Friday, May 25, 2012

Can you feel the love tonight?

There is something about rainy days that bring out the crafting bug in me. It is cold, wet & dreary outside but inside it can be warm, happy & crafty! So today, this rainy, wet day - I share with you a craft...a fun {slightly naughty}craft.

I made this for a dear friend of mine for her bridal shower and since June or "The Month of Marriage" is just around the corner I thought you would enjoy a quick, easy & fun shower gift!

This double sided pillow is easy to make and is great at re-purposing items you have around the house.
"The Honeymoon Pillow"

One side says Tonight
The other side says Not Tonight

Great right? Are you already thinking of who to make one for {maybe it's yourself!} Let's get to it!
You will need:
Pillow to re-cover or pillow form
Fabric {I actually used a large shirt for the pillow pictured. It was the perfect shade of gray & it was very soft} you will need to have enough fabric to cover your pillow.
Sewing Machine
Wax Paper
Silhouette HD (or an exact-o knife)
Iron & Ironing Board
fabric paint & sponge brush

1. Make a simple pillow cover. Place the right sides of the fabric together sewing three sides.
2. Slip the pillow inside of the cover and either hand stitch it closed or -in my case the fabric was stretchy enough - sew it closed edges tucked in to create the finished side.
3. On your Silhouette HD (sorry I don't own the Cameo) Open a new file. Choose your text option. Pick the text you want. Make the text size large enough for your pillow space (I wish I would have made my text larger).
You will then need to flip your text backwards: Open your Replicate Window {upper right}. Then choose Mirror Left. This will make your text go backwards & delete the original text...yes you want the backwards text, trust me.
 Pick the "thin media" option, blue blade tip and load your wax paper {wax side up} onto your sticky mat. And cut.

*3. {For those who don't have a Silhouette} On your computer, open a word document and create your text words in the font & size that you want. Attach your wax paper {wax side down} to your screen. This will create a light box effect. Trace your letters with a pencil and then exact-o knife them out on a cutting board. *Remember the more detailed or fancy the font is the more detailed your cuts will have to be.*

You can get rid of the actual letters, but be sure to keep all the little pieces, like the insides of the "e" or "o" for the next step.
4. Place your pillow on the ironing board and place the wax paper {wax side down} onto your pillow (your words shouldn't be backwards now). Press a warm iron down on your wax paper. The heat of the iron will melt the wax of the paper and create a temporary bond. Don't forget to iron on the dots that create the centers of "e"'s or "p"'s etc.
5. Once the stencil is in place on the pillow you can brush on the paint to evenly cover the words. Be sure to have full coverage with the paint, but don't push it too much with the outer edges {sometimes the paint will sneak under the edge and it won't look clean}.
6. Let dry. Once the paint is set {it can be a little tacky} pull off the wax paper and Ta-Da! You have your wording.
7. I had some extra scraps of fabric and created flowers and flower buds for my pillow. Mine were really simple, but I recently found a great gathering of fabric flower tutorials on Kojo Designs.

There you have it! Put it on your bed or put it in a gift bag! Enjoy!

I know I made this kind of a quick tutorial if you have questions please feel free to ask or e-mail at

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tolstoy & The Purple Chair {Book Review & List of Three}

When my book club picked Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch for the month my first thought was, "Why do I want to read a book about a woman who is talking about all the books that she's read? How interesting is that going to be?" Well, let me tell ya - it was pretty darn interesting.  Based on her real life experiences, Nina shares that the untimely death of her older sister spurred the idea of reading a book a day and blogging a review of it. What I thought was going to be a 240 pg long book report was actually a beautifully woven novel of her going through the grieving process and the books that helped her do it. I love that Nina was very honest about HOW she read a book a day and all the priorities that she let go to do it - she didn't make the reader believe it was an easy task, but actually made you want to try it yourself {or at least someday when your kids are a bit older}. I think this book is a testament of how books can effect our lives, how a book can define a moment or a feeling and how a book can take you far away for a little vacation from life. I really enjoyed this book and I hope if you have read it you will share your feelings about it too! At the end of the book she lists all 365 books that she read made my "To Reads" list a bit longer!
As I was reading this book I started to think about the books that have "stuck with me" through my life. Books that have helped me through a tough time. Define feelings or emotions in a way that I couldn't express. Represent an era or a memory. Nan & I will share our three and we hope that you will share yours:

1. Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola. This is a children's book that is my all-time favorite. I remember having it read to me when I was little. I loved that it was based in Sicily {where my Father was born} and I LOVED that it had to do with pasta! Every time I read it I think back on my grandparents, my father's stories of growing up and of course...the spaghetti. Oh the spaghetti!!

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I remember reading this in AP English and thinking "Wow this is nothing like the movies" and then went on with my class work. Then, almost a decade later, I was listening to Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" a radio program where Paul Harvey talks about popular points in history, politics & literature and tells you...the rest of the story. Most of us know that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein for a horror story writing contest that she was having against fellow writers while on vacation {those authors....they really know how to party!}. Well it just so happens that Mary Shelley happened to have suffered through a few miscarriages & two stillbirths. Those deaths of her children made her think about the death of a body, the chance of bringing it back to life again and contemplate the consequences of that. Around the time I heard this broadcast I was also going through the grief of having a stillbirth. The minute I heard Paul Harvey end with "and that's the rest of the story" I was at the library checking out my copy of Frankenstein. I read it with new eyes. It will always still with me as a symbol of another mother's catharsis of dealing with her stillbirth and how it helped me with mine.

