Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Art Doll Box Reveal

Ah, there's nothing like the feeling of happiness that comes from finishing a project, particularly one that you weren't quite sure was going to come out well.

When I first talked with you about this Art Doll Box, it was in the dolly-dismemberment phase. I was feeling a bit like a serial killer in my basement, taking the arms and legs and head off of this poor, hapless china doll.

Alas, she was at Goodwill for only a buck, so I couldn't resist trying. And I'm glad that I did.

Aptly named, "Art Doll Box" (for now at least)
Sometimes the scariest part of trying a new-to-you project, is taking that first step. Do you ever struggle with taking something apart, even if it was something that was completely cheapo and found at a yard sale or thrift shop?

Her heart ... 
I feel like this doll needs her story told. Also, maybe a real name "Art Doll Box" isn't very creative. Do you have any suggestions?

I'm happy to walk you through the steps of this project, if you're interested. You may be able to figure out what I did just from the photos, but let me know if you'd like a more behind-the-scenes look.

She'll be up in the shop soon. Though I'm happy with her, I want her to find a home where she's truly adored.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Creativity and Frustration

Good morning~hope you enjoyed a nice weekend. Mine was ... busy. Again.

This has become a weekly occurrence it seems: I spend most of the work week dreaming about all the fun, creative projects that I will tackle as soon as Saturday morning comes. I creep out of bed in the wee hours (well, before 6 a.m.) and maybe get started with one project.

Then, I hear it: the thump, thump, thump of little feet pounding down the stairs. Or the worse sound of retching as one of the cats heaves up his or her breakfast (or a hairball) somewhere nearby.


Life conspires against us creatives sometimes. And it's not just the early-morning interruptions that wear you down. It's the constant go-go-go of life: groceries and bill paying and bank runs and appointment scheduling and exercise routines and tidying the house and cooking and caring for little people or parents ... all good and necessary things. But all draining of one's creative energy and mojo.

{image credit}
Perhaps that's where the wisdom of this quote comes in. What if I stopped thinking about separate time for creative pursuits (or at least obsessing over how to get more of it) and start adding more creativity into my everyday life?

Taking pictures while walking on a break at work, trying a new color nail polish, writing a single scene on your tablet while commuting on the bus, trying one new recipe this week--what are some ways that you could add just a few bite-sized pieces of creativity to your life?

Please share in the comments, it would be great to hear what others are doing/plan to do. 

PS I did carve out time to start making my dress for a Downton Abbey event at the local library. It's coming along nicely though I have to fix the neckline which is quite "bubbly." Pics soon!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Big-Time Dream ... And How I'm Saving for It

Do you have a big-time dream? Maybe the one on your bucket list that really stand out. It might be traveling in Kenya, hiking the Grand Canyon, swimming with sharks--oops, I mean dolphins--or something else that you know in your bones will satisfy.

I have a lot of items on my Dream List (I don't like the term Bucket List but the two are basically the same thing).

Near the very top are two that I have been wanting to do for YEARS. Really. A long, long time.

  1. Travel in Europe.
  2. Travel in the U.S., in a vintage camper.
Maybe, like me, you find yourself often saying, "Oh, that will be so wonderful ... someday."

"Someday" is like a daydream. And what's likely to happen is that "someday" I'm going to realize that I should have been actively working toward my dream, instead of just wishing it would happen on its own. 

So, even though dreaming of travel feels a little silly right now, with very little extra income of my own to set aside and a young child at home, I've started a savings fund. 

Sure, it may take me a decade to get enough money saved to buy one of these: 

... but at least as I look at my Dream List I will know that I'm trying to get myself on the road and into the Sisterhood (Sisters on the Fly, for those of you who don't know, is the largest outdoor adventure group for women in the U.S. It also has a TON of cute vintage campers to drool over on its website). 

I've decided that any future sales I make--either through my Etsy shop or selling vintage or handmade goods in a local shop, on Craigslist, Ebay, to friends, whatever--will be put toward my someday camper. 

I don't care if the little gem is simply parked in my backyard. As Virginia Woolf wrote, every woman needs a room of one's own. And let me tell you, when your "studio" is a corner of a dark, cobwebby basement near the cat boxes? That room starts to look pretty darn enticing.    :) 

Do you like vintage campers and/or traveling? Please share about it in the comments. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

An Upcycled, Recycled, Vintage-cycled Shirt (whew!)

