Friday, July 31, 2009

A Claim of Her Own

"Not a soul in Deadwood doesn't have something in their past they'd like to forget. Shoot, there's not a person alive doesn't have something in their past they'd like to forget."

What if you could leave all your mistakes behind and start completely over? That's what Mattie O'Keefe is searching for in the town of Deadwood where everyone is searching for something. Searching for hope, hoping to strike it rich, and above all hoping to start anew. But the past, as well as the hardscrabble way of the West, has a way of catching up to the hopefuls, and Mattie is no exception.

With all the essential elements of a good western: white hats, black hats, plucky women, good cooking, legends, multicultural wild (yet lovable) characters and even a little gunslinging are perfectly married to the essential elements of Christian fiction: genuine faith and friends, and God's love and grace.

What I appreciated was that our plucky heroine wasn't felled by sap and sentiment. Mattie is a strong and determined character who is gradually softened by those genuine friends and she learns faith by witnessing the grace of God.

This book won't sit long on my shelf, I already have a list of friends waiting to borrow it and I am already searching for more to read from this author.

Interested in reviewing books for Bethany House? Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fun with felt

It's hot today...abnormally hot for our area.

I've been several hot places where high temperatures seem normal (Arizona, Texas, Israel) and when it goes that way here it really causes a stir!

The dog I'm dogsitting is a Samoyed and, though he got a summer haircut, he's still so furry I brought him in during our three hottest days to sit in front of the air conditioner.

All this and yet I feel inspired to make things out of really fuzzy material. We'll blame that lapse in judgement on the heat.

I finished up a play tea set with cookies and tea bags for my friend's little girl. I've seen this kind of thing around and decided I wanted to try it - I mean they are just so cute! I used real cookie cutters to trace the "cookie" part and I freehanded the "frosting." The "sprinkles" are embroidery floss.

For the tea bags I drew my shape on a piece of paper, cut it out, and used that as a pattern. I stuffed them with some polyfill I found in one of my craft drawers and finished them off with two styles of tags to indicate the "kind" of tea. Personally "heart tea" doesn't sound like something I would drink but it's cute for little girls, right?

Missie has a couple of cute tutorials for M&M cookies and tea bags.

I've also seen plenty of needle books floating around on blogs as well as etsy and I wanted to try my hand at that as well.

I made this tag-style cutie using the instructions from Wool Felt Central even though I didn't use wool felt - don't tell them! It was easy and quick - I finished it in an evening - and I love how it looks!

The other needle book I made I based on designs I've seen that makes them more "book like" in that they have "pages." It was way harder than I thought it was going to be but I blame that on my newbie sewing skills.

Even if it's not perfect at least it's still cute.

And let's not forget the snowflake garland I just completed for Christmas in July and the mini-cake I made for the Mad Tea Party.

Felt and sewing...things I just never saw myself doing...especially in this weather!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Christmas in July - the final day!

Merry Christmas in July!

Come in and have a drink...

Eat a treat...

And open yourself a gift - I picked it out especially for you!

I'm thinking about having a colorful Christmas this year - bright colors to warm up the winter blahs.

This whole week has been Christmas in July for me and I've posted lots of ideas - all with economy in mind - from everything from decorating to giftwrap. Feel free to browse through and see if anything tickles your fancy!

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Looking for DIY gift ideas? Check out my tutorials - trust me, if I can do these then so can you!

Cell phone cozy
Flowered headband
Flowered hair clip

Green projects:

Starbucks bottle vase
upcycled yarn holder
moss orbs

Enjoy some of my photos from last winter - brrrr!

Horse hair collected on the fence - it rained one night and froze the next day.

We had unusually warm weather for quite a while and were hit with a cold snap - the poor roses were so confused!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have fun blog hopping!

Before you go have a listen to my favorite Christmas album:

Christmas in July - Day five

Snowflake garland tutorial
You can't go wrong with a project that only costs $1.57!

