Friday, December 6, 2013

A Year of Reading

I've gotten a LOT of use out of my bookmarks this year, because, back in January, I set a goal for myself to read 52 books during 2013. Last month I reached my goal, one month early! And I'm still reading!

It all started with the Old Fashioned Book Lover's Swap I organized with my friend Susan on Craftster back in January. During that swap I became aware of a lot of interesting books that I wanted to read; I also found out about the website Goodreads, where I could keep track of what I have read, and write reviews to remind myself what I thought of those books! You can find my Goodreads profile HERE.

I read a lot of Stephen King this year--17 of the books I read were his. I like King's writing style and the way he develops his characters, and I became quite proficient at skimming over the more violent and/or gruesome passages! My favorites were Lisey's Story and 11/22/63.

One of the books I read was the one I received in the Book Lover's Swap: My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. I enjoyed it enough to look for more by the same author, and unfortunately my next choice--Plain Truth--turned out to be one of the worst books I read. Do yourself a favor and skip that one. The other stinker that I had the misfortune of reading was A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. This is a "young adult" novel that I chose after someone else in the swap claimed that it was her favorite book ever! It was really silly and strangely R-rated (the few other young adult novels I've read in the past were very chaste).

My favorite new author (new to me, anyway) is Wallace Stegner. I have read only one of his books so far (Crossing to Safety) and I love his writing style and the way he tells a story. I need to get my hands on more of his works.

Most of the books I read were physical books from the library, until I realized in November that I could check out some books electronically. Wow, what a cool revelation that was! I have an iPad and an iPhone (and I have a strong feeling that there will be a Kindle Paperwhite under the Christmas tree with my name on it), so I gave e-books a try, and I am so excited to be able to read on my e-device without having to buy the book (I'm cheap that way)! The best part is being able to read on my iPad at home, then, when I'm away from home and find myself with some time to fill, I can open the same book on my phone and it will take me to the spot where I stopped reading on the iPad! Technology is amazing!

I plan to continue reading with the same goal of 52 books in 2014. I'd love some recommendations--who's your favorite author?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cards for Hospitalized Kids

I have to share with you a fabulous idea from a reader named Lynn. She received one of my Hope Heart Starter Kits a while ago, and she was inspired to use the heart templates in the kit to make greeting cards for a wonderful organization called Cards for Hospitalized Kids. When you click on that name and go to the website, you will see how easy it would be for you to brighten the day of a hospitalized child by making and sending a greeting card.

Here are two cards that Lynn made using my heart templates (you can find them at the end of the post HERE, and print them out on your computer). I love how these look! What a great way to use up extra scrapbook paper! What a nice message she wrote inside! The stickers inside are a really cute touch too.

I haven't made any cards--YET--but I intend to. In fact, even though I haven't been feeling especially "crafty" lately,  I am strongly tempted to commit myself to a "card-a-day" challenge (like the "heart-a-day" challenge I undertook in 2012). Or what about a Facebook group, where everyone could post pictures of the cards they make? This could be just what I need to get back into general crafting, while doing good at the same time. The cards could be as simple or as elaborate as time allows, and I'm very inspired by the photos of the kids on the website, posing with their cards. So I will be participating in this, one way or another. Anyone else?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Meet-Up in NYC

Many of you know me from Craftster (I'm Leslieshappyheart there); and many of you also know my swap co-organizer Susan (she's susanab on Craftster). I've mentioned Susan MANY times on this blog; she's the one who got me interested in Craftster, and she's the one who encouraged me to start a blog. After knowing her on-line for several years, we finally met in person!

Last Sunday my husband and I travelled to New York City for BlytheCon 2013, a gathering of Blythe doll collectors and enthusiasts. Since Susan lives in New Jersey and works in NYC, it was easy for her to meet up with us there for lunch. We had planned to meet at the Panera Bread restaurant that is less than a block from Penn Station (we came into that station on the train), but Susan texted me to say she was waiting for us outside the station. When we came out onto the street the crowd was thick, and I stood in the middle of it, craning my neck left and right, looking for a small, dark-haired woman; then I heard "LESLIE!" and suddenly Susan was right in front of me! We gave each other a big hug, and started talking a mile a minute. The three of us made our way to Panera Bread (which was surprisingly quiet when we walked in), got our lunches, and sat down for good food and good conversation. Bill took these pictures of us as we sat across from him.

We had a bit less than two hours before I had to be at BlytheCon to watch a demonstration, so after a little eating and much talking (my voice was actually getting hoarse!) we reluctantly said goodbye. It was wonderful to meet Susan; she felt like a familiar friend, and our first meeting was so fun that I know we will see each other again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quilted Sewing Machine Cover

For a recent craft swap on Craftster, I made this sewing machine cover for my partner. Her favorite color is orange, and she likes it paired with purple, so that's why I chose this color scheme! I must say that after the top was all pieced together and I was considering a purple fabric for the binding, I wasn't happy with it--the colors seemed to be "too much".  Then I thought of going with the black and white stripe, and it took on a more modern feel to me, and I am very happy with how it turned out. I quilted it by machine, which is unusual for me (I do almost all of my quilting by hand), but I was running out of time, so machine quilting saved the day!

