Friday, December 31, 2010

before i forget...

happy new year to you and yours! i myself am not quite ready for 2011. truth be told i'm a might bit scared but i suppose i can't keep it form happening so my fingers are crossed, my breath is held and i'm diving in...

so long 2010.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

thursday already?

sigh. i don't know how it got to be almost 2011. i have not felt like writing much but not because i am in a bad or good place, i just don't have any words in my head. now i'm thinking this may not bode well for the new year. what is a girl to do?
we have spent this week walking around the central coast. we've walked around blocks, in parking lots, around the homestead, atop bluffs overlooking the pacific and in forests brimming over with mushrooms. we sploshed about through muck and mud, craggy grass and poison oak, cement and rain puddles. we've walked bundled up in our new hats, dorkily clad in neon blue windbreakers and nothing more than a t-shirt and jeans. it has been warm and cold, windy and rainy and right now it is darn right FREEZING (though maybe not for you who have snow right now). i haven't made, crafted or baked a darn thing unless you count the pho i made (along with mr. a-go-go) for dinner tonight which actually was quite tasty.
there is a towering pile of who-knows-what on the table in our temporary room that needs to be sorted and holiday goodness to be packed up and carefully placed jenga-style amongst all the other boxes that contain our lives. i have partial lists and scritchy-scratchy notes chicken-scratched about on various scraps of paper that need organizing. there are projects that need to be made and crafty stuff that needs to be written up and photographed but i'm jut not feeling it. not feeling it at all.  so i guess i will try and focus on a plan, a game-plan for not going completely batty in 2011. a game plan that will cushion my sanity when i find myself still unemployed and sleeping in a space that is not my own. the space we're sharing right now is great, nothing bad about it, it's just not home, ya know? sigh. sigh. sigh.
so as not to completely become a panic bird i will remember the fantastic mushrooms we saw today..they were enormous in all sorts of wonka wonder. the walk was a nifty one and we would have walked more if hunger hadn't walloped us.  and i was so happy and joyful that i managed to slosh about without needing a huff on my puffer..not a wheeze manifested um until we got back to the car but that's okay since these past few days i have been sucking on that darn inhaler like it was butter fudge...mmmm...butter fudge. i will remember the ice that teetered atop the bird bath and the bluer than blue sky that cradled the icy winds that rushed to knock us over as we wandered from fungus to fungus. i will remember the fish and chips we shared at lunch and the fantastic peanut butter cookies we picked up from this lovely little cookery. rather than panic that i feel like i have lost a bit of my imagined mojo, i will reflect on the quiet days we've had wandering about, trying to find our place in this space. i think it is a good way to send off the old year and welcome the new. how about you?

Monday, December 27, 2010

the week in review: dec 20-26

 it was a week of busy but not much craftiness going on. we did however hit up the coast several times and took a lot of walks. oh yea, and christmas was in there as here for more info on the pics if ya like.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

christmas sock monkey 2010

After all the gifties were opened, mr. a-go-go said he picked up a mysterious box that was left on our doorstep.  with much mystery and amusement, I joyfully opened said box.
We had no idea where it had come from, but it seemed to have traveled quite far.
It had very explicit instructions. I hoped there were no critters inside.
There was a puzzle that had to be solved first.
and after I had said the words out loud many, many times, I got it, and I knew. I knew!
Did you?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

upcycled trees old & new

Last year I created a super nifty umbrella tree for CRAFT. Since everything we own is boxed up in the mama a-go-go's garage, we were unable to unleash it for this year's festivities. Serendipity struck when mr. a-go-go happened upon an unloved umbrella in the street and so, with a blob of mod podge, a thrifted pattern and a string of LED lights, he came up with this year's umbrella tree.
I wonder what next year will bring?

blue skies call for a trip to moonstone beach

It was a family outing that began on the beach where we all searched for tiny stones, sea glass and jade. After lunch the house guest and the mister continued their search for tiny treasures while the mama and sister a-go-go took a walk along the boardwalk.
Me? I hunted mushrooms. Swoon!

and then there was the sand spit...

Though, we didn't actually make it that far.
The beach was almost deserted, save for the gulls and the plovers and a handful of surfers.
There were (enormous) sand crabs to hunt for.
And driftwood houses to explore.

it may have been week of rain...

but we still managed to go outdoors...
We've had a young house guest all week. A young house guest that decided they couldn't possibly spend another minute in doors even though it was pouring outside. Keeping an eye on the weather and the mini breaks in the downpour we managed to hit up the Elfin Forest on Tuesday. The sun shone at moments and we wandered from one midden heap to the next in search of ancient clam shells (rather...pieces). We even caught a rainbow before the sky grew dark again and the drizzle turned to rain. On Wednesday, we hit up the beach.

cupcake liner snowflakes

The folding how to is at scrumdilly-do!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

blanket magazine: the celebration issue

The newest issue of blanket is out and this one is packed with all sorts of celebrating goodness. I have a nifty article up about holiday traditions and a newish take on salt dough ornaments. Super nifty! The holiday issue can be picked up for just $2 and it also comes with an awesome font made especially for blanket. if you subscribe you will also receive the fabulous 2011 calendar. A super happy holiday deal as the calendar on its own is six smackeroos (also a good deal)! The calendar is an awesome collection of original art by mark malarky, reena makwana, devon smith and nine other up and coming artists. The new year is just around the corner so what are ya waitin' for?
For more blanket news, check out the blanket blog.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

stuff a stocking for under $25

Christmas stockings are my most favorite part of the holidays. mr. a-go-go's family calls them socks which makes more sense but they will always be stockings for me. My most favorite thing is to put together stockings and while you may think little trinkets are so sweet and inexpensive, you forget how they add up, and boy-howdy can they add up! There are many things I traditionally put into stockings, things Santa brought me when I was of Santa age. These things generally are a toothbrush, lip balm, pens or markers, chocolate, tea, cocoa or coffee, a brain teaser puzzle, soap, socks, and an orange. Depending on how upscale you go, you can do this for a little or a lot.

