Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year in Review

Made in 2008
1. Close Up of Letters, 2. Garth Williams Pillow, 3. Dreaming of Paris, 4. Water Color Girl, 5. Paris Swap Bag, 6. Curbside Cabinet After: Little Pink Kitchen, 7. Apron, 8. Simple Sewing Hat 3, 9. Lad, 10. Baby Sweater

I branched away from the knotted bag this year and tried some new things. These are just a few of my favorites. I am glad I have a flickr set of Made in _____ for each year. It reminds me of just how productive I have been.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Black Apple Doll for A Big Apple Baby

Big Apple Baby

Today I am going to a baby shower for Cliff's best friend's wife. Cha Cha is a successful couture milliner. (I can not wait to see the toppers this kid will wear!)

Kevin writes about his adventures in NYC and dreams of one day opening a Jazz club.
No ordinary shower gift would do for this eclectic couple.

I picked out this onesie with the new daddy in mind.
Then Cliff saw this one.Turns out Bukowski is Kevin's favorite poet. The quote says, "Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink." Makes me think "college dorm neighbors" more than "baby girl." But, apparently, that's my issue. We did order it in pink to feminize it a bit.

The shower is at a country club. I can only imagine the grandmother's reaction..."Pee in the sink?" Ug. So, I threw in a cute pair of Baby Legs and made a Black Apple rag doll to soften the overall gift. The doll is quite easy to make if you remember not to over stuff the legs and arms.

Black Apple Doll For A Big Apple Baby

The funny thing is that we had the shirt sent straight to my in-laws since the shower is here. My mother in-law opened the package and was quite perplexed. I wish I had been there to see her face. Bukowski as baby wear is lost on her too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Now Stash Away! Stash Away! Stash Away All?

Well, not quite all. OK, not even close! You would hardly even see the dent I made in my "stash," but I did manage to do almost all my Christmas gift giving crafts with just my stash.

I bought the cute houses fabric for my aunt's apron.
Houses Apron
I bought the rice, flax seed and essential oil for the many Heat Therapy Kits.
Heat/Cold Therapy Set
My mom gave me ink-jet fabric as an early present.
Shower Invite Ornament
Everything else came entirely from my stash!
Handmade Christmas

Saturday, December 20, 2008

For My Brother & Sister-In-Law On Their Wedding Day

Grandma Liebi's marriage book
Graphic from our grandparent's wedding guest book.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Easy Spend'n Lemon Scented

Heat/Cold Therapy SetStack of Rice Heat Therapy Bags

This summer I found a copy of the book Home Spa Recipes and Techniques to Restore and Refresh at the thrift. I snatched it up with the intention of making all kinds of spa gifts. However, after reading the recipes, I found that they just weren't practical with our pesky shipping issues.

My sister in law is a huge home spa girl and I decided to gift the book to her along with a Rice Heat Therapy Bag and a Cooling Eye Pillow. I found this tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew!

This is a most satisfying craft!

I bought ten pounds of rice at Smart and Final for just under $10 and some lemon grass essential oil at Whole Foods for about $5. Then using my stash I made 6 heat therapy bags! A little over $2 of bulk flax seed produced 4 soothing eye pillows. And, the tutorial includes a pdf with beautiful tags!

I did modify the tutorial a bit...

- I didn't bother with the measurements. I made all my bags by tracing a piece of legal sized notepaper.

-Lemon grass is one of my favorite scents. It's fresh and light...only if used sparingly! About 6-10 drops of the oil scented all ten pounds of rice!

-I found that making channels for the rice made the pillows easier to sew and more even too. The best formula I found was to divide the pillow into three equal channels.

-I didn't use velcro for a closure. Instead I made an additional overlapping flap on the back .
Rice Heat Therapy Bag & Cooling Eye Pillow

Cliff liked them so much I made one for him.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Una Crafty Chica En Su Cama

Gift Card Book

One night, not too long ago, I saw this video tutorial on Diary of a Crafty Chica. It's a gift card book!

I was supposed to be resting.
Inside of Gift Card book

But, I had some paper, cardboard and old Christmas cards just calling my name.
Inside pocket for gift card book
So I turned my bed into a workshop and got busy. Multi-tasking I'll call it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Minute Inspiration

I am preparing to leave for NJ on Wednesday. By this time next week my brother will be a married man! So exciting!

