Category Archives: arts & crafts

Changin’ It Up

Life has been full of change lately. Most notably, The Boy and I bought a house. It’s been a crazy whirlwind since (and I’ll eventually share photos), but we’ve gotten settled enough that I was able to take on a little project (because why would I wait until the boxes are unpacked to start something?!).

With a new color scheme throughout my house (where I opted to not cover the kitchen ceiling with green floral wallpaper like someone did in our rental), it was time to change the color of my wine rack. Before I unveil it’s new look, though, it’s only appropriate I remind you of where it started.

Remember, I repurposed an old school entertainment center that my parents had tucked away in their basement.

before_after

Then a couple years later, I turned it into a wine rack (with substantial help from Uncle Buck).

wineracktoday

Now, a couple years later and as my first project in my new house, I stripped it,

winerack-stripped

primed it,

winerack-primed

and painted it. (Can I just say paint sprayers are totally worth the investment?!)

winerack-painted

And might I say, it looks pretty good in my dining room. Not only does it contrast the blue wall well, it compliments Mocha Jo’s fur-tone nicely (check out Mocha’s “let me look off into the distance” pose.)

yellow-mocha

The color and size of the wine rack turned out to be perfect for the space, not to mention it gave me much needed access to my wine… And, thanks to a pretty awesome paint stripper, it was a relatively easy project. If only the other project my sister and I have going on could be this easy…

But alas, I’ve completed my first non-house related project in my new house and I’m one step closer to being able to park in the garage. I can’t wait for all the exciting future projects I’m going to take on, but for now, my sister and I need to finish her project (and I should try to finish unpacking).

‘Tis the Season To Be Crafty

I can’t believe Christmas has already come and gone. Last year, as you may remember, I was in the holiday spirit, like really in the holiday spirit. This year, not so much.

I wasn’t my usual Grinch self, but I think I was in denial that it was December because (1) the weather didn’t feel like December weather and (2) I’ve been so busy that my sane state of mind was (and still is!) stuck in October. Therefore, I am sad to report my holiday crafts are fairly limited this year. However, I think the awesomeness of the few crafts I did makes up for the limited quantity.

I started the Christmas season off strong, dragging my older sister into my office to help me do a little holiday decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. Borrowing concepts from a few images floating around Pinterest, my sister and I converted the reception area into a pseudo-gingerbread house.

gingerbread-reception

As is, I thought it turned out pretty awesome, but the icing on the cake (or frosting on the gingerbread) was the built-in lighting of the reception area. It’s as if our architects planned for something this awesome to happen!

gingerbread-reception-lightedNext I made a holiday sweater that, without a doubt, takes the cake for “most original.” It’s a Barney-in-a-speedo themed holiday sweater. Please take note that this sweater also accurately depicts Barney’s inability to reach the top of the tree because of his short arms. #dinoproblems

barney xmasBelieve it or not, I made this sweater for the head honcho of the company I work for. He made a comment about the turkey sweater I wore before Thanksgiving and I mentioned, “oh just wait until Christmas.” Ultimately, I walked away from the conversation set on making him one and immediately began scheming with a coworker on what to make (so oddly enough, there’s a reason behind Barney in a speedo). When it came time to give it to him, I wondered if I’d gone too far (because, well, I do that sometimes), but he liked it. He really liked it.

And last, but certainly not least, for my work department’s holiday party, I made a pair of holiday sweaters for The Boy and me. I toyed back and forth between two concepts and ultimately settled on innuendo-based concept: “Jingle My Bells” and “Feel the Joy.” Needless to say, we were a hit at the party.

innuendo pair

I will say, The Boy was a really good sport about wearing this: he wore it for nearly 40 minutes at the holiday party (38 minutes longer than I expected). I will probably never get him to wear it again, but that’s what photos are for!

Like I said, my holiday spirit seemed to be lacking this year, but at least the caliber of my holiday crafts didn’t suffer. Plus, it seems Mocha Jo’s holiday spirit was limited too…

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A Year to Remember

As you may recall, I kept myself pretty busy during December. After crafting holiday sweaters, making stockings, holiday shopping for both the family I “adopted” and my own family, and doing a few small crafts for The Boy’s family, I ran out of time (and effort) to do something for my coworkers. It’s not that I don’t value them as much, but I figured seeing almost all of my holiday sweaters was gift enough, at least for the time being.

