Every once in a great while the craft gods shine down upon me and something turns out seriously awesome. As in, I can’t believe that thing was born from my hands. Tonight, friends, was one of those nights.
The journey to that quirky adorable Christmas tree started with a pin I found many months ago.
The link goes to what I think is like the Russian version of Etsy. I had to have one and I wanted to make it. Here’s how I did it.
Styrofoam Tree Form
Create the curve for the top of the tree using the wire hanger. Attach the curved hanger to the cone with duct tape. Then, cover the hanger in duct tape.
Attach the brown moss and then the green moss to the bottom portion of the tree using the floral pins.
Begin wrapping the yarn around the tree. This part takes a little trial and error. I didn’t want to wrap the yarn too tight, but I didn’t like it too loose either, so I did some wrapping and unwrapping before I got it exactly right. I wrapped sort of forward and back toward the top to give the parts that were on the hanger more of a rounded shape.
Attach your ornaments. I used little clusters of balls and one ornament for the tip. I got them at Michael’s. I got everything at Michael’s actually.
I clipped the little pink purple and green balls off of those clusters and use their little wire stems to stick them through the yarn and into the styrofoam cone. I had to use my trusty glue gun to attach the ornaments to the top part of the tree where they wire hanger is.
And that is it. Very simple and adorable. I’m off to make 700 more of them.
Sometimes I get down on myself because I have never come up with an original craft in my life. I end up doing a lot of copy cat crafts. Ok? I admit. If there is no support group for this, I think I should start one. Who’s with me?
Here’s the thing though that I realized tonight. I made one of those typography/pin cushion/canvas things for Thanksgiving. Here is what I copied View From the Fridge. Please go there and pin it or tweet it. It’s totally adorable. I didn’t exactly copy it, though. I couldn’t find a canvas long enough for “give thanks”, so I had to trim down the writing. I landed on just “Thanks”. I sketched out the word on the canvas and added the pins. What I came up with is obviously inspired by the “give thanks” canvas, but it’s also totally my own. It’s my hand writing, it’s my over excited THANKS! that i close every email with. It’s so me that I don’t even think I’m going to take it down after Thanksgiving. And that, friends, is what I love about crafts. You leave a little bit of you on everything you make.
Are you laughing at me because I think you need a tutorial to make that? I’m going to tell you a funny story. I opened up the package of the canvas at 9:03. I noted that in my head because I seriously thought it was going to take approximately 4.5 minutes to make this thing. As usual, I was wrong. 45 minutes and one very sore thumb tip later, it was done. So, in the interest of public safety, I am going to give a quick step by step so that you can learn from my mistakes.
1 canvas (I think mine was 4×12)
Thumbtacks (My project took about 150 tacks)
1. Sketch out your word or saying on the canvas. This doesn’t have to be perfect. You can adjust here and there as you are placing the thumbtacks.
2. Use the nail and hammer to create a little pilot hole for your thumbtack. If you are like me, you may assume that you will be popping the thumbtacks through the canvas pain free. Not so. At least not for anywhere on the canvas that is supported with wood. Then you will be trying to push the thumbtacks through the wood with your tender thumb tip. 150 times. Not good for your thumbs.
3. Eyeball the project as you go. I used a fork to pry out a few thumb tacks that looked not quite right and then re-tacked them.
4. Wipe down any smudges with a damp paper towel. I might have dampened my paper towel with saliva. I was afraid that a really wet paper towel would leave a mark on the canvas. So, I went with spit. As long as I’m coming clean, I do the same with smudges on my kids faces sometimes, too.
I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving. I know, everyone else in blogland is getting ready for Christmas already. But I really love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. I love the food and the not having to buy presents. And family time, too. But mostly the food. This year I am going to try for a gluten free meal. Obviously I know that it would be a disaster to try out new gluten free recipes on the big day, so I’ve started practicing. This week I tried a gluten free version of The Pioneer Woman’s Soul Sweet Potato Casserole. My only tweak to the recipe was to use Bisquick gluten free baking mix in place of the flour in the crumble topping. This thing came out SO good. It’s like a pecan pie and a sweet potato pie exploded in the oven and mixed together.