This is the first sewing machine cover I've ever made, and although I would have preferred to make a fitted cover with closed sides, I didn't have the exact dimensions of the machine it would cover, so I made it loose-fitting with adjustable ties. My partner says she loves it, and that's what matters.

This was my 52nd swap on Craftster! That's a lot of swaps! I'm going to take a break from swapping now and concentrate on other the moment, my main interest is sewing and crafting for Blythe dolls. I've opened an Etsy store called Blythe Happy, and the embroidered panties are selling like crazy! I will be doing more blogging on my other blog (also called Blythe Happy) and less blogging here.

So, until next time, happy crafting!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What I've Been Up To in August

I'm surprised that more than three weeks have flown by since I last posted here! I guess my July craft-a-day challenge didn't have the intended effect--I had hoped/expected it to give me a creative jump-start, but instead it seems to have drained me! Well, it didn't drain me completely...I must admit that I've been quite a busy bee recently in the realm of crafting for dolls.  By the way...did you notice that I didn't mention Blythe dolls at all during the month of July? I did that on purpose. I was trying to separate my Blythe crafting from my general crafting, and I undertook a Blythe doll dress-a-day challenge during July too. It turns out that I much preferred working on the things for the dolls! I love working on that small scale, and I like that I can use all my crafty skills to make things for them. Here's an example of what I've done lately:

Dresses and shrugs (I love sewing and knitting!)

Underwear (I love embroidery!)

I'm getting ready to go to a big meet-up of Blythe enthusiasts in New York City in October, and I plan to hand out doll undies to the people I meet there (package with my business card--I've just opened an etsy shop selling Blythe clothes and accessories, called Blythe Happy). So for now I am concentrating on doll crafting, but there are a couple of other projects that I plan to post here in the coming weeks.

I hope you are having a wonderful summer! This summer I have finally gotten back into regular exercise (jogging a mile every day) and I've managed to lose 10 pounds!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Challenge Day #31

Hooray, it's day 31, and this month-long challenge is DONE! I'm ending it with one more goody for you strawberry lovers: a strawberry pincushion. I found the pattern at Martha It is made from wool felt and filled with emery, which I had bought on Etsy quite a while ago--I'm glad I finally got around to using it!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July Challenge Day #30

For today's craft, I turned a leftover quilt block into a potholder!  Here's the front (I added the red boarder to make it plenty big to handle hot things in the kitchen):

On the back I used a pretty blue print. I layered the front and back with two layers of cotton quilt batting, and machine quilted it. It went together really quickly, and it's a great way to use an orphan block.

See, it really works!

Monday, July 29, 2013

July Challenge Day #29

About a year ago, for a Craftster swap, I made a felt heart covered in buttons. I've thought about that heart many times since then, wishing I had one for myself--so with this challenge for motivation, I finally made another one, just for me.

Here are the two halves of the heart, completely covered in buttons.

Here's the finished product. For me, the appeal of this heart is the assortment of buttons all in a shade of the same color. It was so easy to make I can't believe I put it off for so long!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July Challenge Day #27

While trying to think of a way to use the pom poms I started making a few days ago, I saw this giraffe fabric in my sewing room and the light bulb went on over my head.  "Of course! A giraffe ninni monster!" I said to myself. (You can get the pattern and find out more about ninnis at RevoluzZza.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

July Challenge Day #26

I made the top of this pincushion a year or so ago, but I didn't actually finish it until now! I wanted to use my new-found love of pom pom-making by adding them to the corners (instead of the small tassels I usually use).

I love the quote on this: "Search the world for happiness, and you may find it in the end, for the world is round and will lead you back to your door"-- but I wonder why I didn't realize that it would be perfect on a ROUND pincushion??

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July Challenge Day #25

A few months ago I bought some pom pom makers, and they've been sitting unused since then; so for today's crafting challenge, I made pom poms! They are fun and easy to make, and I think they are cute! This is a good way to use up scrap yarn.

These are the pom pom makers I got. They are extremely well-designed, and you can make perfect pom poms very quickly. I hope to show you a couple of crafts that use these in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July Challenge Day #24

I love making felt badges! I wanted this cupcake to have a crazy/goofy face; it didn't come out quite as goofy as I hoped, but I still like it a lot! The size is about 2" wide and tall.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July Challenge Day #23

I needed a new key fob; the one I've been using for over a year was looking very sad and bedraggled.

This is simply layers of wool felt sewn together with embroidery floss; it's the same on both sides. I used a fabric loop to attach the fob to the key ring because I think it will wear better than felt. To give it some stiffness, there are two layers of sew-in interfacing inside.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July Challenge Day #22

I had another request for Hope Hearts (click on the tab at the top of the page to learn more) and, since I've already posted some in this challenge, I decided to try to make these a little different. Normally I embellish all the hope hearts the same way; that makes them quicker for me to do, and gives them a degree of standardization (as much as something that is handmade can be standardized!)

These are the changes I made: the small heart usually just has the word "hope" on it, but I added seed beads all around it this time; the medium heart has more variety in the fabrics than I usually use; and on the large heart I embroidered flowers instead of sewing on buttons, and I used a patchwork of yellow fabrics for the base heart. This unique group of hearts will be heading off to Kathy in Australia later today.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July Challenge Day #21

I wanted to make another quilted basket after yesterday's first attempt, and I am super excited about this one! I love these fabrics; I happened upon the button fabric in my stash, and it is perfect for this, since there are actualy buttons around the sides--and speaking of buttons, I used four different un-matching buttons on this, which really adds a lot to the "fun factor"! The best improvement over yesterday's basket, however, is invisible: I used iron-on interfacing on the back of both fabrics, which makes this basket nice and sturdy. It really holds it's shape well, unlike yesterday's pink basket, which is a little floppy.

I used two 10" squares of fabric for this basket, and a 2 1/2" gusset on the sides. The finished size is 4" wide by 2 1/2" tall. The second picture shows a matchbox inside for scale. This is really too cute to keep to myself; I can see I'm going to have to make some of these for gifts!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July Challenge Day #20

Yesterday, on Craftster, I saw the cutest little fabric baskets; I loved them so much that I immediately went to the tutorial at Seaside Stitches and started working on one for myself! This is it. It was really simple, and although it did take some time to do all the machine quilting, it came together pretty quickly, and was very satisfying to make. I feel that the first one of anything that I make is a practice item, and I make changes in the next one. The one thing I will change next time (probably tomorrow!) is my fabric choice; I played it safe with the outer fabric, and it looks a little boring to me.

I made this one with two 12" squares of fabric, and I used a 3" gusset on the four corners. The finished basket is 5" wide and 3" tall--a good size for all the odds and ends that accumulate near me when I'm sewing or crafting!

Friday, July 19, 2013

July Challenge Day #19

I'm really glad I made an extra bookmark two weeks ago, so I have something to show for the challenge today! I used embroidery floss to make the tassel at the top.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July Challenge Day #18

Yesterday, as I thought about the mushroom badge I made, I decided to do another one...but instead of a face, I would turn the stem into a little house.  Here it is:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Challenge Day #17

Another wool felt badge...the mushroom stem was looking a little plain, so I added a face! I know some people love this "kawaii" look, and others don't. I'm undecided.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July Challenge Day #16

Yesterday I saw a really cute, folksy-looking heart at The Silly BooDilly, and I wanted to make a similar one. When I went to my sewing room to look for materials to make the heart, I came across a lovely quote by Oscar Wilde, which at some point in the past I had printed onto fabric. I decided to use it for the centerpiece of my heart, with embroidered vines and flowers around the outside.

I really liked the look of the raggedy-looking edges on the inspiration heart, so I tried to recreate that on mine. I think I like the way the boarder came out...

Monday, July 15, 2013

July Challenge Day #15

I seem to be on a roll with felt badges--I made another one for today's challenge item! Even though we are quite a ways from Halloween, I saw a funny cat like this on Pinterest and I just HAD to make one for myself!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July Challenge Day #14

I made another felt badge, but since I had more time I was able to do something very detailed. I saw something similar to this on Etsy and I love it! I can't decide if it looks more like a daytime or nighttime scene; since I used such a dark blue for the background, the orb in the sky could be either the sun or the moon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July Challenge Day #13

I was so short on time yesterday, that all I could manage to make was this small and simple felt badge, similar to one I saw on Etsy.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July Challenge Day #12

The most popular post on this blog is the "Scrappy Snappy Pouch Tutorial" that I wrote about a year ago. I haven't made one of those pouches since then, so I decided to use up some scraps and make myself a new one. (There's a pretty big pile of green scraps on my sewing table now, so don't be surprised if you see another one of these again very soon...!)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July Challenge Day #11

Well, there are several reasons I wasn't able to craft something yesterday to post here today. Hmmmph. So it's a good thing I planned ahead and made an extra needle cushion last week (remember the bird wearing a party hat?) I made this simple little house out of scraps, with lots of machine sewing around each piece, leaving the edges raw.  It's cute and useful, who could ask for more?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Challenge Day #10

Oooh look, I'm one-third of the way through the month, and I haven't missed a day of crafting yet! Let's hope I can keep going!

I needed more note cards, so I pulled out the rubber stamp I made last year and got busy. First, I lightly painted some old book pages with white paint. When they were dry, I stamped them. Then I cut out the stamped images, glued them onto colored scrapbook paper, and then glued that to the card.

They came out great--I love the way they look!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July Challenge Day #9

When I go out to exercise (I half walk, half jog around the neighborhood) I take my iPod with me, but I don't like to hold it in my hand the whole time. This pouch solves the problem--I can wear it as a cross-body bag, and my iPod will stay safe and my hands will be free to pet any cats I happen to encounter along the way!

This picture shows it with my iPhone inside. There is a loop (hidden in this picture) on the back edge that goes over the button in front to close it, while leaving room for the earbud cord.