Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Smoke-Free Anniversary!

Today marks my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY since I've been smoke-free!!

No more, will I be making ANY of these little messes around my house!!

I don't mind setting one out for a guest, and I will never judge him for how he can or cannot quit; but you will never see me lighting up a cigarette ever again! I have kicked this habit to the curb!.. Now.. Do I think I've saved money by quitting? I can't imagine paying for them at what they cost now; but I can't say I'm saving any money either! The way the economy has been going, I am still just paying more, and more, and more for everything ELSE!

Do I FEEL better since I quit smoking?.. I have to say yes to this. To just climb a set of stairs, I do think my breathing has gotten better!.. And this is the first winter season I've gotten through WITHOUT a knock-down, weeks-long, doozy of a chest-congested, cough my head off, cold-n-flu condition of some sort! This alone did surprise me this year! Now I'm wondering how much I saved, not having to purchase all the cold and cough medications and doctor visits!

My advice to anyone who hasn't quit yet?.. Well, as a former smoker, there really are no magic words that are going to sway someone into quitting. My father would talk till he was blue in the face, trying to get me to quit, and it never swayed me an inch! Funny thing is, it seems to me that the ones who bark the loudest about the issue of smoking, suddenly don't have ANYTHING to say once I've actually QUIT!!

To all the friends and loved ones who are truly concerned about this, I understand, and truly appreciate the concern. Keep on caring! Some people need your love, friendship, an support much more than you might think! To all the big mouths out there, who think they can simply nag, bully, or shame someone into kicking the habit.. BACK OFF! Either support a person when (s)he is READY to quit, or find some other issue or crisis to wring your hands over!

If somebody is going to quit smoking, it has to come from within themselves! Something inside of them has to be strong, tough, and determined enough to get through this horrible addiction. For me, meds helped! The first few days are the hardest. A good deal of bed rest helped. Withdrawl is no different than being sick! Stay in bed, drink plenty of water, and just sleep as much of it off as you can till you feel a little better. I did this for the first few days; but you gotta get up sometime! So after those first few days, I found things to do, and just kept busy! This is what worked for ME. I won't pretend that it was easy! Everybody is different. No one method works for everybody. One thing is certain. It is just too hard to do alone. I don't care what anybody else thinks about that! Don't be afraid or embarassed to seek help! There are plenty of support groups and associations out there ready to help you in more ways than you might even think!.. no matter who you are, or where you come from! Just know that, when the time is right for you, you CAN do it!

I really am so proud of me! How will I celebrate my big milestone today?.. Hmm.. I think I may need to bake a cake!.. with LOTS of chocolate frosting! That sounds good to me!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All Fired Up 4 Earth Day!

Well, I may have gotten to bed "A Little Too Late" last night. I guess "I Need A Lover" to tell me when to put the craft projects down, and get some sleep!.. But today is Earth Day, and I'm "All Fired Up" to show you the recycle project I was working on!

I've said it before. I LOVE purses; and if you ask me, a girl can never have too many of them! I have always wanted to make a record album purse! There was always the "Temptation" as I saw a multitude of them all over the internet, but I just never seemed to find the "Precious Time" to make one. Well, I FINALLY got around to it! I mentioned yesterday, how I was gathering up my materials. I had most everything except one item. With the weather as it was, I did indeed "Run Between The Raindrops" to pick it up at my local Walmarts. Having gotten that out of the way, I was ready to start my project! I did some research on the internet for tutorials and ideas, but isn't it "Just Like Me" to go on some "Helter Skelter" tangent to make it in just a certain way that I specifically want it to be! Well, if you're interested, "Don't Walk Away"! I'll tell you how I did mine!

First, I had to pick out two vinyl "33" record albums.. Ones which I could muster up the courage to poke holes into! I can't deny that I did "Get Nervous" about it! Finally, I decided to go with two of my Pat Benatar albums. I just LOVED her during my High School days! There she was , from the very first days of MTV. She was pretty. She was cool. She's an awsome singer who helped to bring this shy teenage girl out of her shell, with a little bit of attitude to boot! With her music blaring from my little turntable, I was definitely starting to feel "Invincible"!