One sheet of eco-fi at .29
one skein of embroidery floss at .29
and one spool of grosgrain ribbon at .99 (I found a whole section of these at Joann Fabric and Crafts and that's regular, not sale price)
Snowflake cookie cutter


Trace around and cut out your snowflake shapes. I was only working with a partial piece of felt so I got 9 of them using a 3 1/2 inch (aprroximately) cookie cutter.

My next step was to add some extra wintry-ness (I'm just going to make up words now) to them by using some bright blue thread - very polar looking - to stitch around the edge. I tried finding a good whip stitch tutorial for going around the edge of something but couldn't find one! So I'm not sure what kind of stitch you'd call what I used because I kinda just winged it.

This actually had a cool side-effect of making each arm of the snowflake curl up and gives it a nice three-dimensional look. Yeah I totally meant to do that! *cough*

Using a regular old pen, I drew an asterisk shape on the back and used that as a stitch guide to make my center embellishment. Some of them looked better than others...
Like my cute pincushion? I bought it from the Rosy Retro etsy shop.

To make these a garland, I cut a length of grosgrain ribbon 8 inches longer than a yardstick. Why that length? Because 9 snowflakes fit just right on something 36 inches long. The extra 8 inches are to create two, four inch loops on each end for hanging.

Again using the yarstick as a guide, I marked where I would sew on the snowflakes.

Then I came through the back of the ribbon and stitched a loop through the ribbon and felt layers to both secure it, and cover my pen mark.

I'm sure you could use some washable ink but I was making this at someone else's house and I was quite limited on the supplies front!

In no time at all I had them all stitched on!

I think to really finish it off I'll add some fabric to the backs of the snowflakes to hide my stitches. I'm still quite new to hand-sewing and it looks pretty messy.

Strangely I didn't feel any cooler making snowflakes in 89 degree heat. ;)

Check out the HUGE list of gift ideas Missie has posted for today!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Christmas in July - Day four

Missie's theme for day four is food and she's got recipes and labels galore!

I don't know if my age is showing or what but I completely understand the food for Christmas gifts thing. Like back in the day when you might get an orange in your stocking. I would LOVElovelove a really good orange in my stocking. One that's actually tree ripened and not one that ripened in the box on the way to the grocery store. I've only had one such orange in my life and it was divine.

Before I go into total memory space out my two favorite sweet treats to make for Christmas are

Both are recipes I found through the Kraft Food and Family magazine. If you are not subscribed to it - DO IT. It's free! Or you could visit their website. I'm an old-fashioned girl so I like to have something printed in hand to reference. The mint thins are absolutely the easiest "cookie" imaginable and you will love them, trust me.

As for gifts this year I have a list of items I'll be making and giving (yep, I'm a list person). On my list is:

the rose petal jelly (who doesn't want a taste of summer in the middle of winter?) I just made.

chocolate covered hazelnuts - hazelnuts are a thing around where I live and I have baggies full of them just waiting to be dipped in chocolate.

raspberry cordial - never tried anything like this so I hope it turns out!

Yum! I'm wanting some chocolate now and there's absolutely none in my house...unless I raid the chocolate chip stash...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Christmas in July - Day three

Be sure to check out all the FREE Christmas downloadables Missie at Crafting with Cat Hair rounded up just for the Christmas in July party.

Brown paper packages tied up with string...

(Now let's see you get that song out of your head)

So you have the BEST Christmas gift ever all picked out for your friends and family, let's not disappoint by sticking it in wrapping that doesn't match the fantastic and loving nature of the gift!

Even plain brown paper can be made beautiful with patterned ribbons or special embellishments.

My special embellishments are almost always something that is free and simply made to work. Like my painted leaf gift tags:

Or the purely decorative "snowy" nature elements:

Or you can recycle containers into gift boxes by applying scrapbook paper, stamps and ribbon:

And if you've made your gift, don't forget to let people know you thought enough of them to spend your time on them as well as your skills:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Christmas in July - Day two

Missie's theme today is all about the Christmas Tree, baby.

How about this edible gingerbread tree from Martha Stewart. Beautiful and delicious.

I love these paper trees by Split Coast Stampers!