Up next was a dessert. And there is a fun side story to the dessert. Many years ago, my sister in law gave me her bullet blender thingy. Somehow over the years, I lost track of the cups that you use with it to do the actual blending. I went to the Habitat Restore this weekend (post to follow on some sweet bargains there) and lo and behold, there were two cups that go with the Magic Bullet blender thing! I was so excited. I always had it in my mind to figure out how to find some on-line, but, needless to say, that never made it to top of mind status. I decided to try the low carb, gluten free chocolate mousse I had seen on the infomercial for the bullet. Honestly, I didn’t really think this would make it to the blog. Unless it was as a funny fail post. I was so wrong. This was easy to make, super delicious and it’s low carb and gluten free. I might have just eaten a lot of it. Like, a lot a lot. I got the recipe here.
These two have definitely made the Thanksgiving day menu. And, a little off topic, if someone wants to leave a comment on what kind of magic it takes to wipe the sides of a glass/bowl/plate without leaving smudges, I would greatly appreciate it!
I’m obsessed with these little felted wool woodland creatures that pop up in my Pinterest feed. They are so adorable and they look like they take some serious artistic talents, so I’m not about to attempt one of those (not yet, anyway!). But I have also seen cute little felted balls strung into garland or adorning some decorative sticks, like this one, and that is something I could do. And you can, too!
Here is what you need:
Some Sticks ( I grabbed mine from the front yard)
Felted Wool (I got mine from Amazon and it was $13 for a pack of 8 colors)
The first thing you need to do is make your felt balls. This is easy and fun and sort of meditative.
Step 1: Rip off a smallish piece of wool, I would say about 1/16th of a roll, or about a 2 in by 3 in rectangle. This is definitely not a science, however, so don’t worry if your wool pieces are not uniform.
Step 2: Squirt a smidgen of dish soap on the wool and then run the wool under some hot water while rolling the wad of wool into a ball shape between your hands. Sort of like rolling dough into a ball, except you want to compress the wool a bit so it really tightens up into a nice little round shape. Repeat this 472 times, or just until you feel you have enough colorful balls. I used about 30 balls on my bouquet. I made closer to 472, but I am hoarding them for a project to be named later.
Step 3: Find a vase and stick arrangement that you like. This part was fun. I tried a bunch of different vases and vessels and final settled on this look:
Step 4: Paint your sticks. This is optional. If you find really pretty sticks, like white birch or something you can leave them naked, but I wanted to add a little something. I used some coppery craft paint I had in the handy craft drawer.
I think it looks great on the sticks. They look like if Mother Nature wanted to make a copper tree, the branches would look like this:
Step 5: Once your branches are dry, you can start hot gluing the felted wool balls onto the sticks. I got a little OCD and separated the balls by color and alternated colors so that I hopefully wouldn’t end up with a big clump of blue, but, you mostly just eye ball this one. I have to admit I really like it, except, I think it needs even more balls….
Many months ago, I wrote about wanting to make some curtains. In true procrastinator style, it has taken me nearly 3 months to present to you an after post. And, technically, I’m not done. I’ve only finished two panels. I need to finish two more for the other window in my living room. Before Thanksgiving, so help me.
For me the first step in making these curtains, was figuring out what I wanted them to look like. I wrote all about that here. The hardest part of that process was finding fabric that I liked. There are so many options to weed through. It becomes very time consuming, but it’s so important to get it right because there’s nothing worse than not liking the pattern or style or color of your curtains. They are so prominent in a room and they are an investment. Here is the fabric I chose:
I have an odd obsession with birds and this had all the right colors and a playful pattern. I bought ten yards (which was way more than I needed) and it was an astonishingly low price of $4.95 a yard. I used a tutorial from Sherry at Young House Love (oh God, I just popped over there to get the link to the tutorial and I nearly cried seeing their farewell post again, ugh). Honestly, it was totally not easy for me. My scissors weren’t really sharp enough to cut. I had no idea how difficult it would be to get 4 pieces of fabric exactly the same size. I think on Sherry’s curtains, there maybe wasn’t as much cutting. I didn’t want floor length, so I had to cut what was an unwieldy amount of fabric and I had no clue what I was doing. The curtains may or may not be even. I keep telling myself it’s an optical illusion, which it totally could be. I did use the magical no sew bonding tape which was by far the easiest and most fun part of the process. I loved the crisp clean lines the ironing gave the curtains. It’s about the only time I will be picking up an iron.