3. Confessions of an Unbalanced Woman by Emily Watts. The title alone is what drew me in and the fact that it was a whole 58 pages long sealed the deal. I had just had Baby S. after a stressful/wonderful pregnancy. I had finally gotten down the times that he napped & I showered. I felt like I was doing okay, but really...unbalanced. This book put me at ease and made me feel like I was doing just fine. All of the pressures I was putting on myself {perfect wife, perfect mommy, perfectly clean house & gourmet dinners} were silly and unimportant. After reading this I felt much more balanced being unbalanced...if that makes sense. {Not to mention being able to read a book during that busy time...that felt good too!}

This is tough!  I could probably come up with twenty books that have had a big impact on me, but this is what I've settled on...for now. :)

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  I liked this book as a kid, but I really came to love it during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college.  I was back living with my parents and I got a job working at a daycare.  I was the "teacher" for the two-year-old class.  Me and seven two-year-olds, all day, five days a week.  I started out with a co-teacher, but she left after about a week and it was just me and those seven kiddos for the rest of a long, hot summer.  Let me tell you, that was both the hardest and the best job I have ever had.  There were times that I wanted to pull my hair out and run for the hills, but there were so many sweet, fun moments that balanced out the frustration.  Where the Wild Things Are was a popular choice for storytime, and eventually I had the entire book memorized; I could "read" it to the kids without looking at the pages.  That was almost ten years ago, and now those two-year-olds are twelve and probably starting middle school.  But whenever I read Where the Wild Things are now, I'm transported back to that daycare classroom, with seven sets of eyes watching me and sticky kisses on my cheeks.

2. Families Are Forever...If I Can Just Get Through Today! by Janice Madsen Weinheimer.  This is a really strange selection; I realize this.  It's a book written by a woman who has nine children -- two singles, two sets of twins, and one set of triplets.  The author talks about what it was like raising that many children, how she and her husband structured their home, things like that.  My mom purchased the book when it came out in the '70s, before she had a family of her own, and I decided to read it as a teenager.  Coming from a very small family, I was fascinated by the dynamics of such a large family and loved reading about the ins and outs of their everyday lives.  I've read it -- or at least parts of it -- multiple times.  When I left home, my mom gave me the book since I've read it more than she has. :)

3. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster.  Opening this book is like seeing an old friend.  I think the first time I read it was when I was in 6th grade; my grandma had been talking about how much she loved it, and my grandma is not a big reader, so I took the recommendation pretty seriously.  My dad found me a copy and I devoured the book.  6th grade was definitely an awkward time: I was frustrated with still being in elementary school but scared to go to middle school, I was going through some major transitions in friendships, and then I was experiencing all of those joys of adolescence.   Daddy-Long-Legs gave me a chance to escape the uncertainties of my life and provided something for me to discuss with my grandmother.  I have reread it more times than I can count.  There's nothing particularly amazing about the storyline or the writing, but it is a book that I loved in a time when everything was changing.

What about you?  What books have made an impact on your life?


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pin-Spired and Personalized Baby Gifts

One of my good friends recently gave birth to adorable twins, a boy and a girl.  I debated about what to give as a baby gift and did some searching on Pinterest for ideas, and this hooded bath towel tutorial from Prudent Baby made up my mind for me.  The tutorial was easy to follow and the towels were quick to make.  They turned out even cuter than I'd anticipated:

I decided to personalize the towels and added each baby's first initial to the back of the towel.  I won't take the time to give you a tutorial for the towels themselves, since the Prudent Baby tutorial is excellent, but I'll quickly explain how I made the initial.

Start out by ironing some fusible interfacing to the back of your fabric; I used the same fabric that I used for the decorative band on the hood.  I used a medium-weight interfacing.  You want something heavy enough to give the fabric some stability, but not something so heavy that it makes the letter super stiff.  Next, find a font that you like and enlarge the letter to the size you want.  I did this in Word and made the letter as large as it could get while still fitting on one page.  To save ink, I printed it as an outline, rather than a solid letter.  Pin your letter to your stabilized fabric and cut it out, then pin it to your towel and sew around the entire perimeter of the letter.  You can use a zig-zag stitch if you want, but I just straight-stitched  as close to the edge as I dared, then washed the towels and trimmed any ragged strings.

I had a lot of fun making these towels (other than when I broke a sewing machine needle and then put the replacement needle in backwards...), and I hope babies L and V love using them!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

String Theory: The Eyebrow Threading Experience

Let's talk about eyebrows, shall we?

I probably think about my eyebrows more than I should.  I have really thick, dark eyebrows, and while this is a blessing in some ways (no eyebrow pencil for me!), they can be a real pain to maintain.  I try to have my eyebrows done professionally a few times a year, and most salons offer eyebrow waxing for $10 or less.  So when I spotted a Groupon for eyebrow threading, I was intrigued.

Threading is an interesting process.  The technician (stylist?  thread master?) takes a long piece of cotton thread and skillfully twists it around the hair, removing the hair by the follicle.  Threading allows for more precision and shaping than waxing does.  It's a really quick process; I think it took less than five minutes for her to do my brows.

So did it hurt?  Not really.  It's definitely a weird feeling, but it wasn't painful.  (Keep in mind, though, that I wax and pluck my brows on a regular basis, so I may be a little desensitized.)  Unlike waxing, threading only pulls the hair, not the skin, so there is less redness afterward.  However, because there's no wax adhered to your eyebrows, the little hairs get all over your face and you have to keep brushing them off.   The results last about three weeks, which is another benefit over waxing.

Would I have my eyebrows threaded again?  Yes!  But not at that particular studio -- it's too far away from my house. :)  What about you -- have you ever had your eyebrows done?

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