However, over my short holiday break, I put together a gift for each of them. Knowing that they’d be getting the gift after both Christmas and New Years, I wanted to make sure my gift wasn’t too holiday specific and semi-practical.

What I ended up making for each of them is a 2014 memory jar, or a jar in which you collect memories throughout the year and then on New Year’s Eve you look through your memories to remember all the little things that made the year great. This concept is all over Pinterest, and I’ve always wanted to do it myself, but have never gotten around to it because I didn’t have a cute jar to collect these memories in. Thus, I figured if I removed the obstacle that prevented me from starting, I could probably get others to do it as well.

Using jars, wired ribbon, one garland, twine, and some hot glue, these are the jars I crafted for my wonderful coworkers.

all-jars

As one might suspect, the ones with flowers were for the ladies.

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ladies-4

ladies-1

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With the flower jars going to the ladies, the non-flower jars went to the guys. And no, your eyes are not mistaken, the jars for the guys are smaller because I figured they were less likely to buy into the concept. But, just as the jars for the ladies were, each guy jar was unique too.

guys-3

guys-2

guys-1

Overall, these jars were really well received. In fact, my coworkers liked them a lot more than I anticipated, expressing to me their intent to collect memories throughout the year. Most of my coworkers have kept their jar at work simply because seeing it on their desk is a consistent reminder to contribute memories as they happen; and, several of them have since added memories to their jars. It could be like many new year resolutions in that their interest in the idea fades, but if nothing else, many of them will have at least a small handful of memories to look back on.

Here’s to 2014 being a memorable year!

12 Days of Holiday Sweaters FAQs

Throughout my 12 Days of Holiday Sweaters I was asked various questions about my sweaters. As many of the questions were the same, I decided to treat you all to a frequently asked questions post. The questions and answers are below, but first, here’s the final collection of holiday sweaters.

recap12

Why?
Why not? There was no real driving reason for doing this except that I was in the holiday spirit and feeling crafty. I also get a kick out of holiday sweaters but am too cheap to buy the really good ones. I figured I could craft several good ones for less than what it costs costs to buy one (save for the ones at secondhand stores).

Why 12?
I chose “12 Days of Holiday Sweaters” primarily as a play on “12 Days of Christmas.” Beyond the name, though, my 12 sweaters have no other correlation to the days of Christmas. Ideally, I would have done 25 Days of Holiday Sweaters but I didn’t have the time or the willingness to craft 25 sweaters this holiday season.

Where did you get your sweater ideas?
While I would love to say my sweaters the pure products of my imagination and creativity, I can’t. Some of the sweaters are based on personal connections (Days 2, 5, 8, 10), others were inspired by images I saw on Pinterest, which I pinned to my holiday sweater board. (You should follow me if you don’t already!) However, regardless of the originality of the idea, I tried to add a personal touch to each sweater.

Did you have any help?
I had some help from my older sister. She did a lot of the leg work for Day 3 (which I failed to giver her credit for before…), and she and I made Day 1 together.

Additionally, The Boy was my sounding board (and cheerleader) throughout the whole process.

How long does it take to make a sweater?
It really depends on the complexity of the sweater, as well as how much craft glue and puffy paint there was. Day 10 took about 20 minutes, Day 11 took about an hour, and Day 7 took about 4 hours (but I was simultaneously making two…). Overall, for most of the sweaters, I’d say it took anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours for each.

What materials did you use?
On the majority of my sweaters, I used felt, Aleene’s OK To Wash-It craft glue*, Tulip slick puffy paint, permanent marker, hot glue, jingle bells, buttons, and fluff balls (not really sure if that’s the technical term, but that’s what I call them).

Obviously, some of the sweaters required specific materials that I purchased with purpose (i.e. a baby doll) — however, I did my best to use what I had on hand rather than buying everything new.