Anyways, I still have several other albums by her, and a best-of CD too.. And it wasn't like I was tossing them away. Heaven KNOWS I never could master "The Art of Letting Go"! I just said "I'll Do It", as I reassured myself that Pat would probably LOVE that I was making something like this!.. Well, I certainly HOPE so at least! The next step in this project was to make holes around the edges of these albums. While I read that other crafters have used thick metal nails, I felt much safer using a plastic-handled awl to work best for me! I held the point over a lit candle then poked the holes, each spaced about 1/4" apart. It doesn't take long for the awl to heat up. If you're feeling any "Anxiety", and you find you have an urge to grab a hammer to tap the hole in easier, then DON'T! If the awl is hot enough, it will go through the vinyl album like melting butter! I would advise that you put your phone on speaker.. or put on a good movie.. "In A Crazy World Like This", Take the time to sit back and relax.. Just get comfortable, because this step will take between approximately 30 to 45 minutes, each album. Next I found a fabric I thought would be nice for a lining, and then I got out some scrap quilt batting. I traced an album on to each so that I had two circular pieces on lining, and two circular pieces of batting. Now I layered one fabric circle (right side down on the table), then the one circular piece of batting, then an album, and I hand sewed the three layers together, using a thick, heavy-duty black thread. I did the same with the remaining pieces for the other side of my purse. It is here, where I hand sewed a second time around, to also layer a piece of table cloth clear vinyl on top of each album, as I know how rough I can be on a purse! While I'm sure some girls are very graceful and careful.. I can only imagine all the scratches MY purse would have if I had skipped this step!

I decided to recycle a pair of jeans for the side piece and handles. I first cut a piece approximately 30"x 6". Now we have fraying edges on the two shorter sides of this piece, but "Don't Let It Show". Just neatly iron and machine sew these edges down, same as you might to hem a skirt or pants. (*Note: I chose not to line this piece, but that IS an option.) I then folded and ironed down, I'd say almost 1/2", the long edges of this piece; I did NOT machine sew this part. I eyed the center of this fabric with the bottom-center of one of the record albums, and began to hand sew the two together, this time using clear fishing line. Hand sew the other album to the other side of the fabric, the same way, but this time taking more care to be sure that placement is accurately well-fit together. I'm sure there are a few readers saying "MORE hand sewing?!" I'm sure it may be "Hard To Believe", but once you've gotten beyond melting holes into the vinyl, the hand sewing really shouldn't bother you, and it goes pretty quickly! Finally, I cut two 3" x 19"strips of my denim jeans, and I sewed up the handles/straps of my purse. You, of course can adjust that lengthen or shorten these to your own preference. From here, it's all up to you! Make a closure of some sort if that's what you prefer. Embellish to your heart's desire! And you're done! Take your purses, "Lift 'Em On Up", and sing the "Ooh Ooh Song" while doing a little happy dance! Look at what you just made!

Enjoy!.. And Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Little Rain Must Fall

In recognition of National Poetry Month, this just seemed perfect for a day like today...

The Rainy Day
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

As poor as I can find my hearing to be sometimes, I have no doubts that I could hear a pin drop today. The pets lie around as if a damp and dreary day can depress even them. But I have always thought the sound of rain was beautiful to listen to. So rather than watch a dreary, drippy scene out my window, I light a candle. I have no desire to hear a t.v. or radio in the background. I find a great sense of peace and tranquility this morning, just to take in the sounds of the drip-drip-drop of our little April showers. "What can compare to your beautiful sound".

In this rare moment of undisturbed peace, I planned for a project I might want to make, and perhaps share here, as we observe Earth Day tomorrow. I did finally come up with an idea for something I have always wanted to try, but just never made the time to. Now feeling inspired, I did a little research for a basic "how-to", gathered my materials, and I am about ready to start!

In closing today, if it is raining where you are as well, try to remember... "Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Look Who Came to My House!

Previously, I posted about the Annie Doll I just made for Aunt Pitty Pat's Sugar and Spice Annie Swap, to send to my swap partner Jenni H. Well, she told me to watch the mail, because she was sending a doll she made back this way, to my house! Oh, I was very busy today, cooking a big batch of chili, then cleaning house; but I didn't forget to watch for that mailman! Finally, I spotted the package on my front porch! She was here! I dropped EVERYTHING I was doing, of course! I opened her up, with all the excitement of a child on Christmas morning, and she was absolutely DARLING!! I LOVE her! Just look at this cute little face on her! I love the bow in her hair, and the little heart button at the neckline of her dress! Here she is, along with the very pretty stationery goodies that Jenni sent with her! Jenni, you did a BEAUTIFUL job on this doll, and I thank you! I promise you I'll love her always, and I will take very good care of her!