What do you do with wedding and shower invitations? They are too beautiful and sentimental to throw away. I usually put them in a photo album with pictures from the event.

Thanks to my new love, ink jet fabric, I came up with a last minute project.
Shower Invite OrnamentWedding Invite Ornament

The colors on both invites are very pale. The wedding invite has silver ink- hard to photograph. They are not so washed out in person. These will be a small housewarming gift for when we visit!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crafty Playdate- Part Two

Bend the Rules CoastersBend the Rules Zipper Pouch

I did't bake cookies this year. I didn't participate in many church activities. I didn't hit the mall. But, watching/helping my friend craft her holiday gifts made my spirits bright!

To top it off, right in the middle of our crafty fun, the mail lady called up with news of a package.

Cookies from Jodi! Christmas cheer indeed!

Aren't these coasters fun? Both patterns are from Bend the Rules Sewing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tale of Two Trees

Dollar Store Trees Meet Bleach

Two minutes into bleaching

Five minutes into bleaching

Bleached Bottle Trees have been on my to do list since Sara started this flickr pool.
These trees came in a two pack from the 99Cent Only Store. I used about a cup of bleach and some water to dilute it. Not very scientific really. It felt like a magic trick. I love the end results and the slight variations. The Crayons would love this! Maybe to decorate for parent gifts next year?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Flat Christmas

Recently I posted that little email meme with a question about "decorating theme" for Christmas. As I think more about it, the theme for this year has been "A Very Flat Christmas."

Our first guest of the season was Flat Stanley. He was quickly joined by Flat Abby.
Flat Stanley 060

My parents came for a combined Thanksgiving/early Christmas celebration and my mom agreed to transport any packages for the Florida family- so long as they were flat. And, she herself requested a flat present.

It's a good thing we celebrated early as I have since spent a lot of time flat on my back. Not entirely really. I am getting better every day and feel so much better than I had imagined. But, it sort of goes with the theme.

Here's what I came up with for my Florida family. Unfortunately, not one but two scheduled get togethers had to be canceled. Upon returning home from caring for me, my mom became very ill. She has a really bad ear infection. Since she is deaf in the other ear, this really scares her. She may even have to drive from Florida to New Jersey for my brother's wedding next week. Today she goes to the doctor and I just pray that her ear is healed so she can fly!

Akk! That's not fun! Anyway, back to my Flat Christmas post. Melinda, you can either look away or receive your gift "virtually" right now. By the time everyone gets together to exchange gifts it will be a surprise all over again.

So, for the men- restaurant gift certificates from I just picked restaurants close to their homes. I hope it works out well because this place has *great* deals.

The kids all got I Spy mini quilts that fold into pillows. Of the four, this is the only one I got photographed.

I swore up and down that this year I was going to use what was in my stash! Then I saw this super cute houses fabric at Joannes. My aunt is a real estate agent who hosts her big family and extended friends. Surely, she could use another apron. I used the pattern in Simple Gifts to Stitch but modified the neck to button rather than tie.
Houses Apron
Be sure to click on the picture to see it larger. The house pattern reminds me a bit of A Black Apple House. So many artists have fabric lines. I keep waiting for some fabric label to pick up Emily's work, but for now this will have to do.

One of my cousins has four children under six. That's a lot of birthday entertaining. So I reasoned that a handy birthday bunting in gender neutral colors might be handy.
Flat Stanley 146
Colorful, festive and flat, but impossible to photograph in our apartment.

I wanted to do something different for my other cousin because twins get a lot of duplicate gifts.
At this point, my mom was already in LA and I also knew about my surgery. I was forced to think and sew quick and use just what I had on hand. I turned to flickr and wasn't disappointed.

Flat Stanley 147

These gifts were easily packed. Now, I hope my mom recovers in no time flat!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crafty Playdate!

My friend Josie is a go to gal for just about anything. Shopping, protest marches, parties or church, Josie is game. Another great thing about Josie is that she is a former teacher she gets my lifestyle and she gets where I am financially. She is on the same wave length there. In fact, right now Josie is between careers, so she really "gets it."

I love having my vacation time in November and December, but most of my pals are at work. So when Josie called the other day to invite me to go shopping, I was pretty disappointed that I wasn't up for it.

"No problem" she said, "I also want to make some gifts- like crafty. Would you want to do that?"

