Thursday, December 30, 2010

Plans and Projects for 2011

I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions. When I feel the need to make a change in my life, I think it should happen ASAP. Still, there is something about the rollover of the clock at midnight that feels magical. Resolutions or no, I find myself looking forward to all the plans and hopes of the coming months.

This is the year that I will finally get to make our house a home. I’ve had a variety of excuses since we moved in, some better than others, but we always seem to be in a state of flux with one thing or another feeling unfinished. Right now my health is good, we have a little spending money here and there, and my daughter is getting old enough to entertain herself while I work. The excuses are over!

Winter Projects:

Craft nook- Ribbon organizer, chalk label storage containers, desk refinishing, organization in general

Storage/Office Space- Erect shelves, organize, deep clean, organize (yup, there’s a lot of this), curtains, make it generally more manly

Hall/Kids Bath- Refinish the rusty/chipped old tub (hubby’s project, actually), make it kid-friendlier with lower mirror and hand towel and a cute stepstool, more towel hooks, wall art, window curtain

Living Room- Figure out how to decorate the “mantel” shelf

Master Bedroom- Organizing! And maybe some more wall art

Master Bathroom- More storage, bright and cheerful wall art

Spring Projects:

Spring cleaning! Carpets, closets and cabinets

Girl’s Bedroom- Paint, furnish, and decorate; we’re pretty much starting from scratch on this one, it has been hubby’s office before now.

Play Room/Nursery- Curtains, toy storage and cleanout

Back Yard- Replant the garden, get rid of a little brush pile

Front Yard- Prep the flower bed and maybe find some cute plants?

Summer Projects:

Back Yard- Power wash the deck and decide if it needs refinishing

Front Yard- Porch art, driveway sign, street numbers

Fall is still up in the air for us. Hubby graduates in Spring, and since he is a teacher he will hopefully be starting a new job in August. Ideally he’ll get a teaching job in this area and the only thing that will change is that I won’t need to babysit and I’ll have even more free time. Less ideally we will have to move, or he will have to remain in his current job and I’ll still be babysitting. Many prayers are going into this and there will be even more as the time approaches. Until then I won’t worry, I’ll just keep crafting!

Happy New Year from the Nook!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Top 5 Craft Organizing Tips

Thanks to wonderful family members who like to give cash at Christmas, I've been stocking up on organization supplies for The Nook. I'm not finished yet but my brain is in super organizing mode, so why not share?

1. Make a Plan

Know what you have to store, and plan for it however you need to. I am a very freeform person so I can kind of keep a running tally of my craft stash and find containers for all of it by memory. My husband is a visual planner and would need measurements and chart to make himself happy. When in doubt, make a list so you don't forget anything.


2. Value Function over Form

If you're crafty, it shouldn't matter what things look like, because you can always dress them up. When choosing between a pretty item that sort of works, and an ugly item that works very well, don't be afraid of the ugly. Most ugly things can be fixed with paint or Mod Podge! If you do get lucky enough to find something functional that is already pretty, don't be afraid to do a happy dance in the store. I did!

Katie from Food, Wine & Mod Podge made a boring white organizer tray into this little beauty! Why pay big bucks for designer items?

3. Think Outside the Box

Search everywhere. Purpose-built craft storage is expensive, and in some areas (like mine) hard to find. Start there if you wish, but don't be afraid to branch out. Kitchen and bathroom storage pieces can make great craft organizers. Spice racks hold paint bottles like a dream, and toothbrush holders are great for holding pens or markers. Recycling can come up with unique containers too.

Forget flatware. Envision pens, scissors, paper punches... whatever you need, all at your fingertips!

4. Research

Look around for inspiration. Why re-invent the wheel when someone else has already made exactly what you want? I was inspired by homemade ribbon organizers and great inspiration boards from across the blogiverse.

My own soon-to-be-made ribbon holder was inspired by this one, created by Jamielyn over at I Heart Naptime.

5. Don't Compromise

If you have a specific storage solution in mind, don't give up. I have wasted a lot of time and some money trying haphazard or makeshift systems. It's one thing to work within the confines of space or budget, but if you have planned accordingly you can find what you want and need.

The most appropriate picture to put here would be one of my old "craft" space... but that, I'd rather not share!

I'm having a surprising amount of fun organizing! Do you have any more tips to share with me? If I like them you could be quoted in a future entry, I'm always pleased to have friends help! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

If you wanna be my bloggy BFF...

