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11.29.2007

Handmade Stamps




It has been a joy to watch my husband's latest project, for his graphic design class, Hand carved Stamps. This is the same guy who cringes when he sees me online at addicted to rubber stamps, the same one who sees the bag from one of my favorite local craft stores and says "oh, not again." So for his final he has to study a famous typographer, he chose Frederic Goudy, and copy one of the fonts onto a stamp which they craft themselves. "This was actually fun" he says later.

These photos show what he calls the "rejects" --- I was like
"WHAT?, People pay good money to have that distressed, grungy look on big honkin' letter stamps!" and I quickly stole them to add to my stash. I love how they look!!!! He's looking at me, thinking, exactly how much money have you spent? The kids are having a ball with the rubbery material {made by Speedball} although it is a bit messy while carving. And since they aren't allowed to use daddy's carving tools they are using various sharp pointed pencils to achieve their look. Yea, its been a little messy. Our daughter his making one that looks like a cow. Its still in the production and manufacturing stage :)

This week we are getting the Christmas tree up and preparing for little guy's 4th birthday, I just can't believe its that time again! {Sunday} so its time to return to decluttering the house for our December guests and activities. Once the house is clean for the small simple gathering it tends to stay that way much of December because of more guests or neighbors popping in. See, for me its a nice motivator to keeping it semi-tidy knowing that people might be over. {we go back to slacking in January, heehee} Christmas music will be on in the background to make it go faster :)

I do love this time of year so much, even for all the extra stuff we do "just because its Christmas" ..... for all the pretty-
glittering-Christmas-tree reasons as much as the getting together with family and friends reasons and always, always trying to keep the true meaning of Christmas tops around our house with just little touches of Santa and more about the spiritual side of why we have so much to celebrate this particular time of year. Keeps it real -- not material or fabricated. I wish there was one day {or all} without all the ads and marketing promoting the buy buy buy, shop shop shop mentality!

This December I would like us to do more together, just simple things, just the 5 of us, and start bringing some new traditions into our little {now complete} family. We'll keep visiting the large toy train display that starts every December {little guy's favorite} and I am on the lookout for what else to do in Rochester.


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11.21.2007

The start of {toy} shopping season! Scary!

This year's shopping will be so much different than previous years....now more than ever I really am going to go the handmade, artfully {thoughtfully} crafted route. The information on unsafe toys has given me plenty to think about this week as I start looking for that special something to put under the tree. Our kids know that they will get maybe one or two of their most special "wants" even though their lists are usually very long. This year the older two went through the all the "toy" books that have been delivered to the house. I was flipping through it the other day and was like, "No, probably not, nope, probably has lead, oooh, maybe, oops, that's been recalled...." and so on.

This will probably be my one post this week now that the kids are home for vacation. I had to check a few things off my to-do list for my son's cub scouts group. One of which was to prepare for next weeks collection of Toys for Tots. I set out to do a little research so I could put together a reminder flyer....the official website and other communities across the country clearly put emphasis on toy safety this year more than ever.

I discover that the list for recalled toys is incredibly scary! More so than I thought. So as I am reading through the various recalls when I notice one of our polly pocket toys is on the list {that one's gone from the toy box}. One statistic I read was that 80% of the toy market is in China. Not everything from China is bad news of course, but that number is way higher than I ever thought.

So I think my "reminder" flyer ended up sounding more of a public service announcement for the parents of our cub scouts. {I just hope no one thinks I am being preachy}

I decided on including a list of resources and links they could go to for more information and I also added a little blurb about what not to get.

With this year’s growing concerns over unsafe toys for our children we ask that everyone continue to be diligent in carefully selecting appropriate toys. There is a huge amount of information on the internet regarding unsafe toys and what to look for. Here are some of the tips:

Sometimes the toy will show the following labels that indicate the product met testing standards. Look for signs that the toy met standards...American National Standards Institute (ANSI),ASTM International (ASTM)

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Choose from responsible companies; those doing a lot of quality assurance. Stay away from toys with small parts, magnetic pieces, Aqua Dots, and toys containing play jewelry or charms. After reading the lists on several recall websites I would also recommend you check labels of craft kits very carefully and stay away from “dollar type” stores or discount toy stores.


Who are the responsible companies, I thought? Brands I trust? Two of the names I didn't see on those recall lists were Hasbro, and Playskool. Well, I hope this is a serious wake-up call for the toy giants. There are those being extra stringent now, but what about during the production and manufacturing process??? I also hope that this opens up more doors, somewhere in the future for the folks here in America and Canada who are making wonderful handmade toys.


Helpful Resources for Parents [The following helpful resource is from lists that were already complied on several of the websites below. I found it very useful and I added my own at the bottom.]

Federal Govt. Recalls | Recalls.gov

Toy Hazard Recalls | CPSC

American Academy Of Pediatrics Recalls

Lead Poisoning: What It Is | WebMD

Toy Information | ToyInfo.org

Toy Directory Recalls | TDmonthly.org

Mattel (Fischer-Price, Barbie, Hot-Wheels)

RC2 (Thomas) Recalls

About.com Toy Recalls

Toy Safety Tips | Toytips.com

Toy Safety Tips | Dr. Toy

Spot Lead Posioning Signs | Parents.com

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio

Toy Wishes Magazine

Toy Industry Association


Some additional sites I found useful:

www.toysfortots.org

www.greenlivingideas.com

www.thebostonchannel.com/toy-troubles

www.wbztv.com/consumer



11.16.2007

christmas tree craft





Help, little foam trees are overtaking my table.....and naked quirky tree is growing on me. I think he looks good white. He will need to be white of some sort. Entirely too cute. Okay, after quirky tree I'm done. really.

