Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Review

One word to describe 2011?  How about "insane"?

My husband and I got married.

We went on a mini-moon. 

Our second niece was born.

We went on our Mediterranean Honeymoon.

We packed up everything and moved to Seattle.

And that, in a nutshell was my year. We are still settling in to our new digs (and me into my new job) in Seattle, but I'm so excited for all the new adventures that 2012 will bring!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Crafty Christmas: Bunting for Baby

I have the cutest nieces and nephews in the world.  This is a fact. My newest niece is all of five months old, and since she was born in the chaos of summer, I didn't get a chance to present her with a baby blanket when she first entered the world.  With Christmas coming, I decided to remedy that situation.  Baby H would have her very own blanket. 

Deciding on the style was incredibly easy.  I fell head over heels in love with this blanket from the moment I saw it, thanked my lucky stars that I had a baby (not of my own) to make it for, and filed it under "Hell yes."

I mean, just look at it:

I loved this design for a few reasons.  First, it's a quilt that's not a quilt.  The bunting flags are sewn on top of one big piece of fabric, therefore, there's no piecing to do.  Second, it is so festive and fun.  And finally, it's what those of us who are fabric hoarders like to call a "stash buster."  I am addicted to fat quarters and have so many lying around that all I had to do was decide which ones to use, cut the flags and go.

First I cut my flags (mine were five inches instead of four since the blanket I made was larger than the tutorial's instructions). That was the easy part.  After that I spent about an hour and a half deciding on the proper order of the flags, and I changed my mind right up until they were sewn on there.

I added batting and the back piece, and quilted everything together by following the top line of the bunting rows.

I thought the blanket needed a little bit more personalization.  With an older brother and sister, Baby H is going to have to share a lot of stuff; I wanted her to know this was made just for her.  I embroidered her first (blurred to protect her Internet reputation for posterity) and middle names and a little flower motif that reminded me of a willow tree, and attached it to the back of the quilt.

I found this great quilt binding tutorial from the Old Red Barn Co., and followed it to make my edges.  Having never done a binding like this before, I needed some great instructions, and these are fantastic!

Finally, after spending about four hours hand sewing the binding on the back of the quilt, it was done!  Here's the end result:

The original tutorial uses white thread to sew everything together, but I chose a vibrant green to add pizazz.  I love how this blanket came out--like a daily party in the nursery--and I hope that Mama and Baby H liked it too!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tutorial Twosday: Zip It

So, I'm a little slow catching up with this whole zipper trend that's been going around (maybe it's already over and I'm slow to learn that too?), but today's tutorials are two different takes on zippers, and I love them!

First up, zipper jewelry.  Or, to be specific, a zipper bracelet. 

This looks like a really easy bracelet to make, and it's a perfect use for the zipper in those ratty old jeans that you were going to throw away anyway!  Sporting three or more of these at once would make you look like a real bad ass.  Don't worry, if you don't have zippers laying around, they sell these at the store (maybe even in a few different colors!).

This next tutorial just blows my mind.  Seriously. Ten out of ten for creative use of zippers. 

First you see a zipper with ribbon, then you have a coin purse.  Um, awesome.  I have this project on my to-do list , mostly because I can't quite wrap my brain around how this thing really works.  Still, it looks really cool, and depending on how easy they are to make, may make really cool gifts. These little pouches could even store jewelry when you're traveling!

Happy Crafting!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Crafty Christmas

Having so much time on my hands prior to Christmas allowed me to put some time and thought into a few handmade gifts for my family. Now that the presents have all been opened, it's time to share my work!

For Daddy Goodlaff (who is notoriously hard to to craft for), I first thought of a hat or a scarf.  Mama Goodlaff suggested that I make him a shirt, but I didn't feel like my sewing skills were quite up to clothing just yet.  Eventually I decided on a manly version of my "Purse-Aid Kit," which is basically just a wallet full of band aids, or, a portable first aid kit. It's perfect for those of us who are a bit of a disaster and need to have supplies readily at hand in case of emergency.

Daddy Goodlaff has a bit of a wild side, so for his quad-riding supplies, I created this vibrant band aid holder:

After I showed off my Ponytail hat, Mama Goodlaff expressed an interest in having one of her own.  I just so happened to have all the supplies on hand, right down to some fun purple buttons (her favorite color), and after a few pattern adjustments, had a knitted hat made just for her:

Sister Goodlaff's homemade gift took me the longest of anything I made this year. She has recently developed a passion for cooking, and last Christmas, when she was hanging out at our house doing some last minute Christmas sewing, we fed her something I was sure she wouldn't like: pork scalloppini in a mustard creme sauce.  Turns out I was wrong--she thought it was awesome.  I decided to make her a cookbook, using the Goodlaffs' favorite recipes.  I combed through hundreds of pages, and eventually decided on about 60 of the best, printed them up, and made it into a book.

