21 December 2007

christmas roundup

We are getting ready to hop in the car and head to VA. Yippee! But before we head out, here's a quick roundup of some of our holiday activities. We made a new gingerbread village; it's becoming a bit of a tradition. See our village from last year. This time we wanted a whole town, with a town square. Some of our buildings were more successful than others, but we definitely had a lot of fun.

Town hall.

Shops. Grocer in the middle, barber shop on the end.

This is obviously some kind of posh shop. Dressmakers, maybe.

Townhouses opposite the shops.

Church in the corner of the square. Ice cream cone steeple was a bit tricky.

Beyond the square, there is a lake and Twin's estate. Mostly red, of course.

Minty little house.

We had a live tree this year. We also inherited some great old decorations from our great-aunt including this little angel:
and these cool glass ornaments:
I made a tree skirt for the little tree out of some crazy thrifted pillowcases. I think the whole effect is pretty cool.
And while I've been sitting here, Twin has gotten the car completely packed and now is tapping her toe. We're off!

Wishing everyone a very very very merry Christmas. Lots of peace and joy and a heck of a lot of candy, cookies, and roast beast.

30 November 2007

wreath and advent and hello!

Sorry for the long blogging absence! I just haven't had the brain space for crafting or blogging lately. Living in a new place, with a new job and new people, I'm finding that different priorities, needs, and plans are filling my head. I don't know yet whether the blog will grind to a halt, or limp along in a sad sort of fashion until it again becomes a larger part of my life, as it used to be. But regardless of the future of my little blog, I do want to say how much I have valued these friendships, and how big a role they have played in my growth, both artistically and personally, over the last couple years. This crafty blogosphere is a really really really really special place (really really). really.

We are slowly getting in the holiday mood around here. Over Thanksgiving, my Mom, sister and I made a new wreath for our front door. We started with a $5 wreath from the craft store and then blingified it. My Mom is the master of wreath blingification, and has made some absolutely beautiful wreaths with fruit, greenery, and other natural kinds of stuff (mostly plastic of course but it looks real). We decided to go a bit less traditional with ours, using glass Christmas balls and candy cane ribbon along with the greenery.

Mom melts hot glue nuggets in an electric griddle, and then you just dip and stick. Voila, blingy. The little bird in the middle of the wreath is from the Martha Stewart Kmart tree-trimming section, as are the candy cane ribbon and folksy christmas balls. I put a pretty penny in Martha's pocket that weekend, between her awesome tree decorations at Kmart and her craft stuff at Michaels. She so has my number.

This weekend we are going to string popcorn and make tree decorations. We are also going to make a new advent calendar from the design I created last year. I don't have any green paper left so I am going to get creative with my Martha Stewart glitter. I am trying not to buy any more craft supplies because it was becoming increasingly obvious that my hobby is no longer crafting; instead it is craft supply-buying. I am a pro at it, I can tell you.

*Update November 2010: This year I've got a new design for my advent calendar and am selling the templates on etsy! Check it out!*

07 October 2007

you can call me space boy

Space Boy as superhero. Red cape, check. Ray gun, check. Debonair smirk, check.

And snazzy Space Boy badge. Ready to save the world, or the nearest damsel in distress...

28 September 2007

feet up, weekend time

Happy weekend!

btw, have you seen Blogger Play? Strangely addictive. I think I could watch that thing for hours.

27 September 2007

letter for my favorite peeps

Twin and I have two dear friends that we've known since high school, but who live far away in other states now. It is a friendship that effortlessly survives long lapses of time spent apart, and the many miles that separate us. I fully expect it to last decades more. I have come to value this friendship even more in recent years as I have come to the slow realization that adult life can be, well, a little lonely.

We're not very good correspondents, and none of us are great phone-talkers. Several years ago, we started a "chain letter." At first we wrote by email, taking turns writing in an attempt to keep each other up-to-date on our lives. About a year ago, we decided to begin using real mail. More fun to get a package in the mail. And three letters in one package from your three best friends is about as good as it gets.

We always include little goodies and pretty stationery. I used one of my new port2port cards for my letter. I added new decorations to the envelope (we re-use the envelope, each adding new decorations as she sends the letter on).

And check out my new stamps. I usually just get the boring flag stamps, but my Mom had brought me these super cool stamps for the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. And then I was at the post office and I saw a sign for the Tiffany stamps. And then the Jimmy Stewart ones and the Disney ones. And I decided I just had to have them all. Who knows maybe I'll even become a philatelist (which is a word that sounds like it should be followed by an "excuse me").

The package is off to Texas (and I have been horribly slow with it this time--sorry guys!!) I think I will send it along its way with a row of Jimmy Stewarts. You can never have too much Jimmy Stewart.

26 September 2007

my mama's rolls

Did I say I was going to blog every day this week? I meant everyday except Tuesday. Because Tuesday, though it was not a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, did not have anything particularly to recommend itself and I am very happy to abandon it to the fogs of memory as soon as possible.

Wednesday, now wednesday is looking up. Twin had a potluck at work today so we made a batch of my Mom's rolls. These are holiday rolls in our house, and smell like Christmas to me. Buttery and delicate and completely delicious. They are especially good with a very thin layer of country ham inside.

In microwave-safe bowl, heat until hot:
2 cups milk

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar

Let cool until butter has softened.

In mixing bowl, combine:
4 cups flour
3 pkg dry yeast (one strip)

Stir in milk mixture and beat for five minutes.
Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add more flour (1/2 to 1 cup) until dough holds together but is still very soft. (It is much gloopier than most bread doughs)

Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour over the top, cover, and let rise until doubled in volume.
Turn out 1/2 the dough onto a floured board. Pat it into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread 1/2 stick melted butter over the top. Cut into triangles (like a pizza) and roll from the wide end to the tip to form a crescent-shaped roll. The rolls should be the size of a baby's fist. Or a small mouse. (This is not an exact science. Most of mine come out looking like weird, oddly-sized lumps. They still taste good.)

Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Let rise until puffy.
Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 10 minutes).


24 September 2007

new kid in town

Olive is very excited. In fact, she has requested a new dress for the occasion. In red.

23 September 2007

looks like autumn

Our Mom was here for a visit this weekend and we had a lovely time. I am absolutely stuffed. So is my fridge. She made us creamed chicken and biscuits, which is the ultimate comfort food. I was going to take a picture of it, but I thought you might be jealous. I also felt a great need to get it into my mouth as soon as possible. Besides eating, we shopped, went to see Stardust (charming, I thought), and generally had an all-around good time.

My flowerpots on the front stoop had gotten completely out of control. Healthy, certainly, but they had grown so big and sprawling it made getting in the front door a bit of a challenge. Mom helped me prune and trim, and we added in a few fall-hardy plants. She made the beautiful bouquet in the top pic with the cuttings.

I seem to be emerging from my craft slump thanks to some excellent reading. Joelle Hoverson's new book is gorgeous. I want to make every single project in it. And to help me crawl out of my rather embarrassing blogging slump, I am going to post every day this week. Probably just photos, but it's a start.

(And if you ordered cards last week, they're in the mail! Thanks to all who ordered!! There are a few sets left, if anyone is still interested.)

19 September 2007

need some stationery?

It's the SALE OF THE CENTURY*. This is an event that is NOT TO BE MISSED.

Okay, not really. But I have SLASHED PRICES on all the cards in my etsy shop. I have a hankering for some new wall art and so I filled up my etsy shopping cart with lovely things that could be mine. But then I realized that my poor little PayPal account has only $11.01 in it. That will do little to sate my handmadegoodslust.

All card sets that were $10 are now HALF PRICE. Just $5. No joke, dudes. So you'd better get over there and ACT FAST. These fantastic prices just WON'T LAST.


Get the dotty Thank Yous, the lady dolls, the magnolia cards, or the dark blue starry cards.

*Some restrictions may apply. The person doing business under the various pseudonyms of Marmee, MK, Mama, Mumsy, and She Who Must Be Obeyed is hereby restricted from further purchase from the juliemarie etsy shop. Complaints will not be entertained from said person. Said person should petition the craftsperson and proprietress for unlimited free goods ad finitum; this privilege being her just and proper due as giver of life and supporter numero uno.

15 September 2007

dum de dum

Taking it easy over here. Loving late summer. Loving the South. Not doing a lot of crafting, and consequently not blogging much either. (I have trouble blogging when I don't have projects to share. Probably because I rarely feel that my life, though I love it, is particularly interesting to outsiders.) But here's a quick summary of the last few weeks:

1. We spent a lovely weekend camping in the Blue Ridge with our dad. I love these mountains so much, and was happy to learn that the North Carolina part of the range is as beautiful as the Virginia part.

(My daddy has twinkling eyes, doesn't he?)

2. I've read some fantastic books. The great thing about having a novel-gobbling sister is that she weeds out the bad ones, and recommends the good ones. Some of my recent favorites have been The Countess Below Stairs, Mariana, The Morning Gift, Venetia, and Here Be Dragons (links to Twin's reviews).

3. Twin has instituted a new diet and fitness regimen. She is a slavedriver, I tell you. She wants me to eat fruit! And veggies! Like, more than once a day! eeep. We've been biking and walking. Playing tennis. It feels good.

4. Have I mentioned my love of professional tennis? I loved the US Open, though the final outcome was pretty predictable. My heart just about broke for my boy Andy, who played with his whole heart and still couldn't find a way to beat that Swiss machine.

Did anyone else notice this young man? Juan Martin Del Potro from Argentina. He seemed somewhat familiar, and then I realized where I'd seen him. He's a Kouros statue, of course, who came to life atop his marble pedestal, walked right out of the Met, and picked up a tennis racket. It really is a shame he decided to put on clothes. Alas.

5. Slowly crocheting the Shawl that Swallows Time. It is now scarf-sized, and I'm tempted to just stop here. But I will persevere, and I'm sure I will enjoy it when I am 80 years old, which is probably about the time I will finish it.

6. We got Twin's pinboard made and hung over her desk. I love the dark background and the strip of vibrant print.

Our long long drought was broken yesterday by a brief and furious thunderstorm, following by a long drizzly soak. Today the weather is fresh and cool, and makes me think autumn might actually be on its way.

A wonderful weekend to all!

23 August 2007

for twin—in red, of course

Twin has patiently been awaiting a red sundress for some time now. She only began tapping her toe last weekend, so I figured I better get on it. The dress is very similar to this top I made in the early spring from Simplicity 3875. Like last time, I narrowed the bands at the waist and neck, and made it sleeveless. And since the tunic I made last time had a slight maternity look, I replaced the gathering at the waist with pleats. Better, I think.

Side view. And look, you can see some of my flowers here which I have not even killed yet. (mama, aren't you proud!?) They are a little droopy though because it has been dang hot and dry. Well, the ground has been dry, anyway. The air is dense with moisture and sticky like only a Southeastern August can be. Not that I'm complaining, of course. I'm just sayin, is all.

I love the super soft cotton stripe that I got at Purl just before I moved. And you can't even tell that I accidentally sewed the entire back panel of the dress wrong side out unless you look really closely. Sweet.

Twin is so outta here. Photo session is so over, she says.

19 August 2007

a bed fit for a (queen) bear

My new bedroom is petite, but happily large enough for a queen bed (unlike my old bedroom which only allowed a twin bed). Instead of buying a full frame for the bed, I made this upholstered headboard. I'm really happy with the way it turned out, even if it does look a little wonky around the feet. But you really can't see that part, so it's ok. I read over some tutorials on the internet (like this one) and then just figured it out as I went along. I stuck with a nice, simple rectangle of plywood and screwed on short planks of 1"x4" to give it legs. I covered it with .5" foam, then wrapped a thick batting and this fabric around the edges. Then I had at it with the staple gun.