Now I think I've already mentioned that I was making a second Annie doll, the same as I had made the one for Jenni. I just couldn't resist. I had to make TWO! So, you see, as this turns out, the Annie that I made and the Annie that Jenni made seem to be getting along splendidly! Why, I'd say it wasn't long at all before they were sitting together, having tea and cookies, and chatting like "BFF"s! Now, I like that.. because that is what these swaps are all about, yes? You meet new people, make new friends, and share your artistic interests and talents! I really loved participating in this swap, and I hear there might be a second one soon?! I'm heading right over to Aunt Pitty Pat's, to sign up again! Count me in! In the meantime, I hope my visitors here will do the same!!.. THEN, head over to see Jenni's blogs! See "My World of Whimsy" first, then hop over to her "Thrifty Is Nifty" blog. She has made an awsome Treasure Chest birthday cake; and then she's got a post there about homemade dishwasher detergent! I will definitely be trying that out!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Four Done, Eight to Go

I just finished working on the March and April granny squares for my Calendar 'Ghan! I am really liking the colors I've chosen, as I go along; even though I still don't have a definite image or plan for how it will look when it's all done yet!

Because I am Irish, I just knew that my "Lion's Mane" should be made in greens!.. And why not? Haven't you ever seen a green lion before? I did have a little trouble with the tension/gauge on this square, though, finding it was too small when I was done; so I added an extra round. For my April "Spring Fling" square, I just used a larger hook. I thought purples would be pretty! I kept it to only two shades though. I think purples can be so hard to match/coordinate in just the way I want them to sometimes, and I'm getting very discouraged with the minimal selection I have to choose from at the stores anymore.

Well, four squares now done for this "ghan", and only eight more to go!
I have a good many 7" granny squares that are starting to accumulate. I am beginning to think I should start pulling those together for another afghan! Hmm.. which would mean I'd now be working on THREE different afghans at the same time? I have never been THAT ambitious before, but I may just try that anyway. Each afghan can be stored in a separate tote bag, and I can just grab which ever one I feel like working on, whenever I feel like working on it! That sounds o.k. to me, and I think I can handle that!

Well, it looks like Spring is here to stay! It has been absolutely beautiful out! I am already carting my favorite books and crochet projects out with me, along with a hot cup of coffee, onto my little front porch in the evenings; usually after dinner and a walk around the block with the kids and our dog. It's one of my favorite times of day! Hmm.. I think the only thing that could make this evening any more perfect would be the sound of the Ice Cream truck making his way towards our house!

Friday, April 3, 2009

One Juicy Post!

Many of us have surely heard of the Kool-Aid Jammer purses, yes? I've made them myself, but my own spin to them is NOT to sew them. I crochet AROUND them! From there, I basically use them like granny squares! I have made purses and a tote bag. For fun, I've even made Kool-Aid Jammer Christmas stockings! They were fun! They were cute!.. And they definitely struck up a great deal of conversation! So, why stop there?

As Easter approaches, and as I plan out a gift list, I thought, how about some Easter baskets? So off I went to my craft stash to find what empty packets I had saved, or should I say, still had left. I don't just save Kool-Aid. I also save Capri Sun packets or other brands, if there's a color or design on them I like! As soon as the kids drink them up, they know to save the packets for Mom's crafts! "Don't throw those out!" They are pretty good about it. They know not to throw away even the straws. I use them too! And no, I don't stop there!


Juicy-Jammin' Easter Basket:
(c) As designed and written by Beansieleigh (TS), April 2, 2009

Skill Level: Easy!
Finished Size: Approximately 12" tall, and 4" wide.

Materials Needed:
4 empty juice packets, washed, rinsed, and dried.
1/2 gallon cardboard milk container, washed, rinsed, and dried.
4-ply acrylic yarn, in main color, then ruffled-edging color (white in this case).
Size G crochet hook.
2 (7 hole x 90 hole) pieces of 7-mesh plastic canvas.
Yarn needle for weaving in ends.
Hole puncher

To start, you cut away a slim strip off the top of each packet, just enough to open them, wash and rinse them. There is that hole at the top, but leave that there, don't trim that far down. I find a spot where I can drip-dry them upside down on a dowel rack, with some clothes pins. Now, remember, rinse those straws and save those for another project. Waste not! You will also need to wash, rinse, and dry a half-gallon cardboard milk carton. Now take a hole punch, and refer to photo. Punch holes around each packet as shown. What works for me, is to evenly space, as best I can, punching 9 holes across the top and bottom of each, and then 14 holes down each longer side. I try to make holes approximately 1/8" apart, but am careful not to make them any closer than that. Take a small snip at the upper corners of your juice packet, just to be rid of any sharp protrusion. By the way, as you're punching the holes, don't throw the punched-out dots you're now accumulating out! Empty your hole puncher into a jar or bowl, and we'll talk more about that later! Now, holding packet upside down, but right side facing you, attach yarn to a bottom corner of your packet. With a size G crochet 4 sc in each corner hole, and 2 sc in each hole on sides, all the way around. Join with a sl st to the first stitch to complete this one round. Fasten, leaving a long yarn tail for sewing packets together.

