Other Crafts

Easter greetings that are quick like a…well, you know

I’ve gotten myself hooked up with a few different snail-mail groups over the last several years. Who doesn’t like getting a bit of mail that’s not a bill or a solicitation for money? I wanted to make a few notecards to send out in anticipation of Easter, but I’m not the single most artistic person out there (read: I can’t draw or paint).

Last year, when I was still essentially scared of playing around with the Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, I had downloaded a file of three bunnies shaped like…well, like those marshmallow candies that are everywhere at this time of year, and with the wording “Hanging With My Peeps”. My friend and I cut out a few repeats of the pattern out of heat-transfer vinyl and made tea towels. I thought about using the file again, but didn’t want to mess around with getting the lettering on straight. Mind you, the bunnies were cute on their own…

I wound up cutting out six sets of the three bunnies. When I resized the file so that they’d fit on the blank notecards I bought, I discovered they’d fit perfectly on sheets of this glittery cardstock I’ve had for probably the last 15 years. I bought it because it was sparkly and pretty, and then had no idea what to do with it. Also, that much pattern can be a bit much in one big chunk, but in smaller shapes? It works!

Once they were all cut out, I took the plunge and started shuffling them around to see how any three given patterns looked side-by-side-by-side. I have a hard time with being random, and this takes every ounce of self-uncontrol that I have in me.

Once I was satisfied with my groupings, I glued them down on my card blanks:

I elected to colour in their eyes and noses just to give them a bit of definition.

And there we have it: quick, simple Easter cards!

I did use a cutting machine for my bunnies, but I think this could be achieved with a bit of patient tracing and cutting with scissors…although if I were doing that I’d probably not bother trying to neatly cut eyes and noses. I used a plain UHU glue stick to affix them, nothing fancy. And they were a great way to use up smallish pieces of paper that might not have gotten used otherwise.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, Other Crafts

On the first day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a card to spread greetings merry!

When my friend and I first made our foray into the world of cutting machines last year, we didn’t realize their full potential. I made a couple of Schitts Creek-themed masks using heat transfer vinyl (HTV), and we experimented with HTV on tea towels, but…how many vinyl-ed tea towels or whimsical pop culture masks does anyone really need? As such, the Silhouette sat largely untouched until I discovered that by upgrading my software to a paid (ahem!) version, I could open and cut SVG files rather than importing only PNG or Silhouette-formatted ones.

After making the haunted house box card and pumpkin banner for the Halloween Spooktacular Swap, I was feeling good about my paper-crafting abilities and scanned SVGcuts.com for something cute and Christmassy. I wasn’t disappointed.

I liked the elegance and (relative) simplicity of the Rooftops Box Card, and decided it was perfect to send to my aunt and uncle.

It creates such a neat effect with just four shades of cardstock.

A better angle to show the dimension (I used 3D foam squares to affix Santa’s sleigh):

And just for good measure, a close-up of the glittery snow I added before assembling:

There may or may not have been glitter all over everything, including my pants, by the time I was done.

I also decided to try my hand at North Pole Rudolph. This one was part of a larger set, and didn’t have an instructional video so I was left studying the product image carefully and trying to make mine look like hers. I think (?) I succeeded.

More glitter on this one, too, but what’s Christmas without at least a little bit of glitter? The designer had used a red adhesive gem for his nose, but I had mini pompoms, so that’s what I used. I hope it stays on until it arrives at its destination!

It’s a little hard to tell from the picture above, but this is a tri-fold card:

(The colours are truer in the first shot, but this proves that it can actually stand up.)

It just dawned on me that I didn’t take pictures of the back of either card, but be it known that I stamped a festive message on each one. They went out in the mail yesterday, so should be ready to spread good cheer in just a matter of days.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery, Other Crafts

Snarky Ways to Leave Your Lover

(with apologies to Paul Simon)

“Your problem is trying to be too nice,” she said to me.

“You’ll find it easier if you’ll only be snarky.

It’s just the simplest way to get yourself set free –

Just use snarky ways to leave your lover.”

She said, “Some people think that ‘snarky’ equals ‘rude’.

In fact, some puritans would have it labelled ‘lewd’.

But nuts to them!  I say, who needs their attitude?

