other awards went to paintings. Not surprising really considering the quality of the work! My good friend Debby won third prize for a stunning oil painting of out church in early spring. The show was too crowded Sunday to take any pictures, but I hope to stop by there this week and take a few shots to share. Regardless, I’m happy with my collage pieces and am glad I marshaled my courage and took the chance to enter them. Here’s to tackling more challenges in the future!

Project: Art Exhibit

Whew! I’m worn out from trying to get several projects done this week, especially two collage pieces for an art exhibit. Our church is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year and is hosting a photography contest and an art exhibit, both meant to have ties to the church in some way. I entered two photos and three art pieces (one is a cross-stitch sampler that was completed years ago).

My photo entries:

 

I decided not to enter a painting in the art exhibit since a number of highly talented and professional artists would be entering paintings. So, it took a while to decide what I wanted to do. Our pastors began the year’s worth of celebration with a series of sermons about the signs around our church and what they mean, including the four weathervanes on the property. One that stood out to me was about the rooster weathervane and how all over the U.S. and Europe the rooster represents Peter’s repentence and is a symbol of conscience in Christianity for churches. I decided to create a mixed media collage featuring our rooster weathervane and the elements of the sermon about Peter. Here’s what I came up with…

The other piece that I entered is an altered Bible that I created to commemorate my daughter’s christening at our church and to house the keepsake cross she was given on that day. Here’s how it turned out.
Top: Front cover; Middle: inside front cover; and
Bottom: inside section (though cross is missing from cut-out compartment in this photo).

So, what do you think? The exhibit was judged this week and awards will be presented at a reception this Sunday after church. There will be first – third place and five honorable mentions. I’ll be honest. I’m hoping just for an honorable mention, especially after seeing all the beautiful paintings that were being dropped off earlier this week on delivery day! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Project: Crochet Bowl

Okay, so I’ve had so many projects lately that I haven’t even had time to blog about any of them. So, it’s time to be a tougher task master to myself! Get it done, my inner voices yells. Not later, NOW! Okay, stop nagging, I think in reply, I’m doing it. 🙂

My current crochet project is a lovely bowl from a freebie pattern I picked up at JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores in Texas when I was visiting earlier this summer. I made one and it turned out to be great fun and a bit of a challenge for me as novice crocheter — a mere one step up from beginner! It’s the first project that I’ve done using front and back post stitches. I really like them; I just have to pay extra attention to keep the pattern correct, especially when my pre-schooler is around “supervising”!

I gave the first one to my mother-in-law (who I think is still perplexed about what to put in it).  I decided to make a second one for myself. Turns out that my cat loves it, but he’s a bit too big. I kicked him out and now I have it sitting on my kitchen counter filled to the brim with Buckeyes. Maybe I’ll have to make a larger version as a cat bed? Hmmm, on to the next project, I suppose.