Thursday, June 17, 2010

A New Site Has Been Found

My craft blog/site over at .ning is closing :-(. Ning decided that they needed to charge for their web sites, so I went on the hunt for another one. This new one might not be as pretty but it is functional. All the tutorials that I write will be housed there with only links on my other blogs. I'd like to know what you think so here is the link.

Oh, by the way, it is called Wrapped Up! Since this one isn't a social network like .ning there is no need to join to view any of the tutorials or postings. More free tutorials will be posted soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Craft Book Reviews

Last Summer I was in a funk after being laid off from my job of 12+ years and wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life and needed some inspiration so I bought 4 crafty book. Once I got the books I thought I would do reviews on them, but never got around to it….until now. A couple are jewelry related and the other two are craft. The craft book reviews will be published on my Crafty News site and the jewelry books on my Dana’s Jewelry Design blog.

Taking Flight 
Inspirations & Techniques to give your Creative spirit wings
By Kelly Rae Roberts

When I saw this book on Amazon I fell in love with the graphics and artwork. This is a mix media book that is more inspirational than project driven.  There are pages in the book for you to write your inspirational thoughts and plan which I find is wasted space. How many of us write in our craft books? I don’t, since I’m usually giving them away for auctions or kids activities when I’m finished with them. There are contributing artists so Kelly isn’t the author of all the techniques or instructions in the book which I found a bit confusing, but it does give you several viewpoints and ways that others look at and complete art. I didn’t do any of the projects in the book and there are 7, but if you are wanting to get into mixed media or altered art this would be a good starting point to learn some techniques. Great photos and graphics throughout the book.

Would I keep this book in my library of craft reference books? No
Would I have bought this book if I had been able to thumb through it first? No
Would I recommend you buy this book? Maybe as long as you know what it is about first.
Review for Graphics and Photos is 5 stars
Review for Content is 3 stars

I’m not sure of what I was thinking when I bought this book except that it reminded me of craft projects that we used to do in Camp Fire girls in the 60’s. So, you could say it brought back memories that I wanted to relive again.  Humm, not a good reason to buy a book, but here goes the review.

The Complete Book of Retro Crafts
Collecting, Displaying & Making Crafts of the Past
By Suzie Millions

What can I say about this book but that it will appeal to a wide variety of people. There are 50 projects, so something for everyone and all the projects use items around the house or repurposing old vintage things like plates, bottles and tea cups. There is a whole section on what is Retro Crafts. Lots of photos and images on how to display your craft project as well as defining your work space. I can see making some of these projects with kids as they would get a kick out of them, but other than in a kids room book case, do you really need to have this stuff displayed around your house…..uggg. I should have known better. Some of the crafts or techniques in the book I see being used today such as the paper folding and glitter frames so if you really want to learn how to do that, this is the book for you. Have I made any of these crafts out of the book? You bet when I was a kid. Would I make them now? Not unless I was crafting with my grandson or nephew. The book does have good instructions and gives you the materials list so you will know what you need to complete that project.

Would I keep this book in my library of craft reference books? Yes
Would I have bought this book if I had been able to thumb through it first? Nlo
Would I recommend you buy this book? No, not unless you are into retro crafts or vintage repurposing
Review for Graphics and Photos is 5 stars
Review for Content is 3 stars

Now, I’m sure you are wondering why I would keep this book. Some sentimental and because it does repurpose a lot of things around the house and the crafts would be good to work on with kids.

If you would like to read the jewelry book reviews go HERE.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Re-Purposing Material

For the past several days I have been busy sewing. I found my little Swing 'N Sew machine at my mothers and took it back and have been creating fun things ever since. First I wanted to make some jewelry pouches for my jewelry when it sells to send it in to customers...went a little overboard on that. Here is my post from my Jewelry blog if you want to read it. Anyway, as I was trying to fall asleep last night I remembered all these vintage hankies and thought what a great use for that material. I'm not going to use them as hankies and some of them have small holes and stains, so here is my first attempt at a drawstring pouch. As you can see, it will hold quite a bit of jewelry. I think next time I will reinforce the inside with either quilt batting or another layer of muslin for more stability.

My next project was one that hubby had asked for and that is a passport carrier. I published a link here a while back to a tutorial, but I wanted something a bit simplier so this is what I came up with. I used scrap material left over from my jewelry pouches and old jean shorts that no longer fit. Mine is the pretty one and hubby's is the denim. As you can see they are both fully lined and I added the hook & loop tape (button is just decorative, but a good way to embellish.) It is also large enough to hold your cell phone or mp3 player. I'm thinking I might be able to put the camera in here also when not using it for the passport. My version isn't padded, but if using it for a camera case or mp3 player case, I would suggest a layer of quilt batting between the lining and cover.

So what would you use these for?

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm Back

Okay I was never really gone. I do post more frequently on my jewelry blog than here and the holidays just moved on in so that I found I couldn't do more than one blog at a time. Well the new year is here and it is time to start writing again. I did do a new tutorial for a knotted bracelet which is posted on my jewelry blog. Here are pictures of it.

