Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Repetition Is A Good Thing

Learning something new can be exciting... or make you want to pull your hair out. I had an Asian Charm Swap that just drove me N-U-T-S! First... I couldn't think of what I wanted to do. Then, when  I finally had an idea, I couldn't think of how to 'pull it off'. So back to the drawing board looking for a new idea.

EUREKA!!! Or should I have said, "Ahhhhh Sooooo".  An idea came flying out of thin air. I knew what I would make... An Asian Locket. Do a little paper folding, add a cover and ribbon to keep it closed, throw on a jump ring and... Ta Dah!

No, of course it wasn't that easy. Why would I have thought that?? Nothing is ever as simple as you think it's going to be... at least not in my world.

I unearthed my roll of rice paper the other day... so that part went smoothly. Folding paper that was cut 1 1/2" square was a little challenging, but not difficult. The covers were cut and glued to card stock to make them sturdy... so far so good. Moving right along to assembling the charms (all 30 of them)... looking good.


In progress

Last is to insert a grommet and jump ring... UGH! They look B-O-R-I-N-G! Lacking PIZZAZZ! Hmm... they need a little glitz. Soooo... here comes the hard part... at least for me.

It's time I learned how to wire wrap. I have the beads, the wire, and the tools. Now, let's put it all together and get these things finished. Uh... I've never done this before. Never even seen someone else do it either. Where do I start??? I know... the Internet! After watching a few videos I feel I'm ready to take on the wire! It's only a spool of wire and some pliers. I'm not intimidated!!!

Thank heavens I had to make 30 charms for this swap. Wire wrap number 1 and 2 (the top 2 in photo) were AWFUL!!! By number 10 (third in photo) you can see I've made some progress... but number 16 (bottom one) is the winner!! Isn't it pretty????

I obviously got the hang of it. Of course I re-made number 1 and 2. There is no way I would have sent those out on something I made... ICK!

Ready to assemble

Finshed Charm!
The idea is to untie it, glue pictures of your loved ones  inside, or write and affirmation... then tie it  back up and hang.

I'm off to the Post Office to mail out my charms. Stay warm!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And She S-C-O-R-E-S!!!!

It all started with a red Turtle Neck sweater I purchased before the holidays. While grabbing a few odds and ends at Target... a display of turtle necks caught my attention. It was mostly the colors that intrigued me... but the red one stood out among all the others (maybe because that is Target's 'signature' color?).

Hmmm... I thought to myself. The Holidays are fast approaching, and I don't really own anything red. It looks well made enough to make it through the season without fading, pilling, or falling apart. My budget can handle a $10 purchase. OK... I'll buy it! And THAT should be the end of this story... but it's not.

A few weeks later, early January to be exact... I found myself back in Target (thank heavens it's only down the road). The turtle necks were on sale!!! Woo Hoo! I'll splurge and buy another one since they are marked down to $5 each. What a bargain!!! I can't believe my good fortune!!! The red one held up nicely, washed well, felt good... I could definitely use another one. Decisions, decisions, decisions... which color should I get this time??? HOT PINK! That should liven up my drab mostly black, white, and grey wardrobe palette. GO ME! I'm the greatest bargain hunter in the universe! Is THIS the end of the story??? NO!
New additions to 'work at home' wardrobe

It's now 2 weeks later... and I'm BACK at Target returning the item I purchased there the last time (no, NOT the turtle neck). I decided my paltry bank account could handle another $5 purchase so I saunter over to the clothing department. ICK! All the new Spring clothes are on display... oh well... you can't win them all. I'm thrilled with the 2 turtle necks I got already... be happy with that. As I wander around the store, killing time before I have to pick my mom up, I spotted the sweaters! They were thrown on the displays in the waaayyyy back. Goodie!!! I could use a black one... so I go to investigate. Yup... there is a black one in my size. I check the tag to make sure they are still $5. Nope... NOW they are $2.50! $2.50????? OMG!!! How can that be??? For $2.50 I'll take one in EVERY COLOR!!! I scrabble through the piles and come up with a bunch in my size. As I go to the register I am so pleased with myself!! New clothes!! Whoopie! I feel like I just won the lottery! SCORE!!!
Grey, Teal, Purple, White
My new favorite word.. Clearance!

Do you notice anything wrong with the picture to the left??? Let's see... so far I have red, pink, grey, teal, purple, and white.... something's missing. Hmmm... what could it be???

ACK! I know... I went back to the store the very next day...

And bought the BLACK one!!

NOW my story is finished!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Debbie Designs A Quilt!

