Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Here's How Much I Love You!

I am blessed with amazing friends and family.  Creating things for them gives me time to think of what they mean to me and how I am thankful for them.  When I create something I think about the reaction they will have when they receive it, will what they have received communicate to them how much I love them.  That I am thinking about them and care for them?

Its a wonderful aspiration... but...

A little friend of mine was about two years old, and I wanted to create something that he would enjoy and would make him think of me.  I decided on a Monkey Bag in the Amy Butler book "Little Stitches for Little One's".

 I couldn't believe how cute it was!  And it was useful, could hold laundry or toys.  Unfortunately about halfway through I realized, the boy HATES monkeys!  I had definitely witnessed him acting truly terrified of them, yet here I was, making a monkey bag to hang in his room!  Hey kid, want some nightmares :)

But I pressed on...I was sure that because this monkey was soooo cute he would get over his monkey fear and would rip off the velcroed on monkey head and tote it all around.  

It was finally time to present the gift.  I was pretty sure that if I presented it in the right mood and with an attitude of fun it would be happily received.  What I hadn't planned on was my husband :)

The monkey bag had been opened and the recipient looked curious but so far unafraid.  My husband however, never missing the chance to have a little fun, ripped off the head of the money, screamed in mock horror and tossed it at the poor kid.

The monkey bag never stood a chance...


Friday, January 27, 2012

wannabe Birkin bag

About a year and a half ago, I bought half a cow's worth of blue leather at the Tandy Leather Factory in Portland.  I was inspired by this tutorial for a leather diaper clutch at Melissa Esplin's blog, I Still Love You.  I made four different diaper clutches for various baby shower gifts following Melissa's directions, but I only managed to take photos of the first one.  (Hopefully any additional children that we have do not suffer the same fate.) 

I love the simplicity of her design and the feminine scallops

When you purchase leather they do not sell it using the typical fabric dimensions because, well, it doesn't grow in yards.  Instead (in my limited experience) they sell it by the side, and it is priced based on the size (in square feet), the quality (no holes, the dye job, etc.) and the type of leather.  The leather type is determined by the tanning process but bottom line, some is thick and supple, some is thin and hard, some is shiny, some is knobbly; there is quite a variety.

If you love to look at fabric, I highly recommend stopping by a leather store sometime.  I could have spent several hours there enjoying the variety of textures and colors, and the clean smell of leather.  I wandered about touching everything for awhile, but I finally settled on the bin of leather priced at $2 a yard.  The piece I purchased was 21 square feet, $42 total; I lucked out in finding a color that I loved for such a good price.

I made four of the little scalloped diaper clutches, and then I was ready to try something else.  It only took me a year to muster up the courage to cut the leather and make something of my own design.

Guess what I made?  A bag!  I love purses and bags of all kinds, so this was not the most surprising development.  I was inspired by the design of the Birkin bags, not because of the status symbol or the desire to be glamorous, but because of the simplicity of the style.  It is a pretty straightforward design.  And by that I mean square. With no zippers. And no pockets. 

Those Hermes guys have nothing to worry about though.  It took me a year to cut the leather and make a rustic version of their bag.  I am not exactly leaping into production mode.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

nerding out with jewelery

I'll be honest with you.  I love science.  Biology, chemistry, microbiology...completely fascinating!  Unfortunately so many of the textbooks are as dry as the sand in Death Valley.  (Although I did have a Pathogenic Microbiology text that had hints of sarcasm which always made the reading more enjoyable, but I digress.)

I love any chance to nerd out a little bit, whether it is reading the comic strip XKCD, making up songs about the immune system (That was for a class assignment, don't worry I am not that nerdy.), or making DNA earrings.  One of my coworkers was moving back to Montana, and we wanted to send her off with something that would remind her of her Awesome (and modest) coworkers.

I started with this tutorial, and this image.

I followed the tutorial to the letter, and my first attempt looked like this:

 It seemed a little big.  For round two I modified it a bit, both simplifying the design and adding a bit of polish.  I had to sacrifice the molecular accuracy, but I am pretty sure that most people don't expect their nerd-jewelery to be a perfect molecular model.

The finished product turned out like this:

I wrapped it up and it was ready to go!

Crafting project finished! Hooray!

Now in celebration, I will sing you my immunology song.  It is about the body's reaction to poison oak, entitled "A Tale of Type IV Hypersensitivity."

I am singing it to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

One, Two.. A One, Two, Three, Four...

Penta∙deca∙chate∙chol has landed on the body
It binds up to an APC which migrates to a lymph node
This will be so sen∙si∙ti∙zing, this will be sen∙sa∙tion∙al
Once T-cells have seen the hapten they can make effectors!

Caller:  Ready for Phase two!

Once again you’re in the woods enjoying a nice picnic
The birds are singing, sun is shining, food is now digested.
You pick a spot to make a pit-stop; doom is lying just ahead
E∙li∙ci∙ta∙tion, here it comes; Whoops! That was Poison Ivy!

Caller: Leaves of three…let them be!

Haptens have arrived again, it’s déjà vu to T-cells.
When memory’s triggered, they come back and inflame your poor skin
Oh, you must resist the itching; scratching, scratching is not wise
It will signal there’s more danger, which makes your blisters bigger!

Caller: How much longer must we wait?!

Don’t you worry it will clear up once the antigen is gone
Now just you watch out when you’re out there ‘cause haptens lurk and wait for you!
If you meet them for a third time they will not be kind to you
So…make your skin pleased and avoid these contact sensitivities!