Don’t you want to curl up there with your morning coffee? I used curtain rod ring things to hold them up. These were to find. No, they weren’t hard to find. They were only hard to find at a cheap price. I ended up ordering them from Overstock. I later found them at Ikea, too. They were around $10 for 7 rings. Ish.
Here’s a pulled back view with a shot of the gallery wall, too. It’s had a couple of updates. I finally found something to fill the two empty frames. I found a great calendar with art deco patterns as the art work. I picked two I liked for this room and stuck them in the frames. So inexpensive and so easy. Some close ups:
And one last moody shot of the corner of the room, mostly just for me:
Oh my God, that title doesn’t sound very appetizing. And, don’t worry, I didn’t eat them at the same time. Cauliflower I was trying because I want to try some new sides for Thanksgiving and the eggs will be breakfast for the week.
I didn’t follow a recipe for the egg bake, but for you rule followers, here’s my best guess at how I made this:
Lazy Southwest Egg Bake
1/2 jar of salsa
1 can black beans
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Grease an 8×8 pan with butter
3. Crack the eggs into the pan, add the salsa, beans, salt and pepper and whip together with a fork
4. Stir in cheese
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown on top
This was so easy and very tasty. I love the added protein of the black beans and salsa counts in my book as a veggie, so a pretty well rounded, low carb meal.
This, I sort of adapted from this recipe. I left out the milk and flour and basically I just added the spices and sprinkled it with a good 1/2 cup of blue cheese. I added some chili powder, too. And it came out super delicious. I don’t believe that I will be serving this one at Thanksgiving because not everyone in the world loves blue cheese like I do. But I’ll serve it to me any time I want. And my kids ate it, too.
During my #write31days challenge I laid out some goals for my blog. One of those goals was to have a monthly update on the state of the blog. I think it’s important to do for two reasons. First, I love finding blogs that share information about their stats and monetizing. It’s hard to figure out as a fledgling blogger where you should be and how many followers you should have and how much money you should be making. And, second, I like the accountability it gives me for reaching goals that I set out.
Create a schedule of posts
Result – Not Achieved – I thought about this, but I never actually sat down and wrote something down. This will be on the list of goals for November.
Increase social media presence/followers
Pinterest – Increase from 376 followers to 400 by 10/31
Result: Achieved! 406 followers at the end of October. I’m very excited about this. I am way to into my Pinterest stats
Twitter – I’ve just begun the whole Twitter experience. I’m way behind the times on this, I know. I have 23 followers right now, I’d like to be at 35 by 10/31
Result: Not Achieved – I got close, 33 followers. I need to work on this.
Bloglovin – WordPress followers – I have 23 blog followers. I definitely want to increase this. I’m not sure how to accomplish this, but I’ll be doing some research on this. I’ll be happy to add one new follower by 10/31.
Result – Achieved! – I added one WordPress follower, for a total of 24 followers.
Implement new potential revenue streams – I use adsense now and I earn an average of 37 cents a day. I’d like to ad one additional ad network by 10/31 and sign up with one new sponsored post site (I’ve signed up with Izea, but no luck yet).
Result – Not achieved. I think the #write31days zapped all of my time and energy for blogging in October. This will carry over to November. That means for now, my only little revenue stream is from Adsense:
Adsense October – $8.58
Take better pictures – I’ve got a great camera, I really need to learn how to use it. I’d like to set aside 30 minutes each week to practice and/or study tutorials for DSLR pics through 10/31.
Result – Achieved – I don’t know if I did a full 30 minutes each week, but I did work on creating and editing pics all month.
