Saturday, December 10, 2011

Progress Report

Well, I'm happy to say that I do have a lot of progress to report! In case you didn't read my earlier post, I said that I had a lot I wanted to accomplish today and that I would report back with my progress.

We were out the door at a reasonable hour and scooted around town getting some errands done first. Then it was off to do some Christmas shopping. I was really happy with some of the bargains I found. Of course we had to check out the new bookstore! We've been lost since Borders closed its doors in the summer and now we're so happy that Books-a-Million has moved into the location. Today was their second day open. My knitting group is overjoyed... but that's a post for another day.

We ate lunch at the food court of the mall and while we were there we played a little trick on our friend Robbie from knitxcore. You see, we were eating our lunch when we spied him coming into the food court, so we tweeted him and asked him what he was getting for lunch. Then we watched as he looked at his phone and then looked around for us. We could see him, but he couldn't see us. It was mean and creepy, I know, but we did reveal ourselves soon enough. Sorry Robbie!

While we were out, we picked up some ingredients for the baking I had planned and then we were headed home. By 5:00 we had Christmas music playing, I had my apron on and I was working away in the kitchen. First I made a pot of the Yarn Harlot's Emergency Soup. Mine is just a little bit different than hers. I didn't have leeks on hand, so added onion and celery instead. This soup is easy to make, tastes sooooo good, and as a bonus it's really good for you. Mine looks a little different than the Harlot's because I think I didn't puree enough of it.

While the soup was simmering, I started on the baking. I did a test run of these cute mini pies. I want to give these as gifts. There are five of us from different departments at work who have become close friends and exchange a token little gift each year. Just something inexpensive like a candle or ornament or something yummy from our kitchen. It's fun to see what each of us will come up with each year.

Last year Bonnie gave us these cute little snowman statues. Each of them were a little different. I keep mine on my desk all year round. I think we all do.

But, back to the pies... I decided to make Apple Cranberry Pies with my favorite crust recipe. It's been a while since I've made pies so I was a little rust working with the dough. I think I need some practice making them look good. At 7:00 the pies were popped into the oven.

The cranberries gave them a very tart taste and I liked them that way, but I'm not sure everyone will. When I make them again, I'll either add more sugar or leave out the cranberries.

By 8:00 I was snuggled up in the living room with doggie, crocheting, and a magazine on my lap...

...while I watched White Christmas.

AND, I was able to get the blog post done before the night was over. Now that's progress!


I'm committed to getting a lot done today. The list is long.

and most importantly... blogging about it!

I'll be back later to report on my progress of the day.

Hope your day is a holly, jolly one!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Secret Knitting

I've got so much Christmas knitting going on right now! I've planned two knitted gifts for each of the people in my immediate family. Realistically I'll probably only be able to finish one gift for each person in time for Christmas, but hey, I can dream can't I? I'll get the second gift finished before the winter season is over. Hey, who doesn't like a nice hand knit New Years gift?

There's one young man who lives in my house whose knitted Christmas gift is almost always given to him after Christmas... for a several reasons.

  1. His gifts are rarely a surprise because he tells me specifically what he wants me to make him and he goes with me to purchase the yarn. Since it's not a surprise, I leave his knitting till last, after everyone else's is done. He says he doesn't mind.
  2. He usually asks for something I hate to knit... like a  scarf. Since it's something I hate to knit, I leave his knitting till last, after everyone else's is done. He says he doesn't mind.
  3. He usually asks for something that will take me a really long time to knit... like a scarf. Since it is going to take a lot of knitting time to complete, I leave his knitting till last, after everyone else's is done. He says he doesn't mind.
  4. It's really difficult to knit his gifts without him seeing me do it, since he still lives under my roof! Even if he knows what I'm knitting, it would be nice if he didn't actually see me doing it. Since he's always around and the others have moved away, I leave his knitting till last, after everyone else's is done. He says he doesn't mind.

This year the young man has asked me to make the Dr. Who Scarf! Needless to say, I am not working on this right now! And, he knows it. He's convinced that he won't be getting his knitted Christmas gift until weeks after the fact! But remember, I have two ideas for everyone on my list!

So, I'm doing a bit of secret knitting this year. I've taken care of three of the four reasons why he doesn't get his gift until after Christmas. Although #1 is still a problem since he helped pick out the yarn for this gift, at least it's not a scarf! And best of all, I have figured out how to get it done without him seeing me do it!

I keep it in this cute little Secret bag, handy at all times. I work on it when he's out of the room and when I hear him coming, I tuck it back in the bag and grab another project. I am absolutely, positively, sure that there is no risk of him looking into this bag and ruining the secret! He'd rather put his eyes out with a hot poker than look into this bag! In fact, he probably thinks his eyes will spontaneously burn out of his head if he looked into this bag!

