Thursday, December 13, 2012

Anthropologie Knockoff: {DIY} Rainbow Yarn Tree

My mantel this year has been driving me CRAZY.  I'm super grateful to the Officer for building me the adorable faux fireplace, but here's the deal:  when you live in Japan there is no "I'll run up to Target to pick up somethings for my mantel". or "I'll just run up to Michael's and grab the supplies for this cute little project".  I'm not trying to complain, just stating some of the reasons I had such difficulty with my mantel!!  
Anyway, I had seen this gorgeous Rainbow Rope Tree on Anthropologie - $48. 
I already had the supplies for this one, so my cost was $0.  But even if you had to buy some yarn it's a pretty cheap project!  


I got to work trimming my shrubs and digging up some yarn from my stash.
This is the first one I made....and while it lends a funky sort of really just looks like my 4 year old wrapped it.

SO I studied the Anthro one a little bit more and began again.

You'll need:
1 branch
hot glue/craft glue
at least 6 different colors of yarn, that you can pair in twos
I used -navy and turquoise -red and raspberry -yellow and green

Then you simply start wrapping the branches!  This is seriously addicting and probably as close to meditation as I'll ever get.  When you finish one color, simply tie a little knot - you can come back later with some hot glue and tuck them in.
Once you have wrapped all the branches, it's time to do the trunk.  I used all 6 colors - enhancing the rainbow effect.

When you get close to a branch, you can tuck all but two of the colors along the backside of the trunk and only use the two that match the branch - this makes it look more like a continuous tree.  You know, like it magically grew with pretty yarn all over it.

Lastly just put a few dabs of glue on the ends - sticking them down - it's best to have a definite front and back so that these won't show.  So there you have it!  Enjoy your beautiful, textured tree!!

Oh, you want some more pics of the mantel?  
Here ya go:

the whole shebang:
(my Grandma made those needle-point stockings!  If you notice the Officer's is Will Ferrel as Elf, designed by the Officer himself)

Seriously, this tree is so easy and SO fun.  I'm wondering what else I can start wrapping with yarn (you can see I already did a cone tree...) So leave me a comment and let me know! 
What do you think?!?

Monday, December 10, 2012

{DIY} No-Sew "Ribbons and Bows" Holiday Shirt

So there's no better time to make holiday shirts for your kids, than the day of the party right?  Perhaps I'm the ultimate procrastinator, or perhaps I like to live life one day at a time, but I woke up this morning realizing the girls didn't have any cute party shirts to wear to Daddy's Work Christmas 2:30...hmmmmm.... I always love the idea of embellishing t-shirts, but a really hate sewing anything onto jersey knit.  Even with stabilizer, I feel like it bunches up and starts to looks really funky.  BUT I didn't want to use glue I fished around in my supplies and came up with some magical Stitch Witchery.  If you have any aversion to sewing, this product can be a lifesaver!  So here's my no-sew tutorial for the
Ribbons and Bows Holiday Shirt

Here's what you'll need:
Stitch Witchery
Various Ribbons
A plain T-shirt or onesie (or both!)

Step 1:  Begin by tying your bows.  I used 3 on the shirt, and 2 on the onesie.  
Here's the best way to tie perfect little bows:
-Make two loops with about 2" of ribbon between them
-Cross one loop over the other
-Pull it through and tight
-Adjust the length and size of your bow

Step 2: Lay out the ribbon on your shirt.  Cut some pieces of Stitch Witchery to the length of your long ribbons. 

I then cut my S.W. (Stitch Witchery) in half, lengthwise because it was thicker than my ribbon.  You can of course buy S. W. that is the right size for your ribbon, but that would've made things way too easy ;)
Step 3:  Simply follow the directions on the S. W. box - fusing the ribbon to the shirt using the heat of the iron.  Tuck under the ends 1/4" before you press it down, so you won't have any raw edges showing. 

Then add a small piece of S.W. to at the bottom of the ribbon and cover it with a bow. 

Press again to fuse the bow to the shirt.  Continue this process until all of your ribbon is on the shirt.  Put a dab of Fraycheck or clear nail polish on the ends of your bows so they won't unravel.
(turn the shirt inside out when you wash it)
Enjoy your holiday season sporting these sweet little T's!!

Happy Crafting!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas by the {Faux} Fireside...

 Well hello there.  I really hope all is well with you, and that you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!  Ours was spent with some new but dear friends here in Japan.  It was the kind of relaxed, comfortable fun that everyone hopes for.
I love having people over, not only because I enjoy their company but because of the motivation I find to clean and decorate.  The Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Officer and I were discussing possibilities for places to hang our stockings for Christmas.  He remembered seeing plans for a faux fireplace on the Ana White's blog - and I instantly fell in love.  

