Happy (early) Birthday to me!

Chocolate Caramel Cashmere Cupcake

For a while, I've seen Betz White's recycled sweater cupcakes around a bunch of different blogs. I knew I wanted to try it myself, and I had the perfect sweater laying around, just begging to be reconned into my very own cupcake pin cushion! A CASHMERE cupcake pin cushion! Chocolate caramel cashmere cupcake - to be precise! LOL Normally I'm more of a yellow cake kind of girl, but the sweater I started with was brown & tan, and it looks delicious anyway!

I'm off to try and clean a bit before tomorrow - my 26th birthday! I hate clutter, but I hate cleaning on my birthday even more! My husband & I are going to a wonderful restaurant in Lombard, The Capital Grille; and I'm very excited. We were there a couple of weeks ago with his parents, and loved it. I just need to try the white chocolate mousse this time. Mmmmmm.....


...not even close!

To being finished cleaning & re-organizing my craft room, that is. I must be crazy to have started the redo right before the holidays, but the choas was driving me crazy. I need order, and I'm not quite there yet. Sigh, I know I'll get it done, but I wonder, if I'll be able to manage it before Christmas, or if it will push right on through to the new year. Christmas is only a week and two days away, and my birthday's one of them. I wish this time of year didn't pass so quickly, but it seems to go quicker & quicker every year.

I hope to have new craft room pics soon, and I'll have fun Christmas goodies (after they're received!) Hopefully, cross my fingers, the weather around Chicago will stay nice, and I won't have to shovel another foot of super-wet & heavy snow! (Or maybe I should wish for a snow-blower? LOL) Happy Holidays, everybody!


Holiday Cheer!

It's easy for me to get over- whelmed this time of year, and this year I'm way behind on a lot of my projects. I'm also stressing, because most of what I'm working on are Christmas gifts; I don't have anything to post about, and fear that I might not until after the holiday! I guess that means I should just point out some fun holiday crafting cheer!

If you haven't seen them yet, go check out Hillary's Elf Stitchette embroidery patterns, they're super sweet! (Hillary is the amazing talent behind Wee Wonderfuls, and recently divulged that she's pregnant with her second child! Congrats & Good Luck with the morning sickness!)

I also love these button trees, I think I saw them first on Whip Up, and now there's a Flickr group full of them!


.:Tree Branch Earrings Tutorial:.

These are made with copper colored craft wire and genuine apatite beads.

whipupI've decided to enter these in this month's Whiplash contest - Gifts & Decoration. I wanted to wait & post pics of the first pair I made, because they're a gift for a special friend; but I didn't want to spoil a Christmas present (it's no fun to know ahead of time!) Good luck to all of the participants, and Happy Holidays, too!

Hand wired tree branch earrings would make a lovely Christmas gift! (Don't worry! They're super easy, and quick too!)

Materials you'll need:
28g wire
Briolette beads, or any kind you'd like
Small jump rings (optional)
Earring wires

Start by cutting a length of wire, between 18" - 24" (go longer if you want longer earrings, shorter if you prefer a more petite size.) Thread the largest bead onto the wire, and pull the 2 ends even. This doesn't have to be perfect.

Hold the wires between your fingers, close to the bead, and twist them together. The goal is to get a nice even twist, but be careful! Twist too much, and you run the risk of snapping one (or both,) of your wires. When you twist the wires together, try and balance them, instead of wrapping one wire around another. Holding the wires in a "V" while you twist will help achieve a balanced twist. This will form the lowest hanging branch.

Next, take another bead (I used increasingly smaller beads, as I wired them, you're working from the bottom towards the top,) and thread it onto one of the wires. It doesn't matter which wire. Move it close to the first bead, and then play with the spacing, until you get a result that pleases you. Pull the loose end back up to the other wire, and hold there.

Twist the second branch into place, remembering not to twist too tightly! I find that odd numbers of branches look more organic than evens, and that asymmetry also makes them feel more branch-like. (Basically, if they're perfect, they won't look like real tree branches, so little irregularities are a good thing!)

The rest of the beads follow the same way, I used smaller beads, and gave them smaller branches each time, to lend a realistic feel. You can wire whatever kind of beads you want, into almost any shape you want.