Yeah! A crafty playdate!

Several times she asked if she needed to bring anything. Did I have any supplies?

Imagine Josie's surprise when I sat her down with a pile of craft books and told her she could basically choose any project. When I showed her "the stash" she became a believer.
Chafty Playdate
The day included Christmas music, grilled cheese, good conversation and craftiness!
Crafty Playdate After
At the end of the day she had a beautiful apron for her grandmother! Doesn't get much better than that!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Meme

Since I am not up to much else, I thought I would play along with this email my cousin sent here on the blog.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Love wrapping paper, but since I travel with gifts and the airline security will unwrap anything wrapped, it's gift bags for me. Last year I made a bunch out of my sister in law's bridesmaids dresses.
Green gift bags

2. Real tree or Artificial? I love and appreciate both. My in laws have real and I enjoy that every other year. My mom has two fake trees and I enjoy that too. I have this dollar store tree.
white tree
3. When do you put up the tree? Day after Thanksgiving or thereabouts.
4. When do you take the tree down?
When I am at my parents every other year, I help my mom take down her trees before I leave town. Usually right before the new year. It's a depressing job to do by yourself.

5. Do you like eggnog? Oh Yes!

6.Favorite gift received as a child?
My parents, my grandparents, aunts, even my great aunts and uncle made me gifts. I have saved only a handful of childhood things, but they are the homemade ones. My dad made me a toy stove in 1974 which I played with for a very long time.
Christmas Kitchen

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Most people are equally hard because their packages need to be mailed or carried on the plane. I can only vaguely remember what it was like to shop without size or weight restraints. At Tuesday Morning I saw a terrific Mickey Mouse bowl. The bowl itself was just his pants and feet. It was so cute, and oh so affordable, but very big. I know a certain Mickey Fan Club family that would have enjoyed such a bowl. But mailing it, no thanks!

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Myself. Darned sales are so tempting! My mom is easy too because she tells me what she wants.

9. Do you have a
nativity scene? Several. Tis the reason for the season!

10. Mail or
email Christmas cards? Mail -postcards lately.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? When I was a kid my mom would only let us open one present on Christmas eve. More than likely the only thing under the tree was something from our Great Aunt Rosie. It was usually something like a plastic canvas pen holder that she had made. I sort of worry that my little cousins will one day think the same thing of my handmade gifts.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Don't have a favorite. So many are good. Just saw Four Christmases and really, really enjoyed it. It was my treat for staying in bed all week, which may or may not have added to it's enjoyment. I was afraid that all the best parts were in the ads, but it had me laughing. Ouch!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I shop and craft all year long.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, especially when I taught at Wealthy Public School. I practically counted on re-gifting those extravagant teacher gifts. Nobody ever looked a re-gifted Yankee Candle in the mouth!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Candy Cane Joe-Joe's and Dryers (Eddies) Peppermint ice cream.

16. Lights on the tree? white

17. Favorite Christmas song? Bruce Springsteen singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town puts me in a festive mood as does The Little Drummer Boy.

Jersey, that was special for you!
18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Travel home. We alternate years between our NY and Florida parents.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? probably

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Probably a bow.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? No dispute there, Christmas morning at both parents.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Not enough time to enjoy all the activities possible.

23. What theme or color are you using? This year the theme was minimal. Whatever I could get out the day I learned I was going to have surgery. The color is always red.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? I have already gotten all that I could want for Christmas. My parents spoiled us early over Thanksgiving. My surgery went well and I am on vacation. I'm pretty content.

25. Who is most likely to respond to this? ?

26. What is on your stocking? It's knitted with my name and a fuzzy bearded Santa.
27. How old is your stocking?
It's vintage 1970's

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Plan....B....C...Heck! Plan Q!

You know what they say about "plans."

Well, lots of people have lots of things to say about plans and none of it goes like this..."Plan to craft all vacation and get that time uninterrupted."

So, in a nutshell:

Two weeks ago today my parents arrived from Florida for an early Thanksgiving. While on the ride home from the airport I received a call from my beloved Dr. Chung* with the news that I had large and possibly dangerous uterine fibroids that "really should come out."

I called the lovely Dr. Dwight* (truly an angel among men) and he informed me that an "ab myomectomy" would require 3-6 weeks recovery.