Incidentally, walking through the mall the other day I noticed a lot of shop window displays using big cone shapes, all decorated a little differently. Lerner New York had sequins and the Gadzooks' tree was made with recycled magazine pages slightly rolled up at the ends. A grunge look. I'm thinking that could work with scrapbook paper or pretty wrapping paper.

night.

Almost done....

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Loved how the sequins overlapped nicely to fit the little tree shape.

Seriously, as I am doing these I start to think of all the different embellishments that could work on these cones.....reeeaaaally addicting.



buttons, buttons, and more buttons

At this point I was starting to worry that it wasn't looking too good {not looking like the picture}, but one by one as the buttons are added it starts to take shape :) Lots and lots of buttons! oh my! I went back to the website after this to check some details.











I tried trim from the sewing department -- but the ribbon it was attached to just wasn't happening with the little tree shape. So I detached all the sequins and began pinning them to the tree without the ribbon. This was too much fun.


















This......turned to this {below}.........had to save the tiny beads for the top of the tree. I had various pins to use -- but ultimately, I liked the tree with the white pins instead of the mix of different color ones. Way too fun and the kids enjoyed it too. No pin injuries either.

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christmas decorating

I finally rotated some of the out of season decor items to make room for a more Christmas holiday look. I've never done the christmas stuff this early...partly to blame may be the cinnamon scented pine cones from the craft store. Since I have been smelling them all week I decided it was time to give them a proper home. Various sized glass jars are on top of our TV cabinet....each has its own color. Very neutral this season -- lots of browns and beige and whites.











These Styrofoam cone tree ideas are from 2peasinabucket

I first saw the cones on Ali's site, then after I realized I really needed a little more visual guidance I found the original post on the 2 peas website. The designer {tia bennett} has several ideas to work with. At the store I decided to get one tall cone and several small mini sized cones.




















I stacked 3 of the small to get a "quirky" tree look. Haven't put any thing on that one yet. But I have a sizzix die that cuts tiny button shapes. That's one I bought last spring and haven't even used yet so I am going to try it.
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11.13.2007

when I look out our sliding glass doors















this is what greets me...a whole row of Maple Trees with blazing yellow leaves. There is so much bright yellow you can't help but feel all happy when you look at it.
It catches me by surprise on some days. Like today when I opened the blinds -- it was like a blast of yellow. I hadn't realized how much they had all changed colors already. For the most part of October they were green, or mostly green.


































Another happy sight for me is when I see this particular box waiting in my mail.
Those are some of the newest additions to my library. A very good read, cool projects and simple instructions {just like the title says, go figure!} Good for getting rid of that creative block.
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creative block + sewing smallish things

11/9/07 creative block + sewing smallish things

I didn't have time to post on the 9th, but I jotted this down...it goes along with the new craft books that have been making me so happy :)


The dreaded dry spell, the creative slump, the writer’s block. It’s been here. Sitting side-by-side with me. And, what an awful time. Right as I am supposed to be starting those Christmas cards. Right in the middle of trying to get all the projects in my head out of my head. Ahh, I thought the other day, therein lays the problem. Too much planning, not enough doing/creating.

Last time I was not feeling so craft-worthy I dove into other forms of artsy craftsy things like learning about printmaking, screen printing and painting on fabric. Then the block vanished as soon as I was making something again. So this time I turned to something besides card making and scrapbooking or painting.

This time the block led me to ---- Sewing and Needle Felting--- {felting supplies have just been added to the yarn-crafty sections at my AC Moore and JoAnns within the last month} Perfect timing I say.

Needle Felting is so cool - and in the process of finding out more about needle felting I discovered this whole new world {new to me anyway} of felting with wool fabrics. Several cool sites/blogs later and I am hooked -- man!! the amazing things you can do with it!! and it is just so beautiful to create with.

But although I grew up with a seamstress mom {I think one of the original crafty girls} who can make anything out of a piece of fabric, I really haven’t embraced sewing as a form of creativity throughout my life. In fact, I ran from it. Until now…I found some folks that could explain sewing with my attention span in mind. There are several fabulously written books on the whole “simple sewing” theme. Even magazines, I discovered. I’m feeling happy again to have made something. Even if sewing all those little stitches was a pain in the @$*#. It actually was very relaxing. I found that learning something new plus getting the hands working again {even if it was with a sharp needle that tends to draw blood} was just what I needed to help slump girl out of this slump.

Now the problem is, I want to hoard all the pretty fabrics I see. heehee.





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more of the girls' cards

Yes, a little construction paper, yarn, glue, glitter and beads go a long way...
My little girl made the flag grouping....it included a big paper flag, a card with stars and red, white and blue ribbon, a beaded "bracelet" and a keychain beaded thingie.....as we were packing the items away she says to the scout leader that it is a "set" and do not separate the pieces. The leader was like "okay sure" while looking at me and smiling. I couldn't help but be so proud of my little future designer. "Like, don't split up my line, okay?"

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from make a difference day

Our girl scout troop project -- crafting cards and flags to send to the soldiers.

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