Sochi Inspired Doodle Stich

It’s that time of year again folks! That magical time every 2 years when all standard programming stops and the Olympics take over my life. This year was no exception complete with opening ceremony party and some down time crafting.

Although I’m technically classified as a mutt…aka American… (basically name the country and it turns up somewhere in my heritage) My father’s side is straight forward Polish and Russian. With the games being in Russia the little Russian babushka in me got excited. My absolute favorite part of these games was the matryoshka doll set up on the slope style course. I ignored every jump every athlete completed near that babushka and would simply giggle with glee at the sight of her ready to hit the slopes, ski goggles and all.

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Seriously though, how great is she? Photo courtesy of Sergei Grits / AP

While watching the games, and admiring the Russian heritage I know little about, I became inspired to complete an embroidery of my own matryoshka doll.

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I am very happy on how well she turned out. Looking forward to creating a mini series of sorts of a couple of dolls with varying patterns and styles. At the minimum my two sisters are already asking when they get one. So expect a 3 doll series, minimum.

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Did you all watch the Olympics? Get inspired to do anything crafty thanks to Russia? Let me know!

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A Hand Made Valentine

There’s a tradition in my house. Every Valentine’s Day, since the first year I was born I believe, my mother has made my father a home-made Valentine. Always out of construction paper, sometimes with paper doilies, almost always featuring a picture (or 12) from the last year, and progressively more witty/corny as the years pass. We’re talking almost 30 years of hand made cards.

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Valentine Circa 1989 (I’m the shorty on the right)

It’s one tradition my sisters and I always look forward to. Usually pictures of “all of Daddy’s girls” make it into the card. The crowning jewel in the collection is the year we moved into the new house, Mom worked the lyrics of our family theme-song “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads into the card:

“and you may find yourself in a beautiful house”

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“with a beautiful wife”

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“and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

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Ever since my hubs (what?!? Still so weird to say) and I moved into our apartment I’ve carried on the tradition of making hand-made Valentines. I always look forward to breaking out the construction paper, glitter, scissors, and glue and rifling through the last year of pictures for a theme/idea. Lets just say this year’s is going to be epic (and easily 100 pages long). I can’t post this years just yet (need to keep it a surprise for my Valentine).

One of my favorites from years passed is our 5th Valentine together.

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They aren’t super fancy and polished, but they don’t need to be. Getting down and dirty with old craft skills and slapping something together is sometimes the best way to express your love. It’s also something to cherish forever. These Valentine’s are also great for a last minute “oh no I forgot to get a present!”

A Little Feat

“If you’ll be my dixie chicken, I’ll be your Tennessee lamb, and we can walk together down in dixieland.” Originally written by Little Feat, and rediscovered through Dave Matthews and his sneaky live recordings.

Bored one night and falling deeper in love with this Spring inspired quote I decided to try my hand at a little illustration/calligraphy work. For the most part I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

 

What’s Your Numbah, Sugah?

03.01.05 the date that I like to think changed my life forever. It was that date 8 years ago that I met my soul mate and never looked back. We still to this day wish each other “happy anniversary” the first of every month. It has turned into more of a game so many months later who can wish it first and on what media device. (I usually win on all accounts)

03.01.05 are our numbers. Period. Even when we (finally) get married I’m sure we’ll still do something special on the first of March. These numbers were my semi inspiration for a project I’d been dying to do. As seen in a previous post I recovered my blue college apartment pillows to match our red cabinet. Love them. The fabric however was rather summery and just doesn’t work year round.

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Graphic and typography items are popping up everywhere; numbers, letters, quotes. I decided to take our most treasured numbers and create graphic pillows for the living room. The process was easy. Find a font you love, I used the font “Elephant” (should be standard on most PC’s) I really liked the vintage feel of this font; the serifs, the almost hand typed feel if you could call it that.

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Once a font is selected increase the font size, a lot. I think my letters were done at a 60 or 70 point. Print them out, tape or rubber cement the print down to a thicker piece of paper, and cut them out to form a stencil. If you have a steady enough hand I recommend tracing the number/letters with pencil and painting within the pencil lines. You could also use the stencil as a true stencil but I found the paint tends to sneak underneath creating less than graphic crisp lines.

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I used cheap yet thick and sturdy fabric from Ikea, $3.99 for half a yard and typical craft paint $2 in a charcoal gray. You could use a fabric medium if you chose to but I found the paint spread and held just fine, even after washing. I used a graphic red striped fabric (also Ikea) for the reverse side to play with the red accents throughout the room and the vintage graphic feel of the pillow. I used the same pocket hemmed technique illustrated in the previous pillow post, an easy way to create removable pillow covers.

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I really love how they came out and adore that they reflect something so meaningful to us in such a subtle, stylish way.

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PS Happy Anniversary Babe! 8 years (AAAHHHHH!!) Time really flies when you’re having the time of your life. Looking forward to many more adventures together. Love you!

Paris Day Dreaming

What does a 27 year old do without power for 8 days? Oh that’s right, she pretends she’s 90 (or living in the Colonial era) and makes embroideries. Lots of embroideries.

This little beauty surprisingly took up most of my week. I blame the intricacies of all that steel work. I’ve had Paris on the brain ever since visiting the beautiful city last month. (More on that 3 country whirl wind trip soon, promise!)

I decided to hang her over the sink; a happy day dream to escape my dish pan hand hell. (Damn you apartment sans dishwasher!)

I found the frame at Joann’s Fabrics. $3.99. I painted the once black frame robin’s egg blue to make it cheery and kitchen matchy. My favorite part of the frame is the subtle details  which reflect the details in the tower itself.

Probably one of the best things to come from 8 days without power or heat. You have to agree Paris really is always a good idea. (Even when your travel buddy has a horrible cold and Belgium goes on strike. More trip details to come!)

The Mitten Tree

While trying to fill some space on my autumn gallery wall(I promise I will post how to hang a gallery wall super super super soon) I happened upon this print on Etsy by O’Reilly Ink. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the piece but wasn’t crazy about the colors. Plus I didn’t feel passionately about any of the tree species featured.

I decided to create a knock off print based on the design concept but featuring colors and subjects I was more into.

I selected the Sassafras tree as my study subject. If you are not aware of the amazingness of this tree it’s also lovingly called the Mitten Tree. Scientifically it’s the only deciduous tree that produces 3 different shaped leaves (at least the only one in the North East/North America).

There is also a fairy tale version “How the Sassafras Tree (or Mitten Tree) Got its Leaves” (as best remembered by yours truly)

Once upon a time there was a little old lady who had a cabin in the woods. Winter was coming so she decided to make some mittens. She finished her first mitten and realized she forgot the thumbs.

So she threw that pair out her window. The following day she tried again to make a pair of mittens this time she knitted too many thumb holes so out the window that pair went.

Finally the following day she knitted the perfect pair of mittens. Thumb holes in the right places, plenty of room for fingers.

She went to bed that night proud of her work. She woke up the next morning to find a mouse scurrying out of the cabin with her perfect mittens. Luckily she remembered how to make the proper pair and didn’t think much of the mouse, hoping the mittens would keep him warm. Winter came and went and the little old lady had warm hands all winter long. Then it was time for Spring which brought on the usual chirping birds, blooming flowers, and a remarkable new tree outside of the old lady’s cabin. A tree which was growing right outside the window she threw all her failed mittens out of. Now, what made this tree remarkable was it’s leaves reflected all the mittens she made over the last winter.

And that my friends is the story of the Mitten Tree.

So, anyway, this is a story I grew up with and a tree I always look for when out and about. This tree I decided shall be my muse. Creating the artwork is pretty easy, anyone with mild artistic talent and computer skills should be able to pull it off.

First dust off your pencils and sketch the leaf (leaves) of your choice. You could probably trace the leaf if that makes you more comfortable. Once you’re happy with your sketch grab a thin tipped Sharpie or other black inked pen. Outline the leaves and add a few veins for good measure.

Once the sketching is done and outlining is complete scan it into your computer. I used Photoshop however even Paint would do the trick. Open the scan up and use the paint bucket tool to fill in the fields with whatever color you desire. Finally find a fun free hand font and add the genus, species, and common name to the graphic. Print that sucker up slap it in a frame and admire your amazing artistic skills.

Yay cheap and easy diy artwork!

Oh Sandy the aurora is risin’ behind us

Hello all! Long time (beyond ashamed to say) no post. Just dropping a line to let you all know The Jersey Girl is alive and well. My area got hit, but no where near as hard as others were. Our little apartment was out for 8 days without power, heat, or water. Some reasonably sized tree limbs fell but thankfully not on the house. I spent the week at my parents who were out of power for 6 days but did have running water, including hot water, and a fire place to keep the house slightly warmer. Mom’s mantra of the week: “never buy a house without a fireplace”.

Thankfully my family and I are the outdoorsy types which means we know how to keep ourselves busy sans electricity. My sister chopped wood, we burned calories cranking up the radio (hand crank power style, you’re all jealous I know), warmed up hand washing our dishes, and I kept busy channeling my 90 year old self with embroidery after embroidery.

My baby sister had the hardest time being 17 and having most of her life being internet based. I think everything regarding this hurricane came full circle for me when she asked “what about Senior Prom?” as pictures of Seaside’s coaster now relocated to the ocean flashed on the screen at a friends house. It’s New Jersey Senior tradition to go “down the shore” after prom, usually to Wildwood. I was crushed to tell her it’s probably not going to happen.

Awesomely bad picture of me and my good friend Prom Weekend, Wildwood’s boardwalk. Nothing says The Shore like lobster sun burn and boardwalk prizes.

Life’s starting to get back to normal which is a good thing. I will shamefully admit to you all our fridge is still empty; have yet to go food shopping to replace everything.  Please keep the thoughts and prayers coming to my little corner of the world. There are still many who are without anything and clean up is still just beginning. We’ve got a long road ahead before we all get to go “down the shore” once again.

Thank you all.

Custom Up my Buttons Baby

You are ALL welcome for getting that award winning song in your head. (Obnoxiously catchy pop music by sexually suggestive named groups anyone?)

In an upcoming post I’ll be divulging you all with my first ever recovered furniture piece. A tufted upholstered bench that lives at the foot of our bed. A bench, I might add, that was plucked from the garbage. Got to love free.

The first (and easiest) step of recovering the garbage picked bench was creating covered buttons to match the new fabric. A quick trip to Joann’s landed me a pack of buttons for covering complete with the covering tools. I believe the kit cost $4 for 10 buttons.

Directions found on the back of the box were very straight forward. First use the fabric template to trace the pattern onto the desired fabric. Step 2, cut around the traced circle.

Step 3 assemble the fabric, button, button back, and circle tool for hammering, then hammer the set up into place. I found it was easiest to kind of push everything together by hand just enough so it stayed in place and then hammer it in for good.

After a few good taps remove the freshly made button from the assembly, give it a push or two for good measure and get pumped that you have made custom fabric covered buttons in no time flat.

Chalk Board and Chicken Wire

Even though we’re currently a small family of 2 (with no plans on expanding any time soon) we still have a lot on our plates. From fire house activities to family gatherings we can be a pair of busy bees. I’m a rather organized gal and when I feel lost in a sea of information you know there’s a project right around the corner to fix things.

Our “message center” was pretty pitiful; a calendar strategically hung to block the fuse panel in the kitchen. I wanted more. Places to jot notes, see the month at a glance, hang important info, pictures, gift cards so we don’t forget to use them. I wanted an impressive fully functioning (and pleasing to the eye) message center that all the cool Mom’s get.

After stalking a few ideas on Pinterest (beyond obsessed with that site) I made my decision. Chicken wire bulletin board with chalk board doodling counter part.  Love the idea of listing menus for the week or happy notes to my significant other who at times can be 100% opposite schedule.

Chicken Wire Inspiration Board

from forageddesign.com

We changed a few parts of our design to include a frame and a fabric back (to hide the ugly electric panel). Construction for the chicken wire board was pretty straight forward. Well, after working out the kinks and a few failed attempts it ended up being straight forward. For the chicken wire board cut:

  • cut chicken wire to desired size (including width of trim)
  • For us, we wanted to cover a semi unsightly electrical panel so we also cut a piece of fabric (muslin) to the same desired size as the chicken wire.
  • Cut trim pieces to fit; miter for nice 45 degree joints.
  • Square up trim and fasten with glue and scary looking metal wood joiners. Let dry.
  • Create a sandwich of trim-chicken wire – fabric face down on a flat surface.
  • Add one staple in the center of one side of the back.
  • Add staple on the opposite side.
  • Continue around with 1 staple, centered on other 2 sides.
  • continue to pull/stretch fabric around on all sides. (Working out from center staple out mirroring on opposite sides)
  • Flip over and hang with everyone’s favorite no hole hangers (command hooks)

For the chalk board, we used leftover extra thin plywood from our floating dining room shelves and more trim. This time we used a little fancier trim with a little more of a revile. Cut the plywood to desired size, trim to match. Miter fasten with glue and staples and bam. Ready to go. I do recommend doing all painting before assembly. It at least made my life easier.

Let’s just say I am darn happy with our new super organized and rather stylish message center. Also for the super thrifty lad or lady, free calendars can be stunning when folded in half (blocking the ugly UPS picture) and adding your own picture above.

Thank You.

A simple post from an overwhelmed and absolutely touched blogger.

Thank you all so very much for all the love and support you have shown me over the last 4 days. Never in a million years did I think I would be Freshly Pressed, let alone receive an overwhelming amount of positive and supportive comments from the blogging community. Your kind words truly mean the world to me. I shall try my best to not let you all down and keep cranking out more simple projects to make all your lives a little more pretty.

The biggest of thanks and virtual hugs to you all. It’s been a truly surreal and fabulous weekend. Thank you.

(Images above are a thank you card I made for my Godfather, who never ever forgets my birthday and still sends birthday treats which makes this 27 year old excited that birthdays still rock. Thanks Uncle Kenny!)