Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ode to Martha Stewart

Oh, Martha Stewart...
You make crafting look so fun, so easy, so doable
Your pictures are stunning
No glue smudges on your papercrafts
No strings showing in your jewelry
No stray lines on your drawings
No stickers off kilter.
Only perfection.
Your photography skills (or your company's photo skills) are marvelous.
They make me want to buy more!

Okay, not really an Ode - let me break out my oboe and try an ode.  Ha!

Martha Stewart crafts - they are packaged so beautifully.  I always think mine will look the same.  The kids crafts pictures look awesome on the packaging too.  But in real life - that doesn't always happen.
(Yikes!  I can't believe I still have this many!)
So, this is part of my hoarding crafting problem.  A few years ago, when stores like Michaels first started selling Martha Stewart packaged crafts, I fell in love.  But I didn't fall in love with the price and apparently, not a lot of other people did either, because a few months after they were out in the first string stores, I was browsing a Big Lots ad and found a lot of the Martha Stewart craft kits on sale for $2!!!!!!  I flipped out!  I was ecstatic!!!  And, although I only had a baby (maybe a toddler - don't exactly remember when it occurred - but I do remember my oldest child being an only child at the time and sitting in the Big Lots cart while I did my shopping), I had all of these dreams of doing the kid's crafts with my daughter and future kids when they got a little older.  I dreamed of playdates they would have where I would whip out these awesome crafts and be the cool Mom for providing such a fun thing to do! 
I was so excited I bought a huge amount of the kits - like at least 40 - probably more.  Yeah, that's at least $80 on these kits.  In fact, I remember going to Big Lots twice because I didn't think I bought enough the first time. 

Well, the kits to make cards have turned out to be awesome.  And I've already done 5 of the kits.  They were meant for adults (I think, anyhow - I had fun working with them!) and clearly very easy and useful.  I like cards, so they were right up my alley.   And these are the remaining...
Martha Stewart Create,  Honeycomb Thank You Card Kit

On the other hand, Martha Stewart still can't overcome some of the problems with some of the other craft kits.
There were felt flowers for hair kits.  Apparently, my daughter was supposed to grow multiple heads so she can wear all of these.  I bought one of each kind Martha Stewart sold.  The two kits that I've made are a little tricky and the glue in them just doesn't hold them together.  She can't actually wear them in her hair, because nothing keeps the flowers stuck to the clips.  And the buttons (the centerpiece of the flowers don't stick to the felt either).  So why am I keeping these?

Balloon animals.  I actually gave away kits of these after trying them, because they are impossible to work with.  The stickers stick well, but the balloon doesn't stay in place and it just becomes a big hassle.
Barnyard Balloon Making Kit By Martha Stewart Create
There were poof ball animals - already gave away these because I've learned - nothing sticks to those stupid poof balls.  (Maybe I should have saved them and sold them on ebay - they are going for $9.99 today- even the one with the obvious crossed out Big Lots price tag.  That's where the pictures are from).
Martha Stewart - Create - Pom-Pom Forest Animal Kit - makes 4 "animals" - NIPMartha Stewart - Create - Pom-Pom Insect Kit - makes 4 "bugs" - NIP - EasyNEW Martha Stewart Pom Pom Kit Lot Chick Pig Piglet Duck Mouse Bird EASTER
There were pipe cleaner animals - not too bad to make but they easily get bent out of shape and I seriously have a ton of pipe cleaners - why did I need to buy a kit with them?  And you can bet I bought all 3 types.
Lot of 2 Martha Stewart Pipe Cleaner Kits - Noah's Ark & Farm Kit - NewNew Sealed Martha Stewart Create Pipe Cleaner Jungle Kit with Diorama
There are refrigerator picture frames - not too bad to make, but since then, I've kept on finding little poof balls (they are my nemesis) on the floor in the kitchen, because, again, they don't stick to damn near anything with any type of glue! 

There were puppets - ok, these are awesome but how many does one need of each kind?  Everything sticks pretty well.  And the bags are thicker, so they've been beat up a little bit and still stay nice. 

And these are the remaining.  I keep thinking I am going to make these, but haven't figured out when.  So this year, we will be flooded with flowers - paper flowers that is.  I am working on the pastel ones now.  And just realized I have 2 of the pastel flower kits. 

These alone have caused a majority of my crafty hoarding and to top it off, two years ago, there were some Martha Stewart stitchery kits on clearance at Michaels.  Aren't they so pretty in the packaging?  See what I mean?  This year, I will find out the results of how these hold up. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Before Pinterest....

Before pinterest started, I would keep a big accordian file for my project ideas.   I spent a lot of time cutting out ideas or printing them up, collecting them, organizing them, looking through them every so often to see if something catches my fancy (rarely does that happen).  Everything from magazine tearouts, to those free store idea pamphlets, to print-ups from the internet.  I kept everything I thought would be inspiration for the future.  Well, I hadn't looked at it for quite awhile and decided to go through it - man, oh, man.  Why?   I think about all the paper and ink I wasted... (and time!)
These were some of the categories in my inspiration folder:  Collecting, Holiday, Crosstitch, Sewing, Kid's Crafts, Birthday Party Ideas, Wreaths and it goes on......  14 categories. 

I've been able to get rid of many of the "ideas" pretty easily.  There were print-ups for ABC 'flashcards' for my kids - which would be nice, except I haven't used them for the first 2 kids, so why would I use it for the next (plus, I already have some ABC flashcards). 
And all of the sewing patterns - when I've already decided that I will not be a sewer. 
And others, I ponder and think about doing the craft. 

I've stated before that I like to read the Minimalist Mom.  She has a great post about pinterest and uses a quote:  comparison is the thief of joy.

Ain't that the truth?
I have pages of Valentine ideas, yet, I prefer to go to a big box store the day after Valentine's and buy the kid's Valentines at clearance prices for the next year.  I am just as good as a mom for handing out pre-packaged valentine's as the mom who makes them all by hand. 
I think it needs to go.... all of it. 
To allow freedom to do things, instead of just reading about more ideas.

And this led me to my Family Fun magazines from my 2012 subscription. I've saved them all.
Luckily, this coincided with my daughter needing some magazines for a Girl Scout project to make a collage. I gave up 2 of them yesterday and since then, I started thinking. Really, why do I need all these others? Most of the ideas are on their website and I'd probably look online for kid's ideas anyhow. So, out with the Family Fun magazines...
I feel like my mother! I keep teasing her because she used to keep all of her Better Homes & Garden magazines from years past and has only recently been going through them all and getting rid of them. (She was reading magazines from the '80s and '90s in 2010!) I know she enjoys doing that but I vowed that's not for me.  It feels like a chore, going through old magazinges - and who needs to look at outdated magazines from years ago when there are plenty to look at from today?

And when there's more to do today!

It is very freeing to get rid of excessive inspiration, almost as freeing as getting rid of stuff.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A knitted hat... Start and finish

Another UFO complete.  This knitted hat was started probably about last February.  It has a complicated pattern and I probably got bored with it or too busy with the kids to finish it. 
So another one complete - more yarn from my stash used.  And I am excited to see it done - the pattern is really pretty.  And it covers up my ears - which is something I really like in a winter hat (and the reason this one is knit up in a man's size - I have a big head- literally:)
See the little blip about an inch up into the pattern?  That's where I started this time around.  I'm not sure what I did, but it will be my identifying mark. Ha!

If its a complicated craft, its definitely better to start and finish in one cohesive time frame or else I will forget how it goes.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The right time to do kids' crafts...

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved The Little Mermaid, even though I was probably too "old" for a Disney movie when it came out.  I had to have everything Little Mermaid and received many Little Mermaid collectibles.  One of the items I was gifted was a pen set with the characters on them (probably sometime in high school).  They were so precious to me that I hardly used them.  Instead, they sat in my desk at home where I could look at them with my other Little Mermaid things.  Then I went to college and forget about all the stuff in my old room.   Fast forward many years when we got a house and my mom brought me boxes of my old stuff, including all of my Little Mermaid collection.  Fast forward a few more years when I had a daughter who can now write.  Since my items have lost a lot of emotional attachment,  I gave her the pens to write with, to draw with, to play with.  Of course, they don't work anymore!   So, they went in the trash.  Really, it's not a surprise.  Although I wish I had used them when I first got them and really appreciated them. 