Last summer I started a wall quilt with gold fish swimming around on it. During my move it got packed up and put away... somewhere. So until I can find it I have to move on to another project. I have joined an Internet Quilt Along!!! Let me explain...

One person signs on as 'host' and hundreds of quilters all around the globe follow the weekly posted instructions. All participants join a FLICKR GROUP and post their progress. The main objective is to STASH BUST... meaning you should use fabric you already own and NOT purchase any more. This is a quilt that fits my budget!!!

So far the instructions seem simple enough. Since it's a scrap quilt I get to cut up all the smaller pieces of fabric I have been hoarding over the years. Believe it or not I won a raffle and the 'host' of this Quilt A Long sent me a large gallon baggie of her scraps!! Too funny!!!

As I was slicing random colors the quilt began to form in my head. Dot dot dot - dash dash dash - dot dot dot.  SOS... Share Our Scraps. Dot dot dot - dash dash dash - dot dot dot. SOS... Share Our Scraps. Quickly my rotary cutter produced hundreds of 2 inch squares and 2 inch by 4 inch rectangles. Simple... right??? Ahhh... No.

When I began to lay out the scraps I realized I had OPTIONS. Out came the pen and graph paper. Next I began to play around with my options and took photos to compare. As I sleep tonight I assume the correct option will pop in my dreams. I'm already leaning in one direction... any one want to take a guess which one I like the best?
Controlled Chaos - Dots and Dashes in order and match.

Haywire - Still has all dots and dashes, but each 3 are different fabrics.

Scrappy Chaos - Creative license taken on signal by only using 3 dots and 3 dashes, each a different fabric.  Wondering if the SOS message will get lost without unification. Could possibly insert a solid square at the end of each segment.

Which one do YOU like best??? Why???

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What a morning!!

Homemade Blueberry Scones

Yummmmmm... My morning started early with baking delicious Blueberry Scones using the recipe from America's Test Kitchen. I wish there were a way to send you the sweet scent of my kitchen while they were baking. Mmmmm... sugar, butter, and pastry with a hint of lemon. Add a cup of French Press coffee and my day is off to a great start! A friend and neighbor stopped by to pick a couple scones up to take to work. I hope he LOVES them as much as I do. It's difficult to stop at just one... but my waist line says I have no choice.


My eye caught a glimpse of something shimmering on the floor. Uh-oh... the dog knocked over her water bowl. No.... wait a minute... Darla hasn't been downstairs yet this morning. Hmmm.... Upon closer inspection I see that I have a flood outside my back door and the water is seeping in the kitchen under the door seal. UGH! I guess I need to make a note of this to be fixed and re-graded in the Spring. Ahhhh... the joys of home ownership. I love this 90 year old house... it's never dull... there are so many surprises. (Yes, this is the same back door that flew open in the snow storm and had to be held closed with my mixer). Think I need a new door????

While looking out the back door I couldn't HELP but notice the new private dumpsters... uh... trash cans provided by my new home's township. When I moved here a few short months ago I was stunned to learn that trash pick up was twice a week. The township fathers decided to change that to once a week, and provided us with special trash cans. Well... I don't know how much trash YOU guys generate in a week, but by the looks of these cans I bet I could do with a once a month pick up! These cans are so HUGE that I have no idea where to put them in my yard. They are way too big for the tiny little space where the old can was neatly tucked in to on the driveway. They are also too big to put in the garage... they would take up one fourth the available space. I guess another job to put on my Spring list is to create a space for these monsters where they are not an eye sore, nor compete for the landscaping space. Ideas anyone???

Friday, January 14, 2011

Clipped Wings...

A few posts ago I hinted I had a few 'issues' with car insurance and promised to tell you about it. Today is the day!!! Grab a 'cuppa', sit back, and read on...

Last night I had nice dinner with my daughter, her husband, and my sister-in-law. All was right with the world. I wasn't in a hurry, I wasn't tired, I wasn't driving recklessly. Actually after the hour long drive home I was sitting at a traffic light just a few miles from my street. When the light turned green I slowly pressed the gas pedal...  red and blue flashing lights began flashing in the rearview mirror . I pulled over to let the police vehicle pass... and instead it pulled up behind me!!! What???? Really??? Me??? What the heck did I do???

Because I was on a major highway I decided to S-L-O-W-L-Y pull in to the nearest parking lot... the police car followed. CRAP!!! It was the local Sheriff department... the officer was young and not too hard on the eyes (if you know what I mean). I handed over my license as requested, and since it wasn't my car I had to scrabble around the glove compartment HOPING that the insurance card and registration was there. I felt like I was intruding on the car's owner... hunting through his private papers. EEK! I handed everything I found to the officer and asked for an explanation. I was told that after he checked me out he would explain.