OK, so "vintage-cycled" isn't really a word. I got a little carried away with all my "cycles" there.

This shirt is upcycled and uses recycled materials (old vintage linens/lace) so I think I've covered all my bases.

I've recently discovered a passion for hand sewing. I enjoy machine sewing on occasion, but mostly am too impatient to be a good seamstress (BTW is "seamstress" an OK term to use? I noticed lots of people who sew use other words now like seamster and things ... anyone know?).

Sure, I've made curtains, pillowcases, very simple pieces of clothes over the years. But I've never been as "real" seamstress like my mother and grandmother were. They were like fabric magicians growing up. I'd find clothes I liked in the JCPenney's back-to-school catalog and poof! My mother whipped up something that looked very similar for me in a matter of days.

Well, I'm not at that stage yet. I am learning to love hand sewing though. I'm always looking for little creative projects to work on in the evening while I "watch" TV with my husband (OK, I'm not really watching most of the time but we are sharing the couch. That counts, right?)

Anyway, here's the top that I put together recently using some vintage linens. This shirt, in addition to being pretty on its own before the upcycle, is so soft. Oh my. I would like to wear it every day if I could.

And here's another shot a little bit closer up (sorry for the poor lighting--it's hard to get a shot at mid-day when natural light floods into this room):

Not sure about my arms--I look sort of like I want to fight someone. "You. Yeah you. Talking to me?!"
This one will be going on Etsy soon. I want to try to get a nice image or two closer up of the flower and vintage collar. :)

***UPDATE: It's in the shop as of 1/24/16. You can find it here: Upcycled Nostalgia Vintage-Inspired Women's Shirt   :)

What's your favorite recycle/upcycle project lately? Please share a link in the comments so we can check it out! 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Upcycle (Nearly Free) Shirt Reveal

Saturday I visited one of my favorite thrift shops searching for clothes. I like this one in particular because: 
  1. It's small and tidy.
  2. It's run by a church and they WASH everything that comes in before it gets put onto the racks.
  3. The prices are good. 
I have developed this odd fear of cutting into--or lately even purchasing--thrifted clothes to make into new pieces. I spend so much time daydreaming, sketching and obsessing on Pinterest, but then when I get to the store, I freeze like a deer in headlights. 

Yes, like this ... only without all that stuff on my head. Image credit

Finally, I managed to pick out three shirts that I thought would work together. Here they are: 

I was hoping to use them in this order--pink on top, then the brown patterned shirt and then the ivory. But when I started looking more closely I realized a few things. 
  1. Apparently, I'm half blind as the cream-colored shirt was stained in several areas with yellow. Also, it was too big to work with the other two tops unless I wanted to do a lot of extra cutting/sewing to reduce it's girth (I didn't). 
  2. Though I liked the pink shirt's neckline better, it looked really cute as an accent around the waist. 
Here's the finished top. I think I'm in love! 

Front (it says, "Anderson's Coffee Camp") and I added a handmade t-shirt flower for fun.
Back of shirt
I love the flower accent. It might be too much pattern going on, but I couldn't resist. 

What have you been sewing lately? Please share a link to your most recent or favorite upcycling/sewing project. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Making Free Tassels

Gosh, I love tassels. Not the perfect ones you find at the craft store to attach to pillow corners or the center of window shades though. I like the messy, chaotic, uneven, uncensored kind.

Recently, while perusing a copy of Green Craft on the exercise bike, it hit me. I could make tassels.

You might remember my doll dismemberment project? It's coming along nicely (insert music from Psycho here). Well, I realized what was missing (besides the poor doll's body--ha!) is color. So, this afternoon I remedied the problem by creating some colorful tassels from bits of ribbon, a doily, some pearls I found and beads.

First, I wanted to show you a trick. I'd like to say that I thought this up on my own, but as most of what happens creatively for me, it was a total accident.

I'm not even sure what this ribbon is called, but I want to say grosgrain? I don't know. It looks like canvas but isn't as thick. Can you tell me?

Anyway, the first tassel I made was a little dense looking. I like chunky but this one didn't have much movement at all. So, I took it apart and decided to tear this ribbon down a little more. I made a tiny cut:

Yikes! Get that woman some lotion.
And pulled. Voila!