Now for the ornaments. And I think the blog police are going to be after me today - I have an ornament idea (in photo format) that I saved last year before I knew anything about blogging or sharing and I didn't save where it came from in the photo title. Ugh! *kicks self* So if you recognize it, I would be ever so grateful if you'd let me know.

I know many are in love with the Elsie Marley version of this, but I actually stumbled across these little guys first. They were machine embroidered, but I think it's possible to to something similar with felt pieces. At least we shall see! I'm going to try it later this week. :)

Last year I made some woodland snowflakes to decorate the tree at a friend's house - free and fun!

My snowflake garland is coming along - I'm hoping to have it finished soon so I can share it!

And who doesn't want some hot chocolate after all this Christmas talk?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Christmas in July

You have no idea. I used to freak out when I heard that saying because I am a sunshine girl and to imply that we needed Christmas (which in Oregon means cold and wet) during our few dry months sent me over the edge. Mostly it annoyed me when car dealerships and other weird businesses did it. But when a crafter says it I totally understand! I started my Christmas projects in October last year and that was not. enough. time. Seriously.

So far this summer I've already purchased several Christmas gifts on etsy (doing my part to support handmade!) but I should probably get cracking on stuff I'm making. Thanks to Missie, I'm getting it done! This week is the Christmas in July blog party over at Crafting with Cat Hair!

See my project? Like it? What, you can't see it? Squint a bit. A little more. Now close the other eye. Get really close to the monitor.

Okay it's not here. But I'm working on a few and will have them up ASAP. I've been taking care of people's animals while they are all on vacation so I'm spending most of my time running around to different houses and scratching heads and bellies. But I will get my WIPs (works in progress) posted in time for the party. I think.

In the meantime, here are some projects I found over at Folding Trees last year and fell in love with and since they are all made out of paper they are totally affordable!

Origami Christmas Tree

Gift card box

Quilled snowflake

Poinsettia pinwheel

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A jelly by other name would smell as sweet

The beauty and scent of a rose has been the poet's subject for ages, but have you ever tasted one? Candied rose petals, fresh rose petals or perhaps rose petal jelly?

Have you ever had one of those weeks where the same topic crops up enough times that you decide to take it as a sign that it's meant for you? That's what happened to me and rose petal jelly - I don't think I'd ever heard of it before and I kept hearing about it, so I decided to give it a try.

Collecting and washing my petals...

I have to say at this point I was a bit skeptical on what this was going to look like since I was using striped petals that were mostly white.
*Note: be sure to only use rose petals not treated with chemicals, pesticides or the like.*

Washing my jars...

Into the blender go the ingredients. Now I'm quite encouraged! Look at that lovely color!

Don't be alarmed if it appears to lose that lovely color in the saucepan. The petals will bleach out and look a bit like small bits of sauerkraut, but do not worry.
By the time you add the rest of your ingredients and pour them into their jars I still had this lovely shade of rose:

Doesn't that look divine?
The flavor is very subtle with a hint of tart from the lemon (at least with this recipe). Be sure to boil your jelly to the proper temperature or you will end up with rose petal syrup like I did in my first batch. :)

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Jungle Gym

Whew that new gym I joined is a killer!
My favorite machine is:

It really works those arm and lower back muscles.
As does all the "toe-touching" weed pulls like here:

Can you spot the carrots in the photo below?

Me either! Surrounded by California poppies (which have almost the same. exact. leaf just in a slightly different shade of green), and other weeds that I couldn't pull until the wee carrot sprouts had established themselves a little better.
Ahhhh so much better! Feel the burn!

Believe it or not the following image depicts two rows of raspberry plants with a space for walking in between.

Haha. Yeah. Sure.

See? There's a path in there somewhere....

Much better! Weed repellent fabric covered in pea gravel should do the trick.

And this:

Is precisely why I now have this:

A completely enclosed garden complete with awesome gate.
(The sign says "Meet me in the garden.")

Here's a shot of my zinnias to show Kim.

My baby cantaloupe

And some photo edit fun: