Kid’s Artwork on a Mug


Well, I didn’t mean to be gone all summer, but it was a little busy. How was yours?

This project was actually an end of year gift for a very special teacher who happens to love llamas. My son was always drawing llamas and writing llama sentences for extra credit, so we decided her gift would be made from one of those drawings.

LLama 1

I took his drawing above, took a picture with my iPad and imported it into a drawing/ painting app (Procreate—yeah, not the best name but a good app). He used the stylus to “trace” his drawing and fill it in, and he chose the green background.

I uploaded the image into Shutterfly to have the mug made. We were really happy with how it came out. If anyone has suggestions of other places to have artwork turned into gifts, I’m all ears. I actually wasn’t that impressed with the variety of options out there.

What are you watching and reading? Currently I’m into Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. Somehow it’s just what I need to unwind in the evening. Movies: loved Wonder Woman and especially The Big Sick (an indie romcom, if you haven’t heard of it). As for tv, I got really into Grantchester and Poldark over the summer, and have just started watching Hinterland. It’s good but it’s a little too creepy sometimes, so I can’t watch it too late at night. Also just finished Anne with an “E.” Let’s discuss. Spoiler alert! Consider yourself warned.







Okay, here goes.

I have mixed feelings about Anne with an “E.” The casting, acting, sets, costuming, and cinematography are all really top-notch, but I’m not loving the giant liberties they took with some of the story lines. Especially the fact that they make Anne’s trial run with the Cuthberts so high-stakes. It makes Marilla and Matthew look like heartless, cruel jerks just for the sake of drama. And the whole losing the farm thing and Gilbert’s family situation and the shady characters coming in at the end. Come on! The books were never about major dramas, for the most part, and it doesn’t feel true to them to up the ante so much. Also it kind of kills me that Rachel doesn’t make the dress with the puffed sleeves. That was the thing that really made Marilla crazy about it! You can probably tell I’m a devoted Anne of Green Gables fan. I’m definitely feeling the need to introduce the kids to the older series (with Megan Follows and the dear late Jonathan Crombie). But despite the writing shortcomings in Anne with an “E”, it was fun to watch, too.

Anyway, in the comments, tell me what you thought of it. I’d also love recommendations for other shows and books.



Child’s Drawing to T-shirt Design


Hello everyone! I didn’t mean to disappear for so long. Hope to be here again more regularly.

Here’s a little something we made back in June for Father’s Day. Our son had been drawing his own version of the mascot for Daddy’s favorite football team. (Yes, it’s that team. No, I’m not going to weigh in on Deflategate). Anyway, I loved my son’s spin on the mascot and thought it would make a great T-shirt.

It was a little tricky because of the skinny details, so I definitely had to help my son, but I’m really pleased with how it worked out. I made a freezer paper stencil (google that and you’ll find plenty of tutorials). The paint is craft-grade acrylic mixed with textile medium to make it adhere to the fabric.Textile medium is available at most any craft store.

The T-shirt was a big hit with the hubs. If you’re trying your own, I’d just recommend something without lots of skinny details. A simple shape with just one color would be much easier.

Freezer Paper Stencil Image

Some new-to-me podcasts I’ve been enjoying: Again with This?, which is basically hate-watching Beverly Hills 90210. Somehow it hits the spot. Also, Gilmore Guys, discussing episodes of Gilmore Girls. They are two twenty-something guys definitely not hate-watching but having the most charming conversations about themes, characters, and fashion on the show. It’s my jam.

Summer shows we’ve enjoyed: Playing House, UnReal, Younger, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and we’re about to watch Mr. Robot. Sorry, I’m too lazy to link, but you can find them lots of places.

I’ve been reading a good bit but nothing that I feel you must also read. Somewhat related, super discouraged that my son’s public elementary school will have no librarian this year. And, no, do not tell me volunteers can fill that position. Hearing that only makes it worse because I know how wrong it is. I lived with a similar situation for a couple of years growing up, and it was not pretty. A bonafide school librarian makes an enormous amount of difference in the quality of a child’s education.

Bright spot: we have the day off today, and I took my little guy to the public library and let him get a stack of mysteries. He often gives me grief about his strict screen time limits, but today, he is hanging out in his bedroom hammock, reading away.

Tonight, I’m going to see the documentary Meet the Patels about a local Indian-American family looking for a bride for their son. Sounded so interesting on NPR.

What have you been up to? Read or watched or listened to anything good?

Bath Fizzies

Homemade Bath Fizzies

Plop, plop! Fizz, fizz! This was a project I planned a really long time ago but never got around to doing until this month. I got the idea and directions from Martha Stewart.

It goes together fairly quickly, though the part where you have to spray the ingredients with a water sprayer is kind of tedious. I made some peppermint fizzies and some lavender ones. The directions call for food coloring, but I didn’t really like the thought of food coloring in my bath, so I skipped that.

I used a mini muffin tin and got the citric acid from AmeriHerb, a wholesale company. I’m sure there are several online sources. The rest is just corn starch, baking soda, and essential oils. I was afraid they would fall apart when I popped them out of the muffin tin, but they held together just fine. I did use a silicone mold, which probably made that part easier.

Be careful—-my hubs almost popped one of these in his mouth, thinking they were some funky-looking cookies. Heh heh.

They make fun little treats to give out as gifts.

For more crafting, click here. For more simple gift ideas, click here.

photo 2

Embroidered Wedding Portrait


This is the story of a wedding gift (my contribution to it, anyway) for a dear friend. I thought you might like to see the process. The picture is of my friend Jamie and her husband, who got married last June. As a surprise to the couple, her mother asked friends and family each to complete a design on a muslin square. She collected the squares and then had them made into a patchwork quilt as a gift to Jamie and her husband.


Jamie and I go way back, and a big part of our friendship has been about shared words. Books, movies, music, poetry, television. We have a lot of inside jokes about obscure quotes. So I sifted through our collective “library” of shared references, looking for the perfect quote to decorate the wedding square. Nothing seemed quite right.

When I saw the bride and groom, though, I knew nothing could be more Jamie and Jon than their fabulous wedding outfits.

I decided to make an embroidered picture and started with the best photo I had of the event. It’s blurry but gave me a good pose to work with. I used Picasa to play with the colors and then used the “posterize” effect to get the lines of the image to show up more clearly.


I printed the picture, traced over the lines with a Sharpie, and then transferred these to the fabric with a temporary fabric marking pen.


I like the back almost as well as the front:

Embroidery backside

Here’s the final:

Embroidered Wedding Portrait

If you’re interested in seeing more of Jamie and Jon’s wedding, click here.

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on my nonfiction project and just got some excellent notes on my novel from an old friend. A little sewing going on, which hopefully I can show you soon. Back to writing now!

Gift Cloths

Gift Wrap Cloths

Sorry for being away so long! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was nice and low-key, and featured some gluten-free apple pie. There was a big to-do about who got the last pieces, and not just among the GF folks. It’s that good.

The hubs and I also took a trip just before Thanksgiving, which I’ll have to tell you more about in another post.

Here I wanted to show you a little holiday craft we did. Last year I made gift cloths with Christmas fabric and existing Christmas linens, but this year I decided to add to the collection by decorating and sewing up scraps of fabric I already had in my stash.

The red and green stripe in the back left corner was made with watercolor-type fabric paints by Deka. I’ve had that paint forEVER. I tried to find a link to a place you can buy it, but it’s looking like it’s not sold in the US anymore. Bummer. It’s good stuff.

We decorated the fabric for the center red-ribboned present with Target brand “slick” fabric paints (you squeeze the bottles to draw with them). My least favorite fabric paint ever. Really poor quality, but we made the best of it.

The blue-ribboned gift cloth is pale pink, and we drew on it with Tee Juice markers, which are great for quick and easy projects, especially with kids. They are totally permanent, though, so, as with all of these supplies, dress accordingly.

Lastly, on the red-spotted cloth with the dark green ribbon, we used stamps with cheap acrylic paints from Michaels mixed with textile medium. This is one of my favorite ways to paint on fabric, because mixing it yourself gives you a wide range of choices. And in the end you aren’t left with a bunch of fabric paint you may never use again.

Below are some pre-decorated and hemmed gift cloths: a thrifted plaid tablecloth and two tea towels from Target marked down to 88¢!

The kids loved trying to guess what all these fake presents were, the favorite by far being the pink one below that’s wrapped like candy. It’s a sack of corn meal.

Loving this free printable nativity the kids can color themselves at Made by Joel.

Hope to be back soon with some details of our trip.

Gift Wrap Cloths

Last-Minute Man Gift

I know the holidays are over, but I just couldn’t wait until some other gift-giving season to show you this.

My man, like many of his kind, is hard to buy for. He doesn’t want much stuff, and what he does want (like books) he buys for himself.

I’ve been seeing a lot of rock lyrics and whatnot cross-stitched or embroidered in a tongue-in-cheek kind of presentation. I was going to share the links but can’t find them anymore. Anyway, I was thinking it would be cool to have something similar with a quote from our favorite TV show, The Wire. I found a bunch of T-shirts, and one very handsome print, but the quote dealt with guns, and I just didn’t think he’d want to hang that in our home or his office. No cross stitch to be found.

So I came up with this. For those of you who haven’t seen The Wire, Omar Little is a sort of Robin Hood character (he steals from drug dealers) and has a way with words. It was kind of a quick and dirty job, as you can see, but I had a time limit. He loves it.

Quick and Simple Gift Idea: Decorated Shopping Tote

The kids decorated this bag together the other day for a friend’s birthday. It’s a shopping tote that zips into pouch-shape so you can store it in your purse and have it handy. Here in Germany pretty much everybody has re-useable totes because you have to pay extra for grocery bags.

The bag comes from dharma trading, which has a ton of other bag options for very reasonable prices. I think you can get some blank totes at Michael’s, too, but maybe not the lightweight zipper kind like this. The kids used Sharpies because we couldn’t find our Tee Juice markers, but I would recommend the fabric markers because the colors will wear better.

Here’s the back:

I thought it turned out really well.

Lavender and Clary Sage Body Balm Recipe

Here’s a project I did awhile ago but am just now posting. What with the move and all, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at my craft materials, and strangely this has been harder than going through other things, like, say, my clothes.

In the big craft weedout, I came across about a cup of chipped beeswax.  I can’t just toss this, I thought. I also had a small bottle of almond oil and the dregs at the bottom of a jar of coconut oil.

What would happen if I mixed them together? Would they become lip-balmy? A big gooey mess? What did I have to lose by trying?

So…I fashioned a makeshift double-boiler on the stove, added the ingredients to the nearly empty coconut oil jar, and let them slowly begin to meld(see above). When the wax and oils were evenly melted, I tossed a drop of the mixture onto the counter to see how it hardened. It wasn’t as hard as candle wax but not gooey at all. Seemed good to me, so I added essential oils and poured the mixture into my muffin tin lined with foil. Soon the mixture began to harden and turn from clear to white.

The resulting “balm” smells great and can be rubbed on the skin or lips.

Here’s my recipe:

1 cup chipped beeswax

4 oz. almond oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil

20 drops lavendar essential oil

10 drops clary sage essential oil

I think in the end it made about 8 rounds that are about 1/3 inch or more thick.

I like the way they look like little icebergs.

Handmade Note Pads Printed with Hand-Carved Rubber Stamp

I read about making your own notepads with padding compound on the most excellent blog, the small object steno pad, and immediately felt I had to run out and do it myself. Padding compound is a fancy word for the red stuff at the edge of notepads that keeps the pages stuck together. Turns out you can buy a huge jar of it for cheap (I ordered mine from amazon), and all you basically have to do is pinch some pages together and paint the compound on the end, then let it dry. For a full tutorial, check out the above link to the small object steno pad.

I acquired (by request) some defunct letterhead from my granddad, who was downsizing.  Then  I  carved a fish stamp using an eraser and lino-cutting tools, then stamped each page with it. Next, I saved cereal boxes for the backing.

I read in the comments on the small object steno pad that an easy way to do a bunch of pads at once is just to layer all the paper and cardboard together and paint the padding compound on the whole batch, then separate the individual pads with a knife.

To keep the pages together tightly, I pressed with clamps between two pieces of scrap wood. Voila!


One tip on using the padding compound—mix it up thoroughly with a stick or spoon before using, as otherwise it will be too watery to work.

Lastly, I dug up a stack of commercial magnets that I had been saving for just such a need. I glued a magnet on the back of each pad so they could hang on the fridge.

Washcloth Puppets


More Christmas gifts. These started out as terry velour Boppy covers I had hand-dyed (I did a little gel-glue batik on the fabric as well). I did something wrong with the sewing pattern, and the covers never fit the Boppy all that well. Once my son was crawling I knew we’d never use them again. I hated to part with the fabric, though, so I thought I’d make some washcloth puppets out of them for all the kids in the family.  I used my husband’s hand as a guide for the pattern.

I probably could’ve done something simpler for the eyes, but since some of the recipients are under two, I worried that  plastic googly eyes might become a choking hazard. I ended up hand-sewing on eyes I made out of  t-shirt fabric (I colored the pupils with a fabric marker).

The noses were my first attempt at machine applique. This tutorial at Sew, Mama, Sew was really helpful. I wouldn’t recommend appliqueing terry on top of terry, at least on your first try. I found flannel applique on top was much easier.