I called the book "Sister Says" because on the bottom of every recipe I wrote a comment, story, or tip on how we made the recipe or why the recipe was in there. I was so thrilled with the final product that I almost didn't want to give it away!

I used fancy wrapping paper that I saved from my bridal shower to bind the covers, and pulled the color scheme for my title and divider pages from that.  I bound the book with standard binder rings--that way, you can pull out the recipe that you're working on if you need it close at hand in the kitchen.  I love the way it turned out, and I'm hoping that Sister Goodlaff will also love the recipes that have become our favorites!

I have one more project to show you, but it needs its own post. Much more to come!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Update

I haven't been a very active blogger lately, and I can promise you that it's not for lack of activity here on my end.  I have actually been very busy crafting for Christmas.  Of course, the problem with Christmas crafting is that I can't share the outcomes until after the presents have been opened.  I've been gluing, knitting, and sewing up a storm--you'll just have to wait until after Christmas to see the results of my hard work!

On a more personal note, it's been a crazy few months.  Mr. Goodlaff and I moved to Seattle from California at the beginning of November.  We agreed that he would work and I would look for jobs once we got here, without either of us really knowing what that really entailed. I can honestly say that neither of us expected the process to be this hard.

After a few weeks of settling in, I began the arduous task of job hunting.  I submitted applications all over the place, not really sure of what I wanted to do or where to start looking.  For weeks I filled my days with job hunting, crafting, and TV reruns.  During week one, I was having fun.  After that I jumped on the self-pity bandwagon and took the long ride to feeling-like-a-loser-ville. I've always assumed that I could never be a housewife because the silence and the lack of stimulus and activity would make me stir-crazy. I have now verified this to be, in fact, the truth.  I felt crazy, and I felt my self-confidence slipping away.

In between the applying and the searching (and the not hearing back), I was pretty lost.  I learned cable channels because of The OC and Grey's Anatomy reruns on SoapNet and Lifetime.  I did a lot of crafts.   Mostly, though, I felt useless. Before my little couch stay-cation, I never realized how much being able to contribute to our household meant to me, and how much of my self-confidence and self-worth was based on my having a job.  Though I told myself it was that I couldn't buy shoes on my own terms with my own money, I realized it was actually my independent streak at the root of all my problems.  Being so completely dependent on someone else--even my husband--was discomforting. Did we do the right thing, I wondered? Was this good timing, or should we have waited?

In the spirit of making lemons out of lemonade, I can tell you that it's been hard, but a good learning experience. These past few months have taught me a lot about myself, and the mister and I have definitely grown up a little bit.
Luckily for me, a few weeks ago an opportunity to work in my previous field came about; I applied, interviewed, and after a few tense days of waiting, found out that I got the job.  I started on Monday, and so far, so good. Getting back into the swing of things has been a little difficult, but all in all, I am really glad to be out in the world amongst people and once again earning my keep. Social interaction is priceless.

Christmas is only a few days away and the family presents have shipped out to their new homes.  Packages are arriving on our doorstep daily, and the Goodlaffs have begun making plans for a lazy Christmas Day. After the presents are opened, I promise to show you all of my projects--I'm pretty proud of them!

Tutorial Twosday: Easy Ornaments

It's only a few days until Christmas, and you may be jonesing for a few last minute projects.  Maybe that's just me? Ah, well...

Here are a few easy DIY ornaments to keep you crafting Christmas straight thorough the weekend.

First up: the Disco Ball Ornament.  Sequins.  Sparkles.  Styrofoam.  Simplicity.  What's not to love?

The awesome thing is, this ornament is super easy to make.  Sequin strands, glue, ribbon and Styrofoam is all you'll need for this sparkly, festive ball.  You could even make them without the ribbon and use a bunch of them in a hurricane vase as a centerpiece.

Our second tutorial proves that going in circles isn't always a bad thing!

How cute is this tree?  I love the multi-colors, but I think that varied green circles, with a few discs of red to mimic garland, would be adorable.  Then again, cutting the circles may prove to be a little tedious.  Looks like it would be totally worth it, though. 

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tutorial Twosday: Christmas Cookies

Do you bake during the holidays? I do.  A lot.  There is nothing better than a house and tummy full of Christmas cookies, but at some point, you have to give them away, otherwise your New Year's Resolution will be to lose all the cookie weight.

Today's tutorials may tempt you into one too many cookies, but that's inevitable, isn't it?