Embrace those snarky ways to leave your lover.”

CHORUS

Just tell him, “Nope, dope.”

“Can you not, Scott?”

“Would you go away, hey,

And let me be.”

I said, “No way, Jay!”

“OMG, ewww, Lou.”

What else can I say, hey,

Except for, “Bite me.”

She said, “Don’t let your conscience tell you that it’s wrong.

I hope you’ll see the light before I end this song.”

I said, “That’s great and all, but won’t it take too long

To learn these snarky ways…?”

She said, “Just try to find your inner snark tonight,

And I believe that your man-child will be gone without a fight.”

And then she left me, and I realized she probably was right

‘Bout using snarky ways to leave your lover.

(repeat CHORUS)

Soooo, I signed up for the Be My Snarky Valentine swap on Craftster, after having to sit out the Christmas edition due to having about a dozen other things to try to get done.  But all I really have to do on Valentine’s Day is show up to work (because it’s a weekday, not because I work in a Valentine-specific industry), so I figured I could swing this one.  We each had to craft one small, snarky item plus one snarky card for our partner.

While I typically find Valentine’s Day a bit annoying (and hence the appeal of a snarky swap), I’ve always liked the aesthetic of conversation hearts.  Heck, I don’t even mind eating them, although they tend toward chalky.  I’ve even been known to paint my nails in the same colours and stage ridiculous manicure shoots at my desk:

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(Seriously, what did we do before smartphones?  How did we document the inanity?)

So it seemed like a no-brainer for me to incorporate them into my snarky swap package, somehow.  Fortunately, my partner said she likes pastels, so I thought a mini felt garland might be in order.

Garland 2-2

Each heart is about 3 inches across at the widest points – I didn’t think to measure them – and are spaced 4 inches apart, with 6 inches to the hanging loop on each side.  I cut out two hearts of each colour and then applied fusible interfacing to one before sketching on my snarky sentiments to embroider.  Once they all said something, I sandwiched the ribbon between the two hearts, and blanket-stitched around each heart to secure the ribbon in place.

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I’m also a little particular about the colours being in the proper spectrum order, or at least as close as you can get.

Because I’m a cross-stitcher at heart, that’s the approach I used for my card.

Garland 1-2

I had some sparkly white Aida left over from my mom’s cat ornaments which was just perfect for my background.

Whatever your Valentine’s Day brings, I hope it’s better than Ralph’s. 🙂

General Sewing, Other Crafts

Now you’ve been a naughty girl, you’ve let your knickers down…

Fun fact: the eggman was actually Eric Burdon.  Shudder.

Ever since SiriusXM introduced its Beatles channel last May, it’s been my mom’s channel of choice.  I like them as much as the next person, but not on a 24-7 (excuse me, 24-8, as the station itself says) loop.  In any case, it seemed like a great theme to go with for her birthday.  Remember when themed birthdays were only for kids?  Me, too, but there’s no denying that having a theme makes everything fall into place nicely.

I dusted off my rudimentary and extremely rusty card-making skills for the occasion.  As soon as I found the main image in the course of a random Google search, I knew it had to be used somehow:

Beatles Birthday 2-1

I’m almost chagrined to include a picture of it in all its amateurish glory, but it served as a nice introduction to…

Pressies!  Back in October I discovered some wicked Sgt. Pepper-print fabric on Spoonflower, so hello pajama pants!

(A word about Spoonflower: while I love the fact that I found this fabric, it was $20 USD/yd, and because it’s printed to order there were wide empty white strips all around my 3 yards, which feels like a bit of a rip-off.  Also, they use yards instead of the vastly superior-and-slightly-larger metre, which also feels like a bit of a rip-off.  Those extra 10 cm make a difference!)

Beatles Birthday 1-1

And look, their little Scouse heads just about line up perfectly.

I used McCalls 4244, which at this point I can assemble without the instructions.  The piqué knit I chose is slippery – and surprisingly heavy – and required a ton of pins plus a steady hand on the sewing machine.  But ah, the drape!  As I spent, oh, minutes and minutes (ha!) guiding it through the machine, I started musing how many Beatles song titles could be greatly improved by the substitution of “pants”.  “I Want to Hold Your Pants”, “Maxwell’s Silver Pants”…and don’t forget, “You know I need someone’s paaannnntssss…”

At this point, I’m sure someone across the pond is reading this, sniggering at my obvious misuse of the word.  “Everyone knows pants are what go under your trousers!”  Sit tight, because I’ve got you covered, too.