To finish, I simply twisted about 2 " past how tall I wanted the earrings to be. Bend on a circle shape (I used a double-pointed knitting needle, sz2) and wrap the end around the stem. Clip closely (see below for picture of clipped & bent ends,) and fold the ends as close to the stem as you can, with pliers, if you have them. I added a jump ring to the first pair I made, but it's not a necessity though. Attach to the ear wires, and you're done! Easy peasy, and oh so pretty!

I'd love to hear comments & suggestions, I'd be happy to help if you need it!

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Even though I've gotten a little better about posting regularly, I still totally missed yesterday; and I was planning on posting the earring tutorial. Sorry guys! I should have it ready on Monday. For some strange reason, I decided the Holidays would be the perfect time to re-organize my craft room. Ha! Ok, so I knew the timing was bad anyway, but I couldn't stand the chaos any longer. I just had to do something about it. So, the tutorial is actually all written, I just have to go back and get all the pictures taken, and put them in an order that makes sense. Hopefully by the end of next week, I'll have the room clean enough to post about again, too! I loved seeing other people's craft rooms in the Flickr pool!


Tree Branch Earrings

When I was little, my family and I vacationed on a wonderful lake in Michigan. We had a cute little bluff cabin, it had the most amazing view. I never got to stay in the front bedroom (the adults had first dibs,) but it had 2 walls of windows, and the sunrise was incredible coming up over the lake & the hills. I'll never forget it, but I'm glad I have a very good visual memory of what it looked like, because it was sold & demolished several years ago. It was so sad to be so forced into letting something go, but it really proved to me that everything changes, and you just have to be grateful for the time you get.

I'm grateful that I can still remember what the fireworks looked like from the middle of the lake; and the awesome little secret passage from the kid's bedroom to the bathroom. It went through the back of the closet, and wasn't very secret, but I loved it anyway. The town's called Beulah, but it's not the same anymore, either. Lots of money to build lots of big houses meant the small town charm faded. I'll never forget it, though; the smell of ripe wild raspberries and the cool breezy forest hikes. Another Michigan treasure is Gwen Frostic, a wildlife artist who owned a print shop near Beulah (she's since passed, but her work is carried on by her children.)

It was a yearly treat to go into the print shop, we got note cards, stickers, framed prints, books and really anything else they'd print on. The shop was as close as I've ever seen to nature come straight indoors. Tree branches on every wall, windows to the outside forests and prints of nature covered the walls, and the large printing machines were showcased in the front. They were always going, and I can recall staring for what felt like hours. Every detail was so cared for, even the book paper had deckled edges, and it looked so organic. If you like nature, check out the website, I absolutely LOVE her prints!

I've been very inspired by nature lately, even though the Chicago weather's cold & snowy! I saw this concept in a very high end jewelry catalog, and knew I could replicate it with materials more in my budget. Although I have long dreamed of being able to use tourmaline, sapphire, gold & all sorts of expensive supplies!

These earrings were totally easy peasy to make, and I'll be posting a tutorial soon! You can use any wire/beads you want, from colored craft wire & plastic beads, all the way up to gold wire and gemstone beads. These are fine silver wire with lilac freshwater pearls.


My sewing machine

It seems another trend going around the crafty blogs lately - showing off your sewing machine! Of course, I had to get in on it; I love my current machine! It's a Husqvarna/Viking 6460, and probably older than I am! But it's a workhorse, and it's never let me down, (unlike my first machine, a cheap plastic Husky star, that died within 18 months of purchase.) It's all metal, and probably 30-40 lbs, I don't tend to move it very much though. I use the metal casing to my advantage, sticking every little doodad right at hand, with magnets!

I found it on Ebay, and I looked for this particular model, because it's what my Mom's been sewing on my whole life. (Her's is 1970"s brown, though - LOL!) And, coincidentally enough, my twin sister has a Viking 6400 series as well. Great minds think alike! :P I use a vintage incense holder for all my broken or damaged sharps (needles & pins.) It's Confucius! I use a small plastic divided container to hold all of my machine parts, presser feet, needles, and anything else I might need to sew.

Recently, I heard a rumor that Viking isn't manufacturing out of Sweden anymore, so I'd caution potential new buyers to review newer model's performance. My machine is 20+ years old, and (knock on wood!) is still sewing strong!


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