Network a Little – I’m REALLY introverted, even in this basically anonymous on-line world I’ve created for myself, but I do love getting and giving comments on things I really like and I want to do more of that. I will comment at least once daily on another blog that I love.
Result – Not Achieved – This needs work. I don’t see instant gratification on this one, but I know it’s important. And the small relationships I do have with a couple of fellow bloggers are a lot of fun!
Improve the look of the blog – One thing I’m not happy with is the font of the blog. I’ve fallen in love with Geo Sans Light and I want to figure out how to use something similar in all of the text of the blog – due 10/31.
Result – Not Achieved – Basically, I just never got to this this month.
Create a schedule of posts – I have sort of a rotation of topics I like to cover, but it would make life easier if I could plan ahead and have an idea of what I was doing on a given day. Due 12/1
When I hit publish on this post, I will have written every day for 31 days. It was quite a challenge. I wanted to give up a bunch of times and there were times when I probably should have just quit rather than posting a crappy post. But I learned a lot, even from those crappy posts.
Next time, I will plan ahead and pick a topic that I actually like. Organizing is not and never will be my thing. And while I know that being organized is important, it doesn’t get me excited and it shows in my writing.
I confirmed that my desire to finish a challenge is enough to get me to finish a challenge. There was no outside force telling me I HAD to write for 31 days straight. It was self imposed discipline that made me write everyday. Exercise is the cryptonite to the superpower that is self imposed discipline.
It is better to have 3 strong posts a week than 5 posts that are mediocre.
When I’m really tired, my spelling gets really bad. Grammar, too.
I don’t know if I will take on this challenge next year. If I do, I was thinking of something that would involve photography. I follow a blog, Leaf and Twig where the author posts a picture and short poem about the picture every day. I look forward to that post every day. That would be a fun challenge!
I’ve been in some form of Human Resources or Staffing for 17 years. That is not fun to say. Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do; I just can’t believe I’ve actually been doing it for that long. When you do one thing for that long, you eventually learn a thing or two. One thing I have learned and that I feel obligated to pass on to the world is that you don’t ace an interview with what you say. You ace an interview with what you do.
1. Be a little nervous – I have interviewed thousands of people for jobs. I don’t care how long you’ve been working or how confident you are in your abilities. An interview is ALWAYS a pressure situation and if you’re not nervous, you either don’t care or you’re arrogant. No one wants to hire who someone who doesn’t care and no one wants to work with someone who is arrogant. And if you are SUPER nervous, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it. A good recruiter will know how to settle you in.
2. Arrive in the sweet spot – Don’t be late and don’t be super early. The sweet spot for arriving to your interview is 5-12 minutes before the interview. If you commit the most egregious sin of actually showing up late, you better have a good reason and you better apologize profusely. And don’t even think of blaming your GPS. No one buys that. Interesting aside, I once had someone apologize for being 4 minutes late to their interview because they had a wardrobe malfunction. Their words, not mine. They did not elaborate on the particulars of the wardrobe malfunction and I didn’t ask.
3. Talk enough and never too much – An interviewers job is to get you to talk about you. Do some practice interviewing with a friend. Seriously, do it. I know it sounds embarrassing and ridiculous, but it’s better to make mistakes in practice than when it is show time. When you’re answering questions, watch for cues from your interviewer. If they have to ask a lot of follow up questions, you may not be talking enough. If their eyes are glazing over and they are staring blankly at you, you have probably gone on a bit too long. If the interviewer finally says, “Let me interrupt you for a moment…” don’t continue to talk over him or her. Yes, that has happened to me.
4. Prepare some specific stories – In the days prior to your interview, write down and study examples of your best work. The greatest obstacle you have overcome, the angriest customer you won over, the enormous project you pulled together. Write them down and study them. Because I guarantee you, if you don’t, you will sit across from that interviewer and draw a blank. And it will be awkward for everyone. If you plan ahead, hopefully you will avoid that . If you do find yourself in the midst of that arm pit sweat inducing moment, smile and say, “That’s a great question. I’d like to give it some thought. Can we come back to it?”. Trust me, that candor is way better than the stream of “uhhh, ummm, this one time… I did this thing… it was awesome…” that generally follows when a candidate can’t think of a great answer quickly.