*As a side note, and I am receiving nothing for this “endorsement,” I would highly recommend Aleene’s OK To Wash-It glue. I used a couple other glues that I had in my craft supply, but this glue consistently yielded the strongest stick.

How much did you spend on making these sweaters?
This is a hard one to answer because I tried to use whatever I had on hand and I was pretty frugal with all of my supplies. However, I would say between the 11 shirts I had to buy ($65.56) and the supplies I bought (about $40), I spent just over $100 dollars. Definitely not cheap endeavor, but for 11 exciting, creative holiday sweaters that will likely become family heirlooms (in my head anyway), that’s not too bad.

Can you wash the sweaters?
I probably could, but I won’t. I used OK To Wash-It craft glue, which implies my sweaters are washable, but a lot of my sweaters had other components that aren’t washer friendly. For example, Day 7 has googly eyes and Day 12 has a baby doll on it. Basically, what I’m getting at is these sweaters are gems, and I’m not willing to risk destroying my hard work by throwing them in my washing machine.

Any last reflections?
Yes. First, selfies are hard. Second, this forever changed my perspective on what my dog is capable of when I’m not home. Third, cheap, plain male baby dolls are really hard to find. Fourth, a good sweater strikes the oddest yet friendliest of conversations in public spaces.

Overall, I am glad I did 12 Days of Holiday Sweaters. Towards the end, I was losing steam and interest, but I had a fun time crafting them. I think it was a good way for me to express my new-found holiday spirit. And, as an added bonus, I’m forever set on holiday sweaters..

Day 12: Reason for the Season

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Today is the day! Today is Day 12 of my 12 Days of Holiday Sweaters. Today’s sweater is one of the reasons I event started this holiday venture.

I cannot credit today’s sweater to my own creativity. I actually saw something similar on Pinterest and couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, a couple of my friends saw it there too, pinned it to their own boards, and then sent me direct links to make sure I saw it. Needless to say, this sweater screams Andrea.

However, before I unveil Day 12, let’s do a recap.

recap11

And now for the big reveal…

Inspired by this sweater

And without further ado…

Here is my twelfth and final holiday sweater for the  2013 holiday season:

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Unsurprisingly, the shirt is a little front heavy.

reason

 

So there it is. The final holiday sweater.

From the “My First Christmas” shirt to the eyes that close when the baby is laying down, this is without a doubt my favorite sweater of the bunch.

Miss Mocha Jo was also a fan.

with child

 

All jokes aside, it’s been a fabulous holiday season. For the first time in my family’s memory, I actually got into the holiday spirit. I had holiday home decor, I decorated my office (photos may come later…), I made other various holiday crafts, and I even “adopted” a family.

While I had fun with all my decor, crafts and sweaters, “adopting” a family added the most joy to my holiday season. There’s nothing more humbling than knowing you helped make another family’s Christmas morning a little more jolly. I drink my coffee black, but my coffee was plenty sweet this morning.

Happy holidays!

Day 11: Ho Ho Ho!

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After nixing the ideas of several very complex sweaters, today’s sweater is simple, but nonetheless festive.

HoHoHo

 

me-ho

While I am a little disappointed that Day 11 isn’t my finest sweater, it did complement the sweaters my sisters wore today. (Both of which were skillfully crafted by me.)

sisters-ho

The sweater also complimented the green Christmas lights that happened to fall around Miss Mocha Jo and me.

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Little Miss Mocha also sported some Christmas attire of her own. She was, however, very disappointed when I told her she wasn’t a real reindeer.

reindeer

Day 10: Festivus

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Happy Festivus!

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festivus

If you don’t know what Festivus is, then we probably shouldn’t be friends. Given that it’s the holiday season, though, I’ll enlighten you before we part ways. As described by Wikipedia, Festivus is “a well-celebrated parody, has become a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 which serves as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas holiday season.

We can credit the ’90s sitcom Seinfeld for popularizing the holiday, and as Wikipedia explains:

The holiday, as portrayed in the Seinfeld episode, includes practices such as the “Airing of Grievances,” which occurs during the Festivus meal and in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year.

