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Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

We have a few neighbors and friends that like to garden. One of them brought us some fresh onions the other day.

fresh onions

fresh onions

They were beautiful. A beautiful gift.

What treat are you enjoying from your garden or local farmer’s market?

Sincerely, Emily

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It seems that my list of bookmarks on my computer just keeps getting longer and longer, and I just keep adding to it. The bookmarked things ranges for herb websites to blogs of all sorts, recipes and crafty things I would like to try. (ya, I have heard of pinterest, and I should probably use it more, but it seems I get lost in time when ever I log in there)

Every time I bookmark something it ends up at the bottom, and the bottom seems to be pages and pages down there, so I started working on organizing the bookmarks and as I did that I came across things I had forgotten about (what a concept!)… so I decided to try to either do something, like a craft, each week or try a recipe or read a certain blog I bookmarked but never got back to.

I have a lot going on right now, so I picked a few simple things that wouldn’t take up too much time. I started with a bookmark. I figured it would be perfect for my niece that had a birthday this week. This was a super frugal gift, because I used some of those left-over scraps of paper that I save. I found the original on The Girl Creative.Book marks 1I tweaked the pattern for me and simplified it. The original bookmarks are cute, but my niece is 11, and I wanted something a bit more tailored for her.Book marks 3I picked out some designer card stock/scrap-booking papers that I thought that she would like (blues and greens) and made a few. Another niece likes hot pink and animal prints, so I made a few for her at the same time.Book marks 5This was a quick and easy project for me to do and it felt good actually getting around to one of those things I had bookmarked off the internet.

Do you have a long list of bookmarked things? How do you organize them?

Do you ever have things you want to try? Do you ever get around to them?

Sincerely, Emily

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Two of my nieces have sinks in their bedrooms. They share a full bathroom with sinks, toilet and tub/shower combination, but they also have their own sink in each of their bedrooms.Curtains for my niece 007

One of them asked me to help her figure out what to do about curtains for the window in her bedroom. I told her that I could make some simple curtains. There was a curtain rod already in place so we talked about how to hang them. I talked about making curtains with tabs and her response was “why can’t you just make a pocket and slide the curtain rod through it?” Music to my ears. The simplest way, an easy pocket to put the curtain rod through. I can do that. I was thrilled, then off she ran into the other room and came back with some brushed bronze colored shower curtain hooks and asked if I could use those. Sure. No more pocket, but a simple hem, add some button holes to slip the shower curtain rods through (as I crossed my fingers in hopes that the button hole stuff still worked on my old dinosaur of a machine (love my old machine!)

Curtains for my niece 004

She thought is was a bit odd to have a sink in her bedroom so I asked her if she was interested in having a curtain hanging there also. That way she could tie it back or just open it when she wanted to use the sink and close it other times. She thought about that for a bit and decided it was a great idea. So, we talked about how to hang that curtain and the easiest solution was curtain(s) with a pocket and a tension rod.

There is also a bulletin board that runs the length of one wall, so we planned to find some fabric to color that.

She has always liked aqua, but when we talked about colors I learned that she now likes blue and green combinations and that led to a conversation about the wall color (they were going to paint the room.) There was a fabric store nearby, so we printed out a coupon (gotta love that 40% off coupon!) and headed out the door.

Curtains for my niece 005

We walked through the fabric area so I could get a feel for where the different types of fabrics where, then we started looking at specific sections and colors. My niece quickly picked out a blue fabric for the curtains on her window, so I tried to guide her to fabrics that would go well with that fabric. She ended up really liking a batik in a rainbow of colors. There was enough on one bolt to cover the bulletin board and we had to find another bolt of a slightly different color for the sink curtains. There wasn’t enough on that bolt for the sink curtains so we went and picked out a coordinating color (green) to use as a filler to get the length needed to hang in front of the sink. I really wanted to do the pocket plus a few inches of the green fabric at the top and have the rest of the green balance the curtain down at the bottom, but she really wanted all the green at the top. Her room, her choice and she loves how it turned out.

Right after our fabric shopping spree, I headed up to the lake for a few days. I decided to wash all the fabric while I was there (there is a dryer there!) so when I got home to Texas I could just start right in on the sewing part of it all.

I have mentioned in other posts that I am not a seamstress, but I can sew some pretty good straight lines. These curtains where right up my alley.  In the past, there has been one problem that I always run into when sewing seems that have many layers, and that is the bit bump that they create where your presser foot has a hard time getting over the top of the bump and my needle can get off course as I sew down the other side and the thread can bunch up.  Well, I learned a trick….. and I will share it with you! I use a point turner! In the photo you can see it has a two little cut out areas. From behind,  the side, or the front, you can slide it around your needle and help bridge the height different where the multi-layer seam is raised up much higher than the other part of the seem you are sewing.