I'm thankful that we are able to live on base in military housing, but these town homes are basically big white boxes.  Everything is white - floors, walls, ceiling, appliances, closets- no character my challenge is to bring in color and character in unconventional ways.  
This faux fireplace accomplishes both! 
So there we were - hammering, sanding, cooking Thanksgiving one point I running from the kitchen to the backyard - drying cornbread and painting at the same time.  Wednesday night we brought it in and the Officer installed it - anchoring it into the wall with a couple of screws. 

You can find the tutorial for this faux fireplace at Ana's blog here.

This fireplace was pretty easy to build - and the added touch of chalkboard paint provides some whimsy.  So what do you think?  Where do you hang your stockings if you don't have a fireplace?  Hope you're all having fun decorating!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

{DIY}15-Minute Furry Cowl-Neck Scarf : Handmade Gift Idea under $10

Well hello and happy November to you!  It is truly the season of gift making, and while I made this little scarf to keep my own neck cozy as the temperatures drop, it would make a great gift too!  

I had never sewn with faux fur before, but it was sooooo easy and so forgiving.  You can hardly even see the seams.  I scored this piece of fabric in a bargain bin for only ¥540, which is about $6.00.  My mom is visiting from the States and we found the most amazing fabric store about 15 minutes from my house.  It's called Swany and it's in Kamakura.  I've found fabric (well actually everything) in Japan to be very expensive.  If you're thinking you could buy some really cute Japanese fabrics cheaper because you're in Japan, you'd be wrong.  Anyway, Swany has an entire building dedicated to bargains and sales - full of remnants.  This place is like fabric heaven in Japan - and it was evident by the business they were doing.  I also bought a pattern (though it's all in Japanese....) to make Charlotte a turtleneck dress - I'll let you know how that one turns out.
Anyway, here's the simple instructions for this scarf.  I'm serious when I say it takes 15 minutes- 30 if you're a really slow sewer.  It's 3 seams- you can do that right?  Of course you can.  AND it only takes 1/2 a yard so that should be under $10 - sweet.
Here's what you'll need:
1/2 yard of faux fur with some nice drape (if it's too stiff it won't lay nicely around your neck)
sewing machine/thread

STEP 1:  Cut your fabric so that it's 18"x37".
STEP 2:  Fold it right sides together, aligning the long edges.  Pin together, marking off an opening of about 8" near one end.

Sew together using a 3/8" seam allowance (but leave the opening) to create a long tube.  
Turn right side out.

STEP 3: This is the only tricky part.  Turn the end (with the opening near it) inside out and pull it towards the other edge like this:

Continue pulling it until the edges align.  You should be able to see the opening.  If you can't, you won't be able to turn it right side out.  

Pin along the edges and then sew.
STEP 4:  Reach your hand through the opening and pull the right side out.  You should have a nice loop - with a small opening.

Now pin the opening closed and topstitch it together.
 I tried to take a picture of the seam - but the fur just fluffs up and you can really can't even see it!
There you have it!  A simple, inexpensive gift idea - have fun!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Rainbow Brite Hat

As a child of the 80's I definitely remember Rainbow Brite - do you?  Her colorful costume is exactly what came to mind as I was crocheting this little baby hat for my sweet Lila.  

I'm no great crocheter or knitter, but I do have a thing for yarn, and as soon as the weather gets a little chilly I love to curl up with a cup of tea, Norah Jones, and a lap full of yarn.  This is just a simple single crochet hat - nothing fancy.  I used a free pattern you can find here.  I added the ear flaps because it will never stay on her head if I don't tie it on.
So how about you - any crochet/knitting projects up your sleeves?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hitchcock's Birds live in Japan...

I apologize in advance to those of you who fear birds...

Meet the Black-Eared Kite - a medium-sized bird of prey that soars above the island of Japan searching for fish, or small animals...or food that stupid Americans feed it.  They are such aggressive scavengers that many Americans have found it amusing to have these "seahawks" swoop down and snatch the food that they toss into the air.  So apparently there was a memo or "tweet" (couldn't help myself) sent to all seahawks - come to Yokosuka!!  
Amused Americans Offer Free Food for all!
And so they hang out, waiting.

Our first seahawk experience was here at our home - I had a small bag of old bread and thought Charlotte might enjoy feeding the tiny little birds hopping around our bushes.
Aww... cute little birds.  See how they hop out from that bush to get the crumbs?  Adorable.
  Then we see a shadow.  
A large bird has perched on top of the roof of the building next to ours.  Weird.  
Probably just some grumpy crow or something.
Then another shadow, circling above us.  
Then another.
Suddenly 5 or 6 large birds of prey have gathered above our town home and are circling over the crumbs Charlotte has spread on the ground.  
Quick - grab the kid, sit inside, and watch in shock as these giant birds swoop down to the ground for a few crumbs of bread.  
Wow.  What a sight.
Note to self - don't eat food outside.