If you made it through that, I applaud you.  Normal people tend to zone out after the first line.  I hope you have a fantastic day.  Later on if you find yourself thinking about your beautiful DNA, while humming Yankee Doodle...well, I am sorry.  But you did choose to read the whole thing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gift Idea: Cupcake Kit

I love giving gifts!  Isn't it funny then that I still haven't given Christina her birthday/Christmas presents?  The explanation of course is my own personal blend of procrastination and perfectionism!  I said that I would bring up the subject of perfectionism again - but, back to gift-giving...

My favorite gifts to give or receive are unexpected.  That is why I am not a big fan of Christmas lists.  Don't get me wrong, I do like getting what I ask for, but there is something extra special about a surprise.  Whether small or big, hand-made or store-bought my favorite gifts have always been surprises.

I recently attended a friends' bridal shower.  Combined with something on her registry, I hoped this Cupcake Kit that I put together was a fun surprise.

I got the idea from a great blog the Giver's Log.  To put my kit together I bought a silver tin from a craft store along with The Cupcake Deck which fit great alongside a bunch of different cupcake paper liners.  I also included some edible cake sparkles and fun cupcake tattoos.  To dress up the silver tin I cut out some craft paper and used double-sided tape to adhere it to the lid.  This could work well for a birthday, Christmas, hostess gift, or just for fun!

Here are some ideas when putting yours together:
  • Silver Tin, Small Vintage Suitcase, Large new Take-out Container
  • Small Cupcake Recipe Book, Handwritten Cupcake Recipes on Cute Cards (of course!)
  • Cupcake Liners (unwrapped and stacked is fun!)
  • Sprinkles, Edible Glitter
  • Cupcake toppers
  • Any great ideas out there???
Please let us know if you have any other great ideas for gift kits!  Happy Gifting!

    Pin It

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beginnings are difficult…which is why I waited so long to write my first blog post. I am finally jumping in! The first project I am excited to share about is a Cozy Car Caddy.   I like the idea of creating toys that are easy when you are out and about. Using a great tutorial that I found here on homemadebyjill, (one of our favorite blogs!), I made this car caddy with few creative touches of my own.

 I found a super cute felt truck created by Allisa Jacobs at Quiltish. Although Allisa designed the truck as an ornament, I thought it would work great as a decoration on the front of the car caddy. I eyeballed her design, then cut and sewed the felt together to create this

As soon as my son is old enough I will whip one up for him, with a few changes of course!  I like the challenge of improving something and learning something new.  A new sewing technique or working with new material.  Some would call it perfectionism...is that a crime?!  But we'll save that conversation for another day :)

And for a little clarification before I leave you.  As some of you may have figured out, Christina is VERY modest about her own abilities, talents, and good qualities.  She is a dear friend and anyone that has ever seen or received one of her projects knows how talented she is!  Humble, incredibly sweet, and one of the most entertaining writers I have ever known, I look forward to sharing this blog with her and reading what are bound to be very funny and inspiring posts. 


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

about the authors...

When my sister was little she was a prolific author of short stories. They were rather unremarkable stories, sometimes only two or three sentences long, but they were always followed by a long and detailed "about the author" postscript. Birchwood and Almond is intended to be a craft blog, so I feel like I am following in my 6-year-old sister's footsteps when our first post is about ourselves.

We are two friends, Christina H. (me) and Elizabeth P. (Whom I usually call Lizzie.) We met in Organic Chemistry class in school. However, we did not really get to know each other very well until 3 years later when my husband and I made our first post-college move and Lizzie and I found ourselves attending the same church.

One thing that I really admire about Lizzie is that she is a project-finisher. I, on the other hand, am a project-starter-and-sometimes-finisher. As an example, a couple of years ago, I had a grand idea that we should run a marathon together. Yippee! I bought new shoes. That was easy and fun! When we went on training runs together, Lizzie carried on most of the conversation, and occasionally I added a panting "Uh Huh!" or "Yup." The training runs were not so easy, but because of Lizzie they were fun. When marathon time rolled around Lizzie ran the marathon...and I cheered her on from the sidelines. (I know...what a dud friend! Although in my defense, I did have poison oak and a bum knee.) The cheering was easy, but I know that the marathon was not.

Lizzie makes homemade toys and gifts for children's birthdays. She follows patterns; she tries new recipes. As a result, she is a fantastic cook and seamstress. In addition (but not necessarily related) to that, she is a wonderful friend, tender hearted, and funny as heaven. She sees projects through, which, for the author of a craft blog is a very good quality. It would not be so interesting to read a craft blog that only consisted of half-finished projects. (How would you like to try a recipe for Minestrone-Soup-but-I-got-bored-half-way-through-so-I-made-a-chicken-pot-pie-instead? No? Perhaps you might like my pattern for baby boy's pants? They only have fronts...but think how easy that will make it to change diapers!)  I promise, sometimes I do finish projects. But I am not sure what strengths I bring to the table other then the ability to run off at the mouth.

But back to the "about the authors." Lizzie and I have many similarities. We went to the same University. Our fathers have the same birthday.  We both married men named Jon/John in the same summer. We have sons who were born 8 days apart. We both have brown dogs. We both drive Camrys. We like camping, buying fabric, running, sewing, talking, and crafting.

In my humble opinion, I think you should read this blog. I hope it will be entertaining. Even if it is not entertaining, you might come away with some neat craft ideas, and maybe the strange desire to buy a Toyota Camry. Just in case I scared you off earlier, there will not be any patterns posted here for baby loincloths. Seriously, who needs a pattern for that? It is just a square of fabric attached to a belt!
Pin It