Miss vacation or miss school? What about traveling to my brother's wedding in NJ on Dec. 20th? I *really* did not want to miss school. So I prayed that I could have the surgery while on break. At the same time, I needed to be recovered in time for my brother's wedding.

There was so much to think about. In the meantime, we enjoyed our time together.
Copy (2) of Copy of Flat Stanley 051

Flat Stanley at Paramount on the set of Dirty, Sexy, Money.

We enjoyed an early Thanksgiving with about 50% of the trimmings. My mom helped me get a lot of errands done-just in case they could schedule the surgery.

Flat Stanley 098

"Flat Abby" also came to visit that weekend. It was a full house.

I prepared as though it was a possibility, but really doubted that could get organized so quickly the week of Thanksgiving.

I mentally prepared for missing school in January. My mother flew home.

By some miracle of medical scheduling, Monday morning I received word that the surgery would be in two days. I quickly decorated for Christmas and cooked up some meals to freeze.

I was in surgery at Good Samaritan one week later. It happened so quick that I was only able to Google about 100 horror stories and join one Yahoo group.

It went textbook well. Much better than any nightmare I might have had. They removed three golf ball sized fibroids. It freaks me out that there was anything resembling sports equipment undetected inside of me!

Now, I have been home for a week. My mom is back to police my activity. Basically, I am bed bound. Yesterday, I did ride along to return some videos and the city never looked so beautiful!

Today, I have another field trip- to the doctors and if I am good, maybe Denny's.

I am feeling less sore and walking a bit better each day. Really and truly, the body's ability to heal is nothing short of miraculous.

So, happy belated Thanksgiving! I am so very thankful for my doctors and the excellent, caring staff at Good Samaritan Hospital. I would shout my gratitude from mountain tops if I could get out of bed! In the past few years I have had less than stellar experiences with medical professionals. I have routinely felt like a number among numbers. Now, I have found the best medical team a girl could want and it has changed my life. Spending Thanksgiving in the hospital almost seemed appropriate!

*Truly, if you live in Los Angeles and you are looking for doctors who are medicine for all the right reasons, these two are for you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Me and My Shadow

Flat Stanley is visiting us this week! Today he has been busy helping me wrap up some Christmas sewing.

Flat Stanley is the story of a boy who was flattened when his bulletin board falls on him. He takes advantage of his new thin physique and mails himself to his friend's house. Teachers all over the world have taken hold of this story. Now Flat Stanleys travel the world! There is even a terrific web site which chronicles his travels.

This striking Flat Stanley was sent here by my young cousin Riley. I will show him the town and then send him back to Florida to teach her Kindergarten class all about life in LA.

So far I took him to the dentist and to my substitute job today. Tomorrow my parents come for a visit and then the serious sight seeing will begin.

When my cousin Josh sent me his Flat Stanley over five years ago, I went nuts and made him a whole book. Expect nothing less my dear Riley! I have a Flat Stanley reputation to uphold!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I have written a few times about my love for the Hollywood United Methodist Church. As a new member, I am always surprised and impressed by the ways this church reaches out into the community.

Last week we were each given a teddy to love on, pray with and personalize for someone suffering from AIDS. Then on December 1, (World AIDS Day) we will return the bear to church where it will be distributed to an AIDS patient.

In addition, I was asked to write for this year's Advent Devotional Book. My verse is from Isaiah Verse 40:1-2:

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.

So, comfort has been on my mind lately.

Of course, my faith, family and friends are my real source of comfort... but I do love my woobie!

Naturally, I had to make my little bear a woobie of his own. I made it an I Spy quilt because that's just the mode I have been in lately. I tried to put symbols of good luck and health into it: a clover and ladybug, horse shoes,"apple a day..."

Vacation is so fun!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pets Are Hard or When Good Ideas Go Bad

Sara is hosting a "What the Hell Was I Thinking?!!!" Craft Mishaps thing. When I read about it I thought, "Oh I know what I was thinking!"

I was thinking I could paint!

I happened upon an *easy* watercolor portrait technique when I couldn't get all the supplies for a magazine portrait project. Sometimes limited supplies, time or money is quite good at stretching our creativity! Anyway, boosted by this success, I thought I had hit the jackpot this Christmas for frugal, thoughtful and homemade presents.