If you want to be my bloggy BFF, there are some things you need to know...

I look pretty darn average. I'm 5'5", have brown hair that I cannot style, and wear glasses. Boring.

My daughter is my life.

I was raised Christian and I'm not afraid to share the word of God, but I fear being labeled a "Bible-thumping bigot" so sometimes I don't speak up when I should.

I don't have any local mommy friends, my "IRL" friends are still single and kidless.

I'm 100% unabashed nerd. I'm so nerdy my nerd friends are weirded out by how nerdy I am. Only my husband understands and that's one of many reasons that I love him.

I love Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Mario, and anything with dragons in it. I also still play Pokemon.

I am pretty sure I can crochet anything if you give me enough time to figure it out.

I am good at getting in over my head.

I like a clean house but I really REALLY hate to clean.

I drink too much coffee.

I do believe that Starbucks has better coffee than I can make at home, and that it is usually worth the price!

I want to have more kids of our own (at least one more) and then I want to adopt.

My husband and I have a very strange romantic history. It was love at first sight, then we hated each other for a while (really, yelling and screaming and getting in trouble with our teachers was the norm), then we became friends and fell in love all over again. He was my best friend, my first boyfriend and my only love.

I like to make 'just because' gifts for my friends and my mom, because it makes me proud of my work.

I am very good at keeping important secrets but very bad at keeping 'unimportant' ones.

I go barefoot as often as possible.

I was one of the people who started the mismatched socks trend- I did it before it was cool, I swear!

I also like to wear mismatched shoes, but they have to be the same style. I own five pairs of Converse high tops for this purpose.

I don't like to put pictures of myself on the internet.

I have some OCD and anxiety problems. They're pretty well under control, for now...
I like to obsessively sort things. I still manage to be really unorganized.

I have about a million allergies.

I'm one of those people who has more trouble gaining weight than losing it. It makes me want to apologize to people who have to diet and exercise, but I can't help it. I have to eat extra servings at meals to get enough calories. Sometimes I don't want to.
Posts like this make me feel really narcissistic and part of me likes that.

Linked up to Little Miss Momma's BFF Link Party!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stash Bust Resolution

I've made all my Christmas gifts this year (that's another post entirely!), and as craft projects often do, they have left me with lots of leftover scraps and supplies. Add those to the myriad of supplies that I already have, and I decided that it is way past time for a stash bust.

I'm working on my dedicated crafting space, the lovely nook that gives the blog its name, but I really just have too much stuff. Organizing will help immensely, but using things up will help more. So I've resolved not to buy any more craft supplies until after my birthday in April. There will be only three strict guidelines for exceptions.

1. I run out of a basic supply, like black or white thread, black or white yarn, glue, or Mod Podge. This is not likely.

2. I break something. I can't very well bust my stash if my tools are broken. This is kind of a variation of rule one, but different enough to stand alone.

3. I need something for my big top secret project. I have one of those. It is really important that it turns out perfect, so if I don't have the right materials in my stash, they must be bought. I originally began the project with materials I already had, so it is doing its part to bust the stash too. And no, I'm not sharing what it is yet.

My genuine hope is that I will find so much inspiration in my current supplies that I'll have projects lined up long past my original deadline. I easily fall prey to the sin of craft lust, so I made my goal pretty conservative.
To inspire myself (and maybe you!) I've searched for some beautifully organized craft spaces.

I love the colors in this room from Home Design, and the stacks of fabric and glass jars that keep everything visible.

More beautiful colors! I'm jealous of the built-in cabinets in this room from HGTV.

I found this little beauty of a pegboard over at {Craft Addict} and I'm filled with desire. I haven't made much jewelry in a while but it was one of my early crafty loves. I may need one of these.

I love the giant memory board wall in this little room space I found at Better Homes and Gardens!

These super cute repurposed cans are also from BH&G! I'm so doing this one! Cans are free and don't count against the stash bust... right?

Hopefully these and many other ideas will keep me on track. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not-So-Lucky Stars- Tutorial and Blog Woes

Last Tuesday I wrote a nice long post about Origami Lucky Stars, and saved it to my drafts to await pictures. With a hectic week of holiday hijinks, the photos apparently weren't in the cards. Knowing that I wanted to get the tutorial .pdf up anyway, I logged in tonight, baby sleeping draped across my lap because she (as usual) will not sleep on her own- though the baby is technically unrelated to my frustration. I attempted to round out the post with a couple of pictures I had on hand and some witty words.