Apparently the car I was driving had a lapsed registration. Okay... not my car, not my problem... right? Wrong! I got the ticket... for driving an unregistered vehicle. UGH!!! That just didn't seem fair. To add insult to injury... he handed me another ticket for driving on a suspended license. What??? Not me!!! I paid restitution before the holidays... my license is NOT suspended!!!  Here's how that all happened...

My son was on my car insurance policy since he began driving at 17. Last year he moved to California and got his own coverage. I called the insurance company and asked to have him removed from my policy... and sent his coverage information. A few months later, my daughter received her car insurance bill... it was double what it should have been!!! Our agent took my son off my policy, but added him to hers. She called and complained, our agent took him off her policy... then for some unexplained reason cancelled MY policy!!!

So here I am driving around without a care in the world not knowing I don't have coverage. One afternoon I went shopping at a local mall. I parked legally in a regular parking spot... well within the lines. Nothing wrong here. When I come out of the store, there's a bright red ticket on my windshield. At first I thought it was some kind of advertisement, but as I got closer I realized it was a parking ticket... for parking a car with a suspended registration. Huh??? THAT'S when I found out I had no coverage!! I also found out that my driver's license was suspended!!!

Technology is a wonderful thing. It took just a few minutes to pay the fines to restore my license. I received a confirmation through my e-mail. Ahhh... at least I got my license restored. Next on my 'hit list' was to get the insurance back up. Not so easy.

The insurance company I have used for the last 27 years would not write me a policy!!! Can you believe that??? Their underwriters insisted that I had to have 12 consecutive months of coverage before they could write one. THEY are the ones that cancelled me!!! UGH!!!

A friend of mine actually had a spare car and offered the use of it until I could straighten out the insurance issue. How nice. I eagerly accepted the kindness, especially since it was the holiday season and I was closing down my bookstore at the same time. The loaner allowed me the peace of mind to get through this stressful time. I would concentrate on getting things straightened out after the first of the year.

Then last night happened!! The officer was nice, and believed me that I paid restitution... but since the computers still showed I was suspended he had to give me the ticket. After a few phone calls today I was told that I had to take off my license plates and turn them in to Motor Vehicles... get a receipt and THEN my license would be re-stored. Now... why didn't someone tell me that earlier???

Last night I went to bed feeling sorry for myself. Here I was, no license... sleeping on an air mattress that deflates in the night... no money in the bank, except for the upcoming mortgage payment... no job... a lawsuit pending... a broken heart... no car insurance and apparently no way to get some. I couldn't just get in the car and drive to the beach to contemplate the world. I had a toothache... and couldn't drive to the store to purchase floss and Listerine. My wings were clipped. My freedom as I knew it stripped out from under me. Life sucks at times.

The morning shined brightly. I made the fateful call that changed my point of view. There was a process to follow to straighten everything out. I now have a properly restored drivers license... and car insurance. Another crisis solved.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Pancake Rule

Did you ever notice that the first pancake of the batch never comes out quite right? It's still edible... just a little burnt, or dry.  If you stick it on the bottom of the stack no one will notice, but you know it's there. Well... the same is true when crafting.

I finished my charms for the first swap I ever joined. While looking them over I was amused to stumble across the 'first pancake'. Can you pick out which one it is?

Here is a quick overview of how I made my charms. My last post showed me making paper beads from a magazine... watch the fun continue!

 The beads were coated with a water resistant sealer and stuck in a styrofoam cone to dry.

Next was to cover a small rectangle of balsa wood with vintage sheet music... seal and dry... then sand, sand, sand.

Since this is a Valentine swap I punched out teeny tiny hearts from the same paper as the beads and glued them to the back of the wooden rectangle.

Now it's time to combine the pieces. Adding pearl beads I wire wrapped the paper beads to to the wooden base. Last step... glue on the bail (shaped like a heart)... and TA DAH... my first ever charms!!

These were all new techniques for me... so a real learning experience. The most important lesson I learned was to only do a few charms at a time... that way you can tweak your technique as you go along.

This charm swap is way too much fun!! The next swap is using Origami Paper... again, not something I'm used to using in my crafts. My design is not finalized yet, but I have a bunch of ideas swimming around in my head. After that, the third swap is to use copper and green in a charm. I am so excited for this one as I already have a design idea and all of the supplies... but first I have to trudge through the Origami Paper one.

By the way... in case you were wondering... the First Pancake Rule works for children too :-)