5. Do paperwork happily – Ask the person who schedules your interview how long the interview process is and whether there will be paperwork or testing that you will be completing on the day of your interview. Then, when it is time to do that testing or paperwork, don’t say something like, “I have to do ALL of this?” or “You REALLY need ALL of this information?”. The answer is yes or we wouldn’t be asking you to do it. Really. And, similarly, when you are completing an application, never, ever, ever, ever write or type “see resume” in the work history section of the application. We know you have a resume. You still have to fill out the application completely. Why? The application is a legal document, the resume is a piece of paper that may or may not have any basis in reality.
6. Pay attention to small instructions – We have bells in our office. When I leave a candidate so that they can fill out paperwork, I ask that they ring the bell when they are done. I get it that no one wants to ring a bell. I understand that it is awkward. But, the bell does two things. It alerts me when a candidate is done with their paperwork and it prevents the candidate from having to walk awkwardly through cubicles to find me to let me know they are done or have a question. When I tell someone to ring the bell and they don’t ring it, it tells me that they either a.) didn’t listen to me, or, b.) deliberately ignored my instructions. Neither one of those is a good thing.
7. Never do any of these things in your interview:
Bring in your giant coffee
Eat your breakfast
Apologize for eating your breakfast and then continue to eat your breakfast
Take a call on your cell phone
Apologize for your phone ringing during the interview and then proceed to answer your phone and have a conversation
Wear sweatpants, see through clothing or any clothing that allows your undergarments to be seen in any way. Ever.
Overshare the crazy drama in your life
Bring your children
Ask to use the rest room and then never come back
Ask your interviewer if they can help you get a good lawyer
In case you are wondering, yes, all of those have happened to me.
I’m not a thrill seeker. I like to read and take pictures and make stuff. I like to hang out with my kids and husband and watch tv and maybe go to the zoo now and then. I don’t need to go on a roller coaster or jump out of a plane or cross the street when the sign is telling me “DON’T WALK” even if there aren’t any cars coming. For miles.
With that in mind, there are some things about blogging that do give me a thrill.
1. The “Your Stats are Booming” icon in WordPress – This is not one I get often, so when I see those three graduated bars lit up in orange in the corner of my screen I get a rush of adrenaline.
2. Getting a New Follower – A follower on Pinterest, Twitter, or the holy grail, a new follower on Bloglovin or WordPress is my favorite thing. Not only is someone looking at something I wrote, they liked it enough to ask for more. Conversely, when I lose a follower, I have a small pity party for myself. The pity party usually has some Nancy Kerrigan style “WHY? WHY?” happening and also some “How DARE you?” and sometimes a little, “You’ll be sorry! You don’t know what you’re missing!”. There is a reason there is no “so and so unfollowed you” notification. I think it is probably a legal reason.
3. Getting an Awesome Comment – Someone wrote a comment to me once that said, “You are my Pinterest idol”. Best comment ever! Thanks again, Sarah at Happy Go Thankful! But I also love some of the spam comments I get. Like this:
“A megastars beauty depend so much on muscular tone. Its sometimes really vierd.” Totally vierd. You’re so right.
“One can enjoy pony rides and some other sea sports. Fortunately, there are companies like Galt Toys that specialize in them. He spends hours climbing ladders and swinging upside down. I had to separate my first two cockatiels when the male became aggressive to the female in the first few weeks I bought them. Put the idea of giving this interesting Christmas gift to grandpa aside, and think. Attitude – do you have a positive mental attitude?” I don’t know what’s going on in the first 4 sentences, but I’m down with the positive mental attitude.
“And maybe later, I’ll stop for a burger so I can rap with my old classmates! If well kept, a cockatiel can live up to fifteen years or more.
Then once the lines are drawn in the sand the competitors and the customers know what to expect.” I think I could write a coffee table book of funny spam comments. I would totally read that.
So if you want to make this kids day, click on one of those social media icons (or all of them!) and follow along! Or drop a funny non-spam comment!