When done crocheting around all 4 packets, then sew your four sides together, in the same way you would sew granny squares together, now forming the sides of your basket. So as to next fit around your milk carton, take a pen to mark where the top edge of your squares are on that carton. This is where you will know how far down, to next cut away the top. (Now THIS, the top, you can throw away!) Take your hole punch, and like the packets, punch holes around the top edge, where you just cut. You may toss all those little milk carton dots AWAY! I cannot yet find any appreciation or creative vision for any use of THOSE!

O.K.. Set that all aside for the moment, and take your yarn to make a basic 3 -round granny square, with a 4th round of single crochet stitches for proper fitting. See this video for granny square tutorial, if you need to; but I started my own square with a ch. 3, and I used a G hook throughout this entire project. Remember, stop at 3 rounds, then just crochet a round of single crochets. Fasten, leaving a yarn tail to sew the square to the bottoms of the packets, thus forming the bottom of your basket. Fasten off and weave in any ends.

With milk carton inserted into basket, attach white yarn through any hole of carton AND through any st of croceted-packet square.

Rnd 1: Through both layers around, sc around to form an even row of stitches, which will now make the 2 edges into ONE. Join round with a sl st. Ch 1, to start a second round.

Rnd 2: *5 hdc in first st, sc in the next st* around, to form a ruffle. Fasten off weave in end.

For a handle, I took 2 layers of 7-mesh plastic canvas, 90 holes x 7 holes, then basically satin stitched to cover canvas with main color yarn of my basket, then stitched the edges in white. With white yarn, I then sewed the handle to the top-inside edge of my basket. Fill with Easter grass, and whatever goodies you may choose, and there you have your Juicy-Jammin' Easter Basket! Enjoy!

*Updated note 4/4: If you are interested in making a basket that's cute for a boy, Capri Sun makes grape flavor packets with a rollerblading-skaterboy on them! I'm making one of these right now! I'll post it when it's done!


Now you remember I would use the straws later. Don't throw those out! See the photo, where I used them to make "God's Eyes", or "Ojo de Dios"!! Another more practical use, I suppose, that I have found for these little straws, is to mix small amounts of acrylic paints with them, for various craft projects!

Finally, I'm sure you did not think I threw all those shiny, sparkly Kool-Aid Jammer dots from the hole punch away! No way! Don't throw those out either! As you see in the photo, displayed in a little milk glass bowl, I'm saving my moolah, while I'm saving these hole-punching leftovers for either confetti or sequins that may be needed for future crochet, sewing, or craft projects ahead!


Here's one more little project that was fun, quick, and can be just right for tucking into an Easter card, or for using as a gift-wrapping topper!...

Juicy-Jammin' Carrot Bookmark:
(c) Written and designed by Beansieleigh (TS), April 2, 2009

Skill level: EASY!
Gauge: Not important

Materials Needed:
One orange juice packet, washed, rinsed, and dried.
One small piece of posterboard, cardboard, or cardstock; or maybe a piece still leftover from that milk carton you used for the Juicy-Jammin' Easter Basket!
A Hole Puncher.
Small amounts of orange and green, 4-ply acrylic yarn.
Size G crochet hook.
Yarn needle for weaving ends.
Beads, or charms, if desired, for embellishment.

I took an orange Kool-Aid Jammer packet and layered it with a same-sized piece of poster board. All layers together, I then cut out a carrot shape, approximately 4 1/4" long, and 1 7/8" across at the widest top edge of the carrot. Still holding all layers aligned and together, I punched holes, spacing them as evenly as I could around the entire edge. Again, holes should be spaced about 1/8" apart, but no closer. Now with a bright shade of orange, and still holding all layers aligned and together, I crocheted 2 sc in each hole along the sides, 3 sc in in any corner holes. Sl st to join the round. Fasten off and weave in end.

Now take a shade of green (mine was sage), and attach it to a stitch just RIGHT of the center top orange crochet stitch of the carrot. Chain 7, sl st in sec ch from hook, and in next 2 chains. Sc in next 3 chains, then sc in next (center top) st of the carrot. Chain 10, sl st in same st. Chain 10 again, sl st in same st AGAIN. Sl st into the next st of carrot top, ch 7, sl st in second ch from hook, and in next 2 chains. Sc in the next 3 chains; sl st in same st where you began this chain. Fasten off and weave in end. You now have four leaves. Now attach green yarn to center of your 4 leaves, and then ch 50, or to your own preferred length for bookmark. Add tassel, pom-pom, beads, or charms in whatever way(s) you choose to embellish, and you're done!

Well, I hope you liked my little recycling, "Go Green" Easter projects! Waste not! Save money!.. But most importantly, have fun!