One of my favorite cookies in the whole wide world has to be these Glazed Toffee Bonbons from Betty Crocker.  A few years ago Mama Goodlaff and I were standing in the supermarket check out line, flipping through those Betty Crocker cookie books that they always have right by the packs of gum and the US Weekly.  One of them had so many tasty looking recipes that I couldn't put it down.  I told Mama Goodlaff we (she) should get it and I would make copies of the recipes to take with me.  Three years later, I still have the book--ah, a Mother's love!

Anyway, these were in that book.  Fair warning--they are involved.  These aren't your Tollhouse chocolate chip drop cookies.  First you bake the cookie, then dip them in a glaze, then add the topping, sprinkle with toffee, and drizzle chocolate and vanilla on top. It's a long process.

But, it's oh-so worth it.

See, don't those just look divine? 

And speaking of divine, these next cookies come to us from Divine Baking.  Their Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies are, in fact, divine.  I might even go so far as to say they are heavenly. They also happen to be gluten free, and it's always good to think of our gluten-free friends during the holiday season. 

Sometimes gluten free products can taste a little bit off, but these are right on. Chocolatey, gooey, fantastic.  Try them fresh out of the oven for a truly spiritual experience.

Happy crafting baking!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Decorating with Disney

Last year Mama Goodlaff had about five Christmas trees in the house. While there's always one big tree for family ornaments, the other trees usually have themes: the woodland tree, the Seussical tree, the Americana tree.  This year, Mama Goodlaff decided to do a Disney tree, and given that I have a lot of free time and an overactive imagination, I decided to contribute from afar in the best way I know how: ornament crafts.

I finished these a while ago, but since Mama Goodlaff is an avid (and maybe the only) reader of my blog, I couldn't post this until she had the package in her hands.

First up, the Jingle Mickeys.  We talked about ways to decorate the tree a while back and came up with the idea of using different sized soft pom balls to make little Mickey ornaments. While tooling around in Michael's I came across Jingle bells on sale and decided that if soft poms would work, so would jingle bells.  Thus, jingle Mickey was born, proving once again that with enough hot glue, you can rule the world.

I used the little green bows to cover up the hot mess of hot glue that it took to get the jingle bells to stick together.  Aside from the hot glue burns, it was an easy project!

My second Disney-inspired set of ornaments took a little longer, but I'm madly in love with them. 

I found online Disney clip art for Mickey's shoes, shorts, and glove, printed it out, and traced it onto felt. I couldn't find a picture of Mickey's hat without Mickey's ears getting in the way, so I kinda had to wing it there (I think it worked). After cutting out the felt shapes, I embroidered detail lines on each ornament, cut out a second piece of felt for the backing, sandwiched the hanger loop in between, and glued them together. 

I like all of them, but my favorite one might be the glove...or the shorts.  I'm not sure.  In any case, I think they'll make a lovely addition to Mama Goodlaff's Disney tree!

Do you decorate with themes in mind?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Framed Bauble Wreath

So, I gave one of those projects from Tutorial Twosday a try, and um, it didn't work out so well for me. This turns out that the project was a bit beyond my patience level, and my mock up looked really, really sad. 

It's not a big deal.  I go with the flow.  Instead of sitting there, bashing my head in, trying to shape a tree out of wire, I combined three different projects I'd seen over the last few weeks to create something all my own.

In the end, this wire tree display (a fail on its own):

Plus this burlap-wrapped wreath:

Plus this awesome ornament wreath:

Became the inspiration for my framed bauble-wreath:

Maybe if you're good, I'll show you how I did it!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tutorial Twosday: Little Christmas Gifts

Looking for a cute Christmas gift for your co-workers, acquaintances, and friends? Look no further! Today's tutorials are all about the little Christmas things!

If you know me, you know I'm a fan of a good (or bad) pun, so this little gift is right up my alley.

Look at the tag! It says: "We WHISK you you a merry KISS-mas."  I love it! While there's no tutorial for this on the linked site, this is a super easy project to do.  Grab whisks from the dollar store, a few bags of kisses, a spool of ribbon, and some clear gift wrap.  Print up the tags, shove the kisses in between the whisk spokes, wrap, ribbon, and done.  So easy, so cute, and really inexpensive!

Everyone knows a few Scrooges, and you probably have a few Grinches in your life.  Using Spearmint Tic-Tacs and a cute printable, you can make your own batch of Grinch pills!

The box says: "Feeling kinda grouchy? Holiday spirit can't be found? Just try these little "Grinch" pills.  They're the best medicine around. Whether eating a whole handful, or munching one or two, these tasty little "pills" take the "Grinch" right out of you!"

Awesome, right?  So much fun, and so easy, too!

Happy Crafting!