Behold, Beatles knickers.  (To go with the pants, of course.)

Beatles Birthday 5-1

These are the midrise briefs from this pattern, and have very generous sizing.  I used fold-over elastic for the waistband, but went rogue and finished the legs but turning the edges under and running a zigzag stitch.  My reasoning was twofold: a) the FOE was a little fiddly to work with given the slippery fabric, and b) Fabricland only sells prepackaged cards of FOE at $6.49 for a yard – again with yards!  Since this particular view and size called for a total of 66.25 inches between the waistband and leg openings, that would have brought my total cost for elastic alone to $19.47 (unless I feel like sewing short ends together to make the proper length).  No, thank you.

I didn’t photograph the cake – I drew the themed-party line well before erecting some fondant-covered monstrosity in the shape of a yellow submarine, or whatever else it is one might do – but suffice it to say that a dark-chocolate cake with a cream cheese-whipped cream icing is lovely.

You say it’s your birthday?  We’re gonna have a good time!

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Saying it with flower…

No, that’s not a typo. 🙂

My aunt went to Cuba last month, and, for reasons I don’t fully understand, came back to the snow and cold a few weeks later.  (Oh, so “all-inclusive” and “indefinite” don’t mean the same thing?)  She did, however, bring me back the coolest souvenir ever: a little wooden trivet, with a picture of a cat on it, pieced together like a mosaic out of all different types – or at least stains/finishes – of wood, with the name of the town burned into the wood along the bottom.  This thing is gorgeous, and I’m almost afraid to use it for its intended purpose.

Obviously a thank-you note was in order, and luckily, I had picked up Issue 237 of The World of Cross Stitching a few days before and seen the quick-stitch thank-you cards featured in it.

Thank You Card.jpg

I did alter the design a little bit from its original iteration: I could not find a card in my stitching stash with a big enough circular aperture, so I left out the backstitched border and French knots that made the design circular and re-positioned the lettering so that it was justified rather than curving inward.  I also changed the colours, because, well, why not?

I’ll be sending it up her way tomorrow, and hope it conveys my sincere appreciation. 🙂

baking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Happy Birthday from the Muskrat

I know I’ve disappeared for the last month – January seems to have gotten away from me, but I was quite pleased with myself for having been able to post at least one handmade/home-baked item per month last year, and had no intention of letting my streak disappear!

My mom celebrated a birthday recently, and those of you who follow me regularly know my Birthday Rule.  Obviously there was going to be a homemade cake of some kind; it just took me a while to decide which kind.  I had contemplated tiramisu (vanilla cake, coffee, Kahlua, chocolate shavings) in all its adult glory, but finally decided I needed something chocolate-based.  No matter how fancy I get, she always seems to like my plain chocolate cake/cupcakes best of all.  I got the idea to make a chocolate buttercream frosting laced with raspberry syrup (the latte kind, not the pancake kind), with fresh raspberries for garnish.

Cake 1

Cake 2

But the true stroke of genius, in my obviously completely unbiased opinion, was to place some raspberries on top of the bottom layer once it had been frosted.  It reminded me of some of the fruit tortes from store bakeries, and adds a really nice bit of flavour and texture where one might not expect it.

Cake 3

I also had the perfect birthday card in mind: a Margaret Sherry illustration from The World of Cross Stitching a few months back.  It features a sweet little mouse presenting his hedgehog friend with a birthday cake.

Hedgehog Mouse Card

When I showed it to one of the other party guest, he commented, “Aw, look at the cute little muskrat!”  I’m not sure he was joking.

Also, update on my grammar hoop: I finally got to give it to its intended recipient this week, and he loves it.  He’s displayed it proudly at work, only to have one of his coworkers ask him: “Do you really do it silently?”  Maybe not always…

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Another Mother’s Day, another hedgehog…

When I first saw the issue of The World of Cross Stitching with a free Margaret Sherry card kit attached – featuring a hedgehog, no less! – there was really no doubt as to whether I’d buy it.  I try to cross stitch a card for Mother’s Day every year, and the hedgehog factor was just the icing on the cake.  (Since hedgehogs aren’t indigenous to the region, their likeness can be difficult to find in stores.)