I love the raw edges and the lighter, airier look post tearing.

Here's a last shot of the tassels before they go into the deep, dark basement (aka my "studio") where they will be attached to the Art Doll Box.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Free Flowers from T-shirts = FUN

I have been droning on and on dabbling in upcycling clothes lately and wanted to learn how to do something that was fairly simple and easy to master but had a nice result.

I came across this video on YouTube for how to create flowers from old t-shirts. Free. Easy sounding. Let's give it a go!

It took me just one watch to get the technique down (it's a pretty easy process, right?) but I decided to change up the flowers in two ways:

  1. I sewed my petals to the round piece of backing fabric. I'm apparently out of hot glue. Also, sometimes the spidery little strands of glue irritate me. 
  2. I added a vintage button at the center of each of my posies. 
These really are quick and easy to make and the flowers could be used on just about anything--clothing or home decor. 

Here's what I did with a few of mine:

Free Ways to Add Plants to Your Winter Home

I tolerate love winter. A chance to draw inward, reflect ... and dream of spring.

No, seriously, I love many parts of winter: the fact that there are no bugs when you do things outside, no heat waves with 90 percent humidity, and the smell of the air. I think it never smells more fresh than when it's below 30 degrees.

It's hard though, when you're a nature lover and outdoorsy type, to embrace winter fully. Getting dressed to go for a simple walk sometimes feels like a Herculean feat.

After the Christmas decorations had been put away, it felt like the front of the house was so bland. It also reminded me how much I want to paint the shutters (black) and the front door (pumpkin, red or yellow).

I took to the backyard and created this swag from miscellaneous branches from pine, cedar and lilac trees. It took about 15 minutes and I used the silver bow from the top of the Christmas tree along with an old necklace and a bird ornament one of my sister's gave me to add a little bling.

If you don't live where you can easily find free branches--maybe you're in the city or an apartment, you might check your local plant nursery or florist. Even though these won't be free, I bet they wouldn't be super expensive.

Or you could go this route and add some green inside:
How can you add a little nature to your decor this time of the year? Share your ideas and/or links to inspire us!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dining Room ... Do or Don't?

Do you have a dining room? If so, do you use it often for the purpose it was intended?

In our old house, we had a large room with tons of big windows that was the perfect space for a dining room. We used it for birthdays and occasional parties with friends, dinners with other couples and, later for other purposes.

In our new(er) house, there was a room which was supposed to be a dining room. While I ran my writing business, the space was my office.

I've been dreaming of turning the space into a dining room again. Maybe it would encourage me to invite more friends over for dinners and art nights?

The space is still developing, still opening its petals. I'll post pictures of it as it is now, soon. (The bar cart sits in the corner of this room, and I love that it adds a little glamour.) Here is one wall--this is what you see as you enter the room from the front door.

Old vintage sign, thrifted box and vase, and my little owl friend

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Upcycling a Bowl

Do you ever wander the store aisles looking at things and wondering what else they could be?

Take for instance, this lowly fruit bowl. (At least, I think that's what it's meant for.) While I was in the market for a jewelry organizer/necklace hanger thing, I spotted this. I liked the circles and the color was good, so I picked it up for a better look.

I didn't need a fruit bowl. But turn it upside down what do we have here?

With a bit of fishing line, it was easily hung from a ceiling hook. It's been holding my expanding collection of necklaces every since.

What is one of your favorite multi-use items? 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Gorgeous, Nearly Free, Fabric Cabbage Roses

I'm so looking forward to getting the time to make these gorgeous, swoon-worthy cabbage roses and peonies. Have you made anything similar?

Full confession--I haven't watched the tutorial all the way through. I did, however, attempt an abbreviated version of the photo tutorial ... unfortunately, my results would fit right into the Pinterest Fail category. 

I've got high hopes though that once I get to watch this complete video tutorial, all the wrinkles will be smoothed out sort of speak. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

An Upcylced Hat for my Mother-in-Law

It was a few days before Christmas and I still wanted to pick up one more gift for my mother-in-law. She's definitely a "girly girl," and loves all things vintage. I knew she wouldn't be offended in the least if I gave her a second-hand hat.

I found this one:
Note the strange band with buttons on each side--it was just sort of flopping around. 
It wasn't the prettiest hat I've ever seen but the price was right ($5) and I knew I could do something creative with it.