So, why this rambling?  I try to remind myself of this with the crafts I have, especially the kid stuff.  Sometimes I like to hoard crafts because maybe I feel I should wait until we have the right moment to work on them or the child is old enough to understand how to work properly with the beautiful set of watercolors.  The problem lies in the fact that I have bought countless crafts with the idea that when my kids get older they will have so much fun doing this!  (Can't wait to show you all the Martha Stewart crafts I bought on sale when my daughter was 6 months old!  Eek!)  And times change, different crafts become the fad and those crafts I bought many moons ago are now too boring or not fun.  And really, did I think that big box crafts stores are not going to continue making crafts or having 40% off coupons or other sales on them?

So, if I shall buy crafts in the future, buy them for their immediate use.   (But not this year - since I am on a craft store spending hiatus)
The right time to do a kid's craft is when they will enjoy it.

Here's one I bought last year and was saving for what?  I don't know.  But we had fun with them yesterday.   Shrinky Dinks - who doesn't love these?  I remember making these as a kid and having such fun with them.  And so did my kids.  And if my son (who is 3) wants to make them when he gets older, well I know that they are still available in the stores...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


I was hoping this would happen and it is a good thing...

Starting to go through all my craft (crap - depends who you ask in this house) things has helped me with paring down some other unneeded items.

The latest place to need decluttering - my closet.  When I left work to be a stay-at-home 2 years ago, I thoroughly went through the house and got rid of stuff.  In fact, it was one of my first goals when I stayed home, because I felt like I never had time when I was working.  My evenings and weekends were filled to the brim with taking care of two little children and buying things because I didn't have the time to see what I actually had.  So with no work, I had plenty of time to declutter.  Out went the fondue pot that had hardly been used in the 8 years since we were married, and the digital scale that I had won at a conference and at least a dozen shoes and a few handbags.  But my clothes were largely untouched, mostly because I was pregnant and so, at that time, I had pregnancy clothes, nursing clothes, clothes for when my weight is still getting back to normal - because it doesn't happen for me when I'm nursing -  and regular clothes.  When I was no longer pregnant, I gave all my pregnancy clothes to another pregnant woman.  One big chunk gone.

Well, as anyone who has had multiple kids knows, my body is not the same as it was before having any kids or even after having one kid.  I even go to a Body Sculpting class 3x a week and sometimes do Kickboxing too.  It ain't happening and I'm okay with that.  And my clothes need to reflect that.  I have plenty of clothes that are dated and not quite fitting right, so out with 2 garbage bags full of clothes - too small clothes; man, have hemlines (like on shirts) changed a lot in the last 7 years;  too big clothes;  yeah, some of those stretched out nursing clothes needed to go and other - what I was thinking clothes. And winter coats-- I don't know what other people think of work-insignia clothes.  I had 2 really nice winter coats (one was a carhart and one was columbia) from my previous employer - and they had a little insignia on them with the company name.  As nice as they were to wear when the company gave them to me - and the company was very generous in giving them to me, I am just not into advertising for the company now that I don't work there.  So, I gave away 2 work winter coats to someone I used to work with who expressed interest.   

And one awesome pair of boots that I bought 4 years ago and have not worn because it is painful to do so.  Sigh...  They are so cute, aren't they?   Hope somebody else will be able to find comfort in them.