I think my secret is safe. He's going to be so surprised! Hee, hee.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Bit of Whimsy

I made myself a whimsical scarf. It is from Twinkie Chan's book Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies.

It makes me smile.

I really like things that make me smile.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Feeling neglected?

Okay, so now that I have successfully neglected my blog for a full two months (and then some), I will attempt to get back in the groove and try to entertain you all with my humble little life. 

I've been busy enjoying the autumn season, and have composed blog posts in my head about what I've been doing, but I don't think I have been very good at capturing all those moments with my camera. I think my attempts have been a little sketchy.

I'll start with one that looks pretty complete- Homemade Crock-pot Applesauce

I don't like applesauce that is too sweet, so when I make mine I don't use any sugar. I just throw the apple slices into the crock-pot with lots of cinnamon and a little nutmeg (of course, because I hail from from the Nutmeg State) and I cook it on the low setting for about 4 hours. Then I drain off some of the excess juice and stir the apples just a little to mash them a bit, but not too much because I like it a bit chunky. It's so good when it still warm, a real autumn comfort food!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

August Tag Sale Finds continued...

Back in August I posted about some tag sale finds I scored. Remember all those ties? Well, that was only part of the wonderful finds of the day. Those were the items that I would be keeping and using for crafting. Here are the items I found that I'll be posting in my etsy shop, Maple Street Treasures, soon:

The collection consist of: 
1 Polaroid Square Shooter camera
1 Minolta Pocket camera (we must have had bigger pockets back then)
1 Kodak Brownie camera
1 very decorative wooden bowl with lid
1 decorative carved wooden bowl
1 small round glass jewelry box
1 vintage linen calendar from 1968
1 set of vintage appetizer plates
1 collection of View Master slides

I had planned to get these items photographed and posted to etsy today, but I sort of pooped out and took a nap instead. I'm headed to bed early tonight, so I should have plenty of energy after work tomorrow to get it done. At least that's the plan... g'night!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Wonderful Knitting Group

Not long ago on Ravelry I wrote thread in tribute to my knitting group. I went like this:
Once upon a time there were two women who met in a waiting room. One woman was knitting and the other woman was very interested in what the first woman was knitting because she was also a knitter. A conversation started and before long a friendship developed.
Both women wished that they belong to a knitting group. They wanted a group with a mix of people with different knitting styles and experience levels. They wanted a group in which members could learn from each other and exchange ideas and tips and techniques, but neither had ever found such a group.
They soon decided that they would meet at their local book store’s cafe with their magic wands and fairy fiber and see what would happen next. Almost before their very eyes, just like the magic that knitting is, the group began to grow! Before long there were knitters and crocheters and spinners!
Soon, the knitters were spinning, and the crocheters were knitting, and more and more people were joining the group, and the group was going on trips to fiber festivals, and it was everything the two women had hoped for.
Yes, the group was wonderful indeed. The members were old and young, seasoned and novice, and represented many different needle arts. But, there was still one thing lacking. Sadly, there was only one male knitter and one male “mascot” who didn’t knit. The group needed more men!
Then one day when the group was about three years old, another man showed up to knit! It made the group so happy. It even inspired the mascot to start knitting. Then another man joined. Then two more men arrived asking to be taught how to knit! The magic was working again!
Now the group was the best knitting group in all the land and everyone lived happily ever after!
The End
Ahhh, but that’s not where the story really ends. It should have a sequel:
One day the evil witch, Economy, came along and locked the doors of their book store cafe meeting place. The members were cast out into the wilds to find a new home. They were very sad and a little bit scared. They not only missed their meeting place, but also missed having a wonderful book store in town. And so a new adventure began.
On the night we found out the store would be closing, my group had much discussion about what we should do. There really aren’t any coffee shops centrally located that have evening hours- except one small Starbucks with dim lighting. We didn’t want to go to a restaurant where we would need to order food- it would start to cost too much every week. We didn’t want to meet at the local libraries because they close too early for us- we don’t start until 7:00 and like to knit to at least 10:00.
I looked at the sad faces of the members and that’s when I decided to offer my home as a temporary location until we found a new location. I have to say, it has actually been quite fun having them.

I put out the drinks, usually just coffee and iced tea or lemonade. It's always a surprise what snacks will arrive at my door. It has been everything from guacamole dip & chips, to home baked cake, to OREO cookies! This week was yummy Ricotta Cheesecake and “Hexapuff” shaped Rice Crispy Treats. (Hexapuffs, in honor of The Beekeeper's Quilt that has taken us all by storm.)

I've been able to accommodate everyone nicely around my dining room table with an overflow into the living room (which is open to the dining room so no one feels separated).

I was given a very cute thank-you gift from the co-founder of the group. It makes me smile every time I look at it! (I’m saving for Rhinebeck… or Stitches… or more likely, Maryland Sheep and Wool next spring.)