This is me with my grievance.

grievances

Just kidding. For those of you that don’t know, my family’s golden retriever and I have a love-hate relationship in that we’re only friends when no one is looking. Because I’m not shy about liking our family black lab more, it’s a running thing in my family that the golden and I don’t get along.

In reality, she’s far from any actual grievance; and now that I am home with her, the black lab, my chocolate lab, and my immediate family, I don’t really have any grievances to air today. However, just because I haven’t had to air any grievances, that’s not to say I won’t be partaking in the “Feats of Strength.” My dad better watch his back.

Day 9: Fra-gee-lay

12days-day9

Who doesn’t love a good Christmas story? And by that I mean, who doesn’t love A Christmas StoryThere are so many good quotes from this movie, and I would argue the fra-gee-lay scene might be the most quoted line of the move.

frageelay

This sweater also had a legitimate fragile moment of it’s own. Yesterday, during the 4 hours she was home alone, Miss Mocha Jo decided to get on my dining room table (mind you it’s a tall/bar height table), chew on the nicest pair of scissors I own, chew and consume some craft glue, and chew at the puff paint on my holiday sweater I was letting dry. Between the craft supplies she destroyed and the mess she made when her tummy started hurting (I’ll save you from these images…), my holiday sweater suffered the least.

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The silver lining in her destruction was that she chewed on the easiest piece to replace, and her destruction didn’t prevent me from wearing my holiday sweater today.

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My guess is that Mocha was triple-dog-daring me to prove just how good I am at crafting holiday sweaters.

Day 8: ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

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During my 12 Days of Holiday Sweaters venture, I’ve only mentioned the older sister. But, as many of you know, I am the middle sister of three girls.

Not wanting to leave my little sister out of my holiday fun, my older sister helped oversaw the creation of a holiday sweater made specifically for the little sister. My guess is the majority of you (and those that see the sweater in person) won’t know who the character is nor how it’s related to Christmas — so let me explain.

One of the best decisions my parents ever made was to record (on VHS) a series of holiday shorts on CBS. Every year since then, it’s been a family/sisters tradition to watch these shorts, which we refer to as Holiday Specials. My favorite holiday special, Santa Bear, inspired my Christmas stocking. My older sister’s favorite special is A Garfield Christmas, which depicts our two family dogs to a T. And, my little sister’s favorite special is Twas the Night Before Christmas. My older sister and I firmly detest this one, but the little one is persistent. She is also convinced that 3 Men and A Baby is Tom Selleck’s gift to mankind, but that’s another story…

Paying tribute to her favorite holiday special, the little sister’s holiday sweater is of Albert, the mouse who almost ruined Christmas.

albert

 

When she received this sweater in the mail (and it was a total surprise to her), she immediately texted the two of us, “That sweater. YESSSSSS please.” And she went on to say, “I only wish I could wash it so I could wear it more often.”

tracy

 

I still don’t see the appeal in the holiday special (nor will I ever), but as long as she likes the sweater and I only have to watch the 25-minute special once a year, it doesn’t make me any difference.

Day 7: An Elf Surprise

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There’s something special about today’s sweater: mine is one of two almost identical sweaters. As I have mentioned a time or two, my older sister joined me in making some holiday sweaters over break. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to start one that we had plans for, but since I was committed to making mine, I brought her already purchased sweater to my place and promised to make it for her.

Had we been crafting the sweaters together, I think the sweaters would be a little different, but because I’m in the process of crafting a dozen holiday sweaters, I don’t really have the willingness or drive to create two unique elf sweaters — so I make two of the same . The only difference are very minor mess-ups character variations. (My present has a really odd crease in it and her elf’s ear is a little malformed).

elf

 

While it took me longer to get to the sweater than I anticipated, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I finished it just as some news rained on her holiday parade. So to help restore her holiday cheer, I packed up the elf and a holiday coffee blend she is recently addicted to, and sent her a holiday surprise in the mail.

 

sisters

 

Wearing her sweater to her own holiday potluck with our festive holiday headbands, I’d the elf surprise was a success.