It's nice to make some more room in the closets - a little fresh air, a little more breathing room. 
I am still working on the crafts - just knitting a hat that is taking a little longer...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Kid's Crafts

How many crafts do 3 kids need?
I've read Simplicity Parenting - great book, many ideas I think would be useful but not always easy to institute.  In fact, in this house you wouldn't know I've read the book and I'd like to change that.
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
And recently (but before I started this blog!)  I purchased a 'grab bag' at Michael's.  Ever see one?  They package up all kinds of clearance items in a Michael's bag, staple it shut, put a price tag on it and wooolah - a gem in the eyes of many bargain hunting crafters.  A consumer's dream.  You can see what's in them and I was allured, only because I saw someone in the checkout line with a bag.  In fact, at the time, I even got out of line to go seek this grab bag.  So I found a bag with Boy's crafts - helpful because I have 2 boys.  It was 2 packages of make your own crafts for $2.  Why?  I've bought other kid's crafts in a box and usually am terribly disappointed - either too hard or the glue doesn't really work.  So what was I thinking - dragging more stuff into the house? 
Here is one of the boxes completed...
Dinosaurs painted with paint provided in the box (have I shown you a picture of the plastic tub of paint that I have?  The kids did enjoy painting - but again, they would have been happy if I gave them a empty toilet paper roll and the paints we already own.

Airplanes - one is already broken and discarded and the other spends most of it time on the floor waiting to be stepped on.  Fun to play with for about one minute.  As I write this, the blue plane just ended up in the toilet - and now the garbage. 

Catapult - cool concept, but the string already fell off it, 2 of the beanbags are missing - probably in the couch  - and the catapult doesn't work unless you hold the bottom while pulling back on the catapult.  Again, a toy that missed the mark and will be thrown out soon.

I show these things to remind myself when the next Grab Bag is available at Michael's:
  •  I don't need these types of toys in the house. 
  • We can make our own fun crafts with what's already on hand. 
  • Don't buy things that will just end up in a landfill.
  • Get things that are age appropriate.
  • And for goodness sakes, there will be age appropriate crafts available when the kids grow up - it's not likely that all the major craft stores are going to go out of business soon (maybe without me shopping at them, they might? Ha! Ha!) - so no hoarding crafts for the future!
In light of all this, I gave the 2nd box to my neighbor who has 4 older boys (compared to mine) who will appreciate these crafts. 

2 big boxes removed from the craft pile. :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Crocheted rope bracelets - Know when to cut your losses

I had recently checked out a book from the library - pretty cool looking and I had eyed it for awhile on Amazon -
Product Details
And it has amazing pictures - very inspiring - such eye candy,  so of course I had to try some of my own.  First, tried with 4 colors - because I found out quickly it's a little more difficult crocheting a rope with beads than normal crochet. 
But, as I had already threaded 3 strings with beads, I must forge ahead.The verdict - Very difficult to begin - a lot easier after a few rows.  Definitely need to string more beads than you think you will need.  My first bracelet was too short and I don't have anymore beads in those colors. 

This is another one, already strung.  And this next picture is after I gave up and decided that bead crochet ropes are a not a craft I want to pursue.  That's part of this year - figuring out when to cut my losses and what to forge ahead on.  It actually feels kind of freeing to say that  - to set a limit.  Funny thing isn't it - how limits makes us feel freer?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How many cards does one need?

So this is where I am beginning - with a 2011 calendar of CARDS. 

I don't know what I was thinking when I purchased this.  It was probably in January 2011 - that's when I quit work to become a stay-at-home mom and probably thought I would have oodles of time to do this kind of stuff.   (Ha!  I was pregnant and had 2 kids at the time - little did I know).  Plus, I like having a semi-homemade card to give someone.  And the box says "More than 100 seasonal & holiday original cards".  Little did I know that the cards are all miniature cards - really why did I think I would be able to make full-size cards from a calendar that fits in a box that is 7"x6"x1.5"?  Oh, well, everybody I know should be expecting really small envelopes in the mail this coming year.  

The verdict?  They are kind of fun to make, really easy - especially when you use gluedots - goes so much faster. and I think they will be fun to put in my daughter's lunch or for her to pass out to her friends for birthday parties.  Wish I had done them earlier, because several of the paper accents to include on the cards actually had the year 2011 on them, so I had to discard them. 
My little helper with the calendar box.
See the stack to do - that's with about half done. 
Done!!!  Complete with envelopes made - and using some glassine envelopes - left over from our wedding (10.5 years ago!!!!)