Then it disappeared (I don't even know what button I hit!), and I was left with only half of my first paragraph, in a five-paragraph three-photo two-link post. The draft decided to autosave just after my mishap. Isn't technology great?

So forgive the truncated presentation, but I still want to share these darling Lucky Stars.

I make them often, just to relax. They go everywhere and do everything. Fill jars with them, string garlands of them, make jewelry with them, they're always pretty and always a conversation starter. But they're so much easier than they look!

This year I'm making lucky star "starter kits" for some of the teenage girls on my gift list. The kit consists of approximately 200 paper strips (1/2 inch wide, 11 inches long), a photo tutorial, and a pair of lucky star earrings to show off the finished product. House them all in a jar, tie a little ribbon, and you're done! Cutting the paper strips is the time consuming part, but another option is to print templates and let the gift recipient do the cutting. This is my favorite blank template, but that deviantArt user (and many others!) also offers cute designs you can print at home!

What are you waiting for? Download the tutoral now!

Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up     party!BWS tips button Photobucket

Monday, December 6, 2010

Amigurumi Mushrooms

I absolutely adore amigurumi. If you're not familiar, it's just a fancy term for crocheted figures. They're cute and puffy and make great gifts! I wanted to put something cute and nerdy into my daughter's stocking this year, and we're big Mario fans here, so some cute little mushroom toys seemed perfect. If you're less of a Nintendo enthusiast, these would still be darling made in other colors. Puffy mushrooms are everywhere these days! If I have time after Christmas I'm making some for myself in brown and teal.

I don't usually work from patterns, I'm more of a freeform crocheter. In fact I barely read patterns and get kind of confused at all the sc, dc, ch stuff. However, I've done my best to make this work for pattern-minded people, and if anyone wants to volunteer to write this up as a "real" pattern, please do!

You need:

2 colors medium weight yarn for cap and stem (I used Red Heart acrylic)

Stuffing material

Size 3.75 crochet hook

Yarn needle

1. Start with your cap color. Do you know how to do a "magic circle"? If not, see the link at the end of the post! Cast on six single crochet stitches. Pull your circle tight. (6 st)
2. Single crochet twice in each stitch. (12 st)
3. Single crochet, single crochet twice in next stitch; repeat five more times. (18 st)
4. Single crochet two times, then single crochet twice in next stitch; repeat five more times. (24 st)
5. Single crochet three times, then single crochet twice in next stitch; repeat five more times. (30 st)
6. Single crochet around for five rows.
7. Single crochet three times, skip one stitch, single crochet; repeat five more times. (24 st)
8. Single crochet, skip one stitch, single crochet; repeat seven more times. (16 st)
9. Your cap is done! Finish off, but leave a nice long tail, we'll use it to stitch the cap and stem together.
10. Now is a good time to embellish your cap. For toddler-safe Mario mushrooms I crocheted four white circles and attatched them evenly around the cap, but I am dreaming of making a grownup version with buttons sewn on everywhere! Your imagination is your only limit!
11. Time for your stem color. Using your magic circle again, cast on six single crochet stitches. Pull your circle tight. (6 st)
12. Single crochet twice in each stitch. (12 st)
13. Single crochet, single crochet twice in next stitch; repeat five times. (18 st)
14. Single crochet around until your stem is as long as you like (I did three). Finish off. If you're making Mario mushrooms, remember to add the little eyes!
15. Using the tail you left on your cap, stitch the stem halfway onto the cap. Stuff, then close your gap and hide the yarn end. You have a mushroom! Enjoy!

For those who don't know the Magic Circle, there is no better time to learn! I use it all the time- hats, amigurumi, even simple granny squares can make use of it. It gives a much nicer finished look to your crochet in the round. The tutorial I used to learn can be found here!

Photobucket Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up    party! BWS tips button

Welcome to the Nook

Hello, blogland!
Pardon me as I iron out the kinks in this craft blogging thing. Over the coming weeks or months I plan to tweak the layout and make things prettier, but I'm not exactly a graphic artist or a webmaster. Hopefully my projects will keep you coming back even as the layout is under construction. I'm excited to share my creations with you!