The quilt was a bit of a splurge from Anthropologie. I rationalized the purchase, however, by telling myself I would make my own shams. The quilt is a lovely soft, gauzy cotton quilted in a flower pattern with navy thread.

I made the shams out of one of the beautiful block-printed Indian fabrics from Purl. It's a nice heavy fabric, and I love how tailored the shams look.

My bear finds the whole setup very comfortable, indeed.

13 August 2007

craft room

Now we're cooking with this craft room. It's good. I'm feeling more creative already. And it will be so nice to have a dedicated space for crafting and computer-ing. A space with a door to close when the craft mess gets too big. Lovely.

My new thread holder makes me giddy. That was a happy 15 minutes spent organizing my thread by color, let me tell you. The pegboard makes me happy too, having all my whatsits and whatnots all handy and ready.

Here's the long view. That is a homasote pinboard covered with a gray linen. I followed the instructions in this tutorial exactly, and had excellent results. I only used half the sheet of homasote, so I think we are going to have a second board on the other side of the room, over Twin's desk.

The storage situation is not completely ideal. I mean, the fabric is already bulging, and the stash is most certainly not going to get smaller any time soon. But the closet doors are metal (magnets, yahoo!) and my Shim wall+pocket is attempting with its quiet elegance to bring some semblance of grace to this wall.

One more view of the pinboard. Did you see Courtney's? eep, so lovely. And there on the table is the beginnings of a quilt that Twin is making for her bed. Blue and white pinwheels. See, the craft room is even inspiring Twin. It must be good.

01 August 2007

it's all about the red trim

Lookie! I actually finished a project! Well, that's a miracle. Honestly I had more trouble mounting the curtain rods than I did making the simple curtains. I need to get more handy with the drill. A valuable, skill, I think.

These curtains are made with that lovely folk print from Superbuzzy that has been all over the place recently (I think they sold out of the multi-color, but the brown is lovely, as is the eggplant). Just before I left NY, I finally caved in to my overwhelming need for Superbuzzy purchases. So awesome. (and oh my, when I popped over there to get the URL I just saw this. oh my. oooooooh my.)

Now, I think there is a distinct possibility that my curtains will catch fire one day. That would be bad. Maybe I should add some ties, so that we can secure the curtains back when cooking. Hmmm...

And here's our wee little kitchen. And when I say wee, I mean wee. That little bit of counter space you see there? Yeah, that's about it. But, looking on the sunny side, it's making us more tidy and efficient in the kitchen. And the lack of dishwasher means we actually do our dishes, rather than leave them sitting around until we have run out of spoons.

Hopefully there will be many more apartment-decoration posts in the next few weeks. I have many ideas simmering, limited only by my insistence that everything be just perfect (impossible to achieve but dang time-consuming to attempt) and a lack of time (due mostly to my own laziness, but it's SUMMER, friends, I'm livin it up).

In other news, Twin and I have re-engaged in our great tennis rivalry. We are fairly evenly matched, so each set is highly exciting. I generally let her win, though. Just to keep the peace. ;)

But here's a question for anyone who is a biologist, naturalist, or bugologist kind of person: why, oh WHY, do mosquitoes love to bite me, but leave my Twin completely alone? This has been the case for years. We used to joke that I am the sweet one, while she is too sour. (Admittedly true, of course, but not a scientific explanation to satisfy my mind.) Regardless of the reason, they do love me. They see me and go nutso. yummy yummy yummy they say. Punch-drunk they are. Perhaps I should be flattered.

I am sorry for being such a blog-flake this summer, but I'm sure to get back into the rhythm of things before too long. Twin has ordered a sundress, and I better get on that before the summer begins winding down into autumn.

Be well friends!