It was fun to make and you could use items you already have and not go out and purchase anything new. Instead of using the silver end caps, just wrap all three pieces of leather with 20 gauge wire to secure and then add your clasp. The beads are fun and add a bit of color, but if this was for a man, I would leave them off or use minimal beads...maybe just some sterling silver on the leather versus the dangles. This is definitely something you can have fun with.  Here is the link to the post with the full tutorial.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter, no not yet!

It sure has been feeling like Winter around here lately with temps below zero. We normally are not this cold until much later in the season...say around January. Hopefully the weather will work itself out and the rain will be forthcoming. I didn't think I would ever hear myself say that I wanted rain, but if I have to choose between bitter cold and sun to mild temps and rain, I'll choose the rain. Now in a month when we have had grey skies and rain daily, I may change my mind.

Here are a few crafty ideas to either get you going for the holidays or finish you up.
  • Don’t throw out those old ornaments. Decorate them with seed beads, paint, spray flocking or even how about some mini gemstone chips….my version of this is pictured using round styrofoam balls, gemstone chips and sequins.
  • Decorate some simple round ball ornaments with metallic paint pens. Write family member names, swirls or stars, add some rhinestones or glitter for some glitz.
  • Make your own gift boxes or bags and use old wrapping paper, newspaper or even brown paper and them rubber stamp your design.
  • Make a candy tree out of a foam form using pins and any small wrapped candy. Guests can just pick the candy off the tree. Be sure to have a dish near by for the pins and wrappers.
  • Make your holiday table sparkle with white lights and some tulle as a runner.
  • What about a jingle bell tree. Instead of using gemstones use bells and make your own jingle tree. This idea stolen from Dina as she makes wonderful jingle bell trees. Ha ha or should I say Ho Ho Ho
  • Make a holiday mobile out of leftover simple ornaments. It will brighten any spot in the house.
  • I know we have all made the paper chain garland, but how about taking it up a notch and use fancy double sided scrapbook paper and alternate each link with the other paper side.
  • Another garland idea, use wrapped candy in various colors and staple the ends together to create a long strand, then just tape to the mantel.
  • Make your own gift tags this year. Not so crafty, pick up some metal rimmed blank sale tags at the office supply store or cut out your own out of cardstock and embellish with rubberstamps or stickers. How about on the tag glue a picture of the person who is to receive the gift. This also makes a great keepsake.
  • Make a memory board. You can make your own out of an old or new bulletin board or you can buy them at any craft store. Perfect to showcase special cards, photos, gift tags, show tickets or anything else you do special during the holidays.
  • Who doesn’t like the gift of food for Christmas. How about these ideas, cookie in a jar, soup in a jar, chocolate covered pretzels, candy, cookies, caramel popcorn or how about some homemade jam or sweet bread. I know those are some of my favorites.

Thanks to Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping on-line for some of these ideas.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Absent but not Forgotten

It's been a busy month and appears that it will continue to be busy with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week, but I did find time today to check out some cool blogs and found a great holiday decorating idea. Perfect for your Thanksgiving table/decoration or even for Christmas. Pam's Blog Gingerbread Snowflakes deals with all things holidayish...okay, I think that is a word, if not it is now. She has instructions on decorating gourds. These are great and I love the little ones that could be used on a tree. No fancy paints are needed as Pam uses Sharpie pens and colored pencils, she even has links to farms that will sell the cleaned gourds. Check out Pam's blog for all the instructions HERE.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shepard's Pie - Easy Recipe

Last evening I wanted something easy but comforting for dinner as it has been raining and windy all day. I went to the freezer and found ground beef and then tried to think about what to make, meat loaf, hamburgers, chili, nope none of those sounded good. Then I saw the left over mashed potatoes in the fridge and knew what I wanted, Shepard's pie. I don't make this very often and when I do I use fresh ingredients and make my own gravy with beef stock. This is a quick and easy version and actually turned out pretty good. Perfect when you want a satisfying one dish meal. So give it a try.

Shepard's Pie

1 lb hamburger
1 med. onion chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pkg brown gravy mix
1 pkg (envelope) Ore Ida Instant Potatoes
1 16 oz frozen mixed veggies
1/2 tsp Salt or to taste
1/2 tsp Pepper or to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown hamburger meat in a large skillet, when it is almost finished add the chopped onions and garlic. Mix well. While browning hamburger, cook the gravy mix according to directions on the package. It should make around 1 cup.

Cook instant potatoes and set aside. I added about a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese to mine, but this is completely optional. You could also use left over mashed potatoes.

Drain some of the grease off the hamburger then add the frozen veggies. Mix and cook for about 3 minutes. Add your salt and pepper and taste to make sure you don't need to add more.

In a 9 x 9 square pan add hamburger mixture. Pour prepared gravy on top and around mixture. Spoon prepared potatoes on top of hamburger, spreading it out as you go.

Cook for 30 minutes. Dish should be steaming and gravy should be boiling up around the edges.