It works like a dream, maintains consistence for the presser foot and keeps the thread consistent too.

The curtains where mailed off this past September, and my niece loves them. I am glad that I could be a part of the process and share this with her.

Sincerely, Emily

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Last fall when my niece was visiting us, we spent some time making cards (and doing many other things too.) At the end of our visit there was a lot of paper scraps and supplies spread all over my work table upstairs. My niece picked up a few smaller pieces of paper and asked about making some little cards with the left over scraps. What a great idea!

The tiny Valentine cards I sent to my two nieces were born from that idea. Using up the left over scraps.

paper scraps

I never throw my scraps away. They tend to come in handy at some point in my card making, and here I was digging through the plain paper scraps and designer paper scraps to make tiny cards. Now they have come in handy again.

For these tiny cards I used a heart-shaped punch and simply punches out the heart shape from the designer paper. I chose papers I thought each niece would like and tailored it to them with the colors. They can use these cards anytime of year to write a little note to a friend and it will be something special. YOu can even punch a hole and add a ribbon to turn it into a gift tag. The next time I do this I will cut the cards to size and punch out the design and also add a stamped element and let them each assemble their own like I did for my niece in this post.

Tiny Cards

Whether you use scraps of designer paper, old maps, scraps of fabric or even cards that you have received in the mail, this is one way to create another neat little card. A perfect way to reuse and recycle. I know I will be making more of these and including them in different gifts that I send to them.

Do you save scraps of paper or fabric with the hopes to use it later? Do you ever get around to using it?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

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Grams yarn hangersI am taking a chance and posting this before Christmas, hoping that my nieces are not reading! This is all about Gram’s hangers. Now, I know my Gram wasn’t the only person out there making these, but she was the only person out there making them for me when I was younger… hence, Gram’s hangars.

When I got a bit older (I’m guessing 10 or 12 years old), she taught me how to make them. I searched all of our closets looking for one of Grams hanger. Do you think I found one? NO!  I just wanted to look at it and work out how I was going to make them. Do you think I remembered how to do them?  Yes, and no! I worked it out rather quickly, but I knew mine are a bit different. In fact, when I took the hangars I finished to MN this past fall to wrap them up and stash them away for my nieces, my mom came in to see what I was doing and then started pulling hanger after hanger out of her closest. All Gram’s hangars! She has all of them! I couldn’t help but laugh.

Started at the base of the hookWhat I love about using these hangars is that my clothes don’t slip off the hangar (and I made them by recycling old wire hangars and gave them a new purpose in life)

You start with two metal dry cleaner hangers that are of equal shape and size.  Tape them together in a few spots so you are fighting to keep the hangars together as you are working your yarn around them. You need two balls of yarn. They can be the same color or different colors, that is completely up to you, but the yarn does need to be in balls (not skeins). I could not remember how much yarn it took to make a hanger, so I bought two skeins of blue (for one niece) and two skeins of pink( for the other niece) and started wrapping them into balls. Make your yarn balls a manageable size so you can handle it easily enough and not be fighting with it to get it through the triangle form of the hanger at each pass. I made two hangers for each niece and have TONS of yarn left over. I could probably make them two more hangers each year for several years and still not run out (and hope they still like the colors I have!)

Make a loop

Make a loop

I started at the bottom of the neck where the hanger branches out and the worked my way around the hanger ending up back at the neck and then worked my way up to the top of the hook and back down to the neck. I know working my yarn over the hook and back gave it a bit of extra bulk, but I didn’t want to end at the top of the hook and have loos ends and knots up there where it gets most of its wear as it is put on your clothes rod and taken off over and over.

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

Tie both balls of yarn onto the bottom of the neck of the hangers leaving about a 6″ tail to work with later.  You want to keep one ball of yarn on one side of you and the other ball of yarn on the other side of you. I hold the hangar between my legs so that my hands are free to work with the yarn balls. I will mention that the chair that I sit on in our living room is an old swan neck rocker. It has open arm rests which isn’t the best situation because there isn’t much room on either side of my body to rest the yarn balls without them falling through the arms rest, off the chair, and unrolling out on the floor.