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Despite a slow start, this came together much more quickly than I expected.  And the backstitch really makes his prickles stand out!  It made a cute addition to my mom’s gift.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

baking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery, Other Crafts

Pink cake and orange cat

Hello there!

My mom had her birthday at the end of January, but due to work scheduling, I wound up having to make her cake the weekend before.  I saw the basic idea in an old issue of Woman’s World, which is a magazine that I would generally never, ever buy – except that this issue had featured adorable Hello Kitty cupcakes on the front cover, and I had been unable to resist it.  They also had a layer-cake version of the cupcakes inside, but their recipe used something like four egg whites in the batter and another two in the icing, with no mention of what to do with the yolks, so I quickly dispensed with that idea and instead used my trusty vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World as well as the fluffy buttercream icing from the same.  I also thought I might leave the kawaii characters off the cake, and maybe give it a more mature vibe.  Because nothing says “mature” like pink cake, right?

Ombre Cake 1

I, of course, did not think to get a picture of it while it was intact and free from candle holes.

Ombre Cake 2

Holy ombre, Batman!  I used varying ratios of gel food colours to get the different shades, and they worked like a charm.

Ombre Cake 3

That’s a chocolate-cream cheese filling between layers.  Since the cake itself is just vanilla and not overly sweet, it provided a nice balance and helped keep it moist for the next few days until we could get it all eaten.

She had to wait a couple more days to get the rest of her birthday goodies.  I always try to make a handmade card of some sort:

Surprised Hedgehog

And when I first saw this design on Urban Threads, I knew it had to be made into a t-shirt:

Meow Shirt

I did him in orange to look like her big ol’ furbaby.  He’s painted on – not embroidered – and I think the blue really makes him pop!

Thanks for looking – have a wonderful weekend!

baking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Take me right back to the track, Jack!

Where does the time go?  One day, I was stitching up Christmas ornaments, and now, poof!  Finals, summer birthdays, that feeling of irritation that occurs when you upgrade your operating system only to find out that none of your (admittedly embarrassingly rudimentary) Windows XP software will run on Windows 8.1….

But I digress.

My dad celebrated a birthday a few weeks back, and in keeping with my Birthday Cake Rule*, I knew I had to come up with something good.  I had seen this cake on the Brown Eyed Baker some time ago and had been wanting to try it for a while.  Here’s my take:

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Since my dad is just a wee bit (ha!) older than the BEB’s birthday boy, I passed on the rainbow cake in favour of something just a little more adult.

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This is my modification of the basic chocolate cupcake recipe from…wait for it…Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  It’s rich and moist without being too sweet, nice and light, and goes down easy.  Absolutely worth skipping a half-day of classes to make!

I also took a break from needling away at the rather large needlepoint project that’s been occupying my leisure time to stitch him a card.  I saw the pattern in an issue of The World of Cross Stitching, and he rather reminded me of my parents’ cat.

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*The Birthday Cake Rule, for the uninitiated: If you really love someone, you’ll make them a birthday cake, or pie, or cookies, or other dessert of choice, from scratch.  None of this store-bakery sheet-cake stuff.

cooking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Mother’s Day – Better Late Than Never

Don’t worry –  I didn’t forget Mother’s Day.  I was oh-so-dilligent, producing a homemade card and breakfast.  I just had some…issues…securing appropriate photographs.

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This is not one of the giant apple pancakes (à la Pancake House, but better!) I made last week.  Those got devoured within minutes of their hitting the table, and it wasn’t until we were halfway through that I remembered my camera was in the other room.  This is from a second batch, made today, and with camera close at hand.  It’s criminal how good these are, and how easy they are to make, too.  This may be my new special occasion recipe.

And it’s not Mother’s Day without a homemade card, is it?

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I found the pattern in an issue of Cute Cross Stitch I bought last summer, and had pretty much hung onto the magazine specifically for this card collection.  I modified it a bit – made the kitty’s nose black to look like mine, and left off the tail since she’s a bobtail – and mounted it on some pink cardstock I had on hand.

Happy May Long!