This is my cousin's pup, Cloud. This is Cloud after Picnik's "Pencil Sketch" treatment.

Watercolor Pup

And, this is Cloud on Crack.

Clearly, I am not a water colorist. If you click on the picture you can see the "scrubbed" look of the paper. It's just not pretty.

It's not much of a loss though. Just some paper really. There have been many other bigger failures on my craft table. Thankfully, a small apartment makes me toss them pretty quick!

Actually, none of my things come out *just* the way I want. When I look at this doll, I can't believe I never fixed her smile.

A Friend In Kneed

I thought patching my jeans with this pretty little scrap would be so cute. I wore them on our first day in Santa Fe and wouldn't you know that was the only day we took pictures of each other. So yeah, I have ripped jeans in the only picture of the two of us.
Santa Fe Trip 059
I made this Japanese Knot Bag (from this tutorial) and messed the handle up because I was too lazy to do hand stitching. It was supposed to be a favor for my sister-in-law-to-be's shower, but up close, in real life, it's a hot mess. So I never sent it. Ironically, it's one of the only pictures on my flickr account that she has bookmarked.

Bend the Rules Charming Tablecloth Bag

I loved the idea of this bag, but the handle drives me crazy. I have saved this to re-do one day.

My sewing machine cover needs a clip to hold all the bunchy-ness in back. It so rarely is on that it doesn't matter.

These seat covers are as wonky as the day is long! But, they are functional. They do keep Cliff from burning his buns and that's when he can feel the love!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sentimental Journey

On my first day of vacation I did laundry with a fever. Load after load, I was relentless! If it could fit in the machine it got washed. I even made a run for quarters around noon. Truly, I was only limited by the space for drying. Both shower rods and every chair had laundry hanging from it. Here is a picture of my balcony. Thankfully, what was once tacky is now "green."

I had intended to take big bags of clothes to Good Will. So far that hasn't happened. It's hard for me to part with certain articles of clothing.

These shorts are one of the few items of clothing that have seen me through the years. I bought them while working at the Dress Barn during my senior year of high school. I wore them to back yard graduation parties. I wore them on my first day of college. As they faded and wore out, they got softer and more beloved. They became relegated to the gym. Now, it's been many years since I would wear them in public. The elastic gave up a while ago- which makes them even more comfy! Sigh.

Recently, I was reading about Soule Mama's new charitable venture Mama to Mama. She's organizing The Caps to Cap-Haitien Project: A partnership with Konbit Sante. The women in this partnership will receive a safe birthing kit.
These kits - consisting of plastic sheeting, hand sanitizer, a sterile piece of string and razor blade, and these newborn baby caps - have the potential to reduce infant and maternal mortality, and give babies a safer, healthier start. "

In light of budget cuts my health plan just changed. I have spent some time researching my new insurance providers maternity policies. Let's just say, this project has given me a new found gratitude for my HMO.

Is there a better use for my beloved shorts? I think not.

Just to show how ignorant I am about the suffering in this world... I made the first hat with a doggy patch. Boyish I thought. The second hat got my favorite Hello Kitty patch.

Then it occurred to me a bit too late, that these women do not get the gender detecting ultra sounds we take for granted here. Their birthing kits include razors and hand sanitizer for goodness sakes!

No matter how bad we think we have it here... we are so very fortunate. I am so very fortunate to have a days worth of laundry to do. So fortunate, so very, very fortunate.

Note: Seriously, these hats reuse old tees and took 10 minutes each to make! Won't you join in?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Privileged -Me & the Show

Cliff has a new job!

He's been working on the show Privileged for two weeks now! So far he is really enjoying it. He works with an amazing producer and crew. The days are long. He works between 12-14 hours a day. But, before you feel too sorry for him- please know he is eating like a king! It's called "craft service" and it's a full breakfast buffet each day and a catered dinner. Really, the first thing I ask him each day is "What did you eat today?"

As for me? I like the show. It's cute. Teenage drama without the Gossip Girl "issues." Oh yeah, I miss Cliff, but now that I am on vacation, I am loving all the time to sew and blog and cook fun things (not full meals). It's good. In these times of economic uncertainty we both feel privileged.

Unfortunately, the show hasn't been picked up for next season. I bet a People's Choice Award would help. So, let's keep the good times rolling!
Please vote for Privileged! Thanks!

People's Choice Awards
Go to