Pull tight

Pull tight

To make a “stitch” make a loop with your yarn and then pass your ball of yarn over the hangar and through the loop. Now pull it tight. The tighter you pull the more loops you will need to make to cover your hangar. The loosen your “stitches” the lass yarn. I made mine rather tight. From time to time you can also push your “stitches” so they are tighter together also. There are no rules here, do what ever you are comfortable with.

You can do one “stitch” with each color yarn or more. I did one hangar with single “stitches” and the other with two “stitches” with each ball of yarn before working the other side.

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

I finished by knotting my ends together and leaving about a 6″ tail on each end. I added pom poms that I made out of the same yarn and used the tail ends to attach them to the hangers.

Crossing my fingers that my nieces will love them.

Have you ever made yarn hangers?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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When I was in my 20s, I managed a nonprofit art gallery.

Aside from just being a really amazing job, one of the perks was that galleries are on really great P.R. lists, meaning we would get the most beautiful posters in the mail.

Some of them ended up on the walls, but far more of them received a more, shall we say, ephemeral and, ahem creative, use.

Wrapping paper.

Sounds a bit horrifying, I know. Full color, quality paper, beautifully designed museum and gallery posters, torn to shreds on Christmas morning. But we would get dozens of these things a month. It was always a good day when I got to the mail first, because I learned this trick from the gallery director, and we would try to beat each other to the best ones. Granted, some of them we kept– I framed a gorgeous Agnes Martin “poster”; it’s actually a full color offset lith on rice paper. I gave others to friends.

But most of them ended up under the Christmas tree. To give you some perspective, I worked there from 1981 to 1986. I still have several posters from this period, rolled up and waiting to be used.

The point, of course, is that most of these, even the very beautiful ones, were bound to end up in the trash. The thing with “creative re-use” is that you can’t be afraid to creatively reuse things, just because they seem so, well, useful.

What do you “creatively re-use” for the holidays?

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I really enjoy giving handmade gifts (like the fabric napkins that I posted about last December.) Those gifts are usually made by me. One of my nieces has a birthday at the end of November. In fact it was just a few days ago so I had to wait until it was passed before I posted about her gift this year.

Since she was very very young I have always made her pillowcases. A pillow case for each season plus summer, winter, fall, spring themed ones as well. I can still look into my magic ball and see more pillowcases in her future, but wanted to come up with something different for this birthday.

As I was snooping around a thrift store a few weeks ago, I saw a small jewelry box. It was pretty plain (sorry, I completely forgot the “before” photo) but it had potential. I knew I could give it a facelift, but it also appealed the the frugal and thrifty side of me as well.

My original plan was to paint the entire jewelry box white and then “white-wash” it with a metallic silver to give it some pizazz and sparkle. I started with the white. I found a can of white spray paint in our garage and decided to use it to make quick work of covering the whole box. It needed two coats and even then the spray paint wasn’t covering the wood very well.

not covering the wood very well at all

I decided to get out my acrylic paints and go for better coverage with those. That worked a lot better, but the spray paint left a glossy finish and the acrylic paints left a mat finish, so I knew then I would need to apply a clear glossy top coat in the end.

Once the paint was on it was time for the silver metallic “white-wash.” I started wiping the silver on and instantly was not happy with the look at all! It was not looking all shiny and sparkly like it was in my vision. As I wipe it off for the full “white-wash” effect, it even looked worse. Again, sorry, no photo because at this point I knew I wanted to get as much of the paint off as I could and needed to work quickly.

So I just took one huge step backwards and needed to paint those surfaces white again and come up with another plan. By the way, this was Tuesday and I intended to mail the box on Wednesday. Nope, that didn’t happen! Not with another coat of white paint, plus dry time, plus what ever design I was going to paint, plus dry time, clear coat, dry time – you get the picture. I knew if I wrapped it up in one of my fabric gift bags before it was completely dry that the bag would be stuck to the box when my niece went to open it – not good.

The jewelry box did have a cut design into the wood so I felt I was a bit limited and so I decided to follow that pattern with dots. Dots are super super easy to do, if you know the trick. Use the end of your paint brush – the end without the bristles. Dip it in your paint and then touch it the surface you want the dot on. The size of the end of your brush will determine the size of your dot. Be sure to do a few test dots before you do this on your actual project and depending on the medium you are using you may get 1-2 dots before you need to reload the end of your brush, or you may only get 1 dot. The silver metallic paint I was using was pretty thin, and I wanted a substantial dots with a sparkly impact, so I needed to dip the end of my brush in the paint for each dot.

I did get the front and top of the box done and was going to move onto the sides, but time was not on my side.

I hope that my niece will like her new jewelry box.

Have you ever given something old a much needed facelift?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

 

 

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