Should have made a bigger note.

Fast forward about 6 months.
We had gone to the Officer's club for lunch.  We do that quite frequently when we are on base at lunch time - it's actually one of the cheapest places to eat.  They always have these yummy rolls.  Charlotte loves them.

She drops hers on the floor and asks for another.  "Sure" we say, but how about we take it to-go, since we need to get going.  Charlotte takes the roll into her tiny little hand and out the door we go.
Daddy and Charlotte walk ahead of me - one of Charlotte's hands holds Daddy's hand, the other holds the roll.
Suddenly a shadow.
Before I even can speak - the shadow swoops down - his wings brush Ryan's cap 
- successfully snatching the roll from her hand - and flies away.
This was a bird with a 3-4 ft. wingspan.

We all stand there stunned and Charlotte bursts into tears.
I almost burst into tears.
Charlotte escapes with only a tiny scratch on her hand - the bird has good aim, and apparently NO fear of humans.
Lesson learned again- don't eat food outside, don't eat food outside, don't eat food outside.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Been doing a little Studying...

Field Studying that is!  Anna Maria Horner's new line Field Study came out a few weeks ago.  I've been wanting to revamp the futon that's in my living room and this collection was just begging for the job.  I promptly ordered two FQ bundles from Hawthorne Threads (Gypsy and Patina palettes) and then tried to wait patiently for them to come in the mail.  When they got here, last Wednesday, I immediately flew into a cutting and piecing frenzy (take out dinners anyone?) and completed this futon cover in two days :)  

I'm really loving the way it turned out.  It kind of feels like a party in my living room all the time now - which I'm thinking is going to be perfect for these fast-approaching dreary winter days (that's when I miss Florida the most...)  So here's a question - pillows or no pillows?  and should I stick with the yellow pillows or choose another color?  

Thoughts please.  
Have you made anything with Field Study yet?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

{DIY} Confetti Garland

Do you ever have left over confetti?  I always do, and most of the time I just don't have the heart to throw it away (does that make me a packrat?...oh well..).  So, I was digging through my Halloween decorations the other day and I came across a bag of old Halloween confetti.  It is probably about 6 years old - yikes.  So, I decided to put it to good use and create this sweet little bat garland.  

Simply thread your machine with two different colors of thread - I used silver and black - and then feed the confetti through as you sew.  

Obviously this works best with the larger pieces of confetti.  You can make the garland as long as you like, just keep feeding the confetti through.  I suggest using a new needle - and then throw it away when you're finished, this process will make it dull. 
I found that adorable printable at The Graphics Fairy.

This garland was the perfect addition to this little corner -it's starting to feel a little spooky in here!

Happy first few days of fall!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

{DIY} Crabby Marshmallow Pops

Hello, hello!  I hope you are all doing well!  Last week we celebrated my oldest daughter's 4th birthday!  If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I've been pinning mermaid-themed parties for a while now - and last week we created our own little under-the-sea party!  I'll share the rest of the part with you next week, but today I wanted to give a tutorial for these little crab pops that, aside from cake, were the hit of the party!  

These are easier to make than cake pops, but have the same cuteness factor.  
You could use these with a number of themes(mermaid, pirate, nautical, etc.) - and they are gender neutral too! 

So here's what you'll need to make your own:
Large Marshmallows
Mini Marshmallows
Mini Chocolate Chips
Pretzel Sticks
Small Red Gummy Candy (I used Welch's Strawberry Gummies)
Vanilla Candy Melting Wafers
Red Food Coloring
Non-stick Aluminum Foil
Lollipop Sticks
Brown Sugar (for display)

  (Kinda looks like I'm about to make sushi right?)

Step 1: Prepare the eyes and claws.  Stick the mini chocolate chips into the mini marshmallows - really squish them in there.  Next, use a pair of kitchen shears to snip a triangle out of the gummies.

Step 2: Break each pretzel stick into 4 pieces, then stick each small piece into a large marshmallow - creating the "legs".  Place each of these onto a sheet lined with non-stick foil.

Step 3:  Melt the wafers using the instructions on the package.  Then add the red food coloring.  If your wafers start to get tough (like mine did) simply add a little whole milk and continue stirring until they are smooth again.  Use a spoon and pour this mixture over each marshmallow.  As you go, stick on the eyes and claws.

Step 4:  Insert a lollipop stick into each one - I cut mine in half so they wouldn't be so tall.  Let them dry for several hours at room temperature - cover with plastic wrap if you're worried the eyeballs might dry out.

Step 5:  Pour some brown sugar onto a platter.  Use a slotted spatula to gently lift each crab off the foil - break off the extra pieces of red coating, and place onto the "sand".

There you go!  An adorable crowd-pleaser for all ages!  Enjoy!

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