(Side note: I used to hold a yearly tea to raise money for Shared Hope International--an organization which works to end sex trafficking around the world. I re-made lots and lots of hats then ... so much fun!)

I was tempted to run to the local craft store for some supplies. After clearing/de-cluttering a LOT last year, I don't have as much on hand. I decided to see what I did have first though and was pleasantly surprised.

I found:
  1. Autumn-colored fake flowers that looked real (not like many of the awful silk ones)
  2. A little corsage-type thing I'd made from bits of vintage fabric and lace years ago (and had completely forgotten about)
  3. A tiny fake bird
  4. A vintage clip on earring that had lost its match
I put all of these together with some sewing and a bit of hot glue and got this: 

Aren't frugal projects the most fun? What have you created lately? Please link to your post so we can see! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

An Afternoon at Downton Abbey

I have been watching Downton Abbey for quite a while. I got started a little late--I think Season 3 was playing when I started watching--but I quickly caught up thanks to binge watching episode after episode via DVD.

Last year I treated myself to a Downton Gala for my birthday. What a fun night! Here's a shot from last January:

The magic of the green screen!
This year, I held a Downton Afternoon. Decorating was half the fun: my budget (as always) was as close to zero as possible.

I found these flowers and ivy at a thrift shop and paired them with a candelabra that I've had for several years.

Snacks and tea ... lots of tea. 
Not only was it fun to play dress up and feel "fancy," but we enjoyed a stimulating conversation and shared a little about what it's like to be a woman in today's society, versus various times in history. It wasn't a chit-chat sort of conversation, it was deep and full and I loved it.

Me, basking in Downton glow.
After everyone had gone, I spent a long time just basking in the glow of the perfect afternoon.

Do you watch Downton Abbey? If so, which was your favorite season?

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Hopes, Dreams & Creative Plans

Happy Holidays~Joyeux Noel~Merry Christmas~Happy New Year! 

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, filled with light, laughter and the companionship of good friends and family, time to enjoy the special smells, tastes and feelings that happen only this time of the year and a chance to breathe sometime during the busy season. 

We enjoyed a lovely Christmas ... and for the first time in I don't know how long, I didn't even feel tempted to dismantle the tree on December 26th! This is a record for me. In fact, it's still up in all it's silver and blue glory.

I'm glad it's now a new year, though I never make resolutions anymore (too discouraging) and rarely do anything special like go out and party the night before. Who wants to start the next year off hungover? 

I have been working on a mental list of creative projects and home-caring goals though. 

One is to do more sewing, especially upcycling. I have been drooling inspired by so many great pins on Pinterest and once I figure out how my new Instagram account works, I'm sure I'll find even more there. 

I would love to find a local sewing group to take classes, or better yet, just a circle of other women who I could meet with to sew and ask questions of. My skills are still pretty basic. 

Here is a creation I recently finished. I'm happily placing some of these items in the vintage shop in town. A friend and I are sharing a room there which I'm thrilled about. 

Posy made from upholstery fabric from a previous project

Vest--on it's way to Goodwill before I saved it from the bag
I have a bunch of other projects I'd like to try: reworking old hats, making hair accessories (Downton Abbey-style), skirts, tops, maybe making a neck warmer or two out of old suits ... 

In addition, this year we're planning to get chickens once again. We had them at our previous house but relocated them when we moved. This will require a coop and outdoor pen of some kind. 

I'd like to build another raised bed for the garden and a smaller raised bed to transplant some strawberry plants my Mom has been offering me. I'd love to also put hedge or fencing across the backyard for more privacy. (I've been wanting to do this for the past four years--will this year be the magical one where I actually take action?)

I want to learn some garden design. Someday my dream is to have a garden that looks half as good as this beautiful White Garden that Brandy created. I created an herb garden last year and loved it .. even though I forgot to collect herbs out of it most of the summer. (In fact, the little green sprig on the table above is rosemary from that garden. You can tell it's been an unseasonably mild winter here in Vermont for there to be anything green left outside other than pine trees.) 

Lastly, I want to keep saving for my next adventure, whatever that may be. We're planning a big trip this spring out west as a family, but I always have a jar of change that I save for my next solo adventure. Maybe one with Sisters on the Fly? Or maybe buying a vintage camper like I've been dreaming of?