This year, I'm sending off two holiday stockings to friends that I adore. December, for more than a few people I lurve, is a difficult month. Too many loved ones lost at this time which can sometimes overshadow the joyous part of the season. We a-go-gos have had our fair share of holiday loss and know how it goes and feels. We're still huntin' for work and so our budget is tight. I put together two stockings for under $50 and made the stockings with materials I had on hand. Stuffing a stocking shouldn't be about price but I really had to reign myself in as I tend to go gift giving overboard so putting a limit on it, I had to get creative, and I had to really think about the usability of the items. I love gifts but I want them to be useful and lovely and fun. A tall order, I know. Sticking with items that people generally use with a few fun things thrown in makes not only for a lovely stocking but one you can feel good knowing it delights. Here's what I did and found.
This stocking is stuffed with a little handmade, a little local goodness, a smidge of average goodness, and a whole lotta love. Clockwise from the top left:

*handmade bookmark
*fancy candy cane
*bubble bath
*violet candies
*lip balm
*fair trade chocolate
*japanese cookies
*hand sanitizer
*fun socks
*happy gloves

The bookmark at the top left there was handmade by me using up happy scraps of fabric and felt. The candy cane was scored at a fabulous price at our local family barn. The tea is from my favorite online tea source and I order from them every year. The bubble bath and violet candy are from Cost Plus, the chocolate bar was made locally, the Japanese cookies are a favorite and came from a Japanese dollar store, the gloves, lip balm and hand sanitizer are dollar store finds. I added some whimsy to the gloves with felt and buttons. The socks were the most expensive but lookie how fun they are!
To make it a little more fun, I wrapped up some of the goodies in materials I had floating around. I used pattern tissue, brown bags, stripy twine and yarn. I'm sending these goodies to crafty friends so I know that some of the wrapping will be reused which is a good thing. I do love a lovely package and worry about the waste. Sigh. You can totally make an even lovelier stocking by adding more handmade that plays into your friends' favorites and likes. I wanted to add a mix cd but didn't have time to do it and I wanted to make some cup cozies as well. Even so,  I think these happy stockings would be awesome to receive, don't you?
Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

make a fancy-pants stocking

I didn't manage to get pics of all the steps and I don't have a pattern for you but if you can run a sewing machine and have some purdy linen on linen like fabric floating about you can do this too! But then again, if you have all of the above, you probably already know how to make a stocking. Either way, I am prouder than proud that these turned out exactly as I pictured them.

*linen or linen-like fabric
*sewing machine
*sheet of paper 11 1/2 X 17"

Sit down and sketch out a stocking shape on your paper. This will be your pattern.

Next, gather linen and a few pieces of vintage lace. Set up the iron and get the creases out of your fabric. Or do like I do and try. I don't know what is wrong with me but I cannot seem to iron anything well.

Cut one long length of fabric that will become both the back and front of your stocking. My piece folded from the bottom up to the top. Some people cut first then sew. I sew then cut so this may all seem weirdly backwards to some of you.
Place fabric in front of you and pop pattern onto top portion. Pin around pattern to mark your sewing space. Do not pin pattern to fabric yet.
Add fun embellishments keeping within your pinned space. One stocking I made had a single long "ruffle", while the other had a series of squares stitched on in a line. To make the ruffle, gather and fold your scrap piece and pin with folds facing down so that it is easier to gather under your sewing machine foot. Use a neutral colored thread and stitch straight down making sure to backstitch at both the beginning and end of your stitch-fest.
Remove pins, turn fabric upside down and then flip over so that the side you just stitched on is facing up. You won't see your embellishment as that will be tucked inside. Pin pattern to both pieces of fabric keeping sure to have your embellisment within the boundary of your pattern.
Grab you length of lace and sandwich it between the two layers at the top of your stocking. This will become your cuff. Pin into place and bring the whole party to your sewing machine.

Use a smallish stitch to sew your pieces together. Make sure to NOT stitch across the top. I've done it before and it bites. Heehee. Begin at the top of one side and stitch all the way around ending at the top of the other side. Snip thread and unpin.
Cut out your stocking and sneak in a few extra vertical snips on the insides of any curves. Turn Stocking right side out making sure to bring the lace part out onto the front of the stocking. I forgot this part on one of the stockings and my cuff ended up on the back. Aack!

Fold top of stocking inside and press with a hot iron then stitch all around perimeter to seal the deal. Give your stocking a quick press with the iron to flatten out seams.
For the loops, grab a couple of long scraps and fold them in half lengthwise ironing them into place. With a sewing machine, stitch all the way down from top to bottom and trim excess wonk. The stitches will show as will the frayed edges but that is what makes the stocking so fun, ahem.
Stuff with treasures and have a happy holiday!