Recently, there has been talk of another book seller taking over the location of the old bookstore and hopefully there will be a café and some good hours of operation
But, until then, I think the knitters like it here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Accidental Photo Success

Just a quick post to share a couple of my experimental photos with the "new" camera. These were taken when testing out the macro feature. I was pleased with how well they came out, without even trying.

I've been pretty busy lately, which gives me a lot to blog about, but when I haven't been busy, I've been too disorganized to get the blogging done. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Display Redux

I'm constantly struggling with the way I display the creations I sell at craft shows. Since I don’t do all that many craft shows, I can’t justify spending a lot of money for expensive displays. Besides, I like a display with a DIY look rather than a store bought display rack.

I have a large display I made for my beaded earrings made from peg board and covered with quilt batting and fabric. I pin my earrings cards to the padded display. The display gets clamped onto the table. It works quite nicely.

When I started making earrings from recycled aluminum cans, I needed a new display. I wanted it to be in keeping with the recycled theme, so I used some leftover pegboard and made two smaller display boards, but this time I decoupaged newspaper to the board. My earring cards covered most of the board and the “recycled” newspaper showed around them. It was okay, but I really didn’t like it much. It was only temporary.

This summer I have been selling my creations at an area Farmers’ Market. I'm only selling the creations that are made from recycled and up-cycled materials. My booth is done in “recycle green” and orange. I was hoping to be able to find a fabric with little recycling symbols all over it to recover the pegboard, but the only one I found had symbols that were too large. Instead, I found a pretty floral pattern with green and orange as well as some turquoise. I love the addition of the new color. It made me smile so I bought it.

Using the same process I used for the large displays, I cut some fabric and batting.

I used some spray adhesive on the boards, set the batting down, sprayed the batting, and set down the fabric.

A few staples around the back and I had my new displays.

Now I just need to figure out a new and better way to display my map wallets. Anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Up-cycled Maps

So, do you remember the small stack of maps I picked up at the tag sale a few weeks ago? Well, it’s time to reveal what I’ve been doing with them.

I’ve been up-cycling them into wallets.

I am able cut the pieces for two to three wallets out of each map, depending on the size of the map.

I try to lay them out so I get some interesting cities or a variety of colors on each piece. If I plan them out well, I have surprisingly little waste from each map.

Each cut piece is covered with a light vinyl film to make the wallet tear resistant and water repellent and then I head to my one of my sewing machines.

I like to use my very inexpensive, very lightweight, Brother machine for sewing paper and plastic items. It operates almost like a toy, but it really is the best for the job. (I reserve my beloved Necchi machines for my other sewing.)

I sew all the pieces together with brightly colored thread.


Sewing paper is really quite fun.

And the wallets work up pretty quickly.

And there you have it! Another lilea b. creation, ready for sale.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Major Score!

We did some tag sale-ing again this weekend. I can't believe the great finds I scored. It's going to take me a couple of posts to show you everything. For today, I'll just show you the items I bought that will be used for crafting.
First, this bottle and jar cutter kit. I've wanted to experiment with cutting old glass bottles and making them into vases and such. You know how I like to find new recycling crafts.

Look at this kit. It had all it's parts and was never used. We found it in the basement of an estate sale. Hubby almost talked me out of buying it, saying it wasn't anything that we couldn't find in the form of "real tools". It was pretty cheaply made: all plastic, even the screws! But, I figured for $1.00, what the heck.

So, I took it home and put it together and I was pretty satisfied with it. Then I went online to see if I could still buy the tiny replacement cutters. Guess what I found. Two of these "cheap" kits just sold on ebay recently. One for $27.00 and the other for $34.52! Part of me wished I hadn't assembled it yet, and the other part of me was so happy I bought mine for only a buck!

So moving on...

For six dollars more, I found some zippers, a few buttons, some corduroy trousers, and some natural color canvas. The canvas is hemmed on the edges as though it was intended to be a tablecloth or something, but it's brand new. These items will all become parts of new purses.

For $12.00 I got 20 balls of yarn (11 of them are 100% wool), 3 spools of cording, circular knitting needles, a knitting stitch gauge, and a Vogue Knitting magazine. The wool will be knit and felted into more purses.

But, my biggest score was this:

Neckties! 27 of them!

Some of them are so unique. This brown one in the center has a picture of a room with throw pillows and a table and lamp.

Some are really bright and some not so much.

Many coordinate nicely with each other, which will be a really good thing when I start using them to make purses.

Neckties often sell for $2.00 to $3.00 at Goodwill and thrift shops. These ties weren't marked, so Hubby made an offer. We got all 27 for just $8.00. Score!

Stay tuned to see what else I bought!

Posts to look forward to:
Vintage Tags Sale Finds
A Bedroom Re-do
A Product Review
A Finished Object: Gaia
Inside My Vintage Books
Yarn Pottery
Up-cycled Maps